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. …

Mish Raman on the NEC

Mish Raman on the NEC

Mish Raman reports on the July NEC. He talks abiut membership, the Forde Report, the NPF, Conference, and the HQ premises.

On membership, he reports that the membership figure is 385,000 (net of those in arrears) which is 3,000 up on this time last year, but 10,000 down on the quarter. We are still waiting for the end 2022 numbers; my last review, [or on Medium] quotes from an NEC report at end June 2022 as ~382,000 although I may not be treating arrears in the same way.

They are winding up the Forde Report working group, failed to present the report to the NEC and plan to issue some codes of conduct for both members and senior officers of the organisation. I mean to write a review of what they’ve done, and what they have not, and what they plan to ignore; but the papers are on my personal server as well the Labour Party’s site’s Forde Report pge.

Martin Forde, the author of the report, would seem to be unhappy as the Guardian and others summarise the report, that Party is operating a “hierarchy of racism” and the the process remains insufficiently transparent, certain and free from factionalism.  At a meeting hosted by Compass he is reported, again in the Guardian as,

The top lawyer echoed his previous comments that the Labour party must take seriously concerns of black and asian members that their complaints are not being treated as seriously as those related to antisemitism. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I’ve been on a course’, and that means I’m untouchable.”

Mish reports on the proceedings of the National Policy Forum, saying that, “The final NPF document will be available after conference.” Which is worrying  as its report has usually been published in order that CLPs can seek to amend the report at Conference; from Mish’s words this may not bet the case.

The Conference exhibition will be the biggest ever it seems. Business returns to a party of government. The conference floor will surely be smaller, as the membership has declined and they now have a cap on the number of delegates.

It seems the HQ is now in Blackfriars but is going to move again, and the next NEC may meet in Scotland.

Check out this thread at Thread Reader App page, or at the first tweet on twitter. …

On rejoining Horizon Europe

On rejoining Horizon Europe

tI wrote an article posted on my linkedin blog, on Horizon Europe and the will they/won’ they attitude of the Tory Government. This refers to Another Europe’s Brexit Spotlight article which covers the issues including the fact that the scheme ‘s rules state that an associate member may not be net beneficiaries, and showing that the UK government is seeking to ensure that it is.

This is wrong in so many ways, but critically, the problem is that it would seem the British Government, seem to think they are ‘buying’ the grant, they are not, they would be buying the research output. The research output will be significantly larger than any individual stake and or any member states’ stake.

The final mistake they make, is that access to funding makes British universities and companies more attractive partners to other European companies and research institutes and thus underwrites the attractiveness of the universities to European teachers and students, and funds jobs for British based researchers. …

What’s the point in the Liberal Democrats?

What’s the point in the Liberal Democrats?

Michael Meadowcroft, a once famous part of the leadership of the Liberal Democrats writes in a letter to the Guardian,

Having deliberately cut themselves off from the benefits of the identifiable tradition of political Liberalism, the Liberal Democrats now lack a solid base to advance electorally. And the almost ubiquitous abbreviation to “Lib Dem” diminishes still further any resonance with the past. It is high time the party accepted the harm done to Liberalism by its attachment to the SDP and rebuilt its Liberal base.

I think this misses a couple of points.

Firstly, I am unclear how much the ideology of Liberalism actually helped the Liberals electorally. To me they have always been, Tories with a bit of conscience, somewhere to vote if you don’t want the Tories and can’t support the workerism or socialism of the Labour Party.

Secondly the post-war high point for the Liberal Democrats was the 2004-2010 parliamentary party, where they were led by an ex-member of the SDP and presented themselves as to the left of “New Labour”. In an act of hubris, they replaced their then leader, Charles Kennedy.

This eventually led to a leadership election between Clegg and Huhne, both exponents of orange book liberalism, which prioritised macroeconomics, monetarism & austerity, and debt fetishism. This replacement of any solidarity with people be it, the social solidarity of the SDP aspirations or the individualism/do no harm of traditional liberalism together with the perennial claim to be able to moderate the extremism of the other two parties led them into the coalition, and proved the latter false. They prioritised macroeconomics, red boxes and government cars over their promises to the electorate, most obviously the promise on tuition fees which cemented their reputation for at least a decade. There are others who could learn from the failure that these priorities led to.

We should also note that the coalition led to a number of high profile left wing Liberal Democrats joining the Labour Party. I am suggesting that the social democrats added electoral appeal to the liberals and that the coalition and the faction that drove the Lib Dems into the coalition severely damaged it for at least a generation (or half a generation).

A return to liberal values is not enough, they need to jettison the orange book and require a better understanding of their own history.

On another point, the Libdems have a crude sectarianism; there’s rarely any campaigning with them on issues before they ask for political support, they rarely demonstrate a solidarity with co-campaigners and Jo Swinson’s role in the destruction of the 2017-2019 parliament for party gain which in a beautiful act of schadenfreude was not forthcoming, is another example of this.

The featured image is taken from the LibDem site, and stored and processed for the usual reasons.  …

Say no to extrawürst

Say no to extrawürst

Provoked by Nial Ó Conghaile who posted a thread today [html | twitter] in which he talks of the conflict between expanding the EU and deepening its integration. He suggests that Iceland could join easily but that the Ukraine has a long road to travel, and questions where the UK would sit on that spectrum. Originally written as a reply, I remind myself that “Mercantilist acquiescence is not enough and demands for extrawürst only prove we are not ready.”. The article looks at the opt-outs together with a call to remember and accept the internationalist and democratic vision at the heart of the EU project. There's more overleaf ...

Intergenerational Equity

Intergenerational Equity

In this article, in the FT, Sarah O’Connor argues that the impact of high interest rates is less effective at demand suppression than has historically been the case. The exclusion of the young from the housing market and the impact of older people having finished paying off their mortgages has led to reduction in the number of households with mortgages, from 40% to 30%. It interests me, that the author argues the purpose of increasing interest rates is demand suppression and yet its effectiveness as a demand suppression tool is less than it once was. This article also looks at the role of tuition fees in discriminating against the young and asks if demand suppression is an effective tool in reducing inflation. Fore the whole article, "read more" ...

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. …

The trillion dollar coin

Last month, the US passed through a politically created fiscal crisis; commentators were suggesting that for the third time Congress would cause the Federal Government to run out of cash and default on bond and salary payments, and 3rd party bills for goods and services. This is a tactic pursued by those who don’t like government expenditure unless its on arms. I argue that there were three ways that the Government could have sidestepped this piece of legislative extortion. The most amusing route would be to mint a $1Tn coin. I conclude, overleaf, by arguing that, progressives should be wary, this idea of legislating, or embedding fiscal policy in treaties or constitutions is designed by people who support the founding fathers, who while they opposed taxation without representation, were almost equally opposed to taxation with representation. NB The EU’s stability and growth treaty commits its signatories to a level of national debt and a level of national deficit. They need to change this, these decisions need to be under democratic control. There's [much] more overleaf ... ...