The ‘blue-tick left’ has, for the most part, praised Keir Starmer’s ‘buy British’ announcement as a reincarnation of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2018 ‘bring manufacturing back to Britain’ – perhaps giddy that Starmer has actually named a policy at all.
But the reality is that the two are unrelated – and that Starmer’s plan is essentially a scam that bakes in privatisation into public services under the guise of patriotism.
Labour’s plan assumes that public contracts will be outsourced – and simply stipulates that when they are, preference should be given to outsourcing outsourced to UK companies:
every public body in the country would be told to award more contracts to British firms.
But privatisation is privatisation, whether the beneficiary is a UK company or a foreign one. Some of the biggest disasters of the last decade have involved UK companies that went bust or were unable to fulfil a contract.
Though, by the by, the Irish are implicitly being disregarded again – Northern Ireland is not part of Britain, yet the policy is ‘buy British’, not ‘buy UK’.
In the campaign for the Batley and Spen by-election, Keir Starmer tried to posture as demanding Palestinian statehood without actually demanding Palestinian statehood, such was his desperation to appeal to the constituency’s Muslim voters. Now he’s posing as patriotic, without actually promising to bring public contracts back into public sector provision – the measure that would both give the best ‘bang for the buck’ for public spending and have the maximum benefit for workers and the UK economy, because spending would go into wages and services rather than into offshore corporate bank accounts.
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