An evolving 6-point plan for British Labour

In the last few days, since the British General Election last Thursday, I have seen the rising denial of so-called progressives trying to come up with all sorts of excuses for Labour’s devastating defeat. I have seen various aggregations of the votes presented on Twitter and elsewhere attempting to claim that, in fact, the vote was a vote for Remain rather than Brexit. The line being spun is that the Tories do not have a mandate to implement Brexit, that the strong majority of British voters want to remain in the European Union and that, and that Labour’s defeat was about other things. Other things certainly impacted – such as the UK Guardian’s relentless and ridiculous campaign against Jeremy Corbyn which gave air to the anti-semitism ruse. And, the continued passive insurgency within the Parliamentary Labour Party from the Blairites who could not move beyond the past. And, the neoliberal framing that John McDonnell insisted on using to disseminate his economic plan, as a result of being advised poorly by a bunch of economists who couldn’t even get their studid Fiscal Credibility Rule right (given they had to change it at the last minute when it was obvious to all that it would fail). And John McDonnell himself, who told the British people in the months leading up to the election that he would support Remain. And the Deputy leader, who should have been expelled long ago from the Party. And those who conspired to ditch Chris Williamson for the most spurious reasons and thus cost Labour the seat of Derby North. And on it goes. But the result that transpired has been staring the Labour party in the face since the June 2016 Referendum and the Party chose to ignore the warnings. And the so-called progressive apparatchiks, economists and others, who were advising the Labour Party, not only told the Party leaders to ignore the warnings but actively set about vilifying those on the Left, including yours truly, every chance they could. The egg is … as they say!

The full results of the British election are not readily available in a form that allows me to do some detailed statistical analysis. That will come when the complete dataset is publicly available.

But I thought this graph was a good summary.

It is taken from The Telegraph article (December 16, 2019) – Election Result: Conservatives win historic majority

The horizontal axis depicts the distribution of votes in the June 2016 Referendum, from high proportion Remain to high proportion Leave (left to right).

The blue diamonds show the seats held (filled in diamonds) and gained (other diamonds) by the Conservatives across the constituencies ordered by the Referendum vote.

If you cannot see that the traditional Labour heartland in the old industrial and mining towns in the north deserted Labour for the Tories then you are blind.

And if you think that the almost 100 per cent correlation between the strength of the Leave vote and the change in seats in the heartlands is not meaningful then you lack analytical capacity (being polite).

To aggregate the vote for Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats etc into a ‘Remain’ vote and then claim that the British people actually want to Remain rather than to Leave is just being part of the problem that caused Labour’s electoral demise.

Last Thursday, Britain held the ‘second’ referendum that all those smart-alec, urban, educated, cosmos were demanding, and which so perverted the Labour Party’s message to the people.

If the massive swing to the Tories is anything to go by, the Leave vote intensified.

And it was entirely predictable.

A few days after the June 2016 Referendum, I wrote this blog post – Why the Leave victory is a great outcome (June 27, 2016) – which led some of the high-profile, Labour advisors calling me “delusional” and accusing me of pandering to fascist elements.

I wrote in the post:

British Labour leadership was largely absent throughout – not knowing which way to turn and allowing the Pro-European (neo-liberal) Left elements within the Party to dominate its public viewpoint. It lost its traditional constituents along the way.

The point is that British Labour now has to change drastically and reject its neo-liberal leanings or face extinction.

If it doesn’t show leadership and present a truly progressive alternative to the neo-liberal orthodoxy then the anger will continue and it is possible that the right will dominate.

That summary conclusion resonates still.

Labour did change. But they moved in the opposite direction to where it should have gone and finally reneged on its undertaking to its voters.

Far from showing leadership on the issue, the Blairites forced the Labour leadership to dither and eventually cave into a Remain position.

When the majority of Labour Party’s MPs (more than 60 per cent) represent Leave majority constituencies and the Party then turns its back on those people after guaranteeing them that they would support the outcome of the Referendum in 2016, then what would one expect would be the consequences.

Especially, when the Tories are campaigning skillfully on a “Get Brexit Done” platform and successfully maintaining focus on that message.

The media can publish all sorts of ‘gotchas’, like Boris Johnson hiding in a fridge to avoid and interview and lighting up social media with accounts of how much a liar he is etc.

This no doubt made all the Urban Labour Remainers feel warm (excuse the fridge-warm bit) and righteous, but it all that paled into insignificance when confronted with the fact that the Labour Party abandoned its support base who clearly wanted to Leave by reneging on its guarantee to honour the vote.

Saying that Labour, if elected would hold a second referendum and then argue for Remain, was the culmination in their abandonment of the people that had elected the majority of their MPs in 2017.

Which advisor(s) came up with that strategy should never be employed by the Labour Party again.

All those who advocated appeasing the middle-class, urban elites who would never have voted Tory anyway at the expense of abandoning the workers in the North, who saw the Leave vote as an expression of their disdain for austerity and neoliberalism, should never be employed by the Labour Party again.

Their views should be disregarded in the future.

In these blog posts (among many others, do a search using the term Brexit to find others), I made the case as to why it was electoral suicide for the Labour Party not to embrace the Leave vote and become the progressive Leave party for Britain.

1. My brief comment on the British election (December 11, 2019).

2. Impending British Labour loss may reflect their ambiguous Brexit position (November 28, 2019).

3. British Labour surrenders to the middle class and big business interests (July 10, 2019).

4. The British government can avoid a recession from a No-Deal Brexit (July 31, 2019).

5. That progressive paradise (aka the EU) does it again! (July 4, 2019).

6. Being anti-European Union and pro-Brexit does not make one a nationalist (May 23, 2019).

7. The Europhile dreamers are out in force (April 15, 2019).

8. Bank of England backtracks on its doomsday Brexit scenarios (March 18, 2019).

9. Britain’s austerity costs are larger than any predicted Brexit losses (March 4, 2019)

10. Comparing the 2016 Referendum vote with the 2019 Withdrawal Act outcome (January 16, 2019).

11. The Brexit scapegoat (January 7, 2019).

12. More Brexit nonsense from the pro-European dreamers (December 27, 2018).

13. The Twitter echo chamber (October 31, 2018).

14. British fiscal statement – no end to austerity as the Left face plants (October 30, 2018).

15. Left-liberals and neoliberals really should not be in the same party (October 25, 2018).

16. Elements in a strategy for the Left (July 10, 2018).

17. Brexit propaganda continues from the UK Guardian (July 4, 2018).

18. The Europhile Left loses the plot (May 1, 2018).

19. Social democratic politicians continue to walk the plank – into oblivion (February 7, 2018).

20. Oh poor Britain – overrun by chlorinated chickens, hapless without the EU (February 1, 2018).

21. British Labour remainers – the reality seekers bogged down in myth (January 31, 2018).

22. When the mainstream Left gets lost down its Europhile hole (October 26, 2017).

23. Reclaiming the State (August 30, 2017).

24. British labour lost in a neo-liberal haze (May 3, 2017).

25. Mayday! Mayday! The skies were meant to fall in … what happened? (August 24, 2016).

That is a long list over several years since the Referendum. The list is not close to be exhaustive of the evidence I have presented on this topic.

Many of those blog posts were trying to redress the claims on the public record that Brexit would be devastating.

The UK Guardian, in particular, relentlessly gave voice to the Europhile Left, with their dire predictions and demands for a second referendum, because the poor darlings, used to privilege and success, couldn’t get their own way in the first referendum in 2016.

The arguments presented have always been evidenced-base.

None of the predictions made have been found wanting from the evidence subsequently.

Almost all the predictions made by the Remain camp have been, so far, flawed.

And, the scare campaigns about the losses from Brexit, even though they have so far proven to be ridiculously inflated, didn’t have any traction in the working class communities in the Midlands and further North anyway, because people here have already experienced massive losses in well-being from yaers of austerity.

What the Labour Party should have done was to take the running on the Brexit sentiment and weave that into their progressive Manifesto.

And that would have overcome the valid claims that the Manifesto was incompatible with Remain, because the EU would have prohibited a raft of the proposed initiatives.

This was one of the issues I raised with John McDonnell when I met him in October 2018.

I recounted that meeting in this blog post – A summary of my meeting with John McDonnell in London (October 17, 2018).

It was obvious he was captive to the delusional views being expressed by his advisors.

I told John that the Labour Party sounded as though it was still stuck in the mid-1970s when the Chancellor at the time Dennis Healey lied to the British people about the Government having to go the IMF for a loan because it had run out of money.

This was the beginning of the excess paranoia within the British Left about the power of the City – of the financial markets.

And that paranoia led to the development of the ridiculous Fiscal Rule and the neoliberal framing to give the impression that the Labour Party knew what they were doing.

While those in their social media echo chamber – you know who you are – clearly spent hours on-line convincing each other how bright you all were and vilifying anyone on the Left who dared to disagree – the proof is in the pudding.

The voters obviously rejected this position.

The problem now is that the actually progressive Manifesto will be impugned. It should not be.

Brexit will help the Labour Party

Labour now will have a fantastic opportunity now that the nation will leave the European Union.

I outlined the reasons in this blog post – Why the Leave victory is a great outcome (June 27, 2016) – written a few days after the Referendum.

I considered that the progressive space will expand dramatically as a result of restoring sovereignty.

First, it represents a major rejection of the neo-liberal policy structures that are now commonplace. They no longer have legitimacy and the vote shows that ordinary people ultimately have more power than the elites.

This doesn’t mean that the ordinary voter on the Leave side knows what the alternative is or understands Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) or anything else.

It means they have rejected the mainstream.

Second, if carried through, the exit will unambiguously restore British sovereignty and frees it from the austerity-obsessed neo-liberal European Commission and Council. It will no longer be subject to rulings from the European Court of Justice.

The constitutional validity of British legislation, motivated and introduced by an elected British government rather than the unelected technocracy that is the European Commission, will be scrutinised by British institutions (the High Court etc).

Which is how a democracy with separation of powers should operate.

Third, the opportunities by the British polity to depoliticise poor decisions which harm the interests of ordinary people by appealing to the external forces beyond their control have been reduced.

British politicians of all flavours will have to take more responsibility for their legislation and policy choices, which is progress on the current state where they can avoid such responsibility by blaming things on Brussels.

Fourth, the choice will not free Britain from neo-liberalism but it does bring the debate back into focus – voter face to face with the British politicians.

There are no guarantees that the decision to leave the European Union will lead to good outcomes, by which I mean help those who have been disenfranchised by the neo-liberal system.

There are scenarios that would lead to the conclusion that exactly the opposite might occur.

The right-wing Tories who have always hated Europe might push for even greater ‘competition’ and cuts to government spending and services, which would further undermine the fortunes of the weak and precarious.

Bosses might push for further cuts to wages and conditions.

But as the Polish economists Michał Kalecki said – in a crisis there are opportunities for both the Right and the Left.

The exit campaign was dominated by those on the Right that could see the potential of giving voice to the disenfranchised outside of the London elites.

The Brexit vote was a rejection of New Labour as much as it is a rejection of Tory-style neo-liberalism.

The way forward – my initial 6-point plan for British Labour

The way forward for Labour, in my external eyes, is to:

1. Split off the Blairites – they are a cancer within a progressive party. Their careerist ambitions will always pervert progressive pursuits.

How much damage does Tony Blair have to inflict on the people of Britain and the Labour Party?

2. Sack all the smart-alec advisors who thought that Remain was the way forward.

It is not votes that count in the quest for government but seats won.

It is obvious that the British voting system (FPP) is deeply flawed and writing articles that claim in, say, a proportional system, the massacre of Labour wasn’t as bad as it was, amounts to plain denial.

The system is the clear to all. Seats have to be won. And a party will unlikely win government where the majority of its MPs were elected by people who just three years earlier had told them they wanted exactly the opposite to what the Party brings to the election.

And, seats will not be won, when, the Labour apparatchiks and supporting media (UK Guardian etc) relentlessly vilify those voters as being dumb, racist, xenophobic, ‘Little Englanders’ and all the rest of the abusive nomenclature that the London-left elites poured out when the Remain side lost in June 2016.

3. Sack/ignore all the advisors who advocated neoliberal fiscal rules as being clever.

They were stupid and unworkable and the fact that the Labour Party changed the Rule in the weeks before the election when the IFS pointed out that they were incompatible with the Manifesto, a view I had presented when the Rule first came out, is testament to that.

4. Maintain the progressive Manifesto without the neoliberal frames and structures.

5. Begin this 5-year period of isolation by mounting a massive education campaign to allow British voters to truly understand the capacities of the currency-issuing government which will make it much easier to disabuse arguments that start with “How will we pay for it?”.

In that sense, I advise the British Labour Party to commission a series of workshops on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), starting February when I will next be in the UK.

6. Choose the new leadership carefully.

Here is one of the contenders for the Labour Party leadership – in a pre-interview for that job, making it clear no reasonable committee would ever consider her as qualifying for the short-list.

I will expand on that plan in the months ahead.


And, at least Chuka and Jo Swinson and a host of other neoliberal opportunists lost their seats,

If British Labour doesn’t revise its economic narrative which means it has to stop getting advice from New Keynesians and other economists who think the City of London is all powerful and the government has to appease the financial markets, then there will not be no short-term recovery for Labour.

And, most importantly, Brexit will turn into a nightmare for Britain when it should be a progressive force.

And, in February, I will walk more easily through immigration as the non-EU resident access rules change (hopefully).

That is enough for today!

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

This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Bill

    Did the Torys face the same division within ie the Remain/Leave voters ?
    Seems like it was only Labour torn apart by them.

  2. Dear Bill,

    Let me say openly – the Brexit referendum was about getting rid of the migrants not about getting rid of fiscal rules imposed by the EU.

    How could have the progressives won over these people who switched away from the Labour even if they had spoken in favour of Brexit? Should Corbyn have promised expelling the Poles back to Poland? This could have worked. At least this could have been partially consistent with the support to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They also want to expel a certain group of people back to Central Europe.

    Below is the description of the problem. Let me state that I have never lived in the UK and I am not planning moving there. My accent is still too thick.

    “Laminated cards were left outside primary schools and posted through letterboxes of Polish people in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, with the words ‘Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin’ in English and Polish”

    “While initially Poles have been perceived as a ‘desirable’ migrant group and labelled as ‘invisible’ due to their whiteness, this perception shifted to the representation of these migrants as taking jobs from British workers, putting a strain on public services and welfare.”

    “EU migration into the UK was a key issue in the EU referendum debates in 2016. The Leave campaign used the anti-immigration discourse claiming that the main cause of all the UK’s issues, including housing shortages or the strained National Health Service (NHS), is ‘uncontrolled mass immigration’ caused by the right to freedom of movement within EU member states. The Leave campaign argued that exiting the EU would allow Britain to ‘take back control of its borders’ – the slogan previously used by UKIP.”

    “Nikola (31) experienced the most extreme form of racist violence in a local bar in Manchester:
    I was attacked in a public place most likely because I was speaking Polish or my foreign accent. I asked him to leave me alone. He was English. He said ‘I don’t understand what you are saying’ in a very negative way … and he attacked me. It was terrible. I was in a hospital. I couldn’t walk. It was a serious and brutal attack.”

    “The one to be feared of [by Poles] is constructed as white, young, anti-social, British male with a low social status living on a council estate, mirroring the ambiguous construction of white working class in some British media as deviant – although they are also portrayed as victims”

    From Racism and xenophobia experienced by Polish migrants in the UK before and after Brexit vote by Alina Rzepnikowska, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

    Weren’t these “the ones to be feared of” precisely the group who switched from the Labour to the Conservatives?

  3. Appreciating this analysis and agreeing with it mostly, I have got a critical question:

    Why do you keep insisting on the UK leaving the EU altogether when the economic maladies you are describing are created by the Eurozone, not the Common Market, open borders nor peaceful coexistence? What good will the UK benefit from giving up the last three?

    Do you think that if Jeremy Corbyn would have remained an uncompromising Leaver then Labour would have won more seats in the Parliament? The European Parliament elections showed that a pro-Brexit platform lost the Labour votes to the Liberal Democrats and other anti-Brexit parties.

    I would like to add my view that the Brexit issue is a terrible distraction from all the important MMT issues. The EU criticism would hit the target better if it were aimed at specific issues like the Eurozone, the constitutional crisis etc., not by aiming at all the EU.

  4. The sad fact is that there are those in the Parliamentary Labour Party and beyond who see the defeat of Corbyn in last week’s election as a huge success not a dismal failure. This is the outcome they have sought all along, and Corbyn committed a grave error to let them manipulate him into submission on the Brexit issue.

    The struggle for Labour now is to get rid of these figures once and for all. This may not be easy or even possible – after all, their mission has been to undermine any attempt at real socialism. There’s a perfectly good cosmopolitan, pro-EU, socially progressive, economically neoliberal, home for them in the LibDems – if it were simply a case of finding themselves out of place they would join them en-masse.

    But the fact that, apart from one or two exceptions, they haven’t, goes to show that they are a deliberate fifth column, whose primary function is to keep the Labour Party firmly at the Centre and away from socialism, even if this means electoral defeat.

    The next few weeks will determine whether they have succeeded, or whether a socialist-leaning Labour Party is still possible. With so many seat losses, the gene pool is reduced, and the low calibre of parliamentarians in general doesn’t bode well either, so the outlook is grim, in my opinion.

  5. @Adam K
    Animus towards immigrants may have been a motivating factor for some voters, but it doesn’t explain the differences between the 2017 and 2019 elections, and it doesn’t explain the switch in the North East of England, which has experienced limited immigration. Considering the Polish immigration in particular, this map shows the situation. Ealing and Slough, the districts with the highest immigration according to the map, remained Labour constituencies.

  6. Bill it is worse in Scotland and getting scary. Far worse than when you were in Scotland.

    The middle class liberals who write all the Indy blogs and news paper articles are in complete denial.

    To the point they have banned me from commenting on their articles. Silencing people like me who have wanted independence all my adult life. Because I do not share their Groupthink.

    They are circling the wagons and determined to take Scotland into the EU prison. Nobody will be able to stop these middle class types with their art degrees. Who fail to recognise what the EU has become and somehow have convinced themselves via groupthink that EFTA is a safe option. A different shade of a faux independence whereby you have to stand in front of a court to get policy through.

    I tried my best to warn everybody that this is what these fools have planned and what the Indy at all costs strategy would lead to. I hope now people will sit up and take notice of the farce that is playing out North of the border. I tried to highlight the groupthink that is embedded in Scotland.

    Right now I do not see any difference between these middle class liberals with their art degrees and the Bullingdon club. Both hold onto their Groupthink like comfort blankets spreading their ideas of nonsense. Based on pure fantasy not facts.

    The sad part of all is if these liberals in Scotland get their way and trap Scotland in the EU they think they will have won independence. It will be nothing short of a tragedy that will hurt so many. They are so far removed from the poor and working class in Scotland as Labour was in England.

    They just can’t see it and now silence anybody who can. They are travelling at 100 miles an hour in a juggernaut on an icy road to hell. With Ode to Joy blaring out of the radio.

  7. Bill, why do you think highly influential Jews consider Corbyn to be an anti-semite. if he in fact isn’t? I get that there is a widespread professional offense taking industry, but it didn’t seem to me that the complainants were particularly thin skinned. I’m relieved that Brexit can finally take place, which is the clear will of the people. Cheers!

  8. Dear dnm,

    Concentration of immigrants is not positively correlated with the desire to stop migration or animosity towards certain ethnic or religious groups. I have found a paper where negative correlation was demonstrated. What really matters is perceived competition from the migrants. People who “lost” live in the North. They needed to blame someone. Poles and Romanians were handy.

    We can obviously claim that the whole Brexit controversy was a result of austerity introduced by Cameron. I would equally claim that the migration from Poland was also a result of the so-called “disinflation” policy applied before joining the EU. This resulted in 20% official unemployment rate in 2003.

    Regarding changes in attitude between 2017 and 2019, Corbyn was effectively lured and trapped by Johnson and exposed as an untrustworthy ditherer. The Labour effectively blocked Brexit on Tory terms and got involved in kicking the can down the road. However in my view there was no alternative strategy. If they had approved the Brexit proposals the end result would have been the same – a Tory’s win. People were sick of the whole thing.

    Not to mention the tactical stupidity of Corbyn who got entangled in the antisemitism scandal. In my view a politician making this kind of mistakes does not deserve to succeed. Corbyn should have resigned before the elections and give someone less tainted a shot. But he remained true to his convictions and mates. This is not good enough. Either a politician wants to win (and clean up things later) or “express himself”. So Corbyn did express himself. Boris won. We can be sure he will clean up things later what includes popping the whole Far North Catalonia, sorry, Scotland, independence bubble. Again, a very nice pipe dream. Because all I can say is that Johnson has balls just like Polish Chairman Jarosław K. Boris may be ugly and unloved but he is the first alpha male after Baroness Thatcher. What did she do about Falklands? “Territorial integrity” That’s it.

    Now let’s wait and see how Donald Trump wins his second term. He seems to be on track. Impeachment is the same lure Johnson used when he suspending the Parliament…

  9. @ Adam K

    When I read a story on the BBC News website about a Polish schoolboy being spat-at and abused in (if I remember rightly) the same part of England you refer to I was so appalled that I actually wept. I told my wife:- “this is not the England that I grew-up in – I no longer recognise it”. (On calmer reflection I started to wonder whether thirty years or more of neoliberalism might not have something to do with it).

    That doesn’t in the least alter my opinion about the need for Brexit, for all the kinds of reasons that Bill and others have advanced. You concede that you don’t know England (but then promptly add a snide rejoinder which detracts somewhat from the fairness of that admission). I suggest you acquaint yourself – if you’re sufficiently interested (and if you’re not you have no business to be opinionating about England without ever having lived there) – with this (google it): – “Tony Benn on democracy and the EU – 20th November 1991”. You won’t be swayed by it but at least you’ll be better-informed about *all* that lies behind the massive “leave” vote than you are now. It’s Benn I identify with, not a bunch of witless thugs.

    There are anti-social elements in all societies, including the Polish one. I think you should try to keep that fact out of these discussions, with which IMO it has nothing to do.

  10. You can see the parallels with the US. My gut feel is they will make the same mistake the Democrats made, they will try and deny reality following Trumps election, and in doing so have guaranteed his re-election. They will latch onto every problem with implementing Brexit as ‘proof’ it won’t work and campaign that it should be reversed, in turn losing any chance of getting back the votes. They will try and paint Boris as the big bad guy (impeach him or some other similar device!!), which will have the reverse effect they desire. They will argue amongst themselves, and the Blairites will try to take control of the party again and put yet another neoliberal Blair clone in charge of the party again. Who of course will have as much success as Ed Milliband did. Part of their problem is that they can only view Brexit in one dimension, i.e. those that want Brexit are anti-immigration and racist. They refuse to acknowledge all the other failures of the EU as having a part to play.

  11. Bill wrote:- “It is obvious that the British voting system (FPP) is deeply flawed”.

    That’s a matter of opinion. One can’t just make bald statements of opinion and declare them ex cathedra to be “obvious” – not, that is, if one wants to be taken seriously.

    I suggest there’s no such thing as an *un-*flawed electoral system. Each has its merits and de-merits and in the final analysis the question turns on what one’s priorities are. Personally it seems to me to be far from self-evident that a system of proportional representation based on party lists is “fairer” (whatever that means) than one which is rooted in localised cultural and social concerns which an MP, regardless of party affiliation, is expected to represent.

    But that’s just my opinion. I don’t doubt there are plenty of counter-arguments.

  12. This is a rough but confirmatory couple of maps showing the referendum results and the election results. London and the home counties and Liverpool were remainers, and Labour seats were held, one gained in Putney. In the North, Wales and the Midlands where the leave vote was high, Labour lost and failed to gain seats.

  13. Brexit was the major reason, but 15 rather unpleasant ex Labour MPs augmented their battle in the northern constituencies by drivelling a malicious advert into local northern rags telling people not to vote Labour. I find it hard to believe that they ignored the fact that these towns were vulnerable due to the brexit vote.
    Any new leader will need nerves of steel and be able to deal with this some how.

  14. “…(P)rogressive space will expand dramatically as a result of restoring sovereignty.” Most certainly so, Bill, although in the short run most of that political space will be occupied by the right. Why? Because the left, as you well know, has yet to heed what you and Tom told them in no uncertain terms in “Reclaiming the State.” Globalism is politically dead, however powerful it may remain economically in the near future. Average citizens want their countries back under their political control, which, yes, includes enforcing strict, yet humane, immigration policies. Given the emotional investment of much of the general public in that issue, and despite the fact that it is far from being a sufficient antidote to neoliberal austerity, among the first tasks to be assumed by a resurgent left, in both the UK and the States, will be to draft and put forward a reasonable and effective immigration policy, one able to appeal to the average beleaguered citizen. So long as the left insists on being cosmopolitan, identifying more with abstract human values (however admirable) than with the pressing needs and desires (however symbolic) of the average citizens of particular countries, it will lose over and over again. Trump’s campaign motto of making America great again was political dynamite in this new anti-global age. But because the left knows that America was never great in the sense of even beginning to live up to its ideals, progressives here must now formulate and advocate a new vision of national sovereignty/patriotism which reclaims the lofty enlightenment principles set forth in the Preamble to its Declaration of Independence. And the left in other plutocrat-controlled democracies must follow suit, drawing upon the rich and distinctive histories of their respective countries and cultures. One thing is certain: this cannot be done–in America or the UK or Australia, or elsewhere–without progressives fully understanding and enthusiastically embracing MMT. At this pivotal point, we either succeed in selling MMT to the masses as the necessary vehicle for implementing a new, inclusive, enlightened, yet unmistakably national agenda, or be relegated, more quickly than some of us may dream, to history’s dustbin.

  15. Adam K. Yea. Racism. Hate the migrants. I see rage coming from helplessness. Wealth and power undermining them by using others who will work for less. They circle the wagons. As citizens they think and feel that they should be listened to, and their needs and concerns should be satisfied. Wealth and power and asset stripping. It’s really quite understandable; when you make people helpless, expect rage and violence.

  16. Excellent prescription for the Labour Party to renew itself-I suspect, though that this will not happen and a period of protracted in fighting will go ahead. Maybe it would be better for a real Left rump to separate off, similar to what happened in the 30’s with George Lansbury as leader-then build from there.

    I have some concerns about this: ‘the workers in the North, who saw the Leave vote as an expression of their disdain for austerity and neoliberalism’.

    I don’t think ‘the workers in the North’ had this level of awareness at all. I’m not at all buying into the notion they were ‘thick’ as I think ‘thickness’ has no class boundaries and the middle class Remainers were being extremely stupid to say the least. However, some of my campaigning and analysis I’ve read show disturbing trends amongst the so-called working class:

    1. There was very little criticism of Tory austerity-they had bought the ‘there’s no money’ argument.
    2. Many in work poor have astonishing little sympathy with benefit claimants and have bought the lie that Cameron propagated that they were a drag on the economy. if the research that shows that Tory austerity killed 120,000 has any credibility then this is a gobsmacking lack of empathy.
    3. many areas had bought myths about Corbyn being a Marxist and as a result of 2. above regarded people who used public services as ‘scroungers’.
    4.., Many times I came across the in work and struggling expressing some belief in Brexit in itself bringing ‘national resurgence’ (sold by the Tories) without any regard to Government policy -Brexit itself was going to do it. I think this latter ‘magical belief’ helped the Tories considerably.
    5. Many thought the Labour Party manifesto wasn’t possible, due to a 100% loss of belief that Government could do anything with the ‘Labour will bankrupt the country’ being repeated.
    6. I was struck by people who considered themselves ‘working class’ that they had a very Americanised model of themselves: as individuals standing on their own two feet, proud of owning a house and not being reliant on the state with a VERY limited sense of collegiality and being part of a wider society.

    In other words, the Tory propaganda project which started in 2010 had ‘worked’:
    1. ‘Doing the right thing’ (condescending pat on the head from the neo-liberals) a sense of rectitude from being plugged into the financial system with bank debt and mill-stone mortgage seen as a badge of honour.
    2. Skivers and Strivers narrative,
    3. ‘Those that get up in the morning’ used as another ‘pat on the head’ for those in work who are poor.
    4. ‘Those with their blinds drawn’ a phrase used to whip up resentment.

    I’m worried that this group could be manipulated by the Tories as an almost proto-fascist base, so that inevitably, when Johnson’s project gets into difficulties because of the economic fundamentals, he can use these feelings as a resource.

    The Seat Of North Durham illustrated this. Labour lost a very good Left leaning, local M.P who could have had a future in the Party supporting a rebuilt non-neo-liberal Left. The ‘workers’ up there were parroting all the media Guff about Corbyn being a terrorist sympathiser and not supporting the military enough (there are local bases) despite the fact that Corbyn was a lone voice in Parliament speaking up for the problems of military veterans finding homes under an austerity obsessed Tory Government.

    So I don’t feel that the ‘workers up North were conscious of austerity in any clear way- it was as if they had ignored the last nine years and were expressing a delayed reaction to their being deserted by Blair which rendered the reality of the savage Tory cuts invisible. What
    disturbed me most was many of these people had become empathy free zones: if you’re ill, tough shit. If your are in a social house, you are not ‘doing the right thing’ and are a scrounger. If you are poor its because you didn’t work hard enough. Believe me, I’ve seen and heard this so many times that even a reformed, fully MMT Labour will have a hard time getting them back.

    I’m not claiming the above is a fully accurate, scientific analysis, it isn’t but just trends i have observed and been disturbed by. SOme useful data here:

  17. Blairites and the democrats in the US doing their best to promote barbarism so socialism won’t gain ground.

    I think a labor movement is important in UK. You need to be able to put pressure on elected officials, which means that ordinary people need to learn MMT and organize.

    God helps those who help themselves.

  18. Great analysis Bill, which I largely agree with, although I need to go back and re-read it more slowly to make sure I’ve got all your points.

    I fear, however, that it will be extremely difficult to rid the Labour Party of its Blairite/neo-Blairite element. I don’t know quite how big it is, but I fear that it is substantial. That is if we are talking about the Parliamentary Labour Party (M.P.s). The party membership (outside parliament) is no doubt largely pro-Corbyn, since it was in his time that the membership surged.

    The slightly trickier thing is the spectrum of views of traditional and potential Labour voters, who aren’t members or activists. If we are talking about “working class” people in the (traditional) “Labour heartlands” , I think you have to be a little careful. There is a concept called “Blue Labour”. I must admit that it’s fairly new to me (as a phrase), but I think I do understand it well, as some of my extended family would probably belong to that category.

    These are the sort of people that the “left liberal elites” (in London and the south-east), tend to ignore, or worse, criticise in the crudest terms. They (the “left liberal elites”) have actually been accused of despising them (especially if they had the temerity to vote Leave). “Blue Labour” people probably liked Corbyn’s economic policies. However, they tend to be socially conservative, not much time for gender politics, suspicious of immigration (and unfairly – in most cases – accused of bigotry), tough on Law and Order, strong on Defence. Any successor to Corbyn (whether of Left or Right) will have to work very hard to connect with these people, who should be their core voters.

    My worry is that there isn’t really any mechanism for getting rid of MPs whose views you don’t like. Johnson had a difficult enough job in that respect in the last parliament. Corbyn’s problem was/is even more difficult. You can take the party whip off them, but they are still there in parliament (opposing you). You can’t force a by-election. And you can’t (easily) force their local party to “de-select” them. And you can’t force the local party to adopt a candidate of your liking – well, it is sometimes done – so-called “parachuting in” a candidate by party HQ, but it’s not very democratic, and it can cause bad feeling.

    But just say you can get your parliamentary party on-side. You still have plenty of critics outside parliament. Ex MPs, and people like Tony Blair himself, or his former lieutenant, Alastair Campbell, or other former Blair ministers like David Blunkett. The BBC seem more than happy to give these people hours and hours of air-time to carp and criticise.

    BTW, agree with your assessment of Jess Phillips as potential new leader. Absolutely the last person I would give my vote to, if I had a vote.

    One last point about the “Labour heartlands” in this election: I haven’t studied all the results in detail of course, but of those seat that I have looked at somewhat carefully (and comparing results with 2017), it seems that in general, former Labour voters did not vote Tory. Some may have, of course, but the numbers don’t stack up for them having done so in vast numbers. Some voted Brexit Party. Some may have voted LibDem or Green. But I think most of the results which showed a big loss in Labour votes (usually accompanied by a reduction in “Turnout”), are explained by Labour voters having simply stayed at home. They couldn’t bring themselves to vote Tory, or Brexit Party, and they couldn’t bring themselves to vote Labour on this occasion, so they abstained (or spoiled their ballot paper).

  19. I think that Bill is being harsh, as usual, but we do need to take the medicine and am posting this on social media. This is a big message: “When the majority of Labour Party’s MPs (more than 60 per cent) represent Leave majority constituencies and the Party then turns its back on those people after guaranteeing them that they would support the outcome of the Referendum in 2016, then what would one expect would be the consequences.”

    I don’t think that some of you understand how the Labour Party works. The NEC has huge power and has been responsible for the expulsions. Policy is ultimately made by conference motions, not by the leader. As a member of the CLPD exec, which supported Corbyn and has had a role in promoting Corbyn supporters on the NEC, we did our very best to kill and later ameliorate the second referendum decision. The original purpose of Momentum was great – grassroots activation. We were told by Lansman when Jeremy gave the (premature) go-ahead. Unfortunately the leadership got too big for its boots and wanted a role in policymaking – they were largely responsible for pushing the Remain button.

    At least ChrisW will be able to renew his friendship with Jeremy and give him the signed copy of Reclaiming, which has been in his hands for too long. I’m sure he will enjoy it. It’s a shame that JohnM surely didn’t read it.

  20. Alongside electing a progressive leader, the key fight right now is Open Selections. We will be accused of introspection and navel gazing, but so what quite frankly. There are 5 years until the next election and there is a fight to be had, and we might as well do it now. Corbyn and co ducked it and paid the price. It is impossible to win an election whilst most of your MP’s (and cabinet !) are viscerally opposed to you. Impossible. It should have happened 3 years ago.
    They have to clean house in the PLP, it will be painted as a purge, but again, who cares what they think, they are neoliberals who are in the wrong party. Do it now, take the short term pain. People will forget in 2 years time, especially when good candidates start to come through the system.

    However in the short term i also share Mr S’ concern – the PLP has been hollowed out since Blair, you have a rump of neoliberal empty suits, anodyne backbenchers, attention seeking loudmouths and identity politics warriors. The cupboard is pretty bare looking down the list of MP’s. If they are anti-austerity and favour Open Selection then i’ll probably vote for them.

  21. We are debating seizing control from the plutocrats in the UK by purging the Blairites from the Labour party. I am not arguing against being idealistic, what I am strongly against is being naive and deluded.

    It is true that I have no experience living in the UK but I have more than enough experience living in Poland and Australia.

    Let me give an example. In Australia a mega-fire is approaching Sydney, obviously the densely populated area will will be defended but today or tomorrow the smoke will return. Since the fire entered Grose Valley the whole Blue Mountains will burn and there are 2 more fires approaching from different directions. What is the response of the media and the authorities? The only sane voice comes from Greg Mullins, Former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner. The Pentecostal PM is asking for prayers and together with the Treasurer who at least is not Pentecostal, grooming their budget surplus. The leader of the opposition one Anthony Adanese (Albanese) says nothing. At least he is not advocating voodoo prayers for rain.

    This filtering of information looks exactly as what I remember from late April of 1986. They admitted that the fire entered Grose Valley about 12 hours after the fact. If you want to know where the fire is burning today, either look at the weather radar or flightradar24 which will show water bombing copters and planes. It is true that people are evacuated in an orderly manner but otherwise the information blackout is quite effective. It is not a denial but a deniable denial. Why to shake “con-fidence”, why to rock the boat? Morrison the PM knows this well, he is a professional marketer. In the era of modern technology and communication I would expect the authorities sharing up to date information with the citizens so that they can at least be aware of the scale of the unfolding environmental disaster. But all we get is “smoke” (literally) and “mirrors”, also from the Murdoch family and other media magnates.

    We are having very own Chernobyl moment here but our PM and the State Premier are in no mood to panic (unlike Gorbachev in 1986 who started Destroyka). Our PM doesn’t give it a s. The same about the drought, depopulating the outback from white settlers. After all the show must go on, we have to keep digging that black stuff out (obviously there is no link, we only contribute 1% or something like this). Our generation is transforming Australia onto Kazakhstan which I visited in 1992. What I saw were patches of salt on the desert soil and some “kusty” (bushes).

    Why I am writing about this? Because I mostly agree with the ideas expressed in “Reclaiming the State” but at the same time I think that this way of thinking is so impractical that it is detached from reality. It is not enough to be right. It is not enough to be ideologically pure, get support of enough members of the working class and get rid of the neoliberals. The so-called liberal democracy is a delusion or rather an ideological implant. Things do not work that way. The elephant in the room are the corporations, these rule the globalised world. And the greatest of them is China Inc. It is not enough to understand government spending and reject Loanable Funds Theory. We need to dig deeper.

    How many people have been convinced to build an environmentally sustainable system based on social-democratic states exercising fiscal policies without the limitations of “sound finance” theory?

    This bloody thing is burning 50 km away from my home and it will keep burning for a few more months until nothing is left. The trees will eventually regrow but in my view the ecosystem may have difficulty recovering just like the Great Coral Reef. Yet people will vote again for the Coal-ition because they will fret about losing the franking credit tax loophole. (Until there is a paradigm shift but these usually come too late). And we can debate whether Corbyn should have been more radical or not or complain that the Greens in Australia are neoliberals.

    Something is wrong in this way of thinking. I am merely pointing out that it is not working and we are deeply deluded if we think it can.

    And now it’s time to mount my pushbike and go to work. Tomorrow the wind will blow the s. towards us and on Saturday it is going to be +45C. No more pushbike riding for a month or so.

  22. Bill Thanks for your thoughtful, detailed analysis of the British elections, I believe you are basically right in your conclusions, although I do think the British working class is COMPLETELY DISILLUSIONED with the British Labour Party and it will be doomed as a force for any progressive change.
    After this defeat I think the remnants of the party apparatus will reorganise and push for a move further to the right. This will alienate completely any progressive forces in the party. A new British party of the left is needed urgently. This new party must have social justice/environmental credentials and most importantly, be up to speed with macroeconomic reality.

  23. One more thing which has annoyed me, Labour’s utter inability to stick the knife into the Tories and twist it until their electoral guts are hanging out.
    They had a brilliant reforming policy to limit MP’s to their day job only which hit the sweet spot and tapped into the widespread public sentiment that MP’s are all on the make. It should have been front and centre of their campaign because funnily enough most Tories are the make, yet it was mentioned once and never heard from again.

    To use a football analogy, you have to score goals to win, you cannot just sit there and defend, which is all we effectively did in the last two weeks of the campaign by saying the NHS is not for sale. Why not both ?

    And why not bring the rule in for our own party ? We’ll see who’s committed to public service soon enough.

  24. As Bill points out, MMT is neither left or right, it is just a lens.

    Many Northern and Midlands Brexit voting constituents decided that they would prefer to be associated with a pro-Brexit Tory Government headed by an unprincipled pragmatist than a Labour opposition that is instinctively remain and tied by fiscal rules.

    Mark my words, these regions are going to be flooded public expenditure over the next five years because for the first time in British history, the Tories need to hold onto marginals there and Boris will take a “whatever it takes” approach to keeping them blue.

    I for one think it’s going to be interesting.

    The Tories will abandon neoliberalism first.

  25. “5. Begin this 5-year period of isolation by mounting a massive education campaign to allow British voters to truly understand the capacities of the currency-issuing government which will make it much easier to disabuse arguments that start with “How will we pay for it?”.”

    Wot I’ve already said. This will be aided by the tories now abandoning all pretence of fiscal prudence. And voila, nothing bad will happen as a consequence.

  26. I think you have to make sure that Labour actually pass proportional representation next time they’re in power. The Blairites and Brownites avoided it out of crass short-term thinking and dislike for the LibDems, but in the long run it benefits all progressives. Get it fixed once and for all.

  27. ” why do you think highly influential Jews consider Corbyn to be an anti-semite. if he in fact isn’t?”

    Because “highly influential Jews” can be as prejudiced as anyone else.
    Eg, try suggesting UN res 181 and 242 (remember them?) were/are the correct policies, and you will be labelled an anti-semite.
    And one reason the Left fails to defend itself against this sort of attack is the Left has abandoned the original ideal (promoted by Doc Evatt, among others, who supported Israel) of an international rules based system backed by a UN veto-less Security Council, implying modification of the (increasingly obsolete) concept of absolute national sovereignty. (btw, such an UNSC without veto would have little to do with a nation’s internal economic arrangements)

    Another reason why the Right always wins. And as for the Dems led by ‘centrist” Biden, I won’t mind if Trump wins that contest as well….

  28. ‘I for one think it’s going to be interesting.

    The Tories will abandon neoliberalism first.’ (Philip R)

    I agree there will be an INITIAL spend but it won’t be sufficient to deal with the rising debt crisis and the underlying reality that the Tories will need to preserve their ‘rentier’ economy.

    The tension between these incompatible goals will be interesting to watch. I don’t believe they will abandon neo-liberalism.

    After the Tory victory, one of the first stories I heard was foreign money pouring into London to buy luxury houses for around 60 million pounds. First to end neoliberalism?

    The second story I heard was of the husband of a newly elected Tory M.P selling an app to be used by food banks. In other words , making money from the existence of food banks.

    These to isolated events do not seem to signify a desire to end neo-liberalism.

    We’ve been there before. I think Bill has already commented on how even Cameron and Osborne increased the deficit around 2014 despite an ‘austerity’ ideology. here’s what Bill wrote at the time:

    ‘However, if the government’s fiscal deficit increases and its spending contribution to growth remains positive it is hard to call that an austerity stance.

    That is what is happening in Britain despite the forecasts of harsh fiscal austerity by the British Chancellor George Osborne.

    While the composition of the growing (real) fiscal deficit might be damaging to some people, the macroeconomics are clear – the UK government deficit remains relatively high in historical terms and is supporting spending growth.

    One might say that the UK Chancellor has failed if we compare the actual outcomes to those forecast in previous fiscal statements and the intent of the government to reduce the size and impact of the public sector.

    But I would call this ‘failure’ a success because despite the ideology and intent, they have actually maintained a large deficit – and the economic growth is testimony to that.’

    So the Tories always walk this tightrope between doing as little as possible and keeping the wealth extraction going. But the time bomb is this:

    ‘Jubilee Debt Campaign has calculated that unsecured personal debt has grown by 27% over the last five years, adjusting for inflation, while real wages have grown by just 4%’

  29. Neil Halliday wrote:-
    ” ‘why do you think highly influential Jews consider Corbyn to be an anti-semite. if he in fact isn’t?’
    “Because ‘highly influential Jews’ can be as prejudiced as anyone else.
    Eg, try suggesting UN res 181 and 242 (remember them?) were/are the correct policies, and you will be labelled an anti-semite”.

    Indeed. And even if you happen to be Jewish (and even living in Israel too) that will still be the case.

    Try reading “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” – or any other of Norman Finkelstein’s many publications, articles and speeches. Doing so will disabuse you of any notion that being “highly influential” in regard to anything as emotionally-fuelled as pro- and anti-zionism has any correlation (except possibly an exactly inverse one?) with “being in the right”. (I suggest you look him up in Wikipedia if in doubt).

  30. I ought to have added that any suggestion that Corbyn is an anti-semite is IMO quite simply so ridiculous as to deserve to be laughed out of court and that anyone who has even for a moment subscribed to it has either been duped or is knowingly colluding in deliberate character-assassination.

    And BTW I’m not a fan of Corbyn. But of his basic integrity as a person I’ve never been in the slightest doubt.

  31. @Carol Wilcox
    I was at the meeting in October where JMD refused to accept my gift of Reclaiming The State…He said he’s already read it. Later in the meeting he lied about Bill approving the FCR (that very morning) which subsequently set off some unpleasant recriminations. I was very angry with JMD for lying to me (and the meeting) about Bill’s analysis and I wrote to JMD and spoke with a well-connected member of JVL who reported my concerns to him. He never replied. Needless to say JMD, with his FCR, his stupid proclamations about Remain and apologies for the hurt “inflicted” on the Jewish community (sic) did Labour no favours in this election. At least he accepted his share of the responsibility. He was badly advised and fell into the Adonis/Blair/Mandelson/Campbell trap of Remain and the AS bullsh*t.

  32. @Adam K., Yok, et. al.

    On the failings of “liberal democracy”:

    I think that it is a case of chewing gum and walking at the same time.

    I heartily agree with Adam when he points out that at the heart of our system lie the interests of capital (I wouldn’t limit this to corporations unless banks, family holdings & trusts and their surrogate and propaganda apparats like think tanks and “councils”) and the the hole “democracy facade” is designed to limit the amount of power “the plebs” can actually excercise. In fact, ever since WWII the history of “the west” has been that of the elites of old’s and the rising empire’s fear of and fight against the threat of actual public excercise of power (the communist threat). Every trick in the book has been used to supress the left worldwide so it is indeed naive to believe the system dedicated to protect the status is adequate for the opposite purpose.

    At the same time, we are rather limited in our alternatives and simply waiting out for capitalism to collapse, to quote the bearded German, “because of its own inherent contradictions” might simply take too long. Both in terms of the environmental threat and the situation of today’s poorest, and presenting a danger in itself since once Pandora’s box opens, i.e. an explosive, all out revolution ensues, there probably won’t be a way to control neither its course nor its outcome. So, what is our best shot however long it might be? This is were I actually see MMT as an integral part, or at least a key tool moving forward. It was infamously Mayer Amschel Rothschild who said: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.” I think that even though it might have been candidly uttered, the quote is quite telling and actually precedes the neoliberal framing of the formula for “social control through financial control”. The correct reading of MMT provides the insight needed to dispel the illusion that our destinies are tied to the modern day captains of fincance and industry and that it is perfectly possible, desirable even, to put the nations ressources at the disposal of the working class to help them help themselves.

    The “longness” of this, our best shot, lies in the massive resistance global capital and the financial elite will put up to any candidate or movemant aiming at the democratization of fiscal policy and the money supply or actually any significant redistributive or regulative policy.

    Hence, let’s chew gum, i.e. fight for the abandonement of the infinite growth, ultra-financilized, ressource burning, imperialistic and antidemocratic capitalistic system, and walk at the same time, i.e. push for significant anti-austerity policy with a focus on environmentally friendly full employment, a democratization of fiscal and monetary policy and militant opposition to ressource wars and the global trade conflicts they fuel.

    Of course it’s idealistic and, to some, naive., but so was the fight of the suffragettes or the push for civil rights. Hell, I’m pretty sure what I just posted is no more unrealistic than fighting for the end of absolute monarchy or slavery.

    At the risk of sounding too pathetic:

    “Let’s be realistic, demand the impossible!”
    – Ernesto “Ché” Guevara

  33. @ HermannTheGerman

    As I read it, what you’re saying takes it as read that capitalism is incompatible with democracy. So it may be, but I don’t believe so.

    It also seems to take as read that anything that replaces capitalism must be better – so long as it’s of a political complexion that you happen to be in sympathy with. That strikes me as an extremely dubious proposition, scarcely borne-out by the history of Soviet bolshevist “socialism” (to quote but one example).

    I think it’s better to try to make progress in small steps. For example, unbridled capitalism will always and inevitably lead to oligarchy and/or oligopoly. So the primary aim ought to be to bridle it *effectively* through the democratic parliamentary process, not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. A few representative examples:- corporate bodies ought no longer to be permitted to assume the legal identity of persons – a blatant fraud that only shyster lawyers could ever have come-up with in the first place; so-called “bonus-schemes” (which all, without exception, are spurious – who, pray, has ever managed to *prove empirically* that they “improve performance” beyond what given effective management would have happened anyway without them?) should be taxed away; unearned income should be (much) more heavily taxed than earned income; profits on non-productive investment – ie financial speculation, rentier profits – ought be taxed more heavily than reinvested retained profits; and more of the same.

    It wouldn’t require the overthrow of capitalism to do things like this.

  34. Two pieces of analysis that Australian readers might not be aware of are at the following;
    Both imply that a Political Strategy worth the name has to start with a deep understanding of the electorate and the the Political Actors inhabiting it.
    Getting angry about the failures of Jeremy Corbyn is understandable but pointless. In a few months he and his associates will be gone. The real work will start then.
    In the meanwhile all is not lost. Johnson has to deliver a ” successful” Brexit by no means easy as the Tories are still very divided on what success looks like. Not only that, but Johnson made many pledges about what he was going to deliver in Government which were easily made but will be very hard to implement. You cannot conjure up twenty thousand policemen or nurses out of thin air.
    Apart from helping MPs to understand MMT the Labour Party would be well advised to realise that the path to regain credibility and trust lies through local government not the histrionics of Westminster

  35. Dear Neil Halliday and robertH,

    I didn’t want but I probably should comment on this – for the sake of clarifying a certain point which is still not obvious.

    Who said that the UN is infallible? It is all dirty politics. We are also being slowly dragged into the vortex of internal debate within the Jewish community. I have met someone who is 50% of Jewish ancestry (on his paternal side) and holds strong anti-Zionist views. That person actually works with the Palestinians. This does not prove anything.

    The implementation of the “right of return” stipulated by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 would mean the end of the Jewish state. There are 5 million descendants of original Palestinian refugees, if they are allowed to reclaim “their” properties and move back to State of Israel they could simply vote along the ethnic and religious lines and declare State of Israel an islamic state or do whatever else they wish, including expelling the Jews.

    This is never going to happen to put it bluntly. If someone pushes for this “solution” to be imposed upon the Israelis, this could only lead to a next war and more suffering. The Israelis will never surrender because of what happened between 1933 and 1945 in Europe.

    Let me comment on the whole issue from Central European perspective. 3 of my grandparents were so-called refugees. Eventually my family moved to the land taken away from Germany (or rather Free State Danzig). Pre-war inhabitants of Gdańsk / Danzig either escaped to Germany, were killed by Red Army (think about sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff’s) or were brutally deported shortly afterwards. My grandparents would always fret about Germans coming back to reclaim their land. Obviously the situation was different as the so-called Polish “Regained Lands” had their status defined by Potsdam Conference and later by the “Treaty on the Final Settlement” and an additional border treaty with Germany (1990). Germany was responsible for the war (but one may still question the idea of “collective responsibility”). People in Poland no longer fret that the Germans are coming back but there is still a lot of legal mess in regards to reclaiming properties nationalised after 1944 in Poland “proper”. I don’t want to waste time writing about the current scandals in Warsaw. They severely undermine the faith in the legal system in Poland.

    I cannot imagine myself considering reclaiming any property in Belarus or Republic of Moldova even if this was possible (it is not). My grandmother escaped from Moldova in 1940 because Soviet NKVD would murder the family if they hadn’t. They had owned a significant amount of land there. Thinking about getting back this property is plainly ridiculous to me. We have moved on. Why would the Palestinians who experienced equally tragic fate not move on and start enjoying living as normal people elsewhere? I don’t understand this – or rather I do.

    The circumstances were a bit different but to me it is equally ridiculous to believe they will ever get back the land they left. Maybe some people will get a compensation when the final treaty is agreed. Personally I think they should. But why so many people keep dreaming about getting back the land which belonged to their ancestors several generations ago? To put it bluntly I believe this is a result of brainwashing paid by the rich “supporters” from the Arab States and Iran, often competing for power and influence. The corrupt Palestinian elites not the Israelis are responsible for the misery of the people still living in the refugee camps. I am sorry to put it bluntly but is it better to be an Israeli Arab citizen supposedly discriminated against than to live the territories self-ruled by the Palestinians such as the Gaza strip. The farming of religious and nationalistic hatred among the Palestinians which is paid by the UAE, the Saudis and the Iranians is one of the root causes of the inability to reach the peace. These poor people are told to breed like rabbits, to out-bred the Jews. Is this “progressive”? I am not defending the hard core Zionists, who would like to annex more and more land. I am also not defending the policies of the current right-wing Israeli government. All I want to say is that blaming only the Israelis for the whole situation is naive and morally wrong.

    In this context I strongly disagree with the supporters of BDS movement who would like to coerce the State of Israel to effectively surrender to the Palestinians and cease to exist. Let’s not be naive the majority of the Palestinians don’t want to live in peace with the Jews. They want the Jews out.

    Why was the State of Israel established in 1948 anyway? Was it only a result of romantic Zionist dreams or was it an effect of the historic process of persecution of Jews in Europe? Let’s get back to Central Europe, the place where the whole trouble started (as usual). About 90% of Jews living in Poland were murdered by the Nazis. I 100% understand why so many Jews consider the existence of their independent state as the ultimate guarantee that the Holocaust will never happen again. They are mostly descendants of refugees, too. For these people any attempts to question the legitimacy of State of Israel is a direct attack on the safety of their own people, of the whole Jewish nation.

    This should explain why anyone associating with the BDS movement is treated as an enemy by the majority of Israelis and by a significant number of Jews in the diaspora. I would do exactly the same if someone started debating the right of return of Germans to Poland (including the restoration of confiscated properties). In this context, are people like Chris Williamson antisemitic? I would actually say that they are. One may disagree.

    Now the main point. One may question whether I am not biased. I am. I was born in the wrong place and at the wrong time. But what is the benefit in entering the argument about the legitimacy of the State of Israel? I would claim that the majority of Anglo-Saxon “progressives” have no idea about being a refugee. What is the point of mixing up the macroeconomic debate with the generic “progressism” what includes the default anti-Zionist views, blindly siding with one side in this tragic and multidimensional conflict?

    What is the benefit of asking to be called an antisemitic person by offering support to covert and open attacks on the Israel’s right to exist? Does this burnish one’s “progressive” credentials? In this case I prefer to be called a retarded conservative liberal.

  36. I see that we are taking about “proportional representation” here on this economics site.
    I hope this is not too far off topic and gets a few of you thinking.
    I have suggested this for years for the US House of Reps.
    I propose that the UK cluster sets of 7 of the current constituencies to form new constituencies **or districts** that each have 7 MPs. Then let people vote for as many of them as they want, their vote or 7 votes being split evenly, with fractions being retained. Machines can easily do this, even with paper ballots. The 7 candidates with the most votes would be the 7 MPs from that district.

    With 7 MPs per district, it means the a small party can bullet vote for just one of them and give them more votes than a major party can give each of its candidates. As little as 14% of the vote should be enough to elect a small party MP from such a district. Maybe even a few percentage points less. But, I chose 7 because it is an odd number and in America letting the 2 parties split the votes evenly would make the House end up with almost an even split. Also, In USA some states only get 1 Rep., and anyway many get less the 7.

    This system retains the idea of “constituencies”. Each MP would know who his/her voters were. And each voter would know which MP or MPs he/she voted for. Only a few voters would not have a MP. And 2nd choice voting would be enough to reduce this number of voters to almost zero. No need for 3rd choice. Every new ** district** would elect at least about 2 to 3 MP from each of the 2 major parties.

    If the number of constituencies was increased from 650 to 651,then there would be 93 “districts” with 7 MP each. I suppose the NI might be a problem as it has X constituencies now and this is not likely to be evenly divisible by 7.

    Any comments?

  37. Adam K asks “Who said that the UN is infallible?”

    No one said that, but the original vision for the UN – to establish an international rules-based system backed by an UNSC without veto – a vision destroyed at the start by great power rivalry – is certainly desirable in our complex interconnected global environment.

    Note: such a system would have guaranteed Israel’s security from the start, since the SC has *99% of the world’s military force*…..

    So we have ended up with the oxymoronic concept of ‘legal war’ – and a SC that can’t maintain security. And a UN that can’t implement resolutions unless the permanent SC members all agree.
    and you stating eg, res UN res 194 would have meant the end of the Jewish state, which might be true, in the absence of an UNSC that could guarantee Israel’s security.

    Note: UN res. 181 would have had tremendous symbolic value for the reconciliation of the “Peoples of the Book” ….but prejudice triumphs, as always.

    And to the extent that any of these issues are related to a charge of anti-semitism against Corbyn, then to that extent such charges are false and invalid.

  38. Hi Adam K,

    I always read your comments with great interest. I am glad to see a MMT proponent from the Baltic area and many things you say I can identify with the issues in Estonia I live in.

    Just one thing stuck out this time, your criticism of Jeremy Corbyn over the anti-Semitic mess he got himself into, as you put it. (Sorry, Bill, for getting off the MMT track).

    I have been following that “anti-Semitic mess” in social and mainstream media and I agree with these media analysts who say that Jeremy Corbyn did not get into this mess himself, he was dragged into it instead. In social media he has been accused simultaneously in hating Jews and loving Karl Marx. I observed some cases when Jeremy Corbyn or some other Labour leader was roasted over anti-Semitism and then checked the claims made by the journalists. I found only criticism of Israel or verbal blunders which are common in situations of intense interrogation.

    Jeremy Corbyn was right not to confess in something he did not do. But probably you are right that he paid too little attention to this media campaign and let it grow big. I agree that somehow he or his team should have spent some extra resources to address that issue thoroughly.

    The Middle East politics are very complex, as we all know, and yet simple explanations keep winning minds even if these are wrong.

  39. @robertH

    All the things you have listed are all very nice, but they have been on the table for decades and there is a reason for such policies not being implemented. I certainly believe that capitalism and democracy have not yet proven to be compatible for they only work well together when the second doesn’t get in the way of the first. Democracy without human rights is none and capitalism denies vast amounts of people the most basic rights and has done so since it’s inception. It’s just that for a few decades those people were mostly in far away countries and the slow but steady rise in income after the war and until the 70’s stagflation helped the public in “the west” buy into the consumerism dressed as democracy schtick more easily. Since 1960 in US, for example, you can cast your vote for whomever you want and still get Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Council of Foreign Relations dictate the foreign policy of the country. Dito the 50 shades of trickle down and austerity since Reagan. It’s no better in Europe either. Remember Dr. “‘Elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy” Schäuble?

    If you think the status quo will roll over and accept the will of the people, you might want to think again. If you are not prepared to leave the table, it’s not a negotiation, you are just finding out the terms for your surrender. The reason I talk about chewing gum and walking is that you can both pursue the incremental changes you prefer and aim to put pressure on the system itself at the same time. No major change has come about without an accompanying mass mobilization, i.e. a threat to the status quo. It’s not about policy but about power and if you are not prepared to excercise yours, you won’t be implementing any policy either. A revolution needs not even take place but only threaten the ruling class. Best example I can think of is Bismarck’s “Revolution von oben” (revolution from the top), when a conservative (!) introduced the first forms of meaningful social security for workers. His rationale about revolution in times of rising social unrest: ” [it] is better to start it ourselves than to suffer of it”.

    As Bill has often enough pointed out, there’s no need to wait out for the glorious revolution to achieve improvement, as many Marxists seem to think, but there is also no reason at all not to build up the pressure and make one at least conceivable. Just as in foreign policy, one needs not only speak softly, but also carry a big stick.

  40. What I intend to do:
    1. Promote education about MMT in LP. Already arranged to speak locally, but thinking that this is something which Chris Williamson might be willing to get involved in. He’s very popular.
    2. Worry about leadership contest. People I may have supported a year ago threw Chris under a bus. Nearly everyone else has a history which would be used by MSM again Labour.

  41. Carol wrote:
    “this is something which Chris Williamson might be willing to get involved in. He’s very popular.”

    As an Australian. I’m dismayed to read the wiki article on ‘Chris Williamson (politician)’

    “In 2017, Williamson said that attacks on Corbyn’s handling of alleged antisemitism within the Labour Party were “proxy wars and bullshit”…..Many people in the Jewish community are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends”.

    Like Alexander Downer who tweeted last year ‘Why do the Left hate Israel”.
    ie, nothing less than an ideological slur.

    And more from the wiki article):
    ” Marie van der Zyl, the Board of Deputies vice-president, said that Williamson should “show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims”.

    Meaning solidarity with those members suffering racism from the extreme antisemitic Right?
    Chris has stated he does that already. So who are the “victims” Chris is allegedly blaming” Oh…. Right wing jewish ideologues who think they have a god given right to Palestine, the very same people who murdered Rabin….

    I hope Chris’s popularity can be put to good purpose in educating the electorate about MMT.

  42. Adam K: Let’s not be naive the majority of the Palestinians don’t want to live in peace with the Jews. They want the Jews out.

    Continuing off topic of course, But that is nonsense. The Palestinians and the Arab states have been offering Israel very reasonable peace treaties for decades, Israel refuses. The motor of the conflict is Israeli desire for land-grabbing. Nothing else. It could have ended long, long ago without this, almost certainly if the USA had not been absurdly biased. The refugee issue is a red herring, the Palestinians leadership has been willing to bend quite a lot on it. Israel, after all, did agree to GA 194 when it was passed.

  43. @ HermannTheGerman
    “The reason I talk about chewing gum and walking is that you can both pursue the incremental changes you prefer and aim to put pressure on the system itself at the same time”.

    I never said or implied otherwise: you are putting words in my mouth.

    There has never been a revolution – which essentially is what you’re espousing (or am I putting words in yours…?) – which didn’t have multifarious unintended consequences. There’s a very fine balance between arriving at a net outcome which is better and one which is worse – and the real trouble is that you can’t know in advance which it’s going to turn out to be. It’s a perfect example of chaos theory in action!

    Most of what you argue-for is compatible – conceivably at least – with what I’m arguing-for. But your approach risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The history of the nineteenth century consists in important respects of the development to something approximating (in a less than perfect world) to real democracy, and the whole of that development took place under the banner of “reform”, in the context of a capitalist system which was red in tooth and claw.

  44. @robertH

    I think we might be putting words in eachothers mouths. Tends to happen in forums 🙂

    “There has never been a revolution – which essentially is what you’re espousing (or am I putting words in yours…?) – which didn’t have multifarious unintended consequences.”

    Here is where I differ from purist Marxists hoping for “THE REVOLUTION”. I think more in simple terms of power dynamics and how in our system capital is power but not all power is capital. We, the non-rich, have only our consumer choices (rather inconsecuential i f you ask me), our voting behavior (which I consider almost futile) and the numbers. Of those three, it’s the last one the ruling classes have always feared and fight against the hardest. The fact that MMT is actually the correct take on macroeconomics is of no consecuence if it lacks the power behind it so it actually transfers to policy.

    “Most of what you argue-for is compatible – conceivably at least – with what I’m arguing-for. ”

    I would even go further: what I argue for is NECESSARY to achieve what you argue for. Take the example of the Medicare-for-all-effect on Democratic nominees or the Brexit effect on Labour’s loss. It’s the numbers behind those propositions that grant them gravitas. Labour ignored them and was punished as has been every candidate percieved to back track on M4A after having to “embrace” it becasue of the almost militant(!) support for it. Warren didn’t suddenly see the light and realize her life as capital’s minion was wayward and that a market-based solution for healthcare isn’t the best, it has simply become electoral suicide not to endorse M4A.

    “There’s a very fine balance between arriving at a net outcome which is better and one which is worse – and the real trouble is that you can’t know in advance which it’s going to turn out to be. It’s a perfect example of chaos theory in action!”

    Indeed there isn’t a way to predict the outcomes, but I believe the likelihood of a fascist outcome correlates relatively well with the time a revolution or meaningful reform is postponed. Once the pressure is built up, it will seek a release. In the heart of empire, the US, the pressure has reached the point were it will either deliver full blown unhinged trumpist fascism or social democratic drawdown with Sanders. I’m not that confident the former will be reversible without severe consequences for man and nature. This is akin to Bill’s thinking on Brexit that confounded me when I started reading this blog, there are definitely risks attached to it, but the alternative is assured, albeit slow (ish) demise. Hence, you might as well take the shot you have, no matter how long.

    It is my conviction that this is not the time to be tepid. The Trump’s And BoJo’s and their swamp creatures won’t be.

    Great discussion, Robert, thanks for your input.


  45. Hi Simon Cohen,

    Here are Bill’s and your view of the ‘actual’ political alignment of the British working class (Tories had a huge success in Wales too, not only North England). I tend to agree with your version. Are there any serious academic publications available on this issue?

    Judging by similar processes in Estonia, I think that the main factor in the Tory victory and Labour defeat was not the EU or Brexit alignment anymore, this topic has worn out its freshness. I think that fatigue played here the most important role. As the left does not challenge the right in economic issues anymore since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has become a generally accepted notion that the right are ‘the natural born economists’, let them manage economy. As Bill points out correctly, whenever the left suggests an economic improvement, it always comes from a neoliberal rule book: let us save for a rainy day, let us suffer a bit more, and break our piggy bank only when it is full and then we can spend a bit.

    Everybody perceived correctly that the UK political life was paralysed and the Tories promised to stop the paralysis. They, as ‘the natural born economists’, were trusted again. The pre-Marxian era is back when people believe that there is a rule book how to run the world. The left approach would be to do the empirical research first, to do the survey, and then create theoretical models and implement policies. As if there are no opportunities to do it in the contemporary capitalist society.

    I keep rising the issue of the eurozone vs the issue of the EU in this blog. It seems to me that the MMT rush out of the EU is the eurozone evacuation panic. Can you say, how much are the UK and pound controlled or influenced by the eurozone and euro?

  46. Dear Andri Ksenofontov (at 2019/12/20 at 6:31 am)

    There is no “MMT rush out of the EU”. MMT has no policy with respect to the EU. My MMT understanding helps me to assess the consequences of an exit or dissolution from the EU.

    Your distinction between the EU and the Eurozone fails. The latter is just the most advanced expression of the former. The neoliberalism of the EU is built into the very legal basis of the EU – that is, its Treaties. It is not a temporary flavour of any particular politician that can be changed via an election.

    The EU in its current form is not capable of being reformed in a progressive direction given the process of Treaty change.

    To think otherwise is to reflect a lack of understanding of that process and the deep differences between the essential actors in that process.

    best wishes

  47. Hi Bill,

    Thank you for the clarification. I thought that the ability to issue own currency is an essential difference from not being able to issue own currency.

    I admit that my frustration grew over this thread because I am part of the EU and if the EU is something principally faulty then I must be at fault too and I was not able to identify that fault in this thread. Now I see that we actually agree because I am as critical about the Maastricht Treaty as you are. Being an architect, not an economist, I am not able to analyse this treaty from the economic point of view. Now I am also more hopeful about the future because I know that in many European academic circles the rewriting of the Maastricht Treaty is considered an urgent imperative. The law scholars call it the European constitutional crisis. It looks like the European left have got a chance to show their value by suggesting a better version of the foundation document of the European co-existence, be it called EU or something else.

    When the UK will Brexit now then it might postpone the EU political reform. When reforms get postponed then revolutions become more imminent (see the French yellow vests). Whatever the outcome of the Brexit process, the European left must have a contingency plan ready, not only the British left. The desirable and well though through social blueprint is not enough, as @Adam K pointed out correctly, such contingency plans must include practical action plans too.

    I very much appreciate your academic and social contribution for such progressive developments. As you are taking your Australian time to give advice to somebody in Estonia, I wish you had a team that helps to spread the MMT information and facilitates the kind of communication you have started with this blog.

    Best regards,

  48. Andri,
    I strongly agree with your proposition:

    “As the left does not challenge the right in economic issues anymore since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has become a generally accepted notion that the right are ‘the natural born economists’, let them manage economy”.

    Exactly: that’s why the Left can’t win elections; and why Tony Blair is currently trumpeting the “success” of his own so-called Left administration, which had little more to show than engaging in an illegal war.

    And I think it IS possible for an ECB, operating with an MMT lens, to promote universal sustainable prosperity in an EU via a JG, same as a possible MMT-lensed Fed in the USA.

    But Bill points to the PRACTICAL barriers, given the current treaties between the EU member states.

  49. Andri,

    ” It looks like the European left have got a chance to show their value by suggesting a better version of the foundation document of the European co-existence,”

    That would be the Single European Act (SEA), actually (I had it wrong too). Of course, Maastricht would have to be ripped to shreds.


    “And I think it IS possible for an ECB, operating with an MMT lens, to promote universal sustainable prosperity in an EU via a JG, same as a possible MMT-lensed Fed in the USA. ”

    The ECB has no legal means of creating a JG, let alone the practical means to organize labor and direct it to were it’s needed. After all, it’s not like anyone working there knows what a useful job is.

  50. Paulo:
    I think you missed my point:
    IF the EU *could* be moulded into a federation of states, (sounds like the SEA?) like the USA, then presumably a (new) MMT ECB would have the same capacities, as a MMT Fed in the US.

    Anything less than such a federation will of course preclude a MMT ECB.

    Perhaps you have proved the EU is doomed….

  51. Andri Ksenofontov wrote:-
    “Now I am also more hopeful about the future because I know that in many European academic circles the rewriting of the Maastricht Treaty is considered an urgent imperative”.

    I would love to believe that you’re right! Perhaps it’s just a question of what circles one moves in. In the one I inhabit (which admittedly is geographically peripheral and moreover linguistically segregated from the mainland of Finland) there is no sign whatsoever of any such awakening in this country.

    Quite the contrary. in a letter to the editor of a local paper I described him as a neoliberal. He responded in rather hurt tones that that was nor the case. Yet almost everything he writes is saturated in neoliberal ideology, starting with TINA and going on from there.

    I think he is being quite honest in rejecting my ascription of neoliberalism to him: it seems clear that he imbibed the doctrines with his mother’s milk and is blissfully unaware of having become a slave to them; he genuinely believes that that’s the natural way to think!

    I would be astonished to learn that things are any different in Estonia.

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