There is a true oppositional Left forming and gaining political traction

I have avoided discussing the British and French parliamentary elections to date, mostly because I couldn’t stomach the outcomes – May back and the neo-liberal Macron dominant. I also was tired of reading stupid columns from the likes of William Keegan and the rest of the Guardian neo-liberals raving on about Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn. Keegan is like an old record that lets the needle get stuck in a groove. He seems to have written the same column since June last year where the reader is told about the Brexit disaster and how Britain will be impoverished. But both elections, particularly the British outcome confirms what we have been noticing for a few years now – there is finally what we might call a true oppositional Left forming and gaining political traction in these nations. This is a Left platform that concedes little to the neo-liberals. It is vilified by the conservatives and the so-called progressive commentariat (such as the Guardian writers) and politicians (New Labour in Britain) as being in “cloud cuckoo land” and predictions from all of sundry of electoral wipeouts have been daily. But the results demonstrated that the message (such as in the Labour Manifesto) resonates with millions of people (40 per cent of those who voted in Britain). It is now a mainstream Left message that has taken over the British Labour Party and the Blairites are hiding under rocks. There is hope. People will only tolerate being bashed over the head for so long. There is now retaliation going on.

French National Assembly elections 2017

Over the last two weekends, the French have been voting for their legislative representatives, after the Presidential election was decided in May.

The final results indicate that the 577 National Assembly seats:

  • La République En Marche! (LREM) and Mouvement démocrate (MoDem) 350 seats (60.66 per cent of total seats) – a pro-Europe, centre-right (neo-liberal) coalition.(
  • Les Républicains (LR) and Union des démocrates et indépendants (UDI) 136 seats (23.57 per cent of total seats) – right-wing conservative, neo-liberals (Fillon was Presidential nominee, Sarkozy’s old party), scored best in rural France, lost 93 seats.
  • Parti socialiste (PS) – 30 seats (5.2 per cent of total seats) – Other members of Parliamentary Left – 15 seats (2.6 per cent of total seats) – lost 286 seats overall, PS lost 250 seats.
  • La France insoumise (FI) – 17 seats (2.95 per cent of total seats) – Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s breakaway party from PS, left-wing, democrats, defend worker rights, green transition, rejection of EU in current state with Plan B exit, new party so 17 seats gained relative to 2012.
  • Parti communiste français (PCF) – 10 seats (2.75 per cent of total seats) – gained three seats on 2012 result – left-wing, supported Jean-Luc Mélenchon for President, advocate repeal of Lisbon Treaty.
  • Front National (FN) – 8 seats (1.39 per cent of total seats) – hard-right, anti-Europe, anti-immigration, gained six seats on 2012.
  • Others 11 seats.

The turnout of eligible voters was just 42.64 per cent with 57.36 per cent abstaining. Within that 42.64 per cent turnout, 6.93 per cent of ballots were blank and a further 2.95 per cent were declared Null.

Compare that to the 2012 National Assembly elections. The turnout then was 55.41 per cent with only 3.88 per cent Spoilt or Null.

So a very poor turnout and a record low, which puts a dent in the legitimacy of the outcome.

In the case of LREM, its 42 per cent of the total vote equates to less than 20 per cent of the total registered voters.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon as reported in the French daily, Libération (June 18, 2017) as saying that the very high abstention rate indicated that (Source):

Notre peuple est rentré dans une grève générale civique. Je vois dans cette abstention une énergie disponible pour que nous sachions l’appeler au combat … Pas un mètre du terrain du droit social ne lui sera cédé sans lutte.

Or in English:

Our people have gone into a general civic strike. I see in this abstention an available energy for us to fight … Not a metre of the field of social law will be given to him without struggle.

Him = Macron.

As in the Presidential election earlier, the low turnout reflected a sharp drop in votes for the traditional dominant parties on the right (LR) and the left (PS).

In 2012, LR (as the UMP) scored 27.12 per cent of the first round vote and 37.95 per cent of the second round. In 2017, it scored just 15.77 per cent of the first round and 22.23 per cent of the second round vote.

In 2012, PS scored 29.35 per cent of the first round vote and 40.91 per cent of the second round. In 2017, it scored just 7.44 per cent of the first round and 5.68 per cent of the second round vote.

It also reflected a sharp drop in votes from the low-income workers in the poorer suburbs.

The overall message I think is that Jean-Luc Mélenchon entry in the French political scene as a new party leader was somewhat successful and provided a true ‘oppositional left’ for French voters for the first time in many years.

The PS is all but dead, although inertia meant it still retained 30 seats (down by 250) and finished ahead of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s outcome.

It would have been better for the advancement of the progressive left agenda for FI to have replaced PS as the main Left party in the Assembly.

But, given the support of the PCF, FI will be able to form a ‘parliamentary group (having passed the 15-seat threshold) and with 27 seats between them have close to the same parliamentary voice of the PS and, certainly, more legitimacy.

The other observation is that the high abstention vote (record low) may be only a transitory phenomenon, as the major traditional parties get wiped out.

Remember that the PS has bred Jacques Delor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Pascal Lamy – all international neo-liberals destroying the Left legacy.

This gives Jean-Luc Mélenchon an opening – given that many of those who boycotted the election in one way or another were likely to be sympathetic to his message over time.

But France now as a parliamentary group that is a true oppositional Left. Much to build on that.

Macron and his mates will just continue down the same path – pro-business, furthering the reach of the El Khomri law and further consolidating France as the poor cousin of Germany in the dysfunctional Eurozone.

All of that will further the growing dissent in France and play nicely into the hands of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as long as he can hold his group together as a cohesive left-wing force. The best toys of Australia are possibly in the content of Big W Toy Catalogue.

British elections

The British election also established the emergence of a true oppositional Left in Britain for the first time since the early 1970s.

When Harold Wilson handed over the Prime Ministership to James Callaghan with Denis Healey as the Chancellor, the British Labour Party became a Monetarist rabble, capitulating to the neo-liberal surge that was infesting world politics.

That surrender made way for Margaret Thatcher to scorch Britain with her nasty policies (and she was lucky that North Sea oil came on at the same time, otherwise things would have been much worse than they were).

Then, British Labour went feral with the New Labour – an explicit attempt to distance the Labour Party from its past (although the Labour Party by the time Blair came along was hardly an image of its socialist, worker-friendly, trade-union associated past.

But New Labour damaged the progressive Left significantly and wiped out any oppositional left force in the British Parliament.

Until now that is!

Remember back on July 22, 2015, when Tony Blair was being interviewed about halfway through the Labour Party leadership election and spoke of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership credentials.

In that interview, he said of members who thought (Source):

Well my heart says I should be with that politics … well get a transplant because that is just daft

A subsequent UK Guardian article (July 22, 2015) – Blair urges Labour not to wrap itself in a Jeremy Corbyn comfort blanket – continued the Guardian’s manic undermining of Corbyn and promotion of the New Labour obsession with itself.

It gave Blair more oxygen by reporting that British Labour lost the 2010 and 2015 elections because they had “stepped somewhat from that modernising platform” (by which he meant the New Labour, Neo-liberal platform).

Blair should have just gone away forever after his lying behaviour over Iraq.

Blair’s main contention was than an “old fashioned leftist platform” is unelectable

Well he was wrong about that.

In August 2015, he intervened in the leadership battle again claimed that if Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader he would “lead Labour over a cliff to annihilation” (Source).

He also said that unless British Labour Party members need to go back to New Labour and:

… understand the danger we are in and turn back before the party is wiped out for good … [and voters] … will see themselves as victims not only of the Tory government but of our self-indulgence …

The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below

Well he was wrong about that too.

In the June 8, 2017 General Election we saw:

  • Conservatives win 317 seats (down 13) and lost majority – 42.4 per cent of vote (up 5.5 points).
  • Labour win 262 seats (up 30) – 40 per cent of vote (up 9.6 points).
  • Liberal Democrats win 8 seats (up 4) – 7.4 per cent of vote (down 0.5 points).
  • DUP win 10 seats (up 2) – 0.9 per cent of vote (up 0.3 points).
  • Sinn Féin win 7 seats (up 3) – 0.7 per cent of vote (up 0.1 points).

The Conservatives now have to rely on a socially-conservative, climate denial lot (DUP) who scored less than 1 per cent of the vote to pass legislation.

The Liberal Democrats have still not recovered from their dirty deal witih Cameron in the 2010 election, which saw them abandon their traditional support base and support hard-core neo-liberal austerity. Their leader lost his seat and deserved that outcome.

Blair’s line was supported by the mainstream media in Britain (with the UK Guardian leading the charge it seemed – a disgrace in itself).

Corbyn was described as being a cult leader and this (Source):

A cult is destroying a major liberal political party …

That was a tweet from a CNN investigative reporter who attached a UK Guardian article from the obsessively pro Blair Nick Cohen.

Just as Keegan has become stuck on Brexit and is having daily conniptions about it, Cohen kept writing about civil wars in Labour and the incompetent Labour leaders.

He claimed that the Tories would take a glorious victory and May would:

… never have risked an early election if Labour had competent leaders who had not alienated millions of voters.

He predicted that Corbyn “must resign” and that “would have a purifying effect and a new opposition would be born from the ruins”.

Has jerk come to your lips yet. Or even something more descriptive of a venal, opinionated nobody!

Jeremy Corbyn’s – Election Manifesto – was described as being from a man who “is living in a cloud cuckoo world” (one of many anti-Corbyn messages promoted by the international press (Source).

When I read that last article (from the Washington Post) I wondered how basic manifesto aspirations such as:

  • Creating an economy that works for all
  • Negotiating Brexit
  • Towards a national education service
  • A fair deal at work
  • Social security
  • Secure homes for all
  • Healthcare for all
  • Safer communities
  • Leading richer lives
  • Extending democracy
  • A more equal society

Could possible be considered belonging to a “cloud cuckoo world”.

They seemed to be the most basic aspirations that a sophisticated society should aim for and which people would desire.

Almost too tepid to be Left!

Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article (June 20, 2017) – Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to Centrism – makes a very telling point.

He is discussing how progressives have been conned into believing that they had to move their political narrative to the “centre” – where moderates live – to ensure offset the “right-wing monsters like Reagan/Bush/Bush/Trump”.

But he concludes that:

Voters for decades were conned into thinking they were noisome minorities whose best path to influence is to make peace with the mightier “center,” which inevitably turns out to support military interventionism, fewer taxes for the rich, corporate deregulation and a ban on unrealistic “giveaway” proposals like free higher education. Those are the realistic, moderate, popular ideas, we’re told.

But it’s a Wizard of Oz trick, just like American politics in general. There is no numerically massive center behind the curtain. What there is instead is a tiny island of wealthy donors, surrounded by a protective ring of for-sale major-party politicians (read: employees) whose job it is to castigate too-demanding voters and preach realism.

My conclusions from the British election results are several.

First, Jeremy Corbyn, despite having an undeveloped progressive macroeconomic narrative, has created a true opposition left force in British politics.

His Manifesto is appealing to 40 per cent of the voters, which is nearly enough to gain power in Britain’s crazy first-past-the-post system.

His “for the many not the few” resonates with the feelings of people, who have been denied by neo-liberalism’s attack on government services and the more recent austerity.

Second, unlike Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who needed to create an entirely new party (and coalition with the Communists) to develop a true oppositional left (the PS were incapable of making the leap out of pro-Europe, neo-liberalism), Corbyn has recreated the British Labour Party from within.

Corbyn was able to do that because his popularity as a person and as a leader with a resonating message inspired many people to join or rejoin the Labour Party.

Despite the whining Blairite-sycophant Peter Mandelson claiming in 2015 that “30,000 long term members have left the Labour party, real members of the Labour family, tens of thousands” because of Corbyn’s elevation as leader, nearly 188 thousand new members joined up between May 2015 and January 2016 (Source).

A House of Commons research briefing paper (published March 28, 2017) – Membership of UK political parties – presented this graph (their Figure 1).

The Corbyn surge is undoubtedly statistically significant.

The clue to Corbyn’s success came on the back of the expansion of membership categories under the 2010 Refounding Labour Review, which created a new membership category – Registered Supporters – who initially paid a £3 fee and could vote in leadership elections.

The fee was increased to £25 points in August 2016 as a deliberate strategy by the Anti-Corbyn National Committee of the Labour Party to discourage poorer pro-Corbyn voters from joining and being able to vote in the leadership ballot.

It didn’t work!

The House of Commons research briefing notes that:

In September 2015’s Leadership election, won by Jeremy Corbyn with 59.5% of the vote, 422,664 people voted. This included 245,520 members, 105,598 registered supporters and 71,546 affiliated supporters.

In last year’s Leadership election Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as the leader of the party with 61.1% of the vote. A total of 506,438 people voted, of which 285,176 were members, 121,527 were registered supporters and 99,745 were affiliated supporters.

So, Corbyn was able to work within the British Labour Party structure to mount a new oppositional Left message because the membership, that had been biased towards Blairites, was diluted by a new source of Left activism.

That option was not available to the PS in France.

Third, and allied to the second point, the New Labour narrative must surely be dead now.

All those Blairite creeps who wanted Corbyn out and who would have lost their jobs had they got their way on the leadership have zero credibility now.

Their message is moribund.

40 per cent of British voters (who voted) supported Corbyn’s message – and there is no ambiguity here. The man was harassed by all the media, his own PLP, faced votes of no confidence, was elected twice, was subjected to hideous scorn from all and sundry – and still attracted enough support to increase the Labour seats by 30.

Fourth, the YouGov summary breakdown (June 13, 2017) – How Britain voted at the 2017 general election – tells us that Corbyn’s Labour Party dominated the vote for all age groups up to 40-49.

Labour was very dominant among the younger voters – 18 to 29 year olds.

We also learn that far from being turned off by politics the majority of eligible younger British voters actually voted.

My theory is this. The younger voters have no life experience with old Labour (pre Thatcher). So all the bad things that New Labour-ites and the Tories might have said about Corbyn’s Labour would have had no meaning to them.

What do they care about the Winter of Discontent, Harold Wilson’s exchange rate crises, the bullying trade unions and all the rest of the narratives that are wheeled out to degrade the image of Labour – especially Corbyn’s ‘blast from the past’ policies (as depicted by the Tories and Blairites)?

What young people are searching for is hope for the future. And they have determined that neo-liberalism is not a source of optimism for the future.

Neo-liberalism and austerity has blighted their educational opportunities, undermined the health system, created chaose in the privatised transport system.

It is mean and nasty.

Moreover, while the mainstream media put out daily bile attacks about Corbyn, the young people don’t really buy or read the newspapers anymore.

The young people, increasingly connected by social media, and that is making all the Murdoch and Guardian-type hysterics irrelevant.


The British election, and to some extent, the French election shows that there is a new oppositional Left forming – finally.

A similar capacity is expressed in the US by the Sanders’ team.

How that pans out is the interesting question.

But for the first time in decades, the traditional Left structures are falling apart and new progressive groupings are forming with inspired policies and leadership.

The next stage is to marry that with a solid understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). We can live in hope.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2017 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. “How that pans out is the interesting question.”

    It is. The British progressive economists are still pushing the “it would be so much better if we were left to run things” line. They are still going on about government’s borrowing and central banks changing interest rates.

    “There’s no need to go full MMT” is the cry – as if MMT were something to do rather than how things are.

    So there’s still some work to do to tone down the cry of the metro-liberal city dwelling elite and remind them that not everybody lives in a city, or thinks high rise dwellings is how you should house the poor. IIRC after the war it was ‘housing for heroes’ where everybody had their own door onto the street, and the tenements were torn down.

  2. @Neil Wilson
    Surely British progressive economists should read ‘British regressive economists’. Who still believe in the Kitchen housewife concept of a Sovereign Nations ability to fund its economy.

  3. There have been some recent developments in Spain too, that show that the tide could be changing.

    The PSOE, that until now followed the ‘third way’ nonsense, just fought a bitter internal fight and it seems, that the new message they want to sell, is that they are now real progressive. We will see.

  4. Thanks Bill for the breakdown of the French election as I hadn’t looked into it that much. Macron is a waste of space for supporting the eurozone and neo-liberalism but given he recently formed a new party it was an amazing result and shows the electorate is pissed off with the traditional political salesmen and can swing quickly. Apathy is a serious problem but radical candidates are no longer shunned. The main power centres and mass media must have decided that Macron was good enough so they gave him the political space needed to win. They won’t do this for a true centre left candidate so the electorate will unfortunately need to swallow much more neo-liberal poison before deciding to give the left another try. The electorate also wasn’t willing to risk the far right even if some of their economic policies were possibly reasonable. Who will grow/recover faster, the Parti socialiste (PS) or La France insoumise (FI) and gain from Macron’s failures?

    Jeremy is doing well given the cheat of a snap very early election and I agree he needs to ‘go hard or go home’ by adopting the fiscal stimulus settings and the job guarantee of the MMT economists and he could also push the reinvigoration of British manufacturing/technology and the essential and economically beneficial transition to clean energy and environmental sustainability much more comprehensively. The Conservatives are rubbish but the money men and the media have rigged the political game just like in Australia, the U.S. and nearly everywhere. Next election Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn?

  5. Dear Bill

    The Biggest losers in the UK election of 2015 were the Liberal Democrats, who went down by 15 percentage points, and the biggest losers of the 2017 election was UKIP. They went down by 10.8 percentage points. May wanted to put the UKIP out of business by adopting a hard line on Brexit. On that score, she succeeded thoroughly.

    As to France, the neo-liberal center, of which the PS has become a part, still receives about 3/4 of the support of those who still bother to go to the polls and cast a valid ballot.

    Regards. James

  6. “The clue to Corbyn’s success”…. Corbyn’s success?…. Is he British PM?

    How can you implement policies if you don’t win Government? Pyrrhic and moral victories are not enough! We need a plan to get Social Democracy back in charge and to keep control for a long time once in government. The Neoliberal Revolution can’t be reversed overnight. To win and then keep power in Democracy a plan is needed that can gain and then retain the support of the centrist middle class. The centrist middle class is easily scared, because they do have something and they fear losing it if the Government is too radical.

    I agree with Bill that this list is not radical, seeing it from a Social Democratic perspective:

    Creating an economy that works for all
    Negotiating Brexit
    Towards a national education service
    A fair deal at work
    Social security
    Secure homes for all
    Healthcare for all
    Safer communities
    Leading richer lives
    Extending democracy
    A more equal society

    But, without getting into the specifics, this list will appear in the many media controlled by Neoliberal, right-wing interests transformed into a horrible program of centralised economy where liberty is lost and Big Brother would be in charge to exploit the hard work of the free citizens, whilst sending the economy bankrupt etc., etc. We all know the usual routine. To contrast such propaganda a very strong, well organised anti-propaganda machine is required. This means that change can come, but it will require the assistance of an already well organised party structure.

    Therefore, in Australia, Labor and Greens are essential to this plan of Social Democratic resurgence. In the UK Labour is obviously fundamental, but Corbyn losing to a laughable non-entity like May is a bit of a concern. In the USA the situation is even worse, as they elected a psychologically unstable, compulsive liar and Neoliberal person like Trump. American voters are starting to worry me.

  7. “but Corbyn losing to a laughable non-entity like May is a bit of a concern”

    The battleground is economically liberal, socially slightly conservative. Essentially a social democratic nation state that drives its own path as independently from other nations as possible.

    But the politics sit in either corner. In the Red corner we have the globalists who are economically liberal, and in the Blue corner we have the globalists who are economically conservatives. Those who will win are those who compromise their core beliefs the most in the dimension where they are furthest from the electorate.

  8. Bit off topic this, but Richard Werner says MMT is funded by George Soros. See:

    [Bill edits out link]

    Who’s got the money? Bill: are you hiding something under your mattress?…:-)

  9. The next stage is to marry that with a solid understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). We can live in hope.

    Hope is a terrible marketing strategy.

    I read a cross-section of blogs from different political ideologies, and the ones that really get me excited, not because of their dogma but because of their attitude, are the serious ‘Libertarian’ ones (n.b. not the silly ranty Conservative ones).

    This month there’s an interesting feature at “Cato Unbound” on “Social Engineering”. I won’t link to it, because I assume it will be unwelcome here, but it’s worth seeking out. It’s interesting because they challenge Libertarians to shift their strategy away from the usual proselytising aimed at recruiting more Libertarians, to one of actively creating piecemeal societal change by building private institutions that anyone of any political persuasion will want to use.

    With some creative design, that strategy can be adopted by any political framework. Piecemeal change is the key. If your world beating manifesto requires the wholesale destruction of current political structures before it can be implemented, you’re likely not going to see real change in your lifetime. Likewise if your changes rely on winning hearts and minds on the strength of mere words and the enthusiasm of true believers, your efforts at promoting your ideas will suffer the same fate as any group of pamphleteers, and will be as successful as any underfunded election campaign.

    I’d love to see how MMT/JG could be sold to the voting public. I’m a fan of simulations – a mock-up of a website acting as the interface between citizens and government, accessible via a user account with available JG community jobs and a way for an interested user to get a proper MMT overview of the economy and where they sit in it. To get from to will require dragging the public along with you, so show them by building the world you want them to live in.

  10. I’ve seen plenty of articles celebrating Corbyn’s positive results in the Guardian.

    I’m a fan of your blog, Bill, but I think you should stop being so unbending. Disparaging people who might welcome some of your insights isn’t very constructive.

  11. But in Europe’s unfortunately most important and influential country there still isn’t much of a change. There is an alternative Left to the neoliberal Social Democrats, the Party Die Linke, a pluralistic Left forged ten years ago out of the remnants of the former east-german communist Party and a split-off of the SPD, after it turned with so-called social-welfare reforms against their voters, and people from numerous radical groups (rather like syriza). But it is always creeping along 8 pc in the polls and seems unable to grow signifcantly. Unfortunately almost no one there seems to have heard about MMT.

  12. Thanks for the breakdown of the elections.

    I was laughing out loud when you described CNN and Washington Post’s predictions.

    You can almost count on them to be wrong!

  13. Bill,

    I have a slight correction to offer on this sentence:

    “So, Corbyn was able to work within the British Labour Party structure to mount a new oppositional Left message because the membership, that had been biased towards Blairites, was diluted by a new source of Left activism.”

    Labour Party members have never been, as a whole, pro-Blairite. They have always been socialist. The reason for the previous leaders (Kinnock, Blair, Brown, Miliband) is because of the Party’s electoral college rules where the members get 1/3 of the say, the trade unions get another 1/3 and the Parliamentary Labour Party get the final third.

    Ed Miliband changed the rules to One Member, One Vote in 2010/11 because the PLP didn’t want the trade unions to have so much power in future election processes (the unions had wanted Ed, the PLP wanted his brother David) as they always favoured the most socialist candidate. How little they knew that doing so would produce one of the most delicious ironies of the 21st century to date only 4 years later!

    After 20 years, the Labour apparatchiks arrogantly believed that socialism was a spent force in the Labour Party and so a few of them offered to lend Jeremy Corbyn their nomination in order for the party to have a wider debate about the issues, assuming he’d be dismissed as the loony fringe candidate from the party’s Left that always stands, and even then he only made it on to the ballot with a couple of minutes to spare (until the exit poll on 8th June this year, the PLP must have wanted to punch whoever it was who gave him that final nomination). In fact, he only stood because the other few remaining socialists in the party told him it was his turn!

    Throughout the leadership campaign, Corbyn was the only one who offered anything different. The other three non-entities offered the same tired neoliberal platitudes and got nowhere. Corbyn’s surge in support was such that some people were calling for the election to be cancelled.

    I’m not too familiar with the history of the Australian Labor Party, but if it ever had a history like our one, I hope Corbyn is now an inspiration to politicians within it, if only to spell ‘Labour’ correctly :p

    I also hope that you will write a letter or article calling for British Labour to adopt MMT with a condensed explanation of the greatest hits (taxes don’t fund spending, only restraint is resources, job guarantee as a poverty eliminator and inflation stabiliser etc), get as many of your peers to co-sign it, and submit it to as many newspaper and MSM outlets in the UK as you can find, assuming they will publish it. Getting the attention of the rising alt-left media like The Canary, Another Angry Voice and The Skwawkbox could also be a good idea, although The Canary ruins its potential with clickbait headlines. A few of us who comment on the Guardian are putting the work in with the promotion of MMT and are getting a slowly increasing number of likes here and there but regular opinion pieces will do so much more.

  14. @Alex Hanin

    The Guardian weren’t celebrating, they begrudgingly admitted they called the election wrong. Only Owen Jones actually offered an apology. Polly Toynbee, Jonathan Freedland and Zoe Williams all said Corbyn performed better than expected before immediately calling for him to restock the Shadow Cabinet with Blairites and move more towards the mythical ‘centre’.

    I don’t believe they’ve learned anything.

  15. It seems we are at the “then they laugh at you” phase of the Gandhi quote, better than being ignored I suppose. Next comes the fight, woohoo!

  16. Hi Simon,

    Sure, you’ll find a lot of different opinions in the Guardian. But on the whole, it’s more left-leaning than most other major newspapers. Maybe that’s setting the bar too low, but saying it’s a ‘neo-liberal’ media doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Where else can you read an article about the existence of the ‘money tree’ and how we should use it to fund Britain’s spending?


  17. I’ve been reading that the deal between the Conservatives and the DUP might fall through, which would lead to another UK election this year. Could that election possibly have Labour winning a majority and Corbyn becoming Prime Minister?

  18. the 70’s still cast a lingering political affect,good thing bill’s book will come out and address that period for both UK(Dennis healy) and France.

  19. By the 70’s I’m referring too – the inflation,strikes,three day weeks,borrowing from the IMF etc

  20. This is all a little confusing from this side of the pond.
    Corbyn is not an MMT proponent, he seems to be a tax proponent, per this very blog.
    Corbyn is a clear bigot.
    Corbyn never met a terrorist he didn’t respect, whether of the Irish or Islamic persuasion.

    Agreed that the neo-liberal neo-con economic agenda is a grand failure. But how is Corbyn the right person for the job?


  21. Indeed,the tide may be turning. Tides have a habit of doing that. But they always reach the same predictable level. In the case of political tides there is little difference between the results – the creation of a toxic swamp.
    Corbyn is a nasty piece of work and just as stupid,ignorant and arrogant as any neo-liberal.Sanders appears to be little better.
    Yet again this blog has gone off on a loony left tangent. That may titillate the PC Pixie cheer squad but achieves nothing but bring the writer into disrepute.
    Stick to economics. You have at least some credibility in that field.

  22. Dear Ralph Musgrave (at 2017/06/21 at 11:02 pm)

    For the record, I am unaware of any funding that George Soros has provided to advance the work we do in MMT. I have certainly not received any funding in that regard.

    I was a guest speaker at an iNET conference in Toronto a few years back but received only the usual travel expenses. I would not call those reimbursements as funding MMT.

    Whether Soros funds the other original MMT founders is something you would have to ask them.

    best wishes

  23. Dave’s question – “Who in Australian politics can become our Corbyn or Sanders.”

    Even the ALP socialist left faction like Albanese are much the same as the ‘Blairites’. Bill Shorten is a cautious opportunist and if ‘socialist’ leaders like Sanders or Corbyn win office then he may lean in that direction to capture the mood but likely will offer a restorative policy shift to the right to the highest bidder whilst in office. The Greens are definitely to the left of the ALP and have a fiscal policy of ongoing 3% of GDP federal deficits to speed the transition to environmental sustainability so are closest to MMT core concepts. The Greens are also not in bed with the corporations and similar vested interests like the Liberals, Nationals and ALP but their vote is stuck at 10% and blue collar workers think they are anti jobs.

  24. Dave’s question – “Who in Australian politics can become our Corbyn or Sanders.”

    This question has entered my mind as well?

    I don’t see any ‘progressive’ politicians in the Labor Party, they’re tied to neo-liberal thought structures (debt/deficit etc…) Bill is right when he says that a goal of a government fiscal balance undermines our ability to create a fairer more equal society. The Labour Party are sadly still wedded in the same thinking that took hold in the Hawke/Keating era.

    I am not sure how the ALP determines the party leader. It used to be a decision for MPs only, they did open this up to members at one stage, when Shorten was elected. You’d really need to begin to attract younger members to the ALP and give them the ability to vote for a leader to implement progressive change.

    Lets face it. Here in Australia the government is formed by either Liberal or Labour, I can’t see a new party winning enough seats in the Lower House to form government. This scenario makes me question why isn’t government formed in a house with a more representative system of counting? (e.g. Party X wins 35% of the vote nationwide and is awarded 35% of the seats)

  25. “Where else can you read an article about the existence of the ‘money tree'”

    Alongside ones championing how wonderful the EU is – despite being a corporate kleptocracy.

    The Guardian is the paper of the metropolitan globalist elite. It is, and always has been, a paper for classical Liberals. Very much stuffed full of people who want to give fish to the poor to make themselves look good, rather than change the system to allow the poor to do the fishing themselves.

    As the famous Yes Minister sketch rightly stated: The Guardian is read by people who think they should run the country. And that hasn’t changed.

    The Guardian and most of its readership who comment BTL show no sign of rolling back their unacceptable social position – turn the entire country into a massive version of London, complete with two tier social structure. As exemplified by their position on Brexit.

  26. Well done to Corbyn. I posted on my work blog [Bill edited out link] that he had a fine to tread to keep on board LEAVE supporters in his heartlands whilst attracting out to vote the (3.5 million) people who failed to vote in last year’s EU referendum but said they would in any hypothetical ‘rerun’ – they were REMAIN supporters, skewing left and young and half didn’t vote in the 2015 GE. By accident or design, he fudged the issue, (largely) achieving this feat during the general election campaign, thus in the end causing me to realise he would (at the very least) deprive May of her majority: I won my bet at the bookies and beat all the major pollsters in my prediction, even though my model was to understand BREXIT, not a general election called out of the blue just after I finished sampling.

    Incidentally whilst Bill would and has (rightly) denigrated the so-called Economics Nobel, there are one or two worthy winners amongst the dross – McFadden (2000) being one. Stick to getting prediction correct, using models that are rooted in 90 years of true empirical evidence of people’s consistency of responses (or more correctly, lack of it – mostly from math psych not economics) and you get good predictions for individual behaviour, strength of attitudes, etc. Just don’t think these are a basis for some silly DGSE macroeconomic model!

    Anyway, as Neil and of course Bill himself note, the view among young progressives that the EU is ‘the answer’ will be a stumbling block to true progressives. I think, reflecting comments above, that an incremental campaign to get the younger voters rooted into a MMT mindset – those nifty 2-3 minute videos with speeded up drawing to illustrate a point spring to mind – is the way forward.

    On another note, we tend to concentrate on the ‘demand side’ regarding the EU – I think the well-respected individuals who post at some other (progressive) blogs who know how nasty the ‘supply side’ will be – i.e. the dislocation that will accompany BREXIT – have a point. I obviously hope such a dislocation is as short as possible but that requires a fleet-footed government that can quickly bring the country’s real resources into play. I’m not sure Labour’s ‘move back to where it should be politically’ is moving fast enough on that score, given the short BREXIT timetable and I therefore think it’d be in their interest to let the Tories reap what they’ve sown, so that they maximise the chances of getting a large majority in a 2018/19 election. Their support bases would (I believe) then be more likely to recognise that the young progressives are wrong to the extent that they embrace the ‘massive version of London’ that Neil points out.

    After a very orthodox economics education it has taken me time to change my mindset (and I’m still learning) and Bill’s postings written for the economists are obviously not the ones to help convert the average Jo(e). But – to answer a comment above – he’s also written bite-sized responses within some blog-pieces that I think need to trumpeted – whilst he himself has noted the inadequacy of ‘just’ quoting the accountancy identity statements regarding what (for instance) the national debt is, the so-called progressive interviewees of this world continue to lose in interviews from the get-go as they don’t strike straight back with attacks on the explicit assumption that a smaller governmental stock of debt implies a smaller non-governmental stock of risk-free savings (ignoring trade and like I said, I’ve over-simplified straight off)….but you get the gist of how the ‘government credit card’ meme must be aggressively countered with snappy comebacks in order to permanently get the young in particular on board with a new mindset.

  27. Whenever I think about the EU, a certain question pops into my brain: “What’s the weather like in Greece?”. I always get no reply from ‘Remainers’. My wife thinks that Corbyn et ali are under the apprehension that many, many people who are attracted to Corbyn, would be eliminated from voting for him if he said you could produce Money from thin air. Having been recently saved from the non-MMT wilderness, I know that this is indeed true. However, I know from talking to organisms called ‘people’, that many voters are a million miles from understanding this. I admit that many of Bill’s posts are on the outskirts of my knowledge, but some are understood. But I have to state that i can see the possibility that my wife is correct. There needs to be a vast effort to educate the people of the truth of MMT. But it is a vast effort. My view is that one person in a thousand may have even heard of it. What proportion of British Labour Party members have even heard of MMT? Very few, in my opinion. The ownership of broadcasting and newspapers has got the capitalists off to a flying start. The WorldWideWeb gives us some hope!

  28. Re Dave Kelley’s point:

    Yes I experience the same thing. My last paragraph didn’t read very well and what I hope people took from it was that any interviewee, when challenged with “you’re being fiscally irresponsible for not caring about the national debt” should instantly reply “so you’re in favour of eliminating non-governmental savings, like the bonds that underpin many people’s private pensions are you?” Go instantly on the attack, like the neoliberals have perfected in their interview techniques. You have to throw the contradictions of the ‘mainstream view’ in their faces right from the get-go to throw them off balance. Otherwise you become the wishy-washy liberal like Skidelsky who routinely gets slaughtered on BBC Radio 2 in the UK (which is hardly FOX) and which drives my dad (who understands the real issues) mad.

    Voila – suddenly older people have an interest in ensuring they’re not told “sorry, this month our risky investments went south and we can’t pay your pension this month”.

    Incidentally – sorry to Bill for quoting my work website – I should have read the posting rules properly. Won’t do it again. If rules permit, I can put my personal website into the relevant field but I won’t unless told it’s OK.

  29. Re Terry Flynn’s reply:

    Thanks for your reply.

    Yes, I think your ‘private pensions’ response is very good. I was talking to a fellow dog-walker the other day, and I used the fact that the British Government had used about £500m of computer- generated money to fight the Iraq War. (NB I wonder what the profit margin was on those arms which killed so many people in Iraq. Not to mention the vast areas of Iraqi land which were subjected to depleted uranium from artillery fire. About 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels of radiation or dioxins).

  30. Re Dave Kelley:

    Thanks. Another example is one Bill knows intimately (and has quoted) and I know from my time in Aus (2009-2015) having done my reading of recent political history there! When John Howard’s govt made repeated govt surpluses he ‘followed the right-wing playbook’ and stopped issuing bonds (since, according to THEIR paradigm, these ‘finance deficits’). The finance sector went ballistic since they had insufficient risk-free assets upon which to price others. That *should* have blown out of the water the idea that bonds finance spending but of course thanks to the right-wing media (which I found to be even worse – if that’s possible – in Aus compared to the UK) this entire episode was swept under the carpet and bond sales resumed.

    On a different note – on election night I watched the BBC but had several websites open too. The Sydney Morning Herald coverage was fun but totally based on gossip and hearsay – totally one of life’s ‘guilty pleasures’ and though I kind of knew this already, this was the first ‘real time’ comparison I had done….and the BBC can hardly these days even be considered to be neutral itself. Depressing.

  31. Don’t know why I’m defending the Guardian. Toynbee is a nasty piece of work and most of their columnists are a joke. They did however come out for Labour before the election to everyone’s surprise. I guess there wasn’t much choice given Tim Farron’s ‘conflicting issues’ problem.

  32. re Andy’s comment:

    I agree re Toynbee and indeed one of the reasons I will NEVER contribute to their funding drive is that virtually all of their columnists are part of the ‘third way’/’Blair’ project. There are only 2 or 3 people left who actually understand how things are and should be. (Paul Mason and John Harris kinda get things right but you get the impression they still don’t *get it* regarding funding.)

    Plus you are right – they did come out for Labour – but don’t forget their support was grudging and heavily qualified….hardly a ringing endorsement. A blog post I read earlier stated that only one of the core Guardian staff actively apologised for denigrating Corbyn. Others gave mealy mouthed responses. I think the Guardian need a bloody good kick up the backside to return to their roots.

  33. No one ever seems to mention Aditya Chakrabortty when they talk about Guardian columnists, except perhaps me. His latest is an excoriating piece on the Grenfell Tower fire, where he invokes Engels’ notion of social murder to characterize what has taken place there — “Over 170 years after Engels, Britain is still a country that murders its poor”. And, as far as I can see, he and Engels are right.

  34. There is one person who got the election prediction right, John Curtice. His prediction from the moment the election was called was almost spot on.

  35. You have to own the insult.

    Magic Money Tree has fortunate initials. Use them.

    Point out that there is never an issue with money when there is a war to fight, nuclear submarines to buy or banks to bail out. Why is that? Because the magic money tree is real. It exists and we need to learn how to use it.

    Pretending it doesn’t is known as The Noble Lie. Only those in power are supposed to know its existence. It is like the Bible in Latin. The plebs aren’t supposed to read the instructions directly. They have to have it interpreted by experts and venerate them for doing so.

    MMT translates the instructions from Latin into English – so everybody knows how it works.

    Then we can get onto the actual political debate – what should we be using the resources of the nation for? Building casinos or building hospitals and schools?

  36. Larry and Terry
    I can add three more Guardian columnists worth reading:-
    George Monbiot
    Gary Younge
    Simon Jenkins

  37. This video shows The Guardian’s relentless efforts to undermine Corbyn:

    Also features a quote from Tony Benn describing The Guardian. Still very much true:
    “As I came away , on the bus, I thought: The Guardian represents a whole batch of journalists, from moderate right to moderate left – i.e. centre journalists – who, broadly speaking , like the status quo. They like the two-party system, with no real change. They’re quite happy to live under the aegis of the Americans and NATO; they are very keen on the European Union because the Commissioners control everything. They are very critical of the left, but would also be critical of a wild right-wing movement. They just are the Establishment. It is a society that suits them well. I should think that probably most of them send their kids to private schools. I should think a lot of them don’t use the National Health Service, but they tolerate it as the price you have to pay in order to keep the populace content. They’re not interested in me any more because they don’t think I have any power, and I can’t say I’m very interested in them, except as exhibits in a zoo.”

  38. @ Dave
    @ Andreas B
    @ xenji
    Who in Australian politics can become our Corbyn or Sanders.

    Some people have suggested that Ricky Muir might return with a true left (Curtin) platform.
    And you can give up on the Greens. Rhiannon is the only leftist still there and they want her out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top