Build it in Britain is just sensible logic

After my day in the sun as a poet, I am back to being an economist. I have been researching operational issues relating to how a society can take back control and Reclaim the State, as part of the work I am doing for our follow up book (with Thomas Fazi) that I hope to get out next year sometime. The current book Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017) is very conceptual. The Part 2 follow up will be conceptual in part but also operational. How to do it rather than what needs to be done. More specifically, I have been examining public procurement policies and how they have been captured by neoliberal interests to benefit capital at the expense of broader objectives (regional development, skill development, productivity growth, investment, employment, wages growth, etc). Over the last 3-4 decades, the way governments spend their money (contracting etc) has changed dramatically and governments have been bullied into acting as if they are ‘profit-maximising’ firms with no other agenda when making multi-billion dollar market purchases. However, in Britain this might change if British Labour are elected. Jeremy Corbyn announced this week that he was going to dramatically change the way the British government spends if he is elected. His ‘Build it in Britain’ strategy will scrap the narrow, neoliberal approaches to public procurement policies and instead use the spending capacity of government to advance broader goals. So while it might end up that a contract to a local firm requires higher government outlays, if that contract also delivers other benefits to the nation (as above) then the local firm would not be disadvantaged. Under the current ‘value for money’ hype local firms cannot ‘compete’ in many cases and these broader benefits are thus not generated. I see the ‘Build it in Britain’ strategy as an exercise in sensible logic and a major statement that the neoliberal command on British Labour is in retreat – for now anyway.

Jeremy Corbyn announced this week that he was going to rather dramatically change the way the British government spends if he is to be elected.

I don’t mean the technical apparatus that surrounds spending by a currency-issuer.

Rather, he is to change procurement practices in favour of British industry.

On Tuesday (July 24, 2008), Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech at the EEF Technology Hub in Birmingham – Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Build it in Britain’ speech at the EEF Technology Hub.

The EEF’s Technology Hub is “UK’s premier facility for training and development for apprentices and professionals in manufacturing and engineering.”

The Birmingham area has, of course, historically been a major centre for British manufacturing.

So it was appropriate that the Labour leader chose this place to launch his ‘Build it in Britain’ strategy, which will significantly boost the British economy and insulate it from some of the Brexit losses.

As an aside, Birmingham (Handsworth) is also the home of Steel Pulse, one of the best reggae bands around. Their first album Handsworth Revolution released in 1978 is a classic. Track 6, Ku Klux Klan is one of my ring tones on my mobile phone!

So what is Build it in Britain?

First some context.

Context

One of the hallmarks of the neoliberal period has been the way that powerful vested interests have co-opted the capacity of governments to serve their own agendas and compromise broader welfare goals.

As we explain in our current book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017) – this strategy has taken many different forms.

One of the ways in which the ability of governments to serve the interests of the many has been compromised and limited has been in the way in which public procurement practices have changed.

Public procurement relates to the purchase of goods and services by government and its instrumentalities from non-government entities. In other words these are market transactions.

In the past, public procurement practices were capable of providing a multitude of outcomes that could not be distilled to a narrow goal of getting the cheapest supply available, irrespective of where the goods and services were coming from and who were supplying them.

In other words, governments considered things like local employment effects to be important aspects of their contracting processes on top of price dimensions.

For example, prior to the 1990s local governments in Australia had significant latitude in terms of their procurement and contracting practices.

One of the benefits of this more flexible regulative environment was that local governments were one of the implicit buffer stock employers who could absorb some local excess labour relatively quickly in times of economic stress.

These workers were able to quickly access jobs in parks and gardens, waste disposal, and other areas of municipal activity and responsibility.

Workers knew they had a reasonable chance of getting jobs on the local council when local private employment was contracting.

Local governments were not the only buffer stock employers (this capacity was spread throughout the public sector – on the railways, road construction, state housing construction, postal and telecommunications, etc) – but they were an important reason why Australia was able to maintain truthful employment (unemployment less than 2 per cent) in the postwar period up until the late 1970s.

As the neoliberal era unfolded, these capacities came under attack from private industry lobby groups and wealthy shareholding interests.

Procurement practices were targeted and arguments made that government purchasing decisions should only be made on narrow efficiency grounds relating largely to price.

As a result we entered a period that persists to today where our government agencies are limited in how they can spend their money to fulfil their elected mandate.

In 1995, the Australian government introduced the so-called ‘Competition Policy Reform Act 1995’, which was a significant part of what has become known as the National Competition Policy.

The ‘competitive’ mantra dominated government procurement as a result of this initiative.

As an example, following on from our earlier discussion, local governments now had to tender out mark many of their activities to private contractors, which precluded them from acting as a buffer stock employer.

The so-called ‘public benefit test’ became significantly weakened under this regime.

There is a very interesting paper from 2013 in the Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies (Volume 15) entitled – Neoliberalism and the European Public Procurement Regime – written by Peter Kunzlik (you need library access to read it, sorry) which traces the way the procurement practices in the EU have supported the expansion of the neoliberal ideology in the that group of countries.

He traces the evolution of neoliberal thinking back to the 1930s where he identifies what he calls “embedded liberalism” as emerging.

Kunzlik writes that this doctrine:

… ordained that the state should pursue a ‘laissez-faire’ approach and should not interfere in the market, except to protect market institutions such as property and freedom of contract and exchange.

He correctly notes that the Great Depression put a break on the expansion of these ideas because it became obvious that state intervention to generate economic activity via fiscal policy was necessary and to do nothing would have destroyed the democratic political order.

He notes that “some on the political right who had clung to the ideology of laissez-faire” kept the neoliberal flame burning (Hayek, Mont Pelerin Society, University of Chicago) but until the 1970s their views were “marginalised in the face of sustained prosperity.

The rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s, as advanced nations were trying to cope with the oil price shocks and their aftermath, came in the form of Monetarism which attacked government intervention head on.

Eric Hobsbawm wrote in his 1995 book – The Age of Extremes: 1914-1991 (Abacus Press) that (pages 409-10):

The battle between Keynesians and neoliberals was neither a purely technical confrontation between professional economists, nor a search for ways of dealing with novel and troubling economic problems … It was a war of incompatible ideologies. Both sides put forward economic arguments … Yet economics in both cases rationalized and ideological commitment, an artery or overview of human society.

Thomas Fazi and I cover that history in detail in Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017) and, partly, in my own 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale.

The result of this struggle for political supremacy was that the “three core beliefs” (to use Kunzlik’s terminology) of neoliberalism became dominant in policy design.

These are:

1. “The State as a Threat to Economic Freedom … state regulation of the market is essentially coercive and curtails the economic freedom of individuals and firms, and should therefore be constrained”.

2. “The Superior ‘Efficiency’ of the Free Market”.

3. “The Market as a Constraintupon State Action and as a Guarantorof Neoliberal Freedom and Efficiency”.

A core application of these ‘beliefs’ is the prominance of ‘free trade’ arguments, which intend to establish deregulated regimes which limite the “nation state’s ability to engage in social experimentation”.

Kunzlik notes (in a quote from John McGinnis’ 1996 book – The Decline of the Western Nation State and the Rise of the Regime of International Federalism) that while economists have dressed these free trade arguments up in “Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage” and have claimed their intent is to enhance “prosperity” for all, the:

… more fundamental consequence of free trade in global markets … is political … [They] … Restrain the government’s ability to redistribute wealth and hamper enterprise …

Legal frameworks are then implemented – so-called “superior” laws – “that can constrain the ability of governments to ‘interfere’ in the market and … curtail economic freedom”.

They are designed to reduce government discretion and tilt the benefits of government intervention towards capital at the expense of labour.

Part of this agenda has been to “expand the realm of the market, thereby opening up new fields for private profit-making and capital accumulation.”

This refers to the “‘marketisation’ of activities that were previously considered to have an expressly public character and which were therefore traditionally undertaken by the state itself rather than by private enterprise for private profit”.

The new regime is required that all these activities should be subjected to so-called ‘market discipline’, which requiredthem to be “delivered by private firms in pursuit of profit and subject, whenever possible to competition.”

So we saw privatisation, outsourcing, and the rise of public-private partnerships as part of this process of capturing the benefits of state intervention.

The latter two examples of ‘marketisation’ – outsourcing and PPPs – thus directly impacted on public procurement practices and their regulative frameworks.

The interesting aspect of all of this is that while the mantra of the neoliberals has been small government, the reality has been that the size of government relative to the economy (and by this I mean it’s command of productive resources) has not diminished significantly over the neoliberal.

As Kunzlik notes “European voters nonetheless demand public services such as decent state schools, hospitals, old-age pensions, social security, transport and communications infrastructure, policing and national defence.”

We might add, citizens everywhere still demand these things.

In other words, the combination of the maintenance of government responsibilities for the provision of these services, and the imposition of the free market ideology and its operational marketisation, has provided an absolute goldmine for capital.

Whenever you hear one of the top-end-of-town demand a cutting government spending you can be sure it’s not in an area that they have ongoing contracts with the government under any one of these marketisation scams.

Kunzlik thus talks about the “ideological importance of public procurement”, in the sense, that it is in this contracting phase that capital extracts as much as it can from the public purse.

The tensions have always been there in relation to public procurement practices.

1. It is clear that state is conflicted because while neoliberalism demands it act as a ‘profit maximiser’ in its purchasing decision, we demand it serves our interests, which extend well beyond the narrow neoliberal criterion for optimality.

2. The government is not a small consumer among an infinite number of consumers, so the perfectly competitive neoliberal market that is the model the economists use to establish their principles of efficiency is absent.

So there is no real competition at all.

3. Kunzlik notes that “he fact that the state is geographically bounded means that the ‘non-economic’ policies that public purchasers may seek to pursue may give preferential treatment to domestic firms, thereby impeding market access for foreign firms as regards public contracts”.

Exactly.

These tensions are why neoliberals have sought to force narrow procurement policies on governments so that broader goals are suppressed.

Governments have been bullied into behaving as if they are ‘profit maximising firms’ in their procurement policies under all the “value for money” hype that our politicians keep chanting to make out as if they are doing all this in our interests.

This is why they have sought to push procurement regulation into “international rules-based systems” to constrain “government discretion”.

This is why we see the hideous ‘investor dispute mechanisms’ in free trade agreements which permit the possibility that private profit concerns to overriding the legislative authority of nation state governments.

Kunzlik traces the history of procurement policy in the EU, which I will note deal with here.

The summary of his research is that the regime that the European Commission has developed:

… conforms to the preferred neo-liberal model of international (or in this case supra-national) regulation …

Critically, it operates by imposing constraints upon the discretion of contracting authorities and entities at every stage of the contract award process …

the remedial system entitles private parties to challenge the decisions of public purchasers in the national courts of the EU Member States …

the EU regime operates by extensively curtailing the purchasing discretion of public bodies in the Member States, neoliberal arguments have been advanced, and are currently being advanced, to curtail that discretion further …

So when Jeremy Corbyn stood up on Tuesday to deliver his “Build it in Britain” speech he was making a very big statement that challenged the core ways in which neoliberal regime has become entrenched.

Build it in Britain is a fabulous proposal

Jeremy Corbyn told his audience that:

Labour is setting out a genuinely new economic direction for our country … Our new economic approach is necessary because for the last forty years a kind of magical thinking has dominated the way Britain is run …

We’ve been told that it’s good, even advanced, for our country to manufacture less and less and to rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports while we focus on the City of London and the financial sector …

A lack of support for manufacturing is sucking the dynamism out of our economy, pay from the pockets of our workers and any hope of secure well-paid jobs from a generation of our young people …

Because Labour is committed to supporting our manufacturing industries and the skills of workers in this country we want to make sure the government uses more of its own money to buy here in Britain …

That spending power alone gives us levers to stimulate industry, to encourage business to act in people’s interests by encouraging genuine enterprise, fairness, cutting edge investment, high-quality service and doing right by communities …

He then listed an array of contracts that have been awarded by the British government which have not been in the interests of the nation as a whole.

1. Shipbuilding contracts – £1 billion contract to an overseas builder when British shipyards have the capacity to deliver first-class outcomes with all the subsidiary positive regional benefits that would flow from the activity.

2. Offshore contracts to France to supply British passports whereas previously “workers in Gateshead were making them”.

3. Train carriage contracts to overseas suppliers.

4. NHS contracts (over a £ billion) to overseas suppliers.

5. Defence contracts (£1.5 billion) to overseas suppliers.

To address these anomalies, the Labour leader proposes to:

1. Introduce “new procurement rules so that government supports jobs and industry” – thus abandoning the narrow neoliberal approach to ensure there are broader national goals being served.

2. “Investing in infrastructure to support companies here in Britain”.

3. “increasing investment in education, skills and lifelong learning through the National Education Service that we will create”.

If British Labour does continue down this past then Britain has a chance of escaping the negative consequences of Brexit and revitisaling its own industry and improving the employment prospects of its workers.

Larry Elliot noted in his UK Guardian commentary on the plan (July 24, 2018) – Corbyn’s Build it in Britain plan isn’t radical – it’s what other countries do – that the neoliberal procurement approach:

… has been a colossal failure. Britain’s growth model – flexible labour markets, a laissez-faire takeover code, debt-fuelled consumer spending and an indifference to the fate of manufacturing – is broken. Living standards have flatlined. Wages have grown in the past decade at their slowest rate in 200 years. Productivity has stalled. The ready availability of cheap labour has meant there is little incentive for firms to invest in new capital or staff training. As the CBI has reported, the lack of investment means that British industry runs into supply bottlenecks as soon as there is a modest pick-up in demand.

Exactly.

Jeremy Corbyn’s rejection of the free market approach is just plain simple logic.

Conclusion

Overall, I consider this to be a very bold and constructive move by the British leader to really distance the Labour Party from its Blairite neoliberal past and to outline a strategy where the capacities of the nation state will be used to advance the interests of the many rather than the few.

However, as a negative note, I cringed when I read in his Speech that he estimated that an outcome of his new industrial strategy will be to fuel:

… the tax revenues that fund our public services and the NHS, rebuilding communities and increasing living standards for all.

There is clearly some intellectual development required yet before the British Labour leadership jettisons the neoliberal dogma that it has become trapped in since the mid-1970s.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    25 Responses to Build it in Britain is just sensible logic

    1. Martin Freedman says:

      Whilst I totally agree with your analysis and support of Corbyn’s proposal (but could not vote for Corbyn given his deliberate inability to deal with Antisemitism in the Labour Party).

      Unfortunately, we (well the party in Government that I have never voted for) have just applied to join the WTO GPA
      https://www.eaccny.com/news/member-news/the-uk-applies-formally-to-join-the-wtos-agreement-on-government-procurement/. This, unlike the WTO in general only addressing international and not domestic trade, specifically makes policy more in line with EU interference in domestic procurement policy: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/gproc_e/gp_gpa_e.htm.

      I would be grateful for your comments on this.

    2. Martin Freedman says:

      Further research shows that John Major signed us into GPA in 1994 but this was then taken as an EU agglomeration, we for “safety’s” sake have reapplied as the UK and in any case a number of the UK schedules were wrong as they were outdated with ministries/departments changing. Clearly Labour should have raised this as an issue sooner?

    3. Martin Freedman says:

      Hat tip to “JDD” commentator on the Eureferendum blog.

      I have asked to add further info here. I do not know who JDD is, I am guessing a civil servant, as he claims that his briefings sent to Corbyn but, presumably never read, are covered under the Official Secrets Act…

    4. Simon Cohen says:

      Dear Bill,

      I was recently informed that there is one Labour M.P who is MMT aware – Chris Williamson, M.P for a Derby Constituency (where trains were built from 1840)-so it is starting to happen! Problem is there are about 170 Labour M.P’s who need to be deselected so they can join the Tories!

    5. André says:

      “The Part 2 follow up will be conceptual in part but also operational.”
      Excellent news. I’m really looking forward to read it next year.

    6. Simon Cohen says:

      Martin-you talk about Corbyn’s ‘deliberate’ inability to deal with anti-semitism in the Labour Party.

      I am one of those who believe that the anti-semitism ‘slur’ against Corbyn is indeed a last-ditch attempt to discredit the man by neo-libs after the ‘terrorist’ one didn’t stick. Margaret Hodge’s foul and ill thought out attack on Corbyn discredits herself and all those who have experienced REAL antisemitism.

      Corbyn at the 80th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Cable Street’:

      ‘Those who daub a synagogue with antisemitic graffiti, defile a mosque with Islamophobic hate, or any other community that suffers that abuse or racism, we are on their side to defend all those communities and the kind of multicultural society we want to live in.’

      Clearly an antisemite(not!)

      (Jewish Voices for Labour for alternative views on this media hype)

    7. Jake says:

      Great policy direction from Cornyn.
      Can’t believe people consider him dangerous.its ridiculous.

    8. MrShigemitsu says:

      Agree on the cringeworthiness of “…tax revenues that fund our public services…”, but am encouraged by the, albeit contradictory, terminology used in: “…we want to make sure the government uses more of its own money to buy here in Britain …”.

      Government using *its own money*!!!

      That’s more like it; Thatcher would turn in her grave!

      Re: AS, funny how these trumped-up Anti-Corbyn allegations resurface just as Labour have a 4% lead in the polls.

      These critics are just Blairite stooges, who would rather see Labour lose to the Tories in the next GE, so they can bring back David Miliband.

      Another real worry is that, should they succeed, UK Jews in general will get the blame for destroying the only chance of a left wing govt in the UK for decades. Apart from being unfair, as there are many left-wing Jews, it would only increase AS in the UK, and make life for British Jews of all political flavours, potentially quite unpleasant, even dangerous.

      I very much agree with Simon Cohen.

    9. Peter Y says:

      So now imports not so great. Seems contradictory to your previous trade analysis. So when Corbyn says it then it is good, but when Keen says it then bad? Please explain within the broader context. Thanks.

    10. Martin Freedman says:

      Oh dear. Can we address the core issue here which is the conflict between Labours proposed policies and EU/WTO arrangements?

      Anyway I did mention it in brackets and Simon has chosen to respond re AS.

      I totally disagree with the neoliberal slur/Blairite stooges claim as the prime cause. Labour has been the natural home for most of the urbanite Jews that I know but no more. They are alienated by the resurgence of the illiberal, regressive left – which is blocking (as did the neoliberal left before this) a truly progressive and modern left which we all desperately need – where a litmus test of failing to deal with resurgence of AS by Corbyn has united UK Jewry both left and right and those pro- and anti-Israel government policies. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/18/labour-antisemitism-code-jeremy-corbyn

      Really this is not the post/blog to address this issue anyways. Just sayin’.

    11. André says:

      “if that contract also delivers other benefits to the nation (as above) then the local firm would not be disadvantaged”

      This ideia ia very interesting, but it also brings me some fears. I believe there is a lot of room for mismanagement, and I don’t know how we could make the government accoutable to such possible inefficiencies.

      For example (and this is not only one example – there are many more examples and a lot of counter examples too), at the 80s, Brazil was very removed from the international markets. It did not import or export much, and relied heavily on the local economy. It was good in a lot of senses, but sometimes there were big costs.

      In Brazil, you had to pay to have your own telephone line, and it was outrageously expensive – it costed the price of a car. In the rest of the world, phone lines were as today – they were usually free or cheap and you had to pay monthly fees for the phone usage only. It was an error to rely on the local technology and industry. It made life worse. Protecting such an industry was a bad idea, and when the telephone company was privatized and open to the international markets, phone became cheap and avaliable to a bigger part of the population.

      However, we do have opposite examples too (when privatization and international markets destroyed value instead of enhancing it).

      So I have a mixed opinions about the theme…

    12. Jeff says:

      It’s an interesting point Andre, however i believe the job guarantee removes one of the main drivers of the lurch towards cronyism and luddism you cite in your example. Fear of losing your job, your income, your community, your family is avoided if you have a cast iron guarantee of well paid work, no matter what change occurs.

      I think the coal miners fought so hard in the UK to keep their pits open, culminating in the 84 miners strike because they *knew* that the end of coal mining would result in unemployment, loss of community, harm to their families. Coal mining had to end, but with a JG in place, those once in a generation changes becomes bumps in the road and not the apocalypse.

      Additionally any government following this path should steer clear of mass intervention imho – by all means pick winners, but do it in a strategic way, not just because ‘Swindon will lose 200 jobs’ – if a technology is obsolete, it’s obsolete, ‘saving jobs’ becomes irrelevant at the macro level with a JG unless there is some strategic purpose that is clearly defined beforehand, energy or food security perhaps, or wanting to lead a carbon free tech revolution (transport etc), there are dozens of things you could include. The example of telephone network operators doesn’t need government participation, it needs strong regulation. Natural monopolies definitely need government participation, water, rail etc.

      This is why a JG is so crucial in my opinion and Labour will let themselves down if they don’t see this – the forces on any Corbyn government to intervene every time jobs are threatened could swamp them. With a JG the intervention is automatic and fair.

    13. MrShigemitsu says:

      “Really this is not the post/blog to address this issue anyways. Just sayin’.”

      Indeed.

      But perhaps you’ve forgotten that you’re the one who brought it up in the first place.

    14. PhilipR says:

      At the moment the Palace of Westminster and Downing Street are policed by armed officers carrying uber reliable German made sub machine guns whilst the British Army has to get by with the notoriously compromised, unreliable and British made SA80 assault rifle.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/oct/10/military.jamesmeek
      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/jul/31/military.uk

      Let’s hope that the civil servants in Whitehall apply “Build it in Britain” with a measure of common sense.

      Their record isn’t good. The Royal Navy currently has one British built Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier on its roster with another one due for delivery next year and no F-35B Lightning II’s to fly off them.

    15. Simon says:

      “where a litmus test of failing to deal with resurgence of AS by Corbyn”

      What resurgence? The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s own research (and they are not pro-Corbyn) shows AS has gone down in the Labour Party since Corbyn became leader. A YouGov survey this week produced the same conclusion.

      The idea that AS is increasing in Labour is a lie spread by the right-wing Board of Deputies and Blairite Jewish Labour Movement because they have nothing else to attack him with. They hate him for being pro-Palestinian and they are trying to bully him into accepting a code of conduct which makes criticising Israel a hate crime.

    16. Andreas Bimba says:

      Very welcome signs from Jeremy Corbyn in the important area for the UK of manufacturing.

      For developed nations like the UK, I believe the manufacturing sector is more likely to become optimal when trade protection levels are at moderate levels for most established industry sectors, not too high nor too low – the Goldilox point of not too hot nor too cold but just right.

      Excessive trade protection generally leads to stagnation, inefficiency, poor quality and high prices and limited choices for consumers – for example the UK or Australian car manufacturing industries of the late 1970’s. Unfortunately excessively free trade generally leads to low or no profitability and eventual extinction for most businesses in high labour cost nations that have not achieved international market penetration levels like those of Germany, Japan and the US in some areas like aerospace. A recent example is the complete cessation of the Australian car manufacturing industry even though productivity and build quality had never been higher since the start of mass production in the 1940’s, due to the removal of all trade protection and an unwillingness by the Conservative federal government to provide the minimum level of subsidies needed to face tough competition from low wage and technologically capable nations like Thailand and China. I believe a tariff of 15% on car imports would have saved the local assemblers and component manufacturers and up to 100,000 stable and relatively well paid jobs and the core of a potentially much wider manufacturing sector.

      Another common factor for manufacturing success is adoption of the government and private sector partnership approach to industry development. Most of the successful East Asian nations have adopted this approach especially during the incubation phase and the role of Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry is probably a good fit for the UK. Take for example the manufacture of trains and their components. The UK national government could ensure the necessary legislative, educational, long term planning and financial support is provided so that UK industry can again provide all of the local demand at an internationally competitive level as well as assist with exports. Allowing local rail transport providers to purchase from international suppliers on an ad-hoc basis as now will in most cases lead eventually to the extinction of local manufacturing capability.

      Development of a substantial local clean energy manufacturing sector in the UK is another example, Thorium molten salt failsafe nuclear reactors possibly another.

      Other factors such as industry clustering, national economic diversity and complexity and a much closer relationship between higher education, research institutions and industry are all important.

      An unwinding of the exploitative privatised services such as utilities, various formerly government provided services and public transport of the neoliberal era, reducing wasteful speculation in real estate and shares, tax evasion, rampant crony capitalism and worst of all the parasitic financial services sector; will greatly reduce the current appalling levels of economic waste, inequality and injustice.

      Optimal fiscal policy and a Job Guarantee is most important of all. Please no more UBI or Libertarianist false promises when we have the solutions.

      This can be called ‘playing to win for worthy social purpose’ and is contrary to the neoliberal disaster of the last 30+ years.

    17. Ralph Musgrave says:

      Clearly if politicians and bureaucrats had the wisdom of Soloman, or half the wisdom of Soloman, they’d be able to implement a “made in Britain” policy which brought numerous benefits. The sad reality is that politicians and bureaucrats are bumbling buffoons. It is thus debatable whether their efforts confer more benefits than the free market, warts and all. Thus I don’t support Corbyn’s made in Britain policy.

      Moreover, a made in Britain policy is not even needed to ensure more stuff is made in Britain post-Brexit. Assuming the effect of Brexit is to make it more difficult for Britain to export, the pound will fall on forex markets, which in turn will make import substitution, i.e. making more stuff in Britain, more profitable.

    18. Simon

      Deary me. To continue on this theme based on a side comment – which I emphasize was in brackets – rather than the main and far more important issue being over EU and WTO agreements restricting Labour’s ability to promote “Build It in Britain”, you misread what I meant by resurgence, my fault.

      When I last checked the CAAS has showed that there is no more AS on the left than the right, I have no reason to propose nor believe anything specific to Corbyn’s leadership has changed that.

      If you had cared to read the Guardian link I previously provided, you would have known that the Labour Party’s (not the PLP’s) stance on this is contrary to many Jewish organisations including many of those on the left and some such as Yachat that are highly critical of Israel government policies on settlements and so on. The LP positions has remarkably united groups that have historically been in severe opposition over many issues.

      The IHRA definition does not prevent criticism of Israel, it only when double standards are involved that questions are and should be raised as to the disproportionate focus.

      I have found that debate on this has repeatedly brought out far more AS comments than I usually see on topics on Israel per se elsewhere. That is what I meant by resurgence. It appears that people are more able and public in such AS than they were in the past.This does not mean the amount of people with such views have increased, just that those who already exist feel more free to be vocal on this. Indeed this looks much like a classic performative contradiction, where defending the alternative stance in the LP, merely demonstrates that AS has not been dealt with! Then again one could argue that this is just my anecdotal observation, maybe it is.

      Then you come out with this tired, old trope: “The idea that AS is increasing in Labour is a lie spread by the right-wing Board of Deputies and Blairite Jewish Labour Movement because they have nothing else to attack him with. They hate him for being pro-Palestinian and they are trying to bully him into accepting a code of conduct which makes criticising Israel a hate crime.” This is simply not true but it appears you do not care to actually look at the evidence such as the definition nor that many organisations critical of the Israel government have no issue with endorsing the definition. As long as ignorant comments such as yours are made on this topic, I am compelled to point this out.

      As MrShigemitsu points out I did start this but as I already said, it was an aside. One can wonder why I felt the need to provide that aside at all. Well, I prefer Labour’s economic policies to the Conservatives (but that is setting an incredibly low bar) but his approach has alienated the large majority of urbanite Jews I know, who now have no-one to vote for nor represent them.

      This could all have been dealt with very simply if Corbyn ensured the IHRA definition had prevailed. This would not have prevented criticism of the Israeli government but would have shut down ASs in the illiberal, authoritarian left. He did not do that.

    19. Ralph

      Import substitution, by government procurements specifically, will fail, if it is prevented by the WTO GPA, which had been incorporated into the EU acquis in 1994 and now we have rejoined this directly, rather than via the EU, on the basis of leaving the EU.

      Andy said elsewhere that he thought therefore Bill would recommend leaving the WTO! Now we can all agree that there is much wanting in the WTO per se, but this was a voluntary unilateral UK action not needed to be taken at this time, nor ever, and a key if not fundamental issue that should have been dealt with by the Labour opposition. The fact that this was not mentioned nor noted that we could, I believe – my civil servant contact is a specialist on the WTO not EEA so he is not sure – deal with this via Article 112 in the EEA (if we were in the Efta/EEA post A50 closing) just indicates that Labour is just as incompetent as the Conservatives, that is the operational reality we exist in, here in the UK.

    20. Jerry Brown says:

      Bill, I’m kind of disappointed that you’ve given up on being a poet after only two attempts. I thought you made a promising start- You got two poems in with a total of three words altogether. Compared to the usual blog post, the efficiency is astounding. Of course word selection for a poem might take extra time I imagine. So I’m not sure how long it took you to devise your poems.

      As to the rest of the post- the ‘Build it in Britain’ proposal makes a great deal of sense to me, but I am a little surprised that you support it, given how imports are always supposed to be a benefit according to MMT. Is there really much difference from the government providing the demand for an imported ship or the private sector providing that demand? Either way the exporters are supplying real goods which supposedly frees up all the resources and labor that would be required to produce that ship domestically. So that they (the labor) can do whatever else they can manage to find to do instead. Maybe they can be poets like you instead!

    21. Pen says:

      Not sure if we want another situation where we are favouring inferior products just because they come from a certain country. Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of the 70s decimation of western automotive industry because of superior East Asian products

    22. Martin Freedman says:

      Hi Jerry Brown

      Let me try and answer your question which is very salient given the MMT stance that imports are a benefit versus Corbyn’s position here. I am sure Bill will correct any errors I make.

      *If* we had a full employment economy – backstopped by the price level protecting automatic stabilizer of the Job Guarantee – *then* **real** imports are (or is it “become” Bill?) a net benefit whilst net imports remain a *financial* leakage. The latter would (then) be counterbalanced by the appropriate Government fiscal agenda (as Ellis calls it) injecting into the domestic economy what has been leaked by net imports modulo the savings desires of the private domestic sector. This is not what is happening in the UK, the agenda relying on unsustainable increasing private debt – the housing bubble/Austerity – which is even more damaging now as no-one is discussing it, rather they are all focused on the disastrous Brexit negotiations. (IMV The best pragmatic path to get out to the EU would have been Efta/EEA and then there would have been no disaster – this mess is entirely of our own polity and medias’ makings).

      We do not have a full employment economy in the UK, yet still there is a rest of the world net demand to save in sterling, hence our trade imbalance.

      Anyway Corbyn’s BIIB would be a step towards full employment and re-direct government spending in a more efficient fashion in the sense of not just to purchase labour, goods and services from the private sector but also providing social value too in terms of local employment and recirculation of income locally with beneficial spending multiplier effects rather than being siphoned off to the rest of the world multinationals – which is enforced by the Eu aquis and the WTO GPA, SCM and so on – which negated any spending multipliers.

    23. Jerry Brown says:

      Dear Martin Freedman, thank you for your reply! As I said, the Corbyn ‘Build it in Britain’ proposal makes a lot of sense to me. Meaning that I would support it if I lived in Britain :). I would support the same here where I live. And it goes beyond just government purchases.

      Here in the US, pretty much all levels of government have been pressured to ‘outsource’ as many of their responsibilities as possible to private companies. Supposedly because these private companies will be more efficient than government employees and provide the same services at lower cost. Mostly that is garbage in my opinion. What we get is private companies profiting at the expense of the government and employees making less and less wages while the quality of the services goes down. And half the time it doesn’t save any money anyway. And the government still has the responsibility to provide the service in the first place.

      My earlier comment was an attempt to point out what I perceive as a slight discrepancy between support for BIIB and the MMT position on trade as described in the three part series from May 2018 that began with this post- “Trade and external finance mysteries- Part 1”. Quite a discussion of that took place in the comments and in my view, the Corbyn proposal, if expanded to an overall trade policy, is pretty much what I was arguing for in that.

    24. Martin Freedman says:

      Jerry I agree that there is a prima facie issue/clash over these two aspects of analysis i) imports are a benefit ii) the UK LP is arguing for preferring locally provided goods/services over imports. I was trying to apply the principle of charity in trying to see how these could both be true. The question is did my attempt succeed? And if not, why not?

    25. Jerry Brown says:

      Martin, I can not see how they can both be true at any one point in time, but admit that either could be true depending on the circumstances at different times. Believe me, I am not happy to give you such a squishy answer. In general, I lean towards the Corbyn proposal and away from cheapest price is always better.

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