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Brighton Labour Party Fringe Event with Chris Williamson – full audio coverage

I am travelling most of today and so no standard blog post. For a fair part of the day I also will not be able to moderate comments so there might be some delay. But thanks to the great work by Christian Reilly and Patricia Pino at the – MMT Podcast – my talk at the Brighton Labour Party Fringe Event with British Labour MP, Chris Williamson, was captured for all to hear. It means the event will survive the moment. To give context to the audio that the MMT Podcast has made available, I offer some commentary in this blog post. The comments and the audio should keep people busy until I am able to get back to normal writing. Now in New York City and looking forward to meeting the gang at the – MMT Conference – which runs this week.

Podcast of Brighton Event with Chris Williamson

Christian did a great job of quickly editing this audio and having it available within 24 hours.

The event was more of a Town Hall meeting rather than my usual presentations. But that didn’t make it any the less challenging or fun.

The context is that earlier in the day (14:00) the – GIMMs Team – had arranged a Labour Party Fringe Event with myself and Chris (who is a Labour Party MP in the House of Commons) as the speakers.

The topic was to be MMT and the Green New Deal.

As a result of Chris’s suspension from the Labour Party for spurious claims he made anti-Semitic comments, some characters (unknown – not enough courage to reveal themselves) threatened the venue where our event was to take place.

The venue then cancelled the booking (and hence the event – given the difficulty of getting an alternative venue) and indicated that if Chris was not speaking then the booking could continue.

GIMMS was put in a difficult situation which was resolved by Chris and I agreeing to find an alternative venue and hold a separate event after the GIMMS event.

The GIMMS event thus went ahead, was well attended, and there will be video coverage of that available soon thanks to the hard work of the GIMMS volunteers (Claire, Sara and Prue). I spoke about the Green New Deal from an MMT perspective.

Fortunately, after much searching Chris’s team found a venue that was able to rise above the petty bullying of those seeking to silence Chris no matter what.

The owner of the Rialto Theatre in Brighton made the venue available at the last minute – we only confirmed the event would take place in the last few days leading up to it. Thanks to Greg Hadfield for getting that organised.

And so it was.

The theatre was packed for our event with committed Labour Party members who want to change the direction of the Party. It was boisterous. Chris went from 0 to 11 (as they say in guitar-speak) from the outset and that set the tone.

The audience was engaged and the Q&A interaction advanced the discussion.

There were no slide shows, prepared speeches, just off the top of our heads stuff.

Here is the audio thanks to Christian Reilly.


My regular blog post will resume on Monday after the Weekend Quiz plays out.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. In the audience, if not the picture here! The atmosphere was great and the whole thing was every bit as good as Bill describes. I want to thank him for showing true solidarity at a problematic time.

  2. Fantastic forum. Some very good questions. Love the grassroots effort. Loved how Chris Williamson says its up to the people to help the heavy lifting. Very true and inspiring.
    I’d very much like to hear more on Bill’s vision for the respective roles of socialism and capitalism in a progressive economy. What would Bill’s optimal system look like?

  3. Very exciting to hear that the MMT message has finally entered the sphere of politics at the grass roots level somewhere in the world. Excellent talk!

    The election campaigns in Canada, Right, Left, Center, and Green continue to compete for the award of finest display of neoliberal “financial responsibility” for their platforms; all custom tailored for favorable judgement under the light of the mandatory “cost analysis” performed by a few dozen accountants etc in the parliamentary “budget” office.

  4. Inspiring discussion, and the thought that Bill is circling the globe to facilitate discussions like this is heartening to the max. Let me offer two thoughts on a couple of issues that came up. First, with regard to lesser developed nations, I see no reason why MMT principles could not be employed to permit such nations to develop in simpler, more sustainable ways; i.e., along the lines envisioned by Gandhi, E.F. Schumacher, and others. Who knows, maybe these lesser developed nations could actually chart the course for a new kind of human-scale civilization more compatible with natural constraints and the human spirit? Just look at what Cuba, for example, with precious little resources, managed to do with the crucial issues of health care, literacy, and immiserating poverty. Second, concerning the issue whether MMT serves the capitalist right or the socialist left, perhaps the left should think of MMT as a weapon as well as a lens. To return to Cuba, weapons can be used by a dictator to oppress the people (as in Batista), or by the people to overthrow him (as in Castro, Che & Co.). As I see it, MMT is not only equipping the left to see macroeconomics more clearly but is also arming them intellectually to fight for a better, more beautiful world, currency-sovereign nation by nation.

  5. Heartily second all the approving comments already made: the atmosphere was well and truly conveyed – a great example of communicating effectively.

    @ David B
    “I’d very much like to hear more on Bill’s vision for the respective roles of socialism and capitalism in a progressive economy. What would Bill’s optimal system look like?”

    Not to dampen enthusiasm in any way, wouldn’t doing that go against what Bill during this event (by no means for the first time) expressly declines to do? Namely, to use his position as a teacher as a platform from which to espouse any given political agenda.

    He overtly refuses to do that (whilst making abundantly clear where in the political spectrum his own personal political beliefs happen to place him, as an individual). IMHO that is exactly the correct position for any teacher to take. Each “pupil” (in this case, us) must decide for her-/himself what their own personal vision of what “the respective roles of socialism and capitalism in a progressive economy” ought to be, and their vision might – as Bill repeatedly stresses – differ quite markedly from Bill’s own whilst not in any way clashing with what MMT tells us about how the monetary system actually operates.

    Despite that being his “official” position, he did allow himself to be lured by one of the questions into making some declarations of his own beliefs which touch on the area you raise (eg that he personally would favour nationalising the banks) and thus could be said to have broken his own self-imposed rule of silence concerning political issues. But I don’t think that letting slip the occasional such admission compromises his basic position fundamentally (as I understand it anyway, sketched above). It’s just a temporary lapse. We’re all human, and he does set himself an astonishingly punishing schedule! (Frankly, I don’t know how he can keep up such a pace).

  6. ALP politicians have recently sent ALP members (like myself) an email asking: “Do you want to see a lift in Newstart” (and please sign the petition, donate, etc).

    I replied saying I want to see the introduction of a Job Guarantee (pointing to Bill Mitchell’s blog).

    I concluded with this comment:
    “As long as we are all deluded that the federal government budget is subject to the same constraints as our households budgets, Labor cannot win elections with a progressive platform (as shown in May), because a majority of people do not want to pay higher taxes (and hence Labor could not even promise a lift in Newstart, at the May election)”.

    How hard can it be to get this message across?
    Everyone knows we want desirable goods and services (beginning with essentials) NOT ‘money’ (worthless bits of paper, or code in computers).

    So this delusory conflation of real resources with ‘money’ is a major problem.

    Maybe the ABC can be enlisted in dispelling the delusion?

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