Do We Need to Return to the 70’s Prices and Incomes Policy?

One of the features of the Post-War political consensus was the government’s prices and incomes policy. Roughly speaking, the government kept careful – or not so careful – watch on the economy, and tried to make sure that wages matched the prices of goods available in the shops. This was, of course, in the period when governments of all parties were ostensibly committed to full employment, and the economy was actually growing due to Keynsian economic policies.

Amazing. Who’d have thought it!

The policy was abandoned when Mrs Thatcher got into No. 10, and the Tories decided to abandon economic planning. And besides, privatisation and Friedman’s grubby Monetarism was going to make us all so affluent that we wouldn’t have to worry about issues like whether we were earning enough to eat.

Except now poverty has returned. And millions of us aren’t earning enough to eat. 4.7 million people, apparently, live in ‘food poverty’ in the UK. That’s truly disgraceful in this country, one of the richest in the world. Or at least, it is if you’re one of the 1%. If you aren’t, you can easily end up like those millions wondering if this week you’re going to be faced with a choice of either heating your home, or having enough to feed yourself and your family. But you can’t have both.

And if we do need a prices and incomes policy – which I think we do, one way or another, it shows that the Thatcherite Revolution is finally revealed to be what it always was: a busted flush, a mirage with nothing of substance behind it whatsoever.

And just thinking about that, I can almost hear the howls of rage from the Tory party and the right-wing press, if they were forced to face up to the facts that the policies of their great molten idol were a fraud.

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