More than 40 academics and activists, including a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC), have signed a public letter supporting hard-left Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn.
In an attempt to counter mounting criticism that the Islington North MP is too extreme in his views, the signatories, including former MPC member Danny Blanchflower, wrote: “The accusation is widely made that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have moved to the extreme left on economic policy. But this is not supported by the candidate’s statements or policies. His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics, even backed by the conservative IMF.”
University of Sussex professor Mariana Mazzucato, London School of Economics professor Robert Wade and Kingston University professor Steve Keen all signed the letter, which called the current government’s deficit-reduction plan “extreme”.
They wrote: “Cutting government investment in the name of prudence is wrong because it prevents growth, innovation and productivity increases, which are all much needed by our economy, and so over time increases the debt due to lower tax receipts.”
Corbyn – the anti-austerity candidate in a field that also includes Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – has campaigned on a radical economic agenda, proposing a so-called “People’s QE”, allowing the Bank of England to print money which would be used for investment in public services such as large-scale housing developments, energy and transport.
He has also promised that his government would renationalise swathes of industry, and has floated the idea of a national maximum wage.
Writing in the Observer newspaper yesterday, Corbyn said that if he were elected leader of the Labour party, his first priority would be “to force this government to abandon its free-market dogma and become the strategic state our society needs.”