Couch Potato

My thoughts on TV, Sport, News, Politics and Film

Category: Politics

The false narrative on immigration must be challenged not accepted

8xposters1This week Home Secretary Amber Rudd defended her vile, inflammatory speech on immigration by saying “it’s not racist to talk about immigration”, it’s not this is true. A week before Rachel Reeves, a former Labour Shadow minister predicted riots on our streets, if immigration wasn’t curbed, rhetoric that has unnerving similarities to that of Enoch Powell almost 50 years ago. Rudd is right that discussing immigration is not racist, however scapegoating and vilifying foreigners who work and contribute enormously to our society and our way of life, is disgraceful and wrong. When we talk about immigration why is there so few voices heralding the positives, the fact our economy relies on migrant labour, the fact our precious NHS relies on migrant labour, or the fact that without immigration Britain would be a homogenous, boring, less dynamic and frankly a worse country to live. Over the past 50 years or so a false narrative has permeated from the far right to the very top of mainstream politics, it is now dominant and in post referendum Britain it is now more vital than ever that our leaders, our journalists and our citizens challenge it. 

In 1968 in response to Labour’s latest Race Relations bill, prominent Conservative politician Enoch Powell delivered a speech that would become infamous, he stated that unless stopped,  Commonwealth migration would lead to racial violence between blacks and whites in Britain. When Powell made his speech he was widely condemned and sacked from the Shadow Cabinet for a “racialist speech”, however he did resonate with a small segment of the British public, those that saw Blacks and Asians moving into their areas as something to fear, as an erosion of British culture and as a threat to British society, for no other reason than that the migrants were different to themselves. I have no doubt that the comments from Rudd or Reeves connect with that same segment, but the segment is larger now, because influential, opportunistic elements, with very little challenge, have managed to turn a narrative that was once the preserve of the ignorant or the racist into a mainstream apparently acceptable belief. Whereas once the anti-immigration movement was simply, a minority that feared and hated those that were different to them, now it is potentially a majority of people who feel that it is “the other” (immigrants) that are the cause of their problems. This is the false narrative. This is what we need to fight against.

Immigration is not a particularly modern phenomena to Britain, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans were all immigrant populations. The establishment and rise of the British Empire from around the 17th Century meant many peoples from British colonies ended up in Britain for trade reasons, for example many Indian seamen were brought over by the East India Company and a number of Africans were brought over as a result of the African Slave Trade to be servants for wealthy families. However the contemporary immigration debate has its roots in post-World War 2 Britain.

After the Second World War, Britain was a broken country, its cities bombed out, its people demoralised, its finances drained, it was a far cry from the global hegemon it had been at the start of the century, however it still had the world’s largest empire and the government encouraged colonial subjects to fill labour gaps, particularly in the NHS and London Transport. This was a call that was answered emphatically from the Caribbean and the Indian Sub-Continent from those who wished to serve what they saw as the “mother” country. The colonial education system had taught them that they must be deferential to Britain, that Britain was a nation where the streets were paved with gold and the opportunity to live and work for “mother” was the ultimate honour. When they arrived, despite holding full British citizenship they found their qualifications from British run schools and universities were not recognised, they faced appalling and disgusting racism and they struggled to find accommodation due to the colour of their skin. They arrived to a country they had been taught to worship only to find that despite needing them, it did not want them. Despite this, these immigrants  (my parents and grandparents among them) worked hard, paid their taxes and made a life in the UK despite the vitriol.

As Commonwealth immigration rose in the 50s far-right groups such as Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement and the White Defence League switched their focus from anti-semitism to anti-immigration, believing that immigrants should be repatriated so Britain could be kept “white”. Groups such as these inflamed tensions between whites and migrants, and in Notting Hill they co-operated with teenage gangs known as “teddy boys” to engage in “nigger hunts”. This led to the 1958 Notting Hill race riots where a mob of 300-400 white people attacked the homes of West Indian residents. It is in these fringe fascist, far-right groups where the false narrative originates, their ideology was grounded in racism, xenophobia and prejudice. These migrants talked different and looked different, so they do not belong, no matter what they did, they would not belong.

One of the great myths about the immigration story, one perpetuated by far-right groups such as the aforementioned as well as their successor is that immigration is unchecked. While it is true that between 1948 to 1962 all Commonwealth citizens were full British Citizens and had a right to work in the UK, from 1962 it was a different story, the Conservative government in response to “public sentiment”, passed the Commonwealth Immigration Bill which meant only Commonwealth citizens with government issued vouchers could come, at the time Commonwealth migration was 150,000 a year, less than 1% of the population. The legislation was described as a “cruel and brutal anti-colour legislation” by the Labour Leader Hugh Gaitskell, and this is exactly what it was, the public sentiment the Government referred to was simply an unease from the far-right (both within and outside the government) that so many non-white peoples had a right to work in the UK, on the contrary immigration barely affected large swaths of the public and those from areas with immigrant-growing populations, who were anti-immigrant, were being strongly influenced by the far right. Nevertheless controls continued to be tightened, in 1968, this time under a Labour government, a new Commonwealth Immigration Act was passed saying only those born, or had a parent or grandparent born in the UK, could come, clearly a deliberate attempt to prevent non-white immigration, and finally the 1971 Immigration Act removed the distinction between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth migrants altogether, both would need a work permit to come. Britain shut it’s doors on the peoples it had subjugated for hundreds of years. 

Ironically, the same decade as immigration controls were being tightened, the National Front (NF) began to grow. The NF’s core beliefs were compulsory repatriation of all post-1948 Commonwealth immigrants and opposition to what was then known as the EEC. Their members consisted primarily of blue-collar workers who resented immigrant competition in the labour market. The NF were prominent through the 1970s and early 1980s and gained notoriety for their marches and altercations, such as the Battle of Lewisham in 1977 where they chose to march through a predominant non-white area carrying a provocative banner stating 85% of muggers are black, leading to violent clashes.  Despite their prominence, they wielded little influence, their membership peaked at around 20,000 and although the 70s and 80s were a time where race relations were perhaps at their tensest in the UK, it was only a minority of the population that actually supported the extreme, racist, anti-immigration stance of the NF.  As Britain entered the Thatcher era, with strong immigration controls, the NF died away, and public opinion became focused on other issues such as unemployment and deindustrialisation.

By the 1990s Britain was maturing into a truly multicultural country as descendants of the Commonwealth immigrants of the previous decades began to outnumber the original immigrants. Multiculturalism has undoubtedly made Britain a greater country in all arenas: sport, music, food, language and much more. Without multiculturalism we wouldn’t have: curry; grime; Mo Farah; Bhangra; Notting Hill Carnival; bistros, it has united communities, and from personal experience growing up in a multicultural, diverse community gives you a broader cultural understanding you just can’t get in a homogenous, inward looking society. New Labour recognised immigration was a positive for Britain and actively encouraged it, New Labour saw there were skills gaps that simply weren’t being filled by British workers. This wave of immigration in the Noughties and 2010s has come not from the Commonwealth but from the EU where freedom of movement is entrenched in the constitution. This has meant our country has been enriched further by the cultures of peoples from Poland, Romania, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, the only negative being that strict controls remained in place for non-EU migrants, who still face some of the toughest immigration controls in the world because of the unproven, supposed “public sentiment” in the 70s.

Of course not everyone views immigration as favourably as me, the segment of society that fear and hate difference was still around, they’d supported Powell, they’d joined the NF and the BNP and now they probably vote UKIP. They tended to be white working class men in the former industrial heartlands of Britain, or those that had moved away as their areas changed for example former dockers, who moved from East London to Essex in the Thatcher years, holding resentment to the immigrants that had “changed” their communities. This group was unchanged however a far larger group would become sympathetic to their arguments, the communties of these former industrial heartlands had been destroyed by Thatcherism, she closed their places of work, their mines, their factories, their mills and their shipyards. They were not retrained and New Labour ignored their hardship believing their vote to be guaranteed. Then there was a financial crisis, followed by a recession which hit these communities harder than any other, they lost the precarious jobs they had, their taxes were used to bail out greedy bankers, or pay for a Westminster MP’s duck house. They were left behind by globalisation, forgotten by their leaders, their communities destroyed and not rebuilt, they understandably became disenfranchised and disillusioned with their lot. Nostalgic for a time when everyone had a job, and everyone got by. This disconnect didn’t formulate over a few months or years, it formulated over decades. 

Enter Nigel Farage, the living embodiment of influential opportunism. Farage is no racist. He is not a far-right firebrand like Enoch Powell or Nick Griffin, I suspect he’s not even particularly anti-immigration, his wife after all is German. Farage however does categorically believe one thing, that Britain would be more prosperous outside the European Union. Europe however isn’t something that many people have strong opinions on, at least not pre-2015, so a party centred around that issue was never going to be particularly successful, and they weren’t for a long time, then Farage stumbled across a genius, calculating electoral strategy. He saw a large swath of society that felt disillusioned, disconnected and forgotten, white working class Britain, the Tories had never been there for them, Labour had left them, the politicians were corrupt, the bankers were corrupt, who’s there to represent them, the ordinary working man, well a public schoolboy from Kent of course, but a public schoolboy from Kent with charisma, which brought him influence. This is when the false narrative really kicked into gear, Farage targeted these communities and he told them he’s one of them, and they were persuaded by his anti-establishment cause, it is a characteristic of many revolutions to whip up a mob against notional faceless enemy, whose prime feature is there difference to the mob, in history this enemy has been anything from capitalist industrialists, to imperialists. The key to Farage’s “revolution”, was that he attributed all the strife this group felt from their decades of injustice and hardship, to foreigners. Finally they had an outlet and reasoning for their pain, no other figure had cared enough about them to explain it. Farage’s assessment made sense, foreigners in Brussels were making their laws (never mind that they don’t), foreigners were stealing their jobs (never mind that they don’t want those jobs), foreigners destroying their communities (never mind there’s no foreigners in these communities). It didn’t matter that it was false because no one bothered to challenge the narrative.

As UKIP rose, Westminster instead of challenging UKIP’s narrative, chose to pander to the UKIP cause, after UKIP won the 2014 European Elections, the Tories promised to crackdown even further on migration despite, migration even EU migration actually being quite low and beneficial for the country, Labour traditionally pro-immigration shifted to the right because of a fear of losing swathes of its base to UKIP and most pertinently of all the Tories promised a EU referendum, the goal of UKIP and Farage’s entire political existence. Fast forward to 2016 we had a campaign that was run entirely around immigration, UKIP had succeeded in pushing the issue from the fringe to the very centre of the debate, Leave campaigners (from all parties) told the people immigrants are the cause of all your problems, vote Leave and we’ll stop them, yes there were other reasons people voted to leave, yes it’s far more complicated than people being psychologically seduced by the false narrative but what’s clear now is that the Westminster politicians have no intention of correcting this false narrative or challenging it, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn of course, and this lack of challenge will go on to have even more damaging consequences than just Brexit. We had a referendum, leave won, so we leave, fine, we did not have a referendum on immigration, and it is disturbing, scary and dangerous that, intelligent, sound-minded individuals who are not vehement racists or xenophobes, believe the British people are ardently anti-immigration, no they’ve just been conned, by a very clever electoral ploy.

I hope I’ve gone some way to busting the myths on immigration. I hope I’ve teared apart the false narrative a little. Immigration is a net benefit to our economy and our society, immigrants work hard and pay their taxes, unlike Google or the banks, immigrants quite literally built the Britain of today and contributed immeasurably to the culture of our great country. What is the great shame of this current political vogue, is that these cold, hard facts are being ignored by the same establishment that ignored the working class for so long. If we continue with this scapegoating and this demonisation of immigrants and foreigners, we go down a dangerous path, a path that has been travelled down in the past, when Amber Rudd says companies must report the amount of foreign workers they has ominous similarity to Hitler wanting all Jews to wear a yellow star so they can be identified. This is how it starts, it starts with rhetoric and it’s followed by policy, this is no longer a fringe belief, this is our government, we can’t let this be our 1933 moment we have to challenge this now before it’s too late. Hate crime is rising because people believe it is now legitimate to be racist, this has to be stopped, it has to end, it is our similarities not our differences that make us strong, it is our diversity, not our homogeneity that make us “Great” Britain, I fear that it is now being quickly forgotten.

 

Let’s talk about Keynes

0 R“The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn’t deliver the goods.” – Keynes

Now I’m no economist, I did geography at university, but I was recently in a basic economics lecture and the lecturer’s approach was troubling to me. Principally it was his assertion that monetarism had won the 20th Century economic debate by miles, with his only qualification being some complex maths. Now this view contrasted with my own studies so I’d thought I’d do some research.

In economic geography we refer to mainstream economics as “political economy” and there are three main accounts of political economy: Keynesianism, Monetarism and Marxism. I’m going to discuss Keynesianism and Monetarism.

To ascertain who won we must look at what each school believes. Keynesianism dominated Western economies from the end of World War 2 till the late 70s. It’s central tenets were that capitalist economies are prone to boom, bust and crisis, and they tend towards overaccumulation. To mitigate the inherent instability of a capitalist economy there should be strong state intervention, known as “fiscal activism” whereby the state hoards money in times of boom, to spend on infrastructure in times of crisis, with the ultimate goal being “full employment” for the population. Keynes also believed in tough regulation, as left unchecked businesses and intermediaries (such as banks) would engineer a crisis. He equated stock markets to casinos where those with better resources and information such as corporations or banks have an advantage over ordinary people, and for that reason, the general public should be protected from the stock market to avoid mass speculation like that which led to the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Keynesianism also advocates a welfare state to try to even the inequalities created by capitalism. Crucially it states inflation is not as important as fiscal activism, as the “Phillips Curve” showed that decreasing unemployment caused high inflation.

It was this curve that led to the downfall of Keynesianism in the late 1970s. The curve was firmly discredited by the stagflation crisis which saw high unemployment and high inflation in much of the western world, which shouldn’t of been possible if the Phillips Curve was correct. Monetarists argued this meant Keynesianism didn’t work, actually this crisis was likely due to the fact that governments didn’t adhere to Keynesianism properly as spending cuts and tax rises are detrimental politically, instead they just kept spending especially pre-election.  It was in this time of crisis that the monetarists emerged from the shadow of irrelevance they’d occupied since the 1930s to try establish their doctrine as mainstream.

Monetarism is neo-liberal, free market economics, it argues that the state should play as little a role in the economy as markets, are perfect and self-correcting. In practice this means deregulation and the roll back of the welfare state, as well as the encouraging of all actors to take part in markets, to create a “shareholder democracy” where everyone is financially independent of the state. In terms of this debate, perhaps the most important postulate of monetarism is that controlling inflation is the essential to a stable economy, not fiscal activism, as Keynes advocated. Monetarism was first applied in Chile after an American-backed coup ousted the incumbent socialist government and replaced with right wing dictator Pinochet. The new government then implemented the policies of key neoliberal theorist Milton Friedman, with questionable success, however with the elections of Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the US, monetarism replaced Keynesianism as the political economy of choice in the late 1970s.

Now you may be thinking well if monetarism became hegemonic and Keynesianism was discredited and died away, my lecturer was right and monetarism did win “hands down”, well, no. The 2008-09 crisis was the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, this came after almost 30 years of neoliberal policies (including the proclamation of the end of boom and bust in the period now referred to as the Great Complacence) and was undoubtedly a crisis of neoliberalism, the low interest rates (supposedly controlling inflation), encouraged a era of cheap credit, where everyone from ordinary consumers to the biggest banks borrowed like never before, the banks loaded their balance sheets with complex financial products tied to extremely dodgy mortgages, aided by the light-touch regulatory regimes established by neoliberal leaders meaning when the housing market crashed, the economy blew up. Controlling inflation hadn’t prevented the crisis, light-touch regulation had failed and because more people were exposed to markets than ever before, it affected the real economy more severely than ever before. To combat the crisis the US and UK governments resorted to Keynesian policies, they bailed out the banks and they pumped new money into the economy.

The crisis showed that Keynes was right about boom and bust, he was right about regulation, right about protecting the public (who ended up bailing out reckless, failed banks) and right about the cause of crises. Therefore Keynes didn’t really lose the debate. Yes monetarism became ascendant but that was because of a series of political coincidences, accidents and tides (Pinochet, Thatcher, Reagan), as well of the failure of Keynesian thinkers to adapt and reform the system in the aftermath of the stagflation crisis.

Fast forward to 2016, neoliberal thinking is still ascendant, despite the crisis which is testament to its strength, but maybe it is a lack of perspective from economists such as my lecturer why this is the case. I propose two things: 1) what if an independent body, was charged with implementing Keynesian policy, pumping and hoarding money when necessary, this removes the temptation of governments to print money when their economy’s lagging, and builds on the existing independent status of many central banks that are charged with controlling inflation; 2) that we move away from viewing political economy regimes so narrowly, there are far more factors that affect both systems than questions of inflation or unemployment, social issues, geographical inequalities, long-term processes or political legislation for example, economists should move away from their pure-science model to one that is holistic and all-encompassing, if they are to become better at preventing crises.

Who won the debate? Well the way the economy is today, it’s still ongoing.

 

Corbyn must stay, the plotters are the issue

Jeremy Corbyn Takes The Lead In The Labour Leadership Race

5 days on from the referendum, British politics (not to mention the country as a whole) is bedlam. Her Majesty’s Government has descended into infighting over their next leader when they should be focused on trying to tackle the mess that is Brexit: when are we triggering Article 50; is there a way to keep Britain (or at least the parts that want to) in the single market; how do we stop the rising incidents of despicable racism; what does post-Brexit Britain look like; what’s the plan? Do any of the Tories know? Nope. They’re busy trying to work out which of the short straws is longest: Bozo Boris?; Theresa “close the border” May?; Stephen “born on a council estate” Crabb?; Other? It’s certainly a great watch, luckily though we have Her Majesty’s Opposition to hold them to account and actually ask the questions the people need answers to for reassurance that our elected officials can actually steer us through the oblivion that is Brexit, oh wait, no, Labour have decided that this period of national crisis is the perfect opportunity to try and oust the democratically elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Right. Ok. Makes sense.

Since Friday, Margaret Hodge (yeah I’d never heard of her either) called a vote of no confidence in Corbyn due to what she saw as his lacklustre campaiging during the EU Referendum, on Saturday night, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn was sacked after saying he no longer had confidence in Corbyn’s leadership, this then sparked a wave of (seemingly staged and planned) Shadow Cabinet resignations over the coming days, who all called on him to resign. The vote of confidence was lost by Corbyn by 172 to 40, and again they called on him to resign. Today former Labour leaders, Labour deputy leaders and even the lame duck outgoing PM himself have asked Corbyn to go. The situation as it stands is that Corbyn is still in office backed by: his parliamentary loyalists, McDonnell, Abbott and Thornberry; the majority of the membership and the unions. It is expected that the now former Shadow Secretary of State Angela Eagle will launch a leadership challenge tomorrow.

So let’s look at what the MPs issues are with Corbyn. A number of MPs were unhappy with his campaign to keep Britain in the EU, some going so far as to blame him for the Leave vote. Well while Jeremy is a known Eurosceptic, he rightly backed Remain as he understood Britain in a reformed EU is far better than leaving altogether, I believe this pragmatic view was the right position to campaign on as opposed to the “EU is perfect” line advocated by some further to the right in the Labour party, as it has become clear, large swathes in Labour heartlands had animosity to the EU due to flames stoked about immigration (actually a largely positive force) by UKIP over the last 20 years or so, then the Leave campaign over the last few months, these voters bought into a false narrative concocted over a number of years when Labour was ignoring it’s deprived, disllusioned heartlands. Corbyn is mending those bridges (2/3rds of Labour voters did vote remain) but it’ll take a long time to win back those that haemoraghed to UKIP. Regardless the referendum was not lost because of Corbyn, it was lost because of the Tories (From Thatcher right through to Cameron) and the failings of Blair/Brown Labour government to bring prosperity to its heartlands. Another issue the PLP seem to have with Corbyn is that he can’t win an election as he’s out of touch with the general electorate. Well Labour are currently neck and neck with the Tories in the polls, Jeremy won the Labour leadership with the biggest mandate ever, he’s been winning elections in his constinuency since 1983, he’s won every by-election during his leadership tenure, Labour won back the London mayoralty, and Labour remain the biggest party in the local elections. There is simply no evidence that Corbyn wouldn’t connect with the electorate, but plenty on the contrary. I would hypothesize that given the anti-establishment sentiment that is becoming dominant in this country, as evidenced by UKIP and the Greens rise as well as the referendum result, Corbyn would inspire a swath of voters as a genuine anti-establishment leader of a mainstream party, with policies that would help the most deprived in our society. The people are begging for a genuine alternative to the painful, cruel, heartless, needless austerity of the Tories, Corbyn is this.

It’s clear that this attempt to force Corbyn out, has very little to do with the referendum or his leadership, it is a pre-planned coup by the Blairite bloc of the party who fear the left of the party winning as it would prove their “modernisation” and ideologies to be what they are, outdated and ineffective. The country’s moved on, New Labour should go. What is particularly sickening about the actions of the PLP over the past few days is that it is exactly what is turning people against Westminster politics, Corbyn was democratically elected by over 200,000 ordinary, hard-working people including myself, who are the PLP to remove him, they have no legitimacy, they know no better than us, they are not better than us, they are not smarter than us, if anything they’re stupider if they think Labour is better off without Corbyn, if Corbyn goes they’ll be giving the country to the far right for a generation, seriously, the stakes are that high. The PLP have no right to overrule the will of the people, Labour are the party of the people. If this coup succeeds they will relinquish the right to call themselves that. They will become hypocrites and traitors to the ideology they claim to serve. What they’re doing is selfish, nasty and treacherous, and is exactly the kind of underhand behaviour that makes so many people hate politics, and why so much Labour voters have been turning to the “straight-talkers” of UKIP.

Thankfully, Corbyn, being the great man of the people sees resigning as a betrayal of the membership which he clearly values, he’ll be on the ballot and will undoubtedly beat Eagle in an election. What happens then? There is serious talk of a split if Corbyn wins the election with those that are against Corbyn forming a new party, with Corbyn perhaps then forming a left-wing alliance with the Greens and SNP. Whatever happens, this nation needs a Corbyn-led Labour party in whatever form that has to take. More importantly it needs a Corbyn-led opposition even more, pressuring the weak Tories and preparing to win an iminent general election, instead the PLP may have pushed Britain even further into the abyss. There’s a vacuum of leadership in the time of our greatest need, the one man who could of helped is being backstabbed by his own party. It’s truly shameful. The most worrying thing of all, they think Corbyn and the membership of the Labour party are in the wrong for wanting to follow the rules. We live in a democracy. The problems with politics today is that the Westminster elite are more concerned with what the richest and the media think, rather than the cast-iron democratic will of the people. Look at recent years, the media has been wrong on every election result (Corbyn remember has been attacked by the media more than any other political leader in history and still won the biggest mandate in Labour history), as has Westminster MPs, the people have stopped listening to those that believe themselves betters, those that talk in soundbites but do nothing, those that look great on camera but care only about their own ambition, the people want their voices heard. Labour is the party that needs to listen before it’s too late but the only one listening is Corbyn, but the Westminster cabal led by the smiling Labour assassins have sharpened the knives. I stand with Corbyn.

A Dark Day For Britain

20131243153252734_20“A victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people” – Nigel Farage

Britain will be leaving the European Union. That is the will of the people, well 52% of them. I like most Remain supporters, now fear for this country, I fear for what we’ve become, I fear for what we’ve done, I fear for what the future holds. Brexit will cause great pain and suffering in all arenas of British life. The economy will crash, jobs will be lost, the poor will be become poorer, the right wing government will be given more powers to force their ideological cuts on the most vulnerable in society, the undercurrent of racism and xenophobia that has bubbling in certain sections of the UK will bubble over, and of course the UK itself will cease to exist in short this decision is a catastrophe in every way, and I truly believe that this day will be remembered as the beginning of Britain’s darkest period.

Now why would the people of Britain make such a disastrous decision, what could drive them to ignore all informed wisdom, facts and sound argument. The answer to this question is a false narrative could persuade them to plunge Britain into darkness. Now don’t get me wrong I’m no raving Europhile, I, like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have many issues with EU particularly it’s neoliberal agenda and treatment of Greece, however the EU is Britain’s biggest trading partner, it makes the country prosperous, it provide jobs, we can move freely around the continent, it protects our human and workers rights, it helps tackle climate change, plus the fact that 27 countries that have spent the majority of their histories invading each other now solve their problems through talks and negotiation is a truly remarkable thing. Frankly without the EU we would struggle in the modern world, as we shall now find out. It’s very cold out there we’ve just burnt our lovely technicolour fleece.

So what was the false narrative that persuaded 17m to say “up yours Delors” for good, was it the lie that the EU is slowly eroding away our sovereignty, or the lie that there are secret plans to form a European super state, nope. Instead the Leave campaign ran a very effective campaign targeted at the white working classes in the most deprived areas, the former industrial heartlands destroyed by Thatcher in the 80s, who were then the biggest victims of the financial crisis and subsequent austerity programme, not forgetting the 12 years of New Labour completely disregarding them altogether. Their disillusionment is understandable, politicians don’t listen to them, they don’t help them, why should they care. The genius of the Brexiters, influenced by Farage and UKIP over the last few years is to convince the disillusioned that all their problems are not the fault of Tory austerity, a banker-fuelled financial crisis and Thatcherism. That actually it’s because Johnny Foreigner has stolen their jobs, their houses, their child’s school places and their parents’ hospital beds. This of course didn’t happen, for one there are no immigrants in rural areas and two, immigrants have an overwhelmingly positive effect on our economy, always have, always will. Leave however demonised these heroes of our economy, and inflamed as much vitriol, racism and xenophobia as they could, they ran a campaign of hate and division, which worked we’ve left. And now the moderates tell us they’ll be more migrants from the Commonwealth except when there were waves of Commonwealth migration in the 60s, 70s and 80s the same demonisation took place “keep Britain white”, “we’re full”, “fuck off to your own country”, my parents were victims of such attitudes so I’m quite passionate about this, my point is, what was one fringe far right views of groups such as the National Front, UKIP and the BNP are now mainstream views of the electorate outside London and Scotland. The Brexiters have not simply made it acceptable to discuss migration, they’ve made it acceptable to scapegoat, and simplify the argument. Britain is becoming a country were ignorance is king. The people chose feeling over fact. That’s dangerous because contrary to what Boris and Gove probably think, this will continue, now the white working class see they can affect change, they’ll keep going after EU migrants they’ll be new targets, Muslims?, black people?, gays?, a touch papers been lit and I’m no longer convinced Progressives on the left can reverse the false narrative that’s been planted in these communities. I’m all for voting against the establishment, I’m all for protest, I’m all for making your voice heard, but all they’ve done is make it worse for themselves, they chose the wrong enemy, they were fooled, they believed the myths and lies, they were narrow minded, and the repercussions are already becoming apparent we have a divided nation, a broken nation, and amongst 48% of us there is a sense of great shame that our countrymen chose this path.

Politically, the PM has gone, we knew it’d happen. I’m no fan of Cameron’s but the uncertainty is only going to get worse if we have no stable government in this period of limbo, there has to be a leader to say this is what happens next, this is what leaving actually means, because let’s not forget, there was no plan, Farage, Gove and Johnson just had a crib sheet of soundbites “Australian style points system”, “we can govern ourselves”, “we’d adopt the Great Britain model”. Then we’re potentially gonna have another election for the new PM (Boris) to have a mandate, I’d vote Corbyn of course but I fear that his message is too late to break through to the disillusioned, the communities of the North needed Labour to address their concerns at the last election, instead Miliband chose to pander to UKIP as well as committing to austerity. A Corbyn government would alleviate their problems, yes but they’ve already been seduced by Farage’s pint and gravy vision of Britain, if there’s an election, I expect more UKIP MPs, a Tory/UKIP coalition and Farage in the cabinet. My optimism’s dried up this is the Britain we live in now, the right wing is king, the left’s too busy infighting. I say Britain, Scotland, NI and London were sensible and all voted Remain. Scotland will go now and rightly so, they got dragged out by England which just isn’t fair, this would of course mean the UK would cease to exist as we know, which like many of the Brexit consequences is a terrifying prospect. Sinn Fein are calling for a unification referendum which could become a flashpoint for a renewal of the Troubles, which thankfully have been non-existent, my generation. Finally Labour, well guess what the PLP are blaming Corbyn surprise, surprise. Blair and Miliband lost Scotland by ignoring them. Blair and Miliband sewed the seeds for the North voting out by letting UKIP slowly grow in the absence of Labour attention. Corbyn’s task is vast but you can’t blame him for long term trends, especially when the facts show only 37% of Labour voters that voted Out, this was a Tory/UKIP Brexit not a Labour one. However the PLP have wanted him Out from day 1 so any excuse. Frankly if he is forced out, I won’t be too fussed, right now I don’t think this country deserves him.

Economically, we’re in big trouble, overnight Sterling dropped to it’s lowest level since 1985, lower than even the 2008 crisis. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was forced to make a statement to settle the markets but predicted further volatility. I’d hazard a guess than that volatilty will be fairly long term. It’s also inevitable that they’ll be mass job losses due to our ties with the EU there are a number of firms that are based in the UK, specifically because of our access to the common market, without that, they’ll now look into relocating and finally we’ve just walked out on our biggest trading partner, sort of shooting your foot to well, shoot your foot.

This result will usher in a new age for Britain, a dark age, of decline and misery. It’ll be doom and gloom, it’ll be awful, and we’ll look back on this day in history as the most significant since WW2 in British history and most certainly as the greatest mistake this country has made since the days of Empire, the day it changed. And do you know the worst thing, the people that dragged us out did it for the wrong reasons, giving the establishment a bloody nose? No you ensured the establishment (Boris, Gove, Farage) will be setting our agenda for years to come. Meanwhile you shunned the one and only anti-establishment leader. Well done. Enjoy “freedom” you real, ordinary, decent people. You got your country back. Mine meanwhile may be gone forever.

Corbyn is who Labour need and what the country deserves

If you believe what you read in even the left wing press (yes Guardian I’m referring to you) Jeremy Corbyn is dangerous, he’ll destroy the Labour Party, he’ll keep them out of power for a generation, he’ll send Labour back in time, his economics are loony, his policies are unrealistic even fantastical. So if you believe what you read god forbid Britain’s left wing party actually have a left wing leader.

Thankfully I on the other hand don’t believe what I read in the press and have formed my own opinion of Corbyn based on what I have seen and read from him and the other candidates and that opinion is that he’s exactly what Labour needs and what the country deserves.

Labour lost spectacularly in May, they were wiped out in Scotland and didn’t win enough in England, there has been much debate about why this was, there’s been gushing about the electoral genius of Cameron and Tories. No. Their majority is minuscule there was no genius. I admit they played the game well, using politics of fear over the SNP and immigration to turn England against Labour but Labour primarily lost cos it was too weak and too similar to the Tories they choosing to present themselves as the lesser of two evils. Rather than pick between the two, the public fragmented and voted UKIP, Greens and the SNP. The Tories “won” on 35% hardly genius. What Labour needed to do was be a genuine opposition to the Tories and oppose austerity. This is why they need Corbyn an anti-austerity candidate with genuine conviction in his belief. By being anti-austerity Labour would not only be a strong opposition to the Tories but a party that would reconnect with the disillusioned, who are already beginning to rally behind Corbyn in droves. There would be a clear differentiation between the two major parties and it’d be Labour that would be on the right side of public opinion. It’s a myth elections are won from the centre. What happened to the Lib Dems again? And the most successful pm ever she was really centrist wasn’t she?

Why the country both needs and deserves Corbyn or at least someone of similar thinking is because austerity is a nonsensical, malicious doctrine that rather than being sound economics, simply punishes the poor and vulnerable for the actions of reckless, naive bankers in the top 1% wealth bracket, this is unjust and unfair. Yes the debt we accumulated from the crisis must be paid but we can do it slower and with a little more humanity. Instead of hiking up uni fees why not increase corporation tax for example, this is something Corbyn would fight for. Austerity if allowed to continue will cause greater inequality and ultimately destroy our country. In addition we deserve a genuine, honest politician with conviction in his beliefs, instead of the manufactured, stage managed,  soundbite politicians with no substance that have dominated since 1997. In short the country needs change.

Ok now to address the concerns of the press. He’s dangerous. Well if making the country fairer and more equal then yes he’s dangerous. He’ll destroy Labour. If winning the next election will destroy them then yes I guess he will. He’ll keep them out of power for a generation. Now it was Liz Kendall that said that. Someone should probably let her know that it’s the public, who are by the way clearly behind Corbyns ideology, that votes in elections not her little Blairite cabal, in fact if anythings gonna keep Labour out of power it’s completely abandoning its roots altogether to try and split the centre right vote. He’ll send Labour back in time. Well Blair won in 1997 so that was 18 years ago. Austerity began in 2010 so it’s quite new politics compared to the rest of the candidates. His economics are loony. Of course they are cos the ONLY way to cut the deficit is to slash the public sector and privatize the NHS meanwhile allowing Google and Starbucks to contribute nothing to the public coffers. Oh wait perhaps you could you know RAISE CORPORATION TAX. Finally his policies are fantastical. Yep cos we couldn’t possibly have a nationalised railways like Germany or France, we couldn’t possibly get rid of our cold war nukes cos the cold war didn’t end 24 years ago and we couldn’t possibly have a NHS free of private interests. Oh no so unrealistic.

It all boils down to a very simple choice, vote Burnham you get a soft leader who lacks the conviction to truly take on the Tories. Vote Cooper you get someone who doesn’t belief in anything at all. Vote Kendall you guarantee another Tory government. Vote Corbyn you get change for the better. I know who I’d pick.

Is Left wing v Right wing politics dead?

In this brilliant piece in the The Independent, Amit Singh calls out one of the great myths of this election, that Labour was left-wing, they wasn’t, well their manifesto wasn’t anyway. Since the election several Blairites have risen from their slumber to denounce Miliband for sending the party “back to the 80s”, this actually wasnt the case when you look at his policies but that is perhaps the public perception. Ask SNP or Green voters, such as myself why they didn’t vote Labour and they will tell you Labour was not left-wing enough. Labour’s policies on austerity and immigration would support this viewpoint, however Labour did not lose this election in Scotland, they lost it in England to the undoubtedly right-wing Tories, where people perhaps believed or perceived Labour was too left-wing. Campaigning against the poverty creating plans of the Tories should have been an open goal for Labour, but here enlies the issue, the election was not fought in the left v right manner we have become accustomed, it wasn’t about the NHS or the economy, instead it was about fear and nationalism. Fear of the SNP and fear of immigration. I argue that the left-right political spectrum is a dying dichtomy, Labour was perhaps defeated in Scotland because it was not left-wing enough, yes, many in Scotland believe that New Labour abandoned Scotland and Miliband failed to convince them otherwise but it was effectively beaten by nationalism. The SNP were deemed to better represent the views of the people of Scotland than Labour that were seen to have ignored Scotland in the New Labour years in order to court the middle England vote. In England, it most definitely wasn’t defeated because it was too left-wing, because Labour most certainly wasn’t, at best they could be described as centrist, perhaps it was defeated because people trusted the Tories more with the economy, but Labour planned to cut the deficit, they didn’t plan to borrow, in my opinion their economic plan was far fairer than the Tories and would spread the pain rather than shameless attacking the most vulnerable in society, however perhaps this lack of trust was because Labour broke several promises in their last spell in government, the Lib Dems defeat could certainly be atributed to lack of trust. In my opinion however Labour in England were again defeated by nationalism with a side-order of fear, two-pronged this time, nationalism from UKIP which targeted the traditional Labour working classes with its anti-immigration rhetoric, which effectively made UKIP the official opposition to Labour in the North, and a real threat to the Labour power base next election. Combined with the more potent nationalism from the Tories, their allusion to the “SNP threat”, this idea that the Scots were Guy Fawkesesque coming to England to steal our money, and break up our country, it was the threat of these “radical left-wing insurgents” being part of a Labour government that persuaded shy Tories in their droves to vote Tory and deliver a sensational shock majority. What does all this mean, well I think it means our politics have become more about stoking nationalism v fighting nationalism rather than left v right because policy wise there is only very slight differences between Labour and the Tories (and there would be less still if the next leader is Blairite), instead the defining difference was that the Tories chose to stoke up nationalism whereas Labour tried and failed to fight against it. My prediction for the next election, providing we are still the UK and have the same voting system, will again be fought on nationalist lines, with Labour moving further to the right, meaning the two main parties will be practically have the same centre-right stance, and Labour’s complete abandonment of the working class will cause major losses in the North but perhaps a couple of Tory gains, the result though will be another Tory majority and another another SNP landslide in Scotland.

Labour were not responsible for financial crisis or the recession

I consciously made the choice not to blog during this election campaign mainly because I need to revise and also because there’s been way too much to pass comment on, but today in the special leaders edition of Question Time one question and questioner of Ed Miliband really grated with me. Now I’ll be voting Green on May 7th and I have no shame in admitting I’d much prefer Ed as Prime Minster for a number of reasons but I’d prefer him to shift more to the left hence the green vote. Now the question I took issue with related to the financial crisis, an event I have researched extensively for my dissertation,  and the questioner apparently worked in “financial services”, he seemed to believe that banks were benevolent, faultless institutions that have only brought growth to the economy and seemingly believed that all our economic woes were caused by labour overspending. While it can be argued that the last labour government maybe spent too much that’s not what caused the crisis, recession or the deficit what caused all 3 was banks pure and simple, US investment banks caused a crisis which hit us particularly because since Thatcher our growth has been almost exclusively built on financial services. The crisis effectively forced the government to bail out the banks (something which was supported entirely by Cameron and Osborne) or face a collapse of the UK banking system and it’s this bailout that plunged us into the massive deficit and debt Cameron inherited. The questioner meanwhile seemed to reject claims that our almost unique exposure to the financial sector and the crisis had any role to play in the economic mess, and that someone that actually works in the sector is so naive is worrying. Of course labour weren’t blameless, had the questioner brought up that Brown’s economic policy was too reliant on banks exponential growth or that banks were too lightly regulated I’d of accepted his valid points but instead he chose to take a childish, naive approach of continuing shouting at Ed that they spent too much money. Economics isn’t that fricking simple and it’s a real shame this tory myth of labour deliberately bankrupting the country has gone entirely unchecked. It’s also a shame that the drubbing Ed took tonight will likely lead to 5yrs of austerity max from Cameron and whoever he can trick into office with him.

Coalition S1 E1: My Thoughts

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Channel 4 are on a roll in the lead up to the election with these one-off poltical dramas UKIP: The First 100 Days, I particularly enjoyed. Coalition was focused on Nick Clegg and the events that led to the UK’s first coalition since the war. Now I was particularly emotionally invested in this because as a naive 16 year old Lib Dem I was initially ecstatic and Lib Dems being in government, this show didn’t disappoint. The casting of the leaders was spot on, and the gentleman that played Clegg was made for the role, an honourable mention must of course go to the genius that is Mark Gatiss, the Dr Who and Sherlock writer, who put in a great turn as Lord Mandelson, who’s almost a real life version of Mycroft if you think about it. Now the drama showed how Nick Clegg as the fresh faced idealistic young pretender, got sucked into the Cleggmania stimulated by the debates, and how on election night itself the anachronistic first past the post voting system, kicked him in the teeth as the party got more votes, but less seats, however the hung parliament presenting an opportunity for the Lib Dems still to have a say in government. Now the options facing Clegg were simple form a coalition with the right-wing Tories who had the most seats but were the ideological opposite of the centre-left Liberals (“for god’s sake Gordon stop calling them the Liberals”) or a coalition with natural left-wing allies Labour led by jovial Scotsman Gordon Brown. What followed was quite despicable politicking, by Clegg and the Tories, and complete misjudgement from Labour, Clegg and his cronies were essentially seduced by nice paper and empty promises, but while we now know that Clegg hasn’t got an ideological backbone and is traitorous bastard. What I found most interesting was 1. the reasonings behind his abandonment of everything the party stood for and 2.the agency of Paddy Ashdown who I still held in esteem before watching this.

So first let’s talk about Clegg’s justification for negotiating with the Tories. So Clegg made a statement on the doorstep saying he speak to the relevant parties, but as Ashdown said that was just for the media, he was only gonna have serious talks with Labour right? Wrong? Clegg saw power and was prepared to do anything to take it. They went to the negotiating table with the Tories and they seemed to misjudge the power balance, THEY should have the upper hand as the Tories NEED them to govern and the Tories are coming to the table believing the Lib Dems were just talking to them out of courtesy, however immediately the Lib Dems start making concessions this pledge can go, this pledge can go, mistake, but Clegg wanted power. His justification however was that the finances are bad, ok let’s just reflect for a second, we had an economic crisis in 2008, this was 2010, now unless he wrote the Lib Dem manifesto in 2007 he should’ve known the state of the finances before the fucking election. Alas the “state of the finances” gave Clegg an excuse to abandon every single pledge, promise, idelogy and belief of his party in order to form this ConDem coalition, despite Paddy’s concerns “tuitions fees was a KEY pledge”, “some things are more important, Paddy” like what, Nick, like what ensuring bankers get a nice 7-figure bonus, “those that can’t afford a university education, shouldn’t subsidise those that can”, right so instead of allowing EVERYONE to go to university, NOONE except the rich can go to university, great fucking logic, Nick. Anyways why did the Labour talks breakdown, body language, they didn’t give a shit about the Lib Dems and it showed, also no nice paper, I suppose 13 years of government does that to you whereas the Tories were like desperate puppies eager to please (they used the best paper) not that the Lib Dems took advantage. So in the end after the Lib Dems abandoned their entire manifesto and it boiled down to one thing, voting reform, FPTP had denied the Lib Dems a fair share of the Parliament for decades, but also kept the Tories in government, this should have been the unbreachable void of the negotiations instead the Lib Dems in their attempt to play off Labour and the Tories simply ended up accepting a referendum, for a diluted, terrible form of PR, that no one was ever gonna vote for, meaning that in hindsight no Lib Dem policies have been passed. Labour meanwhile had voting refom in their manifesto.

On to the role of Paddy Ashdown for the most part he was exactly how I’d expected, as a party stalwart, he emphasized ideology at every turn, he tried to guide Nick down the right path but then for some unknown reason on the day of the Lib Dem party meeting to vote for the coalition with mortal enemies the Tories, when he was coming to the meeting to resign, he suddenly made the biggest of U-Turns, he supported Nick. Suddenly he saw this fantasy world that Nick was living in and renounced his ideology also “he’s made us take them seriously”, no Paddy he’s sold the soul of the party for power, if they took us seriously we’d have voting reform or at least one policy. What they did is whisper sweet nothings in Nick’s ear about being Deputy PM and he did whatever it took to spin that to his peers, and you fell for the con Paddy. Anyway’s Paddy’s rubber stamp of Clegg and the coalition, persuaded the members to vote in favour and the coaltion was born. If Paddy had resigned that day, the country may have been better off. The Lib Dems certainly would’ve been it is ironic that the only thing that’ll keep them in Parliament is the voting system, the Tories fought to protect, it’s like Clegg could see the future.

Overall, a wonderful piece of television by C4, but certainly doesn’t hide the fact it’s coalition bashing having said that, Labour are also portrayed in a pretty bad light. One thing’s for sure anyone that watched won’t be voting Lib Dem.

UKIP: The First 100 Days – My Thoughts

Well this was brilliant wasn’t it. I mean you could argue, it was over-the-top and overexaggerated, but was it really? I’d say it wasn’t, well only in terms of UKIP probably won’t be able to win the next election lol, but in terms of what a UKIP run Britain would look like I think it was spot on. Leaving the EU would damage our economy massively, the £ would collapse, there’d be major job losses and ironically the people effected by those job losses which this mockumentary so beautifully highlighted are the very same people that vote UKIP. For example the factory worker who was made redundant, scoffing at the offer of a recently vacated toilet cleaning job. That job was obviously vacated due to the UKIP crackdown on “illegal” immigration, which of course ended up unfairly targeting ethnic minorities because they “look different” regardless of their actual citizenship status. Then of course UKIP’s policies led to all out civil unrest as Fascism generally does with Far right groups clashing violently with anti-Fascist protest groups outraged at what UKIP have done to the nation. This all played out through the eyes of our protagonist Deepa Kapoor, a fresh faced, Asian, idealistic, UKIP MP, naive and ignorant of the dark heart of the party (and I’m sure a lot of UKIP’s ethnic minority members are very similar to her). We follow her in her first 100 days as she is groomed by the party to become a cabinet minister because she looks right.  Her tenure is littered with hilarious interactions with her “supporters” who continue to patronize her by saying she “alright, one of the good ones”. I mean come on, Deepa. She becomes the face of UKIP’s anti-immigration crackdown and in response to criticism of the brutality of the raids, she volunteers to go on a raid in which she witnesses an Asian teenager viciously assaulted by a border guard, and then got arrested himself for assault. Even after seeing that Deepa still played the game and covered it up, triggering mass SaveSaeed protests which her own brother was a central campaigner, finally on UKIP’s 100th day in office when she was just about to be appointed to the Cabinet, she decided to finally tell the truth and saw UKIP for what it was, a racist party with racist policies. I commend C4 for making this while it’s hilarious at times (Whitechapel should be called Ethnichapel), overall it is a terrrifying dystopian but realistic future under UKIP. I think the main parties should watch this and realise that pandering to rhe UKIP cause will only harm this country.

7-Way debates are a ludicrous suggestion

There are many people who believe we shouldn’t have debates at all in Britain, because we don’t have a presidential system and we vote for our local MP yada, yada. I am not one of those, people rarely vote based entirely on local issues and the local plans of the MP candidates, I know I won’t be, people vote the party that best represents their views or that they believes best for the country as a whole, and as people vote for parties rather than candidates, I believe it’s important for the party leaders to outline and challenge those visions in debates. Now we first had debates in 2010, when UK politics was very different, there were 3 clear main parties and these were the 3 participants in the debates. This year the 3 broadcasters submitted 3 entirely different proposals originally because politics has profoundly changed since then, BBC stuck to the old format, C4/Sky went for a straight head to head between Cameron and Miliband and ITV went for the old big 3 plus media darling Farage. Everyone got a little upset by these Clegg wanted to be included in all debates, but come on like anyone would notice if he didn’t turn up, no the real story was that Cameron refused to participate if the Greens weren’t included, why?, well it wasn’t because he sympathizes with the lack of media attention the Greens traditionally get, nope it was because if he has to compete with Farage, Red Ed must compete with Natalie Bennett, once upon a time he’d of been competing with Nick, but alas that was a long forgotten time, when party leaders resigned after failure. So after this the call was for the broadcasters to call Cameron’s bluff and have an “empty chair” (there was no chairs at the 2010 debates but hey ho). I disagreed with that however because as a potential Green voter myself I believe they should be at the debates they are a national party after all and are outpolling the Lib Dems. I think a 5 party solution would have been fine and if not then, the only other option is C4 option of a straight head to head because whatever happens with the election either Miliband or Cameron will be the PM. However the broadcasters have elected to throw out both those suggestions and suggest frankly ludicrous 7, yes seven-way debates with Con, Lab, Lib Dem, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid. This is absolutely stupid they will be too many people on stage, it’ll be a free for all and if order is maintained, it’s a 2 hour debate so each leader will have 17.1mins to talk that’s not very long. More importantly the inclusion of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, is stupid as they are not national parties they don’t field candidates outside Scotland and Wales respectively, I cannot vote for either, and neither can the majority of the country there is no real legitimate reason for them to be included in these debates. I heard Nicola Sturgeon say on the news it’s because the SNP may hold the balance of power, so?, I still can’t vote for them, hearing their policies in the debates is completely irrelevant. I have no problem with holding separate Scot and Wales debates where all the relevant stakeholders can be included. The inclusion of those 2 parties also opens the door for others particularly the DUP in NI, who would have a legitimate claim as they have more MPs than SNP, that’d make an 8 way debate, where does it end? There is only 2 formats that these debates should follow, the classic presidential option with Miliband and Cameron or the 5 person option with the 5 UK-wide parties, 7 makes no sense whatsoever.