Analysis comment

Where the hell is Keir Starmer on the Bank of England’s interest-rate fetish?

Labour leader appears to have said nothing about the BoE’s Pavlovian resort to wrong-headed interest rate rises that are lethal to ordinary people’s finances in the midst of a cost-of-greed crisis

Keir Starmer is today making political capital out of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s humiliating u-turn on his planned tax-cut for top earners, announced this morning after a threatened rebellion by Tory MPs despite the Tory party’s threat to withdraw the whip from any who voted against Kwarteng’s ‘mini-Budget.

But much of the damage of Kwarteng’s ideological idiocy is already done: after the collapse of the value of the pound, the Bank of England has reacted by forecasting that already-steepling interest rates will rise as high as six percent in the next month – and the Bank’s own chart of interest rates in recent years show how hard that is going to hammer ordinary people already struggling with rocketing energy costs and the real-terms pay cuts only the unions are fighting:

The B of E’s own interest rate tracker chart

The Bank of England had already been raising interest rates in response to inflation, even though it’s perfectly obvious that the inflation happening now is a result of corporate greed and bad government and nothing to do with the so-called ‘discretionary’ spending of people with cash in their pockets spending it because they have it and feel like it.

But like Pavlov’s dogs, the Bank raised rates anyway – and is now raising them higher to shore up the pound. Combine these rate rises with insane energy costs and record home-loss rates are on the cards as millions more people are added to the already huge numbers unable to cope.

Cue the opportunity for a party political leader to shout up, win the unloseable argument and demand that rates stay down instead of making them the torn of bricks that crushes the camel’s spine.

And Starmer was never better positioned to do it. For the moment at least, the Tories are so bad that even a blancmange-based life form without policies or principle looks less awful.

So is he speaking up and grasping this opportunity to cement lead by actually standing for something and standing up for ordinary people?

Is he [insert expletive here]. Skwawkbox has been unable to find a single instance of Starmer saying anything about the Bank or the government curbing interest rate rises.

Instead, it’s left to union leaders (and few enough of those) and a handful of media people like filmmaker Ken Loach and author Michael Rosen to point out the blindingly obvious: that the interest rate rises are aimed at the people who are not causing inflation while ignoring the corporations that are.

It is yet another unforgivable betrayal in a very long and tragically growing list – and on top of that it’s the worst form of political stupidity and cowardice.

Even if he doesn’t give a stuff for ordinary people -and the smart money would be on that – he’s missing a Marianas Trench-sized open political goal. That the Bank is supposedly ‘independent’ is no excuse – laws change and doing what has been done up to now will simply guarantee prolonged misery, but if no one in politics points out the need it will never happen.

But Starmer’s own addiction, to maintaining the status quo and trying to please the right, is just too strong and it’s millions of us who are paying for it.

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