Three steps back from Brexit

Three steps back from Brexit

I have been away and missed and thus not commented on three small steps made to improve the co-operation and relationship between the UK and the European Union. The areas of policy are science and research, settlement rights for EU citizens in the UK and relationship with Frontex.

The first is that the government finally signed up to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s R&D programme; this will be of advantage to scientists and private sector researchers but also everyone as the research has a multiplier effect and for some, investment in human capital is the most effective investment for stimulating GDP growth.

The government have also announced the automatic extension of pre-settled status to allow those that have not applied for conversion to settled status, the time to do so. It seems that the judicial arguments between the Independent Monitoring Authority and the government seem to have been settled, but there may have been more in the pipeline. Any failure to treat those entitled to remain in the UK often having been born here, and or, lived here for decades would be an illegal act. This would include applying the hostile environment to them and charging them the NHS surcharge. No doubt, whatever the motives, this is a good thing.

The government is in negotiation with the EU to improve its relationship with Frontex, the troubled EU border agency. Even if only about intelligence sharing, this is a step in the right direction away from the hard Brexit that the Tories negotiated which led to the UK being excluded from Frontex and interpol because the member states don;t want to share information with nations that don;t accept the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And as the Guardian comments, it is Sunak’s third agreement with the EU. It’ll be interesting to see how far this one goes as the critical issues are not on intelligence sharing, although I am sure the UK will find it useful, but in order to get agreement from the EU to take illegal entrants back, we’ll have to agree to accept those that have the right to enter. It would be an act of solidarity with the government and people of Greece and Italy to accept some of their migrants. Kier Starmer seems to be struggling at where to draw the line. The FT (pay or id walled) covers this well and better than most, reporting on Starmer’s position, adding a longer piece by George Parker in London, William Wallis in Lewes, Andy Bounds in Brussels and Laura Dubois in Strasbourg on the dangers of a Tory counter attack; Starmer’s words are also reported in the Times and Star. Labour’s language has not moved on from pandering to the view that immigration is bad. I repeat my posed dilemma, we need workers, skilled and unskilled, we should want students, and we have a duty to accept refugees; who do we seek to stop. While if even the Tories are looking to work with the EU and Frontex, solving the problem with decency and justice will take a lot more. …

More Macro

More Macro

In this article, “Britain’s tax delusion”, the ‘Statesman identifies that the UK is not overtaxed, that taxing non-doms and imposing VAT on school fees will raise trivial amounts of money and that the clawback of child benefit has a disincentive on the supply of effort. It is silent on the clawback of the personal allowance which does the same, and fails to substantiate its arguments on income and wealth equality by not quoting the gini coefficient or any altenrative statistics, or facts as I like to call them.

… creates a system that is not just dysfunctional but profoundly inequitable, in which the average effective tax rate paid by those earning more than £10m a year is lower than that of most nurses. In 1845, Benjamin Disraeli wrote of England’s division into “two nations”: the rich and the poor. Today, the gulf between Asset Britain and Austerity Britain is as wide.

Since both major parties identify growth as the answer, we need to ask how they think it’ll happen, the three sources of growth are investment (private or public), government expenditures (i.e. the deficit), or exports (and we know why they’re fucked).

The challenge for Western democracies is to provide for that spending while encouraging investment and job creation. It is a challenge that Britain is failing. Instead, the UK’s tax system is quietly managing our ­economy towards disaster.

Business taxation does not encourage investment; the UK’s investment rate is low by international comparison.

Growth strategies must only be pursued in the context of combatting climate change. So a new coal mine is not a good idea.

Modern economists argue that investment in human capital is a priority as an incubator of growth. Even those politicians who agree are silent in the face of monetarist orthodoxy which requires continued austerity. After 13 years you’d think they’d have learnt, but it seems not.

Image Credit: from , cropped. Fair use as it has no economic impact on the original publisher. …

Triangulation and abuse

Triangulation and abuse

It is clear that Labour’s leadership are executing the New Labour playbook with a touch of 20th century triangulation by pandering exclusively to communities that don’t vote for them and adding the practice of trolling those that do. On issues from foreign policy, public sector pay, fiscal policy and the EU, we can see this to be so.

In James Surowiecki’s book the Wisdom of Crowds, he examines the behavioural economics game of “Ultimatum”, which shows that you can’t take people for granted, if people don’t like the rules they won’t play the game.

In Ultimatum, players are divided into groups of two, and one is the proposer, who proposes how to split $10,000, the second player can accept or reject. If rejected, neither gets anything. Economic rationalism suggests that the second player will always accept any offer; however, reality tells a different story. The second player on the whole rejected lowball offers that they think to be unfair. Interestingly, in a second round, both players were told that the proposers had got high scores in a test, and in those circumstances the average at which proposals were rejected fell; if people thought the proposer’s deserved the privilege of proposing, then offers the accepters might once have considered unacceptable became acceptable.

In politics, as in life, you can’t take people for granted! You’d have thought that Labour had learnt this truth.  …

Science & Brexit

Science & Brexit

I wrote something more on immigration and Horizon, based on the report that the UK has had three applications for its super highly skilled visa scheme. I argue that the focus on prize winners is foolish, we need the next generation of prize winners, and that being out of Horizon Europe makes UK based innovators less attractive collaborators. I make a cheap crack about how this shows the emptiness of Sunak’s ambition to be a science super power. The article is on Linkedin and Medium, entitled, “Science, the UK and Horizon Europe, again”. It was followed up in the Independent.  …

Ralph Miliband on Labour’s last year in opposition

But that was in 1963, sixty years ago. Due to some personal reappraisals of my politics, I have been looking at the writing of Ralph Miliband and was pointed at an article he wrote in the run up to the 1964 election, called “If Labour wins”, republished in the New Left Review. I found it worth reading to observe the parallels between then and now. Wilson’s Labour were leading in the polls, the Tories had suffered the setbacks of Suez, and the Profumo affair and replaced a popular and powerful leader with a patrician land owner who was not even an MP arguable a stalemate choice between the then two leading Tory candidates.

This article contains a number of quotes from the article, as they speak for themselves, although of course I can’t help but comment. I have collected the quotes and comments into pieces on culture and comedy, economics, foreign affairs, corruption, campaigning and hope and the Labour left. … …

Tony Blair on today’s politics

Tony Blair on today’s politics

Tony Blair hosted an interview at a “Tony Blair institute” event with Keir Starmer. Some have announced this as his anointment of Sir Keir. Of much interest, has been the companion interview, published (£)  in the New Statesman, in which Tony Blair talks of the UK rejoining EU. The Independent reflect on this article and are joined by several youtubers, and John Crace, again in the Guardian.

In the New Statesman article, which is signed by Andrew Marr, it says, ‘Does he see any realistic prospect of going back into the EU, or even the customs union or single market? “Well, I believe at some point a future generation will take Britain back into Europe, and, you know, you just have to look at what’s happened.”’

To me, a future generation is 20 years away, optimistically, from 2016, and I wonder if the UK’s democracy and economy can wait that long. The conference and interview coincided with the first time polls report that a majority of the UK want to rejoin the EU and not just its single market. This point is made in the Independent article. The reason is two fold, some communities that believed the lies of the Leave campaigns, such as fishing and farming, have now experienced the impact of those lies in less jobs and higher prices and weaker export markets. The second reason is that as young people grow older and get the vote and older mainly leave voters die, again the majority opinion changes.

Of course, the usual Brexit cheerleaders interpret Blair’s comments as in contradiction to Starmer’s but the clue is in the phrase, a future generation.  

Labour’s leadership claim that it’s settled, I say, it’s not. Starmer’s terms for “Fixing Brexit” are a variation of cakeism, he only proposes what he thinks benefits the UK: student exchange, creative workers tours and professional services.  To them it remains solely about money, a continuation of our reputation as a nation of shop keepers.  It’s not good enough!

In later articles, Blair suggests that the UK can trade non-competent issue co-operation for part membership of the single market. I doubt this will fly, no co-operation on the criminal justice system without the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Court. …

A good day for justice

Have the judiciary, & MPs found some back bone; here is the front page of today’s Guardian.

Good news for progressives. The Rwanda exile scheme is illegal, those Boris fans in the House who expressed a contempt for the standards committee inquiry may be ‘pursued’ and the inquiry into MI5/Special Branch covert surveillance of various left wing groups in the 80’s has declared the operations to an overeach. A good day for justice.  …

Mercantilist acquiescence is not enough

Prof Jacob Oberg writes, “Psychologically and legally, we have to accept we have no special way back in. But with realism and political will, it’s not impossible.”

There are two takes on this; the first is that he presents a catalogue of process to be overcome, the other is that he is criticising so-called rejoiners because we over estimate how easy it will be because we think we are re-joining, not applying to join. I say, this is semantics.

The opt-outs are gone, and recognising this is part of proving ourselves suitable candidates, to show we’ve learned. It is unlikely that they will ask us to amend our constitution, mores the pity but since we have only just left, meeting the market economy rules of the Copenhagen Criteria is simple, and meeting the rule of law criteria is equally simple although this time there can be no opt-outs from the Charter of Fundamental Rights nor the justice pillar of the Lisbon Treaty.

The task of rejoiners is to build a sustainable majority for rejoin which recognises that the EU is political project.

Mercantilist acquiescence is not enough and demands for extrawürst only prove we are not ready.

Apart from showing ourselves to be suitable & better partners for the future, there is nothing we can do to change the EU’s process and the views of the member states and so worrying about it is pointless. …

Fringes and solidarity

I enjoyed the fringes that I attended; all the ones I chose were activist led. Learning from such activism was reinforced by giving activists time at the rostrum, most importantly probably speakers from Amazon; the video stream starts here.

The fringe meeting I attended were the Apple solidarity fringe where I met the leadership of the recognition campaign; they’re impressive people. I hope we can bring similar success to London and also the fringe meeting hosted by the Migrant Democracy Project and the session was chaired by Lara Parizotto, who used to be in our branch. The speakers were from the voice of domestic workers, and the Bureau of investigative journalism. It also heard from Marcela Benedetti from migrants for labour, who spoke about the difficulties that Latinas had in making a home in the UK. The highlight for me was Emiliano Mellino from the Bureau of investigative journalism who presented, on his investigative project on the state of the living conditions of migrant workers working British farms, and finally I went to the Justice for Columbia campaign fringe. It was good to be reminded of the fact that in Columbia they have elected a left wing president, and established a peace agreement to bring the guerrilla movement into politics. They also announced their campaign of solidarity with ex-fighters; they are collecting money for a farm truck.

I say more overleaf ...

Digital Transformation in Europe

Digital Transformation in Europe

I attended a conference, on the Digital Transition chapter of the CoFoE final report. This was hosted by the Estonian Human Rights centre and held in Tallinn. This article contains my notes and views of what happened. The conference invited two keynote speakers but otherwise looked at the four objectives from the COFOE final report, Chapter 6 on Digitisation, which I précised on my blog [or on Medium], in working groups.  The conference came to together in plenary to share its findings on the CoFoE proposals. My key takeaway may be that the Eastern European citizen’s legitimate fear of a censorious and surveillance state, will lead to a failure to regulate private sector players who are driven by profit, wealth and exploitation.

The article continues, overleaf. Please use the read more button if necessary ...