Brittiska Labour var en gång frihandlare

Misstänksamhet mot frihandel och en dragning mot protektionism är i dag vanligt hos vänsterorienterade politiker och opinionsbildare.

Men det är inte alls självklart. I de allra flesta fall har vanliga löntagare eller människor med låga inkomster ingen som helst glädje av handelshinder.

Kampen mot spannmålstullar och för frihandel är en viktig del i brittiska Labours politiska tradition.

Graham Stringer, parlamentsledamot från Manchester har skrivit en intressant bok om Labours frihandelstradition, The Left-wing case for free trade (finns för nedladdning gratis).

Förordet är väl värt att citeras:

”Labour’s 30-year-long support for the EU and Britain’s membership of
it has contributed to the expunging from the left’s collective memory
of the radical role supporting free trade has played in its history.
This was exquisitely symbolized for me the day after the terrorist attack
on the Manchester Arena. Radio 5 had asked to meet me and another
Labour MP next to the statue of John Bright in Albert Square just before
the city’s vigil for victims. My Labour colleague said “I guess you will know
which one that statue is?” I did, and I also know the role John Bright, a
Rochdale man and a Member of Parliament for Manchester, played in
the anti-Corn Law league and the campaign for free trade.

This was one of the most effective and radical campaigns in the UK’s
history; it is amazing that his role and campaign are virtually unknown in
the Labour Party, even in Manchester.

The arguments of Bright together with Cobden – that import tariffs on
corn kept the price of bread high and the landed gentry rich – won the
support of the embryonic Labour movement as well as the vast majority
of people who were finding it difficult to make ends meet.

The campaign achieved its objective when Prime Minister Robert
Peel started the abolition of the Corn Laws in the 1845 budget. The
arguments and philosophy supporting this successful campaign led to
the so-called Manchester School of Economics, which also espoused
freedom of the press, anti-slavery, pacifism and separation of church and
state. Manchester is the only town or city in the country to have its major
meeting hall named after an idea: free trade.”