Monday, January 30, 2017

Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban is a gift to extremists


Make no mistake. Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban is an absolute gift to extremists.

It's a gift to the fascistic white supremacist demographic who propelled Donald Trump into the White House, and made the extreme-right propagandist Steve Bannon one of the most powerful men on the planet. They've been baying for this kind of bigoted arbitrary discrimination for years. By giving them a bit of what they want Trump and Bannon have rewarded them for their votes.

White supremacist racists adore the idea of ethnicity and nationality based discrimination, but they're not the only extremists who will be delighted at Trump's Muslim travel ban. Islamist extremists all over the world will be ecstatic at this collective discrimination against Muslims, because it represents evidence to support their narrative that the West hate Muslims. 


It's a massive boon for them because it feeds into their divisive "clash of civilisations" agenda. "Look at how the West hate and discriminate against Muslims" is the perfect recruiting tool for these appalling savages.

Trump's Muslim ban is also a gift to the extremist Islamist theocracy in Saudi Arabia, which for some reason is one of the Muslim majority countries in the middle east to be excluded from the travel ban list. Let's not forget that 15 of the 19 September 11th attackers were Saudis; that it's widely acknowledged that Saudi Arabia spreads Islamist extremism and terrorism all over the world; that the leaked Clinton emails showed that the Americans have known for quite some time that Saudi Arabia is funding ISIS; nor that even the Saudi Arabian ministry admits that there are over 2,000 Saudi Arabians fighting for ISIS to create their barbaric Islamist caliphate in the middle east.

It's extraordinary that Saudi Arabia gets a free pass on this Muslim travel ban despite their obvious links to Islamist extremism, but it's hardly surprising given the vast amount of US weapons the Saudis buy, the vast amount of US currency, stocks and bonds they hold, and the fact that the Trump business empire has investments in Saudi Arabia too.

Social liberals find it easy to see the wrongness of Trump's arbitrary collective discrimination against Muslims from some countries but not others.

  • Turning away refugees fleeing persecution and abuse is appalling. 
  • Arbitrary collective discrimination is bigoted and inhumane. 
  • Discriminating against people based on their religious beliefs is profoundly unconstitutional.


  • Barring people who just need to fly through American airports to get to their final destinations is egregious. 


  • Barring people who are just visiting temporarily to spend time with dying relatives is sadistic.


  • Barring people who actually served alongside American soldiers during their imperialist wars is an obvious betrayal. 


  • Expecting countries in Europe and the middle east to carry the entire burden of the refugee crisis that stemmed from the American invasion and occupation of Iraq is astoundingly selfish.
  • Turning away refugees from Iraq (a country suffering the appalling consequences of US imperialism) whilst welcoming Saudi Arabians (a country that funds, arms and supplies ISIS) is completely unjustifiable.
Anyone with any basic human decency can see how unjust Trump's Muslim travel ban is, but you don't even need to recognise the injustice of it in order to see the biggest problem of all, you just need to be a pragmatist:

You just have to look at who actually benefits from this kind of cruel and arbitrary collective discrimination, and the answer is extremists.


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Friday, January 27, 2017

Brexiters, good luck with your Trump-Tory trade deal!


It's difficult not to scorn the blatant over-optimism of Brexiters who insist on pinning their hopes on a Trump-Tory trade deal.

I've already pointed out that the "cliff edge" Brexit the Tories have been cobbling together puts the UK in an extraordinarily weak geopolitical position, with any prospective trade partners certain to adopt a "you need us more than we need you" stance to demand as many favours, bribes and special privileges as they think they can get away with.



Picture credit: Kevin Kallaugher
Anyone who imagines that Trump and his team won't see Britain's position of geopolitical weakness and use it as a diplomatic half nelson to extract "Trump tributes" is clearly still living in a Brexiter fantasy land of patriotic flag-waving and ridiculous over-optimism.

The Americans will demand all kinds of stuff like the opening up of our borders to cheap heavily subsidised US agricultural produce, the lowering of food safety standards to allow unlabelled GM foods and chlorine treated chicken onto our supermarket shelves, and a carve up of the NHS for the benefit of US health corporations. Theresa May is a weak and consistently incompetent politician with a load of rubbish cards in her diplomatic poker hand.

I've already pointed out that it's an absolute national disgrace that Theresa May has scuttled off to America with her begging bowl, to heap praise on Donald Trump and beg for the US-UK trade deal that she's pinned her hopes on. Even Mexico have the cojones to stand up to Trump, but Theresa May is over there bowing and scraping, making Britain look weak, pathetic and subservient on our behalf.

We all know that a quickfire trade deal is impossible, and even if it were possible, it would be a catastrophic idea to cobble together an important piece of international legislation with such haste. Trade deals take an average of seven years to complete for a reason. They have to be carefully negotiated in order to prevent damaging side-effects, and even then, they still cause all kinds of problems (just look at NAFTA or the appalling transnational tribunals included in the CETA agreement between Canada and the EU that is about to be ratified).

If Theresa May starts trying to negotiate a trade deal with the US before they've formalised their EU exit, the European reaction is bound to be furious. It would completely kill off May's already tenuous hopes of cherry-picking Single Market access for favoured corporations (banks and vehicle manufacturers) whilst lumbering the economic damage of quitting the Single Market on the rest of us.

Donald Trump has now made it absolutely clear that Theresa May is begging for a trade deal from a madman. He told a gathering of Republican lawmakers that he wants a 30 day "get out clause" on any trade deal the US signs up to!

Here's what he said:

"Believe me, we’re going to have a lot of trade deals ... If that particular country doesn’t treat us fairly, we send them a 30-day termination, notice of termination."
After the years it takes to finalise the Trump-Tory trade deal, he's demanding the right to scrap it at a month's notice if it somehow turns out to be benefiting Britain too much for his liking!

Judging by the close correlation between Trump's Twitter outbursts and reports on Fox News, it seems likely that he could end up just binning the whole thing as soon as he sees a critical Fox News segment about it!

The UK has decided to leave the largest trading block in the world. Admittedly one with many faults (I've written more critical analysis on the EU than the huge majority of Brexit voters) but one where we were one of the big fish with a lot of influence.

What Theresa May and the Tories are trying to do is replace that loss with a pathetically subservient role to the United States that is completely dependent on the whims of the first US President ever with no legislative experience whatever. It's completely dependent on a US President who talks contradictory rubbish, lies through his teeth, has utter contempt for stuff like science, international law, women's rights and basic human decency.

I can understand that a lot of Brexiters voted the way they did because they honestly wanted things to get better. But how on earth is grovelling for a massively one-sided trade deal from a trash-talking madman who wants the right to tear up any such deal at 30 days notice any better than the deal we had before? 


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Theresa May's begging bowl speech


Theresa May's decision to go scuttling off to America with her begging bowl to become the first world leader to grovel at the feet of President Trump is a national disgrace for Britain (although it had right wingers like Nigel Farage and Michael Gove creaming their pants in delight).

It was pretty clear that May was going to go begging ever since her utterly woeful Brexit speech admitted that she's pinning our national hopes on some kind of free trade deal with Donald Trump, but the fact that Mexico decided to stand up to Trump's bullying while she was there are just goes to show what an utterly desperate position we're in.

Anyhow. The right-wing press lavished praise on Theresa May's grovelling speech to the Republican retreat in Philadelphia, but there are very many things to object to. Here are a few:

The US Constitution

Theresa May started out by praising the US Constitution, which is ironic because it's the source of American citizens' rights, and she absolutely loves scrapping British citizens' rights. It's also a bit odd because Donald Trump has demonstrated time and again that he doesn't give a damn about the US Constitution.

The United Nations

Theresa May knows that Donald Trump has bitterly criticised the United Nations on many occasions, which is why she deliberately talked it down by claiming that it is in need of reform. But the reform it actually needs is the opposite of what she's hinting at. If the UN is ever to work effectively in needs to prevent the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, USA) from repeatedly using their veto to serve their own narrow political interests, something that Trump would never agree to.

NATO

Theresa May also decided to feed into Trump's isolationist rhetoric by talking down NATO. It doesn't matter whether you see NATO as a good thing or not. What is important is the way that Theresa May, who until recently would never have dreamed of talking down NATO, is now prepared to bend her message in order to appease Donald Trump. May repeatedly talked down the European contribution to NATO as if to lay the propaganda groundwork for pointing the finger of blame at the Baltic states should Trump decide to unilaterally withdraw the United States from NATO.

Winston Churchill

Theresa May knows that Donald Trump (and an awful lot of other Americans) are fond of Winston Churchill, but the repeated references to a man that she is deliberately destroying the legacy of were utterly egregious. Especially distasteful was her decision to quote Churchill's views on rights and freedoms; "We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man". To say this when she's been attacking British freedoms like nobody's business (the right to a fair trial, the right to privacy, the right to free speech) and is utterly determined to destroy Churchill's finest legacy by withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights is horrifyingly brass-necked.

The "new era of American renewal"

Theresa May actually referred to the current situation in the US as "the new era of American renewal". She also talked of how Trump had "swept all before you" and his "great victory". Such an overt display of sycophancy towards a narcissistic bully should be a source of shame to British people.

Women's Rights

Often what isn't said is much more telling than what is said. Theresa May didn't make one single reference to women's rights in her speech. She could have mentioned the right not to be molested at work, or the fact that in Britain we respect women's reproductive rights.

She chose not to mention women's rights for one clear and undeniable reason. She considers begging for a Trump trade deal to be of much more importance than the protection of women's rights.


Trident

Theresa May was very keen to talk up the fact that she secured a parliamentary blank cheque for Trident renewal last year. The reason is obvious. Britain's nuclear deterrent was privatised in the 1990s and is now operated by a consortium that is 66% owned by US companies. Theresa May's blank cheque for Trident means these companies will be raking in tens of billions of pounds of UK taxpayers' money. In effect Theresa May was reminding Trump that we're one of the most profitable sources of income for American arms companies.

Daesh/Isis

Theresa May actually had the gall to claim that Britain and the US are leading the fight against Daesh/Isis. We all know that in 2013 David Cameron wanted to create a power vacuum in Syria by attacking the Assad regime in order to hand the keys to Damascus to ISIS. We also know that the Americans are fully aware of Saudi Arabia's involvement in backing ISIS, yet both Britain and the US are selling weapons to the Saudis. If we're such leaders in the fight against ISIS, how come we're allowing Saudi Arabia to fund them, arm them and supply them with thousands of terrorist fighters with complete impunity?

The "quiet resolve" of Brexit

Theresa May claimed that the vote for Brexit was made in "quiet resolve" rather than in the febrile atmosphere of three utterly toxic campaigns, all led by right-wing politicians. The fearmongering of the official Remain campaign was matched by the outright lies of the official Leave campaign and the undisguised xenophobia of the repellent Leave.EU mob. The decision to quit the EU was anything but an act of "quiet resolve", it was the result of an ugly and vicious debate with few redeeming features, it was preceded by the murder of a serving politician, and followed up with a massive increase in violent and abusive attacks on foreigners and ethnic minorities. What on earth is Theresa May playing at trying to redefine such an ugly and divisive campaign as some kind of tranquil moment of decision making?

Regime change is over?

The part of the speech that most of the mainstream press picked up on was Theresa May's assertion that "the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over". This was reported as if it meant that Britain and the US would no longer be toppling the governments of other countries for ideological reasons, but the following sentence makes it clear that the preceding one was essentially meaningless. When she said "but nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene" she was essentially saying that another Iraq is likely to happen, because didn't Blair and Bush expend enormous effort to talk up the threat of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction? What May was actually saying is that she doesn't want Britain and the US to get caught out lying about their motivations for war again.

Iraq

Theresa May's contradictory stance on regime change looks an awful lot like it was written a long time before Donald Trump's declaration that the United States should just steal Iraq's oil, and his dismissal of anyone who raises concerns about the legality of just stealing Iraq's oil as "fools".

It seems that Donald Trump has no intention of getting caught out fabricating reasons to invade other countries, because he's just going to admit the truth from the beginning. "We're invading your country to steal your natural resources". How he thinks that kind of attitude will reduce international terrorism is anyone's guess, but we can be sure that Theresa May will back him up like the disgustingly snide kid who hides behind the school bully and goads him on as he steals dinner money from the weak and vulnerable


Warmongering rhetoric

There is one very obvious conclusion to draw from Theresa May's assertion that "there is nothing inevitable about conflict between Russia and the West". The conclusion is that she thinks war with Russia is a possibility.

The anti-Iranian rhetoric in her speech was even worse. Theresa May knows perfectly well that Saudi Arabia is the biggest source of terrorism and instability in the middle east, but she demonstrated her determination to goad Trump into attacking Iran with an anti-Iranian spiel because she knows that Iran is one of Trump's personal bugbears.

And finally to the point ...

After drivelling on for ages Theresa May finally got to the point; begging for a Trump-Tory trade deal. She is absolutely determined to paint such a trade deal as a great thing for ordinary working people, but it's such obvious propaganda bullshit that only the most delusional could ever fall for it.

The American government promised working people that the NAFTA free trade deal would be good for jobs, but in the end it resulted in the mass destruction of hundreds of thousands of US jobs. Theresa May is trying to sell working people the exact same pup again.

TTIP 2.0

Before the EU referendum Brexiters were absolutely determined fearmonger about the TTIP free trade deal between the Barack Obama's centre-right administration and the politically diverse EU. TTIP is dead in the water now, not least because the most vocal TTIP cheerleaders of all (the Tory party) have ensured Britain's exit from the EU. Anyone who imagines that Theresa May won't end up agreeing a very much more sinister corporate power grab with the Trump administration must be astoundingly naive.

Subservience

Theresa May's pathetic pleading that this new Trump-Tory trade deal should "work for both sides and serve both our national interests" contrasts very sharply indeed with Donald Trump's protectionist inaugural speech full of "America First" rhetoric and promises to rig all trade deals and foreign policy objectives in favour of America.

Theresa May knows just as well as anyone else that Britain is always going to be the junior partner in any dealing with the United States, but especially now that we've put ourselves in such a position of geopolitical weakness.

Trump knows that we need him more than he needs us, so he'll use the negotiations to demand tribute. Opening up the UK market to heavily subsidised US agricultural produce including GM foods and chlorine washed chicken is almost certain to be one demand. The carving open of the NHS to be picked apart by US health corporations will almost certainly be another.

Cowardice

Just like women's rights, Theresa May didn't bother to mention food standards or universal health care in her long rambling speech, because she knows that any defence of things like that would be like a red rag to a bull, and any admission that she's willing to offer them up as "Trump tribute" would cause her all kinds of trouble back in the UK, so just like with Brexit, she decided to say nothing and fill the air with platitudes and Trump eulogies, rather than state an actual position.


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Endemic Elitism: Financial discrimination against the working classes in the UK


As an educated guy from a working class background the sight of right-wing politicians from privileged backgrounds pretending to be the friends of the working classes always makes me sick to the stomach.

Right-wing politics has always been about entrenching the wealth and power of the wealthiest people in society at the expense of the working majority. Left-wing politics has always been about redressing the balance.

First we had the UKIP snake oil merchants (a rag-tag bunch of failed, disgraced and defected Tories who are completely bankrolled by former Tory party donors) dressing up their hard-right Thatcherism on steroids agenda as some kind of salvation for the working classes who have had their wages, working conditions and communities ruined by the consequences of the Westminster establishment's four decade long fixation with Thatcherism.

Now things are becoming even more ridiculous than Nigel Farage's ludicrous pint-swilling "man of the people act" as Theresa May tries to dress herself up as the champion of the working classes!
  • Theresa May is the leader of the billionaire bankrolled party of wealth and privilege. 
  • Theresa May is the leader of the party that introduced vast £9,000 per year university fees in order to dissuade as many kids from ordinary backgrounds as possible from seeking professional qualifications.
  • Theresa May is the leader of the party that scrapped all student grants and bursaries in order to lumber kids from ordinary backgrounds with even more debt for having the temerity to seek professional qualifications.
Life in Britain is still massively rigged against the working classes. A study by the Social Mobility Commission has found that professionals from poorer backgrounds are paid an average £6,800 per year less than their peers with more privileged upbringings.

The study found that even those from working class families who have exactly the same role, education and experience are still paid on average 7% less than their colleagues from more advantaged backgrounds.

In Britain you get paid more if you speak with a posh accent, not a regional one, and you get paid more if your parents had the cash to send you to an elitist private school rather than the ordinary state schools that 93% of us attended.

In Britain it's not what you know that determines your pay packet, it's who you know, and how posh your accent is.

In her inauguration speech Theresa May actually cried crocodile tears over the fact that working class kids are so much less likely to go to university, but then one of her very first acts as Prime Minister was to ram through legislation to scrap all of the student grants and bursaries that help kids from poor and ordinary backgrounds gain professional qualifications at university.

As far as Theresa May and the Tories are concerned, there is still far too much competition from the working classes, so they have to be dissuaded from even trying to gain professional qualifications, and then lumbered with aspiration tax (often for their entire working lives) for having the temerity to try to compete for the top jobs, which the Tories believe should always belong to the children of the privileged; the children of their own social class.

The evidence is absolutely clear that working class people suffer appalling financial discrimination in the UK, and that the billionaire backed Tory party is determined to erect as many social mobility barriers as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to con as many working class people as possible into actually voting for them and ensuring the continuation of this deliberate class war against "the lower orders".

Anyone who thinks that it's actually in the interest of a massive bunch of millionaire toffs to give the working classes a fighting chance against their own social class must be absolutely delusional.

If you're working class and you vote for the Tories (or the purple-tied Thatcherism on steroids party), you're clearly a turkey who votes for Christmas.

If you're from a working class background, but you've managed to overcome all of the social mobility barriers to gain professional qualifications and you vote for the blue or purple Tories, you're worse than an ignorant and ill-informed Turkey voting for Christmas, you're nothing but a class traitor who is intent on kicking down the few remaining social mobility ladders in order to arrogantly cement yourself as a cut above your working class peers.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Welcome to Donald Trump's America


The actor Shia LaBeouf was holding some kind of live streamed anti-Trump protest when an obnoxious white supremacist wearing a Hitler Youth cap and shouting fascist slogans interrupted it.

Instead of punching the obnoxious little fascist, Shia LaBeouf shouted at him to drown out the Nazi slogans, which allegedly included the assertion that "Hitler did nothing wrong".

The clip of this incident immediately went viral, and the sympathy of Trump supporters was predictably directed towards the outright fascist and not the Jewish man who got angry with him.


There is absolutely no doubt that the object of the Trumpsters' sympathies is a fascist. The hat he was wearing is undeniably a Hitler youth cap, and the "1488" phrase he shouted into the camera is a Nazi code. The "14" refers to the 14 Words of white supremacism invented by the white supremacist murderer David Lane (who died in jail for the murder of a Jewish radio presenter). The "88" refers to "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter of the English alphabet.

Aside from this Nazi troll, other fans of the 1488 code include the white supremacist terrorist Dylan Roof, the white supremacist murderer Curtis Allgier and the Tennessee Barack Obama assassination plotters.

The reaction of Trumpsters to this incident was an orgy of condemnation of Shia LeBeouf backed up with an awful lot of sympathetic pleading on behalf of the neo-Nazi.

Here are some of the countless Trumpster reactions to a Jewish man getting angry at a Nazi hat-wearing troll shouting fascist slogans [source]:

"A hollywood bully""Liberal Bully & Nut Job. Don't see good things 4 him", "Keep it up libitards!1 You are doing just what you do best!!""rather a violent outburst for someone promoting peace and  diversity""Something is seriously wrong with Labeouf", "Liberals are the most bizarre form of hellish spawn Satan created", "Anybody got a straight jacket for him?", "Leftist coward", "oh the hate!""Libs are so diabolical""The non-actor was bullied by the actor", "Look at the Left Wing Bullies. No tolerance. No debate, Just Bullying at it's finest"  ...

So in Trumpland a Jew who gets angry with a Nazi is actually a hateful and mentally ill bully, and the Nazi is the poor innocent victim who deserves to be tolerated!

Perhaps a quote from Adolf Hitler might help to illustrate why tolerance of fascists is not such a good idea?


"Only one thing could have stopped our movement - if our adversaries had understood its principle and from the first day smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement." Adolf Hitler, 1934
One of the other commonly occurring Trumpster arguments against LaBeouf is to deny the absolutely obvious with questions like "where do you get the info to assert that this man is a 'white supremacist'?" as if it's not obvious from the Nazi hat he was wearing and the white supremacist code he was shouting into the camera!

The Trumpster doesn't really want to know the answer to the question though, they're just asking it in order to try to add confusion and doubt into the debate and to gain recommendations and upvotes from other Trumpsters.

I'm sure that a lot of these Trumpsters who insist on sympathising with an actual Nazi think of themselves as patriots, but their impassioned defence of an outright Nazi is pretty damned hard to square with the fact that 407,300 American servicemen died in the Second World War in order to defeat Nazism and Japanese imperialism.

It's incredibly sad that there are still Second World War veterans alive today, but their sacrifices have already been forgotten so badly that people who imagine themselves to be American patriots actually jump to the defence of an obvious Nazi, and bitterly condemn the Jewish man who got angry with him.

Things certainly aren't looking good for America when people have become so conditioned by the right-wing media that it's easy to trick Trump supporters into agreeing with Adolf Hitler quotes and a white supremacist Nazi troll becomes the object of a mass outpouring of Trumpster sympathy.


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The Tory long-term economic plan


In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher and the Tories set about fundamentally restructuring the UK economy away from manufacturing and towards the service sector, especially financial services in the City of London. Now, with Tory "hard Brexit" they're intent on driving the financial services sector away from London by erecting a huge trade barrier against the rest of Europe.

In this article I'm going to take a look at this extraordinary Tory lunacy in a bit more detail.


Part 1


The two main reasons that the Tories steered the UK economy away from manufacturing and towards financial services were ideology and over-optimism.

The Tories wanted to destroy the power of the trade unions. The destruction of the heavy industries that the most powerful unions were based on was a core strategy in the Tory ideological war against worker power. Thus industries like coal mining, steel, ship building, rail industries and HGV manufacturing were left to ruin, or even subjected to deliberate ideological attack.

To put this Tory victory over worker power into perspective, the National Union of Miners had some 170,000 members in the early 1980s. Now there is not one single underground coal mine left in the UK and the once mighty NUM has just 100 odd members left.


Aside from wanting to destroy the power of industrial workers by destroying their jobs (and communities) the other Tory reason for this shift towards a financial sector dominated service-based economy was over-optimism. The 1970s was full of new theories like the post-industrial society, and the Tories thought that they could deliberately accelerate the process of becoming a modern post-industrial society by neglecting and undermining the industrial sectors and putting all of their efforts into turning London into a global financial services hub. They actually thought that they were modernising Britain when what they were actually doing was unforgivable economic vandalism. This delusional modernisation mentality was reflected in all of the slick political propaganda the Tories commissioned from trendy advertising agencies like Saachi and Saachi.

If we look at the UK balance of Trade the appalling consequences of this deliberate process of de-industrialisation becomes clear. Over the years the UK has been importing more and more manufactured goods, but this woeful trade imbalance has been partially offset by the trade surplus in services, mainly financial services.

Contrast with Germany

The contrast with the approach taken by Germany is profound. Instead of fighting damaging ideological wars with the trade unions, Germany actually has a law that requires worker representation on the board of company directors. Instead of taking an antagonistic class-warfare based approach to industrial relations the Germans adopted a more co-operative and conciliatory approach.

The difference in the German approach to industrial strategy is also profound.

Instead of gleefully kicking their core industries into the grave and concentrating on financial services, the Germans supported their manufacturing and heavy industries and encouraged modernisation with the aim of becoming a modern high-tech economy. Their success has been undeniable. While British vehicle, machine and machine tool industries have floundered and died off dramatically, the Germans have thrived.


The Germans don't need a vast over-sized financial services sector to offset their balance of trade deficit because they have a huge trade surplus.

Part 2

After having restructured the UK economy to make it fundamentally reliant on financial services the Tories decided to hold, and then lose a referendum on EU membership. After that they then decided to aim for a Tory "hard Brexit" that involves erecting a huge trade barrier between the UK and continental Europe.

London-based financial institutions are deeply worried that the new Tory trade barriers are going to lose them money, and they're drawing up plans to shift significant swathes of their businesses out of London to keep their access to the European Single Market. Cities like Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Madrid and Amsterdam are jostling to entice major financial institutions away from London. 


If the post-Brexit exodus of financial services happens, then the UK is going to be in deep economic trouble. The export of financial services will dwindle and stop partially offsetting the woeful trade deficit in goods, meaning the balance of payments is just going to get even worse than it already is.

The idea that this situation can be rectified quickly is absolute fantasy. Four decades of deliberate industrial neglect can't be undone overnight with a bit of optimistic Tory rhetoric.

If Britain wanted to rebalance towards high-tech industries in order to combat the trade deficit in goods, it needed a comprehensive industrial strategy a decade ago, not just some optimism-heavy but investment-light blibber blabber from Theresa May now.

Brexiter bobbins

The best that Brexiters seem to be able to come up with to justify the massive act of economic self-harm that we're about to do is to hurl the extraordinary accusation that "lefties" should hate banks, therefore they're hypocrites unless they support Brexit and the deliberate expulsion of tens of thousands of banking jobs, and £billions in tax revenue and £billions more in exported services.

The thing that makes this stance so extraordinary is the way that the people adopting it are so desperately willing to overlook the complete Tory U-turns on stuff like free trade (they're busy erecting a huge Brexit trade barrier with the continent) and banking (they've coddled the City of London for decades, but now they're intent on locking them out of the EU in order to please the baying hard Brexit mob).

You don't actually have to be a big fan of banking and hyper-financialisation in order to see the economic damage that Tory Brexit is going to do, you just have to be a pragmatist. It's just not a sane economic policy to spend four decades restructuring your economy towards financial services until you're completely reliant upon them, and then suddenly tell them all to "piss off"!

Part 3


Once the Tories have told the financial services sector to "piss off" what comes next?

What is the Tory plan when London loses tens of thousands of highly-paid jobs to the continent; when the Exchequer loses £billions in tax revenue; when the UK's already woeful trade deficit is made even worse by the exodus of financial services providers?

If the evidence of the last six years is anything to go by, then the prescription will be more austerity for the poor and ordinary, more wage repression, more politically partisan cuts to local government, more destruction of public services, and more tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich.


Conclusion

The long-term Tory economic plan that has played out over the last four decades is beyond belief:
"Let's put all of our eggs in one basket ... and then smash the basket up with a sledge hammer"
Despite the obvious economic lunacy of both parts of this "plan" people still insist on rote learning bizarre counter-factual narratives from the right-wing press about how the Tories are the party of economic competence. And the Tories will continue getting away with socially and economically ruinous incompetence as long as people keep rote learning ridiculous right-wing economic fairy stories from the right-wing press.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The baying enforced optimism mob


British people have a tendency to point at the absurdity of American politics and exclaim stuff like "phew, at least we're not as bad as that" in order to make ourselves feel better about our own corrupt and malfunctioning political system.

Sometimes we have a point. Even the archaic and desperately unrepresentative Westminster voting system probably couldn't result in the candidate who lost the election by 3 million votes becoming our political leader (although in 1951 Churchill got 230,000 fewer votes than Attlee and somehow won the election), and Theresa May's press team have yet come out with anything quite as bonkers as "alternative facts".

In other ways the British system is even more crackers than the American system. Take Theresa May's appallingly invasive Snoopers' Charter, the likes of which simply couldn't happen (legally) in America because the American public are technically protected from this kind of invasive state interference by the US Constitution.

Another example of a kind of madness that is peculiar to the British is the enforced optimism about Brexit. Anyone raising doubts or questions about the glories of Brexit is now routinely shouted down, told to "shut up" and derided as a "Remoaner", "traitor", "sore loser", "whinger" and all manner of other Brexiter insults and character attacks by a baying mob of furious Brexit fanatics.

Of all of the insults hurled by the enforced optimism crowd "Remoaner" is  by far the most lacking in self-awareness. Brexit only came about because anti-European campaigners relentlessly moaned about Europe for 40 years, then immediately after they got what they wanted, anyone who raises concerns of any kind about the conduct of Tory Brexit is suddenly guilty of the heinous crime of "moaning"!

It doesn't seem to matter a jot to the enforced optimism crowd that Theresa May has outlined a savagely right-wing Tory interpretation of Brexit that is almost certain to end up isolating the UK from our 27 former European allies.

Attempting to cherry pick access to the Single Market for favoured corporations (Theresa May specifically mentioned banking and vehicle manufacturing for these special favours in her woeful Brexit speech) is spectacularly unlikely to work, because no sane club would ever allow departing members to cherry-pick themselves a better deal than the deal offered to the actual remaining fee-paying members.

Theresa May's over-optimistic cherry-picking strategy looks bad enough in its own right, but it looks even worse when backed up with the threat that "we'll turn ourselves into a bargain basement corporate tax haven if you don't give us what we want, and then you'll be sorry".


Thus Tory Brexit is clearly going to be a lose-lose situation for ordinary British businesses and citizens. Either we get a country that is even more rigged in favour of major corporations than it is now (they get to benefit from Single Market access while the rest of us are locked out and have to pay tariffs), or we end up in a corporate tax haven dystopia where public services and infrastructure are slashed away at even more than they already have been in order to cover the cost of bribing multinational corporations to locate here.
Don't dare to point this out though, or you're certain to be furiously denounced as a "Remoner" or even a "traitor" by the enforced optimism mob.


Another indicator of this delusional enforced optimism is all of the ludicrous talk of rushing through trade deals with other countries. 

Theresa May pinned her hopes on the prospect of a quickfire trade deal with Trump's America in her Brexit speech as if the Trump administration are going to just hand Britain a wonderfully beneficial deal instead of putting our diplomatically isolated country into a half-nelson and demanding as many benefits for American corporations as possible in return for a face-saving deal for Theresa May to crow about.

Imagine the delusional levels of optimism necessary to imagine that the socialist NHS principle of providing care on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay for it would survive a Tory-Trump trade deal.

Aside from the US and EU (our biggest trading partners by miles) talk of other trade deals is delusional nonsense too. We have obvious cultural links with countries like New Zealand, South Africa and India, but we export twice as much to tiny Belgium as all three combined, so they're hardly likely to rescue us if Theresa May succeeds in erecting a vast trade barrier between Britain and the continent.

As for China; who could forget Chinese State Media slamming Brexit as a display of a "losing mindset" and Chinese experts laughing off the fantasy of a quickfire China trade deal with estimates that such a deal would likely take a team of 500 British diplomats ten years to make?


Cartoon credit: Kevin Kallaugher
The enforced optimism crowd keep telling us that Brexit represents a wonderful opportunity for Britain to draw up brilliant new trade deals all over the world, but the geopolitical reality is a lot more sobering.

Britain has put itself in an extraordinary position of diplomatic weakness, because every potential trade deal partner will know perfectly well that we need them more than they need us, and will therefore be looking to extract as many favours and bribes as possible in return for signing our hastily cobbled-together trade deals.

What is even more worrying than the delusionally over-optimistic interpretations of the Tory Brexit shambles is the way that all of this fantastical nonsense is ruthlessly enforced by a baying mob of furious Brexiters, who see any efforts to doubt or question the Tory handling of Brexit as completely unacceptable attempts to snatch away their beloved Brexit utopia.

Us Brits can continue to laugh and sneer at Donald Trump and the farcical state of American politics if we like, but the goings on closer to home are just as ludicrous. The Tories and their chums in the right-wing press are busy concocting bizarre Orwellian narratives (Theresa May and the party of wealth and privilege are the anti-establishment rebellion! The bullies are the victims! Our weakness is our strength!) and millions of people are soaking up these counter-factual stories and then mindlessly regurgitating them as if they're their own well-considered political opinions rather than painfully obvious drivel they've just obsorbed through the process of mental osmosis.

Let's be honest with ourselves: With the farcical shit-parade of Tory Brexit going on, we don't really occupy sneering-at-others territory do we?


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