You lost! Badly! Humility not hubris is needed in order for British Labour to regenerate

When the Remain vote lost the June 2016 Referendum there was a sense of denial. They had lost but only because of the ingrates that voted the Leave. And sooner, rather than later, those dolts would soon have the so-called Bregrets and another vote would be held and the Remainers would win. That sense of denial persisted past the 2017 General Election, which should have consolidated Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but didn’t. The biting sense of privilege that the Remain camp seemed to construct for itself slowly but surely ate into the Labour Party leadership, regularly feeding news stories to the press and social media about the impending doom facing the British economy (Project Fear), and pushing the myth (supported by all sorts of interpretable public polls) that a ‘peoples’ vote’ (I am not sure what they thought the Referendum was) was inevitable and would reverse the 2016 choice and restore equanimity. And the Labour leadership crumbled in the face of this onslaught from within and abandoned their previous commitments to their constituencies, which the majority of their elected MPs represented, and went along with this ‘peoples’ vote’ nonsense. The Tories, meanwhile, realised that the underlying sentiment that drove the Brexit choice was consolidating and pushed through a General Election which categorically demonstrated that the Labour Party were nowhere near the mark. That was a disastrous loss in any one’s estimation for Labour. But, still in denial, the apparatchiks in the Party, the hangers on, the wannabees, whatever you choose to call them are out there on social media now claiming that, in fact, despite the humiliating devastation at the December 15 polls, that the Labour Party’s agenda has been accepted as the norm – ‘we won the argument’ – and that they as good as won the election. And meanwhile, the leading contender for the leadership is suggesting they will campaign to be readmitted to the European Union. It is hard to make this sort of stuff up. A lost generation for Labour coming up unless it gets real.

As an aside, the Remain camp is now claiming that as a result of Britain’s exit of the European Union, British people will be disadvantaged in access to any coronavirus vaccine both in terms of timing and cost.

Back then, it was that cancer rates would rise.

There is no humility for this lot.

Labour went into the December election knowing that 56 per cent of its constituencies vote to Leave and data analysis shows that 8 per cent were uncertain (remember the boundaries of the data for the Referendum are not the same as the constituencies). It is a fairly safe bet that only 36 per cent of the Labour-held seats voted to Remain.

In the December election, the House of Commons Library analysis – GEneral Election 2019: Brexit – shows that:

1. “58 seats switched to the Conservatives”.

2. “Of these constituencies, 55 voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum”.

There were other reasons that influenced the voting patterns, but it is hard to dismiss the proposition that the Labour Party got their ‘peoples’ vote’ and the outcome was definitely not what the Remain camp had assumed, with some arrogance and disdain, I might add.

But denial runs deep.

The ‘we won the argument’ narrative emerged after the Tory Government introduced its new – 2020 Fiscal Statement on March 11, 2020.

It was an entirely predictable scenario, even before the coronavirus crisis emerged as a dominant theme.

Having taken so many seats of Labour and several that were in the so-called Labour ‘heartland’ (Bolsover, Rother Valley, Blyth Valley, Darlington and Redcar, etc), even though the voting trends in the Midlands and North had been turning against Labour for several elections (well before the Brexit to do), what would a sensible political machine undertake?

Answer: To shore up those shifting voters!

It is not rocket science.

The “levelling-up” plan announced by the British government, quite apart from the coronavirus initiatives, means that:

By the end of the parliament, public sector net investment will be triple the average over the last 40 years in real terms. In total, around £640 billion of gross capital investment will be provided for roads, railways, communications, schools, hospitals and power networks across the UK by 2024-25.

If we actually decompose what is on offer to what was on offer one can see that around £400 billion had already been announced.

Irrespective, the injection is significant.

Other initiatives include funding boosts to the NHS and schools, among other elements of public service delivery.

It also will increase the “National Living Wage (NLW) to reach two-thirds of median earnings and be extended to workers aged 21 and over by 2024”.

This is in addition to the increase that will begin in April 2020 that the government previously announced.

There were other initiatives – Affordable Homes, freezing fuel duty, etc

The extra £175 billion for public infrastructure over five years and £30 odd this year is apparently “the biggest fiscal boost in 30 years”.

Some have characterised this as a turn away from the dominance of Thatcherism in Tory thinking. Others are less clear on that.

But one cannot escape that this is a large fiscal intervention of a Tory government that is clear that it will actively spend to create better infrastructure and services, and target those changes to the seats its took of Labour in the last election.

Entirely predictable as I said.

Those commentators who say that it doesn’t arrest the impacts of the fiscal austerity are correct but bleating about that takes attention away from what is actually happening.

10 years of pernicious austerity does not get rolled back in one fiscal year. It may take a generation to roll back the extreme damage the neoliberals (both Tories and before them the Blairites) have inflicted on Britain.

But the 2020 fiscal intervention is clearly not an austerity action. It is expansion and will create higher incomes, more jobs and do political wonders (I suspect) for the Tories.

There are many things about the Tory’s fiscal strategy that I do not agree with but it is certainly expansionary and will improve the material standard of living of many British people.

And, it will help Britain overcome the Brexit dislocation, which is what I predicted all along. The fiscal capacity of the Government was always going to be sufficient, if used, to prevent catastrophe post-Brexit.

And already we see that Nissan has announced it will invest £400 million in the Sunderland car plant to build its next generation of models despite all the fears that EU tariffs will kill its export market (Source).

Hardly the mass exit that the economists in the Remain camp were predicting.

In fact, none of their doom-type predictions have come close to being realised.

But if you read some of the comments coming from the Labour camp in the period since the delivery of the Chancellor’s fiscal strategy you would be forgiven for thinking it that the fiscal expansion was all Labour’s doing.

The day after the Chancellor unveiled the strategy, Unite the Union leader said that the fiscal statement was “Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy” and that the Tory’s had “embraced his spending philosophy” (Source).

The responses were fun.

One Tweet response posted the election results, while another said “Ahh. Now I get it … This was the plan all along! Absolute genius!!”

A key Novara Media representative – one of those ‘peoples’ vote’ pressure voices in the lead up to the election – claimed on March 12, 2020 that the Tory intervention was the “Labour Party’s first budget in a decade” (Source). Except it wasn’t, was it?

If it was then one would expect all the Labour Party gang to be extolling its virtues on a daily basis. They aren’t.

It is useful to compare, in aggregate terms, what Labour took to the election with the 2020 Tory fiscal intervention.

The Labour party claimed in the document – Funding Real Change – that accompanied its – Manifesto – that its program would require spending of £82.9 billion through to 2023-24.

In the same document, it outlined the so-called “Additional revenue raising measures” equivalent to £82.9 billion, including all sorts of ‘tax the rich’ schemes.

In addition, there was a proposed £250bn green transformation fund.

The Labour Party claimed that:

As such it comprises an aim for current budget balance in 2023-24 in line with our Fiscal Credibility Rule: capital spending (including the National Transformation Fund) is therefore not included.

The Resolution Foundation estimated the total increase in Labour spending would be £175 billion over the next Parliament combined with the estimated tax revenue increase of £83 billion (Source).

The Labour approach was couched squarely in terms of its ridiculous Fiscal Credibility Rule, which didn’t seem to convince anyone.

First, in its initial form it was incompatible with the Manifesto and internally inconsistent and in the weeks leading up to the Election, they fundamentally changed it with little fanfare (I read one insider claiming it was just a small “tweak”, Not, it was a major change).

It was meant to convince the voters that the extensive spending plans in the Manifesto would be covered by tax revenue and the borrowing would be modest to cover capital spending.

The problem in framing the issue in this neoliberal manner is that it puts the all the irrational fears about governments running out of money and raising taxes to meet their out-of-control spending at the forefront of the whole exercise.

They are always having to construct every move in terms of the Rule, which means they never educate the public about the purpose of fiscal policy, which, clearly, is to improve well-being rather than meet some arbitrary and meaningless financial ratio restrictions.

Second, compare that to the Tory 2020 Fiscal Statement, which the Resolution Foundation commentator said:

… has increased public spending significantly while being very reluctant to raise taxes to pay for it. While the Conservative government even a few years ago aimed for a smaller state and zero borrowing, these plans mean a bigger state than under Tony Blair paid for by more borrowing than Gordon Brown.

The Government is proposing a deficit of 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2020-21 but events will overtake them and this will have to rise.

The Chancellor also said in relation to the existing Tory fiscal rules that he will review the entire framework and expects that the existing rules – requiring a balance in current spending with tax income by 2023 (akin to Labour’s Rule) – would not provide enough flexibility to meet the challenges ahead for the nation and that he wanted to be able to spend more in the years ahead.

No obsession with rules then.

No framing every move in terms of whether they met some arbitrary fiscal rule.

Third, in fact, far from being pushed by Labour into this new era of fiscal dominance, the Tories are just following the trends in world thinking that is pushing a paradigm shift away from a dominance of monetary policy.

I commented on that shift and its implications for British politics in these blog posts:

1. Is the British Labour Party aboard the fiscal dominance train – Part 1? (September 23, 2019).

2. Is the British Labour Party aboard the fiscal dominance train – Part 2? (September 24, 2019).

3. The ‘rats’ are deserting the mainstream ship – and everyone wants in (September 25, 2019).

Fourth, the Labour Fiscal Credibility Rule was neoliberal not only in the language and framing that was used in the documentation and presentation but also in the substance of the mechanics of the Rule.

I wrote extensively about the Rule and these last few blog posts summarise the arguments (and contain links to the earlier critiques):

1. Forget the official Rule, apparently, there is a secret Fiscal Credibility Rule (June 19, 2019).

2. The British Labour Fiscal Credibility rule – some further final comments (October 28, 2018).

The mechanics of the Rule allowed for a suspension in bad times but only if “the Monetary Policy Committee” (Bank of England) “decides that monetary policy cannot operate …” any longer in an effective manner.

The MPC is an unelected body and not directly accountable to the people.

Just the fact that the Chancellor would have had to wait for the MPC to tell him/her what to do is a sop to neoliberalism.

The subordination of fiscal policy (accountable and elected representatives) to monetary policy (unelected and unaccountable technocrats) is one of the classic ‘Monetarist’ coups over the last several decades.

It is consistent with what Thomas Fazi and I denoted depoliticisation in our recent book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017).

Further, I pointed out, drawing on extensive analysis of the MPC documents (minutes and statements) that at no time during the GFC and its aftermath did the MPC consider that monetary policy had become ineffective and so would have never suspended the Rule.

Fifth, the – British Election Study – an academic partnership between The University of Manchester and The University of Oxford, recently released their latest study – British Election Study 2019 Data Release – Internet Panel, Results File, and Expert Survey (March 6, 2020).

This is a panel data study that is now up to Wave 19.

The panel for 2019 comprised 32,177 persons, 69.3 per cent of whom carried over from Wave 18.

I am still working through the data but what appears to be forthcoming is the view that a consensus is emerging between voters in the Midlands and the North and voters elsewhere.

Austerity is not supported by an increasing majority of persons and this view does not divide between the new Tories and the old Tories.

Both groups are now increasingly voicing a view that fiscal deficits are not a key problem and that austerity should be abandoned in favour of nation-building.

Meanwhile, Labour still talks in Fiscal Credibility Rule terms and frames.

They have really missed the shift and will have to catch up fast.


Even before the coronavirus crisis – which dwarfs anything I have ever experienced or lived through – the tide was quickly turning away from the neoliberal austerity mentality towards fiscal dominance.

The British Tory Government knew that it would have to use fiscal interventions of significant proportions to defend the economy as it made its transition out of the European Union.

That has nothing at all to do with Labour’s Manifesto plans.

And the coronavirus has accentuated the capacity of the currency issuer to maintain economic stability in the wake of a massive demand and supply shock.

Labour supporters would be better off if they realised they lost – and lost badly – and it was because of all the hubris of their ‘intellectual’ urban lobbies, who proved to be ‘too smart by half’ in their assessments and judgements.

Humility is needed now.

The Tories are leaving them behind.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. I’ m convinced that is the reason why the liberal left and liberal right tried so hard to overturn the brexit result. All the lies and deceit they have told for nearly 50 years would be exposed after brexit and they knew it.

    Leavers could no longer just point at the EU and blame them. Now they have to do some real work and not just turn up and cut ribbons outside a new supermarket or serve lentil soup to old people over Xmas.

    The liberal left and right will now have to explain why the sky didn’t fall in or the ground open up after brexit. Instead of telling the truth they will probably continue with the lies and deceit to cover up 50 years of liberal horse shit.

    Not one political party who pretends to be from the left came up with or supported a LEXIT vision or plan. It was a no brainer, the biggest oppertunity the left has ever had since I was born and they blew it. The liberals neutered Corbyn and in Scotland The Scottish Liberal Party run by Nicola Sturgeon and her merry band of liberal lawyers and bankers want to be run by Brussels.

    Not one of them having the brains to come up with a LEXIT vision free from the neoliberal fiscal rules. Shows cleary the state of the left in the UK dancing to the tune of the liberal media.

    They are not even going to try and fix that. They are going to work night and day to make sure the choice at the ballot box is from the liberal left and right. Making sure Politics stay on the right wing spectrum calling it The middle ground.

    That will be the end of them. The Labour party will split wondering why the voters have abandoned them and left in the wilderness for another 50 years. Whilst Brussels sells Scotland to the highest bidder.

    They learned nothing from George Monbiot book ” captive state ” the destruction left behind by Blair and Brown, the liberal take over of the British Labour Party.

  2. The Guardian Newspaper.

    The neoliberal rag that pretends it is left wing has played a HUGE role in turning the Labour party into what it has become. Continues to support the myths regarding the monetary system that has turned The Observer into a Sunday morning cartoon.

    The editor of the Guardian is a massive player and has real power within UK politics and has let down millions of people over different generations. They are the hand in the glove of the liberal left and should never be underestimated.

  3. The Peoples vote was designed to hobble Labour, and it worked. The people at the head of that campaign didn’t really care whether it succeeded or not on its own ostensible terms – you only have to look at the way it disintegrated in the months and weeks before the election.
    And Labour had to go on the doorstep and ‘sell’ a policy for which the leaders of that campaign had descended into open warfare, sackings, sit-ins, threatens of walk-outs.

    I didn’t detect much unhappiness at the result from the PV gang, they’d been vilifying Labour for 3 years solid, they couldn’t even muster the energy to act surprised or disappointed, it was mostly misplaced schadenfreude at Labour being well beaten.

    I suspect we’ll find out the whole story one day. The left has to learn its lesson, you cannot placate your enemies, if you give an inch they will just keep on coming.

  4. Sobering stuff for Labour.

    Or, it deserves to be. But it won’t be because the claque which currently passes for their “leadership” is far too obsessed with its own internecine warfare and far too blinded by narcissism to look around and notice that their, assumed, mass of followers has melted away. Pathetic really.

    Whilst taking on board the whole of Derek Henry’s devastating critique of “The Scottish Liberal Party run by Nicola Sturgeon and her merry band of liberal lawyers and bankers” (a truly delicious characterisation!), I wonder if he might not be being too pessimistic about the future. Are the Scottish people really likely to be so easily hoodwinked when push comes to shove – even though the omens may look bad now?

    Of course, a lot is going to depend on how the negotiations with the EU over the terms on which Britain ultimately completes its exit actually turn out. The issue of fishing-rights – which looks to be building-up to a head-on clash – will presumably be a critical one for Scotland.

    My own view is that it’s high time the UK govt started making emergency preparations for a repeat of the “cod war” with the Icelanders – but this time with the British playing the part of the Icelanders. Maybe they could sell or lease a few of their fishery-protection vessels to us? Because I fear we’re going to have need of quite a few before long.

  5. There will of course be interminable debate on where Labour went wrong in its attitude to Brexit; something which led to an astonishing reversal of popular support at the ballot box last year.

    In the midst of this profoundly deep analysis Matthew Parris wrote in The Times last week of something much simpler as an explanation. He argued that the Tories inevitably do better when they are faced with a Labour party immersed in their ideological conviction that voters are just waiting for the opportunity to replace neoliberal Capitalism with the purity of Socialist doctrine.

    He argued that Conservatives invariably win such a duel, and it only when Labour steals the middle ground that the outcome of a general election is in jeopardy.

  6. Everything you say Labour should have done/said it was going to do was only possible if they’d been in government. And it was impossible for them to win the election because there was no better position to be in than the tories with Get Brexit Done as their slogan and the MSM cheering him on whilst demonising Corbyn.

    What the Shadow team should now be doing is writing a comprehensive plan of how to command the production and distribution of essential goods and services In the Time of Covid-19. The outcome of the next election is unimaginable.

    Meanwhile in the US, with the soaring demand for weaponry, I’m recalling a Stephen King dystopian novel…

  7. Don’t agree entirely with this characterization of the Labour defeat.

    1. Whilst I agree that Labour’s Remain obsession was appalling and destructive t,,he policies were popular.
    2. The Labour vote was actually (at least nominally) higher than in 2010 , about a million more.
    3. The so-called Red Wall had collapsed by gradual erosion in 2010 it was just that the share difference created a lot of Tory seats.
    4. Characterising large swathes of the North like Manchester and Liverpool as urban, liberal elites is utter nonsense. I grew up in Manchester and many of the working class areas there still backed Labour and strongly.
    There was a lot of passionate support for Labour in Liverpool as well and not just amongst socalled urban liberals.
    5. The notion that the Tories have left Labour behind is risible nonsense unless the concept of leaving Labour behind is based on their use of misinformation and disinformation which was deemed to be running at about 88% during the election.
    6. The Tories are still using neo-liberal framing using bullshit terminology like suddenly discovered ‘fiscal headroom’ with no apologies about the ten years of devastating austerity and a manifesto that has questionable aims to undermine the judiciary. They have not brought ne-liberalism to an end thought the virus might.
    7. The ill and the vulnerable are STILL being treated appallingly with five week delays and more stress and debt, deaths and worsening health conditions for some of the most vulnerable in our society. No relief has been announced in this area.
    8. There are no real plans for dealing with the housing crisis and only piffling amounts of money being offered with no guarantee that real social homes will be built that have been so scandalously neglected for so many years. Labour had a policy to build around a million within the first parliament.
    9. In relation to 8 above. Large parts of the Tory Party are Land owners with massive rent seeking property portfolios. The will not do anything to change this. Labour’s plans to look at LVT and create a bank to purchase Land to make housing affordable would have scared the Tories.
    10. There has been no educative effect of the Tories spending, that is, the public still believe Labour’s spending would have bankrupted the country and Johnson repeated that during the election though not as loud as before.
    11. The planning for the Covid-19 virus has been woeful with issues relating to the vulnerable barely thought out. Offers off paltry sick pay and barely a plan for those on zero hour contracts while welfare claimants will not be spared further debilitating stress with any let-up of assessment procedures that have been deemed, many times, unfit for purpose.
    12. Pathetic and almost non-existent response to the Climate Crisis where spending on a war-time footing is needed. The retro-fitting of housing that could have reduced carbon emissions and energy bills vastly. The need for new training and industries with decent jobs that create social value-where did the Tories leave Labour behind here?
    13. The notion that Labour scaring the Tories in 2017 did not effect the present Government’s sudden decision to spend is also risible. It did. Witness BOTH Johnson’s and May direct use of Corbyn’s terminology: ‘No one Left Behind’ they BOTH nicjed and Johnson keeps on using it-it is a direct lift. Let’s be clear, the 2017 Labour surge was a MASSIVE scare-they Tories knew they could not push it any further. Labour played a part in this transformation just as Sanders has dome in America (despite the use of red scare/socialism is un-american etc.).

    More bullsh*t from the OBR shows how self-contradiction still manifests itself in public discourse with the Tories offering no critique that could actually educate the public to understand the true fiscal capacity of the Government:

    The head of the Treasury watchdog has said Britain faces a “wartime situation” and must urgently raise public spending to support households and businesses through the coronavirus outbreak, even if public borrowing dramatically balloons.

    Robert Chote, the head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, said the economy was “probably shrinking as we speak” – with damaging consequences for the public purse – but that now was the time to spend without regard for the national debt.

    ‘Speaking to MPs on the Treasury committee, he said (OBR cheif): “This is not a time to be squeamish about one-off additions to the public debt. It’s more like a wartime situation that this is money well spent.”

    So money is well spen only when a war-like crisis is at hand and the death of thousands of vulnerable people, poor quality jobs, lack of infrastructure investment and a collapsing NHS would not have been money ‘well spent.’

    Sorry Bill, the Tories are emphatically not leaving Labour behind. We’ve seen shysterdom raised to new heights. A lack of real explanation to the public of our monetary system outside of a neo-liberal framework.

  8. @ Simon Cohen

    I must admit I can’t really see what purpose is served by fulminating about how ungratefully the electorate treated the Labour Party in the last election, in preferring the dastardly Tories.

    To my mind Bill’s critique is bang on target on every point, and so I naturally think that it might be more productive if Labour take it to heart than if they ignore it or try to refute it (it’s not as though he’s exactly a friend of the Tories).

    Perhaps it might be more useful to start to work out how to be best positioned to stop it happening again. In that regard Labour doesn’t seem to have progressed very far yet, and basing everything upon the premise that those who deserted Labour did so only because they were tricked into doing so by Tory “shysters”:- a) doesn’t speak volumes for their (assumed) intelligence, thus repeating the same mistake as last time and, b) gets off on the wrong foot from the very start.

    But clearly you reject that evaluation. Fair enough: if Labour wants to stay wedded to kamikaze tactics, so be it.

    (BTW re. “A lack of real explanation to the public of our monetary system outside of a neo-liberal framework”:- I didn’t notice any such explanation being mentioned in the reporting of the Labour Party’s manifesto: was it there and everyone omitted to mention it?)

  9. Well I agree with Simon Cohen. I’m also from the north of England (Ribble Valley originally, later Salford) and it’s getting fairly tedious listening to commentary from people (from other regions in the UK and even outside the country) who think they know the general political mindset of everyone in the north of England.

    This speaks to me:
    “Characterising large swathes of the North like Manchester and Liverpool as urban, liberal elites is utter nonsense. I grew up in Manchester and many of the working class areas there still backed Labour and strongly.”

    There’s also the suggestion that somehow sections of the northern electorate ‘turned’ Tory after being betrayed by Labour. Codswallop. The north has always had its fair share of working-class Tories who only reluctantly vote Labour whenever that party is in Tory mode. And who stick solidly to the notion that all Labour does is “print money” and spend. It baffles me how such a voter would be wooed by Tory fiscal injections. The other bald fact is that people who wanted to maintain their Brexit vote – because admitting you might be unsure of your original vote is psychologically unnerving, whereas turning it into a ‘fight for democracy’ simplifies things.

    The other suggestion seems to be that “the people”, being all honest and wise and all that, rumbled the Labour Party and voted Brexit and maintained that viewpoint because they are tired of austerity economics and had worked out that the EU (and by extension the whole global elite) runs an austerity economics machine. Is this true though? How many conversations with the average voter have the people who say this actually had? I’ve had quite a lot and you hear very little about government spending, except for claims that the EU ‘hindered’ or even ‘forbade’ any UK government spending, which is really just a flat-out lie isn’t it? Nothing was stopping the UK spending, not even demands from the EU to keep to certain limits (which Germany doesn’t even do). Certainly nothing about the government needing to run new, huge deficits, if anything the opposite.

    So the argument that Brexit and exiting the EU somehow freed-up Britain especially to organise brand new fiscal injections it couldn’t do before is not really true either, In fact it strikes me as ideologically motivated from two quarters: 1 from those who (rightly) dislike the EU because of its economic view and 2 those who hate it politically because they want to have direct control (Tories with mates in big business and who sit on boards).
    Perhaps the general tide really is turning toward fiscal policy rather than failed monetary policy; though we all know that all governments have always actually allowed deficits to rise when absolutely necessary, even when ideology made them panic about it and limit them prematurely. It’s true that Labour’s current talk about fiscal policy is balderdash, seemingly based upon the idea that they think people need to see them as economically responsible, though it’s not unreasonable given the 40-year campaign to show them as being economically profligate. Can we really know that had they been elected the reality of government wouldn’t have just put them on the same fiscal injections path the Tories are on? It’s not usual for actual government and circumstances to change economic policy, and if it is a paradigm shift they are not immune.

    Instead the people angry that Labour proposed the ‘wrong’ economic plan seem to be enjoying a rather succulent slice of schadenfreude. Especially since Labour was seen to be more pro-EU. There’s more politics than economics going on in these analyses I think.

  10. Robert H,

    Oh dear, you have responded to other comments of mine with similar word blindness and tendentious interpretation -so I’ll attempt to point out to your default mode of rather lazy thinking, if you don’t mind me saying so:

    1. Most of what I said was based on real figures -you never addressed the points I actually made but offered knee-jerk.
    2. Bill wasn’t on target on every point, in my view and you only lapped it up because of your particular prejudices which to be honest I have found odious and inaccurate and pointed this out to you before. But it seems baked in.
    3. Tory ‘shysterdom’ has been clearly attested to: the use of fake websites, extensive mis-and disinformation has all been clearly established. Not to mention the 75% of media support for the Tories -yet you pretend this was no disadvantage, rather weird.
    4. That fact that you show not one whit of concern for the indifferent attitude to social care, the housing crisis and the vulnerable evinced by the Party you worship tells me all I need to know about where you are coming from: not a nice place in my view, I’m sorry to say. I’ve pointed this out to you before but it seems to make no impression.
    5. You have ignored almost every point I tried to carefully make in my post above. I’m fully aware of the mistakes that Labour made yet the reality on the ground here, in my view (and I campaigned for Labour, know the North West and the North East well) is quite other than that which Bill points out. Bill, as a previous poster mentioned some weeks ago does not know the territory well enough in my view.
    6. Your last point is misplaced and otiose. I never implied that Labour had a good understanding of MMT BUT wanted to point out that the Tories have done nothing to clarify issues. That is, were happy to blather about Venezuela/ZImbabwe/Weimar etc when opposing Labour (and Sunak did the same when referring to Labour’s ‘fantasy manifesto’). Johnson also used the ‘Labour will bankrupt…’ ploy during the election though more mutedly because he knew they would spend.
    7. As Ferdinand correctly points out. =, the pressure has always been on Labour to prove they are fiscally responsible and although the ‘rolling window’ stuff and the separation of current from investment spending utter nonsense they were being relentlessly attacked on this. There was zero pressure on the Tories because the establishment knew that the Tories would spend whilst keeping the rentier system intact as they have done.

    Here’s a recent BTL comment from a Tory supporter which is almost generic in that it represents the view that the Tories still propagate:

    ‘SteveLibcon5h ago

    Note that Ireland can take measures and the UK can because it sorted out its finances post 2010. With Labour, there would be no money left and we would be shafted now.’

    Utter nonsense that the Tories are happy to allow to pass as it suits them.

    8. The same has happened in America: as soon as Sanders was seen as a threat Trumped back down on some social security issues, saying they were ‘safe’ in his hands. Utter shysterdom on steroids.

    You are clearly happy for a Tory rentier economy to persist (not with Covid-19 now, of course), clearly happy to see the harassment of the vulnerable, ill and unemployed treated as social pariahs, happy to see social care being bungled badly and almost ignored despite it being one of the gravest crises of our society, happy to see unaffordable housing persist with its attendant landlordism, rent extraction, land banking, abuse by developers and wealth transference. That is your choice – good luck to you, sir, as you loll in the rocking chair on your verandah of indifference.

    I say again, as Robert H only reads what he wants to see: There was no Red Wall and in those areas there was a large increase in the Labour vote under Corbyn in 2017. The following two years of immense media bias and propagandising (including a 100% unfounded institutional antisemitism allegation) cause massive damage on top of the Remain Divide.

    But let’s be clear: If you think the Brexit leaning in the North East was based on any cogent understanding of the issues you are quite wrong-the Tories did NOTHING to really explain why these areas had become so run down , why housing was unaffordable, why social care was unavailable. Johnsons had NEVER opposed those policies that led there. And even now there is no real attempt to deal with them at a fundamental level. The rentier mentality is baked in.

    Enjoy your cigar on the verandah, Robert.

  11. @ Ferdinand
    “… it’s getting fairly tedious listening to commentary from people (from other regions in the UK and even outside the country) who think they know the general political mindset of everyone in the north of England”.

    As a matter of interest, who might these people be? I haven’t detected any here. Any quotes?

    (Or might you just be straw-manning?)

    “… we all know that all governments have always actually allowed deficits to rise when absolutely necessary”,

    Question: And when up ’til now, ever since monetarism/neoliberalism bewitched *all* major UK parties during the ‘seventies, has it been seen to be “absolutely necessary”?
    Answer: Once, in 2008; briefly. At no time has the fact that a currency-issuing govt isn’t financially constrained been admitted: the exact converse has in fact been steadfastly upheld throughout that entire time.

    IMO Bill has presented an open-and-shut case and neither you nor Simon has even begun to refute it convincingly, falling back instead on putting up a smokescreen of (mainly) irrelevancies.

  12. @ Simon Cohen

    I can’t see anything in my post which could conceivably be held to provoke you to the absolute fury which yours contains. I can only say that I marvel that anyone can seemingly believe aggressive, ad hominem, verbal assaults can be a substitute for cogent argument.

    You know nothing whatever about me as a person and your imputation to me of all the – in your opinion – worst opinions and attitudes you can think-of would be offensive if it weren’t so incongruous.

    Water off a duck’s back I’m afraid. Complete strangers as we are, what you may think of the person you imagine me to be is a matter of complete indifference.

    I don’t intend to allow myself to be muzzled from posting my opinions, any more than you are. The only difference between us is that I will continue to play the ball and not the player – whereas you it seems are bent on doing the exact opposite.

    (And if you don’t understand what I mean by that, just take a moment to compare my opening post with your “reply”).

  13. No, it’s not a ‘straw man’. The people are those in the media, those online, those passing commentary; because everyone is a Brexit analyst now. All in plain sight if one is paying attention. In any case it’s hard to miss.

    Whether or not any governments have admitted it (or for some even believed it) the fact of the matter is that deficits – unless a concerted ideological effort is made to constrain them – expand to some level as a matter of course when the economy dips. True enough that ideological governments have fought against it, but when the chips have really been down they’ve had little choice but to let them expand to some level and spend in some way. Even the Thatcher government spent (often directly into corporate coffers) trying to devise business-led solutions to youth unemployment.

    What I’m saying is that if there is a paradigmatic shift toward fiscal policy tools as against monetarist tinkering, it’s not that the Tories or anyone like them has particularly, consciously chosen the best method, but that they happen to be in government (for a different reason) when this paradigm is in the ascendant. I don’t believe that a Labour government would face the reality of being in government – with all the different advisory perspectives from the civil service etc, which isn’t really available to an opposition party – without running into the paradigm change sooner or later. After all the Tories already announced more cuts and are hardly abandoned austerity more than just cutting in some places, expanding in others. Brexit has indeed given them impetus to build a new Jerusalem (whatever that is to be in their view). However I can’t see them abandoning their view of fiscal rectitude, which really is a core value of modern Conservatism. Haven’t we seen this already with Trump?

  14. Some people said trump won because he out-lefted Clinton.

    Are we not seeing the same thing in britain.

    Careerists on the left are huge problem.

  15. Dear Simon and Ferdinand (at various times)

    You missed the point of the post yesterday. It was not an analysis of the election result. The fact is that Labour lost and badly. That is not disputable. I also take exception to the view that so-called ‘outsiders’ cannot comment because they haven’t experience. That is what the EU elites told us when we predicted their currency system would fail. It doesn’t take being ‘on the ground’ to understand things.

    The point of the post was rather to suggest that not facing up to the loss and instead trying to claim some sort of victory is only going to damage the hopes of Labour into the future.

    The Tories are not doing what they are doing because Labour outlined a ‘bold’ manifesto. That is delusional and denialist.

    That was the point of the post.

    And I don’t have to be living in Salford or Hume or Pott Shrigley (my favourite cricket ground in the world by the way) to understand that.

    best wishes

  16. Regenerate? From what? You presume there is something fertile beyond the collapse? Perhaps it’s time to let go.

    I used to dream a lot when I was young. Every night without fail. It was like falling backwards into a rushing tunnel or whirlpool and feeling completely disorientated and lost until everything, eventually made some kind of sense. Waking up was much the same – but gentler – and often there was a desire to drift back into the maelstrom as it somehow made more sense than the reality beyond closed eyes.

    It provided comfort somehow. But I never discovered how or why.

    I used sleepwalk too. That was the dangerous bit in my nocturnal habits and probably the reason why smoking dope was so attractive when I grew up. I don’t dream when I have a smoke – or if I do it’s probably at a deeper and safer level. I’ve not fallen out any windows of late, but maybe that’s a missed opportunity now. But that whirlpool is still there.

    I had one dream, when I was maybe seven years old where I woke up in my attic bedroom one morning and went downstairs to find an empty house.. My mum, dad and sister had disappeared and when I walked up the hill towards the school, I noticed that all the other houses were empty too. All the doors were open but the there was silence and nothing moved inside or out.

    It wasn’t strange or disturbing. I could go inside any house and root around and nobody bothered me – and when I arrived at school, it was empty too. It was simply curious. And for months afterwards, I’d go to bed and think about the dream and when I fell into the tunnel or whirlpool again, I’d be away on another solitary adventure – flying airplanes, rooting through palaces and mansions, sailing boats.

    Having an exciting time. Just on my own.

    Then one night I dreamt about something else and that was it. I never went back again and it the experience became nothing more than a memory. It ceased to be real. Until now.

    Perhaps we are all just tired and need a good sleep and we’re in that disjointed state where nothing makes sense and everything engulfs and sweeps away. But I feel we should take comfort – at least I do – in that it really is a good place; somewhere that all of us know as “home” and feel part of something really big and overwhelming once again. Somewhere amazing enough to make you throw yourself out windows in a different dimension and don’t break any bones when you hit the floor.

    Somewhere where we are superhuman. Somewhere where alternative tunings are the norm.

    It serves much more than a selfish purpose to reflect and remember these times, where things are simple and straightforward and makes sense. Our childhood is there for good reason. Remember it carefully and fondly in the days ahead.

    And the dreams.

  17. Bill,

    I don’t think I missed the deeper point which has threaded through several other similar posts. Is it not correct say there is some difference between the analysis of a currency system by an expert and making assumptions about why large groups of people in a region voted for certain things? The unwarranted characterisation of (particularly Brexit) voters as ‘stupid gammons’ is equally matched by the opposite of assuming that voters have acted in a rational manner.

    There are many voters who have no concept of toppling EU neo-liberalism or currency union, even if it is the underlying cause of economic misery, but who voted for vague and some false reasons. So even if the outcome pleases critics of EU economic policy, it doesn’t mean the voters who enabled it particularly support, know or care about a government willing to spend money long-term as a policy. E.g. in my father’s village the general view seems to be the usual: that there would always be more to spend – “within reason” – if it wasn’t all going on ‘immigrants’ and ‘to Brussels’.

    When almost every single major political party on the planet is still under the general sway of a wrong-headed economic paradigm, I don’t see the value of constantly sticking the boot into the Labour Party as if they are more guilty because they have failed to be the first to break the paradigm. This delusional period of the Labour Party will either pass or destroy them.

    I agree Pott Shrigley is a good cricket ground. It’s astonishing the places you are familiar with 🙂

  18. @ Ferdinand

    Thanks for that response to my critical remarks.

    I don’t disagree with any of the points you make. I think this is the $64 question:-
    “Brexit has indeed given them impetus to build a new Jerusalem (whatever that is to be in their view). However I can’t see them abandoning their view of fiscal rectitude, which really is a core value of modern Conservatism. Haven’t we seen this already with Trump?”

    Obviously it’s going to be a while before we’re able to see which way the wind is truly going to blow in the medium term. And meanwhile the effects of the corona virus pandemic will have put everything on hold, thus obscuring any underlying longer-term trend for even longer.

    Personally, all I’ve ever argued *on this score* is “let’s just wait and see what they actually do, not rush blindly to judgment”.

  19. Yes with the split of sitting labour mps in vote leave constituencies,labour could not
    win a brexit election.BUT the peoples vote was supported by the mass membership of the
    party. If as has been the wish of the Bennite tradition that leadership and policy was directed
    more democratically by the membership the peoples vote would have been the policy choice.
    The Lexit argument had very little traction.
    Of course with the unfolding recession due to the pandemic they will still get to argue that
    Brexit has made things worse.For many on the left fighting the nationalist populist right is
    the dominant political struggle of their lives.The old cognitive dissonance of the enemy of my
    enemy is my friend.
    Whatever was the Labour parties fiscal rule at election time it dam sure did not influence voters

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