Business leaders will probably be consoling themselves that Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to ever become prime minister. The frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest and his aides have been coming out with more policy ideas – and many are pretty batty, to say the least.
Richard Murphy, a tax accountant seen as the architect of Corbyn’s economic policies, suggested that any Bank of England governor who refused to print money to fund infrastructure projects could be sacked.
‘Bank of England governors are responsible to democratically elected politicians. If we have governors who think they are over and above the rule of democratically elected politicians, then I'm afraid to say, yes they should be on the next plane,’ told the BBC’s Today programme this morning.
So much for central bank independence, a cornerstone of the UK’s global reputation as a good place to do business, then. Murphy thinks it’s a ‘fiasco’, a ‘façade’ and ‘doesn’t exist’ anyway, so that’s alright.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the FT over the weekend, Corbyn took aim at one of the left’s favourite bogeymen: the media baron. ‘We need a media that is not controlled by a very small number of big interests,’ he said. ‘[Murdoch] should understand that we’re very serious about diversity of media ownership and I hope he will understand that.’
So much for Britain having one of the most raucous, vibrant free presses in the world. And for new online players like Buzzfeed, Vice and Business Insider, as well as social media in general, challenging those so-called ‘big interests’.
Corbyn, who said last week that there ‘ought to be a maximum wage’, also reiterated his opposition to outsized executive pay and bonuses, something shareholders aren’t doing so badly at taking plcs to task over by themselves. ‘Some of it is ludicrous and so I am looking at the gap in every organisation between highest and lowest levels of pay,’ he told the FT.
But, among his various other suggestions, the one that will truly make supporters of free enterprise grow cold is that private tenants should have the ‘right to buy’ their landlord’s property. ‘It is a suggestion I put out there for debate,’ he said. ‘If there is "right to buy" for council tenants and housing association properties, then why shouldn’t that apply to all tenants?’
We’re not even going to bother criticising that one.
A group of economists, including a former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member as well as assorted left-wingers, published an open letter yesterday arguging Corbyn’s anti-austerity stance is sensible rather than ‘extreme’. Nonetheless, Jezza’s views are too far to the left of most of the British public to make him likely to ever be able to implement any of his ideas.
But many businesses may still worry that the Islington North MP’s strident criticisms of mainstream capitalism have the potential to drag Tory policy leftward if he becomes Labour leader, 'Corbynforbusiness' or no. At the very least a Corbyn victory would be an unwelcome, anti-business distraction.