Back in August — after much anticipation — Jeremy Corbyn finally revealed some of his economic policies to the world. His policies — also known as ‘Corbynomics’ — took inspiration from the tax expert Richard Murphy’s blog.
While several of the ideas — which included reclaiming the £120bn ‘tax gap’ and quantitative easing — were described as ‘starry-eyed, hard left’ policies by Labour’s Chris Leslie, Corbyn was not put off. The Labour leader invited Murphy — who is not a party member — to Labour conference. In fact, Murphy even thought at one point that he was in line for a role in the Labour Treasury team.
Alas the dream appears to have come to an abrupt end. Murphy has revealed that he has grown distant from the Labour leader after no formal offer ever materialised — and he went cold on the idea of having a small background role; ‘Am I temperamentally suited to being the behind-the-scenes guy who isn’t noticed in public? Probably not.’ He adds that John McDonnell has now given him the ‘cold shoulder’. ‘It was amazing how quickly the cold shoulder came on,’ the author of The Joy of Tax says in an interview with the Guardian.
What’s more, the whole incident has left a sour taste in Murphy’s mouth. He says that he is annoyed by the way Corbyn’s team used his policies — adding that they presented them in a way that made them seem less credible:
‘Jeremy’s very keen on investment, and seemed to think this [quantitative easing] would help fund it. Would I have put it in the document in the way it was in the summer? No.
It needed to be made clear that this was a policy that would work best when there is no market for UK gilts [government bonds], and at the moment there is a very buoyant markets for UK gilts. I would have written a more balanced policy document.’
Should Corbyn change his mind and decide that he does require Murphy’s expertise, it may be too late. Murphy has now taken to playing the field. He has been in talks with both the Green party and the SNP. As for what Labour’s economic policies now are? Murphy hopes they are sticking with Corbynomics:
‘I am concerned, yes, but I have seen nothing so far says that what I was suggesting, and what they borrowed from me, is not their policy.’
Mr S suspects the Tories will be hoping the same.