Monday, 27 October 2008

The People's Charter?

(graphic via Paul Flynn MP: it's a detail from the Newport mural of the 1839 Chartist rising in that town - as far as I know, the last armed uprising on the British mainland.)

This is interesting: a group of what I imagine are anarchists, or possibly unusually imaginative Trots, calling themselves the New Chartists and/or the Campaign for a Debt Amnesty have started posting on obscure-ish websites calling for:

" immediate amnesty on all mortgages, personal loans and credit card balances. In addition, the debts of small and medium enterprises to the banks must be written off. Large corporations must be nationalised to prevent them from shedding jobs and their debts to the banks repudiated. Most are unprofitable and are in any case, one way or another, propped up by the taxpayer anyway. The few cash rich ones, such as the purveyors of rubbish food, are waiting to buy up their insolvent competitors, such as the purveyors of quality food, and either asset strip them or close them down all together. Unemployed workers must be absorbed into these large companies and into government and council departments. Hours, but not pay, should be cut in half in this new state sector to accommodate them. A new state bank, under the democratic control of the people, would then make cheap credit available to those individuals and enterprises that can demonstrate a need or are proposing social and environmentally beneficial projects."

In other words, "There is now only one way forward for Britain and that is to let the City go to the wall". They're calling for a demo in full Halloween regalia in Cardiff on October 31. Starting at the statue of Nye Bevan.

But if there is a total debt amnesty, who pays our pensions?

On one point they are hitting a certain button. Whatever happens during this crisis, the City of London is undoubtedly far, far too powerful a part of our overall economy. We need to decrease its importance. Indeed, if the Marxist Jeremiahs are correct we won't have any choice about this as the hot money will flee anyway. But - and I've asked this before - if one in five of us work in the financial sector and that's going to shrink - what else are people going to do for a living? All the key manufacturing has gone, never to return. As a country, we can't live on thin air and designing computer games...

Update: Larry Elliot agrees.

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