Maybe Bernie Sanders should go and join the Tories

by Samuel Dale

The far left has a new champion: Bernie Sanders. The plucky outsider who identifies as a socialist and is taking on the establishment with huge crowds and a popular uprising.

A pure-breed, straight-talking full-throated leftie. He’s going to trounce Hillary Clinton and take the presidency.

But I’ve looked through his economic policies and – I don’t want to upset you – but Sanders has more in common with George Osborne than Jeremy Corbyn.

Here’s 12 worrying policy similarities:

1.Wall Street tax. Let’s look at Sanders’ central campaign theme – the greed of Wall Street. He wants a so-called “tax on Wall Street speculators”. While Osborne opposes a financial transaction tax, he introduced a bank levy on balance sheets in 2010, raising nearly £3bn a year.

2. Break-up banks. Sanders also wants to break up banks that are too big to fail, going further than the current Volker rule in the US and ring-fencing rules in the UK that merely separate investment and retail arms within one company. Sounds radical but it is also the policy solution favoured by former Conservative Chancellor and Osborne mentor Nigel Lawson. Osborne has also introduced a rule that means banks can be broken up if the Treasury believes they are undermining the ring-fence.

3. Interest rate caps. Sanders backs a cap on credit card interest rates of 15%. Osborne has already capped payday loan rates.

4. The minimum wage. Sanders wants to increase the rate from just over ($7.25) £5 to just over £10 ($15). George Osborne I increasing the minimum wage from £7 to £9 an hour. And he is making it a rule that the minimum wage can never be below 60% of the average wage.

5. Sanders wants to invest $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding infrastructure. Osborne is building HS2, a new south-east airport (eventually), the Northern Powerhouse (hopefully) as well as boosting councils to spend more on such projects too.

6. Universal healthcare. Sanders wants major reforms while Osborne has pledged an extra £8bn a year to the NHS until 2020.

7. Free childcare. Sanders wants a universal childcare and kindergarten programme. Osborne is bringing in 30 hours a week free child care vouchers for families.

8. Pensioner welfare. Sanders wants to spend more welfare on pensioners. Osborne has poured gold into the pockets of pensioners through large increases in the state pension and maintenance of socialist ideals.

9. Corporate tax avoidance. Sanders wants to stop foreign companies shifting profits abroad to pay lower tax rates. Osborne has introduced the 20% diverted profits tax.

10. Inheritance tax. Sanders wants to exempt the first $3.5m (£2.4m) from the US estate tax whereas Osborne wants £1m for couples and a £1m home sheltered.

11. Workers’ rights. Osborne would blush at Sanders’ modest proposal for just two weeks compulsory holiday for employees – he’d never get that kind of rabid free-market idea through Tory conference.

12. Risking free trade agreements. While Sanders wants to scrap core US free trade agreements, Osborne only wants to put ours at severe risk through an EU referendum.

Yes, the US and UK have very different political cultures and what would be classed as left-wing in the US is mainstream orthodoxy in the UK. And what is classed as right-wing in the US is seen as outright craziness in the UK.

And there are clearly key differences between Osborne and Sanders in terms of rhetoric, political direction and policies. For example, Sanders wants free university tuition fees and higher income taxes for the wealthiest whereas Osborne raised fees and cut the top rate of income tax.

But it begs the question. If George Osborne and Bernie Sanders have more in common in policy terms than either of them, or any of their supporters, would like to admit, why do Sanders’ UK supporters want to view them as extremists at opposite ends of the spectrum?

Is today’s politics purely about emotional spasms? Is hatred and division of the other side a virtue in its own right? Is someone more worthy of support simply because they label themselves as, say, a socialist or libertarian? Is policy irrelevant? Is rationality dead?

Getting carried away with great leaders and brilliant speeches is one of the joys of politics that can inspire and delight.

But we are in danger of losing control. Some look at Osborne and Sanders and see one as a God and the other as the Devil. I look at their policies, as I have explained, as 90% identical with a few differences in the last 5%-10%. Maybe Bernie Sanders should go and join the Tories.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

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5 Responses to “Maybe Bernie Sanders should go and join the Tories”

  1. Matthew Blott says:

    Nice trolling again Samuel.

  2. Tafia says:

    So then Samuel Dale, I take it your opposed to all this.

    Which makes you further right than the tories and in UKIP territory.

  3. What a strange comparison, Sam. Weren’t you going to vote Tory next time? Maybe you could actually join them and invite Bernie afterwards, although wasn’t his brother saying how much he had in common with Corbyn the other day. I think he may turn you down, Sam.

    Here’s another comparison you could run. Some claim that Ted Heath was more of a social democrat than Tony Blair. You could be surprised at the answer you come up with.

  4. Forlornehope says:

    This has been pretty much the case all my life that the Democrats have been slightly to the right of all but the most barmy, swivel-eyed, foaming mouthed Tories. The idea that US Democrats have anything in common with the Labour party has always been nonsense.

  5. Mike Homfray says:

    Pretty stupid post. Different countries, different contexts, different circumstances

    Anyway, surely Trump is more your sort of candidate?

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