So much for strong and stable!

650

Its laughable this morning. Here we have Mrs strong and stable herself (I can’t write that while keeping a straight face), who undertook an election at the worse possible time, not because the country needed one, but so the Tories could selfishly exploit labour’s low polling numbers. And, having gambled with the UK’s future for the most cynical of political reasons and then lost, she has the nerve to ask for a period of stability during the brexit negotiations. I mean seriously, how out of touch are these Torybots. Not since G. W. Bush stood in front of a banner saying “Mission Accomplished” has a politician been so wrong.

uk_election_2017_results

And let us be clear, the Tories lost this election, not because Corbyn is some sort of political genius, but because Theresa May was terrible. After the awful local election results, Corbyn spent most of his time visiting safe labour seats in an effort to shore up support. When the lib dems and Greens approached him about some sort of progressive alliance, being the clot that he is he rejected this, even thought it ultimately meant the Tories winning crucial seats (I mean god forbid someone who isn’t a bearded hard left brexiter winning those seats! Obviously Corbyn thinks it would be better a Tory win them instead!). Note that several high ranking Tories, including Amber Rudd and IDS only survived by a margin of a few hundred votes. Zack Goldsmith managed to get elected by just 50 votes. So had Corbyn agreed to this progressive alliance, its very likely we’d have seen some pretty major scalps last night.

He also flunked a number of TV interviews, getting basic facts about his manifesto wrong. They had to hide Diana Abbot away after she buggered up earlier on in the campaign. So this is clearly more a case of the Tories losing the election rather than labour winning. And they squandered a 20 point lead at the start. Because while Corbyn wasn’t great, Theresa May was unbelievably $hit! As the spectator put it “Theresa May has the warmth, wit and oratorical ability of a fridge-freezer”.

The Yellow Submarine

Around Whitehall Theresa May has a nickname – the submarine. Because when the going gets tough, she dives below the surface, hides and runs away. And that was basically what she did for the bulk of the election campaign. She chickened out of the debates, she refused to do interviews on local radio or on the BBC’s flagship Today programme, avoided crowds (save a few carefully choreographed campaign events) or “people” in general. When rumours of cuts to pensions emerged, a possible “dementia tax to go with the bedroom tax, she was flip flopping like crazy. At one point during a factory visit the press were locked in a room to stop them asking awkward questions. So I have to assume that when she talked about being “a bloody difficult woman” during the brexit negotiations, her plan involved hiding in the loo and waiting for the EU to push a favourable exit deal under the cubicle door at the 11th hour.

The two terrorist attacks didn’t exactly help, leaving the Tories looking like a deer caught in headlights. The Tory cuts to policing occurred on her watch as home secretary. This is something she can’t dodge blame for. She mumbled something about changing the law or doing away with the human right act, because we know how much the terrorists value human rights, that’ll show em!

And her best bro Trump didn’t exactly help matters by attacking the London mayor in the middle of a terrorist incident, something which she failed to condemn. And recall her invite to him to come over next month is still valid, something that inevitably cost her votes and almost cost her dearly.

Then there’s the issue of brexit, the whole reason apparently for her having an election. And what exactly is the Tory policy on brexit? F*ck knows! Other that the vague idea that we trust Mrs strong and stable wobbly and inept, she goes into Brussels, doesn’t talk to them or give away anything, keeps her cards close to her chest and somehow gets to have her cake and eat it. A sensible strategy if you’re playing gin rummy for a half a packet of crisps, but not when negotiating with the EU over something this important. Trying to play brinkmanship with the EU is like trying to play chicken with a freight train. It ain’t going to swerve or stop because it can’t and frankly it doesn’t have too. Just ask the Greeks.

By contrast the labour strategy, which is to negotiate something along the lines of the Norway model, or the lib dems (another referendum) are far more sensible positions. More importantly for a voter, you know exactly what you’re getting if you voted for them. It dawned on me a day or two ago how badly this could play for the Tories when I was talking to a brexit voting Tory. And he could not explain to me how the Tory strategy was going to work. So if brexiters and Tories are having doubts, you can imagine how this played with remain voters (or those soft leave voters who were essentially conned into voting leave).

Now too be fair, election’s are difficult times for Tories. They have to constantly resist the urge to resort to lizard form, they have to go outside during daylight hours and remember not to call voters plebs. They rely on the right wing media to paper over the cracks. And true to form the Daily Mail and Express editors had their tongues firmly attached to May’s ass for the last two weeks. But this time the cracks were more like chasms and crevasses. Attempts to shore up the Tories involved pushing things to levels of Monty Pythonesque absurdity where even UKIP members started to doubt them.

Consider that the Daily Fail devoted 13 pages on the eve of the election trying to paint Corbyn as pro-terrorist, because its possible that one of the terrorists might have once attended a labour rally (obviously to support Corbyn, not because he was casing the event as a possible future target). Okay, and Jimmy Saville was a Tory supporter, knighted by Margaret Thatcher, so by the same Daily Mail logic does that make all Tories pedo’s?

The great British weather

_96371052_umbrella

Finally, we have the weather to consider. It was raining yesterday morning, although it cleared up a bit towards the evening. This would have effected the outcome because older people (who tend to vote Tory) tend to vote in the morning, while younger voters (who tend to vote for left wing parties) tend to vote in the evening on the way home from work. So its possible that a few hundred votes in key marginal seats were lost because some pensioners opened their curtains in the morning and thought well I ain’t going out in that and stayed in bed.

The Jock vote

nintchdbpict000318374634-21

In Scotland the parties fought for every vote

In Scotland it wasn’t a great night for the SNP. That said, they won all but three of Scotland’s seats last time, so it was inevitable that they were going to lose some seats this time. Also the success in 2015 was borne out of two factors. Firstly labour took a very firm stance during the Indy ref of opposing independence, despite the fact that this meant pissing off 45% of the electorate and a majority of voters in several key seats in and around Glasgow. The Tories meanwhile spent the 2015 campaign going on about how Miliband would be in the pocket of those sneaky soap shy Scots. This meant that both labour and the Tories were almost wiped out in 2015.

This time around, labour took a more neutral line towards independence and the Tories focused primarily on soaking up the anti-independence vote. All the literature in my door from the tories was about how the lib dems and labour have no chance, only the true blue Tories can beat the SNP. There was even a Tory poster outside the polling station (which most surely be illegal) proclaiming that the lib dems and labour have no chance of winning here (just as well I voted SNP then, who beat the Tories!). For the record, the lib dems and labour won back several seats in Scotland.

Naturally the argument presented in the media is about how this means Indyref2 is off the cards. Well keep in mind the SNP still control 60% of Scotland’s seats and there’s a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament. If the indy ref result was based on these metrics, they’d win easily. There is, as I’ve discussed before, a dilemma for the SNP. They would like to hold a 2nd referendum ASAP to try and ensure Scotland stays in the EU. On the other hand the more bad news from brexit builds, as well as the anger against the Tories in Westminster (given that independence offers the opportunity to rid Scotland forever of Tory rule) the more likely they are to win.

Weighting up the factors, I’d opt for the long game and wait. That said, I think the SNP need to put in place the necessary measures such that, if it becomes clear that the brexit negotiations are going to result in Scotland getting royally shafted (e.g. tariffs or migration restrictions that will wipe out certain key industries), then a referendum can be called and held quickly. In short there needs to be a big red button on Sturgeon’s desk and while she shouldn’t press the button, the threat that she might should be constantly hanging over the brexit negotiations.

Lessons learnt

So what lessons can we learn from this result? Well I would argue the reason why the polls were wrong this time, as with the previous election and the EU referendum is because there are a lot of angry and confused people who are trying to send a message. Its a rambling incoherent message from the sort of people who have no clue how politics works (e.g. the sort who were googling “what is brexit?” the morning after the referendum vote), but its quite clear what it is – no more austerity. The Tory policy of austerity has cast many millions in the UK into the sort of poverty we should have left in the last century. Until the Tory cuts are reversed, we’ll continue to see random and difficult to predict results like this in all future elections and referendums.

Now granted, ending austerity is easier said than done. Taxes would have to go up. Non-dom’s will have to start paying their fair share of tax. Areas spared from cuts (such as pensions or defence) might need to share the pain. While I think there might be a need to take certain privatised public services that are failing back into public ownership, wholesale re-nationalisation isn’t something the country can afford right now. And naturally a hard brexit is out of the question, given the negative impact that would have on tax receipts. There are, as the Tories say, no magic money trees, but that applies to both parties.

Given that we must now call into question the validity of the EU referendum result (i.e. a large chunk of the leave vote was just a protest vote), there is no mandate for a hard brexit. A soft brexit, with perhaps a 2nd referendum later seems a more sensible strategy. So less a divorce and more of a trial separation.

Thirdly, the UK needs to ditch its ridiculous first past the post election system. The rest of the civilised world used some form of proportional representation (or the two round voting system in France), which is a much fairer and more reliable system. Now supporters of FPTP will say, oh but PR leads to political instability and hung parliaments, while FTTP leads to more stable government….LOL! well I think we can bin that argument after last night.

I mean seriously, at the last election the Tories secured a majority with just 37% of the vote. Which when you account for turn out means they had a majority with the support of just 25% of the electorate. That’s not democracy, its a perversion of democracy. Had just 639 votes gone from the Tories to labour then we’d have gone from a Tory majority in 2015, to a hung parliament. And, as mentioned earlier, there are MP’s who lost their jobs, or came very close to losing this time by just a few hundred votes. They may well have prevailed (or lost) simply because it rained at a particular time of day. That’s how fickle the FPTP system can be. Its basically a form of high stakes lottery, an insane way to run a country and a grossly unfair system.

Send in the clowns

Are these lessons going to be learnt? Well not by the Tories! Already the word is they are going to form a coalition with the Ulster unionists. For those with bad memories, it was Tory pandering to the unionists and euroskeptic backbenchers that crippled John Major’s government and led to Tony Blair’s landslide victory in the 1997 election. To call the unionists unreliable allies is if anything an understatement.

3528

Theresa May is greeted by her new coalition partners

On paper they are fairly gung-ho, pro-hard brexit, send the EU and all the Poles to hell along with all the Catholics. Unfortunately, as a hard brexit will probably wipe out the Northern Irish economy and likely lead to a collapse in the peace process, a border poll and them all becoming Irish citizens, the Unionists will be prone to sudden flip flopping. We could see the scenario where the Tories are in the room negotiating with the EU, digging their heels in on a particular issue, only to be handed a mobile phone with a tweet from the DUP stating that not only do they no longer support the government on this issue, they will walk out of government unless they reverse their position.

Note that adding together the DUP and Tory seats, they have a majority of just 2 seats. So all it takes is a handful of MP’s (e.g. those who won by just a few votes in a pro-remain constituency) to either vote against the government or abstain…..and one of those is Kenneth Clarke (so on brexit its potentially a majority of one!)….and the government can be outvoted. And keep in mind that the fixed term parliament act means that in theory if the Tories form a government, which then collapses, the opposition can block an early election. Protocol would then dictate that the leader of the opposition (currently Corbyn) would then be invited by the Queen to try and form a government, presumably some sort of progressive alliance.

So returning to the question at the beginning, should the opposition parties cut Theresa May some slack? Absolutely not! Stick it to em! The Tories have selfishly prioritised their own needs above that of the country for too long, they will continue to do so, even if it means driving the country over a cliff edge. So the opposition should try to block them at every turn, using every trick available to them and basically paralyse the government in the hope of forcing them out. Then a progressive alliance can take over. And while I’m not a huge fan of Corbyn, he’s certainly a better pick for the job. Theresa May has demonstrated over the last two months why she is wholly unqualified for the job of PM. The Downing street cat could do a better job than her!

Rolling back the years

I have to finish by contrasting with the political situation in Ireland. We’ve just elected our first openly gay Prime minster, who also just happens to be the son of an immigrant (I suspect the Daily Mail readers all fainted when they heard that one). Keep in mind that it was illegal to even be gay in Ireland right up until the 1990’s (yes really!).

So Ireland has progressed a lot over the last few decades, in part I might add because we have this thing called “a constitution” (UK readers might need to google that one) and a PR based voting system. There should have been an election by now in Ireland, as there’s a minority government and both the main parties are keen to sort it out with an electoral show down. But it was decided, for now, that any election should be delayed until some progress is made with the brexit process. While Irish politicians aren’t great (a shower of gombeens, feckin edjits and cute hoor’s as me grandpa used to say), they are a heck of a lot more mature and professional than any UK politician. And again, that’s probably down to our political system and its checks and balances.

So while in an Irish election you face the choice about whether you want shower of gombeen’s or mob of cute hoor’s to take us into the 21st century, in the UK election the choice is between a labour party who wants to take the country back to the 1970’s and a Tory party who want to go back to the 1900’s. That’s how far the UK has slipped in the last few years. The UK is about as strong and stable right now as a one legged stool and its on the verge of becoming a basket case, a failed state.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “So much for strong and stable!

  1. Daryan, always enjoy your writings on energy. Forgive me for filling comment space with my political opinions…but I’ve had a lot of them lately in America after our disaster of electing Trump. So here goes… I guess the short version would be that I don’t know much about European politics, but the more I learn the more I feel like I’ve seen this show before and know how it ends if the ‘left’ party ignores the public’s economic concerns. Essentially, the Corbyn wing of the UK labour party seems to have prevented them from making the mistakes that got the American democratic party so wiped-out, and for that I am jealous and curious to see how it ends up turning out over there. So here goes..

    “So while in an Irish election you face the choice about whether you want shower of gombeen’s or mob of cute hoor’s to take us into the 21st century, in the UK election the choice is between a labour party who wants to take the country back to the 1970’s and a Tory party who want to go back to the 1900’s.”
    Isn’t that a bit of a Cliche? The “far left” is coming back these days not because they’re great geniuses, but because because their break from conventional economics gives them a relatively reasonable perspective on things that the Davos crowd likes to ignore (consequences of trade deals, inequality, de-industrialization, an oversized and underregulated finance sector), and that centrist political parties often ignore (because of their unwise fealty to mainstream economics). I took a glance at Corbyn’s people’s QE proposal and some labour manifesto items. It’s not some horrifying bolshevik manifesto, but looks more like pretty classic FDR-era-democrat kinds of things and maybe even a bit of a post-keynesian influence. With that in mind, I don’t get why right-wing talking points about the “1970s” so easily emasculate many left-wing politicians. From what I understand, as an economic crisis it pales in comparison to what happened just under a decade ago, and attributing it to left-wing policies is probably even misguided https://www.patreon.com/posts/would-corbyn-us-11715062?utm_medium=post_notification_email&utm_source=post_link&utm_campaign=patron_engagement
    Sovereign governments have central banks, it’s high time they acted like it instead of obsessing about balancing the budget (along with all the false household-metaphors that go with that concern). And if that provokes accusations of believing in ‘magic money trees’, who cares. Belief in magic money trees is a lot less hazardous than ignoring private debt. And now the UK can address that private debt, and being already on the pound and soon-to-be outside the death grip of Maastricht/Lisbon should make doing so much easier.

    “Trying to play brinkmanship with the EU is like trying to play chicken with a freight train. It ain’t going to swerve or stop because it can’t and frankly it doesn’t have too. Just ask the Greeks.”
    I’ve don’t have any special love for Trump, but when he called it a vehicle for Germany he was right. If the EU will break before it bends, then let it break and the sooner the better for everyone involved. Btw Yanis Varoufakis’ book recently came out and details how the German finance minister essentially admitted to him that austerity would totally screw over Greece but he would push for it anyways. But the UK isn’t Greece and I think if they go in assuming similar bad faith in negotiations that Greece got, they can avoid being bullied or manipulated.

    Regarding some of your earlier comments about the American situation:
    “Furthermore, the US hasn’t really got a choice in the matter. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. As I’ve discussed before, the shale gas boom is eventually going to run out of steam.”
    One reason I find it so hard to have faith in elite centrists is because in America they fell hard for the shale ‘boom’ and many of them still believe in Pandora’s promise. It wouldn’t be too hyperbolic of me to say that the main difference now is who’s Trumpeting it. In other words, Trump is going all-out on bad policies that both american parties have followed for years such as the above. It was Obama who repealed the oil export ban (a 1970s-oil-scare bill that stayed on the books for a surprisingly long time) after all. Similar characterization for our record of middle east interventionism and the misguided friendship with Saudi Arabia. And when it comes to getting into renewables, this brings me back to why I wish the American left would, instead of trying to pass crap like the TPP, instead try to steal the ‘anti-globalization’ mantle from the Trump movement. Left wingers could do anti-globalization so much more skillfully than Trump-ites, and without the distorted ‘poor victim America’ nonsense. For example, instead of having Trump entertain his constituents with fantasies of resurrecting the coal industry, we could go all out for renewables AND be protectionist about it- drop all of the Obama trade reps’ WTO complaints against India’s solar protectionism attempts and instead renegotiate WTO rules to make those kinds of things legal so that we can do them too (e.g local materials requirements to support PV materials extraction, manufacturing, and recycling in America). Maybe add in some tariffs on imported PV panels, a ban on exporting scrap metal and E-waste to support the development of recycling industries in the midwest.

    “The fact is that Trump is probably one of the weakest president’s America has ever had. Allegations regard him and his families ties to Russia (and the Saudi’s) have crippled his administration.”
    Again, the friendship with Saudi Arabia isn’t a recent development. And regarding Russia, allow me to suggest that it’s just that- allegations. And the ultimate accusation that they hope to bring him down with- some form of active collusion with Russia- might be unfounded. It disappoints me that the democrats are willing to devote pretty much all their effort to this instead of outlining and promoting an alternative policy vision. And when it comes to policy with Russia, I don’t see why we should be escalating against them. It’s counter-productive, and incredibly hypocritical given the US history of election meddling.

    Like

    • The problem with Corbyn’s plans are that they are more of a fantasy wish list than a manifesto. The US in FDR’s day was not massively in debt with an ageing population, as is the case today. And Corbyn’s obsession with going along with brexit, means he’s not providing any effective opposition. And by UK standards, Corbyn is fairly left wing, he’s almost as left wing as the Socialist parties. Now the problem there is that the majority of labour supporters are much more centre left or centrists, while the majority of voters are somewhat to the right of this. In an election where the Tories have someone a bit more electable than May, he’s probably going to get wiped out.

      There is the question as to the practicalities of some of his proposals, e.g. nationalisation of former state owned industries. While this is actually something I would support, but the devil is in the detail. How is he going to pay for it and avoid the massive legal hurdles? QE for people? The time window when that would have helped has long since expired (most people in the UK got handed a pile of cash tomorrow would either blow it on drugs & booze or use it to pay off their credit card debt, i.e. it would end up going to the bankers it would bypass the real economy) and again who is going to pay for it? As the Tories say, there is no magic money tree. Just look at Venezuela for an example of what would likely happen if we followed through on a couple of his policies. That said, the Tories, given there unwillingness to raise taxes nor acknowledge how expensive a hard brexit will be, also need not just a magic money tree but a whole forest of them, so there’s a certain element of a stopped clock here.

      As for leaving the EU, you do know that Yanis Varoufakis, while critical of the EU, didn’t support brexit. He understood (something Corbyn doesn’t) that this is throwing the baby out with the bath water. And whether you are Greece or the UK doesn’t matter. 50 million negotiating an economic deal with 500 million is still going to have the same outcome. Leaving the EU without an agreement is exactly the sort of swivel eyed lunacy we get from the UKIP brigade. Its equivalent to saying that a husband would be better off throwing his divorcing wife out of the house and refusing to pay her anything (and then she goes and gets a court order giving her control of the house and his bank account!).

      The EU doesn’t want to screw the UK over, brexit by itself will do that anyway. But they want the UK to pay its bills and meet its legal obligations. If the UK wants access to the EU’s single market (the world’s largest collective economy) then is it that unreasonable to ask the UK to keep its borders open and contribute to the EU budget? Switzerland, Iceland and Norway do this, why should it be different for the UK? The brexiters are trying to argue that they are somehow “specialbecause of spitfires and empire or something and that these rules don’t apply to them (which does kind of sound like an a abusive husband come to think of it).

      Also you need to consider the implications to the millions of EU citizens in the UK or UK citizens in the EU who through no fault of their own (and I mean they were denied the right to vote on this referendum) will have their lives turned upside down just so Corbyn and May can score a few idealogical points. This is not some sort of game where we get to tot up the scores at the end and see who won….and if it was, that’s almost certainly going to be the EU!

      The issue with globalisation, as I discussed in a prior post is that there are two sides to it. A legitimate attempt to increase global trade, shrink the world, raise billions out of poverty and eliminate the dangerous competitive nationalism (such as the forces that drove brexit or elected Trump) that led to so many wars in the 20th century. And secondly we have a neo-liberal battering ram by which the elites can roll back labour laws and environmental protection. Somewhere along the way both of these two things got entwined and repackaged. Now, given that the neo-liberal bit is viewed as toxic, people want to throw out the whole thing. My view is, why not just unpack the two. I’m not anti-globalisation, being anti-globalisation amounts to wanting to turn every country into North Korea.

      You seem to be an apologist for Putin here, you need to quit watching RT (I stopped that after all the BS about the airliner they shot down over Ukraine). And there’s plenty of reasons to impeach Trump which have nothing to do with Russia (e.g. not filing his tax returns, maintaining contact with his business interests, using his office for financial gain). Inevitably prosecutors are going after the most serious allegations first. And are you suggesting that two wrongs make a right? That because Russia might have intervened in a US election then the CIA’s intervention in Greek elections (which is why they’ve never had a left wing government until now) or Italian ones (including the murder of left wing activists) is somehow now justified? I’m guessing you didn’t like Hilary very much, but this is taking things to extremes. Just because Putin is your enemies enemy doesn’t make him your friend. He’s an autocrat and a demagogue, pure and simple as that.

      Like

  2. “The problem with Corbyn’s plans are that they are more of a fantasy wish list than a manifesto. The US in FDR’s day was not massively in debt with an ageing population, as is the case today.”

    I suspect that the theory I’m going off of most of the time would render that less relevant than you think. I’m sure I won’t do the ideas justice since I’m not Steve Keen, but I’m going to try-
    Public debt is a symptom of recessions, private debt is usually the cause. After the crash, that remaining private debt load serves as a ball and chain that the economy has to keep dragging around, slowing down attempts at economic recovery. Without large stimulus or money-creation policy, slow, painful deleveraging will continue for decades or until another bubble comes along- and speculative bubbles are increasingly likely in this environment- because of that high private debt load, they present a preferable investment in a business environment that remains incredibly risk-averse otherwise. Thus the post-crash countries become ‘zombie’ economies. This isn’t the watered-down so-called Keynesianism in which apparently there’s some statute of limitations on the effectiveness of stimulus and peoples-QE policies (or because the unemployment rate is low so that makes the economy ‘recovered’- I admit I understand the heterodox theory better than the mainstream idea, so feel free to fill me in). The economy is not ‘recovered’ just because Obama officially declares the recession over. His legacy lost in America, because to many Americans, the recession wasn’t anywhere near over. I would suspect a similar dynamic in the UK, which experienced the effects of the ’08 crash and still has a private debt of ~230% of GDP. Are wages still flat? Is workforce participation of the 25-50yr agegroup still low? Is youth unemployment still high? I wouldn’t be surprised if the box has to be checked for all three of those in England. The intention of a people’s QE policy (whether an outright handout or Corbyn’s proposal to direct the central bank to fund infrastructure projects) is aimed at lowering the private debt load and getting the economy into a position where it can grow in ways other than speculative bubbles. So on to public debt- at the height of the US WWII investment, public debt reached about 120% of GDP. The Uk is currently at 90%. So what again is the rule that says they can’t go higher? Because without a way to get out from under that private debt rock, there may be only two other ways to recover- disciplining the population into accepting continuing flat or declining wages so that the Uk can become a big exporter (and thus balance its budget and pay off private debt with the trade surplus), or more asset speculation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘big exporter’ idea is the overall plan of right-wing brexiters. I’m jealous that the Uk labour party seems to be presenting an inspiring alternative instead of more loser liberalism. Because that’s how you win elections against the far right…
    Which brings me to your point about UK politics. So the “they” in “they say” have declared that the Uk, like the US, is a ‘center-right’ nation. Someone should investigate the truth of that. A less cliched examination of US opinion has found that although ‘independents’ are the largest political group, most of them, instead of being “centrist” in the same sense as N. Rockefeller, hold ‘extreme’ views from both sides. And when you really look at that instead of relying on intellectually lazy “red state/blue state” thinking, it becomes much less of a surprise that Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country. And many ‘activist government’ proposals like public works programs, socialized medicine, and minimum wage increases are surprisingly popular. Again, wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were similar patterns in the Uk. And while I suspect that while Corbyn isn’t as charismatic as Sanders, he HAS done several things right (things that the centrist wing of the party probably would have done wrong if left to their own devices): He made is campaign about policy instead of personality unlike May (and Clinton), he didn’t dwell on professional-class ettiquete points (unlike other party leaders, didn’t make a huge decorum fuss when May didn’t show up to the debate), campaigned hard in the deindustrialized zones (I hear the labour party did better than expected in the north- you might claim those are ‘safe’ labour zones, but Clinton lost because she assumed that Michigan&Wisconsin were safe democrat states), and encouraged high youth turnout.

    On to Europe…now it’s my turn for a colorful analogy. I don’t see the Uk as an ‘abusive husband’ for rejecting EU demands. Because the EU as currently constructed isn’t an even marginally-functional family, instead it’s a workhouse like one of the infamous magdalene laundries, with the German leaders as the self-righteous, self-serving, moralizing hypocrites in the image of Sister Bridget. So the question is, what will the European left be? The addled, institutionalized older sisters tattling on the others, or the ones who get away? Ok that’s pretty maudlin, but you asked for it. It’s not about babies or bathwater, it’s about clinging to the delusion that sacrificing sovereign democracy for a few food regulations is worth it. Seriously though, I really do suspect that the fundamental mistake of the European left is believing that an unelected bureaucracy is a better vehicle for progress than sovereign elected governments. Perhaps Varoufakis will manage to make the EU more democratic and un-codify the economic dogma governing so many of its actions. I suspect that either something like that will have to happen, or the EU will cease to exist. Back to Germany, I don’t actually think it’s leaders are anywhere near as evil as Sister Bridget, but I do think that they’re relatively mediocre and self-serving. If some mediocre center-right politicians are enough to threaten the existence of the EU, that means it’s that inherently fragile.

    Trade/Globalization…did I say that I wanted America to become North Korea? Yes, I know that in econ 101 all we get is the static-obsessed ‘comparative advantage’ theory and a comparison between “free trade” and “autarky”. Thank god I don’t think so simplistically (unlike mainstream economists). I’m saying that a bit of import substitution might be a big help in rich countries where previous leaders saw fit to empty out all the industry…and that if lefties stole the mantle, it could be accomplished with reciprocity to other nations (e.g the example with India) instead of in the distorted, us-first way presented by the nationalist right. And when it comes to the rest of the world, I think the poorer countries could benefit as well from seriously relaxed ‘free-trade’ rules. I don’t buy the party line that free trade is the best thing for the world’s poor, because I don’t believe the record actually shows that. I think there’s some paper out there showing that poor countries grew faster in the postwar, pre-neoliberalism days than in the more recent years (or it might have been in Ha Joon Chang’s book). Closer to home, I just read a paper that pointed out that NAFTA was even worse for Mexico than it was for the united states- perhaps a renegotiation of NAFTA could fundamentally re-work the terms with Mexico, allowing them to put up tarriffs on US food products along with a commitment on our part to lower agricultural our subsidies. Furthermore, we could address something that ironically exists in many ‘free trade’ deals- strong protections for elites in the forms of intellectual property terms. If we agreed to relax those, the global poor could get access to cheaper drugs and cheaper software. In turn the US could be allowed to re-protect some manufacturing sectors. Overall, I think the point isn’t ‘globalization’ vs ‘anti-globalization’, it’s about both re-working trade on terms more favorable to the working class/less favorable to elites and the professional class; and allowing some amount of protectionism in the mix and admitting we’re doing it (instead of what we’re doing now, which is as I pointed out, promoting ‘free trade’ while in practice strengthening protections for elites).

    Russia/Trump…I only watch RT when there’s someone on it who I’ve been otherwise following elsewhere. Anyways, no I don’t think Putin is a friend, I think that escalation against Russia is counterproductive. It doesn’t anyone any closer to reaching an agreement on Ukraine, for example. With Trump, I suspect that any of the things you listed above, plus money laundering through his fake charities, are all likelier targets for impeachment. I think a prosecutor should focus on the likely crimes, because in America we’re supposed to have something called a ‘presumption of innocence’. And because it would probably be much easier to nail him that way. Instead, the establishment democrats would rather partner with the most hated (rightfully) institution in the federal government to try to pursue a far-less-likely conspiracy theory.

    Like

  3. Part of this general blog page seems devoted to documenting the dysfunction in the professional class of energy engineers. As a field, mainstream economics is probably at least ten times as corrupted and politicized. So I think you give them far too much credit. The same ideology that leads to widespread nagging about sovereign debts and “magic money trees” also led to the austerity that so many European countries attempted to implement. Embracing the religion of balanced budgets means remaining committed to the same delusions that led to austerity.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s