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If it quacks!

If it quacks then it is a duck! If it uses neoliberal frames, narratives, language and concepts then it is neoliberal. Framing a lie just privileges the lie – and we get nowhere. The Progressive Economic Forum purports to bring “together a Council of eminent economists and academics to develop a new macroeconomic programme for the UK”. Their goals have some overlap with what I consider to be reasonable – reducing economic insecurity and inequality, climate action, etc. Some of their policies approaches are anathema (for example, UBI). Many of their council have been close advisors to the Labour Party at various times, including most recently. And they promote a macroeconomics that is not only incorrect but dangerously coincident with the mainstream thinking that has been part of the problem they claim eager to solve. And the failure of the Labour Party to win the December election against a Tory government that had inflicted awful austerity on the people is testament to the fact that their progressive narrative is in need of a radical change. The latest example of how this ‘progressive narrative’ really just reinforces the neoliberal frames they rail against is an Op Ed from a senior PEF council member (January 24, 2020) – – which was a promotional piece for his latest book. I do not recommend anyone purchasing the book.

John Weeks writes that government action is need to fix “many problems” that “society faces”.

That conclusion is undeniable.

He asks the question:

… are the public finances able to fund achievement of these laudable goals?

Just to frame the question in that way is problematic.

His answer is: “Yes, we can!” – the message of his Op Ed and book.

But how he comes to that conclusion is where the problem lies.

He is correct to say that during times of war, you won’t hear to many people asking where the money is coming from to mount the prosecution of the military effort.

But using metaphorical constructs like – “The US federal government deficit ballooned to almost 30% of GDP” – is to use language that the neoliberals use to describe fiscal deficits and the word “balloon” is a negative in this context.

I also agree that the current challenges are different to a military threat but an existential threat no less and require urgent and significant response from the public sector.

But the macroeconomic logic used to mount Weeks’ argument is deeply flawed and will only retard the progressive cause.

We read that:

Governments that manage their own currencies do not confront fixed budgets. They create their “means” either through increased tax revenue or borrowing. Expansion of our economy automatically generates more revenue. If the need for greater expenditure is too urgent to await economic expansion, our government can borrow … In fact, borrowing rates are extremely low.

In recent times, progressives who are locked into the mainstream macroeconomic mindset have mounted two broad claims:

1. Borrowing rates are low, so it is a good time for governments to invest in climate saving and social infrastructure. Which begs the question, should governments not do this if bond yields were higher?

2. Services can be maintained by increasing the tax burden on high income earners. That ruse is also present in this Op Ed as i will discuss presently.

The broader point is that the “means” he refers to cannot be constructed in terms of financial aggregates.

To do so is to construct the currency-issuing government as being financially-constrained in the same way a household is.

A household has to earn income or borrow or run down prior savings or sell previously acquired assets (financial or otherwise) in order to spend.

A currency-issuing government is not financially constrained and can purchase whatever is for sale in that currency including all idle labour.

So when an Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economist talks about the “means” they are correctly pointing to the real resources that can be commanded by the currency-issuer in pursuit of its policy agenda.

The “cost” of the program is not accurately defined in terms of dollar amounts or sterling amounts (in the case of the UK) but in terms of the extra real resources that will be used to run the program.

It is true to say that if all the productive resources are currently being fully utilised that there is no current ‘fiscal space’.

The problem then for governments which seek to access an even greater share of those resources is that they have to devise ways of depriving the current users (non-government sector) of their use.

In that sense, they may increase taxes or use other policy means (regulation, etc) to free up the resource space so the extra public spending can occur.

But the taxes are not providing any financial capacity to the government that it currently does not have. The taxes, in this case, are merely draining purchasing power from the non-government sector and creating unemployed resources, which can be brought back into productive use in the public sector.

John Weeks goes deeper into the mire when he introduces the ageing population problem, which he says will generate a “reduced tax effect” (pensioners no longer paying as much tax) and higher “demand for public services, especially care services”.

This is one of the battlegrounds that mainstream economists use to rail against fiscal deficits.

The twin effects of tax base erosion and higher demand for services are brought together to claim that governments will not be able to afford services in the future in the ageing population and should ‘save’ up now via surpluses.

Weeks thinks he has a way out of the problem he constructs in an identical manner to the neoliberals.

Apparently, we can care for the elderly in either public or private institutions. That mix has shifted over time as income levels have risen and care has become more specialised and complex.

In the first case, we pay for it from private incomes.

In the second case, we pay for it via taxes.

Same effect apparently – there is “no impact on ‘saving money’ or shifting ‘burdens'”.

All we are doing according to Weeks is “a mere shift in funding method”.

So we are stuck in the neoliberal idea that the government is financially constrained like a household and requires ‘funding’ before it can spend.

Until progressives are free of that mindset and ignorance, they will always struggle to be free of the “how to pay for it” claims, whenever they advocate some new policy initiative.

It gets worse:

In all wealthy countries the tax system is progressive: the higher the household income, the larger is the share paid in tax. Taxation provides the vehicle to fund a standard of care that fulfills the commitment of full and non-discriminatory coverage. While it counters the inequality generated by market economies, the shift from public to private funding does not alter the total cost of the commitment to universal coverage.

So the essential public care services are disproportionately ‘paid for’ by the high income earners.

Standard (flawed and dangerous) progressive narrative two!

He brings the two together in that quote.

1. Flawed understanding of what a ‘cost’ of a public program is. It is not the pounds outlaid by government in the case of a public program but the extra real resources used.

For example, if the British government was to introduce a Job Guarantee and worked out that in the first instance it would require an investment of £X billion, is that the ‘cost’ of the initiative?

Answer: According the mainstream it is, which is the way our progressive friend is using the term, without realising he is supporting the neoliberal framing he objects to.

But according to an MMT economist, the £X billion is not the ‘cost’. The cost is the extra resource consumed as a result of the introduction of the program.

That could include the extra food that might be consumed by the workers who have higher incomes as a result of transitioning from unemployment to Job Guarantee work.

2. The ‘tax the rich to fund services’ myth, which presumably makes progressives who perpetuate it feel better but is a totally erroneous construction.

As I have argued previously, we want to tax the rich so that they have less financial clout, but never to ‘fund’ government services. All we want to do is to destroy some of their purchasing power.

The government can always provide services if there are real resources that can be brought into use or diverted. As noted above the policy becomes more complex if the diversion strategy is required because that requires deprivation of the non-government use.

Some progressives have said to me in the past that isn’t this just a semantic quibble? If the taxes are required to deprive doesn’t that really just amount to the same thing as ‘funding’, in the sense of enabling, the government spending?

The answer should be clear. It is no simple semantic quibble.

It goes to the heart of understanding what the nature of constraints on government spending actually are.

When there are idle resources, the government can just spend – there are no financial or real constraints.

When there is full employment, the government is still not financially constrained but is real resource constrained in its spending.

And for the likes of John Weeks, if the government does spend more to bring idle resources back into productive use and that spending exceeds tax revenue, then it would have to borrow the difference.

But, that is mainstream logic.

The intrinsic capacity of the currency-issuing government means it can always keep spending whenever without borrowing.

And, if you run the mainstream logic, then you get caught out if bond yields are higher, because then you start exercising even more flawed logic that the ‘cost’ of spending or service provision has risen, when, in fact, the same real resources are involved whether yields are low or high.

Once you get on the slippery slope of mainstream construction then all sorts of erroneous pathways open up, all of which disabuse a truly progressive construction of government capacity.

John Weeks is correct in concluding that how “society divides provision between public and private is a political choice” but is wrong to claim there are no differences between private and public provision.

An income-earning household, for example, might be providing for the aged care of their elders through a private provider. This spending is financially constrained.

They have to sacrifice current consumption, draw down accumulated savings, sell previously accumulated assets or borrow if there is a shortfall.

So for that household, the choice to use private aged care impacts directly on their own command over resources.

Weeks wants us to believe that the sacrifice is invariant to the choice of public and private.

This is because he thinks, the income-earning household, who may have the elderly parent in a public aged care facility will pay taxes to ‘fund’ that provision, either directly through tax revenue or indirectly, through tax revenue paying back previous government borrowing.

But the context is important.

Imagine I was in charge of the Government.

I would instruct Treasury to design appropriately efficient (in real resource use terms) aged care facilities and to work out what the real resource cost of that policy would be.

If there were idle resources, I would instruct the central bank to credit the relevant bank accounts to ensure those idle resources were used productivity in the provision of aged care, which I would provide at no charge to the public.

So the income-earning household would not have to forgo any command over real resources in that case.

If there we no idle resources and I wanted to expand public aged care then the Treasury would have to come up with a plan to deprive the existing users of those resources their use so that they could be diverted in the public aged care sector.

How that is done would have impacts on the ability of the non-government sector to command real resources.

But that has nothing to do with:

… democratic governments will find the means to pay by taxation or borrowing.

Conclusion

Sure enough, all these issues are political choices.

Whether the younger people want to endorse governments providing more resources to their parents in their dotage is never going to be a financial issue.

It will always be the result of the political contest.

But invoking the mainstream logic that governments are financially constrained and need to tax and borrow biases the political debate such that the perceived fiscal space becomes much narrower than it actually is when we all understand what the true constraints on government spending are in a modern monetary economy.

And that is why the neoliberals persist with the myths. It allows them to restrict the provision of public services to the poor and maintain procurements contracts and other government largesse to the elite segments of our societies.

The PEF would be better served expunging the mainstream macroeconomics from its publications and policy narratives.

Framing a lie just privileges the lie – and we get nowhere.

I hope the Labour Party ignores this sort of narrative.

MMTed Masterclass – London, February 22, 2019

You can learn more about this if you attend my – MMT Masterclass – in London on Saturday, February 22, 2019.

The class will run from 14:00 to 17:00.

The syllabus will be covering basic MMT concepts and the material will be accessible to all. However, it will be an academic-oriented presentation meaning that I want to advance educational goals as a priority.

The Masterclass will be held at:

2Northdown
2 Northdown Street, King’s Cross
London, N1 9BG

https://www.2northdown.com/about

This is a small venue in the heart of heart of King’s Cross, London.

There is space for 65 people to attend. There are still vacancies.

The venue has a licensed bar for refreshments. No catering will be provided by MMTed.

Here is a map to guide you to the venue:

There will be a small charge – £5 – for attendance, which will help cover the costs of the venue hire.

Tickets can be purchased via the – Eventbrite site – now.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 32 Comments
    1. “When there are idle resources, the government can just spend – there are no financial or real constraints.
      When there is full employment, the government is still not financially constrained by is real resource constrained in its spending.”
      It’s about halfway through the essay- ‘by’ should be ‘but’ I think. I guess most people will figure that out though :)

    2. I bought this book because Richard Murphy recommended it. I read about 20 pages and put it down. I’m a physicist not an economist but having read this blog I now feel that my instincts were right. Question – should I take the book down the charity shop or bin it?

    3. Dear Rod White (at 28/2/2020 at 18:56)

      Bin it (recycling). We don’t want others reading that sort of stuff.

      No MMT advocate would recommend a book like this to anyone.

      Best wishes
      Bill

    4. @Rod White

      I hate to say “I (could have) told you so” – but I will anyway :-)

      Any book carrying that recommendation needs to be approached with extreme suspicion. I suggest you bin the book lest it cause serious harm to someone less clued-up than yourself. There are more than enough of those out there already.

    5. Rod, Murphy has a quite strange relationship to MMT and some of its proponents. I don’t understand it but then, I don’t figure I need to. I think I read the op-ed Bill is referring to and my reaction was, What?!!?. I agree with the others. Recycle it.

    6. I’ve heard the name, but am not familiar with the person.

      It’s really rather tragic to think that potentially influential people, whose hearts would appear to be in the right place about helping the poor and needy, are so stubbornly(?), ignorantly(?), or wilfully(?) hamstringing themselves and the rest of us by their utter blindness to monetary reality.

      We are in dire need of a high-profile MMT proponent or two here in the UK, but apart from the now beleaguered Chris Williamson, I cannot think of another potential candidate. Hopefully if we keep pushing, the future will provide one?

    7. To Carol Wilcox and others regarding Richard Murphy. I look at his blog but seldom comment. He gets extremely angry and rude if you disagree with him. Before the election he was defending nationalisation. After the election he was rubbishing it and anyone who disagreed was accused of wasting his time and the need to move on. My understanding is that he plans to write the ‘definitive book’ on MMT and that taxation will play an essential part. Having read Bill’s blog for the past few years I can now sniff out neoliberal framing and RM, despite his claims, is a master of it with his belief that the EU can be reformed. I suppose Stephanie Kelton’s book will be the one to buy.

    8. @ Larry

      I think Richard keeps his feet in two camps-partly MMT and then also the Tax Justice Campaign which then reverts to mainstream concepts.

    9. To Bill,

      You’re coming all round the globe to London and I’ll miss your talk because I’ll be in Norway skiing. But, I’m not important. The people who are important are the contenders for the Labour Party leadership. I don’t believe any of them have a clue about macroeconomics but it would be a shame if having made the effort to get here that you continued your tour without having made contact with them. Is there any chance of that?

    10. I’m not familiar with John Weeks, but anyone who asks the question “are the public finances able to fund achievement of these laudable goals?” is clearly speaking within a neoliberal framework.

      In fact, in my experience, in a UK context, anyone who simply uses the phrase “public finances”, is almost always speaking within a neoliberal framework, because it’s almost always shorthand for “fiscal deficit”, where “large = bad”, and “small or none = good”.

      MMT-aware people tend to use different terminology, and of course a different framework.

      Murphy: Murphy and MMT folk ought to be able to work together. Some of his insights on tax could be useful. Unfortunately, I am not sure if he is emotionally capable of doing so. I look forward to the proposed book with a mixture of interest, fear, and apprehension.

    11. @Rod
      I have an idea! I have the email address of RBL’s PA as went to see them in 2016. She’s an economics graduate. Just tried ringing her office but no reply. I’ll send her an email and ask if she could come.

    12. I was involved in a kerfuffle over there. Murphy seems to be a tax expert, and any government that consciously adopts MMT policy proposals will be making specific decisions about tax: specifically how much, when, from whom. If Murphy develops a body of tax knowledge, that will be good.
      As for macroeconomics, forget it. Anybody with eyes that can look straight at a systemic trade imbalance and see “a few bad debts” is not someone with the eyes of a macroeconomist.

    13. Mel wrote:-
      “If Murphy develops a body of tax knowledge, that will be good”.

      Before i got banned (hard to believe, I know) I had gathered that he had already developed that body of knowledge and I must say that to me (as a novice) it seemed pretty impressive. He is of course a crusader in that sphere which makes him partisan but that’s not necessarily to be deprecated, is it? All depends on the cause he’s promoting and his is in essence a very good one methinks.

    14. robertH,
      I gather he’s written an overall theory of tax, and I guess it wouldn’t hurt me to go back and study it.
      I used the future tense because working tax policies will need constant reviewing and renewing to keep up with events, so the work will always be to be done. bill’s weekly Australian job market posts are a sort of example.

    15. I think that once your goal is to study economics, you don’t arrive at the right answer because the answer would perhaps make your job obsolete.

      Why would the public need you, if you tell them to become politically active and decide politically what our priorities are.

    16. @RobertH
      Actually I don’t think that Richard is the greatest authority on tax either. He certainly doesn’t fully understand LVT, although he’s written stuff on it and includes it in his’ The Joy of Tax’. NB Mel.
      He knows his accountancy, though.

    17. Dealing with the question of how to pay for an expansion of social programs (or other government spending) is a daunting challenge. I have been trying to deal with it for two years in a political campaign I’ve been involved in. Some progress has been made but not nearly enough. The challenges have been: 1-the thick and relentless fog of nonsense spread by proponents of business interests. It usually centres on intuitively appealing arguments based on household finance. Consider the examples of neo-liberal arguments Bill cites. If you did not have an MMT understanding would you not find them appealing? 2- progressives with no MMT understanding get confused by these arguments and try to deal with them as John Weeks does: interest rates are low so let’s spend now, and let’s make the rich pay.
      While repetition of the MMT lens does eventually create doubt in the mainstream view the belief then surfaces that it would be political suicide to use functional finance in arguments because we would appear to be cranks.
      Viewing government finances through an MMT lens is not easy. It took 3 months of tutorship by Marc Lavoie to the take me through the workings of central bank and commercial banking operations to see why functional finance accurately describes the workings of government finance.
      Bill does a remarkable job as an educator and one the core proponents of MMT in spreading understanding of this reality. His uncompromising stance has been very helpful to me in my work. Nonetheless it is not easy to manoeuvre through the doubts and concerns of longtime friends and allies.

    18. Murphy speaks out of both sides of the same mouth and says different things. Always has done and never knows he is doing it. A Wurzel Gummidge type character who can change heads and look different ways at the drop of a hat.

      Hated the job guarentee said it would never work, but supports a green new deal which is a fine example of his split personality.

      Read what he writes about Scotland then you will quickly realise he has no idea what it would mean for Scotland at the heart of Europe. Completely ignores the fiscal rules as if they do not exist in his reality. As if the fiscal rules only apply on a Monday or August bank holidays.

      Supports everything in the common weal library, yet does not realise none of it would get implemented on planet earth, because of the growth and stability pact the excessive debt procedure and corrective arm. The common weal can’t see it either as they are under the spell of Murphy and the SNP looking for careers after independence. They feed nonsense between each other like feeding time at the zoo. Garbage in garbage out.

      The so called common weal experts were at the Glasgow event when Warren and Bill told them Scotland would have to run large deficits to achieve all the things they wanted to achieve, but they refuse to listen because, the SNP stance is one of ” Heart of Europe ” They say they know better, yet MMT economists have taught them everything they know to date. They had to put the degrees they earned in the bin as they soon became worthless as reality caught up with them.

      Now they believe Scotland with its own currency will cut a deal with the EU that means they do not have to abide by these fiscal rules and all the other neoliberal nonsense that is attached to them. They even post this fantasy all over Twitter and social media as facts. It is quite clear they live in a parallel universe to MMT’ rs. They should stop calling themselves as such and just call themselves New Labour.

      They are he’ll bent on stripping power away from London and handing it to Brussels. They have to be stopped. It is imperative that they are stopped from carrying out this insanity. That is only real in their own heads encrusted by GROUPTHINK. The SNP GROUPTHINK that has stopped them from having any rational thought of their own.

      They now use Croatia as an example. Croatia is the new buzz word in the corridors of indy GROUPTHINK. The slayer of all myths, the dagger to the heart of over 20 years worth of MMT study by MMT economists the true experts on the issue.

      They now say daily, Croatia with their own currency joined the EU with a deficit of 5%. The fairy tale stops. Alice in wonderland comes to a grinding stop. Move along now nothing more to see. Keep voting for an independent Scotland at the heart of Europe Croatia proves it beyond any reasonable doubt.

      Then look what happened.

      https://tradingeconomics.com/croatia/government-budget

      Because Croatia kept on getting these delivered by the EU by first class post.

      https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-performance-and-forecasts/economic-performance-country/croatia/fiscal-surveillance-croatia_en

      We all know what it means in reality. Not only have MMT economists explained what happens next. Michael Hudson and Steve Keen have drawn blueprints over the years highlighting the road map to serfdom. The IMF as the prison guard with privatisation stalls set up all over Scotland selling their scams. Pushing more and more families into private debt.

      But it is the usual in Scotland. The ” half the story ” narrative. Only tell half the story at all times. Never explain the full story. In case you upset the locals who voted for EU membership in huge numbers on false beliefs. Thinking they were voting for the Treaty of Rome. Thinking the EU will save them from the Tories.

      Madness!

      I am scared and struck with real fear about where Scotland is heading. It is certainly not independence in any way shape or form.

    19. Derek Henry wrote:-
      “I am scared and struck with real fear about where Scotland is heading. It is certainly not independence in any way shape or form”.

      May I say that I entirely share your forebodings about where Scotland is headed and your sense of helplessness in the face of it albeit (perhaps(?), as an Englishman) from a somewhat different perspective?

      The trouble is that (speaking for myself) I’m not clear about what alternatives to complete separation might be considered. I can well imagine that if I were a Scot – or even had just made my home in Scotland instead of Finland – I too would feel dissatisfied (to put it no higher) with the extent of self-determination so far devolved to Scotland. But that’s a purely emotional reaction and I don’t have any practical real-world suggestions as to how it either could or should be enlarged, short of independence.

      Have you, might one ask?

    20. Robert.

      True independence is the ” double out ” out of the UK and EU. Own currency, own central bank New Zealand style.

      Reclaiming national sovereignty and then a progressive vision of national sovereignty. Democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society.

      The true value of the European project is in its capacity to deliver a rule of law throughout Europe and engender multilateral cooperation on matters such as immigration, climate change, human trafficking, and global concerns that single nations cannot solve alone. Returning to national governments the monetary and fiscal tools needed to provide for the well-being of their own citizens would not undermine that sort of cooperation.

      On the contrary, it would provide the basis for a renewed European project – and more in general for a new international(ist) world order – based on multilateral cooperation between sovereign states.

      Scotland would achieve none of these things tied to the Barnett formula or the ECB.

      Anything but the ” double out ” is a faux independence a mirage of nonsense.

    21. @ Derek Henry

      Thanks for that,

      Very sad though I would feel at the breakup of the UK, and although I believe the Union taken all in all has – I would have thought incontestably – brought considerable net benefits to Scotland (perhaps more than to England?), if that’s what a majority of Scots want who is to say they shan’t have it?

      Ironically enough, my home for the last 19 years and more and the place where my bones will rest is a group of islands which were (under international pressure) granted a degree of autonomy by Finland to whose overlordship the League of Nations consigned them in 1921, with various guarantees. It is a moot point (very moot IMO) whether those guarantees have been fully honoured. I frequently write letters to the local papers advocating greater activism on the part of the islanders, to demand and secure significant concessions from the Finnish government. So I’m hardly in a position to deprecate the desire for Scottish nationhood based as it on not dissimilar grounds.

      As a matter of interest, have you (and others who share your views) studied the Faroe Islands/Denmark example? If you’re unaware of it I suggest you might take a look. It goes about as far as it’s possible for autonomy to be stretched without turning into independent statehood.

    22. Robert.

      The HUGE issue is via the Scottish growth commission the SNP have shown they do not even intend to negotiate. It will be an abject surrender when it comes to the table.

      They are 100% a sound finance brigade. They think the growth and stability pact is golden and the right thing to do. The economic departments in both Glasgow and Edinburgh back them up to the hilt. The Fraser of Allender institute being one of the main culprits. GIGO there is no alternative.

      We haven’t even talked about the debt to GDP ratio yet. The SNP will have to do their own version of Macron on Scottish savers in order to stick to the rules. That has not to be talked about swept under the table until the reforms take place.

      These fools, the fantasists have convinced themselves they can stop the SNP from going down this road at the very last minute and live inbetween the EU fiscal rules and EFTA. An imaginary no man’s land. A parallel universe. Whereby you do not commit to anything. Robin Macalpine ‘ s grand plan. Do not choose either and live outside both. He is dreaming and needs to wake up quick.

      The SNP will just fill the voting hall at conference with EU supporters who are the vast majority of SNP voters and vote it through. Ride rough shod over these idiots and trample them to death. A ‘re run of The battle of greasy grass.

      They have already ignored Robin and his merry band of followers numerous times without giving them a second thought. Even when they do win the odd victory at conference. The SNP just triangulate the result using lawyers speak.

      When finally Scotland gets trapped they will deny all responsibility and blame everyone around them. They are the ” me too ” of economics. Without understanding they are enablers and allowing this farce to continue. Turning a blind eye to what is actually happening and allowing the SNP to spread this propaganda unchallenged.

      Created ” all under one banner ” which was really clever I have to admit.

      ” all under one banner ” means there could be 20 types of independence that 20 different groups want in Scotland. 19 of those groups might disagree with the SNP on what independence should look like. However, they all must vote for the SNP to get Indy done.

      A group called Radical Indy wants independence outside of the EU but they must vote for the SNP even if that is not what the SNP are offering.

      The SNP will completely ignore these groups if They win. By then it does not matter they got their vote. It stops these other 19 groups from splitting the vote and starting their own independence movements.

      A complete sham to make sure the SNP wins. A very efficient way to kill off other types of independence that might gain popularity. Like Indy outside the EU for example. That the many liberals within the party will never entertain. The majority of the MP’ s and MEP’s s being from the liberal left. Mini me’s of Chucka Umunna.

    23. Derek

      I offer you my sincerest commiserations (much good that will do you!).

      It seems Boris would – in a backhanded way – be doing Scotland the greatest possible favour by continuing to refuse to agree to another Indy referendum.

      Perhaps your best hope would be that he continues to stonewall indefinitely thereby creating a space in which Scotland can – perhaps – come to its senses. I can’t see any other way in which the SNP can be stopped from inflicting enormous and perhaps irreparable damage on the Scottish people.

    24. Derek Henry
      Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 23:28
      Robert.

      True independence is the ” double out ” out of the UK and EU. Own currency, own central bank New Zealand style.

      Reclaiming national sovereignty and then a progressive vision of national sovereignty. Democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society.

      The true value of the European project is in its capacity to deliver a rule of law throughout Europe and engender multilateral cooperation on matters such as immigration, climate change, human trafficking, and global concerns that single nations cannot solve alone. Returning to national governments the monetary and fiscal tools needed to provide for the well-being of their own citizens would not undermine that sort of cooperation.

      On the contrary, it would provide the basis for a renewed European project – and more in general for a new international(ist) world order – based on multilateral cooperation between sovereign states.

      Well said Derek.

      I used to think that some sort of federal UK (long the lines of Germany) would be a better solution. Scotland and Wales (and maybe Northern Ireland, although in the long run, surely a united Ireland will come along) as states, along perhaps with states for the major English regions, all contributing to a federal parliament & government (based in the Midlands, perhaps). However, it wouldn’t guarantee prosperity for the regions unless there were a truly progressive and imaginative federal government (inevitably English-dominated, of course).

      So perhaps Scotland has a better chance on its own. Provided you can unravel the mythology of the SNP.

    25. @ Mike Ellwood
      “I used to think that some sort of federal UK (long the lines of Germany) would be a better solution. Scotland and Wales (and maybe Northern Ireland, although in the long run, surely a united Ireland will come along) as states, along perhaps with states for the major English regions, all contributing to a federal parliament & government (based in the Midlands, perhaps)”.

      Same here!

      I continue to cherish that hope. I believe it’s the only way to go – in a sane world anyway.

      But I’ll be long gone before it materialises – if it ever does.

    26. Derek

      Have I got this right?

      1. Scotland as one integral part of the UK is now outside of the EU.
      2. A significant proportion of the people now living in Scotland want Scotland to cease to be an integral part of the UK. The largest political party in Scotland (SNP) are demanding that the UK government agree to another referendum being held in which the people living in Scotland would answer either yes or no to the question “Do you want Scotland to become an independent state?”.
      3. If it were held and a majority answered yes, Scotland would then by detatching itself from the rest of the UK become an independent state ruled by its own government under its own constitution, outside of the EU,. This could result – depending on what were to be agreed between the two governments – in people at that time living North of the border a) immediately ceasing to have British nationality or, b) being permitted to choose individually whether to retain British nationality (but which would not then be transferable to any other person through inheritance or in any other way) in addition to Scottish.
      4. The government of the new nation would be faced with the necessity of deciding its position relating to seeking entry into the EU; if its decision were that an application for membership go forward it would be inconceivable that it could deny the Scottish people the right at that stage to say yes or no to that decision, in another referendum.
      5. It would be up to those Scots opposing EU membership to campaign accordingly, and stand or fall by the result of the people’s vote.

    27. Just about Robert.

      This will give you an idea how the debate is going in Scotland.

      This guy is Common Weal’s Head of Policy & Research and was a member of MMT Scotland.

      The piece below is so confused.

      a) Because of complete love of the EU

      b) GROUPTHINK

      https://thecommongreen.scot/2019/10/07/to-eu-or-not-to-eu/

      Is it any wonder Scottish voters do not know what they are voting for ?

      What part of any of that is independence ? Either handing control to Brussels or getting down on your hands and knees in front of an EFTA court to get policy through ?

      If Scotland gets trapped in either of those scenarios as the convergence letters start coming through or policy starts getting knocked back by EFTA. Someone else will get the blame.

    28. Derek

      Sorry, but my gorge began rising before I got halfway-through his opening page, and I couldn’t take any more.

      Oh boy can I see what you’re up against, if this is the level of what purports to be informed – supposedly intelligent – discourse!

      I agree with you: this cannot end well.

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