And what promises they had been. Corbyn pledged to clamp down on once-legal tax avoidance as well as illegal tax evasion, claiming that a staggering £120 billion a year could be raised just by forcing the rich to pay their due.
He would renationalise the railways, scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent and do away with independent schools and the state system’s academies in favour of a centrally controlled National Education Service.
Even more eye-catching was Corbyn’s scheme for a National Investment Bank to back a massive programme of public works and house building, funded by the simple expedient of ordering the Bank of England to print more money.
‘This is quantitative easing for the people, not the bankers!’ he had declaimed to cheering fans, waving ‘Jez we can!’ banners.
In the run-up to the 2020 Election, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, had issued warnings that no Government, of any party, could buck the markets. Printing money to fund otherwise unaffordable policies ‘had the same effects in every country that’s tried it, from Argentina to Zimbabwe’.
‘If you drastically increase the amount of money in the system, you drastically reduce its value. So you need more money to buy the same goods. That causes hyper-inflation. And with that comes disaster’.
Within days of becoming Prime Minister, Corbyn took his revenge. He stripped the Bank of its political independence, renamed it The People’s Bank and sacked Carney.
The seizure of the Bank told Britain’s creditors that their money was no longer safe. The pound plummeted in value. There was a global sell-off of Treasury ‘gilts’, the Government bonds that finance the UK’s National Debt. The Government found that, instead of paying interest rates of less than two per cent, it was suddenly contending with Greek-style borrowing costs of ten per cent or more. Pundits spoke of a ‘Wonga economy’ as debt repayments alone became the Government’s single biggest expenditure.
Declaring a ‘siege economy’, and ‘socialism in one country’, an increasingly exhausted Corbyn made desperate pleas for the people to rally against the forces of capitalism. But the introduction of food rationing was the final straw.
They needed little excuse to censor the press and broadcasters in the interest of ‘fair, honest and truthful reporting’. A blogger who wrote that Britain was descending to the level of Zimbabwe was prosecuted for libelling the memory of President Robert Mugabe.
Possibly a modicum of narrative enhancement there but there’s also a certain amount of truth there.