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Impending British Labour loss may reflect their ambiguous Brexit position

Last week, the British Labour Party released its election – Manifesto 2019 – which they describe as “the most radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times”. There is a lot to like about that Manifesto from a progressive perspective. However, in my mind, there were two unresolved tensions that I think damage the Party’s credibility. The first, is its, yes, continued embrace of neoliberal macroeconomic frames, epitomised by its so-called Fiscal Credibility Rule that has already had to be changed because so-called independent analysts agreed with my assessment that the manifesto and the ‘Rule’ were inconsistent. The second, is the Party’s position on Brexit, which I believe continues to hamper its chances of election and also brings into focus the inconsistencies in the Party’s stance and behaviour over the last 2 years. Elections are not won by counting votes up. Rather, they are won by winning seats, which means that votes are counted in specific constituencies (electorates). I have maintained the view that the Labour Party’s meandering position on Brexit, to satisfy the Europhile urban members, would damage them, given that the majority of their members of parliament were elected by Leave majority constituencies. Seats not votes win elections. It doesn’t matter if the majority of Labour voters are Remainers, if their are spatial disproportionalities in the vote spread. The latest YouGov MRP estimates of voter intention for the upcoming election indicate that my assessment may, in fact, turn out to be accurate.

When the ‘Credibility Rule’ lacks credibility

The capital investment program that the British Labour Party is proposing is desirable a will not only stimulate real GDP growth a quality employment growth but will also begin the process of transforming Britain away from the Tory a Blairite neoliberal degradation of public infrastructure a degraded public service delivery.

As I have noted many times in the past, there was always a problem with the statements that British Labour were making prior to the election in terms of its spending promises and maintaining that it would be also be bound by its Fiscal Credibility Rule.

I was vilified by Labour apparatchiks a the related academic hacks for maintaining this position but as time has past it is obvious I was correct.

I most recently considered the ‘Rule’, in this blog post – Invoking neoliberal framing a language is a failing progressive strategy (British Labour) (November 19, 2019).

A now it seems that others are running the same assessment.

The Financial Times article (November 7, 2019) – Labour’s vow to take borrowing to £400bn fires spending battle – reports that:

The new borrowing pledge will force Labour to ditch elements of its 2017 “fiscal credibility rule”, which pledged to keep the level of government debt falling as a share of national income during each parliament. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has calculated that any increase in borrowing for spending over £25bn a year would break such a rule.

Apparently the ‘Rule’ has been changed.

You don’t change a ‘Rule’ that is seen to be workable.

The point that have made often is that, by tying themselves into this neoliberal straitjacket, the British Labour Party limited the political space they would have to operate in.

The political debate becomes focused on whether the ‘Rule’ is being obeyed rather than what the government is actually doing with its policy parameters.

So if, in an environment when the non-government sector’s spending growth slows and the fiscal deficit starts rising as tax revenues declines andthe public debt rises, the debate becomes focused, not on the rising unemployment a slower income growth, but on the violation of the ‘Rule’.

And, the same thing would occur if the British Labour Party was to be elected, and started to implement its ‘Manifesto’ and the fiscal parameters pushed the outcomes towards a violation of the ‘Rule’.

In this case, the focus of the media and the political opposition will be on the alleged failure of the government to remain ‘credible’ as their ‘Rule’ is compromised whereas the reality would be that the well-being of the citizens would, unambiguously, be improved.

We have seen many times in history, how fortuitous fiscal interventions (think Japan in the period after the commercial collapse up until May 1997; Australia after the GFC up to when Wayne Swan decided to rein in the deficit in 2012) are stopped in their tracks with damaging consequences, because of media and political pressure over the rising deficits, all because the public have been conditioned by these neoliberal fiscal rules to think the deficits signal an impending catastrophe.

In the British case, the ‘Rule’ is unnecessary.

It reflects an irrational paranoia among the Left in Britain about the relative strength of the financial markets vis-a-vis the legislative and regulative capacity of the elected government.

It reflects an ignorance of the capacities of the currency-issuer.

And its juxtaposition with the Manifesto highlights the tension that arises when an otherwise progressive political party confines itself within the erroneous neoliberal macroeconomic framing.

The Brexit issue continues to haunt British Labour

I have written extensively about the Brexit issue in the past. I provide a compilation of past blog posts on the topic at the end of this post.

In this blog post – Comparing the 2016 Referendum vote with the 2019 Withdrawal Act outcome (January 16, 2019) – I juxtaposed the Referendum outcomes by constituency with the way the MPs voted on the Withdrawal Bill.

The problem I noted was that despite both sides of politics assuring the British voters that they respect the 2016 Referendum decision and implement its outcome – which means to facilitate exit – the political forces, particularly on the side of British Labour was to delay exit, complicate the process, and increase the probability that nothing would happen.

As time passed, the British political situation has reached an almost farcical state, and, in my view, there are a lot of MPs who have behaved in a way that violates the wishes of their constituencies.

The worst offenders being British Labour MPs.

In the 2016 Referendum, 60.7 per cent of the Labour constituencies voted to Leave (75.4 per cent of Tory constituencies).

Yet only 3 out of 256 Labour MPs voted for the Withdrawal Act when it came to the Commons.

The situation is this:

1. The overall Referendum result – 51.9 per cent Leave, 48.1 per cent Remain – was the outcome of a turnout of 72.2 per cent.

2. In the 16-page guide – Why the government believes that voting to remain in the EU is the best decision for the UK – the people read this “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.”

3. The question put was “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”.

4. It was a binary choice: Remain or Leave. There was no conditionality offered.

5. When analysis is done to align the spatial Referendum voting patterns to the electoral constituencies (a task done by the very innovative work of political scientist Chris Hanretty) the following outcomes are revealed:

(a) Disregarding Northern Ireland (for reasons you will understand later), 61.5 per cent of the Constituencies voted to Leave. That means that 400 MPs were representing electorates that voted to leave.

(b) The difference between the 52 per cent of votes for Leave and the 62.9 per cent of constituencies voting to Leave is mainly due to the clustering of Remain votes in the larger urban areas. Spatial breakdowns suggest the Leave vote was more evenly dispersed across the UK.

(c) Second, 60.3 per cent of Labour constituencies most likely voted to Leave, 74.8 per cent of Conservative, 33.3 per cent of Liberal Democrat and 60 per cent of 25 per cent of the Plaid Cymru.

The latest adjusted data from Chris Hanretty is available HERE. I thank him for his work.

My contention all along has been that by trying to appease the middle-class, urban Labour voters who want to Remain in the neoliberal dystopia that is the EU, the British Labour Party would alienate the Leave voters in the working class seats and face election oblivion as a result.

My contention has been that the pull of Brexit in the seats outside of London (particularly) is very strong among the Labour voters and of sufficient weight to change voting patterns towards the parties that are clear on getting Britain out of the EU.

The corollary, is that the Europhile Labour voters in the cities, that have strong and loud voices because of their access to the media etc would not desert the Labour party for the Tories anyway, if the Labour leadership had have provided an unambiguous position on supporting the Leave outcome of the Referendum as they had guaranteed in 2016.

The wavering position of the Labour leadership on Brexit, driven by fear of a sort of Blairite revolt, has not engendered confidence among the traditional Labour voters.

The latest YouGov MRP polling – Voting intention and seat estimates (published November 27, 2019) – provides some information for checking whether there are trends to support that contention.

The YouGov MRP model that generates the estimates is considered to be a reliable guide to voter sentiment.

In the 2017 General Election, which confounded many of the other polling companies, the YouGov model forecast, fairly accurately, the hung parliament result.

The latest results of the MRP model are as outlines in the YouGov table:

The full dataset by constituency (excepting Northern Ireland) is available – HERE.

I did some number crunching today to see how many Labour seats from the 2017 election that had also voted to Leave in the 2016 Referendum, were still intending to vote for Labour in the upcoming December 2019 General Election.

The following Table presents my preliminary estimates. The Columns are self-explanatory up until the last two.

What I did was calculate the joint conditions – whether the constituency voted Leave in 2016 and retained the party affiliation of the MP between 2017 and the projected YouGov 2019 result.

The last column shows the Leave constituencies that would shift from Tory to Labour or vice versa.

So, of the 237 Conservative-held constituencies from 2017 which voted to leave, the YouGov predicts all will retain a Tory MP in December 2019.

However, for Labour the situation is very depressing.

While the YouGov predicts they will lose 51 seats overall in the December General Election, 40 of those seats come from constituencies that voted to Leave in 2016 and would become Conservative seats.

They retain 112 of those 158 Leave constituencies only.

Conclusion

I will do some more analysis of this very rich dataset but my first blush calculations seem to support my long-standing conjecture that the Brexit uncertainty expressed by the Labour leadership has not helped their election prospects.

I think they should have staked out space as the Leave party as a reflection of their initial guarantee to uphold the wishes of the people in 2016, which were clear cut.

It is not rocket science after all.

When the majority of your MPs come from seats that voted to Leave, turning one’s back on those voters, and championing Remain (as many of the leading Labour MPs) have done, is a surefire way to lose votes.

Some Brexit blog posts (among others)

1. Britain should exit the European Union (June 22, 2016).

2. Why the Leave victory is a great outcome (June 27, 2016).

3. Australian election outcome resonates with the Brexit dynamics (July 4, 2016).

4. Brexit signals that a new policy paradigm is required including re-nationalisation (July 13, 2016).

5. Mayday! Mayday! The skies were meant to fall in … what happened? (August 24, 2016).

6. Austerity is the problem for Britain not Brexit (January 9, 2017).

7. Britain’s labour market showing no Brexit anxiety yet (May 30, 2017).

8. Britain doesn’t appear to be collapsing as a result of Brexit (December 13, 2017).

9. Europhile reform dreamers wake up – there will be no ‘far-reaching’ reforms (March 12, 2018).

10. The facts suggest Britain is not as reliant on EU as the Remain camp claim (April 16, 2018).

11. The Europhile Left loses the plot (May 1, 2018).

12. The Europhile Left use Jacobin response to strengthen our Brexit case (May 22, 2018).

13. The ‘if it is bad it must be Brexit’ deception in Britain (May 31, 2018).

14. How to distort the Brexit debate – exclude significant factors! (June 25, 2018).

15. Brexit propaganda continues from the UK Guardian (July 4, 2018).

16. Brexit doom predictions – the Y2K of today (August 28, 2018).

17. When 232 thousand becomes 630 – quite, simply horrifying Brexit losses (October 1, 2018).

18. Corbyn more scary than Brexit (November 7, 2018).

19. Britain should reject the Brexit ‘agreement’ but proceed with the exit (November 28, 2018).

20. British data confirms strong FDI continues despite Brexit chaos (December 12, 2018).

21. More Brexit nonsense from the pro-European dreamers (December 27, 2018).

22. Some Brexit dynamics while across the Channel Europe is in denial (January 2, 2019).

23. The Brexit scapegoat January 7, 2019).

24. Must be Brexit – UK GDP growth now outstrips major EU economies (January 14, 2019).

25. Comparing the 2016 Refereum vote with the 2019 Withdrawal Act outcome (January 16, 2019).

26. The conflicting concepts of cosmopolitan within Europe – Part 1 (January 29, 2019).

27. The conflicting concepts of cosmopolitan within Europe – Part 2 (January 31, 2019).

28. Britain’s austerity costs are larger than any predicted Brexit losses (March 4, 2019).

29. Bank of England backtracks on its doomsday Brexit scenarios (March 18, 2019).

30. The Europhile dreamers are out in force (April 15, 2019).

31. Being anti-European Union a pro-Brexit does not make one a nationalist (May 23, 2019).

32. That progressive paradise (aka the EU) does it again! (July 4, 2019).

33. The British government can avoid a recession from a No-Deal Brexit (July 31, 2019).

34. Latest instalment in Project Fear is not very scary at all despite the headlines (October 9, 2019).

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 44 Comments
    1. Bill,
      You need to do another draft.
      In the 1st 6 lines I saw about 6 typos.
      Like “mi” for my? or my opinion? and “a” for and?, and “Fir” for first?

    2. Bill,
      Going on I saw 6 places where you wrote “a” and meant “and”.
      Do a search for “a” and change most of them to “and”.

    3. You get no credibility for suggesting YouGov did OK in the 2017 election. 5 minutes before the exit poll they were predicting an 80 seat majority. They are crooks. Only one polling company got near the result – Survation. You are being much too simplistic about the poll in the UK. The MSM are telling us the result they require.

    4. I live rather far away from the UK, so all I know about both Brexit and the current election comes from the usual suspects in the media and a couple of insightful websites like this one.

      It appears to me that Labour’s leadership cadre isn’t as representative of the people at large who have voted Labour in the recent past as they could be. There are all sorts of possible contributing factors to such a disconnect, not least of which includes warring factions within the party itself, the most obvious being between those who support Corbyn and those who remain in thrall to Blairite neoliberalism. Add to this an evident separation in attitudes along urban-rural lines (a tension within many countries outside the UK, including my own) and you have a recipe for muddled policies in an attempt to satisfy disparate elements within the party across n-dimensions.

      Bill’s point about the “efficiency” of the Labour vote is an excellent one, if disheartening for those observers like myself who find the Tories loathsome. I do hold out some hope, however, that the internal contradictions which bedevil Labour are no less operative among Boris’ ranks, and that a resurgence in the SNP along with some losses by the DUP will deny the Tories a majority they most certainly do not deserve.

    5. Dear Rod White (at 2019/11/28 at 6:53 pm)

      Sorry, YouGov did predict the hung parliament and was the most accurate in relation to the Tory vote. They certainly underestimated the Labour vote.

      The YouGov performance in the 2017 General Election was described by the New Scientist article – How YouGov’s experimental poll correctly called the UK election (June 9, 2017):

      The MRP method predicted a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party on 42 percent of the vote, which is just what happened. They slightly underestimated the number of seats in parliament this would correspond to, predicting 302 where the actual figure was 318, and they also underestimated the vote share of the opposition party Labour at 38 per cent, versus 40 in reality.

      However, this is all within their self-stated margins of error. Other polls predicted as much as a 12-point Conservative lead all the way down to a 1-point lead.

      I was not influenced at all by the main stream media.

      I took a very rich available dataset, wrote some code, parsed the numbers and reported the results.

      If YouGov is seriously wrong this time, then that analysis is of no consequence.

      Time will tell.

      best wishes
      bill

    6. @eg,

      “ I do hold out some hope, however, that the internal contradictions which bedevil Labour are no less operative among Boris’ ranks,”

      Not any more. Tory remainers had the whip withdrawn at the end of the last parliament, and they won’t be running as Tory candidates in this election.

      Johnson boasted during the TV debates that he had 625 potential MPs all ready and willing to support his “oven-ready” Brexit deal.

      They will be some of the nastiest, rabid right, “Britannia Unchained” charlatans to have ever hit the Palace of Westminster, and though I oppose the policy of a second referendum, and believe the Labour leadership to be utterly inept, I will still vote for them, based on their manifesto, and to keep Johnson out.

      I hold out little hope that Labour will win though, so it’s a profoundly depressing situation.

      Seeing as Mike Pompeo has already threatened Corbyn, and the ex-head of MI6 keeps insisting in his annual speeches that Corbyn is a threat to national security, the only little ray of sunshine from a Tory victory is that we’ll avoid a Bolivian-style coup!

    7. Thanks, Rod White. YouGov was all over the media late yesterday with this outrageous claim. I knew that Survation was the only one which called it right. I’ve used your quote on Facebook.

      I’ve not lost hope that Labour will win. For them to be able to confidently use MMT to guide their manifesto they would have had to be working on educating the masses for at least 5 years. If they win they can do what they want for 5 years.

      Although I voted Leave twice I have come to agree with the second vote. The Lexit case was never made and I’ve felt uncomfortable about the result, being connected with some really nasty free-market advocates. Labour MPs were right not to vote for the terrible deals negotiated by the tories. The country is undoubtedly better informed and should be given another chance to decide. It would probably have been better if 2017 had never happened – we’d be out and Labour would have swept to power in 2020. As it is I’m very content with Labour’s position.

    8. Older papers from Office for Budget Responsibility assume spending multiplier 0.2-0.5, this has all disappeared from the new papers after the austerity fiasco. How can they estimate that annual spending over 25 billion GBP would breach the whatever rule they are talking about? What if spending multiplier is high enough to enable for lowering of the public debt / GDP ratio if government spending increases?

      Using the formula presented in “Leão, P. (2013). The Effect of Government Spending on the Debt‐to‐GDP Ratio: Some Keynesian Arithmetic. Metroeconomica, 64(3), 448-465” p. 452
      The spending multiplier “m” has to meet the following requirement:

      m>1/(B/Y + tau)
      where B/Y is public debt / GDP ratio (86% in 2018) and tau is “average net marginal tax rate” that is “average marginal tax rate” minus “average marginal transfer payments rate”, about 20%

      We get that certainly for m>1 there will be a reduction of public debt /GDP ratio. (We are ignoring inflation and interests on the public debt at the moment).

      I would argue that “m” is greater than 1. It could be about 1.5

      Also in regards to Brexit or no Brexit dilemma let me reiterate the following points:

      I fully agree with the argument that leaving the EU abolishes the fiscal straitjacket of Article 126 and all the related garbage. Also it could abolish the whole framework revolving around the privileges of private capital and its holders. But – would it?

      We cannot talk about “optimisation” of a single parameter in politics. The game is multidimensional. The Article 126 will be removed if Brexit goes ahead. I am convinced that the system will remain the same. Maybe people should start changing the system first and then start worrying about the Article 126. This is a question of who has the power and whether the people in power actually want to do something.

      In the worst case if the government starts using the fiscal policy appropriately, the EU can “require the Member State concerned to make a non-interest-bearing deposit of an appropriate size with the Union until the excessive deficit has, in the view of the Council, been corrected,(…) impose fines of an appropriate size”

      How likely is this to happen if multiple ways of obfuscation are possible? Many countries have breached the limits and nothing has happened. Also – what can happen from the MMT perspective if a non-interest-bearing deposit in fiat money (GBP) is to be created with a few keystrokes? That amount money cannot be “spent” – it is a deposit. What are the implications of its existence? I would say – none. Regarding the fines of an appropriate size – it would be very interesting to see how it unfolds, knowing how Poland and Hungary manage their relationship with the European Commission on multiple fronts. The British also could learn something from Jarosław K.

      What is the chance that leaving the EU would change anything for the better if the majority of the society does not accept ditching neoliberalism? People can’t see any viable alternative even if it exists. What if leaving the EU changes the real situation for the worse by rekindling old conflicts and starting new ones?

      An article on The Guardian suggests that “half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population”, “about 25,000 landowners – typically members of the aristocracy and corporations – have control of half of the country”.

      Let’s compare this with Germany where land ownership concentration is lower and land owners have to pay taxes (depending on the use of land). Somehow this situation can be maintained within the EU framework. (Actually even in Poland, etc…) Why a land reform is impossible in the UK?

      What about the abolition of monarchy? How many Dukes of York do we need to understand that there is a systemic problem with the institution of monarchy ? (We have the same problem with the same group of people here in Australia).

      I would argue that dismantling the EU at the current stage would dramatically increase a risk of true fascism in Eastern and possibly also in Southern Europe. Brexit could lead to this scenario. This is the real reason I am writing this post. You could see fascist idiots marching in Warsaw on 11/11 and chanting “Death to enemies of the Fatherland”. What stops the ruling groups (and these who would like to rule in 10 years time) in Eastern European countries from going full throttle? It is the membership in the EU. They kind of know how much they can push the envelope. They can fiddle with the Supreme Court in Poland but they can’t jail political opponents. Yes the EU is bad but what is the alternative? An association with Russia? Without answer to this question and without a viable alternative I would be extremely careful. NB I did not support joining the EU in 2004.

      Let’s talk about real possibilities. There is in my opinion zero possibility of moving from neoliberalism to market socialism in the UK. There is a (slim) chance to get a few things done if Corbyn concentrates on what really matters. The whole Brexit is not a precondition to a meaningful change but a distraction planted by the same people as usual – these who own 50% of the land. “Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same”.

      Maybe we should concentrate on showing that mainstream economics is dumb – as dumb as the fiscal projections made by the Office of Budget Responsibility or how we now call the Ministry of Plenty. (I am not defending Corbyn’s New Keynesian team of economic advisors – they are screwing up badly every day by accepting the fiscal framework which is a jail in disguise).

      However I would leave Brexit to Mr Farage and his mate Donald Trump.

    9. The liberal left tried to get rid of Corbyn three times and failed.

      The strategists saw brexit as an opportunity to get rid of Corbyn once and for all. The Blairites used antisemitism to force him to remain and hijacked the conference to push it through.

      They knew as soon as he moved to remain he was toast.

      Once this is over a neoliberal will run the Labour party put there by the Liberal left. We all know what that means. The middle ground will stay in the middle of the right wing spectrum.

      The right will try and move the middle ground further right on their spectrum but their is no appetite for that. The ideologues think that is what voters want they are in for a shock.

      Labour will then win but it will be a neoliberal party and move the middle ground back to the centre of the right wing spectrum and shout how left wing they are. Say how centrist they are.

      The liberal left and liberal right will win again Bill. The same thing is playing out in the US. Give it ten years and it will be business as usual. Change is not allowed anywhere until China and Russia has been dealt with.

      The economics profession is not about economics anymore. They are departments of financial war. Departments that were originally tasked with winning the cold war and as soon as the Berlin wall fell morphed into economics of world domination.

      The true left had a real oppertunity and blew it. I doubt I will see that chance ever again in my lifetime. All I will see and hear during my golden years, is the constant beating of war drums from the liberal press.

      If Corbyn won it would have been Putin’s fault. They have the editorials ready sitting and waiting just like they did if Macron got beat. If a neoliberal gets beat at the ballot box Putin will be blamed.

    10. This is a difficult issue, i find. Though most Labour constituencies voted leave, most Labour voters in those constituencies voted remain.
      I think it’s true that Labour won’t lose its millenial London base by taking a leave position, cause they have nowhere else to go, probably not even to the Greens.
      But would a custom union Brexit deal pull voters toward Labour more than a second referendum?
      I’m really not sure about that. I think if Johnson wins, it’s because of the straightforward Get Brexit Done position. And then the UK will realise insufficient funding for care services and probably also the NHS will reveal the folly of a Tory vote.

    11. The other problem Corbyn had was he had to face 3 ways.

      He had to face towards Scotland

      He had to face the North Of England

      He had to face South.

      Each time he had to wear a different mask. It was never going to work. Since this is another brexit election. The fourth one we’ve had in recent years.

      The Tories wear one mask at all times and everyone knows what it is.

    12. Dear Derek Henry,

      The US, UK (and Australia) have lost their manufacturing capacities, except for the so-called defence sector and the IT. The future is the Great Stagnation hidden within globalisation. China will not be “dealt with”. They are immune and they don’t care. They will keep growing, they don’t need 6% p.a., a bit less is enough.

      In 10-20 years the US will resemble Latin America, this is how convergence works. A few filthy rich people, a shrinking middle class and the masses living far below the level afforded by the workers in the “moderately developed” China. Continental Europe may be in a slightly better position. Firms in Germany, the Netherlands and even Poland are still making things. People have the know-how.

      The relative poverty of the masses will finally de-legitimise the liberal democracy as a system. The reason Australian media organisations are so obsessed with spewing anti-Chinese propaganda is because the oligarchy feels threatened, the Chinese model may be attractive to non-Anglo people living in Australia. The level of anti-Chinese hysteria far exceeds the intensity of communist propaganda which I remember from the 1980s from the Peoples Republic of Poland. I can instantly recognise the Americans pulling the strings are panicking .

      In the end, Marx was right. It is about the development of the forces of production. A paradigm change in the Anglo West is possible but I think it will happen too late.

    13. Bill, I think you should now direct your energies in a full blog post to critically assessing the bullshit that has been recently produced by the IFS. The reason I suggest this is that they are peing presented by the MSM as credible assessors of the financial positions of the Tories and Labour. They are fine when dealing with numbers per se, as they can add up and can discuss whether one column is larger or smaller than another. But when they go on to discuss the meaning of the differences or how they might impact on policy, their neoliberal bullshit comes to the fore. And no one is calling it out. Rather, it is being suggested generally that their analysis is definitive. I know you have commented on them previously, but I think it a good idea to directly take on their assessments of the Tory and Labour manifestos.

    14. Adam K astutely asks: “What is the chance that leaving the EU would change anything for the better if the majority of the society does not accept ditching neoliberalism?” Perhaps an appropriate response would be: What is the chance that remaining in the neoliberal EU will help engender the ditching of neoliberalism? The ONLY answer to this Scylla/Charybdis dilemma lies in Bill and Tom’s “Reclaiming the State”–THE most important book recently published, IMHO, to guide (reshape) the thinking and strategy of the left. If you visit this site but haven’t read and pondered this book, you’re missing out on a genuine revelatory experience. In it you will find a compelling explanation of how it may sometimes be necessary to take a seeming step backward in order to take an actual step forward. Only when the UK’s destiny is firmly in its own hands does the possibility arise that the ship of state can be righted in the direction of humane values implemented by MMT economics.

    15. I have to say, I agree with Derek on just about everything he has said about the Labour Party, and (sorry), not with Carol or Mr Shigemitsu.

      (I also agree with Larry when he wrote about the IFS rubbish being used as gospel truth by the MSM, and it would be good if Bill could call it out).

      I would have voted for Labour in a heartbeat, had they not gone to an essentially Remain position (negating their 2017 election promise), with Corbyn personally taking a highly ambiguous, and not terribly credible position.

      Their Fiscal Credibility Rule is also very troubling, although that would not have stopped me voting for them. There would be time during the theoretical 5-year term of a Labour government to argue and campaign against that.

      Also troubling is their expulsion of good people like Chris Williamson on trumped-up charges.

      BTW, Mr S. not all Tory Remain MPs were kicked out. Only those who voted for the Benn surrender bill. There are many Remainer MPs (now prospective MPs) remaining. And of those who were expelled, some were let back in. The problem has always been that we have a Remainer parliament, and a Leaver (if only by a small majority) electorate.

      To Carol, I would say that the Lexit case has indeed been made, before, during and since the Referendum (see, for example, The Full Brexit website), but it has had almost no MSM exposure, and not all that much in the alternative media.

    16. Well said Larry the IFS is a joke but now god in the UK.

      Shine a big bright light on it Bill. Paul Johnson is very dangerous from a long long line of unelected technocrats.

      An Ideal fit for SImon Wren Lewis unelected group of technocrats that will look after the fiscal space. The song sheet is the same.

    17. It is not the job of any progressive political party to take up policies on the basis of their current popularity; their job is to take the correct position that would do most to advance the well-being of the electorate. So whether Labour constituencies or Labour members were mostly Remain or mostly Leave is largely irrelevant. Majorities are often wrong (as they are with macroeconomics!) It is undoubtedly true that the Labour Party should have supported EU withdrawal in the original referendum as Jeremy Corbyn certainly would have preferred to do. That is the case for all the reasons outlined by Bill and Tomas Fazi in Reclaiming the State and many others. The fact that the pro-EU position is both wrong AND contrary to the views of most Labour constituencies just underlines the stark disconnection between the party and its former heartlands. The position of ‘respecting the referendum’ that the previous manifesto took was a big step forward and it neutralised the Brexit issue in 2017. The push from the Centrist pro-establishment camp around the Labour movement to force Corbyn into an openly anti-Brexit stance has been predictably disastrous. But the most damaging aspect of this is not the official position of the party but the dismissive, elitist anti-working class abuse that the ‘left’ has heaped on Leave voters to justify their rejection of the referendum outcome. That damage will have lasting consequences for Labour. Carol Wilcox is not correct to suggest that the electorate are now ‘better informed’ about the issues. In fact the condescending dismissal of Leave voters serves to justify the complete lack of substantive argument to support staying in the EU. The general level of understanding of those passionately campaigning to Remain is woefully low. Regarding the 2 Withdrawal Agreements that Labour has refused to back in parliament, the first one (May’s) was correctly blocked since the bill would have placed into Treaty and UK Law all the main free trade rules and processes that embody the worst of the Lisbon Treaty. In the 2nd WA (Johnson’s) all these sections were removed and placed into the Political Declaration which is not part of the treaty and would not enter UK Law. That part in fact would have been negotiated by whoever the UK Govt happens to be. The case for blocking is not clear at all; unlike the consequences of doing so which are all too starkly posed. It is true that the large majority of Labour members are pro-Remain but the reasons given are always mostly about economics. If a Corbyn Govt could not deploy economic tools to avert the negative consequences of leaving the EU then the grandiose claims to radical transformations and Green New Deals are pipedream fantasies.

    18. Willem:

      “And then the UK will realise insufficient funding for care services and probably also the NHS will reveal the folly of a Tory vote.”

      Clearly we cannot in all certainty predict the outcome of the GE – but one benefit (for the left) is that, should Johnson win, then the Tories will truly “own” Brexit, and any immediate economic consequences that result from it, to say nothing of any constitutional upheaval (NI, Scotland etc).

      Equally, we British alone will be responsible for the political direction our nation takes, post-Brexit. The right, both in politics and in the media, will no longer be able to blame our EU membership for any perceived disadvantages, and the election that follows should, ideally, have a clear focus on domestic issues.

      There is a chance, however, that this won’t happen – there will be the same siren voices calling for re-joining the EU, and I can quite see this issue bouncing back and forwards for years, if not decades.

      The only thing that might curtail this, is change within the EU itself, whether increased convergence (“United States of Europe” etc), or, the opposite, a collapse of the eurozone, other countries wishing to exit, and so on.

      Yes, the Labour Party, in defeat, may well elect a leader to the right of Corbyn, but at least the previous taboos of re-nationalisation and large public spending increases will have been re-introduced into the national dialogue. They have already forced the Tories to promise an end to austerity and increases in spending – even if they don’t mean it, they’ve felt it necessary to do in order to compete with Corbyn.

      If the promises are broken, and the public realm continues to decline in the UK, the people will notice – and they’ll know where the solutions lie for the next time, even in the event of Voters’ Remorse.

    19. Dear Mr Shigemitsu,

      I think you have expressed the essence of the problem which I first experienced in 1989 when I was playing with politics.

      “we British alone will be responsible for the political direction our nation takes, post-Brexit”

      No, it will be Michael Richard Pompeo or whoever replaces him in the Bloomberg’s administration. Also the family of Prince Andrew and whoever else owns the land you are renting as tenants.

      The rest will remain the same even if you leave – or get worse. Liberal democracy is a state of mind.
      I can provide a longer explanation but it is like explaining to an old Catholic lady that if she stops praying the rosary, her cat will not die. The system simply does not work that way.

      The book “Reclaiming the State” is really insightful in analysing why the people in the EU are screwed up but the cardinal mistake is the positive belief that the system can be changed from within, using democratic means, if only people get convinced to perfectly sensible and correct ideas and start dismantling the current system.

      Well that’s a big “if”. The naive part is thinking that there will be no devastating response from the ruling oligarchy. Like in Bolivia. So we know how they screwed us up but if we kindly ask them to stop, they will comply and take their toys somewhere else. This mistake belongs to the same category as Mikhail Gorbachev’s thinking about reforming the USSR. If only people stopped drinking vodka…

      If you rock the boat now, it will sink. I am not saying that a peaceful change won’t be possible in 10 or 20 years. But not now. The preconditions have not been met. All can (and most likely will) happen now is creating a British version of Donald Trump, is unleashing an inner idiot from Boris J., is reconstructing a new Frankenstein Margaret Thatcher. I know that this is deeply offending but it is quite likely the progressives will soon pray for Tony Blair to return.

    20. Dear Bill,

      Much as I respect your analysis on so many issues I find myself being dragged back to a false memory situation. Not once during that election campaign in 2017 did one poll predict a hung parliament and they were forbidden from issuing polls close to polling day. As Carol said above Survation was the only one giving a result close to reality. YouGov is run by a bunch of Tories, it is a propaganda machine. The recent poll predicting a 19% lead had been deconstructed and shown to be close to 5% lead. It takes no account of recent poll registrations of under 35s. Corbyn is not perfect but had he wholeheartedly backed leave or remain his polling figures would have disintegrated. It’s a sad situation but the polls have a tough job. On polling night my wife and I decided to stay up until the exit poll then lick our wounds. NO ONE forecast a hung parliament. NO ONE. Piers Morgan said a 100, Paddy Ashdown was going to eat his hat. The studios were full of Tories who were gutted and Blairites who were even more gutted because they had a new labour party they were going to unveil. Don’t tell me people knew. I was here. People were utterly gobsmacked.

    21. Well, certainly Corbyn has had to limbo dance under a bar that was being constantly lowered, How he’s managed to deal with the internal cognitive dissonance and the external daily rubishings from a media not fit to adorn the floor of a bird’s cage and not go bananas might well be considered a wonder of the world.

      The UK is sliding into a dystopian, Alice Through the Looking Glass world of non-linear warfare where ‘truth’ is rendered difficult to discern except by the consciously vigilant. We’ve had doctored interview videos, false fact-check websites, misleading bar charts with miniscule footnotes from the Tories and Lib Dems and bogus antisemitism from a Chief Rabbi who is now a manifest Tory stooge. And it looks like we’re going to get a poor quality stand up comedian as a P.M whose every utterance is no better than a mouth fart.

      To give you an idea of how manipulated and twisted the thinking of some sectors of the population has become. here’s a quote from an article about some residents of Norwich in the East of England:

      ‘ In leafy Thorpe St Andrew, Steve (who prefers to withhold his surname) declares that “the health service” is his top priority. A carer for his mother, who has MS, and dad, who died after cancer and vascular dementia, he says “social care was an absolute nightmare”. So Labour? “There’s no way on God’s earth I’d vote for Corbyn. Boris has got something about him, a bit of ooomph. He reminds me a bit of Churchill.”

      *&%£! &*

      Perhaps years of mindbendingly poor garbage pouring out from all sections of the media for the last 30 years has rendered all coherent thought impossible like a collective dementia.

      Corbyn has quite honourably tried to focus minds on the underlying issues (inequality, social care, child poverty, green new deal etc) but he can’t keep his finger in the dike for too much longer. The greatest victory for neoliberalism has been the befuddlement of whole populations which, combined with hunkering down into agents of the maximalisation of self interest, has created impossible to reconnect fragmentations. I’ve been on the streets a little campaigning for Labour (disagree with Mike Ellwood on this) and have found so much anger and incoherence that I fear for the future and the eruption of violence.

    22. “The UK is sliding into a dystopian, Alice Through the Looking Glass world of non-linear warfare…”
      No.
      This has to be corrected:
      “The whole Western Civilisation is sliding into a dystopian, Alice Through the Looking Glass world of non-linear warfare…”

      Also – why haven’t the Labour created their own Internet Research Agency?… The Tories have several of these and may even be using the original one.

      Things like the spending multiplier “error” – what’s the problem in flooding the faecebooks with the correct “correction”? It is primary school maths, not rocket science.

      Corbyn will fail because he has a good heart but too little brain and possibly no balls. Unlike Boris J. who also doesn’t have a brain (because he doesn’t need to) but he has a “raw instinct” of a raging bull.

      Unless someone finds a good kompromat on Boris at the very last moment. Back to Internet Research Agency…

    23. @Simon Cohen:

      “ ‘ In leafy Thorpe St Andrew…. etc”

      Simon, you don’t say where you read this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire “quote” was completely invented by the reporter.

      People have various reasons for voting Tory, but anyone who thinks they will improve the health service is just lying – to us and themselves. It simply doesn’t ring true.

      The fakery is becoming ubiquitous, and this sounds like a very likely example.

      Best, Mr S

    24. This is a good post. The Labor Party in Australia made a comparable mistake when shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen tied himself to a budget surplus even bigger than the Government’s promise, thus constraining policy flexibility. Corbyn would prefer to campaign on more important subjects than Brexit but Boris has the advantage of a simple message — get it over with. This is a dirty campaign. The ugly smear of anti-antisemitism is spilling over into Australian media. Not all Jews are Zionists. Quite a lot of Jews worry about the abuse of Palestinians’ human rights.

    25. Labour apparatchiks and the related academic hacks actually thought they were going to win. Their bubble is bigger than the Westminster bubble.

      My guess is the circle of friends they have and the dinner parties they attend at each other’s houses. They probably have not met one leave voter.

      Real people that their charts and state of equilibrium never worry about.

      We should change the term

      White van man or Workington man to DSGE man.

    26. Willem nailed what is missing from this analysis. Yes two thirds of constituencies voted out
      but two thirds of labour voters voted remain.Yes many labour voters like me voted out but most
      did not.
      What is not flattering to labour voters is that some are prepared to vote for a lying trump like
      figure like Johnson to get brexit done.
      The context of the referendum Cameron appealing to Brexit Party voters mostly the most right
      wing nationalist voters which were taking votes from the Tory party made the lexit argument
      very difficult. What Lexit campaigners like Bill need to honestly asses is why those ideas gained so
      little traction ,even amongst the young left momentum supporting members who joined the
      labour party in the wake of Corbyns leadership victory.
      If the referendum had sprung from the EU thwarting a left labour governments spend and tax
      policies we may have had a different response but the idea the labour party could have been
      promoting Brexit without angering 90 % of its members and 2 thirds of its voters is just wishful
      thinking.

    27. “…the idea the labour party could have been
      promoting Brexit without angering 90 % of its members and 2 thirds of its voters is just wishful thinking.”

      A Labour Party entirely divided between leave and remain MPs and members would have found it impossible, as has been seen. Had Corbyn’s position in the PLP been stronger, and had he had more fire in his belly, he could have proselytised for a Bennite Lexit.

      I’d be surprised if 10% of the membership had a clue about the inbuilt pro-austerity, sound money, pro-corporate bias built into the treaties, the eurozone, and favoured by the vast majority of the European national governments that make up the other member states. The idea that the EU institutions, treaties, single currency, and other member states are nothing but a benign fuzzy friendly source for good, and with no further ambition for ever closer political union, or delusions of imperialism as declared recently by Guy Verhofstadt, has gripped the progressive, well-meaning membership like members of a religious cult.

      But that’s because no one in today’s Labour Party has had the intelligence or the guts to tell them otherwise, so it’s been left to the disparaged far right to do that instead, which discredits Brexit thinking immediately, and for understandable reasons.

    28. I voted leave in the 2016 referendum. I know that Jeremy Corbyn in the past has always been a critic of the EU, as were his mentors Tony Benn and Peter Shore. He has been intimidated into his present position but in my opinion, it is still better that that of the Tories. I say that because they are being totally dishonest. They have no intention of delivering a brexit that gives us democracy and a reclaimed state. Boris Johnson is and always has been a total charlatan who fully intends to sell us all down the river. This was proved today in thE video below where he intends to sign a TTIP treaty and in previous documents where he intends to sign trade deals so that US corporations can take over our NHS. Labour need to get this across quickly to the public. I would rather have their half way house to start with than have our country ruined by the Tories even more. https://skwawkbox.org/2019/11/29/excl-video-boris-johnson-admits-tories-do-want-to-do-us-trade-deal-that-includes-nhs/

    29. Mr. Shigemitsu,

      The (fake or not) quote was from a Guardian reporter in Norwich: heguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/28/when-did-we-become-this-cruel-poverty-looms-large-for-norwich-voters

      I personally doubt it was made up as this illogic is more common that you might think. In my recent campaigning I have come across similar absurdities. it’s worse out there than you think what I here (largely from white voters who have fairly well paid jobs but see themselves as working class):

      Corbyn’s a communist.
      Why should I pay taxes to support those benefit scroungers ( I try a lite version of the taxes don’t fund things!).
      Take back control (never clear what that means-just a magical belief that leaving the EU on its own will somehow do it even if Govt policy is the same).
      Social housing tenants are ‘scroungers’ coupled with: ‘I work hard for a living and they get a free house’ ( house ownership is a big thing with this group and a badge of honour held self-righteously).
      Corbyn’s not a patriot ( I try to tell them that social care, environmental care and affordable housing is really patriotic!).

      And it goes on. What is obviously missing is ANY sense of society, any sense of anything collegiate, anything beyond the tunnel vision. The Leavers thing that Leaving in itself is the answer. That’s why there has been a shift in working class vote towards the Tories.

      ‘Today’s targets are old Labour Brexit supporters, indicated by a remarkable YouGov poll indicating that 45% of working-class voters intend to vote Conservative (or Johnson), against just 31% for Labour. This result, if true, represents an upheaval in British politics.’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/24/boris-johnson-conservative-manifesto

      As Bill has often pointed out, this might well be the result of years of Tory-Lite Labour Governments and resentments about being discarded by the liberal class. As writer, Chris Hedges has pointed out, the liberal class bought into the Thatcher I’m-alright-Jackism and played the financial game (I know some Labour activists who just happen to have a buy-to-let going for extra retirement income).

    30. I posted this on that other site 12 hours ago. so far there are no replies.
      Maybe someone will reply here.

      [Subject/title] “Why do so many people cling to the Household analogy for the US Gov.?

      1] Before 1971 it made more sense. At that time everyone knew that the world was on the gold standard or that it would return to it after “this crisis” {WWI?} was resolved. At that time there was a significant difference between paper dollars and dollars in a bond. [Here dollars means any currency.] Paper dollars could be traded in at the Treasury for gold and bonds could not. Every nation had to protect its gold supply, so it could not let too many dollars {or whatever the currency was called} be in circulation. It was thought that selling bonds had the long term effect of attaining that goal. [I’m not so sure this was so, but I think the leaders then did think that way.]
      . . . So, before 1971 the Household analogy made a certain amount of sense. If all the gold was sucked out of the nation’s treasury then its paper money would not be backed by gold and would therefore be worthless.

      2] For a few or many years after 1971 many people were afraid that there would be a lot of inflation. Among them were the hyperconservative leaders of the Arab members of OPEC. IMHO, this led those Arab leaders to drive up the price of oil. They saw some inflation and they feared more so it made perfect sense for them to raise the price of their oil to keep up with or even get ahead of the inflation that they were certain would happen when the dollar was not backed by gold.

      3] Now it is 48 years later. For the last 20 or 30 of those years, at least, there has been low inflation. This proves that fiat currency does not cause hyperinflation. This proves that the chartalists were right, money is given value by the fact that many people need some of it to pay their taxes. And many of those people are high income people rather than low income people, therefore the high income people will their trade the stuff they make for the dollars of poor people. And this fact is what makes the economy keep going with “worthless” paper money being used as legal tender.
      . . . Now there are economists that say that with a fiat currency a nation can now deficit spend and not worry about its gold supply being drained as a result. And that it doesn’t even need to sell bonds to deficit spend. This means, they say, that bond buyers must accept the interest rates and other terms offered by the nation’s Gov. or just not buy bonds. This means, they say, that the Gov. is NOT *financially* constrained from deficit spending in ANY way because it can always just spend newly created dollars. However, they also say that the Gov. IS *constrained* by the amount of real stuff and unemployed labor in the economy. As soon as all the labor and stuff is being used for something, any additional deficit spending is likely to lead to inflation and a lot of deficit spending {in this situation} could lead to hyperinflation. This would happen with or without bond sales.

      4] So, how is the US Gov. like a household or, more accurately, a company? Some economists have been saying for decades that this is just a fallacy. A story told to keep the population ignorant of the facts. That the US Gov. is now able to spend a lot more to help the little people. Is seems like the top 1% want the little people to be desperate for a job and so willing to work for lower wages.

      5] However, actually, the 1% are shooting themselves in the foot. The 1% would make more profit if their customers had more money. The business owners can’t pay their workers more if no other businesses do the same. However. if the Gov. makes them all pay more then they all make more profits. Apparently the business owners are so afraid that the workers will get even more power and make them pay them so much that their profits will not be increased by the increased sales. Or, maybe it is a conspiracy to keep from damaging the environment even more than we are already. this
      seems unlikely because the 1% *don’t* seem to care that the IPCC says we are risking the end of civilization if we don’t stop dumping CO2 into the air.

      But, this doesn’t really matter much for why does so many people believe that the US Gov. is like a household. Unless it is because the 1% use their media power to keep the people ignorant.”

    31. I’ve made a promise to myself that – in order to preserve what’s left of my fragile sanity – I’m not going to read any more media reporting on the GE campaign, or predictions of its outcome because they’re all worthless anyway.

      To me all that matters is that the stalemate – and consequent paralysis of all political decision-making – end. My greatest nightmare is that the outcome of the GE might only serve to perpetuate it. I guess that that is the feeling that the Tories’ strategists believe to be sufficiently prevalent as to win them the election. Although I abhor their policies I hope they’re right – but I’m not holding my breath because there’s a distinct possibility that if I did I’d end up dead.

      Sorry if that thinking isn’t very elevated intellectually. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for greater cerebration if we can only escape from the treadmill we’re on right now – just like so many hamsters mindlessly tramping away getting precisely nowhere.

    32. ‘My contention all along has been that by trying to appease the middle-class, urban Labour voters who want to Remain in the neoliberal dystopia that is the EU, the British Labour Party would alienate the Leave voters in the working class seats and face election oblivion as a result.”

      Might explain the Labour motion to give all uk residents full voting rights not just British citizens. If this motion is passed Labour would not be so dependent on the working class vote.

      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/25/labour-members-back-motion-give-all-uk-residents-full-voting-rights

    33. Steve,

      Most people understand their household budget constraints. And it is very easy to think that those same constraints apply to the government as well. Households don’t usually issue their own currencies. And they can’t tax either. But that discrepancy gets lost unless you really think about it- or read MMT without dismissing it immediately.

      Plus there are a lot of people and politicians that are very happy and anxious to keep that illusion in most people’s minds. Because it serves their own purposes. Or provides them with some excuse. And their are a lot of economists that seem happy to back them up.

    34. I have jokingly suggested that the US Gov. is exactly like a family that was given a room packed solid with bundles of $100 bills by the US Treasury.
      To get an idea of how much I’m talking about, Hollywood ‘says’ that a large briefcase full of $100 bills = $1M. If the Briefcase is 6″x1’x2′, then it is 1 cubic foot in volume. A room might be 8′ high X 10′ X 12′ = 960 cubic feet.
      So, a room full of cash is almost $1B dollars.
      Now, tell me this family is ‘financially’ constrained in its spending. As opposed against/to ‘investing’.

    35. Steve, thank you so much for saying “OK, you’re right”. That is just such a rare statement on this blog that I thought it might have been banned or something. But I don’t say it as often as I should either, and most other econ blogs suffer from the same thing.

      “But, what did you think of my history? ”

      Well, I think it is off-topic of Brexit and UK politics. But I think many of the points you make are right.
      Point #1 is right. You could even point out that the US mostly left the gold standard in 1933 as far as citizens exchanging their dollars for gold at the Treasury.

      #2 is debatable as to why OPEC decided to exercise the power they had at that time. Maybe the OPEC countries just suddenly realized they had that power, or maybe politics and US policy in the region might have had something to do with it. Or, like you say, maybe they were scared by the totally fiat nature of the moneys they were trading oil for.

      #3 is right in my opinion.

      #4 is altogether right – but we can’t prove it.

      #5 is right and you can point people to Michal Kalecki for more information.

    36. Change Labour policy to revoke Article 50 once EU Common Treasury and EU Job Guarantee get implemented. Please contact John McDonnell again. A better Europe is possible!

    37. This is a fascinating, important post and comment thread.

      I think the majority of this country need (whether they realise it or not) and would vote in a social democratic party – if one existed. It does not. I also think, as flawed as it is, that moving to Efta/EEA is far better relatively than either remain or a hard exit managed by the execrable and odious Tories. A solution that could have united rather perpetuate and aggravate tribal divisions and help attenuate extremism on all sides.

      Whilst still an inarguably problematic solution, Efta/EEA frees us from the power imbalance of the Commision and ECJ and is the only chance to actually reform SM/EEA – which still is, of course, a neoliberal project but we would be free of much of the rest of the neoliberal infestation of the EU. Being in Efta/EEA, with the power of a double veto, parliamentary sovereignty and allies, if we can’t reform the EEA, we could more easily leave the that and not have our hands tied in making NTB agreements (or even PTAs) prior to leaving and in a parallel, something we cannot do in our current bind and limbo state. Remain and reform – certainly of the kind social democrats want – simply cannot work in the EU and again that is by design.

      Not going to happen. Things are going to have to get worse, before they get better.

      Corbyn’s Labour are democratic socialists. Blair/Brown’s version were left neoliberals. Better than LibDem or Tory neoliberals, but still neoliberals. As a social democrat, given that choice, democratic socialism is by far preferable to any neoliberal variant, especially since history has shown that, in effect, this results pragmatically in social democracy. Indeed, much of what is regarded as the actual historical beneficial effects of social democracy is hardly dissimilar to what Marx wanted/predicted in the Communist Manifesto!

      Corbyn’s, a lifelong Lexiter, ambiguity over Brexit is a huge mistake and reflects a weakness and ineptitude that will lead Labour losing again. My hope is that this will lead to his resignation and a real social democratic (or even racist- free democratic social variant, either would do) version of Labour (and not a resurgence of a left neoliberalism, at least I hope not), that could be an effective opposition (one that should have already hung, drawn and quartered the Tories including on their dysfunctional economics), win an election and be effective government.

      There is too much hope here, so I fear this is forlorn (especially him resigning when Labour loses), so it looks like things will have to get worse before they can get better – to both our detriment and to other countries, where we could have been an inspirational exemplar and leader. The Tory neoliberal remainers being routed by the Boris led free-market libertarians will only lead, in effect, to a post-EU nastier neoliberal compact with the world, still one than could be more easier undone than remaining in the EU. This is because there still would be a return of parliamentary sovereignty where a current parliament cannot be tied to the decisions of previous parliaments. That is the key to getting beyond this quagmire, although the Tories will do their best to tie the hand of future parliaments. Ironically the time it takes to create such future trade agreements would then be in our favour!

      You are so correct that Corbyn has committed a major, and in my view, fatal misstep over this ambiguity. Who else are Labour remainers going to vote for? When push comes to shove they are not going to vote Tory, some might switch to illiberal and undemocratic LibDems but not enough. This is such an important point, which your analysis ably demonstrates, but the failure for the Labour leadership to have recognised and managed this and to have taken the bull by the horn really does mean we desperately need we need a better, brighter, bullish leadership. Is it possible, I honestly don’t know and there is still the threat of a resurgent left neoliberalism, but certainly Corbyn’s team has failed the party, the country and us all at this critical time.

      There are so many stimulating comments (but not all!) worthy of further discussion but, for me, at least, this comment is long enough.

    38. Jerry,
      I have been posting 1 off topic comment each weekend for the last 3 weekends. I asked Bi to tell me if it is not OK, he didn’t.
      I do it on the weekends when Bill isn’t posting himself. I hope people will talk about my posts instead of nothing.
      Bill doesn’t seem to care.

    39. Steve, you and I might believe that the ‘powers that be’ desire to keep the truth secret because it is in their interest to do so. But if you go around telling people that, most of them will think you are a nutcase.

      MMT has the facts on its side about how monetary economies work. I think we should continue to try to present those facts. But you need to be careful to get them right when you are making an argument or it will get ripped to shreds. It ain’t easy most of the time. It’s one of the reasons I love the weekend quiz- it makes you realize how important the wording can be. And Bill is (of course) usually polite when you get it wrong and explain why, so that’s also a positive. Even if he never ever says you might be right about something.

    40. Mr Shigemitsu,
      Remain and reform (impossible i know) was the labour policy so Corbyns’ 7 out of 10
      was not an uncommon position for labour members I had so many arguments with labour
      members and supporters on this. What was your experience ?
      You said
      ‘I’d be surprised if 10% of the membership had a clue about the inbuilt pro-austerity, sound money, pro-corporate bias built into the treaties, the eurozone, and favoured by the vast majority of the European national governments that make up the other member states.’
      I am not convinced about this at all.My experience was not so much a pro Europe argument
      but an anti right wing brexit argument.A look who you are siding with and enabling argument.
      AS well of course project fear ,suprising how many progressives put such economic faith in
      trade deals.
      Again I say look at the context.Even eurosceptics like Corbyn voted remain.It was not about
      guts they disagreed and lexit proponents failed to change minds.I know I failed.

    41. @ Carol Wilcox
      On Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 2:39 you wrote:- “@robertH I disagree. The very worst result is a majority tory win – 5 more years of hell”

      How can *any* result possibly be worse than indefinitely-continuing deadlock! To me Tories and Labour in their respective present states vye for being the more “hellish”, each in their own inimitable way (in the case of Labour, its mugging of Chris Williamson epitomising how low it has sunk, morally and intellectually). One-sided blanket condemnation is not a serious argument IMO.

      I also think espousal of a second referendum is a disastrously mistaken position to adopt and that the arguments advanced for it are mostly self-serving pretexts and half-truths, as well as being logically nonsensical.

      So it seems you and I must agree to disagree.
      (But I agree with you about a land tax!) :-)

      Cheers

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