Destitution Capitalism 189

I despair that there appears to be no discernible political debate over economic policy in the UK at all, outwith a few left websites and magazines with tiny readerships.

The Labour Party has completely abandoned the mildly social democratic platform of Jeremy Corbyn, and now actively renounces public ownership of utilities, improved workers’ rights giving greater job security, public spending to stimulate the economy and the use of taxation to redistribute wealth.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, explicitly promotes the Thatcherite doctrine that taxation, public spending and all forms of regulation are detrimental to economic growth. She not only dismisses Modern Monetary Theory in its entirety, she also in her pronouncements makes plain that she does not accept the basic tenets of Keynesian Economics.

I am tempted to say Reeves and Starmer are Thatcherites, but that is not really correct. Their belief that wealth is created by economic giants building vast empires of monopoly, untrammelled by government, draws on something much older than Thatcher.

The social consequences of unbridled capitalism are all around us. A whole generation is growing up in which an extraordinarily high proportion have never known job security, cannot aspire to owning property, pay a huge proportion of their income just for rent and heat, are saddled with student debt and have precious little hope of self-advancement.

I cannot understand why anybody would believe that this state of affairs is healthy for society or for the economy. Nor can I understand why some of the economic giants dominating this economy are not recognised for the monopolies they are.

In what sense are Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple not monopolies in the same way that Standard Oil was? A company – and let us be frank, the individuals who own it – can reach a position of unhealthy market dominance without having done anything illegal or particularly unethical on the way.

We have been propagandised out of the belief that the state should in any way regulate economic activity for the greater good, while at the same time being propagandised into the belief that the state should become ever more intrusive in its surveillance of the lives of ordinary citizens.

Jeremy Corbyn’s modest social democratic platform, which proposed merely a few measures to ameliorate some of the worst injustices of this wildly unequal society, was very popular with the electorate. That is why he had to be eliminated using the extraordinary “anti-semite” scam.

But with Corbyn out of the way and the political “opposition” neutralised, there simply is no way that more progressive policies can ever reach the ears of the large majority of people.

The single exception is the odd media interview by Mick Lynch, who briefly became wildly popular by stating a few pro worker views plainly and articulately, something people normally are not allowed to see or hear.

You will note he is seldom on a TV screen now.

Which leads me to the unfortunate fact that most other unions have themselves become power structures manipulated to serve the career ambitions of their own highly paid leadership.

The election of Keir Starmer as Prime Minister is not going in any way to help the average worker. Why are the unions still paying over vast sums of money to a Labour Party which has utterly abandoned ordinary people, unless their leadership has also utterly abandoned ordinary people too?

In academia, there remains serious opposition to neoliberal economic doctrine, but this thought does not have any outlet into popular consciousness. Where there used to be some media which gave a slightly wider platform to left wing economic thinking – the Guardian and New Statesman would be examples in the UK – these have been entirely captured by neo-liberalism and indeed led the charge in destroying Corbynism.

This graph is from the Financial Times.

Let me add these thoughts. The graph is wrong to start its vertical scale at zero, as a substantial number of households at the bottom have negative wealth.

And if you wished to extend the vertical scale to reach the UK’s wealthiest household, the graph would have to be over 4,000 times taller than it is, without being any wider, with various members of the oligarchy sunning themselves at vertiginous heights along the way.

That is the truth of wealth inequality in the UK.


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189 thoughts on “Destitution Capitalism

  • Overlordnat

    Bang on the money as usual Craig! It’s shocking how much of a traitor and murderer of hope Starmer has turned out to be

    • Jay Bee

      I am a capitalist.
      But what we have now is not proper capitalism.
      It is fascim: the merger of the state and big corporations.
      The champagne pseudo-socialist left is attracted to this model just as the political center-right is:
      for increased power and status and guaranteed huge wealth for them personally post their political career reasons.
      This is a good primer on the correct definition of the crucial terms:

      • Bayard

        “But what we have now is not proper capitalism.
        It is fascim: the merger of the state and big corporations.”
        That is what has happened to industrial capitalism, probably because of the rise of financial capitalism, which has led to industrialists being more interested in making money by moving money around than by adding value.

      • Tom Welsh

        “But what we have now is not proper capitalism”.

        Interesting and quite natural reaction. But what is “proper capitalism”? Has there ever been a template, an examplar of what real, proper capitalism should be? Or is it a theoretical, ever-receding will-o-the-wisp like “true communism”?

        One tends to think of true capitalism as existing in a “free market”, without monopolies, oligopolies, monopsonies, or dictatorial government interference.

        But does that make sense? After all, it’s hard to imagine a real, full-scale market in the absence of some kind of legal restrictions and powers to enforce them. So the idea of a “free market” without government interference falls by the wayside right away, because while you can imagine an idyllic village farmers’ market working that way, it couldn’t work for the immensely complicated markets we have today – with the vast sums of money flowing through them. There is enough corruption as it is, even with the expensive and intricate systems of regulation that do exist.

        Another disappointment is that it turns out most successful entrepreneurs hate free, open competition and low prices. Their ideal of perfection is a monopoly – for themselves. Microsoft and IBM demonstrated this rather convincingly, as have Google, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Consumers usually quite like a monopoly too, although economic theory and common sense say they shouldn’t. In practice it’s just easier always to say “Google” instead of “search”, and so what if you do end up paying a little more? (Especially since, with all the latest semi-monopolies, the users doesn’t pay directly anyway; the costs are hidden). And since most people have no idea how software works, they are happy to use Windows just because everyone else does.

        Thus even if you ever did get an open, free, fair market it wouldn’t last long. Sooner rather than later the winners would reach their goal of a near-monopoly. (Actual perfect monopolies make too a good a target. I remember how, back in the 1970s, the CEO of IBM was forever apologising to the shareholders for letting the company’s market share get too big, thus attracting the hostile attention of the US government’s trust-busters).

        What we have today is about as near to “proper capitalism” as is possible. It’s as close to “proper capitalism” as our political system is to “proper democracy”, or the NHS to a “proper health care system”.

        That is, close enough to fool most of the people most of the time.

        • Bayard

          “But what is “proper capitalism”? ”
          I agree, the concept of “proper capitalism” is a somewhat nebulous one, but I think that a distinction should be drawn between Industrial Capitalism, by which I mean the use of capital to make money through adding value and Financial Capitalism, by which I mean the use of capital to make money by taking it from other people. The first has the potential to make us all better off in the long run (even though it quite frequently doesn’t), but the second can never do that. One man’s gain has to be another man’s loss.

        • will moon

          Thanks Tom Welsh, don’t know much about economics, can’t even usually understand it but I’ll read this several times and do some gentle reading.
          You make me think, that like most subjects, most of the theories are just propaganda masked as something neutral and balanced. I am not condemning everything but from what you say above most descriptions of economics seem innately political. Does MMT follow this template?
          If I had to choose a capitalist to be oppressed by, I would pick “Young Mr Grace” from “Are You Being Served?”
          “You’ve all done very well!”

  • Starvin Marvin

    “She not only dismisses Modern Monetary Theory in its entirety, she also in her pronouncements makes plain that she does not accept the basic tenets of Keynesian Economics.”
    I laughed so hard I fell of my chair, banged my head and bled all over the linoleum, but it’s OK because my wife had super glue. They’re not neo-liberals – they’re 19C liberals. They can be forgiven tho because they haven’t read any Dickens and know nothing of British history, so there’s no way they could deduce it’s a sh!t fundamentalist, Taliban economics, pardon my German. On a more serious note, the problem with Kid Starver is he’s taking the place of a pressure valve. Perhaps Starver is our Macron? Having voted for the Lesser Evil, the French seem to think burning the assets of the super rich is the solution. It seems sensible, but there’s a lot of gross inequality to burn thru

  • Carnyx

    Thatcher said “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul”. As Mark Fisher pointed out it’s now easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The faux woke ‘left’ obsess on social issues of discrimination and are often incapable of understanding class as anything other than a type of discrimination against an identity, they equate “classism” to racism and sexism caused by the mass’s prejudices instead of the structure of relations of production and ownership; this is because they cannot grasp that inequality could be caused by anything other than prejudice exactly because they are incapable of imagining any form of organisation other than capitalism. They blame the masses rather than the system and those who control it, the corporations with their Rainbow and BLM flags. This is the changed soul Thatcher sought, without even the conceptual tools to grasp the problem and therefore under control – a totalitarian system were everyone thinks they are free. It is ingenious. But still, it cannot last; it cannot escape it’s own contradictions which are unleashed when its organised opposition is wiped out.

    The issue is whether it takes all of us out with it.

    • will moon

      I read somewhere that Stalin believed writers were the “engineers of human souls”, not economics or economists. Different days then, I suppose.

  • portside

    Thanks Craig for this much needed alert/ reminder. It should be mentioned too that there is a degree of geographical inequality in Britain that exists nowhere else in the western world. If London were removed from the economy the UK would be substantially poorer by GDP per capita than Mississippi, the poorest state in the USA. Several regions, like northeast England, are more deprived than virtually anywhere in Europe. Men in County Durham for example now have life expectancy at birth, adjusted for health outcomes, of just 59 years of age. In Kingston upon Hull, it is 56!

    A full generation of neoliberal managed decline/ abandonment has left many societies in 2020s Britain exhibiting the same symptoms of deaths of despair that are well known in America. They may have free healthcare, unlike Mississippi, Appalachia etc, but they are not happy places. Statistics show these abandoned societies are suffering profound/ multiple deprivation: high rates of premature mortality, depression, stunting in children, etc. The whole gamut of disadvantage.

    Reeves and Starmer have signalled very clearly that are content to continue with this state of affairs, refusing even to offer Dominic Cummings-type assurances about levelling up. Indeed unlike previous centrist charlatans such as Blair (or Clinton and Obama) they gleefully scorn the idea of hope. Labour’s only offer to the poor and working class, post Corbyn, seems to be arch social Reaction: flags, monarchism and fuelling hatred of refugees.

    • Jeff

      Just a thought; in Scotland, which if independent would be one of the richest countries in Europe, current life expectancy for males in the largest city, Glasgow, is 74 (according to a 2023 ‘Guardian Carers’ survey using ONS data). The same survey shows Kingston upon Hull in England as 77 and leafy Kensington and Chelsea in London is 83 (which is similar to resource-rich Norway).

      The Scottish nation is being kept artificially poor by Westminster, and has been so for a very long time. Time to wake up.

      • portside

        Hi James, life expectancy adjusted for health outcomes means the age to which a person lives before experiencing a serious health issue, be that cancer, heart disease, lung problems.

        I’d imagine the figures for Glasgow, Dundee etc are very similar to Hull’s. I’m English but I also have no idea what advantage Scots think they enjoy being ruled by distant Englishmen like Sunak or Starmer. I doubt there is any other people on the planet who would have made the choice Scots did in 2014.

        • Republicofscotland

          “I’m English but I also have no idea what advantage Scots think they enjoy being ruled by distant Englishmen like Sunak or Starmer.”


          They have no advantage, we elected what we thought was a party, the SNP, into government on several occasion to deliver us the dissolving of the union, this party the SNP betrayed us, and is now nothing more than a colonial administration, with self-serving interests. There are now NO political parties at Holyrood that want to dissolve the union, in fact only the Greens and the SNP ARE Scottish parties. The Lib/Dems/Labour and the Tories are branch offices of their London HQs – or as the Electoral Commission called “Scottish Labour” a (OIM) Optional Image Mark.

        • John O'Dowd

          “I doubt there is any other people on the planet who would have made the choice Scots did in 2014”.

          Precisely the point. Most Scots – actual Scots living in Scotland voted ‘Yes’ in 2014.

          Unfortunately a referendum that should have been about national self-determination – and hence carried out on a franchise limited only to Scots – instead used the general electoral register that included a large number of foreigners – mainly English living in Scotland, or with second homes here.

          Understandably, these English voters, who regard Scotland as a colonial possession and part of Greater England (called Britain), voted ‘NO’.

          Their votes were sufficient to thwart the will of the Scottish people who voted FOR independence.

          In 2014 the majority of Scots voted FOR independence.

    • glenn_nl

      P: “… refusing even to offer Dominic Cummings-type assurances about levelling up[…]”

      To have any hope about such assurances would be foolish.

      George Orwell was writing about this “levelling up” nonsense, and what utter tosh it was – empty promises that would be dangled before a section of the population the political class cared nothing about whatsoever, and had absolutely zero intention of sharing any of the wealth accumulated by those who were already rich in the south. This was in “The Road to Wigan Pier” – in the 1930s!

        • glenn_nl

          Certainly, and I wasn’t disagreeing.

          It’s not as if this cynical “levelling up” promise has run its course – if people have been swallowing that line for 100 years, there would be no need to stop offering it now. Unless – as you say – the need for pretence has been dismissed, because we’re so far past even pretending to care about equality.

    • Goose


      And looking at that shocking data how can decision makers and civil servants in London refuse to acknowledge that the London-centric UK model that’s still being pursued, is an abject failure. We need major democratic & constitutional reform just to stand still. It may already be too late.

      Gordon Brown has long argued for a new constitutional settlement involving German style federalism, albeit, motivated in his case, by a desire to anchor Scotland more firmly in the Union. But he can also see what everyone else can see in underperforming, depressed regions of the UK; people stuck in menial jobs they’re overqualified for, low expectations etc.. Rob people of hope and opportunities, disempower them in terms of the ability to bring about change through democracy, and you get the rUK minus London. The UK is the poster child of how not to run a modern western country.

    • Squeeth

      I’ve lived in Hull since the early 90s so have beaten the rap, being 61 but that’s probably because I was born elsewhere and was near thirty when I arrived. Looking at the indigenous public, I wonder if 56 is a little generous.

      • will moon

        Squeeth you might remember this one from “Bladerunner”
        “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long”

    • Bayard

      “If London were removed from the economy the UK would be substantially poorer by GDP per capita than Mississippi, the poorest state in the USA. ”
      Which is presumably why our rulers in London, don’t appear to give a shit about the rest of the country. Perhaps England ought to declare independence from London.

    • townsman

      If London were removed from the economy the UK would be substantially poorer by GDP per capita than Mississippi

      Actually, if London were removed from the economy the rest of the UK would be substantially richer, because London sucks in wealth from the rest of the couintry and gives nothing back.
      For example, many companies (e.g. Barclays Bank) make money from offices located throughout the UK, but their head office – where the fat-cat fancy salaries are paid – is in London. Even when head offices aren’t actually in London, they’re often within 25km in places like Welwyn Garden City. And of course all government, and a lot of higher civil service, salaries are paid in London.
      Think about it. London doesn’t actually produce anything that anybody needs. It’s a parasite.

      • Urban Fox

        Then factor in that most “financialzed economic activity” are swindles, rackets & pyramid schemes. That pretty much operate in a parallel dimension.

        A substantial proportion of the UK “economy” makes no practical real-world difference. Neither goods or services.

        The UK’s official GDP “numbers” are basically an act of international fraud…

      • Bayard

        “Actually, if London were removed from the economy the rest of the UK would be substantially richer, because London sucks in wealth from the rest of the couintry and gives nothing back.”

        That would only be true if the activities that go on in London ceased with its removal from the economy. If London declared itself a separate state in the way that Singapore did, it would continue to suck wealth from the remaining UK and the rest of the world in the way it does now.

        “The UK’s official GDP “numbers” are basically an act of international fraud…”

        Most, if not all GDP figures are a fraud. “If a man marries his housekeeper, GDP goes down”.

  • Clark

    It seems to me that through its gross and wilful incompetence, the Conservative party has utterly discredited itself such that only the terminally delusional could vote for it, so the Labour party is moving (or rather being moved) to fill the void.

  • Jack

    Unfortunately it is the same abdication of the left all over the board in the west. Mainstream leftist politicians, as soon as they reach the power and privileges of wealth by sitting in parliament etc. abandon all their ideology and adhere to neo-liberal, pro-capitalist, in effect right-wing politics.
    Marx certainly knew what he was speaking about:
    Apparently the mainstream left have came to support Thatcher’s “There is no alternative”

    It is the same abdication on foreign policy too, whereas the left use the talking points of the right-wing through and through,

    I remember when Obama came to power with a somewhat leftwing ideology foundation, thus I had hopes for him. Today he is just another powerful, smug neo-liberal that could not care less about people at the bottom of our society.

    The only left that stays true to the core is the left on the very end of the spectrum which has no power, and are defamed even by the mainstream leftists.

    • Tom Welsh

      “I remember when Obama came to power with a somewhat leftwing ideology foundation, thus I had hopes for him, today he is just another powerful, smug neo-liberal that could not care less about people at the bottom of our society”.

      Actually the day he came to power (and the days before) he was already “just another powerful, smug neo-liberal that could not care less about people at the bottom of our society”.

      It never does to believe what politicians say, especially when they are running for office. I am perpetually astonished at the number and sincerity of people who say that they were taken in by Obama, and voted for him in the belief that he would carry out his promises.

      Why would he do that?

      • Ian Stevenson

        To be fair Obama was taken up in dealing with the banking crisis for the first two years. He backed Gordon Brown’s insistence on a Keynesian response and not savage cutting, as later advocated by the Tea Party etc.
        It stopped the recession turning into a 1930s depression but in 2010 he lost the mid-terms. In Britain the Conservatives, aided by the Liberal Democrats, gained power and imposed austerity.
        The US Constitution is designed to make things difficult to get things done. The checks and balances thing. Sadly it is almost impossible to change. A quarter of the 50 states can veto it. Those 13 states could represent only 20% of the population as there are a number of small, rural Republican states who are Conservative.
        Even if Obama had read and agreed with Hudson (who is a good read) I doubt if he could have overcome the entrenched vested interests. Most of the people wouldn’t have been able to see what he was doing. It doesn’t look good but in the 1980s, who would have said by 1991 the USSR would be no more? Or South Africa would decide to end Apartheid? Or in 2000 that a man of mixed race would be President of the USA. Change often comes quickly. Ideas about e.g. MMT are mentioned more often. Change often happens quietly below the surface until a crisis creates a tipping point. And sometimes it doesn’t happen.
        I am sure the desire for change is there and has potential to grow. People need to see a plan and a way it can be carried out.
        The biggest shift in 100 years was the 1945 election with the enthronement of Keynesian economics and the nationalisation and Beveridge report as a way to carry it out.
        We can’t give up.

  • Tom Welsh

    “I cannot understand why anybody would believe that this state of affairs is healthy for society or for the economy”.

    The fallacy there is to believe that anyone involved cares in the least about society or the economy. Economics is emphatically not a science; rather, it uses bits and pieces of maths and pseudo-science to create a formidable impression of authority. (Sound familiar at all from any other contexts?)

    There are precious few sensible and honest economists around; for me, Michael Hudson is the best. He points out that the main weakness of conventional economics is that it completely ignores the effects of massive debt.

    For over a century now – perhaps closer to two centuries – the great majority of economists have been cheerleaders for the super-rich. As Hudson puts it in his endearingly direct way, there are two possible career paths for a newly-qualified professional economist: teaching and driving a taxi. But teaching is possible only if the economist is acceptable to those who hire and fire; and publishing is possible only for those who stay strictly within the “parameters of respectable discourse”. Thus virtually all employed economists devote their energies to demonstrating over and over that “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds”. If the super-rich have most of the property, and are continually increasing their share, that must be good for everyone.

    • Bayard

      ” He points out that the main weakness of conventional economics is that it completely ignores the effects of massive debt.”
      When I was a young adult, it was still considered normal to save up for the things you wanted. Obviously this didn’t suit the banks, who had to pay people interest on their savings, so they introduced the credit card, “Take the waiting out of wanting”. Now you bought what you wanted with borrowed money. Instead of the banks paying you interest, you paid them interest. Debt, from something to be avoided, became normalised, even something to be embraced. All the money you might have saved was now being paid in interest, just so that gratification could be more instant.

      • alexey

        Debt then become something you couldn’t do without unless you were born wealthy. Can a student realistically save 90K before attending university? Even think about putting a deposit on a house while banging out rents which consume half their income?

  • Clark

    Labour’s new policy will not grow the economy. An economy cannot grow when most of the population cannot afford to buy anything.

    History clearly shows that we should expect stupid and ultimately self-destructive behaviours from power structures (ie. hierarchies of dominance) because such systems select and promote idiots savants suited only to furthering the dominance of the structure. See The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by B W Tuschman, 1985, repeatedly cited in episode 62 of the Fight Like an Animal podcast series by Arnold Schroder (2 hours 6 minutes):

    • Tom Welsh

      “Labour’s new policy will not grow the economy. An economy cannot grow when most of the population cannot afford to buy anything”.

      A point that Michael Hudson hammers home at every opportunity. He calls it “debt deflation”: a reduction in the amount of money available to buy goods and services, because the super-rich and their corporations (and their government) are forever sucking wealth out of the economy and adding it to their vast piles of money.

      When you add up all the permanent drains on the average person’s income, they are left with hardly any discretionary spending. That being so – and with inflation eroding the value of any savings – it hardly seems worth trying to save.

      The permanent drains include taxation (for a fun game, try listing all the forms of taxation you pay), rent, credit card interest, interest on education loans, utility company payments, hire purchase, etc. Those demands always tend, over the long run, to outpace the individual’s ability to pay, because very few can increase their earnings fast enough to keep up with compound interest.

        • Tom Welsh

          Everything IS increasing because the value of money itself is decreasing. Here is the ONS record:

          Based on 1974 (although you can download the spreadsheet and rebase it whenever you like). Just hover anywhere on the graph to see what the value of the pound was that year.

          With 1800 taken to be 100, the index was down to 68 by 1900! A century of slight deflation. WW1 roughly doubled prices, but they decreased slightly during the Depression. Inflation picked up again in 1940, and 1946 saw prices about twice the level of 1800.

          Without much fuss, they doubled again by 1963 and doubled again by 1974 to reach 8 times the 1800 level. And again by 1979, to 16 times the 1800 level. Since then, they have doubled about 3 more times to touch 100 times the 1800 level. So £1 today is worth about 12p or half a crown in 1979; 6p or 1/3 in 1974; and 3p or 7½d in 1963.

          Going back further, today’s £1 is worth about 1.5p or 3¾d in 1946, 0.75p or about 2d in 1916… and the same in 1800!

          The current spike in inflation (which is just getting started, I fear) was caused by huge government spending over Covid and Net Zero, and now by the effects of foolishly trying to “punish Putin”.

      • Casual Observer

        What you outline there is remarkably similar to the situation presented to the Labour Party by Oswald Mosley when he was still the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster within that very government ? Of course he lent rather more weight to the ‘Equipping the East’ angle, but that is so long established now as to not warrant mention. The purchasing power of the British public angle is just the same.

        • Ian Stevenson

          Mosley compared the reaction of the Labour party to the financial crisis as like a bunch of Salvationists who confronted by the long foretold Second Coming, turned tail and fled.
          Socialists had foretold of the collapse of capitalism much like the return of Christ was foretold.

  • Ian

    It’s all about class wealth extraction. According to the Financial Times, BP stated that it had a commitment in 2023 to return 60% of it’s ‘surplus cash’ to shareholders through share buybacks. Add in dividends and it’s the majority of it’s surplus cash. Good to see the surplus cash being put to such good use.

    • Ben

      The CEO did this to increase the price of BP’s shares which increases his bonus. Some companies actually use borrowings to increase the share price and so the CEO’s bonus.

  • Goose

    “there appears to be no discernible political debate over policy”

    Fixed it.

    We are living in a post-democratic society in which debate about all but the most trivial issues, is effectively verboten, and nobody noticed.

    • mickc

      Lots of people notice…and can do f… all about it…

      The Brexit referendum gave the Establishment a shock, hence why they tried to reverse it. They much prefer government by their chosen “experts” than by the democratic will of the people.

      • Goose

        I think one of the problems is the fact MPs aren’t from the areas they represent. Take the example of Rachel Reeves who represents Leeds West, yet is originally from Lewisham, London.

        In a process spanning the last three decades, literally dozens of southern born Labour MPs have been parachuted into safe seats in the North; often replacing local born, retiring working class MPs. Someone should compile a list, it’d be a long one with many well known Blair era names.

        This is why the PLP are terrified of primaries or open candidate selection. Local candidates would almost certainly defeat these unrepresentative RW London HQ imposed cuckoos in a fair contest.

        • Goose

          A trend also illustrated by this:

          Number of Labour MPs who had a working-class job before politics

          1987-1992 64 MPs
          1992-1997 59 MPs
          1997-2001 55 MPs
          2001-2005 49 MPs
          2005-2010 37 MPs
          2010-2015 20 MPs
          2015-2017 13 MPs
          2017-2019 12 MPs
          Today = 7 MPs

          Something akin to political gentrification has occurred, with ‘on message’ middle class careerists taking the place of those with life experience and political principles. To these party hacks, disagreement with the leadership is simply too risky to countenance, not with no other realistic career path outside politics. They’ve made the very idea of representative democracy a joke.

          • Squeeth

            In the 1970s I was an Air Cadet and the second CO of my squadron talked of this, with some bitterness just before I left. “They needed us for the war but now they don’t and we’re being replaced”. That was 43 years ago; 1945-1970 was an interregnum and we thought it was permanent.

          • Bayard

            I’d be interested to see the total number of MPs who had any sort of job outside the public or NGO sectors before becoming an MP.

          • st

            You don’t want to work on Animal’s farm no more? Tut tut. Call for the knacker in the pen.

        • mickc

          Or indeed, as you point out, the class ie working class, they should represent.
          Now it may be that they do not have to come FROM that class, Attlee didn’t…but they must have experience of that class’s problems or be guided by those who have…Bevin and Bevan notably but many others of that time…
          I really can’t think of any like that now…

          • Goose

            This is interesting.

            Do you feel that your priorities and values are represented by at least one of the major parties?

            ✅ Yes 27% (-2)
            ❌ No 57% (+3)

            In 2019, 41% of voters felt represented by at least one of the major parties. Today, that figure is just 27%.

            , 21 Aug (+/- vs Feb)

            So it isn’t some disgruntled minority, moaning among themselves. FPTP is failing a majority of the public. When close to 60% of the country feels disenfranchised, London should listen. And this is the state of opinion before Starmer and co further infuriate in power.

      • Tom Welsh

        “They much prefer government by their chosen “experts” than by the democratic will of the people”.

        Well, obviously. The “experts” push policies that further enrich the already wealthy, whereas the democratic will of the people would aim to help everyone. As government is wholly owned by the wealthy, they have it all their own way at present.

  • Clark

    To get politics done properly we’re going to have to do it ourselves; politics as a tribal spectator sport is literally deadly.

    So go support a picket line, or get talking to people and exchange contact details. Share skills and knowledge, to bypass and thus undermine the corporate hegemony. Organise meetings. Form People’s Assemblies, to formulate policies and to demonstrate the popular mandate for them. Make demands clearly to the existent structures, and when they’re ignored, as they always are, implement them through direct action. In northern England at least, this is what the new Social Justice Party is doing. Likewise in Scotland, there is the Independence movement.

    I talk to random strangers frequently, whenever I can find an opening; it is literally years since anyone told me that they think things are going well and they support the status quo. But most people need hope, and a way to organise their energies. They know the commercial media is unfit for purpose, they are not sheeple, but they need some starting points and guidance to help them navigate the independent media proliferating on the internet, and they need the empowerment only community can provide.

  • Robert Dyson

    Bigger forces at play than we see. I now realise that there was no way that Jeremy Corbyn would have been allowed to become PM. In this political theatre the set will change with the actors but the play will be the same. I realised the last three years that the majority of us do not matter, if there is profit to be made our death and suffering is of no consequence. The Russia/Ukraine war is the latest notable example in our part of the world.

    • mickc

      Not sure you’re right on this.
      Corbyn almost won against May…because he said he would respect the result of the Referendum.
      He lost the next one badly because, at Starmer’s urging, he abandoned that position…which Johnson adopted.
      The vote, rightly or wrongly, was Out…it should have been respected by Parliament. Power ultimately lies with the people, not with the Parliament elected for five years.
      And no, the people weren’t deceived…they…we…know that politicians lie…we also know that the EU is anti-democratic…

      • Bayard

        Corbyn should have realised that the secret weapon of the Tory Party is loyalty. This meant that the moment he abandoned his commitment to leave the EU, Labour Leavers would tend to vote Leave (Tory) rather than voting Labour, whereas Tory Remainers would tend to vote Tory rather than voting Remain.

        • Tom Welsh

          “Corbyn should have realised that the secret weapon of the Tory Party is loyalty”.

          Nothing changes. As Disraeli said when PM, “Damn your principles! Stick to your party”.

      • Steve Hayes

        There’s political games, then there’s the real world. Someone standing for office should at least consider what they’ll do if they get it. Brexit is eating away like termites at the underpinnings of the British economy and it’s going to come crashing down later this decade. Cameron and Johnson brought that on for short-term political advantage and rightfully it should be the Tory Party that it destroys. But it looks like it’s going to be Labour instead.

        • Jimmeh

          I think we might all be surprised.

          Starmer’s switch from “pledges” to “missions”, and his obvious reluctance to commit to anything that could be characterized by the Tories as “socialism”, are going to bite Labour’s ass at the GE. My guess is that they’ll scrape a bare majority, and will struggle to implement any sort of programme.

          I’ve never voted Tory, and I won’t in 2024; but I hope neoLabour loses badly. That won’t in itself purge the party of the likes of Peter Mandelson and the various LFI traitors; but there’s no point in a Labour government, if their only platform is “Get rid of the Tories”.

  • alexey

    I would recommend any of Michael Hudson’s books on the subject. If I paraphrase in a nutshell, he claims that the nineteenth century free market ideas were mainly for markets free of *rent*, i.e. unearned income that people get on the basis of a legal right, whether that is ownership of land, capital, shares. You pay rent when you borrow for your eduction, house, healthcare, or to access a resource you don’t own. An increasing part of income is turned over because someone owns something you need. Debt grows at a compound rates, and since Roman times there has been a legal western norm that all debts must be paid: people forfeit their property if they can’t pay (in Roman times they lost their liberty too), whereas pre-Roman near east societies often cancelled the debts of the poor in holidays and returned land through clean slates. Industrial capitalism especially in the United States and UK grew on the basis of social goods provided by the state which freed up workers from paying rents to monopoly private providers. Its the same policy used by China. Hudson further argues that what we have seen with this return to paying people unearned income on the basis of ownership of key resources is not so much industrial capitalism (those former industrial capitalist countries have now financialised everything anyway) but the return of feudalism. However now we pay out to the banks, landlords and owners, while “markets” have appeared even in socialising through apps. People in debt do not go on strike and rebel. The media persuades us that simple lifestyle issues are matters of identity and great gravity.. And like feudalism of old, where the aristocracy owned all the land, the serfs worked upon the land and gave up a share to the aristocrats, and there was a priesthood to give meaning to society, and there is also a priestly caste in the modern sense: they are called economists, much of what they claim is the direct opposite of the demonstrated truth and merely an ideology: neoliberalism, “freedom”. Economic history is no longer taught, rather the ideology of neoliberalism is.

    • Casual Observer

      You may be interested in a BBC series from 1977, and available on YT entitled The Age of Uncertainty. Written and presented by the late J K Galbraith. Galbraith being an economist who was able to write bestselling books on the topic of economics, coupled with his experience at the heart of government, is for me one of the most persuasive of economic guru’s.

  • Republicofscotland

    Chomsky summed it up brilliantly here.

    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

    Keep the Overton Window as narrow as possible using the politicians, big business and the media, and you can fool most of the people into believing that things are getting better, when in reality they are not.

    • Marvin

      Noam Chomsky, the man who tried to limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion on the Covid vaccines by saying that the unvaccinated should be isolated and left to die from starvation – that Chomsky?

      • Tom Welsh

        Don’t let me interrupt you in your quixotic search for the individual who knows everything and is always right. Truth is valuable enough that we should treasure it when we see it, rather than quibbling about the ideological impurity of the source.

  • Graeme

    A simple way to impoverish the country is to allow energy companies to syphon off ever larger amounts of our income right under the noses of Ofgem.
    It strikes me as bizarre that our country has better reserves of energy rich resources than most, yet we have the highest energy prices in the western world ! That takes a special kind of talent. Our dysfunctional energy market would make the mafia proud.

    • Pears Morgaine

      Water companies too. Owned by banks or private equity funds who take hundreds of million in ‘dividends’ that should be invested in stopping leaks and pollution.

      • Urban Fox

        They also invest millions in kickbacks, the idea that Britain or the Western “democracies” are not corrupt is a farce.

        You don’t get shaken down by dirty cops or have to bung bureaucrats at street level. But the higher institutions of governance are now rotten to the core. And have been for some time, the inevitable rot is now manifesting.

        Scandals like Thames Valley Water, aren’t produced by shady corporations. They’re produced by a throughly compromised/moribund, pay-to-play, oligarchic political system.

        • Tom Welsh

          The reason why they are portrayed as not corrupt is that they have legalised corruption. It’s taken for granted, it’s normal, it’s business as usual.

      • Bayard

        “Owned by banks or private equity funds who take hundreds of million in ‘dividends’”
        Not Welsh Water. Dunno where all the money goes there.

    • Bayard

      The supplies of water and energy in the UK show how broken the private ownership of resources/government regulator model is. These things are either a monopoly (water) or a cartel (energy and most other regulated industries). Indeed it seems that the whole purpose of the model is to get away from the annoying need to compete and sit back and enjoy the super-profits than monopolies and cartels bring. A moment’s glance at the history books would have shown that the regulators would soon be in the pockets of the regulated. It’s just another system that fails because there is no magic sieve that you can pass through the population to separate out the good and incorruptible so that they can be employed in the governance and regulation of the bad and corruptible.

  • Laguerre

    I still feel it is somewhat unfair to concentrate fire on Starmer, when Labour is not in power, and it is the Tories who are creating the problem, having been in power for 13 years. This is nothing very much new, but it remains true nevertheless. It is also not new to say that Blair’s years were also still better than the Tories. I detested Blair for his foreign policy, particularly the invasion of Iraq, which was dishonest, but most people are interested in domestic policy, not foreign, and you had then a better chance of treatment under the NHS than under the Tories, and certainly better than now.
    I am pretty clear that on domestic policy Starmer will be much like Blair. Much better than under the Tories, who are the worst of the worst, but far from ideal. Personally I prefer the not-ideal to the present Tory catastrophe.
    I’ve said several times on this blog, since Starmer came to prominence, that I take Starmer to be a man of modest origins (the proper class for Labour, though a Londoner, and not a working class northerner) who isn’t able to stand up to the Public School boys, and morally doffs his cap before them. I think it is becoming more and more clear that this is the case. He doesn’t have the confidence to run his own show, so he runs to the focus groups. He’s also sold his soul to the Israel Lobby, and they are very Tory these days, no longer Labour.
    I suppose that if elected he will be quasi-Blairite, he will gain in self-confidence, but I don’t think he will escape his masters standing over him.
    That’s better than having the Tories in power. But a new model is not on the horizon yet. Politicians, who are campaigning people, have to be shown a model and have it presented in simple terms. You can’t overturn everything in a single go. It took Thatcher years to carry out her reforms. Starmer is a point to start from, if someone has a practical scheme that even politicians can understand.

    • Twirlip

      I don’t believe for a second that Starmer does what he does unwillingly – out of weakness, deference, or lack of confidence. He is ruthless, calculating, and jaw-droppingly dishonest, even for a politician. I can’t prove that this impression of him is accurate, but nor do I think that it can be a purely subjective matter. I think it ought to be possible to reach a definitive judgement on his character on the basis of evidence.

      • Laguerre

        well, I don’t agree with you. I doubt very much that Starmer is “ruthless, calculating, and jaw-droppingly dishonest”. You describe Johnson there. Perhaps you are really a Johnson supporter and ascribe his characteristics to others.
        Starmer is averagely dishonest for a politician.

        • Casual Observer

          Starmer is so stunningly average at everything, that it may be in order to christen him the Ramsay MacDonald of our age. 🙂

          • Laguerre

            Isn’t that better than the Tories?
            By the way, as I said, Starmer can be described as of working-class origins. you need an analysis of how and why, someone like that is betraying his class.

          • Casual Observer

            You think the Tories are bad now, just wait until the next election is done and dusted. The likelihood of a Labour majority without its formerly Scottish seats is slim indeed. And the possibility of a coalition with what by then will be a radioactive SNP, must with its potential to resurrect the old Blue Bonnets over the Border turnip ghost, be even slimmer ?

            Most likely will be a Conservative majority of 10 or so seats, with the possibility that presents for every legend in his own mind MP trying to revolt at any opportunity to get MSM coverage.

            The runners and riders have not even left the enclosure yet, so we dont really know what the manifesto’s will push, but its certain sure that the Conservatives will try to capitalise upon their gains from the last contest. And with labour not really being anything more these days than the sandal wearing types so well described in the Road to Wigan Pier, the Tories probably wont have to try too hard. The old tried and tested hobby horses will be ridden hard.

          • U Watt

            In place of policies, the Labour Right give us irrelevant personal nonsense. Problem is, no one cares about Sir Keir’s spurious “working class origins”: he grew up in a semi-detached house in leafy Surrey, has since spent £10m purchasing land around it. He went to a fee-paying school and then Oxford for free. But no one cares! What is he going to do for ordinary people and about the problems Craig outlines above?

          • Laguerre

            U Watt
            Rather a tendentious interpretation of Starmer’s early life, isn’t it? Father a toolmaker, mother a nurse. Working class people could get houses in the 50s and 60s. Reigate was a direct grant school when he went there, though it changed status later on. He studied at Leeds, not Oxford, and only subsequently did a postgraduate degree in Oxford. All a conventional story of a boy of modest origins made good through his abilities. Sneering at what he achieved personally doesn’t make you look good. Many, nay most, of the famous Labour politicians of the past came from more comfortable origins than that.

          • Bayard

            “Father a toolmaker, mother a nurse”
            His father owned a company that made tools and there are plenty of middle-class nurses, probably more in those days.

          • Laguerre

            “His father owned a company that made tools”
            Sounds like hair-splitting to me. We’d know if it was more than a little company, but I don’t have time to pursue the detail. At any rate more modest origins than most Labour leaders, including the Ramsay MacDonald Casual Observer is so keen on.

          • Bayard

            “Sounds like hair-splitting to me. ”

            No it isn’t. “Toolmaker” is a recognised blue-collar job. Someone who runs a company making tools is not necessarily a toolmaker, unless they could make tools if given the right facilities. Mr Barratt, of Barratt Homes could describe himself as a builder, but that doesn’t make him working class.

        • Twirlip

          Two quotations from an article which I happen to have been reading this evening:

          “Is Keir Starmer on a mission to kill off progressive politics in the UK?”, by Hilary Wise
          Middle East Eye [Sat 27 May 2023]

          “According to the book, as one Corbyn aide put it succinctly, Starmer had “completely fucked us”. In retrospect, it is clear that a contest between two such politicians – one, a man of ruthless ambition, backtracking and plotting behind the scenes; the other a man of transparent and consistent principles – was an unequal match.”

          So, I’m right about him.

          “As a human being, Starmer remains an enigma. Who can tell what he believes or stands for?

          Clearly not happy with the cut and thrust of political life, he could have continued with a distinguished and less stressful career in the law. Even his closest supporters are nervous about his inability to inspire the electorate or to inflict real damage on a Conservative government mired in sleaze and incompetence.”

          So, you’re right about him, too. 🙂

        • Twirlip

          This article by Jonathan Cook (which can also be found on his blog) sets out at length a view of Starmer’s character which is close to my own, while attempting to refute an opposing view of it which seems, to me at least, to be quite close to yours:

          “Starmer isn’t ‘too cautious’ – he is ruthlessly tearing Labour apart”, by Jonathan Cook
          Middle East Eye [Mon 5 Apr 2021]

          A few extracts:

          “At a time when Labour ought to be landing regular punches on the ruling party over its gross incompetence in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, and cronyism in its awarding of multimillion-pound coronavirus-related contracts, Starmer has preferred to avoid confrontation. Critics have accused him of being “too cautious” and showing a “lack of direction”.
          But there is a twofold problem with this assessment of Starmer’s first year.
          It assumes Labour’s dire polling is evidence that voters might warm to Starmer if they knew more about what he stands for. That conclusion seems unwarranted. A Labour internal review leaked in February showed that the British public viewed Starmer’s party as “deliberate and cynical” in its evasiveness on policy matters.
          In other words, British voters’ aversion to Starmer is not that he is “too cautious” or lacklustre. Rather, they suspect that Starmer and his team are politically “not being forthright and honest”. Either he is covering up the fact that Labour under his leadership is an ideological empty vessel, or his party has clear policies but conceals them because it believes they would be unpopular.
          In response, and indeed underscoring the increasingly cynical approach from Starmer’s camp, the review proposed reinventing Labour as a patriotic, Tory-lite party, emphasising “the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”.
          However, the deeper flaw in this assessment of Starmer’s first 12 months is that it assumes his caution in taking on the Tory government is evidence of some natural restraint or reticence on his part. This was the view promoted by a recent commentator in the Guardian, who observed: “‘Starmerism’ has not defined itself in any sense beyond sitting on the fence.”
          But Starmer has proved to be remarkably unrestrained and intemperate when he chooses to be. If he is reticent, it appears to be only when it serves his larger political purposes.
          Far from sitting on the fence, as his critics claim, Starmer has been ruthless in purging socialism from the Labour party – under cover of claims that he is rooting out an “antisemitism problem” he supposedly inherited from Corbyn.
          None of this should surprise. Despite his campaign claims, Starmer’s history – predating his rapid rise through the Labour party – never suggested he was likely to clash with the establishment. After all, few public servants have been knighted by the Queen at the relatively tender age of 51 for their radicalism.
          While head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Starmer rejected indicting the police officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson, and his department effectively cleared MI5 and MI6 officers of torture related to the “War on Terror”.
          His team not only sought to fast-track the extradition to Sweden of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who exposed western war crimes, but it also put strong pressure on its Swedish counterpart not to waver in pursuing Assange. One lawyer told the Swedes in 2012: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!”
          Starmer’s actions since becoming Labour leader are very much in line with his earlier career. He wants to prove he is a safe pair of hands to the British establishment, in hopes that he can avert the kind of relentless vilification Corbyn endured. Then, Starmer can bide his time until the British public tires of Johnson.”

          I think there are indications of a similar view here (although it is admittedly somewhat less clear):

          “Keir Starmer has squandered his opportunity to wage war on the Tories”, by Peter Oborne
          Middle East Eye [Sat 25 Sep 2021]


          “In his day, Blair wanted to show to the outside world – and in particular the Murdoch press – that he could be trusted to manage the capitalist system. His protege, Starmer, yearns to do the same.
          He is determined to follow the Blairite playbook to the letter: engineer a clash with the left by changing the rules, making himself appear tough in the process. Move policy to the right, so that big business feels safe.
          The process at first worked. Starmer earned a measure of praise in the Daily Mail: “By moving the political dial back towards Blairism, Sir Keir is intent on cutting out the party’s cancerous militant-Left caucus,” it declared on Friday.
          Very few potential Labour voters would ever be swayed by this rather patronising praise, but that’s not the point. Starmer has made the Blairite calculation that he cannot win power without the acquiescence of Associated Newspapers, the Telegraph Media Group and above all, the Murdoch press.
          And we should acknowledge this much in his favour: recent British political history suggests that Starmer may be right in that venal calculation.
          Yet as Labour conference opens this morning it looks as if he may even have messed up this cynical manoeuvre.
          According to overnight reports, the hapless Starmer has been obliged by internal Labour opposition to abandon his look-tough Blairite strategy. Meaning that he looks weak not tough. And venal with it. “

          • Laguerre

            Those accounts are from Middle East Eye, and therefore concerned really with the problem of Israel, not with Starmer’s likely domestic policies. As I said earlier Starmer sold his soul to the Israel Lobby, and that is a big problem, but not necessarily for British domestic policy, with the exception that I noted.

        • Bayard

          ” I doubt very much that Starmer is “ruthless, calculating, and jaw-droppingly dishonest”. You describe Johnson there. ”

          Johnson didn’t make ten pledges to get himself elected to the head of the Conservative party and then break every single one of them.

          • Laguerre

            Johnson made lots of pledges and broke every one of them. Starmer is not in power, as I said above. You have no idea what he would do, if in power.

          • Bayard

            “Starmer is not in power, as I said above. You have no idea what he would do, if in power.”

            Going by past performance, make promises and then break them, I would expect. The Tory party knew Johnson was a liar and a charlatan when they elected him leader.

          • will moon

            Yes I do. He will make the rich richer and the poor poorer, as they all have done since Jimmy Saville’s mate became our leader in 1979

          • Dave

            Agreed. I believe BoJo is a compulsive liar; Kid Starver a cynical liar.

            How does democracy work when we are led by liars (and those working in the media are better off and hence have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo)?

          • Tom Welsh

            “Starmer is not in power, as I said above”.

            Let us fall to our knees and thank God for his small mercies.

      • Goose


        I agree with your assessment. I actually think he is potentially v. dangerous, as Blair became. His campaign was so brazenly deceptive it suggests he’s someone with borderline psychopathy – a pervasive disregard for the rights of others and lack empathy or remorse. His feigned outrage over the press abuse Corbyn endured in that leadership campaign, alongside expressions of friendship and loyalty, dropped shortly after winning, is v disturbing.
        The left-wing pledges, made so earnestly to wavering members were impossible to counter, as Rebecca Long-Bailey’s leadership campaign communications boss Matt Zarb-Cousin explained in a recent interview. What sort of creep pulls a stunt like that and then thinks, ha,ha really fooled those fuckers?

        After the contest it was revealed he’s been a member of an by invite only club, a club that contained not one but two ex-CIA directors, one of whom promised to use all means necessary to prevent Corbyn becoming PM. How long has he been lying and for whom?

      • Steve Hayes

        Anyone knowing of his actions within the Labour Party can see that he’s actually another Stalin. Internal democracy is a joke with anyone going against his favourites quickly finding themselves suspended. I just hope that he’s somehow prevented from using the force of the law in the same way if he becomes PM. Fortunately he’s also rather stupid and very short-termist.

        • Goose

          They claim they still have 400,000+ LP members. Got to wonder what the fcuk these people are thinking?

          Given the widespread feelings of total betrayal removing Starmer should be as easy as falling off a log. Were he a Tory leader, he’d have surely suffered the same ruthless fate of IDS, Hague; Howard or May by now. The Tory press do the campaigning to remove that party’s electoral duds. Members in CLPs need to realise that nobody in the media will force Starmer out for them, they need to organise and do it themselves.

          A big Labour majority with a Starmer-led govt that achieves nothing, resulting in one term only, followed by another 18 year Tory stint in power should be too awful a prospect to countenance. Yet here we are.

      • Tom Welsh

        “… jaw-droppingly dishonest, even for a politician”.

        Was that a typo? Surely you meant, “… jaw-droppingly dishonest, essential for a politician”.

      • Jimmeh

        > I can’t prove that this impression of him is accurate

        Surely making 10 pledges in order to win the leadership election, and then rowing back on all 10 as soon as he won, is evidence enough? It’s not as if the world changed dramatically betwwen the making of the pledges and their repudiation; it was a matter of just a few months.

        That is, he must have known he was going to vitiate the pledges at the time he made them; he had no intention of sticking with them. Making promises you have no intention of keeping is the very definition of dishonesty.

        • Twirlip

          To me, the evidence that Starmer is “ruthless, calculating, and jaw-droppingly dishonest” seems so overwhelming that the judgement seems too obvious to be worth arguing about. But the obviousness of a judgement can be a weakness, in that one doesn’t (at any rate, I don’t) bother to commit to memory all (or even any!) of the detailed evidence. (I do recognise that other people are much, much better at this than I am. I’m constantly amazed at how people can spontaneously recall good reasons for their political judgements. For me, everything is concealed in fog.) So when someone does, astoundingly, contradict what seems utterly obvious, one may have no immediate rejoinder, and everything has to be reconsidered. So I set about finding articles I had read about Starmer online, and these led me to some I hadn’t read before. Quotations from some of these articles enabled me to at least start to marshal evidence to “prove” what had seemed far too obvious ever to need proving.

    • Bayard

      “That’s better than having the Tories in power. ”
      Rather in the same way as being in the frying pan is better than being in the fire.,

      • Laguerre

        So you’d prefer the Tories in power, I can only imagine. It’s a binary choice for the moment, though I’d prefer a coalition. The only practical choice is to start with Starmer, and then bring up others, more acceptable.

        • Bayard

          “So you’d prefer the Tories in power, I can only imagine. ”

          Do you really not understand the saying “out of the frying pan, into the fire”? The frying pan is preferable to the fire, but only as the lesser of two evils. To say that one thing is better than another is not saying that it is in any way good. Labour would be a slightly less bad version of the Conservatives, slightly less corrupt, slightly more competent, just as much controlled by the Establishment. In that way they would be better than the Tories, but still bad, very bad.
          It’s not a binary choice. Unless you vote for a minority party, the only vote is for the Tories, either Blue Tories, Red Tories, Yellow Tories or, in Scotland, Tartan Tories. Their policies may be slightly different, but only in the way that, back in the 70s, your Mini could be an Austin, a Morris, a Wolseley, or a Riley, whilst being all basically the same car with the same engine and running gear.

          • will moon

            Laguerre is he a socialist? Or is he an empty vessel waiting to be filled by the demands of the market?

        • Goose


          It’s logical fallacy or false reasoning to simply assume someone “MUST prefer the Tories”. it’s usually deployed by Starmer Stans. You know It’s possible to intensely dislike both big parties, albeit for different reasons. Ideally, both parties would be vanquished under proportional representation.

          It’s also wrong imho, to simply assume Starmer MUST be better, or lead a more competent govt. Unpopular Sunak, with his Prime Ministerial authority hanging by a thread, due in main part to his role in the ousting of Johnson along with the sketchy nature of his democratic mandate, is severely limited in what he can and can’t do. Starmer and Reeves armed with a big majority would be under no such restraints.
          Many honestly believe Starmer will either directly attempt – or put in place the final foundational infrastructure – to fully privatise the NHS in England; and he’ll do this in the face of mass public protest if necessary. On foreign policy, Starmer once famously produced an opinion piece for the guardian, in which he argued that the Iraq war was illegal under int. law. However the Starmer of today would almost certainly reject his earlier self and impose a three-line whip to support similar US military adventurism. How can anyone trust this seemingly ‘bought’ flip-flopping man?

          • Laguerre

            The hatred of Starmer means in practice letting the Tories back into power. Everybody knows it, you know it, I know it. I don’t much like Starmer either, but I reckon he will have to be tolerated, in order to move things forward. I don’t think socialists should stay out of power, just in order to be able to remain ideologically pure, as seems to be the view of everyone here.

          • Goose

            ‘The hatred of Starmer means in practice letting the Tories back into power.’

            Have you seen the poll leads? Unless the Tories replace Sunak with Mordaunt, and she becomes wildly popular, the die is already cast. The question then becomes, how can voters exert some control over right-wingers’ Starmer, Reeves and Streeting? Ideally, best case scenario, progressives can engineer a hung parliament, but that requires three things: constant criticism, a bad GE campaign and a shitty anodyne manifesto. We can’t do anything about ther latter two, but we all can push the criticism level to 11.

          • Twirlip

            [Replying to Laguerre’s reply.]

            “I know it. I don’t much like Starmer either, but I reckon he will have to be tolerated, in order to move things forward.”

            Logically, then, you should have no objection even to a Starmer who is (in my words) “ruthless, calculating,and jaw-droppingly dishonest”.

            If, for the sake of argument, you could be persuaded that he is like that, would you still maintain that he must be tolerated in order to oust the Tories?

            You could fairly ask me (and others here) a similar question: given my view of Starmer, am I still willing to vote Labour in the next General Election? I honestly don’t know. I have visions of spoiling my ballot paper, writing on it something like “Do you take us for idiots?” But I might end up sheepishly voting Labour as I always do. Or just not voting.

        • Dave

          Precisely the opposite. Starver and the sabs should not be allowed to gain from their treachery. The worse Labour does, the better the chances of real, long term change.

      • Tom Welsh

        As Dr Johnson put it, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea”.

        They are all corrupt, all in the pay of the wealthy and their corporations. Arguing incessantly about whether Labour is better or worse than the Conservatives is futile and self-defeating. Even the names are lies: the “Conservatives” haven’t cared about conserving anything for decades, except their own and their friends’ wealth; while “Labour” couldn’t give a rat’s ass for the workers.

        Indeed, I expect their reaction to any actual workers would be a bit like Kenneth Williams’ as Lord Nelson:

        “Lord Nelson, Lord Nelson, the sailors are revolting!”

        “Ye-e-e-s, ahrn’t they?”

  • trusley_mike

    Bit of a rant (I know how you feel!) but spot on again!

    All this stuff is obvious to those of us who keep an eye on things – but unfortunately we are in a minority surrounded by a vast sea of those who are deliberately misinformed by politicians, the media, and others in the pocket of the wealthy.

    Any chance of pushing a Land Value Tax (LVT) as a first step along the road towards a fairer and more just society?.

    Anyone not up on LVT, or who (deliberately) misunderstands what LVT is all about, can find more information here:

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      The Green Party’s manifesto for the 2019 General Election* contained a plan to replace Council Tax, Business Rates, Stamp Duty & other taxes on real property, with a Land Value Tax of 1.4% of property value, Mike – to be phased in over 10 years: (see page 74)

      The (continuity) Liberal Party and ‘Shared Ground’ (formerly the Young People’s Party – to which our Bayard has/had links) also propose to introduce a Land Value Tax in the unlikely event that either of them ever get to form a government.

      * Kinda wish I’d voted Green in that election (didn’t have time to read their manifesto), rather than spoiling my ballot paper by, inter alia, using it as a medium to impart the wit & wisdom of former Brexit Party councillor David Mincher:

      Undercover reporter: “Would you say you have a big drug problem in Hartlepool?”
      Cllr Mincher: “Only problem ah have round here, like, is ah can’t sell all mah ****in’ white.”

      (He’s a crackhead these days, by all accounts – whereas I am living my best life by getting into protracted arguments on here about the Honeywell AGT1500 turbine engine.)

      • will moon

        Not entirely wasted, you made a good point to AG about the expression on Tucker Carlson’s face , which I will remember – “that’s how l feel” lol!.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your reply Will. Tucker knows his audience, like Gary Barlow did when he used to lie about on a bed eating Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons in his pop videos. Glad I made you laugh: A day without laughter is a day wasted – Nicolas Chamfort. (Note: For anyone who’s wondering what Tucker has to do with my above comment, he was mentioned in the previous comment thread.)

  • Aden

    Where are the trillions that the workers have paid the socialist welfare state?

    How big are the socialist pension debts?

    Ah yes, the left won’t say.

    That’s the disaster. Socialism and a lack of capitalism.

    • David Warriston

      The old adage that ‘everywhere socialism has been tried it has failed.’

      Unlike capitalism which has been a roaring success everywhere it has operated and I mean that sincerely: the system is designed to reward with great riches a small minority who can control the levers of power, and this it has done through thick and thin, even through the recessions and wars which are created by its inconsistencies. It has rarely failed to deliver on its basic rationale.

    • Bayard

      “How big are the socialist pension debts?”
      That’s easy, £0M, or £0Bn if you prefer. The state pension is a liability, not a debt. It’s no more a debt than the cost of the Civil Service or the Army.

  • Bob (not OG)

    “That’s better than having the Tories in power.”
    It should be obvious by now that it doesn’t matter which cheek, ‘left’ or ‘right’ is elected. Voting merely lends legitimacy to the state, which is intrinsically and irredeemably corrupt.
    By voting, you’re saying you’re ok with whatever the ‘winning’ party does. It’s no good complaining about the war(s), the wealth gap, corporate control of government, ever increasing surveillance, the number of laws curtailing free speech, rights of assembly and protest etc. if you voted.
    As was pointed out by Clark, a local approach is the way to go. Bypass the state, because those in power serve only their masters (corporations) and not the people.
    It won’t be easy, but the only positive way through the current and looming crises is for people to finally take control. I.e. for the end of government, even if that is by a gradual and messy process.
    To believe that any modern, techno-surveillance-corporate-fascist government will ever work in the public interest is to continue flogging a horse which died a long time ago.

    • Goose

      I likely won’t vote in the GE. I live in a Labour held constituency that’s fairly safe.

      It’ll probably not happen anytime soon in the UK, because the older generation still feel there’s a civil obligation or duty to vote, “people fought and died for it,” or so the claim goes. But I would like turnout to fall below 50%, effectively delegitimising the result for these conceited scumbag Westminster politicians. It’s not impossible either, as it’s fallen below 60% relatively recently. In 2005, Labour received 35.3% of the popular vote, equating to approximately 22% of the electorate on a 61.3% turnout, and that was up from a 59.4% turnout in 2001.

      • Bayard

        Yes, my dream result would be a hung parliament on a record turnout, a record low, that is. Mind you, the result of that would be probably to bring in compulsory voting. Mind you, with postal voting, everyone can have a vote, just not have a say in who that vote is for.

      • Jimmeh

        > because the older generation still feel there’s a civil obligation or duty to vote

        My parents taught me that if you refuse to vote, you can’t complain. I think that’s simplistic, but I’ve never not voted (except in 1997; I was overseas). I suppose I have to count myself in “the older generation” (I’m 66).

        There’s no party I admire that has a chance of government; so effectively, I’m denied a meaningful vote. I’ll probably vote for a Green, in the hope of helping them save their deposit (but with care; the Greens have put up some very shifty candidates in past years).

  • townsman

    I cannot understand why anybody would believe that this state of affairs is healthy for society or for the economy.

    Can’t you? Really? It’s very simple: the mass media tell people it is so, and most people can’t think for themselves.
    Of course, the mass media are owned by the rich oligarchy, or funded by the deep state (which comes to more or less the same thing)

    I don’t think it’s difficult to diagnose the problem; but I admit I have no idea how to solve it.

  • Crispa

    “Destitution Capitalism” is a really good title and sums up the current situation perfectly. I have always considered capitalism to be a rotten system though it is the one we have to live with short of coming up with a better alternative. We seem currently to be going through one of the periodic and predictable crises in capitalism where none of the established political parties in any of the collective western countries have a clue about how to address or resolve it even in a papering over kind of way.
    This in my view is mainly because capitalism is into pushback time in many different ways and over many issues, which is just throwing up its inherent contradictions. For example, the western economies are now head spinning from the mass immigration that stem from their failure to meet even the basic needs of the peoples in Africa and the global south generally, having spent aeons looting and pillaging their resources and starting umpteen proxy wars in those regions. Niger is a good example of colonial negligence and the passing on a corrupt system whereby a minority inherit its wealth and leave the majority of its citizens in poverty. I was also reading the other day about the large numbers of Senegalese men trying to get into the USA illegally via Mexico; Senegal having ditched a relative form of socialism for neo – liberalism and the results follow.
    Pushback is also coming from the stupid sanctions policies collectively developed by the USA, EU , UK and other has-been economic hegemons, which are proving to be self – damaging. I see there has been a recent article in the German “Bild” describing Scholz and Macron’s surprise at how unphased Putin appeared when they threatened him with all the sanctions they could think of, because he is clever enough to take advantage of their stupidity. Small wonder that countries where sanctions are hurting then turn to Russia, China and BRICS to help alleviate their suffering.
    Pushback is resulting indirectly from politicians of leftist but capitalist supporting parties taking their eyes off the economic ball, which is the main focus of most people’s concerns and becoming preoccupied with identity and cultural issues, which are in themselves capitalist driven. (There is a lot of money to be made out of gay pride events and from the “green agenda”). The fact that more occupational groups like doctors and nurses are beginning to take industrial action, which they would certainly eschew if just treated more fairly, is hopefully a sign that there can be a sea change and along with Jeremy Corbyn Mick Lynch and others on the same platform must be supported.

    • Bayard

      “I have always considered capitalism to be a rotten system though it is the one we have to live with short of coming up with a better alternative. ”
      Capitalism is a rotten system for the same reason there is no better alternative, the people with power and influence are rotten, they are greedy, selfish and uncaring of others. Put these same people in charge of any other system and the result would be the same. The decay is moral, not political or economic.

  • Allan Howard

    Just came across this article about Starmer reposted on JVLs website:

    Keir Starmer has accepted more free tickets to events such as sports matches, concerts and parties than the combined total of every other Labour leader since records began in 1997, openDemocracy analysis has found.

    While the Labour leader spent his first year and a half in the role under lockdown, he has quickly made up for it, accepting gifts from donors including multi-millionaires, gambling giants, the online shopping app GETIR and the construction giant Mulalley & Co on 28 separate occasions. The gifts include days at the races, hospitality at Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur matches, an Adele gig, and two separate Coldplay concerts. In total, they are worth nearly £30,000.

    In his five years as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn only accepted one such freebie: tickets to Glastonbury, where he spoke on the pyramid stage in 2017…….

  • U Watt

    The most dispiriting thing about the AS “crisis” scam was not its use by the Guardian, BBC and New Statesman. It was predictable those establishment outlets would oppose any change to the trajectory since Thatcher. More concerning was its enthusiastic adoption/legitimation by the likes of Novara Media, Owen Jones and co. As with the rest of the media and political class, this lot had ever mentioned antisemitism being a problem on the left until Jeremy Corbyn became leader
    Then all of sudden they could not shut up about it. Aaron Bastani the Novara founder went so far as to describe it as being “endemic” on the left. They also enthusiastically promoted and legitimated the 2nd referendum psyop, an establishment scam a child could see would be electorally disastrous for Corbyn.

    There should have been alarm bells about this new so called adversarial left media, which is aimed squarely at the coming, disenchanted generations. But incredibly they have incurred no damage to their credibility or role as key influencers on the left. That has told them there will be no penalty if they play a similar wrecking role in the unlikely event there is ever another opportunity for change.

    • alexey

      At the time i did some research into what exactly were the antisemitism allegations. Once you looked, there was nothing particularly concrete other than a couple of allegations which seemed to be within the scope of party disciplinary procedures, it also took quite a bit of digging to get that far. In short there was no evidence that the labour leadership was antisemitic. Basic journalism would have discovered this. Instead of that we got this huge monster in the room which had been shouted into being but was still nonetheless imaginary.

      The crushing of Jeremy Corbyn under this lie completely changed my outlook.

      • U Watt

        There was polling early on which showed antisemitism had actually gone down within the Labour membership under Corbyn and that it was far more prevalent in society at large, let alone among Tory members. The Bastanis, Sarkars and Joneses were bombarded with that evidence by Corbyn supporters but pretended all the way through that they were unaware of it and still do. Similarly not a shred of contrition about pushing the antidemocratic “Try Again” 2nd referendum policy. They have paid no reputational price so would undoubtedly do the same again.

    • Laguerre

      The failure of Jeremy Corbyn was signalled in his inability to get round the anti-semitism allegations. He wasn’t, as alexey notes, actually anti-semitic, but he didn’t know how to manoeuvre politically to get round the problem of the allegations. Politicians are supposed to know how to manoeuvre politically, it’s their skill, and he didn’t have a clue. That was his failure laid out there.

      • U Watt

        The media could destroy Sir Keir and Lord Peter in a thrice if they wanted to. Based on those men’s actual actions not made up smears. No amount of “manoeuvres” or “skill” would save them once Labour was branded by the media as a brazenly dishonest Savile-Epstein oligarch party.

        You know very well why that hasn’t happened.

        • alexey

          U Watt: Indeed. The real fear was a mildly leftwing government that might do some slight redistribution. The Israel lobby was worried that Palestine might be seen as it really is, as is detailed elsewhere. None of this would the ruling class allow. Net result is we have no parties offering meaningful change and Labour’s policies are indistinguishable from the Tories. Its vile neoliberalism or vile neoliberalism. The next election will either have a complete drop off in voting as there is literally nothing to vote *for*, probably with an uptick for minor parties to the left of labour. If only they could sort themselves out.

          • Goose

            I find the tolerance among Lib Dems for Ed Davey’s failure to make any sort of polling breakthrough surprising.

            Sir Ed Davey appears to be another establishment stooge, unwilling or unable to rock the boat. The Lib Dems were traditionally the most open to radical, transformative progressive policies.They should be taking chunks out of the increasingly authoritarian Labour’s support, but they’re almost invisible due to Steady Sir Eddy.

            Lib Dem Voice, their semi-official online fanzine, illustrates the lack of ambition and resignation to limited success. They could start by opposing the absurd Online Safety Bill – “a world first in censorship” as the reactionary run Home Office boasts – really, or just no other western country is so self-destructive as to implement such patronising, pathetic, human rights infringing guff? The Lib Dems should be making a big play of opposing it, and would be under any of their previous leaders.

          • Bayard

            “Sir Ed Davey appears to be another establishment stooge, ”
            The “Sir” is a bit of a giveaway.

      • Goose

        Correct. And Blair would have laughed off the whole AS nonsense as utterly preposterous citing the party’s anti-discrimination record and contrasting it to Apartheid regime supporting Tories.

        But Blair was ~44 when he became PM, Corbyn was in his mid-late 60s when he became the party’s leader. Being thrust into the leadership was very much an unexpected development. Watch videos of Corbyn in his 40s and it’s difficult to believe he wouldn’t have been far more energetic & combative in taking on these false allegations had he found himself in the leadership back then.

        • Allan Howard

          It’s highly unlikely that the PTB would ever have let Blair get anywhere near Downing St if he had been a left-winger, and they and their propaganda machine would have destroyed him one way or the other just as they did Jeremy Corbyn (and ‘Red Ken’ TWICE, and ‘The Welsh Windbag’ and ‘Barmy Benn’ etc). In Ken’s case (the first case that is), he and his allies knew that they had to wait until after the GLC elections before making him leader, and of course once he was, he was smeared and demonised on an almost daily basis by the rightwing press and, after Jeremy, he is probably the most smeared politician ever in the whole world.

          And then the PTB let us know precisely what they think of democracy and abolished it, along with the six Met County Councils, all of whom had leftwing administrations at the time.

          It has nothing whatsoever to do with age, and everything to do with having total control of the narrative. Hundreds of thousands more (mainly young men on both sides) will no doubt be killed and maimed in Ukraine in the coming months precisely because they DO. The Ruling Elite(s) and their propaganda machine just go on deceiving and fooling hundreds of millions over and over and over again.

      • Jimmeh

        > Politicians are supposed to know how to manoeuvre politically

        Corbyn was never a political manoueverer. I doubt he ever wanted to be party leader; he only stood to avoid a coronation.

  • mark cutts

    The landed gentry of yore were reluctant to lend the new breed of Industrialists money to fund the exploitation of labour by the hour so the industrialists had to raise funds in the form of shares,

    Finance capitalism is not dosimilar in the current age as both ignored and ignore production of materail goods.

    In the Golden Olden days the profit and the capital for re- ivestment into further exploitatation of the hour of labour was incremental and accumulative – nice money if you invest the capital of course.

    The likes of Bezos buys machinery but only to move around other capitalists material goods.

    Facebook delivers words and pictures and this is where the big money lies these days.

    The Banks and other Financial services deliver interest fees and charges on similar lines on already produced materail goods too.

    It must pay well for them otherwise they wouldn;t do it anymore.

    Sunk – Starmer and others have no idea as to how the Capitalist System (Neo- liberal form thess days ) and it is difficult to call it a mode of production but may be better described as Monopoly Capitalism?

    The Financiers own the vast majority of production companies already and obviously have massive sway as to how these companies operate and the Internationalisation of production and the monopoly pricing that flows from the monopoly is mainly responsible for inflation
    ( not Putin) as is the sanctions applied to Russia.

    Of course the rise of China and the BRICS has caught the Western economic Tigers asleep in their kitten like baskets.

    And of course the US form of capitalism is making temporary hay while the sun shines viz the strength of the dollar externall.

    Trouble is the sun will go in tomorrow as it alaways does as it did in the 2007/08 Financial season.

    The expertrs need to know that nothing lasts forever instead they always thing that just this once it might,

    • Jimmeh

      I think the idea is that up to a point, a government that has a central bank and its own currency can create money, to fund its programmes, within limits, without debauching the currency.

      I’m no economist, and I’m not convinced it works. I wish someone like McDonnell would sell it better. But “Trussonomics” was a demonstration that I’m not the people you have to convince; you have to convince the bond markets.

      • MrShigemitsu


        It’s not a matter of “can”… it’s a matter of **does** create money to fund it’s programs! Every single (week)day, in fact.

        Where do people think the currency actually *comes from*?

        (Clue: it doesn’t come from retail bank loans, which are simply an extension of credit, which must be repaid and at interest, so no ‘net’ financial assets can ever accrue from them. Gov spending, and deficits after the fact, are the only way that the private sector, ie us, can net save.)

        Not sure if you are UK-based, but the whole UK gov spending and taxing mechanism is fully described here, in detail:

        Otherwise, there’s a lot of literature, no less relevant, though more particular to the USA, esp. Stephanie Kelton’s book The Deficit Myth, and the works of L. Randall Wray and Warren Mosler, should you wish to learn more.

        John McDonnell was not on board with MMT, unfortunately having been advised during his time as Shadow CoE by James Meadway and Jo Mitchell, who oppose it.

        Chris Williamson certainly supports MMT, although he is no longer in Parliament as we know, as well as, I believe, Clive Lewis, to some extent.

        Other than that, unfortunately, Thatcher’s lying mantra (that the Gov has no money of its own; only what it can raise in taxes, or borrow) prevails… not only in Parliament, but, tragically, beyond it, including in many left wing circles, who continue to believe that money only grows on rich people, and that somehow taxing them (as if that was ever allowed to happen!) would be sufficient to create Shangri La.

        I would point out that taxation *follows* spending as a matter of course, so any increase in gov spending *automatically* results in an increase in the tax take, much as it does if you get a big pay rise. This supresses inflation – which is the true purpose of tax. Tax is not needed *in advance* of, or to *fund* Gov spending, which is why Starmer and Reeves are so damaging in their channelling of Thatcher’s nonsense.

        • will moon

          You seem to know what your talking about Mr Shigemitsu, so can you comment on the sky high taxation rates after WW2? Why did high taxes for the wealthy not destroy the economy or cause the wealthy to be immiserated? If you are unable to answer for whatever reason, maybe suggest a source for a simplified explanation that I might read.

        • Bayard

          “Where do people think the currency actually *comes from*?”
          I’m not sure that is as useful a question as “Why do those bits of plastic with the monarch’s head on them have any value?”

          • MrShigemitsu

            Because pounds are the only currency in which tax is payable.

            Therefore we all need to accrue them, and accept them in transactions.

            If the govt imposed taxes in gold, bitcoins, cowrie shells, or Nectar points, we’d be running about trying to accrue those instead.

            The handy thing is that the govt spends billions of those tax credits (called pounds!) into creation each day, which gives us all the opportunity to collect them so that we can then make our tax payments.

            That ensures ubiquitous acceptance of Sterling throughout the economy, and allows the govt to provision itself with the labour and materials etc that it requires to provide public services.

            So understanding the source of money is very important! (Clue: it does not grow on rich people!)

          • Pigeon English

            Mr Shi

            I would like to add something from British History in Africa that I understand now.
            Africans had to pay their taxis in Sterling. Only way to get the Sterling was by working for a colonizer paying them in sterling.

          • MrShigemitsu

            “Africans had to pay their taxis in Sterling. Only way to get the Sterling was by working for a colonizer paying them in sterling.”


            The morals of colonising a foreign nation, and comandeering its labour, apart (another discussion…!), the example of the Kenyan Hut Tax is a very good one to show exactly how a Govt – colonial or domestic – can provision itself with the labour, materials, energy or land, that are required to run public services, as well as ensure ubiquitous national acceptance of its currency.

            The announcement of the imposition of a tax, payable only in a particular currency denomination, creates a sudden new form of “unemployment”; one which can only be resolved by going to work for the issuer of that currency! It sounds kind of unfair, but if we want public services, and the financial stability that the ubiquitous acceptance of a national currency brings, then imposing a tax payable solely in that govt-issued currency is the way to do it.

            But, crucially, the UK’s colonial govt in Kenya *had to create, issue, and spend the currency first*, before anyone could pay their Hut Tax with it.

            And, in the very same way, with regard to the UK Govt’s domestic spending, and *then* taxing, to this day, nothing has changed!

      • MrShigemitsu

        The Bond markets can *never* defeat a govt that understands how its sovereign free-floating fiat currency works, and whose government “debt” (aka private sector savings!) is solely denominated in that currency.

        The trade against Japanese gov bonds that the markets attempted to make back in the day were not known as “The Widowmaker” for nothing! ; )

      • will moon

        Maybe apocryphal, but when Clinton got in the White House, his positive “winners” vibe was soon snuffed out, when his advisers told him that his main constituency was “ a bunch of fucking bond traders”

    • Steve Hayes

      As I understand it, MMT recognises that a government that controls its own currency can simply print as much as it needs to do the things it wants to do. Taxation is a separate issue, only needed to take demand out of the economy and control inflation. In other words, the government prints and spends then taxes as needed rather than having to raise money through taxation or borrowing before it can spend. It’s a tidy theory which in my view prescribes much the same as Keynesianism with a simpler and clearer theoretical basis. The trouble is that most of the work on it is American. The USA has the potential to be close to self sufficient. The UK is in a very different position due to “propensity to import”. When people and companies get more money in their accounts they spend a significant fraction of it on imported goods and services such as foreign holidays. That can quickly lead to a Sterling crisis and imported inflation to which MMT offers no answer. People used to understand this but somehow assume it went away with the North Sea Oil bonanza and won’t come back. Ha!

      • MrShigemitsu

        @ Steve Hayes,

        Almost, but MMT absolutely recognises that the constraints to public spending (ie money creation, via public spending) are the limits of the resources avaibable in the real economy (labour, material, land, energy etc), and their capacity to absorb spending, without overheating it… and causing inflation.

        Note that sterling never leaves the sterling area, even if imports occur; the £ is exchangeable for foreign currency, but sterling is free-floating since 1971 so doesn’t need to chase any particular FX rate, or require an interest rate policy specifically to enforce one – no matter what the idiot Bailey says.

        Recent inflation was due not to excess currency creation, but to profiteering, especially in the energy and food retail sectors.

        I’d also point out that there is a floor to how far the currency of a developed nation can drop; import substitution, an improved current a/c balance, and increased FDI, all impel currency movements that raise the FX rate.

        Funny how no-one seems to be bothered too much by excess credit creation, and potential inflationary pressures, via private bank loans, but there we are…

        • Steve Hayes

          Yes, floating exchange rates have avoided the embarrassment to the government of trying and failing to maintain a fixed rate. But the laws of supply and demand still apply. If you want an orange, it won’t grow in the UK. The Spanish grower must be paid in Euros. When more people want to exchange Pounds for Euros than the other way round (because there’s loads of Pounds been printed and some are being used to buy Audis and oranges), it takes more pence to get the Euros to buy that orange. Also known as inflation. Now you’re going to say I’m being patronising explaining foreign exchange in such simplistic terms and that of course you understand it. But it doesn’t look like you do.

          • MrShigemitsu

            Pass through inflation may sometimes occur, but there is no hard and fast rule about it. Exporters can cut margins to maintain market share, for example.
            Or cheaper sources for imported goods can be found (swap Spain for Morocco in the case of oranges, for example).

            MMT is a description of what actually occurs now though, it’s not a prescription.

            Recent inflation is a result of Covid-induced resource bottlenecks, profiteering by large energy corporations and food retailers, and the Ukraine War. Nothing to do with the UK’s money creation system.

            Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of oranges, and Brits are taking foreign holidays like there’s no tomorrow…

          • Pigeon English

            Eat apples and turnips and drive a Jaguar when shit hits the fan.
            We in the West are lucky that the rest of the world takes our money (sorry Mr Shi /currency) and gives us tangible products made from energy work and material in exchange for paper with a royal face and signature.

          • MrShigemitsu

            “We in the West are lucky that the rest of the world takes our money (sorry Mr Shi /currency) and gives us tangible products made from energy work and material in exchange for paper with a royal face and signature.”


            But one of the UK’s great strengths (at least up until recently), and one not to be underestimated, is its historical financial stability, compared to many parts of the world.

            A safe and secure fortress to store your financial assets, under a long-established legal regime, is an export product in itself – which is one of the reasons why the world has been happy, so far, to trade its real goods and resources for little portraits of whoever the ruling monarch is at the time, as well as save those financial assets in the UK.

            Hollowing out its economy with austerity (Thatcher, Osborne, Hunt, et al), and/or irresponsible economic stewardship (Truss, Kwarteng) is something the UK does at its peril.

          • Bayard

            “We in the West are lucky that the rest of the world takes our money ”
            especially the UK, as the only place where they can spend that money is in the UK.

      • Ewan

        I have always found MMT difficult to pin down. Once you assume the real economy and real money demand constrain the amount of money can circulate without inflation, and recognise the bulk of the money in circulation is issued by the banking sector, and there is a limit to the amount of money the government can spend, however created, without crowding out the private sector (if we’re talking about a mixed economy – then it’s difficult too see what MMT adds to traditional Keynesianism or traditional monetarism.

        • Pigeon English

          IMO it adds that the government spends first and tax later instead we have to tax first to spend later. You should know that there is no Magic Money tree. (There is but it has to be used wisely.)
          I believe that Keynesianism is about investing “tax payers money” into economy!? While MMT goes the other way around – invest then tax (remove too much money in circulation).
          What annoys me with MMT is that they don’t se a problem with money creation with +ve interest.
          Explanation is, that’s fine because that is someone’s earnings (savings).
          IMHO that is wealth transfer from the poor to the rich so-called rentier class, not to mention bankers creating money out of proverbial thin air. Banks DO NOT lend out others people money. They add/create currency/money and charge interest. Scam!¡
          I am not sure but in Keynes’ time there was a gold standard abandoned about 1973, so comparing might be irrelevant!?
          My English is not great so if you could explain to me what “without crowding private sector” means?
          Mr Shig…… is good on MMT so I am hoping for a reply.

          • Pigeon English

            Another thought.
            Whoever believes in global warming has to deflate or readjust the inequality in the economy/society on the national level and global level.
            “It’s economics, stupid!” was the mantra in 80/90!
            “We have limited resources, stupid” should be the new mantra.
            I am happy that we are green and growing economy and fiscally responsible and the Starmer & co. will achieve all of it without borrowing. ?

          • Ewan

            I’m not sure why it should be significant that MMT says government spends then taxes after. The private sector will adjust its behaviour to reflect the expected taxation. Higher government spending will be offset by lower private sector spending. Likewise, if government finances its spending by “printing money”, the private sector will adjust its behaviour to reflect the expected inflation. Saving and investment are ultimately about the real economy, about postponing consumption to invest in productive capacity. The monetary economy should facilitate transactions, saving and investment; inflation or deflation generate false signals and uncertainty. The job of the authorities is then to maintain a credible monetary standard, which is surely difficult if they act on the maxim, We can create as much money as we need to spend what we want, and if we find we have created too much money, then tax someone. (How do the authorities destroy the money received in taxes? – no doubt a technicality, but I don’t know how it works. And why is it considered better for the authorities to supply money rather than the banking system?)

          • Pigeon English

            Ewan @ 00.05

            I’m not sure why it should be significant that MMT says government spends then taxes after.
            To have an informed debate we need to know facts. If my conclusion is based on wrong premise my conclusion will be wrong.
            If we believe that Earth is flat and Sun is going around us than we (not you and I) can not talk how to get to the moon
            or shortest way to bomb xyz.

            In 2008/9 Governments created TrillionS of $ in cooperation with Central Banks to save Privately owned Banks or Financial sector or maybe the famous Market Economy (meritocracy).
            Did they call it borrowing or did the journalist ask “how will you finance that?”
            No it was Quantitative Easing.
            Did those Trillions come as a loan from Mars since the whole world parasites were in trouble.
            From whom did we BORROW ???????????????????????????????
            Did the Taxes went 20 or 30 % up to finance the Bail Out to save the System.

            Our “grand children will have to pay” Martians compounded interest rate for that Loan!

            Where did we get a loan for Covid Billions?

            Bill Gates had a spare Billions to lend at good interest rates.

          • MrShigemitsu

            “I’m not sure why it should be significant that MMT says government spends then taxes after.”

            If you persuade the population, as Thatcher attempted to do, that they alone fund public spending, in advance, with their taxes, then you co-opt the whole country into becoming little “Taxayers’ Alliance”, austerity-hawk clones – forever voting against their own interests, because they erroneously believe they will have to fund everything from their own, very limited, pockets.

            If, on the other hand, you tell them the truth; that Thatcher was lying when she said that “Govt has no money of its own, only what it can raise in taxes and borrowing”, and that, on the contrary, the UK Govt can, and does, spend every single pound it uses for public spending into creation with a BoE keystroke, up to the limits of the economy’s real resources to absorb them without overheating, then not only will the population realise that they can have nice things, and that the decision on which ones are possible becomes a *political choice* of how and where to use the country’s finite real resources, rather than believing that the nation is “bankrupt” due to overgenerous public spending, and that money is scarce because the Govt relies on taxes, or borrowing, to fund it.

            Tax being paid *after* the spend, especially in the event of public spending increases, means that any increased tax is only payable as a result of more spending, with greater and more frequent transactions occurring in the economy, which increases wealth and earnings at all levels, and any extra tax due happens automatically anyway, and feels more like the tax increase you may get after a substantial pay rise. So who would really object to that?

            Money is scarce for us, as currency users; it’s plentiful for the govt, as currency creator. MMT teaches us that we need to invest in the economy to allow it to absorb the maximum amount of public spending that it can without causing inflation, not reduce its capacity with unnecessary austerity – and this is why it’s so tragic to see people on the left *still* parroting Thatcher’s damaging and vandalistic lies about the true scource of money and Govt spending – when she is the very *last* person they’d admit to promoting in any other policy area.

        • MrShigemitsu

          Gov created currency doesn’t “crowd out” the private sector!

          On the contrary, it’s the sole provider of net financial assets to the private sector. Don’t forget, bank lending (the other source of money) is just credit, and needs to be paid back (plus interest) – so the non-govt sector in aggregate can never accrue sterling savings by borrowing currency from banks!

          Only a govt that runs a budget deficit, and accrues a national so-called “debt”, can allow the private sector to net save – because if it ran a balanced budget, or worse, a surplus, then every penny spent would be taxed away, so we would have no opportunity to save any currency at all. Exceptions for those nations with continuous external surpluses – but the UK is definitely not one of those!

          • Ewan

            I always end up dizzy & confused trying to understand explanations of MMT. Government can print money & spend at will: government is constrained by the economy’s real capacity: so, government can print & spend at will only if the economy is not working at capacity? Government is the sole provider of net financial assets to the private sector: yet private banking is a feasible monetary system, where the role of lender of last resort is taken not by the central bank, but a clearing-house: So, the economy can feasibly run without government spending. Increased public spending will increase wealth only if invested in productive capacity. And the private sector can save without government running a deficit.

          • MrShigemitsu

            [ MOD: Caught in spam-filter ]


            “I always end up dizzy & confused trying to understand explanations of MMT.”

            I have included many links in one of my posts above, which should help you, if you are genuinely interested in exploring MMT.

            “Government can print money & spend at will”

            Government, via the BoE, already does print money, & spends at will! Every (week)day, in fact

            “…government is constrained by the economy’s real capacity…


            “…so, government can print & spend at will only if the economy is not working at capacity

            If the economy is at full capacity, the Govt will then need to prioritise spending on whatever its political purposes are. Ideally, ensuring spending is targetted for the maximum well-being, and taxing away undesireable activities that may be the cause of overheating (eg housing booms, etc). But of course, in a democracy, that’s up to individual govts to determine those priorities. If the economy is near overheating then taxes may well need to rise in order to contain that inflationary risk – but *not* to *fund spending*!!

            “Government is the sole provider of net financial assets to the private sector: yet private banking is a feasible monetary system, where the role of lender of last resort is taken not by the central bank, but a clearing-house:

            Yes, the UK Govt is the sole provider of net financial assets to the private sector. The UK Govt, via its central bank, the BoE, is the only “lender of last resort”. Private sector banking, under license from the BoE, which provides sterling credit to creditworthy borrowers is perfectly feasible within the monetary system, and MMT has no problem with it – although it makes it clear that credit must always be re-paid, and at interest, so, in aggregate, no new net financial assets can be accrued from private bank lending. This is very important to consider when private sector saving is taken into account.

            “So, the economy can feasibly run without government spending

            Sure, if you want to live in a state like Somalia in the 1990s! To be serious now, that’s nonsense; Govt spending is the only way we in the private sector can accrue net sterling savings, or, in aggregate, obtain the interest to pay on bank loans. Let alone have decent public services, etc.

            “Increased public spending will increase wealth only if invested in productive capacity.

            Money does not stop at first use; who knows what productive investment will emerge from transactions along the spending chain? But ofc it makes sense for the Govt to spend productively than to spaff billions on e.g. unsuitable PPE or white elephant projects, in the first instance.

            “And the private sector can save without government running a deficit.

            That’s not possible in a country like the UK that runs constant external sector deficits.
            Consider the three Sectoral Balances: Goverment, Non-govt (private sector, ie us!), and the External sector (abroad). They always sum to zero. So if the UK’s External sector is in deficit*** (imports exceed exports), then if we want the Private Sector to net save (i.e. be in surplus), the Govt *must* run a budget deficit, or the private sector will be in deficit if both the External and Govt sectors are in surplus.


            The only way the private sector in the UK can net save if the govt runs a balanced budget, or a budget surplus, is if the external sector is also frequently in surplus (exports exceed imports), e.g. somewhere like Norway. This is certainly not the case for the UK, which runs continuous external deficits!


            I’m sorry, I have probably taken up too much real estate here already, though it is an economics thread, and I am responding in good faith to other posters’ questions. I would just say that the beauty of MMT is that it offer us a way out of this Thatcherite neoliberal jungle; but it remains very frustrating to see supposed leftists prolonging the nation’s agony by still parroting her vandalistic, govt-as-household nonsense. Please have a look at some of the links in my post above if you would like to learn more about MMT; I think its our only escape route from the economic madness of the last half century!


            ***(In reality, the External sector itself is “in surplus”, but the UK is “in deficit” in relation to the External sector, so we can define it this way round for ease of understanding).

          • Ewan

            Moderator: if it is an unreasonable burden on your time, just say, and I will thank Mr Shigemitsu and retire from the field.

            Mr. Shigemitsu: I find every one of your responses questionable (which isn’t saying much since I’m no economist). I have tried reading such as the references you provide, God knows I’ve tried!

          • MrShigemitsu

            Well Ewan, thank you for your efforts anyway.

            MMT is actually quite simple; and not being an economist is in fact helpful, because economics is not a science – its more like theology. You will find as many flavours of economics as there are religions – and, of course, they can’t all be correct!

            A mainstream economics education in the last 40 years would more than likely have trained you up as an unreconstructed ‘Washington consensus’ neoliberal, and there are very few courses within the western academy that teach anything else.

            But that doesn’t mean they are right, and as we can see, four or five decades on, their recipes have been pretty much disastrous for all but the very wealthy.

            Try not to overthink MMT; there are a few basic precepts, it’s a description of how the system currently *is* – not how it *could be*, and it is politically agnostic insofar as the knowledge gained can be used for good, or misused, or ignored, for bad.

            You need to approach it with a curious and open mind, not one that has been held back by Thatcherite myths, which, because they are almost exclusively and ubiquitously promoted by the mainstream media, have just become unexamined, received opinion (often, self-destructively, also touted by people on the left) – but it’s an erroneous one, and one that has a very clear agenda; to deceive us all into being passive victims of wealthy individuals, corporations and the corrupt governments that serve them, never questioning the orthodoxy that prevents our escape from what will end up being penury, if we don’t put a stop to it soon.

          • Pigeon English

            Mr S and Ewan

            We should keep discussing one of the most important subjects (IMO).

            You two very seldom make comments.
            Mr S shows up only on economics issues.

            Scottish independist (don’t they call themselves* nationalists*) will be asked, ad nauseam, “how will you fund that”.
            Where will you get £.
            Will you join the Euro?
            Understanding money creation and taxation should help answering those dogmas but ignorant ? journalist will discredit the whole argument!!¡!

            My question about money creation is if it is ignorance or conspiracy or a scam?

            I am not bothering to double check the quote but allegedly Henry Ford said something like this: if people knew how money is created there would be revolution tomorrow.

            Mr S

            Could taxes be perceived as recycling the currency? We can’t add 500 Billion every year for governmental budget into the economy.

        • Bayard

          I think that one of the main problems with understanding MMT is that it describes how a modern, fiat, credit-based currency works, while most of us are still lumbering along with the economics of a commodity based currency, where the “I promise to pay…” on the bank notes meant that you could exchange the banknote for its equivalent value in some commodity like gold or silver. Nowadays, the banknotes should really say something along the lines of “I promise to accept this note for the payment of taxes to the value of £x”, not that anyone pays their taxes in cash any more.

          • MrShigemitsu

            I like that idea!

            @Pigeon English,

            Yes in a way you could think of reflux of currency via taxation as “recycling” – to avoid the massive inflation that would occur if constant govt spending went untaxed.

            But “recycling” might imply that it’s the same amount of pounds constantly circulating in and out of the economy – whereas in fact once tax is paid those pounds are effectively cancelled out, to make way for the completely new ones that govt is continually spending into creation, so there’s no direct link between those pounds taxed out of circulation and the pounds spent into it.

            I’m not a huge fan of simplistic metaphors for the monetary system, because there’s almost always some feature or other that doesn’t quite seem to exactly fit, but I suppose you could consider it more like a bath, being constantly filled with water (govt spending), but then needing to be drained by an overflow or plug hole (taxation) which removes the water so that the bath doesn’t overflow (economy overheating and inflation).

            But it’s always new water (spending/currency) coming in, the quantity and speed not being dependent in any way on how much has previously been drained away (tax), which just runs off to oblivion.

          • Ewan

            Sorry, moderator.

            The point of legal tender is that everyone has to accept it, and are happy to do so because it is backed by the government, which in extremis can “print” money to meet its obligations. It can “print” the money whether or not it is paid taxes, and tends to do so in excess only when there is a tax shortfall and a bond market strike.

            Mr Shigemitsu, Have you made a study of the mechanics of government departments’ financial transactions with the central bank, banking sector, and non-bank private sector? I don’t think anyone working in banking or financial markets would recognise your description of what happens. If I’m right about that, does it require some correction of MMT’s story about money creation?

          • MrShigemitsu


            No. You are wrong about it.

            You also conflate everyday currency creation by the Govt with QE. The two are quite different.

            People accept the currency precisely because govt issues it as tax credits. If the govt taxed in nectar points or bitcoins, we’d be ubiquitously accepting those as payment for transactions instead.

            I don’t need to make a study; it’s been done already, as per my link above. All the information you require regarding Exchequer currency movements is here:


            I would recommend you study all 213 pages very thoroughly, and then come back to me!

          • Ewan

            Mr Shigemitsu
            You imply there are different kinds of money – that created day in day out and that created specially in QE. One of the features that allows something to function as money is surely its fungibility – deposits can be converted to cash on demand.

            If government were indeed obtuse enough to insist on settlement of tax demands in something other than the currency it backs we would indeed probably have two currencies circulating, with all the attendant unnecessary costs. I suspect it wouldn’t be long before one or other prevailed.

            I have started in on the report you recommend. So far an immense amount of institutional detail… I will persevere since you are confident it explains everything.

          • Ewan

            Mr Shigemitsu
            Your report could be said to confuse economics with accountancy; and in effect to be rediscovering the benefit of money and banking – spending need not wait on income because credit is available. It does seem wedded to the idea government can spend whether or not income will be coming in, because it creates high-powered money from nothing. To think this feasible requires at least some confusion over nominal and real. If the real economy is in the doldrums, easier monetary policy, either through the normal channel of bank lending or quantitative easing, can encourage growth; if the real economy is at capacity, further monetary easing will cause inflation. MMT and its notion that government can create as much money as it wants cannot get round this constraint, as you yourself have said. All the rest of its description of institutional arrangements assumes false consciousness on the part of all economic actors (except those inducted into the mysteries of MMT). The report also conflates the standard understanding of the monetary economy with the evils of neoliberalism and “austerity”. They are separate and distinct. One does not entail the other. Government refuses to do good works and claims not to have the resources. MMT says it does have whatever resources it requires but refuses to use them, presumably because it thinks the rich benefit from this refusal. The truth is it has limited resources (the whole economy has limited resources) and uses them as it uses its other powers to benefit the few at the expense of the many – its spending and investment is largely dictated by what the few think optimal. The problem is a narrowly neoliberal version of capitalism, not the standard versions of monetary economics. MMT proposes a solution that is not available.

    • Goose


      “The great upsurge of enthusiasm and optimism that marked the early years of Corbyn’s leadership has been throttled… Effectively an entire generation has been told their engagement with the political process is not welcome, unless it be on terms set by the Labour right.”

      Spot on.

  • Gavin Lewis

    Most people will share Craig Murray’s despair at the lack of political choice. But our situation goes beyond the strategic and economic tastes of our professional political class. Our era’s problems also go beyond the problems of simple left-right internal Labour politics.
    Across the globe, starting with the US, there has been a major problem with corporate bribery inverting the economic policies of ‘people’s parties’. The Democrats’ policies from Roosevelt to Carter were welfarist and public spending interventionist. This was inverted by the Clinton insurgency who cut provision – effectively finally ending Lyndon-Johnson’s Big Society program – to preside over a Reaganite economy with all the problems of poverty and escalating prison populations this involved.
    Investment banker Emmanuel Macron and cronies attempts to do the same in the French Socialist Party – during Hollande’s time – had less success but caused the Socialist Party long term electoral harm. Macron then jumped ship.
    In Britain New Labour slavishly followed the model of the Clinton insurgency, again inverting the economic program of the Party, with negative social consequences redistributing to the rich – inverting the public service provision of Attlee and Wilson – and as in other countries doing massive damage to the Party voter base.
    Having seen money enter these Parties, more entryist carpet-baggers arrived in pursuit of free money and free directorships. These figures would then pretend with corporate media help, to be the real identity of the Parties they’d infiltrated and further entrench these betrayals.
    Craig is probably all too aware that the main function of the SNP has been the drive towards Independence. Similarly to other Parties across the globe this function has become bogged down as carpet-baggers have entered the Party, and served big money interests that desire Independence be blocked.
    These are not simple internal divisions but money inverting the fundamental function of democratic parties.
    With no genuine 4th estate and news media actively participating in this subversion, this is going to be a tough problem to combat.