Jeremy Corbyn's policies 'risk hurting people they are designed to help'

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn’s policies represent “a super-charged Milibandism” but risk hurting the people they are designed to help, the first Labour thinktank analysis of his policies has found.

The findings by the Fabian Society suggest his proposals cumulatively will cost billions of pounds and possibly hit the low-paid hardest especially if they are driven out of jobs by a £10-an-hour minimum wage.

The society’s general secretary, Andrew Harrop, says: “Many of Corbyn’s proposed solutions are based on dogma not evidence, and risk hurting the very people they are designed to help. Poorer families would be the first to suffer if Corbynomics were to lead to higher prices or fewer jobs and affordable homes.”

The Fabian Society suggest some left-leaning thinktanks believe they face an uphill task translating some of his election-winning platform into more practical policies that go further than vague and emotional proposals put forward in the election.

Some centre-left thinktanks will find their adjustment to Corbyn difficult, and some say they think their most productive work will come by trying to influence individual shadow cabinet members.

Corbyn at present seems unable to impose any collective policy discipline on his frontbench, but will need to set out some parameters in his speech to the Labour conference in a fortnight. He may look to trade unions and a wider range of thinktanks such as the union-sponsored Class to work up many of his ideas.

Corbyn has appointed Andrew Fisher, head of policy at the PCS union, to take charge of his policy work.

Fisher is former researcher for John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and is a fierce critics of the government’s welfare reforms. He was also co-secretary of the Labour Representation Committee, a broad-left grouping that has tried to unite the left in the wider Labour movement.

Harrop accepts that Corbyn has the capacity to pull at the heartstrings of the left, and even find simple and emotional policies that resonate with the public, such as rail renationalisation. He writes: “Corbyn stood on a left-populist platform which succeeded because it sounded distinct from the mushy managerialism of other Labour voices: an end to austerity, scrapping university tuition fees, capping rents, renationalising the railways, cancelling Trident renewal, rejecting a north Atlantic trade deal. The whole Labour Party can get behind those goals.”

But he says low-paid jobs would be lost if his policies were introduced in a rush, including a £10 minimum wage with no reduced rate for young people or apprentices, ‘day one’ protection from unfair dismissal, banning all zero-hours contracts, scrapping welfare-to-work conditions and significantly increasing benefit payments for young people.

He adds: “Inflation will hurt people with low incomes if ‘people’s quantitative easing’ is pursued on a sufficient scale.Printing money to spend on infrastructure can only be a temporary, cyclical intervention before it triggers inflation.”

He says, in common with housing charity Shelter, if rents are tightly capped relative to earnings, there will be fewer affordable private sector homes on the market. Corbyn’s proposals come far beyond Ed Miliband’s plan for controls on rent inflation during the life of a tenancy.

Harrop concludes: “He has made a series of major spending commitments, while also promising to eliminate the current deficit. He therefore needs to publicly accept that his proposals will lead to ordinary families paying more tax: his pledges cannot all be paid for by big companies and the wealthy [or by Corbynite defence cuts].

“Most of Corbyn’s spending promises may one day be achieved, but that does not make it desirable or practical to bring them all about at once. Jeremy Corbyn may not like to hear it, but his plan for Britain needs an injection of Fabian gradualism.”

Powered by article was written by Patrick Wintour Political editor, for on Sunday 20th September 2015 19.57 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010