British legislation must be able to override EU law – that is what independence means

Piety has no bounds it seems. The Sunday Times ran an Op Ed at the weekend (September 12, 2020) – John Major and Tony Blair: Johnson must drop shameful no-deal Brexit bill or be forced to by MPs (paywall) – which told us how angry former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major are with Boris Johnson about the Government’s intention to introduce the Internal Market Bill to ensure the so-called Withdrawal Agreement is compatible with national law. They started by appealing to the international treaty status of the Withdrawal Agreement, which outlined Britain’s terms of exit from the EU. The Op Ed called the decision by government as “shocking”. The Remainers are jumping on the ‘breach of international law’ bandwagon like there is no tomorrow. Of course, they never highlight the fact that they want to be part of an arrangement, which is created by international law and which regularly violates that law to serve its own political and elite interests. And those breaches, which include gross human rights abuses and deliberately undermining the prosperity of its own citizens through mass unemployment and more, have had severe consequences for humanity. The fact that the British government is now declaring national law will no longer be subjugated and subservient to international agreements is not in the same ball park of international violations.

The Blair/Major Op Ed stated:

How can it be compatible with the codes of conduct that bind ministers, law officers and civil servants deliberately to break treaty obligations? As we negotiate new trade treaties, how do we salvage credibility as “global Britain” if we so blatantly disregard our commitments the moment we sign them? …

… if the government itself will not respect the rule of law, then the High Court of Parliament should compel it to do so,

Both Blair and Major were clearly pro-Europe.

When Major was Prime Minister and introduced the Maastricht Treaty into British law, he was met with a major internal Tory Party rebellion (the so-called Maastricht Rebels).

He was dumped by the electorate in the 1997 general election after a period where he oversaw a massive recession while pushing ahead with his destructive privatisation program (British rail, coal etc). His period in office was marked by a series of high profile financial and sex scandals (which penetrated into his cabinet).

Importantly, he was PM during Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), which led to Britain finally realising it could not participate in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, despite his zeal for fixing the British pound within the ERM.

In his 10-year period as British Prime Minister, Tony Blair hardly respected international law.

He deployed British troops more than “any other prime minister in British History” (Source).

He put British troops at the convenience of the US in illegal invasions of Afghanistan, and, later Iraq. He lied to the British people about the claim that Saddam Hossain had weapons of mass destruction, which he intended to use against the US, despite no evidence being provided to justify that claim.

The link between Saddam Hossain and Al-Qaeda was never substantiated.

The Iraqi invasion essentially created ISIS and has made the world a much more dangerous place.

The Independent article (December 15, 2006)- Diplomat’s suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war – disclosed that the nature of Blair’s lies about the war in Iraq.

Britain’s key negotiator to the UN, who had been kept silent “because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act”, subsequently revealed that:

… at no time did … Her Majesty’s Government … assess that Iraq’s WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.

He admitted that British diplomats had “warned US diplomats that bringing down the Iraqi dictator would lead to the chaos … ”

He told a British government enquiry (chaired by Lord Butler) that:

There was, moreover, no intelligence or assessment during my time in the job that Iraq had any intention to launch an attack against its neighbours or the UK or the US …

A formal Dutch government enquiry (chaired by Dutch Supreme Court judge Willibrord Davids) later found that the 2003 invasion was not justified in international law.

This was endorsed in statements by the then UN Secretary-General who said in 2004 that (Source):

I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it … was illegal

Even the British – Chilcot Enquiry – which largely avoided considering the legality issue, concluded that the invasion had:

… undermined the authority of the United Nations.

Further, it was fairly clear that Blair mislead the British Parliament on the invasion. Even his Deputy PM, John Prescott admitted the invasion was illegal (Source).

The point is that it is a bit much for Tony Blair to come out now and claim that ‘international law’ should take precedence in determining British interests.

Further, the Remainers are once again becoming apoplectic about the ‘international law’ issue, as a last-gasp attempt to salvage their neoliberal dream of being part of the European Union, if not as an official member, as a nation tightly bound by the single market rules and tight constraints on democratic choice and sovereignty.

Yet, they are desperate to be part of a organisation – the EU – that regularly violates international agreementsand has a shocking record of human rights abuses in terms of its border policies.

An Oxfam Report from April 5, 2017 – A dangerous ‘game’: the pushback of migrants, including refugees, at Europe’s borders – noted that:

In 2015 and 2016, more than a million people arrived in Europe after crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece and continuing their journey along the so-called Western Balkan route. In response, European Union Member States and other European countries hastily erected fences on their borders …

Rather than being places of safety … EU member states – have used brutal tactics, such as attack dogs and forcing people to strip naked in freezing temperatures.

The EU approach to the migration disaster – the “pushbacks” – violated Article 4 of Protocol No 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

A recent Oxfam report (July 2, 2020) concluded that (Source):

Greece’s new law is a blatant attack on Europe’s humanitarian commitment to protect people fleeing conflict and persecution … The European Union is complicit in this abuse, because for years it has been using Greece as a test ground for new migration policies.

On June 18, 2019, the Council of Europe concluded that (Source) the European Union was “breaking international law with its treatment of migrants and refugees”.

I can cite many examples where the EU undermines its own international obligations.

The curious part is that the EU is founded on the principle that international treaties supercede national law.

Think about the Eurozone, which is a creation of international law.

The rules are regularly broken and the enforcement mechanisms are not applied consistently.

Germany, for example, consistently breaks the rules.

I considered that in this blog post – Germany’s serial breaches of Eurozone rules (May 11, 2015).

Thinks back to 2003, where France and Germany were the first nations to violate the Stability and Growth Pact and the EU changed the rules to suit.

Germans violated the SGP for several years from 2001 to 2005.

See this blog post – The hypocrisy of the Euro cabal is staggering (November 14, 2011).

But when Greece violates the international laws, all hell breaks loose and a nation is destroyed by pernicious policy interventions from Brussels (EU), Washington (IMF) and Frankfurt (ECB).

And what about the ECB, legally prevented from funding fiscal deficits among the Member States, buying government debt as if there was no tomorrow, and clearly funding fiscal deficits?

Smoke and mirrors.

All the time, international law being breached.

And the Remainers, the Woke, Blair, etc are all quiet as mouses about all of this.

They only get their voices back when the British government actually starts to assert its regained independence from the EU cabal and proposes to use its legislative independence to determine what is in the national interest rather than what serves the interests of the European elites.

An article in Spiked (September 11, 2020) – ‘The EU can’t handle British independence’ – gets to the point clearly:

Therefore, there is this group of people, particularly those who used to be known as Remainers, who, while they see international treaties as the highest form of law, in fact, support an organisation – the EU – that is prepared to depart from international law when it suits its interests.

It goes on to make the next obvious point in all of this:

Most people would not buy the idea that a government should put a deal it has done with foreign powers before the interests of its own people. The idea of international treaties being sacred is a piety and a lot of the faux outrage after the government’s announcement is just more of the kind of pearl-clutching we have been seeing over the past few years.

The British Brexit negotiator, David Frost summarised it clearly:

That’s what being an independent country is about, that’s what the British people voted for and that’s what will happen at the end of the year,

The conclusion the Spiked article (which is an interview with Brussels journalist for The Times, Bruno Waterfield) channelled this sentiment in a different way:

… the EU just can’t handle the fact that Britain is now an independent and sovereign country that isn’t part of its order.

I also think all the arguments about the Internal Market Bill constraining Wales and Scotland to follow British law are weak.

Are they a part of Britain or not?

If they want to be free of such a legislative fiat then they can restore their sovereignty in the same way Britain left the EU.

The whole point of the Bill is to ensure the integrity of the ‘country’ is preserved. That country is Britain.

Of interest to me, is the fact that the ‘British question’ is once again bugging Europe.

Charles de Gaulle vetoed British accession throughout the 1960s because he didn’t want a big nation like Britain inside the tent, given that his ambitions were for France to becomes the ‘Kings’ of Europe and exploit the shame that Germany was facing after its conduct during the War.

He knew that without Britain’s efforts during the War, France would not be in any shape at all. Which gave Britain the status of giants in the region.

And now, as Britain leaves the EU and reasserts its independence and desire to drive policy in different directions, Europe is again exhibiting signs of paranoia.

The Spike interview considers that:

Having a powerful country that has announced it wants to make a radical departure does rattle the EU. It’s worried about having to compete with Britain, which would be much more nimble-footed because it would be able to make decisions quickly without notifying Brussels. Again, it’s often dressed in a load of fretting that Britain would ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of tearing up labour standards or environmental standards, but it really is motivated by the fact that the EU doesn’t like the idea of having to engage in competition with a country right on its doorstep.

And in closing, I remind people that most nations signed up to the – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – on December 10, 1948.

Article 23(1) says that:

Everyone has the right to work …

So which governments do not violate their international agreements in this respect?


I will pass no judgement on the specifics of the ‘Internal Market Bill’ until I have had more time to evaluate it.

But the principle that a nation has legislative primacy is a basic tenet of any democracy.

The European Union nations, especially the Eurozone 19 subset, have subjugated national interests to international agreements, which are not consistently applied and generally serve the interests of the elites at the expense of the workers.

The distributional consequences of the inconsistent way Brussels applies the international law, which gives it an existence are staggering.

And the basic human rights violations on the EU borders outstrip anything that Britain is planning to do with the Internal Market Bill.

That is enough for today!

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

This Post Has 68 Comments

  1. Exactly right. When the modified WA was signed it was apparent that it was a fudge that didn’t consider the details of just exactly what would have to happen. The EU and the UK were always going to have different interpretations of what was agreed.

    If, for example, a buyer in Belfast wishes to order a consignment of GB made cheese, is it reasonable for the EU to insist that a 40% + tariff has to be paid on the grounds that it might end up being further shipped on across an open border?

    Clause 38 was added to ensure that the WA agreement cannot be interpreted as the EU having sovereignty over a part of the UK. Our part of the bargain is that we do what we reasonably can in co-operation with the EU to ensure that the cheese doesn’t cross the border. But there has to be a recognition that this will happen to some extent.

  2. There has to be some policing. 40% up front with later rebate of full amount. Any sign smuggling is taking place into the EU no rebate!

  3. “There has to be some policing. ”

    Yes, but not by the EU in the UK. That’s the point.

    If they feel British cheese is such a danger to the good citizens of the EU, and they aren’t happy with UK policing, they are free to what they like on their side of the border. But, maybe they should be slightly more concerned about the importation of slightly more dangerous substances?

  4. @ Peter
    Cheese has import controls on entry to the EU (veterinary health certs, and checks at the border etc). The point here is they want to keep an open border between the ROI and NI which isn’t possible with these controls (duties are mostly done away from the border nowadays so again people are concentrating on the wrong thing here, we can do all this as it’s a paperwork exercise). Between the UK and the continent they will be doing those and they have every right to (as will we and we ARE going to be doing them so NI/ROI border causes a problem).
    It isn’t so much reading of the WA that’s the problem it’s the reading of the GFA on what is a ‘normal border’.

  5. Excellent Bill,

    What Brexit was all about.

    The middle ground when I was growing was a completely different animal than what it is today. A liberal back then was a completely different person to a liberal today. A liberal today just wants the middle ground to float around the middle of the right wing spectrum. Compared to a liberal back then who expected the middle ground to actually be in the middle between left and right. Which is why the Tories can keep out manoeuvring Labour by moving slightly to the left, knowing full well they are still on the right wing spectrum.

    To keep calling those of us who voted to leave from The hard left is a lie. An insult to the generations before us who sacrificed and fought for a more equal distribution of profits. We just want The middle ground back to where it used to be, between The left and right. Not some fictional version that this generation calls home.

    The red wall part 6:

    How many times does the liberals have to keep losing before they get the message. How many times do we have to keep voting on the same issue before the liberals stop blaming Putin. I for one will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories until the liberals get the message loud and clear. The liberals that have infested the So called left leaning parties in the UK. The greens, Labour and the SNP should be forced out. There is a party for them it is called the Lib Dems. They should go and join it and allow the left leaning parties to move the middle ground back to its rightful home after we have left the EU.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s policies were called extreme by the liberals. Policies from the hard left. There was nothing extreme about them. If Corbyn had won and implemented those policies we would still be living on the right wing spectrum. He would have to have went a lot further and introduced a job guarentee before the middle ground was close to being back in its rightful place.

    It’s clear, very clear that the liberals sabotaged Corbyn. It’s clear they never intended to have a LEXIT vision and that all they ever wanted to do was stop Brexit. Impose their worldview on the rest of us. The SNP have become yet another version of a liberal party. A version of Blair’s own Labour party that won the SNP so many votes as Scottish voters turned their back on it. The SNP now mirror the liberal left and are using the ignorance of their voters on issues around the EU and the monetary system to further their agenda. The oxymoron of being at the heart of the EU and calling it independence.

    Joanna Cherry is Kier Starmer and Andrew Wilson is Tony Blair. The liberals who have infested the SNP expect her to be a future leader. Rather than win elections on policy they just moved liberals into seats that used to be won by the Lib Dems. They gave the voters another liberal to choose from and we all know what happens to the middle ground using that strategy. The Greens follow the exact same strategy so it is rinse and repeat. A liberal party with the smallest hint of green.

    The only way the liberal left are going to get the message. Is if true left wing voters who remember the real middle ground and where it belongs stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories. Stand shoulder to shoulder until this poison is removed from the left wing parties. After what The liberals done to Corbyn. I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories and will not move until The liberals are back in the Liberal Democratic party where they belong.

    Unless the Labour party can produce their own version of Farage. Split the party to keep them honest and take The union money with them. It will be a long time before they earn people’s votes again and an even longer time to move The middle ground from the middle of the right wing spectrum. Which would get a lot more votes than people think. How The SNP was formed before selling out and being overrun and hijacked by The liberals.

    The patient has to be cured before they can stand on their own two feet again. The patient has a better chance of survival and a much healthier outlook outside of the EU. The patient if it wants to stay off life support, has to rid itself of the neoliberal globalist poison that is currently running through its veins. Before there is any hope of a red wall ever appearing on the UK landscape ever again.

    The SNP are running towards political Armageddon. Once Scottish voters realise the reality and what it means to live a few years under EU policies. Whose voters will end up in the arms of the Tories. The only party who warned them of the consequences.

    A true left wing party would have sat back and allowed the Tories to drag the UK out of the EU. While the Tories were consuming all their energy on that. A true left wing party would have been creating a LEXIT vision. A vision ready to be put in front of the voters after we had left the EU. What we have instead is a neoliberal lawyer who will take his policies straight out of the chapters of George Monbiot book ” captive state”. A rehash of new Labour policies that were rejected unanimously by the UK general public the red wall part 6.

  6. @ Andy B,

    Agreed. It’s just as much of a NI/ROI border issue as a WA issue. There will have to be checks on the flow of goods, in both directions, between NI and GB. Just as there could have to be checks on the flow between Ireland and the rest of the EU. One is the responsibility of the UK. The other is the responsibility of the EU.

    There can, of course, be co-operation between the UK and EU. But will this be enough to keep them happy?

  7. Well Peter this is where it gets complex as is currently the UK isn’t listed to export into the EU as a 3rd country for these sorts of goods and it’s a complex process to get listed (they really should have sorted this by now as it’s too late)so from Jan 1st it will be illegal to export cheese from the rest of the UK into NI. “Listing” is the cooperation agreement where the competent authority overseas any exports to the EU conform.

    Rather ironically we are going to fall foul of a system basically designed to regulate meat imports into the UK which the EU then copied.

  8. ” from Jan 1st it will be illegal to export cheese from the rest of the UK into NI.”

    Illegal under whose laws? This is the crux of the argument.

    If the EU were going to impose this interpretation they should have made that clear last year.

  9. NI will be covered by the Union Customs Code that’s the backstop in the withdrawal agreement.

    The Tories signed the damn thing, probably shouldn’t have done eh as it is not as if this problem wasn’t known. There is a simple solution though unify the ROI and NI.

  10. @ Andy B,

    I’m guessing you don’t have any family connections to NI. But if you do try talking to them. It’s only a simple solution if you ignore the politics and the sectarian divisions in NI which determine them. No major party in the UK runs candidates in NI elections. They sensibly want to steer clear of all that.

    Even if GB was prepared to hand over NI to the EU and Ireland, we wouldn’t be doing them any favours. Not unless they want a rerun of the Troubles to sort out themselves. They should recognise that and do what it takes to cobble together a Trade agreement (I wouldn’t call it a FTA) to come up with something that at least works in the interim.

  11. If this poses a problem to NI, the simple solution would be a referendum on unification. No need to dwell on past agreements if a new one can be struck.

    The documentary Once upon a time in Iraq shows in detail the destruction the coalition forces left there, though millions of people marched against the war in the UK and Australia and the Netherlands and in the rest of the world and they weren’t heard.

  12. @ Peter Martin

    I would remind you of two things. First, if the argument is mainland UK needs to supply Northern Ireland with those things it cannot supply itself with then none of the commodities and goods should be finding their way over the border into the Republic of Ireland should they? Second, where exactly is the democratic will of the people here when a majority of Northern Ireland people in the 2016 EU Referendum voted to remain in the EU? When you supply answers to these two questions I’ll start to take you seriously!

  13. @Peter
    Sure but there is also the other side of that (and btw a good friend of mine took shrapnel in the back of the head on patrol in Belfast and mortars were fired at LHR 200 yards from where I lived so yes I am well aware). If you put borders up then you have the other side of it…do you think they are going to be ok with that?

    That’s fine lets have an FTA including standards etc BUT there’s your problem as soon as you do you lose some sovereignty. You also can’t have no borders unless you have harmonised standards.

  14. @ Willem @ Schofeld

    History should have taught us all that the “Democratic will of the people” is a relatively meaningless abstraction where sectarian conflicts and other deep seated issues are involved. If we could have resolved everything on a show of hands we wouldn’t have had the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, and the sectarian conflicts that have carried on over there pretty much ever since.

    Don’t ever think you have the answer to the Irish question because it doesn’t exist. What we have now in NI may not be perfect, but at least everything is very quiet by comparison to how it used to be.

    Let’s let sleeping dogs lie and do what we can to make any future political arrangement work as well as it possibly can.

  15. @ Peter Martin

    “History should have taught us all that the “Democratic will of the people” is a relatively meaningless abstraction where sectarian conflicts and other deep seated issues are involved.”

    Now you really are scraping the bottom of the barrel and making ludicrous arguments! The GFA has been in operation in Northern Ireland for over 21 years starting in 1998. If the peace was so fragile the 2016 EU Referendum would not have been held!

  16. “NI will be covered by the Union Customs Code that’s the backstop in the withdrawal agreement.”

    Not unless there is an Act of Parliament enabling it. Without that there is no mechanism for UK courts to enforce it against UK citizens. That’s how a Dualist constitution works.

    If the EU wants to play silly by threatening the integrity of the UK then parliament will simply override the EU.

    It’s way past time that the EU realised that the UK Parliament is the final court over UK territory. All of UK territory including Northern Ireland.

    Which is of course why the Belfast Agreement is such a clever document. It is prime facia non justiciable and therefore it cannot be interpreted judicially. Which means that it looks like a legal document, but it can mean whatever you want to read into it. And that is exactly what everybody does.

    It’s the Northern Ireland Act that is the effective law.

  17. @ Schofield,

    I’m simply stating a fact. The history of conflict in Ireland, including Northern Ireland, goes back a lot further than than the 21 or 22 years of the GFA. If you don’t believe peace in Northern Ireland is fragile I’d suggest you might want to get yourself (subject to Covid travel restrictions) over there to take a look for yourself.

    Remainers didn’t make much of the Irish/UK border argument prior to the actual referendum. They certainly should have because it has turned out to be a real conundrum. I’m guessing that was because it would have gone against the standard line of our EU membership being just a beneficial add-on to our democracy. The EU bureaucracy was no bigger than a local council. etc etc.

    The truth has only surfaced since.

  18. “Second, where exactly is the democratic will of the people here when a majority of Northern Ireland people in the 2016 EU Referendum voted to remain in the EU?”

    That isn’t true is it.

    Because there isn’t a “Northern Ireland People”. The Unionists voted entirely the opposite way to the Catholics. The East different from the West. Much as Cambridge voted differently to the surrounding area.

    Is Cambridgeshire to leave the EU and Cambridge to remain – like some latter day West Berlin?

    Which is why we voted to leave the EU as British citizens, and the decision binds on everybody with access to that passport and the entire territory of the UK.

  19. “but it can mean whatever you want to read into it. And that is exactly what everybody does”

    Which I sort of pointed out above where i said about reading of the GFA.

    From what I can see it doesn’t stop a ‘normal’ border between ROI & NI so Border Control Posts would be fine as that’s a normal border around the world, what it does stop is going back to the armed towers etc of the troubles era. But you have around half the population thinking it does and they have shown before what they do to said border posts.

  20. Bill, it is not at all clear to me why Tony Blair and John Major, and others do not understand that AFAIK international law has always let any nation change its mind and back out of any treaty or agreement.
    Are they claiming that some agreements are unbreakable? Since when did this happen?
    Are they claiming that the proper process is not being followed?
    Surely there is some process specified, if not than AFAIK any nation can just announce that it is not going to continue the agreement.
    Am I wrong in this?

  21. “what I can see it doesn’t stop a ‘normal’ border between ROI & NI”

    Best of luck to the EU putting a “normal” border across Ireland.

    On the plus side it’s a useful make work scheme. Having to put the border posts back up every other week. That’ll get the EU economy roaring in no time.

  22. “Surely there is some process specified”

    There is no process in International Law as such – as there is no supranational court and weak not non-existence enforcement mechanisms. “International Law” is really just politics by another name – much like “Economics”.

    One of the issues with the WA was that there was no ending process within it. But of course to the UK that doesn’t matter since International Law cannot bind on UK domestic law without an Act of Parliament translating it into UK law. A consequence of the English Civil War…

  23. @ Willem, @ Schofield, @ Andy B,

    Neil is quite right to say “there isn’t a Northern Ireland People”. There never has been. Maybe, hopefully, there will be in the future but there isn’t now. It’s the same story in many parts of the world. There is no “Lebanese people” for example. There are at least half a dozen different ethnic groupings.

    The normal democratic process, as we understand it in many western countries, doesn’t solve anything. All it creates is a resentment among the losing side is that they are part of a minority and set them thinking that maybe they can correct that by starting a war and in the process expel enough of the population of the other side.

    Is this what anyone, including the EU apparatchiks, really wants to see in Northern Ireland? They need to pull their heads out, learn some history, and learn that they can’t play political games in unstable regions like NI.

  24. It isn’t just a backdoor into the EU’s internal market it’s also a backdoor into the UK’s. It becomes our responsibility on our side. As I recounted the other day we will be doing checks for our requirements (and exit & entry safety & security declarations as Border Force over ruled HMRC on those) not much point in taking back control if you open it up to all sorts of smuggling.

    It is a make work scheme for regulators, border staff and yes I admit those of us who do this stuff as well (could work out quite nicely for me as it happens).

  25. @ Peter Martin

    “Neil is quite right to say “there isn’t a Northern Ireland People”

    Oh really! So why did anybody bother to give them a vote in the 2016 EU Referendum?

  26. @Schofield,
    This is easy. It was because the 2 major ethnic groups can sort of agree that they are “UK” people.
    They do not need to agree that they are NI, IR, or Orange people. And, they don’t.
    [Sorry, if my ignorance of the proper terms offends anyone.]

  27. @ Schofield,

    I’m sure you understand the point being made.

    Incidentally, since the 2016 result I’ve begun to wonder if there is such a thing as the British people. I previously thought, obviously very naively, that we’d have the referendum, we’d get the result, then mostly everyone would accept it and we could all move on from there. Sure, I did expect some resistance, but I certainly didn’t expect the general petulance of Remainers! Apparently we Leavers had all been bribed by the Russians, were intellectually incapable of deciding, and were all shortly going to die anyway!

  28. @ Steve-American

    “This is easy. It was because the 2 major ethnic groups can sort of agree that they are “UK” people.”

    I would have said they were fed up with the violence and were motivated to “take back control” on a power-sharing basis as a means of achieving peace.

    In practical terms everyone knew there was no chance of achieving this peace by over-throwing English mainland domination or indeed becoming part of the Republic of Ireland.

    So it was a compromise.

    Nevertheless why because they’ve compromised is it morally right they should be denied the right to determine the conditions under which they live including economic ones by one or possibly two members of a “Union of Four.” Martin and Wilson have determined the people of Northern Ireland to be “non-people” which by my moral compass is a highly totalitarian outlook!

    Of course, as an American you will appreciate the totalitarianism of the English was wrong won’t you!

  29. @ Peter Martin

    “the general petulance of Remainers”

    As usual it was only a matter of time as a Brexiter you resorted to insults.

    So now I’m a “petulant” child for refusing to accept your arguments? We’re done!

  30. “So why did anybody bother to give them a vote in the 2016 EU Referendum?”

    They are British. We were voting as one British people, not a set of factions.

    We voted to leave as the United Kingdom. And in a democracy that is what we will do – leave as the United Kingdom. All of it – including Cambridge.

  31. @ Neil Wilson

    “We were voting as one British people, not a set of factions.”

    The Troubles were all about factions with one faction not seeing itself as British. How do you then turn this around to the majority who voted to Remain in Northern Ireland not being happy with the idea of a Unification Referendum with a primary object of leaving the United Kingdom in order to stay in the EU? You can’t because there has been no such referendum. The same clearly applies to Scotland with a higher percentage than Northern Ireland in favour of staying in the EU and seemingly wanting independence to do so.

    Why are you so afraid of seeking further clarification of individuals’ true wishes through democratic process Neil when there’s very strong signalling taking place that individuals are prepared to kick their “Britishness” into touch to achieve their economic objectives?

  32. Blimey Neil the Falls Road isn’t Cambridge and if you fancy you going there and tell them are British I hope you’re not too attached to your kneecaps.

  33. @ Schofield,

    If anyone is afraid of anything it is the possibility of setting off a civil war in Scotland. Scotland isn’t quite as sectarian as Ireland but if you know Glasgow you’ll also know it its more like Belfast than Birmingham.

    Having said that, if the Scots want their independence, it’s their call. But they should know what they need to do to get it. Many Scots have some unrealistic notion that they’ll be back in the EU on the same terms the UK enjoyed previously, while at the same time they can continue to use the Pound and this will protect them from the worst of German imposed euro austerity.

  34. Not sure anyone here disagrees with that Peter, but it isn’t the problem we are facing with the NI/ROI border, if Scotland left the UK barriers go up straight away, if they don’t then they aren’t indendent

  35. @ Andy B,

    I should have said it’s the danger of setting off a civil war in Ireland too. That’s probably the more likely. I don’t have any confidence that Barnier, von der Leyen, Merkel and co have much appreciation of the harsh realities of NI politics.

  36. Peter
    And you think Cummings/Johnson do?!

    May had a NI secretary (Karen Bradley) who admitted knowing anythng about NI politics. We have a whole Governemt who doesn’t understand the EU single market (and btw neither did Corbyn who confused a customs union with it…spolier not the same thing)

    The ERG (And others & I wont mention names) confuse mutual recognition of standards (the EU doesn’t do) and mutual recognition of conformity assessment (the EU does) they are different things.

  37. @ Peter

    And you think Johnson/Cummings do?

    This is a Government where May appointed Kate Bradley who admitted she knew nothing about NI politics,

  38. There was never any entirely satisfactory resolution of the NI/RoI border problem available. That’s a fantasy.

    To enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be finalised nevertheless (and so to avert the UK leaving the EU at the end of 2019 without one, and without a one-year transitional “standstill” stage pending agreement being reached on a trade agreement) the NI Protocol was cobbled together.

    It’s a makeshift which never possessed long-term viability, which it was thought it didn’t need-to and which wasn’t on the cards anyway.

    It still isn’t: nothing’s changed.

    Even if in the longer term a referendum on Irish unification were to be held in NI and produced a majority in favour, that in no way helps towards solving the problem of how the EU/NI border is to be handled meanwhile. For all we know it may never happen. So it’s completely irrelevant to this discussion.

    At the time when the WA was signed there was effectively a hung parliament at Westminster with – by common consent – the top priority *domestically* being for a general election to replace the paralysed sitting one with a new one having a working majority and a clear mandate. Given the weakness of its position the sitting government had no choice other than to kick the can down the road by signing-up to the hopelessly sub-optimal WA (while for public consumption – with an election in the offing – trying to put the most favourable possible construction upon it).

    Any government of any party would have adopted exactly the same tactic on the eve of an election.

    That election having returned a Conservative government with a large majority in the House decisively altered the whole situation. I’m sure that this government would prefer to secure a trade agreement with the EU than not to do so – always provided it can be got on what they judge to be acceptable terms. Otherwise they will walk away.

    “Acceptable terms” clearly must include rolling-back (or at the very least modifying in a mutually-agreed manner) those aspects of the NI Protocol which encroach directly upon the sovereignty of the whole UK including NI.

  39. “Why are you so afraid of seeking further clarification of individuals’ true wishes through democratic process Neil when there’s very strong signalling taking place that individuals are prepared to kick their “Britishness” into touch to achieve their economic objectives?”

    If there is such a strong signal – as in a real one not the one in your Twitter group – then the process laid out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 Schedule 1(2) would have been called for and triggered.

    After 4 years it hasn’t.


    Stop moaning here in a supercilious tone and go do the actual political work to trigger the poll.

  40. The issue here isn’t sovereignty – because it’s obvious the UK always had sovereignty, we didn’t magically acquire sovereignty when The UK signed the WA.

    This is about power and also about trust – Bill points out the hypocrisy, and so welcomes us to international politics, which has always been about the domination of economic and military power, which is why it’s so lopsided. A nation can get invaded, because they might have had some chemical weapons once, and perhaps still have if you write the intelligence draft the right way, but another nation can develop, manufacture and use a nerve agent on people it doesn’t like with total impunity.

    What is going on is more like going to a dodgy car salesman…

    I managed to persuade you to bung in some sweeteners on the deal, like a full tank of petrol and a full service. But later on you decide you don’t like that deal, becuse you signed it in hurry to get the sale, and so when I come to pick up the car, it’s only half full of petrol, and hasn’t been serviced…. At which point I get pissed off refuse to buy the car and threaten to write “welches on deals” as my review on trust pilot.

    If we wanted to make ourselves look like the bad boys at the party, this Bill is a piece of pure genius. The UK in a single Bill have managed to draw attention away from the EU’s displays of bad faith in the negotiations and focused on the UK as the next “failed” state… hysterical I know, but people are seriously writing this shit… meanwhile Nancy Pelosi is saying there is no chance of a US trade deal if this Bill goes through, because there is a sizable Irish-American contingent in the US congress, whose interests tie with the Republic of Ireland.

    And it was all so unnecessary…

    We intead could have played the injured party, so if the EU did persist in refusing to allow 3rd party trading (whatever that is), our newspapers would be full of trucks turned back from the border, because of the intransigence of the EU, meanwhile the UK could demonstrate it’s newly found sovereignty as it is reluctantly “forced” to pass emergency legislation to combat the gross injustice.

    The Governemnt in tandem with the media have been pulling stunts like that for years, it’s mostly been nonsense, but you know what, it’s the EU, we do have sovereignty, we always had it, and we can make them look bad if we wanted. It’s a game, that’s why we have specialist games players – they are called diplomats.

  41. @ Schofield @ Neil,

    The danger of triggering polls on independence, or more correctly Irish Unity, is that there need only be one to want it, which might cause it to happen, or try to, whereas there can be several that don’t which of course don’t change anything. If I know the hardline Loyalist community, Irish unification is not something they will accept without a fight. In other words an armed struggle. Majority or no majority to the contrary.

    The best solution for the UK and Northern Ireland is to create the economic conditions that are clearly superior to those in the Republic, attract immigrants from the mainland and so nullify the desire. Given that the Irish republic is shackled by the euro, the SGP etc, it shouldn’t be too hard.

  42. “If we wanted to make ourselves look like the bad boys at the party, this Bill is a piece of pure genius.”

    Indeed. Which makes me wonder whether this Bill is more of a pathfinder. It flushes out of the woodwork those who are a problem early. But it continues to demonstrate very clearly that how International agreements are translated into domestic law is a matter for Parliament and Parliament alone – with no need to even speak to the EU.

    And I suspect the framing is what matters here. The UK is sovereign and is having a sovereign discussion in its Parliament.

  43. @Neil Wilson

    I think the Bill has more to do with carelessness, people who believe themselves to be smarter than
    they actually are. Thus, I think it has much more to do with dealing with a future public relations issue – “we will not tolerate a border down the Irish Sea” (Boris Johnson on numerous occasions while making impossible to be kept promises about there being no paper work), than any real credible threat to UK Sovereignty.

    What’s interesting to watch is how a group of people sailing high from their success in managing the media, during not only the Brexit referendum, but also the early part of Johnson’s premiership and subsequent election campaign, have become so remarkably bad at managing media messaging while in Government, never mind managing an actual full blown crisis.

    Which is amusing because the current Government is run like an election campaign. They have daily focus meetings to decide what the daily media message is and seem unable to maintain a consistent narrative on anything for more than a few days.

    Your guess is as good as mine as to how this Bill will unfold, I guess you have to be part of a focus group…

  44. @ Mark Redwood
    “The issue here isn’t sovereignty – because it’s obvious the UK always had sovereignty…This is about power and also about trust…”

    Sovereignty is about power and power about sovereignty. The two are inseparable – two sides of the same coin.

    (Trust is as you say a separate issue).

    “…we didn’t magically acquire sovereignty when The UK signed the WA”.

    No, we gave-away some of it. The NI Protocol sets aside British sovereignty over a part of its own territory. If that isn’t an issue of sovereignty I don’t know what could be said to be.

    It creates a border between one part of the territory of the sovereign state the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the whole of the mainland territory of that sovereign, whereby the law of a foreign jurisdiction (that of the EU) applies in respect of certain matters on the NI side of that border.

    It was done with the laudable aim of avoiding having to set up a hard border on the island of Ireland (with all that that could bode, given the history of the last fifty years), and also in anticipation of its being superseded by a trade agreement, to be negotiated upon *in good faith* during the transition period.

    The requisite degree of good faith – meaning genuine recognition on the part of the EU of the legitimate assertion of British sovereignty over its own territory *including NI* – not having been forthcoming it behoves the UK now to look to the safeguarding of its own sovereign interests after 31.12.2020 should no trade agreement have been reached by then.

  45. @robertH

    I think I look at sovereignty and power as being overlapping but being sufficiently different to warrant separate mentions. Sovereignty is a particular application of power. In the negotiations with the EU we aren’t necessarily talking about sovereign power, we are talking more about informational and economic power.

    With NI, which has been a stumbling block from the very beginning, and it’s not just because of the GFA, it’s also down to Ireland’s history… and also Ireland’s understanding from the very beginning, and the effort it put into making a NI solution at the forefront of any negotiation.

    So… we have this compromise, which requires alignment with the EU… and hence a loss of sovereignty over the future laws that the EU will make, which will be subsequently applied to NI. I guess that’s the issue, hence why the dispute over third party status… without it the UK mainland can’t ship goods to NI for consumption in NI?? (is that what 3rd party status means?) Hence an imposition on UK Sovereignty.

    But it’s more complex than just UK sovereignty is it not?

    We have devolved constitutions, made very apparent by the current covid crisis. So NI also has sovereignty, which means by necessity that UK and NI sovereignty are not necessarily aligned.

    And it’s actually NI which has sovereignty over the NI protocol, not the UK as a whole. The NI assembly is required to give it’s consent every 4 years. Presumably if the NI assembly do not like the loss of sovereignty over their trading arrangements then they can vote down the protocol.

    As far as the people of NI are concerned, according to polls they are almost perfectly split on re-unification. The current Withdrawal Agreement is seen as unsatisfactory by around 70%, while 75% said that Brexit made a border poll more likely, while 80% said that it had intensified debate about the constitutional future of NI.

    Strikes me that one person’s sovereignty can also be another person’s oppression. So whose sovereignty are we actually talking about here? The UK parliament with it’s English/London centric bias, or the NI Assembly… because it seems to me their interests are not very well aligned.

  46. “And it’s actually NI which has sovereignty over the NI protocol, not the UK as a whole.”

    It hasn’t. The UK parliament has total sovereignty over all parts of the UK and can change any of it with an act of the UK parliament.

    And as ever the issue boils down to the capacity to enforce. Removing the power of the UK courts to listen to European complaints is all that is required. That neutralises the issue. GB to NI. Anything else is then for the Europeans to initiate on European soil – and, importantly, pay for.

  47. @ Mark Redwood
    “So NI also has sovereignty”,

    No, it hasn’t. Nor have Scotland or Wales. All three plus England (which alone has no powers devolved to it) together constitute the sovereign state the UK. None of its constituent parts can themselves have sovereignty whilst at the same time being parts of a sovereign.

    The campaign for Scottish independence is a campaign for Scotland to separate from the UK so as once more to become (as before the Act of Union) a sovereign state: it hasn’t been one since that act was passed.

    “And it’s actually NI which has sovereignty over the NI protocol, not the UK as a whole. The NI assembly is required to give it’s consent every 4 years”.

    That power has been devolved to the NI Assembly: devolution isn’t the same as sovereignty.

    I suggest your argument is based on a misreading of what constitutes sovereignty.

  48. I see we are into the splitting hairs part of the debate, into the exact meaning of sovereignty, which I looked up, there are at least 5 different kinds apparently… I think it’s somewhat pointless to argue about technicalities.

    Does or does NI not have the power to decide? Could the UK parliament in reality revoke that power? Are the actual questions which concern the points I have made, rather than questioning my use of language and terms.

    The UK Parliament might have legal sovereignty, but does it have politcal sovereignty? And it can’t have legal sovereignty without political sovereignty interestingly – it’s fun debating things… I learn stuff.

    The reality is, is it not that the UK has not and never did give up legal sovereignty. It hasn’t done so with the WA, it can at any point anull any and all parts of the WA through an act of parliament.

    So the question is it might have legal sovereignty to do that, but does it have political sovereignty?

  49. “but does it have politcal sovereignty?”

    Of course it does – since it can dictate what the courts will and will not accept.

    Remove the European capacity to enforce in the UK and there is nothing more they can do other than sabre rattle and raise sanctions.

    At which point it would be cheaper for the UK government to simply buy the NI output that would otherwise go to Ireland and chuck it in the Irish Sea.

    If nobody in NI loses sales, who cares?

  50. “Does or does NI not have the power to decide? Could the UK parliament in reality revoke that power?”

    Have you forgotten that until only a short time ago NI was being ruled directly from Westminster, Stormont having ceased to function because of the prolonged stand-off between the two parties to the NI power-sharing agreement.

    So I would say that the answer to your second question must be “yes, and for so long as the circumstances required it to”.

  51. @Neil Wilson

    “but does it have politcal sovereignty?”

    Of course it does – since it can dictate what the courts will and will not accept.

    According to what I read, that isn’t political sovereignty, what you have described is legal sovereignty, the power to legislate. Political sovereignty is what is loosely termed the “will of the people”. That is Parliament’s power is legitimised by elections – it also legitimises Real Sovereignty, the power of ministers to deploy prerogative powers. And witness what happens when Parliament loses political sovereignty, or rather the Government loses political sovereignty over parliament, which it did prior to the 2019 election – the Crown’s power to legislate through Parliament became paralysed.

    Shall we stop pretending that sovereign power resides in parliament, and is in fact held by Government’s ability to control Parliament through the party system?

    And again @robertH

    Is describing what happens to a legislative body when it loses political sovereignty. It can no longer legislate. In the NI’s case sovereignty fell back to Westminster.

  52. “the Crown’s power to legislate through Parliament became paralysed.”

    That’s just the constitution working as it is supposed to. There was an election and now it is unparalysed. Another win for the UK’s organic bottom up constitutional arrangements.

    Whatever categorisation and artificially putting things in boxes you want to use (there is no such division in the UK – that’s sort of the point), this Parliament will pass legislation preventing the UK courts from listening to anything other than what they are instructed to listen to about Northern Ireland and that will be that.

    Goods from GB will be sold in NI as they are in the rest of the country and nobody will be able to stop them.

  53. @Neil Wilson

    I don’t disagree with your point about the legislative sovereignty of the UK parliament. It isn’t total or absolute sovereignty though, that requires legislative and executive power to be held in the same body. We would call that a dictatorship.

    So yes I agree that Parliament is very likely to pass this Bill, the Government has a large enough majority to push it through.

    I don’t believe that goods will actually be prevented from entering NI either, but that impression could well be conveyed to our mass media.

    But whether goods entering NI attract a tariff or not, is not within Parliament’s power. This Bill does not confer this power on Parliament.

    It’s actually conferred onto ministers, so it will be down to ministerial decisions as to whether they do or do not use the power conveyed in the Bill.

    Parliament has no effective executive function, therefore it can not be absolutely sovereign… Luckily for us…

    So I really am not sure what will happen, because it actually depends on ministerial fiat.

  54. And being outside the EU is going to sort out the problems the adoption of neoliberalism and the subservience of the state to capital has caused how exactly? Cause I see no difference between the EU and UK’s elites.

  55. Dear Anadal (at 2020/09/18 at 9:03 am)

    So the people of the UK decide to reject the neoliberal government and vote them out, assuming the Labour Party has abandoned its past promotion of neoliberal policies, and the new British government is then fully sovereign to move ahead.

    If the UK had have remained in the EU, that sort of democratic shift would not have been possible.

    So it is the hands of the British people now, as it should be.

    best wishes

  56. @Anadal

    I read this piece of research which looked at left-right balance in party manifestos and related this to vote share going all the way back to 1979.

    The researchers found a consistent relationship with a left-ward swing of the Labour manifesto coinciding with a decrease in vote share. The 1997 victory by the Labour party was accompanied by a large rightward swing.

    In the last election the shock loss of Labour’s red wall of seats, wasn’t entirely a surprise to the conservative canvassers in those areas. As one canvasser explained – those Labour voters actually express views close to traditional conservative voters. As he explained they are ‘natural’ conservative voters, it’s just that they have always voted Labour.

    The UK as a whole is generally conservative in it’s outlook, and the voters most likely to vote generally tend towards conservative views.

    Let’s take the latest opinion polls on voter intention – all of them give the Conservatives a small lead over Labour. To compare at the last election the Conservatives gained 42% while Labour gained 40% of the vote.

    Starmer who appears much more prime ministerial and has shrugged off the attempts to smear him is still polling lower than Corbyn (this isn’t a vote to bring back Jeremy by the way)

    And it’s hard to imagine how a Government could possible be more incompetent, with a Prime Minister who can barely string a coherent sentence together without contradicting something he said not even a week earlier, meanwhile his ministers are getting torn to shreds on Good Morning Britain of all places. The PM has just been roasted by Ed Miliband, not exactly known for his acerbic rhetoric, following multiple PMQ’s appearances where he is made to look a blundering incompetent nincompoop…

    Like I said it’s hard to imagine a Government being more useless, and so I don’t see a non-neoliberal Government being elected in the UK’s near future…

  57. @Mark Redwood

    There’s a simple reason why the British are ‘conservative’: the British MSM. Few people nowadays read the papers but their headlines scream out from every general store every day and those headlines set the agenda for the rest of the media. Despite that, Labour could have won the 17 general election if it hadn’t been for the activities of most of the most powerful members. As you say, Labour polled only 2% less than tories last year when it was impossible for them to win.

    4 years is a long way away but the old are dying and young people are much more engaged now. Who knows? If we’re still stuck with Starmer (challenge to leadership roles is still possible before rule changes next autumn) current policies might look old hat.

  58. “There’s a simple reason why the British are ‘conservative’: the British MSM.”

    There’s a wonderful sketch by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore that debunks the belief that media narratives influence behaviour that much. It still holds true.

    The British are, in the majority, patriotic, socially conservative and economically liberal. Labour and its current membership have either forgotten that, or never really accepted it at their core in the first place. Hence why it has become the Metropolitan and Minorities Party, and will never be in power while it maintains that position.

    The Tories have outflanked Labour by creating a patriotic coalition of toffs and workers. If the Tories shift their economic position – and they are likely to be forced to since tax rises now would be an utter disaster – they are likely to become impenetrable.

  59. “Starmer who appears much more prime ministerial ”

    Only to those with blinkers firmly in place.

    A New Leadership, Same Patronising Attitude

  60. @Neil Wilson

    “The British are, in the majority, patriotic, socially conservative and economically liberal.”

    You have basically described the neoliberal mindset. Patriotic… tick, socially conservative…. tick, economically liberal… tick.

    The Job guarantee, conflicts with a socially conservative work ethic, but it also conflicts with an economic liberalist ethic which necessarily opposes greater state intervention.

    So where does a policy such as a job guarantee fit with a socially conservative, economically liberal mindset? How would you propose such a policy be presented by a reinvigorated Labour Party, such that it secures enough votes to form a majority party? How would you propose the Labour Party deal with the hostile media which would confront such a policy?

    “A New Leadership, Same Patronising Attitude”

    Yes quite, I get you don’t like Keir Starmer. Of course you do realise that patronisation is a cornerstone of social conservatism – one person’s patronisation is another’s reassuring authority figure.

    Margaret Thatcher, generally idolised (not by me mind), was described as autocratic and patronising by her own party members. She isn’t the only one… Tony Blair was variously also accused of being patronising, so was David Cameroon. Winston Churchill was also described as “lofty and patronising” It seems like being patronising is very much a prime ministerial quality.

    But arguing about whether we like Keir Starmer or not is besides the point. If you don’t think Starmer has the necessary qualities who would you recommend as party leader for Labour? Who do you believe has the necessary qualities?

    When Bill is saying to Anandal “So it is the hands of the British people now, as it should be.” While you are downplayng the influence of the MSM, and uplaying Labour’s lack of strategic competence, I think it would be helpful instead of saying what Labour is doing wrong, to point out what they need to change. What do Labour need to do?

  61. @Carol Wilcox

    “If we’re still stuck with Starmer (challenge to leadership roles is still possible before rule changes next autumn) current policies might look old hat.”

    Aren’t Labour on their party conference at the moment? Personally I don’t know what Starmerism looks like from an economic point of view. I assume it will look socially conservative, economically liberal. I guess we wait and see… I am assuming that I will be, I was going to say disappointed, but I have long since ceased to be disappointed, I think the actual feeling will be unsurprised.

  62. “The Job guarantee, conflicts with a socially conservative work ethic, but it also conflicts with an economic liberalist ethic which necessarily opposes greater state intervention.”

    The reality being exactly the opposite.

    Lord only knows where you get these ideas from. Not from ordinary people on the ground for sure.

    Time to get out of the bubble, stop dismissing the concerns of ordinary people and start thinking bottom up rather than top down.

  63. “What do Labour need to do?”

    Not so much Labour as the current membership. And they need to start listening to people like Matthew Goodwin who has been pointing this stuff out for years.

  64. “The reality being exactly the opposite.”

    Yes I agree to some extent, the reality would be the exact opposite – but we aren’t talking about realities, the MSM don’t exactly deal in realities do they? They deal in narratives and counter-narratives.

    Last year Boris when went off to see Macron to discuss the withdrawal agreement – In one paper, Boris was painted as the master negotiator wringing concessions out of the Frenchies (I paraphrase, but only slightly), and in another paper, Boris was humbled by Macron who informed him of the “realities”

    Same meeting… same transcipts…. two completely different descriptions.

    The TUC are currently promoting a Job Guarantee, I found out by accident, because do you know how many ‘ news publications have run with the TUC’s press release?


    I read Bill’s piece in the Mail online about the Job Guarantee, He got 40 comments, mostly supportive, which is good – a Rishi Sunak piece also in the Mail Online, which is a day old, and was about how the disastrous publice finances will need benefits and public sector wages to be frozen, received 3.6K comments, and 3.5K shares.

    A mad old professor (looking suitably bohemian, and pretty cool I might add), can say what he likes, yeah sounds good, but it ain’t going to be real, and nobody really bothers to read it – nice idea, never going to happen.

    The question I ask is what happens when this gets near to reality – like sat centre stage in a Labour manifesto? Just how much does a Job Guarantee tread on the toes of various vested interests? How is Labour going to sell it to those vested interests?

    According to Lance Price, there was a ‘deal’ between New Labour and News International, they promised to leave Murdoch free to pursue his business interests. And as I said…

    Labour’s 1997 manifesto marked a significant right-ward swing, plus they were helped by the Liberal Democrats splitting the Conservative vote. Left ward swings result in Labour losing vote share.

    “And they need to start listening to people like Matthew Goodwin who has been pointing this stuff out for years.”

    And just who is going to persuade them to do that?

  65. @Mark. The economic policies coming out of conference so far look OK, but might change after today’s speech by Shadow Treasurer. Members are more concerned about foreign policy and the complete shattering of party democracy.

    Looking forward to Sunak’s metamorphosis from Golden Boy to Piece of Shit when ordered to ‘cut the deficit’. Suits Doris.

  66. Neil Wilson:

    “The British are, in the majority, patriotic, socially conservative and economically liberal.”

    Yes to the first two but there are very mixed feelings on the question of economic liberalism. It really depends when you ask the question. The answer you’d have more likely got before 2008 when times were relatively good was that the supposed ‘free market’ should be allowed to operate without too much Govt interference. After the GFC it wouldn’t have been called interference but instead legitimate intervention. Now the COVID crisis has hit, hardly anyone is saying the Govt shouldn’t be playing an active role.

    Mark Redwood:

    “The Job guarantee, conflicts with a socially conservative work ethic, but it also conflicts with an economic liberalist ethic which necessarily opposes greater state intervention.”

    Neil is right to say that the JG doesn’t conflict with a socially conservative work ethic. If workers are prepared to work then there’s a general acceptance they are worth and deserve their pay. As previously stated, there is no evidence there is a generally accepted “economically liberal” ideology. People will always choose policies which are seen to be relevant to economic circumstances.

  67. @Peter Martin

    Hi, yes I guess I was stretching it on the socially conservative work eithic – because I was thinking how a socially conservative work ethic could be used to reject a job guarantee. I always find it interesting how polarised language use in debates are… yes/no, either/or… reality is very rarely like that…

    Take Bob’s Job Guarantee article in the Mail Online, the top comment received 80 votes, and they supported a job guarantee as a way of preventing idleness, that is it should be compulsory – a socially conservative work ethic… I don’t think the Job Guarantee is actually meant to work like that… as a cure for idleness…

    What I find interesting is how people can be persuaded to support policies which utlimately act against their best interests. Take welfare benefits, the people who are generally mostly strongly in favour of strict controls on fraud, are the people either already in receipt of it, or people most likely to need it.

    The woman on UK’s Question Time, who said she had voted Conservative for the first time ever, because she agreed with the notion that too many people were taking advantage of the benefit system. What she didn’t realise was that the Government when it was talking about skivers had actually meant her. She was visibly upset, as she talked about how the changes had affected her. The media-sphere was to say the least very unkind.

    How did people like her get persuaded to vote for something that wasn’t in her best interest? How did benefit fraud become seen as a major problem, when in fact it is overall a very small problem?

    That I find interesting, and I think it relates very directly to some of the issues in a left-wing progressive party being able to successfully introduce something like a Job Guarantee to the UK.

  68. I would appreciate an analysis of Shadow Chancellor’s speech today which I could try to get published. The Morning Star would probably publish. Although not read by many people it would be read by many Labour members, including MPs.

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