I have not posted to my blog for months. Instead I have sat back appalled by events.
However It seems to me that those little Englanders who voted for us to leave the EU under the illusion that England could once again be Great Britannia have actually put the final nails in the coffin of that pipedream. They will find that while the UK could delude itself that it was somehow special while part of the European Union once on its own they will find that England has suddenly become part of a offshore island of little consequence to the giants of world finance. Having to renegotiate from a weak position all the EU treaties we presently take for granted will take years and will at every turn demonstrate how insignificant trade with England will have become. Perhaps at last the little Englander world view will be dead.
Meanwhile Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, who was a Remain supporter has capitulated to the extreme EU sceptics in her party. In a parliamentary democracy, there should be no such thing as a binding referendum, certainly not on something which has the potential to sweep away 300 years of history and leave England on its own in an increasingly hostile world. It should be parliament that decides the way ahead, taking into account the marginal majority of the referendum voters. Instead May has compounded the facile, lazy way in which Cameron brought about the referendum by cow towing to the vociferous hardliners in her party in a populist fashion worthy of all the worst populist parties in Europe. The Conservative party has become overnight virtually indistinguishable from UKIP.
The Poor Had No Lawyers by Andy Wightman and The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein catalogue the steady usurpation of power and wealth by the uber rich. I believe we are living through a particular explosion of that process. Klein highlights the method of taking advantage of crises by neo-liberals. The 2008 crisis gave a perfect opportunity to the Cameron-Osborne Tory government to do just that and to hasten the transference of power and state assets to the top 1%.
The continued existence of tax havens and the failure to catch tax dodging, the asset stripping and disruption of the NHS, TTIP, the privatising of the probation service and prisons are but a few examples of what is being done.
60% of young people have no employment in Greece, 6 out of 10, 60 out of 100 young people have nothing useful in their lives. For most they are already condemned to a life unfulfilled, scraps of employment, acres of the dole, ill health, ambitions and self esteem shattered, lives wasted.
It is obscene, immoral. The politicians and bureaucrats of Athens, the EU, the IMF are inhuman, amoral not to do anything but exacerbate it.
Even if they are devoid of humanity surely those in power must see the waste of economic resources. As these millions of unemployed people rise up the demographic tree they will be less able to contribute and be more of a drain on the European economies.
Corbyn would be well advised to proceed with great caution if he is to succeed as Labour Party leader. He has according to the press not started too well so perhaps following on from my last post he might care to use these two questions to give David Cameron room to hang himself.
“Would the Prime Minister tell us what he said to the people / refugees / migrants he met on his recent visit to the camp in Lebanon?”
And to follow
“What did the people / refugees / migrants say in reply?”
Jimmy Young on Radio 2 was a very gentle yet incisive interviewer. He was even known to get the better of Margaret Thatcher from time to time whereas Robin Day shouted and usually got nowhere.
Jeremy Corbyn should take note. David Cameron will try to bully him and shout him down with a braying hoard of Tory MPs behind him. Quiet, gentle, seemingly innocuous questions seeking information not challenging might encourage him to commit indiscretions. Even if it does not achieve that, the contrast of shouty bully boy versus quiet reasonableness will be a subtle signal to voters.
As will better attendance in the House of Commons Chamber by his MPs. The image of SNP MPs massed in the Chamber with perhaps half a dozen members of other parties is doing them no end of good. There really is no good reason why the Labour and SNP opposition benches should not appear well filled for most important debates. Even occasional images of that sort on the news or other programmes will send a message to voters. It will not be so easy for Tory members to do the same thing. They have to fill the whole side of the chamber; a fair number are ministers and do have other commitments; the remainder may well be too used to the good life away from the House either in other jobs or at leisure to willingly sit in the Chamber. It is however what the electorate think they pay them to do.
Corbyn has won a notable victory against neoliberalism and if he can display sweet reasonableness in his public utterances he will be able to subtly demonstrate the differences between Labour and Tory ideology. Voters have shown that they will not elect a Tory Lite government when they can elect the real thing but there are probably enough to elect a distinct but moderate alternative able to convince them that austerity is not working.
Wow! I really thought that Jermey Corbyn would not win the leadership of the Labour Party with the massed ranks of the neoliberal establishment massed against him. It appeared that the there would be some part of the party electoral system manipulated to stop him. It is a major defeat for the Neoliberal Right to let a left winger, however slight the actual shift to the left, take control of a major UK party.
It seems likely that we are living in an era of a possible tectonic shift in society, the huge flows of population in the Middle East and Africa and the growing realisation by voters in many European countries that governments of the Neoliberal right are exploiting them.
The USA and UK in particular did the equivalent of poking a hornets nest when they started to interfere in Afghanistan and the the Middle East. But the resultant firestorm was probably in the making anyway. The fundamentalist religious extremists have been able to spread their message throughout the region, along the North African coast and into many parts of sub Saharan African. The result is a tidewave of displaced people, refugees, pouring across borders to less unstable adjacent countries such as Lebanon and Jordan and then into Europe. There is no reason to believe that the EU can permanently stop the inflow. In the long run this is going to alter the structure of EU society. As I have said elsewhere, it is best for Europe to take advantage of an inflow of new and younger people to improve the demographic profile but also to realise that most of the refugees will be energetic and eager to work. Best to employ them to increase economic activity in the countries where they settle than to try to send them home. When and if their home countries stabilise, many are likely to return there having contibuted far more economically than they will have taken out in benefits. The UK government crows about the aid sent to the refugee camps in countries such as Jordan. That money is wasted, produces no economic return whereas those same refugees could be contributing to the UK economy.
Much more tentative but nevertheless beginning to blossom is the perceptible rise in populist parties in a number of EU countries. I am hopeful that in spite of the hysterical and strident rearguard action by the Neoliberal elite this awakening will gather pace and eventually produce a real change for the better for the majority of EU citizens, a fairer more humane society allowing all the people to flourish and fulfill their potential.
It is perhaps not surprising given the power and reach of the Neoliberal uber-rich that in the UK, the EU and USA Austerity has become the orthodoxy. In the UK it is taking on an extreme form in our political life. So much so that the neoliberal Tories are regarded by many voters as a centre party. They have been bamboozled by the idea that the finances of a country are best managed like a household budget. Margaret Thatcher famously started the idea but George Osborne and Cameron are the real practitioners. Prof Steve Keen in an interview explains the absurdity of such theories. It is not surprising that his views and similar views of other serious economists are hidden under a blizzard of spin and invective by the powerful uber-rich who stand to lose if austerity is abandoned.
This has resulted in Labour becoming a right of centre party also enamoured of austerity which they dare not refute. That is the case with all their leadership nominees apart from Jeremy Corbyn. He is being taken apart by the neoliberal main stream media, not surprising in view of who owns them, and there is a desperate campaign to stop his bid for the labour Party leadership.
However, there are growing signs of at least some of the electorate realising the fact that they have been hoodwinked. Jeremy Corbyn is the popular candidate of the grassroots of the party, Greece elected a left wing party, Syriza, and there are movements in Spain and Italy.
Prof Steen mentioned the economic policy of the SNP in Scotland as going in the right direction.