Labour’s Failure and Institutional Analysis 853

Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit in Parliament is as culpable as Harriet Harman’s failure to oppose welfare cuts. It will haunt Labour just as much. The job of opposition is to oppose. We currently have a more right wing government than I imagined the UK would ever see in my lifetime, and it is riding a tide of racist populism in England and Wales, barked on by a far right media whose ownership and world view is ever more concentrated. This is no time to drop the duty of resistance.

Corbyn’s view of the EU is ambivalent. Both major English and Welsh parties are led by people who are at least highly sympathetic to Brexit. That is a democratic failure when 47 per cent of the English and Welsh voters supported the EU.

The problem with the EU as a cause is that it is supported by some extremely unpleasant people. Straw (father and son), Mandelson, Osborne. The EU has nobody given media coverage to speak for it in the UK that is not amongst the most despised members of the political class. And in criticising Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit, I find myself echoing Blairites, which is uncomfortable.

But there are two major problems with the left criticism of the EU. The first is its willingness to be hijacked to the racist cause with the economically illiterate argument that immigration means competition for the fixed number of jobs, and thus drives down the living standards of British workers. That atavism I dismiss with contempt. Not least because even if it were true, it shows a very narrow lack of concern for workers of the world outside Thanet. Beggar thy neighbour is not a socialist motto.

The second and more subtle trap into which the left falls is to view the EU as a set of policies. It is not a set of policies, it is a supra-national institution. At the moment its policies tend towards the neo-liberal because at the moment Europe, and especially the UK, is dominated by neo-liberal governments. The notion that leaving the EU will bring more social justice under the reality of continual Tory governments is one of the more risible contentions of much of the British left.

The EU can very much be a force for good. I am personally convinced that there are two reasons Scotland is so much more pro-EU than England. The first is a generally more internationalist and communal outlook in society at large. The second is that during the Thatcher years, when Scottish industry was being devastated and there was a deliberate government policy of no action to alleviate suffering communities, EU regional policy provided the only ray of light. I recall personally seeing big signboards at the dualling of the A9 and the construction of Dundee airport, stating that they were paid for by EU Regional Funds. As Corbyn pointed out in the referendum, workers’ rights, the maximum working week, tachometers, many health and safety standards, all came from the EU when doctrinaire right wing Westminster documents were abolishing “red tape”.

This failure to note that the EU is an institution not a policy, is reflected in the Left’s current attitude to trade agreements. Trade is an extremely good thing. Neo-liberal governments around the world have added highly undesirable extras to trade agreements. The role of Investor Protection clauses which allow cabals of lawyers to adjudicate billions of dollars to rapacious corporations is well understood. But it is not a necessary feature of a trade agreement. Nor is it necessary for a trade agreement to forbid state aid. It is a perfectly logical position for two states to trade without tariffs while accepting that the organisation of the internal resources of a state is its own affair. The neo-liberals are in any event inconsistent here. They ought to believe that state aid to one industry is going to cause inefficiencies which will balance out by giving the state traded with comparative advantage elsewhere. Because neo-liberal governments have secured the addition of these unnecessary bolt-ons to multilateral trade deals, does not make the concept of multilateral trade deals in itself bad. And again, the notion that Liam Fox is going to negotiate anything fairer is hysterical.

Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit is a symptom of the abandonment by much of the left of the principles of internationalism. Internationalism is not possible without international institutions. To write off those institutions because they are currently controlled by right wing governments is short-sighted to the point of being stupid. That it leaves the left vying for the racist vote with the atavistic right is a plain signal of what a wrong direction it is.

Labour is becoming an irrelevance in Scotland. The latest opinion poll has SNP 47%, Conservative 27%, Labour 15%, Lib Dems 4%, Greens 3%. This continues a trend of Labour bleeding support to the Tories. It is however fascinating that the Tories in Scotland having achieved their highest point, that point is still lower than the lowest point of Labour in the UK under Corbyn. Yet Tory ministers are prepared to take this Tory “popularity” in Scotland as evidence they can ride roughshod over the Scottish people en route to Brexit.

More significant is what is happening at council by-elections all over Scotland, held under Single Transferable Vote. It has become an accepted part of political life here that Tories, Lib Dems and Labour will transfer their preferences to each other. So Labour voters will transfer to Tory rather than to SNP or Green. This everyday collusion with the Tories reveals Scotland’s remaining Red Tories for what they are. It also makes it essential that everybody in the crucial council elections looming in Scotland votes SNP first or at the very least ensures they use all their preferences and include all the SNP candidates.

I have blogged for some years now about the deep gap in social and political attitudes between England and Scotland. That this gap manifests itself in attitudes to the EU is not surprising, and if that has become the wedge all well and good. That the same gap is resulting in a clear choice between Independence and the Tories – both Tory rule from Westminster and the Tories in Scotland – is the inevitable working out of the same process.

That is why all the Scottish left should now suspend dispute and get behind the SNP until after Independence, provided the referendum happens before the end of next year (which appears happily almost inevitable).

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853 thoughts on “Labour’s Failure and Institutional Analysis

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  • lysias

    A Le Pen victory is looking more and more possible. Bookmakers’ Odds of a Le Pen Victory Surge to 1-in-3:

    National Front leader Marine Le Pen’s odds of securing an upset in the French presidential race have climbed to 33 percent, according to bookmakers, from 25 percent at the end of January. That echoes opinion polls showing the far-right candidate gaining on front-runner Emmanuel Macron, even while they still favor Macron to win the May 7 runoff. The uptick in the implied probability of a Le Pen victory is one of the reasons investors are demanding a higher premium for holding French bonds over similar-maturity German debt.

    If she wins, should she be addressed as “Madame Présidente” or “Madame la Présidente”?

    • giyane

      Madame Precedent, before we proceed with the execution would you be so kind as to remove the scarf around your neck?

    • Habbabkuk

      “If she wins, should she be addressed as “Madame Présidente” or “Madame la Présidente”?”

      If you follow the Académie Française, neither.

      It should be “Madame le Président”.

      • michael norton

        There is a good chance that as Marine is the only candidate to suggest she might offer a referendum on the hated European Union,
        that she will do rather well. Many as saying Marine will win the first round, with a good margin.
        It is the second round where the shenanigans will happen.

        So who will go through to the second round.
        thief, left wing nutter or turn-coat?

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Entirely agree. ‘Presidente’ (like ‘Pen’*, to whose masculine gender no-one has yet objected) invariably requires ‘le’. To suggest otherwise is ‘feminism gone mad’ (itself a shining example of tautology)

        * Breton, apparently, also Welsh. Head, chief or peninsula, take your pick

        • Habbabkuk

          I like that one, Baal. Let’s agree to say “Madame la Présidente Marine La Penne” to put Lysias out of his misery (and bugger l’Académie Française” 🙂 )

  • Sharp Ears

    Amnesty International Admits Syrian “Saydnaya” Report Fabricated Entirely in UK
    February 9, 2017
    ‘Amnesty International’s 48 page report titled, “Syria: Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison, Syria,” boasts bold claims, concluding:
    …the Syrian authorities’ violations at Saydnaya amount to crimes against humanity. Amnesty International urgently calls for an independent and impartial investigation into crimes committed at Saydnaya.

    However, even at a cursory glance, before even reading the full body of the report, under a section titled, “Methodology,” Amnesty International admits it has no physical evidence whatsoever to substantiate what are admittedly only the testimony of alleged inmates and former workers at the prison, as well as figures within Syria’s opposition.

    The article concludes:
    ‘Amnesty International’s report lacked any actual evidence, with its presentation consisting instead of admittedly fabricated images, sounds, maps, and diagrams. Amnesty – lacking actual evidence – instead abused its reputation and the techniques of classical deception to target and manipulate audiences emotionally. What Amnesty International is engaged in is not “human rights advocacy,” but rather politically-motivated war propaganda simply hiding behind such advocacy.

    Exposing this technique of openly and shamelessly fabricating the summation of an internationally released report – promoted unquestioningly by prominent Western papers and media platforms, including the BBC, CNN, the Independent, and others – prevents Amnesty and other organizations like it from continuing to use the trappings of science and engineering as cover to deliver monstrous lies to the public.’

    • michael norton

      I did not believe that twaddle.
      Why are all these leaders described as monster dictators, yet why aren’t leaders of China, so described?

      There is possibly, some hope, on the horizon, for peace, in Syria.
      But Turkey / Saudi / America / France / U.K. have to stop fueling the fires.
      I understand that since Justin Trudeau took the helm, Canada has stopped fueling the fires in Syria.

    • Dave

      And witness evidence by itself is often unreliable and contradictory. Not to be discounted but not enough for a conviction, except in a kangaroo court.

  • Habbabkuk

    Interesting to see how some Jill Stein supporters appear to be developing a soft spot for President Trump. 🙂

    Perhaps they were never really Jill Steinites?

    • Dave Price

      Some eight hours later and it would seem nobody else thinks it is interesting. 🙂

      Perhaps you should have clearly set out the facts and your own position on the matter. Why, after all, is this subject so important to you that you fell compelled to bring it our attention?

      • Habbabkuk

        Thanks for that, Dave. It is indeed disappointing that no one else should have responded – not even the couple of people on this blog one might have thought would. But you know the saying : discretion is sometimes the better part of valour.

        As to my own “position” on the matter, I am not one of those who feels that my position on this particular matter is of any particular importance – to draw readers’ attention to the phenomenon (as I have evidently drawn yours) is sufficient for me.

      • Dave Price

        As to my own “position” on the matter, I am not one of those who feels that my position on this particular matter is of any particular importance – to draw readers’ attention to the phenomenon (as I have evidently drawn yours) is sufficient for me.

        Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I have no idea what ‘phenomenon’ you are talking about. You give no names, dates, sources or links. I did a quick search on Google and found nothing to link ‘Stein’ and ‘Trump’, apart from some articles written during the election.

        Perhaps you are correct in your own assessment of the unimportance of your views. However if you don’t set out your own position clearly why would anyone engage with you? Won’t it just look like you are trolling for a reaction, leaving the field as wide open as possible for your rejoinders?

  • Sharp Ears

    Whistleblowers? No. ‘First they came for the socialists but I did not speak out …’ etc

    The Government’s legal advisers have revealed plans to lock up people who expose things like human rights abuses. They could face prison sentences of up to 14 years. Under these terrifying new laws, even journalists could face charges just because they were sent certain information. [1]

    People who reveal things that some would rather the public didn’t know are called whistleblowers. Often they share things that we need to know, because there are serious consequences if the information is hidden. For example, Nurse Helene Donnelly, who helped expose the situation in Mid Staffs NHS trust. [2]

    But draft plans to imprison some whistleblowers for up to 14 years were floated by government advisers late last night. It looks like they’re testing the idea to see whether or not the public would let these scary plans go ahead. And that’s where we come in. A huge public outcry would force the government to reject these plans before they get any further than just a draft.

    If you believe that no one should face 14 years in prison for exposing truths that we deserve to know, then please sign the petition. It takes less than a minute:

    Without whistleblowers, we would never have known about the revelations in last years “Panama Papers” of politicians and big companies avoiding tax through offshore tax havens, or the state of patient care in some of our hospitals. [3] These people put their jobs on the line to tell us things we should know – but under these plans it’s a lot more than just their jobs that could be at risk.

    Human rights groups and senior lawyers have already spoken out against these plans, but it would be easy for the government to dismiss them as the usual suspects. [4] They won’t be able to ignore a huge outcry by hundreds of thousands of us who know we have a right to hear what’s going on behind closed doors.

    Let’s force the government to scrap these plans before they’re even properly on the table. Sign the petition now asking the government to reject the idea to imprison whistleblowers or journalists who report on the leaks for up to 14 years.

    38 Degrees team

    [1] Guardian: Government advisers accused of ‘full-frontal attack’ on whistleblowers:
    [2] Nursing Times: Whistleblowing Mid Staffs nurse too scared to walk to car after shift:
    [3] The Independent: Panama Papers: Whistleblower breaks silence to explain why they leaked the 11.5m files:
    [4] International Business Times: ‘Draconian’ changes to UK espionage laws branded ‘full frontal’ attack on whistleblowing:

  • michael norton

    FRENCH presidential “frontrunner” Emmanuel Macron is being targeted by Russian media and internet attacks from within RUSSIA
    with the goal of helping the election campaigns of his pro-Moscow rivals, his party chief said on Monday.

    The comments by Richard Ferrand, secretary-general of Macron’s En Marche! (Onwards!) party, marked the first direct accusation from a French political party that forces in Russia were trying to influence the outcome of the May election.

    Now, they use the term frontrunner, I put that term in quote marks.
    If Marine is well ahead in the polls, would that not make her the frontrunner,
    Macron maybe the front runner in his own party but that is a one man band.

    They are in trouble, if they are already squealing about “The Russians”

  • tfs

    I wish the Scottish people well with their need to be independent from us and a member of the EU. I dislike the theft of Scottish oil.

    I’m sure Scotland will enjoy the euro and the exilir of free money from the EU as most refreshing.

    • Alcyone

      Pity. He was on the right track. ISIS needs to be eliminated. Saudi Arabia and its nuclear surrogate Pakistan need to be sequestered and castrated. Our Type Zero Global Civilisation needs to move.

    • lysias

      The FBI was monitoring all the Russian ambassador’s communications and showed people a transcript. The deep state really had it in for Flynn.

      Was it legal to monitor the ambassador’s phone calls?

      • fred

        No. But I would imagine it was legal to monitor Flynn’s phone calls if they had suspected what he was doing.

      • Habbabkuk

        “Was it legal to monitor the ambassador’s phone calls?”

        A good question, on which you as a lawyer with (let us say) rather specific interests must surely have an opinion?


        NB – 11h02 GMT date stamp = 06h02 Washington time, I believe?

      • lysias

        If an ambassador’s official telephone calls, like his other official communications, are inviolable, as I think a fair reading of the Vienna Convention dictates, then I don’t think the fact that the other party on the line may have been committing a crime eliminates that inviolability.

        • lysias

          I think a fair reading of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations leads to the conclusion that eavesdropping on the telephone calls of an ambassador, at any rate the official ones, is prohibited. Article 27(1) says, “The receiving State shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for all official purposes.” Article 27(2)-(3) makes it clear, I think, what “protected” means: “2.The official correspondence of the mission shall be inviolable. Official correspondence means all correspondence relating to the mission and its functions.
          3.The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained.”

          • Habbabkuk

            There you go, Lysias, you’ve answered your own question. Might I suggest that in future you just post your opinion rather than asking twee little questions? 🙂

          • Habbabkuk

            There is also the question of whether telephone and email exchanges between the Russian ambassador and a private person with no official status in the host US government at the time (or in the future Trump administration), as Mr Flynn then was, could be considered as “official communication” or communication for official purposes.

            One could even wonder whether, given the fact that Mr Flynn violated a long-standing US law (forbidding the conduct of US foreign policy by private US persons), the Russian ambassador was not guilty of abetting a felony – which of course would be incpmpatible with his diplomatic status.

          • lysias

            There has never been a prosecution for a violation of the Logan Act. Both a federal court and a congressional committee have questioned its constitutionality. At best, it is a dead letter. At worst, it is null and void because of unconstitutionality.

          • Habbabkuk

            The Logan Act is constitutional until it has been declared otherwise and that it may not have been used so far is irrelevant. It remains the law.

            It is most unwise of the Russian ambassador to be abetting a felony, even if inadvertently.

      • Resident Dissident

        Good to see one of the compulsive liars has been caught out, not that it will change the views of the compulsive believers one iota.

  • RP

    Labour (pre-Corbyn) supported holding the referendum. That was a mistake (an in-out simple majority referendum on something with as far-reaching implications as EU membership is a terrible idea), but it would be pretty difficult to oppose implementing not only the result of a referendum, but the result of a referendum that you as a party had voted to hold in the first place, never mind the electoral implications for Labour. I really don’t see how Corbyn had much choice.

    • Republicofscotland


      I’m sure you mentioned Rolls Royce, the other as a prime example of British success, no matter that Brexit is looming on the horizon.

      However according to, today’s media reports RR are £4.6 billion in the red, and face paying huge payouts in historical corruption charges.

      RR say that the slump in Sterling (due to Brexit) has caused financial damage to the company.

  • michael norton

    The Kremlin denied on Tuesday that it was behind media and internet attacks on the campaign of French presidential frontrunner
    Fake News
    Emmanuel Macron though his camp renewed the charges against Russian media and a hackers’ group operating in Ukraine.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, replying to a question on a daily conference call, said charges made on Monday by Macron’s party chief, Richard Ferrand, were absurd.

    “We didn’t have and do not have any intention of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, or in their electoral processes in particular,” Peskov told reporters.

    “That there is a hysterical anti-(President Vladimir) Putin campaign in certain countries abroad is an obvious fact.”

    Ferrand said on Monday that the French centrist politician, who is now seen by opinion polls as the favourite to win election in May, had become a “fake news” target of Russian media and that his campaign was facing thousands of internet attacks.

    Ferrand said Moscow looked favourably on the policies of far-right leader Marine Le Pen

    Now I can believe that Russia may have a preferred candidate in the French Presidential race,
    Maybe Marine, maybe Francois Fillon.
    But all elections, can’t be undermined by Russia, if people want to vote for Macron, they will vote for him, if they do not want to vote for Macron, they will not vote for him.
    Assange has some dirt on Macron up his sleeve, for nearer the time.

    • Republicofscotland

      French presidential candidate (though I doubt she will be elected) Marine Le Pen’s proposal to take France out of the euro, would cost the country more than €30 billion euro’s, a year in extra debt interest, according to the country’s central bank.

      Fancios Villeroy de Galhau, head of the central bank, also warned voters not to believe Le Pen’s promises of stronger purchasing power, if France abandons the shared currency.

      Galhau added, that leaving the euro would devastate, individuals savings.

      • michael norton

        RoS but it’s not just about economics is it, otherwise S. N. P. wouldn’t want to split from the United Kingdom after 300 years of Joy.

  • Mark Golding

    Dr David Kelly was murdered and Chairman of the intelligence and security committee of Parliament, Dominic Grieve, approved in essence. The committee’s recent work was to publish its report on UK Lethal Drone Strikes in Syria which it has failed to do. I have to say I distrust the committee to accordingly examine the policy and protocol of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

    With little or biased over-sight this dereliction may further impact upon the relationship between citizens and government with proposals of the Law Committee in so called ‘security’ or ‘terrorist’ trials that recommends the prosecution has the right to challenge a juror above and beyond the normal safeguards i.e. a criminal record. A trial held in secret for instance may involve an investigation of the jury panel against records held by the security service. The security service can authorise the information held by them be used in other circumstances such as further prosecutions or the prevention of crime. These facts undermine and infringe the democratic principle of a randomly selected jury especially as such jury checks may not be conveyed to the defence representatives. Further any so called secret material can be withheld from the non-Governmental party to the case.

  • lysias

    Late last week Germany moved $13 billion worth of its gold from New York to Frankfurt. World’s 2nd Largest Stockpile Of Gold Leaves The United States. They’re getting ready for the collapse of America, which it is possible much sooner than people expect, if Trump turns out to be the American Gorbachev, attempting to make impossible reforms.

    More and more, I think of that book I read circa 1970 back when I was stationed in Berlin, Andrei Amalrik’s Can the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?.

    • glenn

      I read about this in the weekend’s edition of the New York Times (paper edition). As ever, the truth is slightly less exciting. They’ve been planning to move back for some time, particularly after an audit in 2012 showed some irregularities and ticked off the Germans, following which they moved a fair bit in 2013 with the idea that the job should be complete by 2020.

      Not really such a panicked decision after all.

      So now you think your golden boy Trump is a US Gorbachev? Odd way to go about it, stuffing his key positions with know-nothing religious zealots, former Klansmen, Goldman Sachs executives and various other swivel-eyed white supremacists, anti-Semites and so on. Don’t really recall Gorbachev doing that sort of thing… do you?

      • Habbabkuk

        Don’t bother about Lysias, Glenn, he’s been exposed as a total fake. Leave him to me 🙂

      • Loony

        If you have been reading the NYT it is unlikely that you will know the truth be it exciting or otherwise.

        Still prove me wrong what is the NYT explanation for Germany taking 3 years to repatriate 300 tonnes of gold and it taking only one night to relieve Ukraine of 42 tonnes of gold.

        By the way, if you are looking for white supremacists and anti-semites then they are to be found aplenty in Ukraine – and you are funding them. Better to concentrate on the people that are on your payroll as opposed to the fake people that the NYT (paper edition) would have you worry about.

        • glenn

          Much as I ought to take Habbabkuk’s advice on this one, it’s only fair to answer your questions/points.

          1. The NYT does not – generally speaking – print known falsehoods in return for cash. Perhaps you could provide evidence when it have been shown to do so.

          2. The article (paper edition, from which I’m quoting now) says Germany plans to allow 1/3rd of the reserves to remain in NY. Why would they do that, if they “know” the country is about to collapse? They also shifted 283 tons from Paris, with 91 tons left to go. Is Paris about to go under too?

          3. Given the situation in Ukraine, which – even today – is a bit less stable than America, wouldn’t they be well advised to to move it out of there with some urgency, before someone else got hold of it?

          (I’ll take your word on that Ukraine move, btw.) It’s also a bit easier to take gold overland than from another continent across an ocean, I imagine.

          I had no idea I was personally funding nazis in the Ukraine! Let’s keep it between us, eh, before the wife finds out, and demands that I up her housekeeping money instead.

          • Loony

            No one has claimed that the NYT publishes lies in return for cash. The claim is that they publish lies.

            An example of the lies they publish is the widely publicized claim that Iraq, under Saddam, had stockpiles of WMD.

            More recently the NYT has lied extensively regarding Donald Trump. There is no need to take my word for it as you can read all about it in the NYT. On November 13th 2016 the NYT published a mea culpa apologizing for its lies in this regard (obviously given their track record they could be lying about this as well).

            If you live in the EU or the US then, through your taxes, you are funding Nazi’s in the Ukraine. This claim is eminently verifiable and is not disputed. You will never know that you are financially supporting Nazi’s by reading the NYT. This is because there are both lies of commission and lies of omission and the NYT is an expert at both.

            If you really want to know about the NYT then check out Carlos Slim and ask what his motives might be.

          • glenn

            You claimed the NYT wasn’t telling the truth about the gold. Your proof of this? A pack of smears.

            I asked whether it told lies in return for cash – prove it or accept you have no evidence, if you have any courage.

            I note that – slippery as ever – you failed to address even one point I’d actually made, preferring to pick away with distractions instead. You are not a particularly worthwhile person to correspond with here.

          • Loony

            Oh dear Glenn. Have you been studying comprehension at one of the hollowed out universities?

            The claim I made was that the NYT does not tell the truth -period. Do you not think that readers of the NYT might be interested in understanding why it takes Germany 3 years to repatriate 300 tonnes of gold and yet it takes only one night to remove 47 tonnes of gold from the Ukraine?

            I am sure you are interested as you would dearly love to destroy my argument. But as you rely on the NYT for your news you have neither information nor explanation.

            I have never suggested that the NYT tells lies in exchange for cash – that is a straw man entirely of your own construction. I am hardly likely to attempt to prove a claim I have never made. I have however provided examples to support my contention that the NYT tells lies. These are not smears, they are verifiable examples of the lies told by the NYT – and in the case of Donald Trump admitted to by the NYT.

            Why do you think the NYT does not tell you that your taxes are being used to fund Nazi’s?

          • glenn

            Quit blowing smoke like that, Loony – it’s not good for anyone’s health.

            1. A claim was made that “Shock, horror – the US is about the collapse! Yes, Germany’s pulling all it’s gold out – there’s the proof!”

            2. I pointed out this was risible BS, for reasons laid out clearly in my reply of 14/2/17, 23:15 .

            3. The response was to claim the NYT facts (as presented in my reply) were all lies.

            Let’s have some proof that the NYT did in fact lie about the gold.

            If you’ve got nothing, of course, just keep blowing that smoke…

      • lysias

        And you don’t think the New York Times would want to play down the significance of the German move? If only to keep its advertisers, government sources, and Wall Street readers happy.

        • Jo

          When a newspaper is slanting news reporting to suit its advertisers, government and Wall Street we have problems. Why? Because they’re just not reporting the news but their version of it. Dare I say, fake news? That is why the entire MSM on both sides of the pond is utterly discredited and possesses not an ounce of integrity.

  • Winston

    Brexit gave long suffering northeners perfect opportunity to smack the elites, as they knew would harm them!
    The North-South divide. We Never Even Tried
    Don’t sneer at northerners for voting for Brexit – there are sound reasons
    Helen Pidd

    While the north gets crumbs, the south-east gets whole loaves. People in the north can see that the system just isn’t working for them
    Brexit voters are not thick, not racist: just poor

    By forcing Britain to quit the EU they have given a bloody nose to an elite that views them with contempt

    UK due to suffer grievously.

    The economy this figure describes does not reflect the reality of life for most people. The UK’s economy is so strongly rigged in favour of the few, that, despite economic growth since 2007, most people haven’t seen an increase in incomes. . Meanwhile, the wealth and income of the top 1% and top 0.1% has soared.
    The UK is also one of the most regionally unequal countries in Europe, with a vast proportion of GDP remaining in the capital.”

    Forget GDP – These Are The Numbers That Matter

    “In the 1970s, faced with a long-term economic and political decline, Britain turned to Europe as a market for its goods and for a political relationship that ensured its continued influence through a regional alliance. May seems to be aiming for Britain to become a free trading nation that has global rather than European ambitions. This is reminscent of 19th-century Britain, which built predominance through imperial trading relations and enforcing free trade.
    What May seems to be overlooking is that Britain’s position in the world is not what it was. As the 19th-century German economist, Fredrich List, recognised, only the strongest economies have an interest in free trade as they have the competitive advantage. In the 19th century, when Britain was promulgating free trade, it was the most powerful nation in the world. It was the home of technological innovation.
    Now, Britain has the lowest level of productivity in the G7. In a free and open market, it is likely to be flooded by imports or see a real crash in the value of the pound, with the inflationary consequences that will produce.”


    One significant feature of May’s position is that, unusually for a British Conservative Prime Minister, politics is driving economics. Whereas the Conservatives have always been seen as the party of big business and in particular the City of London, May and her government are apparently prepared to sacrifice a single market with Europe in order to control the borders. May is making a strategic political calculation rather than an economic one: that she can capture the votes of the disaffected and the “just about managing” by targeting immigration.
    Her second strategic political decision is that by taking a hard line on Brexit she can keep her party together as she cleverly positions herself as the sceptic who was in favour of EU membership before the referendum, who now takes a hard line on negotiations with the EU. The problem is that while political decisions may be driving economic ones for now, what happens when the economic consequences start to be felt?”

    Theresa May’s hard Brexit hinges on a dated vision of global trade

    UK needs strong local governments now, but that is impossible. In fact UK and all former colonies limit local autonomy-and it is exacerbating current decline in a number of countries.

    A study recently revealed that UK has among the least autonomous local governments in Europe. UK was in same bracket as Ireland (formerly part of UK), Malta and Cyprus as the countries with the least autonomous local governments among 28 European countries! What is amazing is that France allows for more autonomy than UK despite it having a multitude of local governments. This being the case despite the fact that until the EE countries joined EU-France had more local governments than rest of EU countries combined.

    UK cities need more autonomy to compete with European rivals
    Local authorities in the UK are among the least powerful in the continent.

    However, not only do French local governments have more power despite being smaller than British local governments, the system is also more equitable than the British system.
    “France achieves greater regional equality with similar challenges and there is no reason that the UK could not follow that lead.”
    Bring on the Northern Powerhouse

    Despite finance, oil floated British boat. ance/comment/edmundconway/6505 670/North-Sea-oil-is-dragging- us-into-the-red.html
    North Sea oil is dragging us into the red

    Oil wealth was the secret saviour of the economy, but no longer, says Edmund Conway ews/politics/britain-gained-30 0billion-tax-north-6390332
    Britain gained £300billion in tax on North Sea oil – and blew it like a reckless lottery winner says expert

    • michael norton

      The peoples Brexit should be respected, this is irrespective of the people being rich, poor or ignorant, either you have democracy
      or you do not.

    • Old Mark

      Thanks for that comment and the links Winston. Haven’t noticed you here before, but with a few well aimed blows at the Remoaners and Freetradeatallcosts cheerleaders you’ve started on a high note in my book.

  • michael norton

    Theresa may May is thrilled to be receiving the Scottish Donald
    on a state visit to the United Kingdom

  • michael norton

    Socialist France under threat Rob G is vindicated
    Yet more rioting in FRANCE has once again exposed the country’s deep-seated social inequality.
    The sight of protesters clashing with police has become all too familiar.
    In the infamous suburban ‘ghettos’, where the harsh quality of life, mixed with rampant unemployment, lack of prospects and feelings of injustice make for a violent cocktail, it has become almost commonplace since the 1990s.
    France is the only E.U. that is in a State of Emergency.

    Man the barricades, look out for terror.

    • michael norton

      Hard to understand why more countries are not clamouring to join the E.U.
      what’s not to like?

      Free money
      open borders
      respect for democracy
      fake news

    • Winston

      France has less inequality than UK and larger middle class.

      Brexit will not solve poor’s woes. They will exacerbate it.

      “France achieves greater regional equality with similar challenges and there is no reason that the UK could not follow that lead.”
      Bring on the Northern Powerhouse

      The middle class is smallest in the three Anglo-Saxon countries (the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, Chart 2), at around 55 percent to 60 percent of all households in the early 2000s. The major exception here is the U.S., where the middle class shrank to nearly 50 percent in the early part of the 21st century. In addition, the pattern of change varies by country. The U.S. has had a nearly continuously declining middle class (with a short breather in the 1990s). In the U.K., the size of the middle class fell sharply during the 1970s and 1980s, as government benefits were cut substantially. In the 2000s, when the Labour party held power and some of these cuts were reversed, the British middle class regenerated. In Canada, on the other hand, the middle class grew in the 1970s and 1980s before declining in the 1990s and 2000s. These periods include times when the Liberal party ruled (1970s and 1980s) and when the Conservative party was in power (1990s and 2000s).
      Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, and Finland, Chart 3) tend to have the largest middle class, at around 65 to 70 percent of all households.”

      The nations of Continental Europe (France, Germany, and Italy, Chart 4) are between the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic nations in terms of the size of their middle classes, averaging 60 to 65 percent of households. The German middle class was about 65 percent of households in the 1980s. It has since slowly fallen to around 60 percent, with a clear decline during the 2000s. One needs to be somewhat cautious when examining the data for Germany since prior to reunification in 1990 they included only what was then West Germany. France runs contrary to the German trend and that of most of the other nine countries examined here. France’s middle class increased from around 60 percent in the late 1970s and early 1980s to 65 percent in the 1990s and nearly 70 percent in the 2000s. There is no sign of any middle-class squeeze or decline in France over several decades or during bad economic times. Italy, too, runs counter to most other countries. Its middle class remained fairly constant at around 60 percent from the 1980s to 2000s. It fluctuated some in the 1980 and 1990s but was stable in the 2000s, even after the start of the Great Recession.”

      Measuring the Middle Class

  • glenn

    @Habbabkuk: Have you read WIll Hutton’s 2015 book, “How good we can be”?

    I think you’d find it quite interesting. Was considering your post the other day about how much GDP ought to be directed to social policies, defence and so on – but cannot seem to find that post now.

    • Habbabkuk

      Yes, Glenn, I looked for it briefly a couple of days ago but couldn’t find it either. Perhaps it upset someone and got deleted? Facts can be so offensive, you know… 🙂

    • michael norton

      Also keep in mind how unpopular President Francois Hollande is, so unpopular that he has decided not to throw hit hat in the ring for a second term.
      There is to be an election soon, which will give the voters a chance to sweep the Socialist E.U. loving Regime aside.
      So, why not give democracy a chance.
      All these riots are not conclusive to the development of opportunities of getting paid work,
      give the democratic election a chance and get off the streets, if there are no more terror attacks, the State of Emergency
      does not need to be re-newed, again.

      • Sharp Ears

        I will be so pleased when the French Presidential election is concluded so that all reports on it will cease – hopefully.

        • michael norton

          Sharp ears, i can not believe you said that, I am adding content, trying to think things through, all you seem to do is copy and paste, you do not give your own views, why not?

          • glenn

            Oh come on, about half the comments on any given page are from YOU, and I’ve yet to see an original thought among them.

            “Breaking news!” “In France today…” etc., and of course every prejudice that you just happen to share with the proprietor of The Express about foreigners, the EU, on and on.

            You’re not adding content, all you’re doing is filling these pages up with mindless drivel, going for quantity and adding nothing of any possible use. Give it a rest, FFS.

        • michael norton

          Sharp Ears,
          the reasons for FRANCE being of concern to Europe, is its massive economy, France is at present the only European Union State, in a State of Emergency, for the first time a sitting president of France, is so unpopular, he has not thrown his hat in the ring, for a second term, these are exceptional times.
          The United Kingdom has voted overwhelmingly to leave the rotting corpse of the E.U.,
          The Scottish Donald, a non-politician has swept all before him to take the U.S.A. helm.
          Next up is France.
          Now George Galloway has agreed that if Marine Le Pen becomes the first woman of France, the E.U. is dead in the Mediterranean.
          However, even if she only comes second, the E.U. is holed below the water-line.

          Italy is on the verge, Greece is on the verge, others are not far behind.

  • wallofcontroversy

    You write: “Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit is a symptom of the abandonment by much of the left of the principles of internationalism. Internationalism is not possible without international institutions.” Although earlier you confessed: “It is not a set of policies, it is a supra-national institution.”

    So which is it: ‘international’ and ‘supra-national’? We know the answer, of course. ‘International’ involves cooperation between sovereign nations, whereas ‘supra-national’ heralds the amalgamation of nations under a single government, central bank, legal framework, constitution, army, etc:

    “The Treaty on European Union, Euro-federalism and EU Constitution will guarantee further decline as a result of which Britain will become an offshore area of a supranational state. The aim of European Union to be consolidated through the EU Constitution is to have its own military forces and be ruled in secret by unelected governors of an unaccountable European Central Bank, an appointed Commission and committees such as the European Council. These bodies consist of a majority of representatives of member states not answerable to our Government, Parliament or electorate and would be taking decisions which may not be in the interests of Britain.”


    Internationalism is indeed leftist. Supra-nationalism aka ‘globalisation’ is not. And perhaps this very significant difference helps to account for why, as you also concede, “At the moment its policies tend towards the neo-liberal”. Although not for the reason you then supply, “because at the moment Europe, and especially the UK, is dominated by neo-liberal governments”. To return to an earlier question I posed: so is this (the Tories in Westminster) really the reason “the Troika” (two thirds EU institutions) is financially ruining the PIIGS and enforcing the privatisation of their state assets?

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      Thanks for pointing out the distiction between supranational and international, one I had been intending to bring in to the somewhat polarised debate..

  • DG

    I find it economically illiterate to believe that 3.5 million migrants have had no impact on local wage rates, house prices, rents and therefore disposable income. Yes, migrants pay taxes; yes, they increase total demand. But to believe they have no adverse consequences for natives? Just because the UK as a whole may be better off does not mean that some people cannot be worse off: things can average out.

    As you know, it was not just people in Thanet who voted to leave. The insults and smears are tedious, entrenching divisions and making matters worse. Have you considered the impact on other countries when we poach their trained doctors and nurses because our hospitals are incapable of retaining their domestic staff? When all the bright and ambitious young people leave because the Euro has wrecked entire countries? Fishing abroad for cheap staff gives bad employers an easy cop out.

  • michael norton

    European Union out of control
    PIIGS on their knees

    Rome wants to inject around £4.2billion (€5bn) into Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, by bypassing European rules that ban taxpayers’ cash from being used to bailout banks.

    The two banks are haemorrhaging cash at an alarming rate, according to the Financial Times, sending Italy into panic.

  • Sharp Ears

    Tomorrow on QT BBC1 22.45

    David Mundell Craig’s favourite politician! Con Scottish Sec of State
    Shami Chakrabarti ex Liberty, now HoL Lab
    John Swinney SNP Dep First Minister/Education and Skills
    Val McDermid Crime Writer
    Mark Littlewood DG of the Thatcherite/neoliberal think tank IEA.

  • michael norton

    Things getting tetchy at the forthcoming by-elections

    By-election candidate arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred
    Ministry of Truth
    A Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election candidate has confirmed to the BBC that she was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. It follows a complaint from a member of the public about her campaign leaflets.
    Barbara Fielding, 78, is a retired book keeper and housewife from Draycott and is a first-time parliamentary candidate, standing in the election on 23 February as an Independent.
    This afternoon she confirmed to me that she was arrested on Monday by officers from Staffordshire Police on suspicion of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred.
    She’s been released on bail until a date in March.

    Now I know you can say what you want in Parliament and not get arrested for it, that’s partly how our democracy works, if people could only speak in a narrow politically correct manner, out law-givers would be closing down their options to make changes, like being in the E.U. group-think mindset, that is why the E.U. is failing, it can’t adapt.

    Surely in an election, or a by-election, a candidate ought to be able to write or say anything they want.
    It is then up to the electorate to decide who to vote for.

    If we constrain free speech of candidates, we are constraining democracy.

    • michael norton
      A by-election candidate arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred has denied doing anything wrong.
      Barbara Fielding – who is standing as an independent in next week’s Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election – was arrested at her Draycott home this week after a complaint about her website. Her website calls for all immigrants to be repatriated, warns of the ‘seeping tide of Islamic warriors’ and looks to ‘take back control’ of the UK for ‘white nationals’.
      But the 78-year-old insists there is nothing unlawful about what she has written.
      Police seized Ms Fielding’s mobile phone and computer – and then released her on bail until next month.

      The cleaner and bookkeeper said: “I was arrested on suspicion of publishing racial hatred material on my website.

      “Someone must have made a complaint to the police. They took me away and took my files, my paperwork, my mobile phone and my computer. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I’m not worried about this.”

      I expect Craig would say she is a racist and should not be allowed to take part in democracy.

      • Dave

        The Home Secretary Sally Morgan was reported to the police for committing a “hate crime”. The person making the complaint said he perceived a proscribed “hate” within the content of her speech on immigration. She was not arrested for questioning nor were her computer/files taken for investigation to uncover any other “hate” content. The police concluded (how?) that no “hate crime” had been committed, but still recorded the complaint as a “hate incident”. If convicted of a “hate crime” the hatred part (the motive) carries up to 2 years in jail.

        • michael norton

          Stoke by-election candidate arrested over anti-immigrant comments

          Independent candidate Barbara Fielding, 78, held on suspicion of publishing material that may stir up racial hatred

          The byelection has been mired in scandal in recent days with Ukip’s candidate failing to turn up for a hustings and Labour’s candidate apologising for posting a series of abusive tweets aimed at women.

          Barbara Fielding, 78, who is standing as an independent, was arrested after a complaint about her website, which calls for all immigrants to be repatriated and warns of a “seeping tide of Islamic warriors”. Police seized her mobile phone and computer and later released her on bail until next month.

          If this woman is a candidate in the by-election, why on earth have the police vexaciously removed her lap-top, phone and so on, just before the by-election.
          The police have committed election interference.

  • Manda

    When Blair advocates rising up against democracy, Brexit (if there can truly be one) looks sweet.

  • michael norton


    The lying Lib Dems have alerted the police after messages sent to some Muslim voters in Stoke-on-Trent suggested they could go to hell if they failed to vote Labour to keep out Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

    The anonymous message, distributed locally to some in the Muslim community by text and Whatsapp, called for people to vote Labour so as not to help “enemies of Islam”.

    There does seem to be rather a lot of police contact from parties who think they are going to lose.
    How long have the police been dragged into vexatious claims?

    • Old Mark

      The Muslim vote bank is essential to Labour- as Craig knows from standing against Straw in Blackburn; Labour also knows that, even with a decade and a half passing since the Iraq War , they sometimes have to work overtime to retain it, as they appear to be doing now in Stoke.

  • michael norton

    Tony Blair is only interested in Tony Blair

    Mr Blair suggested voters were lied to before they took to the polls, during his first big speech since the momentous EU referendum.
    Tony Blair, Labour Party
    “The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of BREXIT.
    As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind.

    “Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”

    Responding to the speech, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson added:
    “I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV next time Blair comes on with his condescending campaign.”

    • michael norton

      Now in Stoke-on-Trent, next Thursday and in Copeland ( Up North)
      there are by-elections, that are the Labour Party strongholds – to lose.
      How on earth having the lying, money grubbing, warmonger Blair, jump up out of his box, telling British voters that they do not understand democracy – in effect, got it wrong, think again,
      how does he consider his interjection will help the Labour Party candidates?
      It will cruxify them, to be associated with Tony Blair.

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