Brexit: some questions

by Peter Rowlands

1) To what extent would a hard Brexit result in a substantial economic downturn from which no recovery would be likely in the short term?

The answer depends on the deal/or none that is eventually concluded. It could be that the EU offers a free trade deal, on the grounds that not to do so would be as damaging to the EU as it would be to the UK. If this was the case most of those who export much or most of what they produce to the EU would have no incentive to move, a major fear if tariffs were imposed, particularly for the automotive industry, although this would obviously also have to apply to finance and services. This would represent a triumph and rehabilitation for May, and put Labour on the defensive, but it looks very unlikely. In any event, such a deal could only be concluded after the UK had left the EU in March 2019, and uncertainty over its likelihood would have probably precipitated substantial movement of firms out of the UK before it was concluded, as appears to already be happening in finance. Continue reading →

The neoliberal road to autocracy – a response to criticism

by Ann Pettifor

Ann Pettifor

In an article The neoliberal road to autocracy, published in April 2017 on the website of International Politics and Society, I wrote this:

Of all these promises, the one that globalisation’s advocates proclaim most strongly is the fall in poverty worldwide. But in fact the decline in absolute poverty is part of a longer trend that has been traced from 1820, according to World Bank data. And much of that fall is not due to open, global markets, but to scientific and especially medical advances. Indeed, the numbers of those living on less than $1 a day fell most rapidly between 1950 and 1970. During the “Keynesian” era, absolute poverty (measured in US$ terms) fell as rapidly as in the neoliberal era.

Continue reading →

NPF reports review: Environment, Energy, and Transport

by Chris MacMackin

For reasons best known to themselves, the National Policy Forum has decided to group culture with energy and environmental policy. Meanwhile transport, which is a significant energy consumer and pollution source, is placed with housing and local government. To provide some coherence, I will review transport alongside environment and energy, leaving culture to someone who knows more about it.

Both the Environment, Energy, and Culture (EEC) commission and the Housing, Local Government and Transport (HLGT) commission have met a number of times over the past year, discussing a wide range of topics. These include a post-Brexit agricultural system, air pollution, fuel poverty, low carbon energy sources, climate commitments, post-Brexit environmental regulations, public ownership of transport, high fares, and new infrastructure. The commissions reviewed evidence submitted by party members, the Fabians, NGOs and outside experts. Other than noting broad topics, the content of these contributions goes undiscussed. Continue reading →

Charlottesville, fascism and economic anxiety

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

What’s the liberal hot take on last weekend’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville, North Virginia? According to Twitter, and never missing an opportunity to be smug, it definitely, definitely was not about “economic anxiety”. Here are some typical examples. They think they’re being clever funny ironic, of burnishing woke creds while caricaturing and mocking those annoying people who insist there is a relationship between what goes on in someone’s life and their outlook on the world. This liberal heroism merely advertises their inability to think, and broadcasts their unwillingness to do so.

And what is more, they are entirely wrong. They are even wrong on their assumptions about what economic anxiety is. Here I want to look at economic anxiety in a narrow and an expanded sense, that is how economics ‘stands alone’ (which as a proposition is only possible in an analytical exercise like this, in the real world it cannot be separated from wider social processes and inequalities) and how it combines, in this case, with race/ethnicity and, crucially, gender as a way into explaining how white supremacists become the hate mongering shits they are. Continue reading →

The NPF Economy, Business and Trade Report – some progress made, but a long way to go

by John Penney

In contrast to most of the other NPF Policy Commission reports the Economy Report proposals are more reflective of the new “Corbynite” Left Keynesian agenda than the poor quality material it produced prior to the General Election. This is obviously good in itself, but peculiar in policy development process terms. Thus, this latest report “touches base” on pretty much every key 2017 Manifesto commitment on the economy, and overall has a mildly Left Keynesian anti-austerity content and flavour throughout. Whilst those of us who have contributed to the NPF processes all year on this report obviously hope this improvement is partly based on our contributions, the marked Left Keynesian shift of this document is mainly due to the need to play catch-up with the hugely successful 2017 Labour Election Manifesto. A Manifesto which so confounded the massively dominant narrative within the PLP and Party bureaucracy according to which a reforming anti Austerity Left leaning approach could only spell electoral disaster. Continue reading →

Were You Still Up For? Summer post-election reads

by Mark Perryman

The shock of the General Election hasn’t even begun to settle down. Mark Perryman recommends summer reads to help grapple with interesting times. 

The audacity of hope versus the mendacity of the weak n wobbly. Twenty years ago it took until the early hours before that ‘were you still up for Portillo’ moment established the sheer scale of the Tories’ meltdown. Two decades on this was different. Firstly, the indicator, the exit poll, came a whole lot earlier leaving viewers with hour after hour of ‘surprise’ results to look forward to. Secondly, Labour’s triumph, despite missing the overall majority, was both so unexpected and based on such a radical appeal.   Continue reading →

On Labour’s “sexist” industrial strategy

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

When Jess Phillips speaks it rarely ends well. On this occasion, seemingly determined to ruffle as many feathers as possible, she is reported as saying that “left-wing men are the absolute worst” when it comes to sexism, and that Labour’s industrial strategy is sexist. Challenged on this by Caroline Molloy, she said she really meant lefty men are merely the more annoying than the sexists of the right who parade their misogyny alongside their stupidity. Ah yes, she didn’t mean to say left men are the worst, just like the time she bathed in the media attention after telling Diane Abbott to “fuck off”. Or when she threatened to stab Jeremy Corbyn “in the front”, or of accusing the Labour leader of “hating women“. Now, I’m not about to dismiss Jess’s experiences of sexism and mansplaining in the party. It happens and if you’re a bloke who doubts it or doesn’t see it, why not ask some women comrades? Sadly sexism is alive and well because Labour is not hermetically sealed off from the rest of society and is bound to reflect what happens in the social world. The point is not to let it lie. Here all men in the party have a duty to support women and challenge sexist attitudes. Remember sexism, like racism, is scabbing. Continue reading →

Macron the Sun King – or the Louis who lost his head?

by Revolting Europe

Emmanuel Macron’s surprise victory in France to potentially unchecked political power has invited comparisons with all powerful leaders of the Hexagon’s past. Is he the Sun King, the most supreme of all Europe’s absolute monarchs? Or perhaps like another King Louis, XVI, who faced a revolt of the masses and lost his head.

After taking the Élysée Palace in May, Macron stormed the National Assembly. His 350 (out 577) seats dwarfed the 137 for Francois Fillon’s Republicans and 44 for Benoît Hamon’s Socialists’. Yet the voter abstention rate hit record highs of 58% in the second round of the parliamentary election. Despite his shock success, Macron’s hold over France is less solid than some predicted and he would like.

Already concerns are increasing over his obsession with pomp, for which he has been rightly ridiculed in the French press. Not content with French historical comparisons Macron has been reaching into classical mythology – promoting himself as King of the Roman Gods, Jupiter, no less. Continue reading →

Why rallies work

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Rallies in politics matter, and you needn’t take my word for it any more as Alia Middleton at the LSE has crunched the numbers. She found that where Theresa May set down during the election campaign, her visits had little appreciable effect on the outcome in those seats. When Jeremy Corbyn rolled into town for one of his rallies, the party vote share change went up almost double versus constituencies he didn’t visit. Amaze.

If you cast your mind back to any point before this year’s general election campaign, some wise old wise old could be found lecturing the world about how rallies do not win elections. Indeed, some might have said they’re a complete waste of time. Why bother listening to someone tell you things you already know when you could be posting leaflets and knocking on doors? And, of course, in Jez’s case it was just another case of him being in his comfort zone talking to folks who agree with him. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Continue reading →

Five reasons why a new centre party is a stupid idea

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

It’s truly silly season if talk of a new centre party is abroad yet again. James Chapman, ex-Daily Mail and former office boss in David Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union sparked off the latest chittery-chattery in a series of pointed posts on yours and mine’s favourite social media outlet. He said Boris Johnson should be banged up for his moronic £350m/week pledge to fund the NHS, and took several gormless ministers to task about how Brexit is affecting their briefs. Of more interest is his desire for a new ‘Democratic Party’ that would seek to overturn the result of last year’s referendum. No cheap shots on the incongruence between the name and the reluctance to accept a democratic decision, please.

Unfortunately for “Chappers” his new party fantasy is just that. It might be a dream he shares with Tony Blair, the Jolyon scene and “very interesting people”, but it’s the pantomime gesturing of a political elite left out of sorts by the post-referendum, post-election landscape. It appears superficially similar to what went before, but try as they may it rebels against them. Nothing underlines this confusion more than their stubborn, centre party meme. Here then, for the umpteenth time are five reasons why it won’t work and cannot work. Continue reading →

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