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The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its 2017 Democracy Index, which this year ranked 167 countries on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of how well each country functions politically and socially. The headline figure from the index is that a staggering 7 out of the top 10 countries just happen to be social democracies implementing countless socialist policies akin to Labour’s hugely popular 2017 manifesto.
Whilst social democratic countries make up 7 of the top ten, the pro-neoliberal hyper-capitalist countries of the USA and the UK languish in 21st and 14th, respectively.
There are five criteria to determine the overall score in the Democracy Index; electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.
In what will be a massive boost to Jeremy Corbyn and his vision for a truly social-democratic Britain, a vast array of the policies outlined by Labour in their hugely popular 2017 election manifesto are already being implemented in seven of the top ten nations published in the list.
Norway, perhaps unsurprisingly, has come out on top with an overall score of 9.87 out of 10. In fact, the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland all make the top ten.
Corbyn’s policy platform at last year’s general election subjected him to relentless accusations that he was ‘dangerous’, and a ‘hard-left extremist’, however many of his policies are grounded in the Nordic economic model that has made these nations so economically-successful and socially-progressive.
It is important to distinguish that countries operating the Nordic model are not all 100% socialist per-se, but have instead ‘social democracies’ operating within them. It is also important to note that each country operating within the model does have its own economic and social agenda, but they all share common traits in their approach to how they run their economic and social policies.
It is a sad indictment of political discourse in Britain in 2018 that Corbyn’s policy ideas are implemented elsewhere and are merely considered ‘mainstream’. The policies of free university education, generous welfare, and state ownership of major utilities are entirely mainstream and incredibly popular in places like Norway, where the state controls a significant majority of a number of different industries, or in Finland where university tuition is free – as is the case across many countries in Northern Europe.
Jeremy Corbyn famously pledged to abolish university tuition fees in Labour’s 2017 manifesto – a promise that Labour have confirmed they would still implement should they be elected at the next election.
University tuition fees were hiked to £9,000 a year in 2012 under the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition. However free education has proved hugely successful in the majority of the world’s top functioning democracies – a policy that provably benefits the economy – and which proves there really is no rational argument for keeping fees at such an exorbitant rate.
Healthcare is another area where Nordic nations excel. Whilst our NHS is (for now, at least) free at the point of use, universal healthcare is still readily available (and properly funded) in Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.
The Tories are categorically running the NHS into the ground whilst simultaneously opening it up more and more to the private sector. Healthcare privatisation is merely an ideological choice, and most of the countries in the top 10 have proven that if healthcare is funded properly, is looked after, and not sold off chunk-by-chunk to the private sector, the people, and the economy, benefit together.
Thankfully, Corbyn and Labour want to keep the NHS free at the point-of-use as well as give it the investment it so desperately needs. This isn’t ideological claptrap, this is a sensible policy with proven, successful results.
High taxes on wealthier citizens are also a key foundation for success in social democracies, especially in countries like Sweden and Denmark where the top tax rates can reach up to 60%.
Analysis by the IMF supports the tax strategies of Jeremy Corbyn, saying:
Higher income tax rates for the rich would help reduce inequality without having an adverse impact on growth.
Those on higher incomes in social democracies pay significantly more tax than those on lower incomes, and the fact that 7 out of the top 10 countries implement similar policies completely destroys the myth that Corbyn’s plan to tax those on higher incomes is ‘punishing success’.
In their 2017 manifesto, Labour proposed that a new 45% tax band be introduced on those earning more than £80,000, and a 50% rate for those earning more than £123,000. This extra public income would allow for investment in public services and a robust, fair welfare system for the most vulnerable in society.
The 2017 Democracy Index also categorically proves that austerity simply hasn’t worked. It shows that healthcare if funded properly, as well as providing free university tuition, is also not economic suicide. It proves that public ownership works, and is not a ‘looney left’ fantasy as the right-wing media want the public to believe.
The simple fact is that the majority of wealthy people – and especially those who support and fund the historically rich-supporting Tory party – do not want to pay any more tax – even if it would help fund essential services for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
And, seeing as the super-rich essentially own and hold sway over the means of communication in Britain – i.e the majority of UK newspapers and media outlets – it is little wonder that since the election of Jeremy Corbyn on a platform of wealth redistribution, the billionaire-owned newspapers and the wealthy elite have manufactured a narrative intended to destroy him and his policies.
Yet, if Jeremy Corbyn’s policies really are so dangerous as the Tories and their super-rich media cohorts want the British public to believe, why are they provably working so well in so many other countries?
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