Boris Johnson, Not Donald Trump, Is the Real Blue-Collar Conservative

Yves here. I suspect a lot of UK readers will be more inclined to argue, like Richard North, that Johnson is moving the UK towards a a Singapore on the Thames, or what Richard Murphy calls the Freeports model, which leave the hollowed out, former industrial areas in even more desperate shape. This was Murphy’s take:

Nothing I have yet seen so starkly states what Brexit is all about.

For Johnson the first objective of Brexit is to place greater controls on labour. The intention is to ensure that by controlling free movement labour itself can be controlled, and so too can its price be kept at rates the government would desire. And that is low, of course.

And his second objective is to create freeports. He will claim that these are all about creating regulation free hubs for enterprise. This is completely untrue. There is no evidence that regulation free ports have ever generated work, wealth, much employment, or free market enterprise, come to that. This is unsurprising. That is not what freeports are about, at all. Freeports are instead about permitting the free movement of capital beyond the control of the state and without the imposition of any taxes.

Quite bizarrely, given that freeports are effectively declared to be outside the country that creates them, one of the major objectives Johnson has for Brexit is to carve whole chunks of the UK out of the control he claims to have just taken back, and to pass it over to the free loaders who frequent freeports.

To understand how freeports really work I suggest watching this video. I know it’s not in English, but it’s good, and explains how the Geneva freeport works to handle diamonds, gold, armaments, fine art and rare wines, all beyond the control of authorities and all beyond the reach of tax:

The aim of freeports is to undermine the state.

It achieves this by suspending the law.

Freeports permit illicit activity.

They permit wealth to be accumulated in secret.

That wealth is beyond the reach of tax.

Research suggests that much of that wealth is also shielded by anonymous offshore shell companies that disguise the ownership of an asset even if it can be located.

The object is to ensure wealth can accumulate without constraint.

This is the paradox that Johnson revealed in his video. He wants to control and constrain people. He will use that power to oppress, not just those who want to come to the UK but also, of course, those who wish to leave the UK as well. The market in labour will be  constrained. People will suffer as a result.

At the same time the market in illicit wealth will be liberated to traffic at will. The cost will be to us all, in lost tax revenue, increased inequality and the undermining of the rule of law. Additional jobs will be few and far between.

And let’s not for a moment pretend that any freeport activity supports markets: creating ring fences always creates unlevel playing fields that will always, by definition and in practice, undermine effective markets. So there is nothing in this policy that is about wealth creation: it is all about wealth expropriation and extraction.

This is what Brexit was for. And Johnson admitted it last night. One day people will realise.

In addition, readers liked this minority reading at Consortium News on the Labour general election wipeout, which contended that Labour’s share of the vote wasn’t shabby, but it got killed on seats due to the rise of the SNP, and not losses to Tories. The subhead is “Post-election commentary speaks of Corbyn’s party achieving ‘its worst result since 1935.’ Alexander Mercouris shows why that is a serious misrepresentation.”

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

Call him an upper-class Etonian twit if you like, but the reality is that Boris Johnson, not Donald Trump, might be the 21st century’s first genuine blue-collar conservative. Since becoming prime minister, Johnson has represented a profound break from the prevailing market fundamentalist ideology of the past 40 years in terms of both his rhetoric and, more importantly, his actions. His policies evoke a 1970s-style economic corporatism (much derided by Margaret Thatcher) or, in more historic terms, a reversion to a kinder, gentler form of “one nation conservatism.” In the words of UK-born, U.S.-residing pundit Andrew Sullivan, the core of Johnson’s ideology is an appeal to “the working poor and aspiring middle classes, [by being] tough on immigration and crime, but much more generous in spending on hospitals and schools and science.”

Is it for real? Recall that this was also the promised policy formula that helped elect Donald Trump president in 2016, but which he hasn’t implemented while in office. By contrast, Johnson’s actions suggest a more serious intent, which could have long-lasting consequences for British politics and beyond. The center-left of Europe and the U.S. ignores this phenomenon at its collective peril.

To caricature Johnson as a “British Trump” is a lazy narrative that grossly mischaracterizes what he has done already during his comparatively short tenure leading the United Kingdom. When Donald Trump first entered the White House, his then-chief domestic policy adviser Steve Bannon pushed the president to raise taxes on the wealthy and embark on a big program of infrastructure reconstruction to consolidate his political gains with white working-class voters who provided him with his margin of victory in 2016. Of course, we now know that Trump rejected this advice, as the president hewed instead to Paul Ryan’s austerity politics, attacking existing health care plans, and government social welfare programs, all the while promoting corporate tax “reform” where the benefits skewed heavily toward the top tier. Similarly, on infrastructure, Trump has done nothing, and so far as immigration policy goes, his signature proposal to build a wall has been a case of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Trump and the GOP accordingly paid the price in the midterm elections of 2018, one of the biggest congressional wipeouts over the past half-century.

Perhaps Johnson is mindful of this. In his victory speech, he acknowledged that voters in the traditional Labor heartlands merely “lent” their votes to him, and that more needed to be done to consolidate their long-term support. With that in mind, he has already backed off his party’s original plan to cut corporate taxes by 2 percent, so that his government could spend more on voters’ priorities, including the state-funded National Health Service (on health care, Johnson’s Conservative Party is farther to the left of most of the Democrats now running for president other than Bernie Sanders, let alone Trump and the GOP). On infrastructure, Johnson has greenlit approval for the construction of a high-speed train line to the Midlands and northern England, a $130 billion venture that many have derided as a wasteful money pit, but which the PM views as a crucial means of regenerating these depressed regions outside the home counties. As a transport concept, the High Speed 2 (“HS2”) benefits might be marginal: Huge expenditure and big dividends to builders. In reality, light rail is all the UK probably needs. But the proposal was symbolically important, of course. And the amounts approved represent something well beyond tokenism, as the project constitutes one of the largest infrastructure spends of its kind anywhere in the world.

At the same time, Johnson has been able to culturally connect with voters in the post-industrial Midlands and northern England, who wanted nothing to do with Labor’s “woke” identity politics. Historic indifference to their deep, often unstated misgivings about where the country and its culture were going was often dismissed as racism, much as Hillary Clinton derided a large chunk of Trump supporters in 2016 as a “https://www.bbc.com/news/av/election-us-2016-37329812/clinton-half-of-trump-supporters-basket-of-deplorables” rel=”nofollow”>basket of deplorables.”

Even on immigration (where we see echoes of Trump and the charges of racism have become most pronounced), it should be acknowledged that Johnson’s prioritization of a skills-based immigration policy is not inherently restrictionist (in fact, both Canada and Australia, the models for his new immigration policy, have high net immigration rates).

Unlike Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan, the new British PM’s goal is not to roll back the frontiers of the state but, rather, to use it to mitigate inequality by enhancing middle- and working-class wage growth, arrest the stagnation of dying communities and, above all else, reassert the primacy of the nation-state as the central organizing foundation for society (as opposed to subsuming it into a larger supranational political grouping). In Johnson’s vision, the state, labor and business would all play major roles in the promotion of national economic development, as well as restoring the social contract long shredded by economic neoliberalism on the left and radical free-market libertarianism on the right. Of course, a range of powerful trend lines are working against this model: the scale of challenge to make necessary advances in scientific and medical research to sustain a human population in the billions requires international collaboration, the tidal wave of merged investors and industry continues at a rapid clip, and the globalized telecommunication process is homogenizing culture and taste across the planet.

In fiscal policy terms, Johnson’s rejection of the Treasury’s prevailing austerity bias has been particularly noteworthy. The former chancellor, Sajid Javid, had repeatedly insisted that the UK should run a balanced budget by 2023, the maintenance of which would have severely hampered the Johnson administration’s ability to offset potential trade shocks emerging from a more restrictive trade relationship with the EU, as well as mitigating the government’s ability to embrace a robust national industrial policy post-Brexit. The resultant clash was brought to a head when Johnson forced out his chancellor, by issuing an ultimatum to Javid to fire all his advisers—a condition that the chancellor later said “no self-respecting minister” would accept.

The clipping of the Treasury’s wings (and the corresponding resignation of Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer) has been caricatured by Johnson’s opponents in both Parliament and the press as the actions of an insecure, power-hungry prime minister seeking to centralize power. But in reality, the move represents a long-overdue move to cut down the Treasury’s stranglehold over the totality of economic policy relative to other government departments and paves the way for an expansionary post-Brexit budget.

It is true that government spending under Donald Trump has not been marked by deficit fetishism. But unlike Trump, much of Boris Johnson’s anticipated spending bonanza is largely being directed toward the working and middle classes, as opposed to society’s top tier.

By and large, Johnson’s policy reflects the embrace of a national industrial policy that collides with the prevailing neoliberal notion that the government should be nothing but a neutral umpire, delegating all entrepreneurial activity and innovation to the private sector. That is an idea akin to Holy Writ in Brussels. The problem with this view, as I have written before, is that it arbitrarily restricts the range of fiscal activity that can be undertaken for broader public purpose:

When governments occasionally find a way to redistribute the benefits of [extracting value from the economy] to the broader population [rather than to the top 1 percent], whether via a minimum wage, tighter regulation, state intervention, or similar policy, these measures are invariably castigated as wrongheaded, inevitably leading to less efficiency, sub-optimal growth and lower standards of living.

The Johnson government’s prioritization of redistributing fiscal resources to the country’s poorer northern regions runs in the face of these neoliberal shibboleths. The regions on which he is focusing have long been the losers of globalization at the expense of London and the southern home counties, which boomed as communities in the rest of the country began to wither away.

Johnson’s measures also send profoundly important political signals. They are designed to build on his recent political success where he breached Labor’s “Red Wall,” the party’s traditional working-class base in the manufacturing and mining districts of northern England, which largely supported Brexit and turned to the Tories during the December election for the first time in decades. Johnson’s political endgame is to ensure that these newly acquired working-class constituencies are converted to long-term electoral strongholds for the Tories.

The consequences of that kind of electoral success could have long-lasting implications. With his policy actions so far, the British PM is appealing to a mass of working-class constituencies long alienated by successive governments, both Tory and Labor, that prioritized the European Union’s technocratic market fundamentalism. To put it in U.S. terms, the equivalent would be the Republicans converting the Midwest into a permanent GOP regional stronghold (which would almost certainly relegate the Democrats to perpetual minority party status). In the meantime, the opposition Labor Party experienced its worst result since 1935 and more recently lost a municipal by-election in northeast England, where a 20-year-old Tory candidate decisively took almost 50 percent of all votes cast.

On the immigration policy front, the new Conservative government has introduced a new policy that prioritizes skill, largely modeled after the Australian and Canadian points-based systems, whereby a non-resident who is able to score above a threshold number of points in a scoring system that might include such factors as education level, income, skills in high demand, language fluency, existing job offer, etc., is given priority for immigration.

This policy too has predictably engendered charges of the Tories pandering to racists. What has many critics up in arms is that among the “essential” criteria is being able to speak English (even though proficiency in a country’s native tongue helps to engender more social cohesion, less cultural alienation, easier links to studies, and other such benefits). It should also be noted that language requirements are not unique to the UK (Canada likewise prioritizes fluency in its two official languages, English and French).

Other provisions of the new immigration law include having a job offer to qualify for entry and being above a designated “skills threshold.” Again, there is nothing particularly novel about these features: Virtually all EU countries demand economic self-sufficiency as a prerequisite to the free movement of people.

Nor is a points system that prioritizes skilled labor inherently restrictive. To mitigate short-term disruption to businesses, the new proposed legislation does provide alternative social safety valves, retaining existing youth mobility schemes and family reunification from the existing immigration laws. Finally, even though the law might create short-term disruption for service industries, notably in food and beverage, as they wean themselves off cheap sources of external labor, there are long-term benefits to the proposed new policy, as the Telegraph’s Matthew Lynn notes:

In truth, curbing low-skilled immigration can change the economy for the better. Why? Because it will force the economy into higher-productivity, higher-wage industries.

Just take a look at the evidence from the places where it has been tried. According to OECD data, each of the main countries with a points system has done significantly better than the UK at increasing output per worker. Taking 2010 as 100, GDP per worker has risen to 110 in Australia, to 107 in Canada and 103 in New Zealand, but only to 102 in Britain (the OECD average is 106). Our output [per] person has barely grown over the past 10 years.

It will also revalue these service jobs, as a smaller labor pool makes those job openings harder to fill.

A skills-based system also changes the migration pattern from the same regions. We are seeing evidence of this in the U.S., as Professor Michael Lind highlights in his new book, “The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite.” Lind notes, for example, that an increasing number of South Americans in the U.S. are educated professionals—World Bank officials from Uruguay, etc. And in neither the U.S. nor Europe is there a backlash against Indian doctors or Chinese engineers (except in the case of H1Bs, but that is a matter of labor exploitation, as Matt Taibbi highlighted in a recent Rolling Stone piece).

Boris Versus EU

What about the big elephant in the room, namely Brexit and the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU? Boris Johnson’s domestic political jiujitsu has understandably discombobulated his negotiating interlocutors in the EU, which likely means a much more contentious negotiation about the evolution of the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and EU. Hints of the challenges lurking became evident when Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, warned Brussels that the UK would not under any circumstances sign up to EU rules in a trade deal with Brussels, which circumscribed the former’s sovereignty and enforced the EU’s regulatory and legal framework via the European Court of Justice. To be sure, these are but the opening shots in what is likely to be a difficult negotiation, but in contrast to the previous administration of former Prime Minister Theresa May, Johnson’s government is reversing the government’s priorities: national sovereignty over the maintenance of frictionless trade, rather than the opposite.

The reality is that Johnson’s nationalism represents a vision that is ultimately irreconcilable with that of Brussels, a fact that the EU is only beginning to grasp as it establishes its negotiating brief. Brexit was never an end in itself, but a means to a very different sort of destination for the UK. As such, not only is the UK a regulatory rival of the EU, but also, in a broader sense, it presents an ideological challenge to much of the prevailing framework that has dominated policymaking globally for over half a century, but which is likely ending. Johnson will succeed if he can re-establish a social contract among business, labor and government constituents, a modern-day tripartism that replaces today’s incipient caste system, characterized by a steadily growing underclass, often foreign-born, in menial, dead-end personal service jobs. Rather than simply deriding him, the Left would do well to pay heed. Failure to do so could have catastrophic consequences for them.

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35 comments

  1. vlade

    I honestly do not know. The problem is that I’m not sure whether even Johnson knows. I suspect Cummings would like something like that – but many Tory party members might not, especially if there would be backbenchers like Sajid Javid reminding them of the good-ole Thatcherism legacy and how this would go against that (which is more or less what he did recently).

    If Johnson does pull it off, then Labour can wave goodbye to any power for decades.

    There are multiple points of the post that one could rather violently disagree with (for example, saying that Australia or Canada did better because of their immigration system ignores how they rode the massive commodities boom etc. etc), but will leave that to others..

    Reply
    1. rd

      If Johnson actually delivers good jobs for the working class and a more coherent society, then do you really need “The Left”?

      Bernie Sanders is doing well because this is what he is promising and it is what Trump promised in his election campaign (delivery is something else entirely, which is why I think Trump would lose to Bernie). If the Republicans and Democrats had actually been delivering it over the past 20 years, then Trump would still just be running hotels and Bernie Sanders would be a back-bench senator from Vermont.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous2

    I agree vlade. It is difficult to tell how it will play out. But I wouldn’t trust Johnson an inch. And who will pull his strings? Time will tell.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous2

      One further point.

      Richard North, after the election, did some interesting pieces questioning the received wisdom about ‘traditional Labour heartlands’ focusing , as I recall , on Bolsover constituency among others. His point was that the people in these constituencies are not the same people who used to live there and vote Labour. The demographics have changed over time.

      I found some information on the Bishop Auckland constituency which was interesting in this regard. This too was regarded as a traditional mining constituency which had always voted Labour, the loss of which constituted part of the collapse of the Red Wall. However it turns out the last deep cut mine closed in 1968 so that any examination of the demographics shows that unsurprisingly there are very few ex-miners still living in the constituency and their children, many of them, have moved to the cities to find work. The population of the constituency is now made up far more than before of pensioners and commuters, both of which groups are far more likely to vote Tory.

      So perhaps things are not altogether as people imagine.

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      1. vlade

        I’ve said quite some time back that “red wall” meme entirely ignores demographics. Even if the same people living there voted Labour for last 30 years, as pensioners, they are statistically way more likely to switch Tory.

        Anecdote is not data, but..

        When I lived in East Anglia, one of my neighbors was an old gentleman, at that time well into his 90s. IIRC on the 2010 elections he said that he voted Tories first time ever, because he couldn’t make himself vote for Labour as it was then. Unfortunately, I lost touch with him few years back and I have doubts he voted in this election, but if he’d, he’d be even less likely vote Labour than in 2010.

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        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you and well said, Vlade.

          Even in rural Buckinghamshire Labour was able to elect councillors and, in Buckingham from 1966 – 70, an MP, a fellow called Robert Maxwell. That has not been the case since the 1980s.

          Reply
  3. jackiebass

    I suspect the people in the UK were fed a big dose of Rainbow Stew by Johnson during the recent short campaign. A small scale version of what happens during our too long campaigns. About the only known from this is the average UK citizen will pay a big price for vey little for a long time.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Jackie.

      The chlorinated chickens are coming home to roost. The recruitment agency parasites working for the NHS in Buckinghamshire and Kent have put out feelers to former staff, many of whom are EU27 or Windrush migrants no longer wanted by Brexitannians, to come back and help with any Coronavirus pandemic. The feeling in response is sometimes to go long popcorn and watch the natives eager to “get Brexit done” and vote for neo-liberal, blue, red and yellow, promises of high quality public services at low cost marinate in their own juice.

      Reply
  4. paul

    I find impossible to take this imagining of Johnson seriously.
    Edward Heath was a far more convincing candidate then he for the blue collar label.
    He has no interest in making life better for anyone but his own milieu.
    He has never shown anything but contempt for others and his achievements beyond his personal career are non existent.

    Johnson will succeed if he can re-establish a social contract among business, labor and government constituents, a modern-day tripartism that replaces today’s incipient caste system, characterized by a steadily growing underclass, often foreign-born, in menial, dead-end personal service jobs.

    That is an extremely fanciful vision, which I doubt has ever occured to the PM or his cabinet.
    If there is any project, it will be that of Tufton street, that fetid warehouse of warmed over ridleyism/thatcherism.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Paul.

      Please don’t forget the Tufton Street funding for the soon to be elected leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. They don’t fund the Tories only. The Labour Party’s neo liberal and neo con factions are “coming home”. Not only that, but Berger and Umunna may be coming back, too.

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      Me too. But if you did…

      >If Johnson does pull it off, then Labour can wave goodbye to any power for decades.

      For sure but the Torys (Tories?… sorry my Americanism is showing.) wouldn’t be the Torys anymore, either. Same issue with Trumpism, again if it was serious.

      A weird world we live in, maybe. Or more likely the rough beast is slouching towards us and these are just the kind of oddities you would expect in these times. The center certainly isn’t holding!

      Reply
    3. Andrew (Andy) Crow

      Paul says:

      “I find impossible to take this imagining of Johnson seriously.”

      It’s an intriguing scenario, but it doesn’t seem to describe Johnson’s apparent direction of travel, based on previous form. So I am having similar doubts.

      The budget will offer some significant clues perhaps.

      Reply
      1. paul

        I envy your doubts.

        The budget will relaxe his spomsors.

        The people m auerbavk ignores.

        Try to think of our betters as billionare misanthropists, and nothing more.

        Reply
  5. John A

    As most commentators above note, only time will tell. However as for massive and expensive and ultimately failed infrastructure and similar projects, Johnson’s enthusiasm for the high speed rail link has form
    As mayor of London he greenlighted the following fiascos:
    Garden Bridge across Thames. Spent £52m, result project abandoned
    New Routemaster bus £321.6m. No market outside London
    Cable car line across the Thames. £24m. Used by an estimated 4 people a day. Tickets cost twice the bus fare.
    Water cannon £323,000. Outlawed by Home Secretary, never used.
    Hire bikes £225m, were supposed to be cost free to taxpayers.
    Estuary airport £5.2m for feasibility scheme. Close to a bird estuary and a very dangerous shipwreck with unexploded munitions. Never an option
    Olympic stadium conversion £305.5m bulk paid for by taxpayers. Now a white elephant
    Any rail investment would be far better spent on commuter links in and around big cities.

    Reply
    1. Tom Bradford

      Agreed. H2S is nothing more than a big, flashy toy in a very expensive box Johnson has seen in a shop window and wants to get his hands on. He sees it only as his legacy, much like all those failed London projects, with any potential ‘levelling’ between North and South if it happens at all (which I doubt) purely a side-effect. At best it’s no more than a fragile and limited wire between generators in the south and a few lights in the north, but will suck up any finance and incentive that would be much better spent building generators in the north.

      Admittedly I abandoned the UK to its decline many years ago but my own experience, in no way countered by anecdotal reports from friends and relatives still there, is that pensioners without a substantial and assured private income are still solidly Labour and have no confidence at all in the security of the pension system under the Tories.

      Reply
  6. vidimi

    The EU ought to do everything it can to defenestrate the UK and nip this in the bud. Especially now that Johnson has admitted that he will not live up to the commitments he made to the EU before the election.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Do what, precisely?

      The EU has one weapon — denial of a FTA. You get to use that once. It has, in terms of effectiveness, some potential. But if used it may merely hasten that which will inevitably happen anyway — a disentanglement of UK/EU trade which relies wholly or in part of “friction-less” and/or tariff-free market access. This is not all UK/EU trade, by any means.

      Johnson is five years from needing to call an election and has a parliamentary majority large enough to withstand all but the most concerted rebellions.

      Those facts suggest the UK government can tough it out, if it wanted to. While any party can choose to inflict pain on another, whether or not — if inflicting the pain causes you, yourself pain — the party wanting to inflict pain is willing to withstand the resultant pain on itself for a sufficiently long enough time for the pain to have the desired effect on the other party is not subject-able to scientific evaluation. Especially if the painfulness of the pain has a tendency to subside with the passage of time, in the absence of new means of inflicting more, i.e. different, pain.

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      1. a different chris

        >Johnson is five years from needing to call an election

        I admittedly barely understand this system, so I went over to Wikipedia to read about the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

        If Johnson strays too far from Conservative Party precepts he could well face an election much earlier than that. Not as easily as before, but still you really shouldn’t say “five years” to us Americans because we will take that as gospel.

        I don’t see Johnson lasting 5 years, he’s just too likely to make everybody unhappy.

        Reply
        1. rd

          If the Prime Minister loses the confidence of their own party, then the PM generally resigns as leader of the party and the party chooses a new leader who then becomes Prime Minister. That Prime Minister then generally calls a new election in relatively short order to establish their own credibility.

          It is rare for a party to vote no confidence in itself and force a new election without replacing the leader first.

          If it is a minority government (only a plurality of parliament seats), then the coalition member can turn on it and vote with the Opposition for non-confidence in the government, which will then force a new election. In that case, the Prime Minister usually retains position as leader and leads the party into the next election.

          So you can get nearly 5 years between elections or you could get 3-4 elections in five years if things are politically unstable with minority governments and or unstable party leadership.

          Reply
      2. Martin

        But if the denial of an FTA has deleterious impacts, which will not all unfold suddenly, but over a period of years, then the pain continues, after the event so to speak. Major exporting industries, hitherto used to doing business with Europe, will need to reorientate, if they can. Of course the Bojo/ERG line is that this may be true, but will be compensated for by FTAs the world over. And in any case we can happily muddle along with WTO rules. Surely then the political fallout could be serious, unless the government can blame the EU, which of course it will, and, I suspect, look for internal enemies to scapegoat as well.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          Yes, this is in many ways the essential consideration.

          A short, sharp pain, felt fiercely initially but then subsiding is amenable to a long election cycle. After five years, who will really remember?

          A dull, background nagging ache is persistent but you can more easily ignore it. Eventually, you tend not to notice it’s there.

          Added to which, as you say, is the ability to assign the cause of the pain away from yourself and your own actions.

          Reply
          1. paul

            A dull, background nagging ache is persistent but you can more easily ignore it. Eventually, you tend not to notice it’s there.

            That’s how I see things since being able to vote,asset boom and bust,monetisation of the public realm, denigration of the same.

            Romantic idieation does not cut it with me.

            I have one parent who remembers the good times,and can tell me about her parents and her brothers and sisters lives.

            She says,gently, it was pretty shit.

            Reply
  7. Martin

    Liked the Consortium News article. It is in a form familiar as others have covered this ground as well. But more comprehensive here. Your summary excludes the author’s points about the contingent impact of Labour’s Brexit strategy (disastrous) on working class support in the North and Midlands, which reflected leadership and membership pro-Remain inclinations. The potential contradiction between a largely young, urban and middle class membership and a working class electorate, very much alive in the 2019 election, is going to be a difficult one to resolve. Interesting that the author comes from the Duran site, which promotes a Russian perspective, but also seems only (to judge by the commentary) to attract reactionaries in its English-language iteration.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous 2

      ‘The potential contradiction between a largely young, urban and middle class membership and a working class electorate, very much alive in the 2019 election’

      This is an interesting issue to my mind. To what extent is the key divide in English politics now class-driven or age-driven? The Tories 2019 election victory was driven very much by their support among the over 60s – about 62% of them voted Tory whereas about 65% of the under 60s voted against the Tories. Very few of the over 60s voted Labour.

      It would be fascinating to see detailed breakdown how people voted broken down both by age and social category. The usual assumption seems to me to be that C2,D and E form the bulk of the ‘working class’. However what I am not clear about is where pensioners fall in the relevant categorisation. Is the assumption that if you were C2,D or E when working age that you still should be categorised as ‘working class’ even though now a pensioner? If the figures show that such people are more likely to vote with their age cohort rather than their social class when working does it make sense to use the social categories as analytic tools without more careful and detailed analysis?

      Reply
  8. eg

    I don’t believe a word that emanates from Bojo’s mouth. I’ll evaluate based upon his government’s actual actions.

    Certainly the program Auerback outlines is appealing in many ways — I’m not from Missouri, but hey, show me …

    Reply
  9. Bill Smith

    I’m surprised people think there is actually a plan.

    I think beyond the idea “we want out” nobody really knows what they want. It is easier to figure out what is not wanted than what is wanted. It is just a big muddle through bouncing from one unwanted thing to another. Who knows where it ends up.

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  10. Musicismath

    Well, the latest news appears to be that Britain will be withdrawing from the European Arrest Warrant. It also appears that prior assurances that the Erasmus Scheme will be unaffected by Brexit are being rowed back on.

    Reply
  11. Mike

    The task of Leftists is to realize that, globally, all working-class politics is local. The history of the general strike in the US shows how, once such situations occur, they do not spread organically to other locales. In many cases, local conditions do not emulate those elsewhere, and the capitalist class in the US has always been quick enough, until recently, to buy off or squash any criticisms that lead to copying the method.

    In UK, the Midlands and Wales have changed quite much from the mythical working-class bastions they once were. As old miners and factory workers die off or have no affect upon conditions or the way youth think, the media and the grind to make do in current conditions creates a mental map of life quality that focuses upon the near. If the near offers no opportunity, then the far, but always with misgivings if not fear.

    Reply
  12. notabanktoadie

    and explains how the Geneva freeport works to handle diamonds, gold, armaments, fine art and rare wines, all beyond the control of authorities and all beyond the reach of tax: Yves

    Reminds me that, to avoid violating equal protection under the law in favor of cheats, taxes should be inescapable. A couple of inescapable taxes come to mind:

    1) land taxes – with a home/farmstead exemption.
    2) negative interest on large and non-individual citizen accounts at the Central Bank AND on physical fiat too beyond petty amounts.

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  13. Susan the other

    The confluence of Boris and Labour is very interesting. Since the EU has the one overriding goal of being a powerful trading block, this could really take the wind out of their sails. The worldview of the EU was neoliberal primarily because they were too inclusive, aka imperialist. Too self-serving. If the EU were just Germany then their international politics would work OK, with an occasional tweak that they themselves had sovereignty over. The obvious implication of Boris’ nationalism is that all countries should be sovereign – or at least treated equally in a sovereign federation. The EU fails as a sovereign federation because it thinks debt is fatal because money, their object of desire – the euro – has some intrinsic value. Too bad old illusions die so hard. So this really is interesting. And it comes from Auerback who is a straight shooter. So what if this idea of Boris’s takes off? How does the UK compete; how will its sovereignty survive without the backing of a powerful trading block? No wonder they are looking to do Singapore on the Thames. They are going to fudge as necessary. After all – that’s what money is for. My big question is, Can it work if they put the environment and society at the head of the line, for preservation? That would mean George Soros is definitely gonna sell the pound. And to our disadvantage, because our politics is so incompetent, the dollar will be where George invests his foul money. For a while. Trump won’t really see it coming. I like the whole concept of Nationalism – without the Nazis – because it implies a coherent government that can actually control things for the benefit of society. Nations are sovereigns. So… Boris the Artful Dodger? Where will he go with this?

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  14. Ignacio

    I am not that sure that supposed BJ’s active support to UK industries will be all that different with that of other UE countries. The fact that the UE itself fills its mouth not with “free market” as M.A. writes but instead with “fair competition” doesn’t hide the tons of help provided by the many administrations from local to regional and the national level to their corporate champions as well as start-ups.

    This goes to the point of hypocrisy in the UE when they allow subsidizing their electric-intensive industries. Both their costs in CO2 emissions and the cost of the electricity can be subsidized.

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  15. kiwi

    “Trump and the GOP accordingly paid the price in the midterm elections of 2018, one of the biggest congressional wipeouts over the past half-century.”

    The linked article is yet another missive on “the dems really won, not the repubs” that continuously flows from the non-repub side of the spectrum nowadays, trying to deny the wipe-out that occured during Obama’s term and deny Trump’s presidential victory.

    Dems refuse to face the fact that Trump won and that previously “Republicans picked up 63 House seats and six Senate seats. It was the largest seat change in 62 years and marked the most substantial midterm flip of House control since 1894. By all accounts, 2010 was one of the biggest midterm wave elections in a century or more.”

    But dems simply cannot accept the numbers. Their “but, but, but we really won” fantasies are so grating and old.

    Why, we must look ever deeper and deeper and deeper, per the author, to figure out how to spin the results of the last mid-term: “With the dust finally settling on November’s elections, Democrats will have gained about 40 House seats while losing two Senate seats. These results don’t tell the whole story.” Then we must claim that 2018 was so much bigger and better for the dems based on blah, blah, blah, lies, statistics and so on and so forth…

    The number of seats matter because each seat gets 1 vote and only 1 vote. The power accorded to one seat in congress does not change because some % of some party’s vote increased by some %.

    There is a winner and a loser. The winner gets the seat, not a proportion of the seat. The person who gets the delegates and gets the electoral votes wins.

    The denial is downright fantastical.

    Maybe people should just accept the fact that we’re divided on issues, instead of concocting fantasies. Even dems’ claims that their policies are more popular, a claim they have made for decades, appears to be based on fantasy – because it certainly hasn’t necessarily translated into the wipe-out of the repubs. And dems have claimed for years that the repubs would be wiped out based on demographic changes alone, yet the wipe-out has not happened.

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  16. Synoia

    Boris the weather-vane:

    Which way is the wind blowing?
    Form the North: Boris Faces North,
    Form the South: Boris Faces South,
    Form the West: Boris Faces West,
    Form the East: Boris Faces East,
    Form the Money: Boris Faces Money,

    Its amazing how often Boris’ wind faces the Money.
    It is the prevailing wind.

    Reply

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