Dead End for Britain

Lucas Romualdo, News Editor: Online

Since his election as Prime Minister, constant criticism has been levied against Boris Johnson. In all fairness, that criticism is valid: Johnson’s unrealistic commitment to leave the EU by Oct. 31, which he has since reneged on, is just one example of a man more accustomed to empty political posturing than able governance.

Meanwhile, moderate, experienced ministers like former Chancellors of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Kenneth Clarke have been removed from their cabinet posts and expelled from the Conservative Party. This has left Britain’s oldest and largest political parties with purely hardcore Brexit-supporting politicians.

As the U.K.’s politics have devolved to extremes, the economy has been forced to suffer through political uncertainty, with a recession inching closer every day and a “no-deal Brexit” threatening to spike food prices and potentially cause food shortages across the country.

In such political instability, it is only natural to look for an alternative.

However, The U.K.’s Labour Party poses a far greater threat than Boris Johnson and his transformed party ever could. The Labour Party, under self-described socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, has embraced an agenda resembling 20th-century communism.

Among the policies backed by Corbyn’s Labour Party are a four-day workweek, a government-run pharmaceutical organization, and the abolition of private schools. These proposals alone are a radical departure from current successful economic and social policy and threaten to undo decades of progress made in the U.K. since World War II.

The real threat, however, lies in Labour’s economic policy and by extension, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

One of Labour’s chief economic proposals is a share transfer for businesses, which contains a shadow tax. Under their policy, all large companies (over 250 employees) would be required to give 10% of the company’s shares, or market value, to its workers, which in of itself would decrease investment into British companies.

Furthermore, dividends (small payments periodically given by companies to shareholders) earned by workers on these shares would be capped at £500, which means that any further profit supposedly directed to the workers would be appropriated by the government. This policy has been called a shadow tax, as up to £300 billion would be taken from businesses in additional government revenue.

Another proposal is a four-day workweek. Simply put, this would be disastrous for the British economy. Cutting 20% of working hours for a large segment of the population is equivalent to losing a substantial portion of economic productivity, thereby dealing a crippling blow to the U.K. economy.

Furthermore, by cutting the legal amount of hours that people can work, those who earn hourly wages will lose a fifth of their income, which would pay for more food on the table for millions of British families. The working class, the targeted beneficiaries of this change, would be dealt considerable harm, as wealthier people would be more able to afford a substantial decrease in their income.

The Labour Party also recently considered a proposal to eliminate private schools. Among other things, this would pose an enormous logistical challenge. Approximately 7% of British students attend private schools, including 18% of children above the age of 16. By transitioning all 600,000 students to public schools, the government would incur an additional cost of £3.6 billion, which would have to be funded through increased taxes. This extra government expenditure, combined with the disruption to students’ education, makes this policy unnecessary and a purely political ploy.

Furthermore, it would infringe on the rights of parents to give their children the education they choose and expand the purview of the British government to a historically unprecedented degree.

The Labour Party’s least radical policies, the nationalization of several key industries, are still laden with excessive government overreach. From the perspective of the British population, most of these policies would not make much of a difference. The water and electricity utility services already act as heavily-regulated monopolies. The only difference under a Labour plan would be that people would pay for these services through taxes, not utility payments.

However, while this plan is feasible, it’s morality is dubious: since taxes are proportional to income, everyone would pay a different amount of money to fund these services. Why should two people pay wildly different prices for the exact same service?

Labour’s plan to create a national investment bank, however, is not only radical but poses an extreme risk to the U.K.’s finance industry and government debt. The aim of this bank would be to “provide longer-term loan funding for enterprises,” according to Labour Party policy whitepaper. This poses a massive risk to the UK government: if somebody is deemed too risky to obtain a loan from a private bank, then there is no reason to assume that they would be more likely to repay a nationalized bank. Additionally, this would be financed by £250 billion of government debt, without any plan to pay for it.

In many cases, revolutionary proposals are the catalysts for a country’s progression. But the costly, unnecessary plans put forward by the Labour Party could not come at a worse time. With a “no-deal Brexit” looking increasingly inevitable, a severe recession is almost certain to hit the U.K.

This is no time for a socialist experiment. Now more than ever, Britain needs a steady, experienced hand to guide it through the impending economic crisis. If socialism couldn’t help Russia, China, Cuba, or Venezuela, it has no chance of saving the U.K. from Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s administration may be incompetent, but Labour’s policies would prove a far greater long-term threat than a Brexit disaster ever could. Instead, it is incumbent upon Britain to embrace experienced leaders, like Independent Former Chancellor Philip Hammond or Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson, whose centrist, time-tested policies have a real chance to keep the economy above water. Moderate, experienced leadership is vital to getting the U.K. back on track.