On Being Far Left 219

I have found myself described as far left, quite often recently. I find this rather puzzling. I would not even describe myself as a socialist. Economically, I wish to see much greater worker share ownership, limitations on extreme pay differentials between management and staff, and strong regulation of casino banking with a far smaller, taxed and regulated derivatives market. I support state ownership of natural monopolies, such as rail, roads, and public utilities. I support state welfare provision and excellent state health and education services. But that is as far as it goes. I do not advocate central planning and in general prefer to keep the state out of commercial activity – which is why I support the EU so strongly in removing barriers to the mobility of all factors of production. I am not a socialist.

This blog is read by many people who have known me since university, some even earlier. I think I am right in saying that my beliefs have not changed in any fundamental way over 40 years. What I outline above was what I believed in 1976. I stand open to confirmation or correction.

Yet in 1976 I was a Liberal, and politically centre or only slightly left of centre. My views were absolutely mainstream and were voiced in mainstream media every day.

While standing still, I now find myself far left as the mainstream political spectrum rushed rightwards past me.

Is this because the Thatcherite revolution, carried on so enthusiastically by Blair and New Labour, proved wildly successful? Is it because deregulation and privatisation has brought prosperity, harmony and an inarguably better society?

No, not at all. The new right wing consensus has been a disaster. It led directly to the great crash of 2008 and the resulting austerity, which will dog us for another two decades at this rate. It led to massive, astonishing inequality of wealth and a society in which it is considered normal for top executives of an organisation to be paid 100 times more than the lowest employee. It led to hedge fund managers owning our politicians, and to Russian mafia owning our football clubs. It led to a world where Save the Children can pay its chief executive £375,000 a year of donation money yet nobody pukes. It led to collapse in manufacturing and to vast areas of blight and hopelessness, to a generation who will never afford a house while buy to let multi millionaires abound, to QE transferring yet more money straight to financial institutions.

The great right wing experiment has been a disaster for the country. Outwith the economic field, we have seen a massive attack on civil liberties, the growth of the 100% surveillance state, and end of respect for international law including the invasion of Iraq and the programme of torture and extraordinary rendition.

Yet although the disastrous failure of Britain’s forty year far right experiment is evident all around us, public opinion continued to move inexorably ever more to the right. It did so because the sheer propaganda power of the corporate media, led by the BBC, pushed it in that direction and had the power to do so. Dissident voices were excluded from the airwaves. The positions I agree with and which I heard regularly on the airwaves forty years ago no longer get airtime, even where they retain majority public support, such as nationalisation of the railways.

Some of my views have become more radical, and they relate to the need to break up the institutions of the right wing state. I believed in Scottish independence forty years ago, but it is much more central to my thinking now. Forty years ago I would have been shocked by the idea that the BBC should be utterly destroyed, but now that seems to me the only sensible approach.

I am not without hope. There is no doubt that the Sanders/SNP/Corbyn phenomenon represents a reaction to the dreadful inequality of society and all the evils which I have described. But I would also argue that this reaction has only been practical because of the new maturity of social media, weakening the grip of corporate media on the popular field of debate and the popular imagination.

Perhaps then, without moving, I became revolutionary just in time.

219 thoughts on “On Being Far Left

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  • Tony_0pmoc

    The important thing is to grill em – these naughty stop out all nights..when they justmanage to get home before midnight…

    Where the hell have you been..why didn’t you answer your mobile phone???

    She says well the girls kept buying me drinks…

    I said when she got home – well you seem completely sober to me…have you fallen in love with another man?

    I slagged her off…

    I said you missed it you silly cow..cos you were dancing with your mates…You aren’t really are you she said no..neither am I..so wtf is wrong with you?

    She is just a young girl(rock chick) and can’t handle the idea of being a Grannie

    She hasn’t seen her Grandson yet.

    I have.

    its all in the timing.


  • Resident Dissident

    “Is there anything you can conclude from the phrase “huge outflows from high yield”?”

    Yes the reaction to lower ECB interest rates was a move out of higher yield (usually longer term) Government Bonds into High Grade equities – I don’t see how this means investment appraisal is now impossible as you claim.

    As for you figure for negative yielding bonds – please provide the source and what is included in the definition – it is you figure and not one that I recognise – I very much doubt that it represent bonds with negative coupons.

  • BrianFujisan

    Its Where you send yir wife,,and daughter for slave..n sex… or Die first..

  • BrianFujisan

    Its Where you send yir wife,,( Sons ) and daughter for slave..n sex… or Die first..

  • James Chater

    The Tories fail even by their own standards: if they knew how to run a modern economy, they would have my grudging respect. But they do not.

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    ““Nicola Sturgeon gets slaughtered (on economics) by Andrew Neil on “Sunday Pölitics”.

    Worth (re)watching for anyone with an iPlayer or whatever they’re called.”

    It isn’t available yet I’ve been trying. Might have to wait till after it has been on BBC Parliament this afternoon. I hear her humiliation will be well worth watching.”

    You heard correctly.

    To mix images – Andrew Neil shredded and gutted her and she was left twisting in the wind.

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)


    “Negative real interest rates have appeared in the past. what is new here is negative nominal rates.”

    I believe that the Swiss National Bank ran negative nominal interest rates for a while (sometime in the early 1970s if memory serves).

  • Squonk

    The Tories fail even by their own standards: if they knew how to run a modern economy, they would have my grudging respect. But they do not.


    We have a governing class that has inbred itself for rote memory and repetition. It’s a strain for folks like Cameron to multiply 6 by 7. Being uncomfortable with maths and physics is just the way they are. And if their minions don’t like it they can simply be found dead in the woods.

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    Node pronounces.

    “Fred : I hear her humiliation will be well worth watching.

    You’re in for a disappointment. You’ll see an able politician dealing competently with a rude and biased journalist who poses a string of hypothetical questions and ignores the answers.


    She may be an able politician (eg she has considerable obfuscation skills, as the interview shows) but it is simply untrue to claim that Andrew Neil treated her impolitely. As for bias, well, Node would say that, wouldn’t he – his lassie got hammered and he has to find an alibi for her.

    Nor were Andrew Neil’s questions hypothetical – they were entirely legitimate and, moreover, based on data from the past and present (ie, non-hypothetical).

    As for “ignoring the answers”, the contrary is true: that was one of the wonders of the interview, Neil let Sturgeon answer, paid attention to her answers and used them to impale her ever further.

    Conclusion: I invite everyone to watch the link provided and make up their own minds. They will come to the conclusion that Node is a shameless manipulator of the truth.


    BTW I did predict some time ago that Node would not continue reposting that guff about Israeli “genocide” from his dubious New Zealand based website for more than a month or so; that he doesn’t have the necessary puff.

    I seem to have been right.

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    “Andrew Neil however was crass, continually interrupting, and spoke constantly over the FM who couldn’t get a word in sideways.”

    The above is from Republicofscotland, whose relationship with the truth seems to be getting more and more distant.

    What is interesting though is that people like RoS still dare to tell such whoppers despite the fact that the video of the interview – which clearly shows the opposite -was linked to a little while previously and can be watched by anyone interested.

    RoS and his ilk are masters of chutzpah. 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    Republicofscotland intones:

    “Classic whataboutery, RoS. 🙂

    Never mind about Kempe’s website, RoS….

    So – do YOU believe Rehmat’s story, yes or no?”



    I find it rather intriguing, that you the “elusive pimpernel” who can’t or more to the point, won’t be nailed down, trying to nail someone else down.

    Principal Habb, principal.”


    When talking about principle, RoS, it would help if you spelled the word correctly

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    “I am just now reading Montefiore’s new book The Romanovs. He is peculiarly interested in Jews who pop up in the course of his history, but I suppose that is understandable for someone with his family history. Other than that, the book is quite an entertaining read. I don’t think I’ve yet seen any mention of the Rothschilds. (Where I’m up to, Catherine the Great has just died.)”

    Your point?

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

    “I have known Richard Falk somewhat distantly for some time. As a junior professor at Princeton, he audited a course in Elementary Italian in which I first learned Italian. The course was taught by Bart Giamatti, later to be President of Yale and Commissioner of Baseball. As far as I could see, Falk was a very diligent student.”

    Your point(s)?

  • PR

    Depends how you define socialist – from what you are saying you are not a communist, but that’s different. And i am not surprised to learn your views used to be further to the right. You would hardly have got near the Diplomatic Service otherwise.

  • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)


    “Fuck Sak Hab..Even by Your standard.. And Some times you made Giggle”

    I’m afraid I don’t understand Korean 🙂 Could you repeat – in English? Arigato!

  • nevermind, mental health is a burning issue

    “Forty years ago I would have been shocked by the idea that the BBC should be utterly destroyed, but now that seems to me the only sensible approach.”

    Just to bring this back on topic, I welcome you in the Breaking Boneheads Club, Craig.
    The BBC is wholly been destroyed by the establishment, the security services and the ugly party political system they are pandering to for their franchise.

    Greater disenfranchisement and further marginalisation will extend the rift that is now gaping between rich and poor, hopefully this will find the right tones of disenchantment.
    I have no hopes for getting change from any US president anymore, or our splittist Tory’s here, there is not one progressive or egalitarian thought emanating from either side of the Atlantic.

    All we can expect is the continuation of the Status Quo and after Merkels rout yesterday, there is not much prospect of the EU surviving this Atlantic Bridge move to smother the EU with refugees.

    Those who have thrown Libyua into turmoil should be be facing the same rough justice Gadhaffi got.

    I had a lovely few days in the (cold)sunshine and on coming back to Stanstead last night felt instantly at home.
    Plane lands, everyone gets up and ready to leave…. nothing… it took 15 minutes to get a ladder set up front and back. On disembarking we had a walk down two non working escalators.
    Then we are ‘sardined’into the ‘shuttle’ to the main airport and come to passport control, a sheep pen run around designed to test any OAPs, fitness, with only two passport controls working.
    Once they realised that people were getting irate queuing at 9pm, they finally decided to open the automatic scanning service.

    Stanstead should not be allowed to extend their toilets, never mind the airport. Out of 3 airports, Barcelona, Porto and Stanstead, the latter comes out bottom by a mile. rant over.

  • nevermind, mental health is a burning issue

    He’s fine, starting to babble and repeat copy sentences now the cheerful soul, Hows your little one’s offspring, Brian, all well?

    When is she ready for the DTRH….;)

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