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Patrick Benham-Crosswell: Watson will never square the circle between socialism and free markets


Tom Watson MP, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, made a speech on Tuesday in which one passage explained fully clearly and succinctly the importance of the private sector.  His words:

“Capitalism, comrades, is not the enemy. Money’s not the problem. Business isn’t bad. The real world is more complicated than that, as any practical trade unionist will tell you. Businesses are where people work. The private sector’s what generates the money to pay for our schools and hospitals.

“We can afford the best health service in the world because we are one of the most prosperous countries in the world. That’s a fact and we forget it at our peril. And I don’t say this because it’s what wins elections, I say it because it is true. And people know that it’s true. And that’s why it wins elections.”

He was applauded throughout it by the audience, at least some of whom must have considered themselves socialists.

But of course the problem is that is not what some of the Labour party believes – including its leader and his former consort the absurd Diane Abbott and those who voted for a return to red socialism, state sponsored industry and the other lunacies.

And there you have the dilemma of the Labour Party; one part wedded to socialism that most of the world now realises does not work.  And the other part craving for power and trying to find a way of achieving that with a socialist infrastructure which includes the trade unions, several BBC presenters and assorted class warriors.

What Watson either does not understand (or dare not utter) is that capitalism requires free markets – which are a near impossibility under any form of interventionist government, including socialist ones.  Note that free markets are not unregulated; the rule of law has to prevail and (as those who have actually read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations know) the law must prevent monopolies.  So socialism and capitalism are incompatible – as any Islington Marxist could have told him.

So it seems that Mr Watson is either a complete charlatan or half way along a path that will lead him to a Damascene conversion to free market capitalism.  In his 2015 conference speech he, correctly, identified that small companies with under 10 employees are the lifeblood of the economy and the engine of economic growth, increasing employment and social change.  But they are not socialist.

It will be interesting to watch how Mr Watson squares the conflict between his logic and his soul; doublethink is alive and well in the Labour Party.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here. He is the Reform Parliamentary Candidate for Swansea West.

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