IN about six weeks’ time Rachel Reeves could be in charge of the UK’s finances. We should be afraid, very afraid. In a recent article for the Daily Mail she displayed economic illiteracy of a high order.

Firstly, she claimed “economic growth only comes from businesses: big, medium and small. Government’s role is to give them the stability they need to invest and to remove the barriers to make it harder to do business. That’s the model to grow the economy I believe in – and it’s the only one that works.”

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Her assumption is that the state can add no value to the economy, which is the old Tory lie that only the private sector creates wealth. Marianna Mazzucato in her book The Entrepreneurial State, written a decade ago, demonstrated how false this claim is. How can anybody claim that things provided by the public sector such as education, health care, social housing, social care and public utilities like water do not add value to the economy?

Mazzucato highlighted the case of Apple, held up so often as the shining light of the private sector. Apple would have got nowhere without the seed corn provided by the US government. Apple showed its gratitude by avoiding taxes.

Secondly, Reeves, to score a political point, said Sunak was falsely claiming he brought inflation down. Correct, but then she claimed it was decisions made by the Bank of England which achieved this. As a former employee she was perhaps trying to suck up to her old bosses but again she is wrong. The BofE high interest rates did little if anything to bring inflation down but instead added to the cost of high mortgage bills and business borrowing.

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Inflation rates, which are not the same as rising prices, have always fluctuated. Even the BofE has acknowledged that inflation arose because of external factors such as the impact of Covid on the supply system and the impact of the Ukraine conflict on oil and gas, external factors over which it had no control. Nonetheless it applied, and continues to apply, the only dogmatic tool known to neoliberals, and raised interest rates.

IMF researchers have confirmed that the shocks were external and that inflation was not made here.

As a consequence, the drop from the highest rate of inflation, especially in the UK, came about quite naturally as the shocks passed through the system.

The awful thing is that Reeves will not be challenged by the BBC and most of the media. All they need to do is to ask her, “Do you think that health service staff add nothing to growth and did you have Thames Water in mind when you said only businesses do?”

Andrew M Fraser

THE Prime Minster has given the appearance of raising the issue of mandatory national service. Truth is, it’s an attempt to massage and hide the low levels of meaningful rewarding work for young people.

There is an entirely rational reason why the British Army is, for a country with the UK’s population, very small. For the foreseeable future – certainly well into the middle of the 21st century, when serious climate chaos may force a re-think – there is absolutely no chance of the UK being invaded by the armed forces of any other country.

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Likewise the RAF, and much the same with the Royal Navy – top-heavy as that is with its Vanguard class, trident-missile-firing submarines. The armed forces of the UK are wholly configured to act as well-armed and well-trained imperial auxiliaries in someone else’s military adventures.

If proper conscription were introduced, the foreign adventures in the Middle East and anywhere else would grind to a halt if the lives of mandatorily conscripted sons and daughters were on the line. With conscription, defence policy and foreign policy would cease to be an “elite” interest. Issues of war and peace would have an electoral salience close to the NHS, education and the cost of living.

The last thing that the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of Westminster want is the public poking around, subjecting their decisions of who to invade next to proper public scrutiny. Much hot air will be expended around defence and foreign policy in the coming weeks, but the electorate that counts in terms of where and when our armed forces are deployed is in the USA.

Bill Ramsay
via email

AFTER watching the most recent edition of First Minister’s Questions on TV I was thinking of ordering a mask, imitation gun, a black-and-white stripy shirt and a large sack on to which I will write the word SWAG. Dressed in this outfit I will try and find a local bank branch still open – not so easy these days – and hold it up. I will demand £11,000 in cash.

In the event I am subsequently apprehended I will repay the money. If, after due legal process, I am found guilty of wrongdoing I will claim that any subsequent penalty is excessive.

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I understand the First Minister of Scotland will fully support me in this matter and will claim that the Scottish legal system is prejudiced against me. I fully expect my employers to continue to pay me during these troubled times and that after a short period I will be re-appointed to a senior position with an appropriate salary.

Dr Iain Evans

I PRESUME, once again that the SNP will not be qualified to take part in full election discussion forums on “national TV” because they do not have candidates standing throughout the UK. Surely it would be politically and financially beneficial if they chose a couple of seats in England – say in central London or against certain current MPs – just to make a statement that as the third largest party in the present Westminster government, Scotland has a place in the media coverage taking place.

Richard Easson