You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2016.

This week’s posts concern the failure of globalism.

Sunday’s entry showed how globalism was failing as early as the year 2000. Yesterday’s confirmed that more people are getting progressively poorer and that what counts for trade actually isn’t according to the classic definition.

In 2009, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Labor Organisation (ILO) published a joint study, ‘Globalization and Informal Jobs in Developing Countries’. In These Times had a concise article on the study.

One wonders if it came as a surprise to the WTO to find that workers in the developing world have not benefited from globalisation. Remember how our betters presented globalisation as the tide that was going to lift all boats, not just those of Westerners?

A few brief excerpts from the article follow about the effect of globalisation on the developing world:

… many are still poor and lack job security and social safety nets.

… the number of workers in the informal economy—defined as unregistered businesses not subject to law or regulations— has increased or remained constant.

“Informal” work has accounted for 60 percent of new jobs in developing economies. The incidences range anywhere from 30 percent in Latin American to as much as 80 percent in sub-Saharan and South Asian countries.

The following are direct quotes from the summary of the study (emphases mine):

Our study shows that the earlier hope, that the effects of growth and international integration would trickle down and automatically eliminate informal employment, is not warranted. Instead, certain types of informal employment arise in reaction to a failure on the part of public authorities to provide proper social security and to bring taxes down to levels compatible with strong work incentives and formal job creation.

It was hoped that this would result in an increase in wages for low-skilled labour or improved working conditions, including by means of an increase in the number of formal sector jobs for low-skilled workers. Evidence suggests, however, that the skill premium has increased both in developed and in emerging economies, making low-skilled workers (relatively) worse off,” the report says. The ever shifting dynamic of globalization has caused demand for more highly skilled workers, leaving laborers in poverty or stuck in informal workplaces.

That’s a surprise? Really? It’s hard to know what to say. The words ‘naive’ and ‘stupid’ come to mind.

Furthermore, those countries have a lot of corruption at all levels. Cheap labour must be had in order to maximise profit. It’s also a form of servitude; these businessmen and contractors know that. To them, poorly paid workers are less than human.

The ever hopeful conclusion — that the ‘formal’ sector should be offering more jobs to the poor — is one with which I agree but, given the nature of employment and social conditions in these countries, is unlikely to be attained for the foreseeable future.

Yet again, here’s another huge failure for globalism.

Tomorrow: Globalism as seen in 2014

This week’s posts concern the failure of globalism.

Yesterday’s entry showed how globalism was failing as early as the year 2000.

Today’s looks at the year 2005 with excerpts from a Mother Jones interview with John Ralston Saul, ‘The Collapse of Globalism’.

John Ralston Saul is a Canadian polymath. He helped to establish the national oil company Petro-Canada in 1976. He then travelled the world and got to know many types of people, from guerillas to native tribes, about whom he wrote in both non-fiction works and novels. He has written four philosophical books. He wrote a doctoral thesis titled “The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in France after the Algerian War” and later wrote a novel about General Charles de Gaulle. He also served for several years as the president of PEN International.

In 2005, Saul published The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World which explores how and why globalism failed.

Excerpts from the Mother Jones interview follow, emphases in the text mine.

MJ: What about economic equality among and within nations? Is that another sign that something’s amiss?

JRS: Yes, and the statistics show this pretty much everywhere. And the interesting thing is, even that disparity between rich and poor doesn’t total up to a big increase in wealth; it’s just that a small group of people are getting richer and a much larger group of people are getting poorer. So getting more of the pie today, for the poor, still wouldn’t represent a success for the system. This suggests that the system, as designed by the globalists, simply isn’t delivering what it said it would deliver.

MJ: Why not?

JRS: One of the reasons is that a great deal of what’s counted as trade isn’t in fact trade

We count as trade what is moved around inside a transnational corporation, where no real profits are being made at each level. In fact, transnationals are very carefully organized so that they actually make losses at most levels. I give an example in the book of 30-60 corporations operating in Britain. The Financial Times discovered that most of them, despite massive turnover, were making losses, and therefore weren’t paying taxes. More important, they weren’t investing in each place. Suppose the supply chain were 10 separate companies. Well, in some way the companies would be investing in its area—building houses, building schools, paying taxes, in a sense being a real part of the local economy. You’d be getting growth; today you’re not. It’s all designed to prevent the creation of real wealth.

MJ: So are you arguing that deregulated global trade hasn’t delievered any benefits?

JRS: Globalization did some small things; but the previous period brought improvements that gave us levels of comfort and education that were unprecedented. What nobody wants discuss is whether or not the black-and-white argument about trade— you’re either a free trader or you’re a protectionist—is the right one. It’s the old 19th century argument. Why don’t we ask, ‘Is this trade?’ ‘What is trade?’ ‘What does trade actually do?’ ‘What is a proper balance between deregulated and regulated?’ ‘Does it make sense to deregulate some things and regulate others?’ At this very moment the practitioners of free trade are in confusion over what to do, and we’re seeing only the first act of the confusion.

MJ: And the argument is that economic forces are inevitable and ultimately beneficent.

JRS: There are warning signals of [ideological thinking]—of ideas as religion—and one of them is this idea of inevitability. As soon as you hear somebody saying ‘This is inevitable,’ you basically know they have a weak case and are true believers in an ideology. Globalization has been immersed in just such an argument.

MJ: If globalism has collapsed, it’s in part because developing countries weren’t seeing the promised gains, right?

MJ: Yes. The obvious sign that this system wasn’t going to last was the Asian meltdown in 1997/98. You had these very successful smaller countries—Thailand, Malaysia, and so on—collapsing, really because we’d stuffed a massive amount of money in there—money they basically didn’t need, because they had a very high savings rate—and then when we’d overheated their economy we withdrew the money, all over about a 12-month period. So you then had this international theory of globalist economics applied to them with a vengeance, what I call “crucifixion economics,” you know, you get put on gruel and are forced to wear hair shirts and to self-flagellate, and they’re supposed to come out of it cleansed, reborn. And after a year of this the prime minister of Malaysia, Mohamed Matahir, said, ‘We’re not going to do that. We’re going to raise tariffs, and freeze our currency, and block capital flight.’ And everybody looked away in horror—and then a year later they were doing better than anyone else. Four years later Matahir was invited to make the opening speech at Davos during which he lacerated globalization—and they gave him a standing ovation!

What Mohamed Matahir did sounds a lot like what Donald Trump wants to do in terms of raising tariffs and blocking capital flight (i.e. corporations moving overseas). Intriguing.

At the end of the interview Saul said:

I’m saying that since 1995 we’ve been in an interregnum, a vacuum where the picture is confused, and our elites are in denial because they’re inheritors of the system. They don’t have the capacity to stand back and say, ‘We’ve got some real problems here. Let’s think about what we can do about them. If we got some things wrong, let’s do something else.’

We’re still in that space. Things are getting much worse economically. We the people are crying out. The elites are still enjoying privileged lives. Our politicians, part of this group, are pitting citizens against each other with identity politics policies.

There are also the unemployed, classified in various governments’ official figures, and those no longer looking for work who are not part of these statistics. That started around 2005, at least in Britain. I read recently that the United States now uses the same reporting basis. In every case, it is used to make the employment picture look better than it actually is.

Life isn’t better for many middle and working class people, despite what our media tell us.

Tomorrow: Globalism as seen in 2009

From the 1980s to 2005, I subscribed to The Economist, which I read weekly, spending at least an hour on every issue.

I was encouraged by all they had to say 25 years ago about the coming global economy. Other British periodicals spoke of communitarianism, especially once Tony Blair became the Labour Party leader. The two together seemed to be pointing the world in the right direction, globally and locally.

A friend of mine told me in the mid-1990s that communitarianism didn’t mean harmonious streets and neighbourhoods. Rather, it fostered identity politics. He said it was a divide and conquer strategy. Lo, he was right.

As for globalism, I saw more and more people being made redundant with even office jobs moving overseas via outsourcing. Senior managers and CEOs loved it and encouraged us to embrace it. We middle- to lower-ranking types in the office said nothing but smiled sweetly. We knew it meant they could pay someone in an emerging country, whether in Europe or Asia, less than a Briton. The same held true in the United States.

By 2005, I saw that globalism wasn’t working the way we were told it would. So I cancelled my subscription to The Economist and lived happily ever after.

Globalism was supposed to be the rising tide that lifted all boats, not just in the West but around the world. The next few posts chart globalism as it happened in the early 21st century.

Excerpts from several articles follow over the next few days, emphases in the text mine.

Today’s post addresses globalism as seen in the year 2000.

Jerry Mander is the founder of the International Forum on Globalization. He holds two degrees in Economics and worked in advertising before working on campaigns for the Sierra Club. He has also written several books opposing globalisation.

In 2000, Scott London, an author, researcher and consultant who has worked for several American think tanks, interviewed Mander. ‘The Perils of Globalization’ is a thought-provoking article which explains precisely where globalism went off the rails. Mander also makes a case for localism as a solution.

London began by presenting the case for globalism most of us understand. He and Mander took it from there.

Scott London: The case, as it’s usually presented, is that the globalized economy is a good thing that will secure jobs, allow us to remain competitive, and promote democracy abroad. Isn’t there some truth to that?

Jerry Mander: The people who are making that case are the people who are promoting globalization — corporations and banks and governments. They are saying that globalization can solve the world’s problems, that it’s going to give people something to eat and so on. They are redesigning an economy that they say works. But it doesn’t work.

We’ve had globalization for quite a while, it’s just being accelerated right now. Wherever the rules of free trade and economic globalization are followed, you have economic and ecological disasters immediately thereafter. You’ve got the complete destruction of small, traditional farming in Africa and elsewhere; you’ve got the complete devastation of nature all around the world; you’ve got people shoved off their lands to make way for giant dams and agri-business and so on, who then become part of the millions and millions of people roaming the land and going into cities looking for impossible-to-find jobs, all in competition with each other, and violent and angry. And then people are angry with them, because who needs more people around? So you’ve set in to motion a global disarray and nonfunctionalism that would not have been achieved — certainly not at the same level and with the same speed — without this emphasis on global development.

However poorly people lived in terms of material wealth in traditional societies, there was much that they retained. They retained a fair amount of local control. They retained some degree of traditional culture. Even in societies that had already been impacted, like India, you had a lot of cultural identity and a history of relationships to scale that were really different. It was an economy of small-scale institutions. That has been wiped out by economic globalization with the invasion of franchises and giant institutions that have taken over the land.

London: I remember a full-page ad in the New York Times during the height of the NAFTA debate a few years ago. A long list of Nobel laureates in economics and the various sciences expressed their support for the free-trade agreement. How is it that so many “experts” could speak out in favor of something that has such damaging effects?

Mander:I don’t know what Nobel laureates have thought about this subject very much. I don’t know how many of them could talk about structural adjustment programs, for example. Very damn few of them would even know what it means. They just think that it’s a good thing to unify the world. They think the idea of all the cultures getting together and merging into one big happy culture is how to save the world. It’s kind of a left-over of communism, on the one hand, and the new federalism on the other. And, on the third hand, it’s a funny distortion of pluralistic democratic ideas.

But they’re wrong. Globalization doesn’t work. There is lots of evidence of that. We’re on the verge of an ecological catastrophe of stupendous proportions. There is a terrible degree of alienation at large in the world. There is a tremendous amount of violence. Everybody is at each other’s throats. How could they possibly think that this has been good? This whole process has been terrible, and the process of globalization only makes it much worse. It’s preposterous to think that anything good is going to come from this.

London: Some people feel that now that communism has collapsed, free-market capitalism may be next. After all, the economy can’t continue to grow forever — at some point, an exponential curve has to either level off or crash.

Mander: I think that if I say “Yes, we have to rethink capitalism,” then it gets reduced to, “Oh, he’s anti-capitalist.” It’s not capitalism in particular that has to be rethought, it’s the whole economic structure. The global economy is not capitalism. I have a master’s degree in economics, and I know this is not capitalism. What we have now is a centrally controlled economy. The only capitalism that takes place is among the people who have no part in the real benefits of the system — you know, t he people at the lower rungs have some capitalism going with small stores and so on. But, basically, the great part of the system doesn’t function in a capitalist manner. It’s not a socialist manner either. It’s some kind of hodge-podge of connections that have been put together for greasing the skids of advanced development and growth and corporate benefit.

Free trade? Free market? We don’t have either of those either. We have some kind of combination. What we have is a corporate take-over of the rules and a lot of corporate authority.

London: Corporatism?

Mander: Yes, a corporate economy — an economy that is good for corporations. It’s not capitalism exactly, and it’s not socialism exactly, and it’s not anarchy either. It’s a different of system of organization in which corporations exercise the control and reap the benefits.

London: How do we respond to the forces of globalization?

Mander: Well, if the car is about to go off the cliff, the first thing you do is stop the car. We’re about to go off the cliff and we’ve got to stop the car. That’s number one. Then we have to find a road map — where to go next. A lot of people are already looking for this road map.

The question that is most interesting to me, and the only that seems to make sense is: if globalization doesn’t work, what about localization? I think relocalization is absolutely inevitable. It’s going to happen one way or another because the global economy will break down, even if we don’t organize a mass movement about it. It simply doesn’t work. It can’t sustain itself. It’s going to fall apart and disintegrate — I hope sooner rather than later — so a certain degree of relocalization is going to take place automatically. I’m a little worried that it might also entail the growth of fascism here and there, as local powers gain real control. But I don’t think that’s an argument against relocalization, just against the wrong kind of localization.

What’s necessary is that real power and real economic control be reduced very far down so that people have real control of their lives, and so that the technologies and forms of organization that they use don’t assist the process of globalization.

This is a long and fascinating interview well worth reading in full.

The last two paragraphs are particularly prescient in 2016. American voters, participating in a general election in November, are worried about the loss of jobs overseas. British voters will be voting in a few weeks’ time on recovering national sovereignty or staying in the expanding European Union.

Speaking of Europe, The Guardian published an article on May 25 about the rise of populist and nationalist leaders across the Continent. There are more than most people think. The paper posits that it is because people no longer trust mainstream political parties.

We also perceive conventional politicians as being in globalists’ pockets to some extent. One needs the other in order to push their projects forward.

Tomorrow: Globalism as seen in 2005

Bible oldThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 18:5-6

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.


These two verses continue on from Matthew 18:1-4, about the necessity of believers to become as humble as children. Jesus was responding to the disciples’ question about the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This is more evident in the parallel passages of Luke 9:46-48 and Mark 9:33-37. The latter is in the three-year Lectionary.

In order to better illustrate His point, Jesus put a small child in their midst (Matthew 18:2). In verse 5, we read ‘one such child’ in the context of being kind to him. Are we to understand that He is referring to that toddler and others like him?

John MacArthur says no (emphases mine):

the little child in verse 4. What little child is that? It’s the one who humbles himself as the illustration of the child. What in verse 3, “Becoming as a little child.” In other words, he’s talking about the same little child that entered the Kingdom, the same little child whose humility made him great, is the same little child that you’re to receive. It is the spiritual little child, the believer, the one that comes to Christ. It’s not talking about the infant. It’s talking about how you treat one of God’s children who came to Him in humility, who came to Him in simple childlike faith, which was the whole point, as we saw, of verses 3 and 4 in our study last week. No matter how lowly that child is, no matter how humble, no matter how lacking in sophistication, no matter how lacking in power or in fame or in grandeur, no matter if it is an ignoble, if it is the poor, if it is the least among men. That little one who belongs to Jesus Christ, even one such one, is to be received as if you are receiving Jesus Christ Himself. So how you treat Christians is how you treat Him

He can’t be talking about physical children, micron, little, tiny infants can’t believe in Him. He’s talking about those believers who are classified in this whole chapter as infants or childlike.

However, all children of God — old and young, having reached the age of reason — are to be treated properly in not leading them to sin. Matthew Henry has this explanation:

Their believing in Christ, though they be little ones, unites them to him, and interests him in their cause, so that, as they partake of the benefit of his sufferings, he also partakes in the wrong of theirs. Even the little ones that believe have the same privileges with the great ones, for they have all obtained like precious faith.

The consequences for causing believers of any age to sin is extremely serious. That person will wish s/he had been drowned with a millstone tied around his neck instead (verse 6). Jesus implied that the punishment will be the lake of fire, hell. Henry tells us:

Note, 1. Hell is worse than the depth of the sea for it is a bottomless pit, and it is a burning lake. The depth of the sea is only killing, but hell is tormenting. We meet with one that had comfort in the depth of the sea, it was Jonah (Matthew 2:2,4,9) but never any had the least grain or glimpse of comfort in hell, nor will have to eternity. 2. The irresistible irrevocable doom of the great Judge will sink sooner and surer, and bind faster, than a mill-stone hanged about the neck. It fixes a great gulf, which can never be broken through, Luke 16:26. Offending Christ’s little ones, though by omission, is assigned as the reason of that dreadful sentence, Go ye cursed, which will at last be the doom of proud persecutors.

MacArthur says:

You would be better off dead than alive offending a Christian, making ’em sin. You see, God is not only concerned that we not sin, but that we not make other people sin….Better you should be dead. Beneficial you should be dead. Profitable that you should be dead rather than do that. Preferable. The language here is really vivid.

He explains why Jesus chose the millstone to illustrate His point:

… the millstone. Literally, in the Greek, mulassanikas, the mule stone or the ass’s stone. This is not the little one you had in the house. This is the one that was pulled by the mule, the one that Sampson was tied up to when he was grinding grain in his blindness. A beast had to pull it. A massive, huge stone, weighing tons. Huge would come into their minds when they heard mulassanikas.

It would be better if you took a stone like that, tied it around your neck, and, literally, in the Greek, it says drowned far out in the open sea. Taken way out with a stone weighing tons around your neck and poonk, and I mean you’d go to the bottom like a rocket

The notion of drowning was intended to shock His disciples. The Jews did not drown people. However, the Romans did:

Jews didn’t drown people for any kind of crime. It was, to them, a horrible, unimaginable punishment. And to be drowned all alone with a millstone around your neck in some far off region of the ocean was terrifying. The Romans did that. The Jews didn’t…That’s what Jesus says would be better for you, a lonely, terrorizing, shocking, painful end to your life. You would be better off dead with the worst kind of death imaginable than to offend a Christian, to cause that Christian to sin.

The effect on the disciples must have been stunning. They had just been arguing about who among them was the greatest and Jesus put a stop to that foolish talk promptly:

Oh, what a lesson. I can imagine there were a few gulps in the room, because the disciples had been around there for a while making each other jealous, envious, bitter, resentful, hateful, proud, self-seeking, causing each other to sin. So the thought is marvelous. Those who come into God’s Kingdom are small infants. They’re children. They’re the weak. They’re the lowly, and their own resources are limited. They’re children. They’re infants, and infants need care, and they need protection, and they need guarding, and they don’t need exposure to danger. Children are lowly. They’re weak. They need to be cared for. They need to be protected. God expects that with his family, and we must never cause His children to sin. It is an enormous crime, enormous.

The apostles later forgot the lesson and raised the question of who among them was the greatest at the Last Supper, no less (Luke 22:24-30).

There are two types of sin, that of commission and that of omission.

Sins of commission involve active temptation:

… the first way we make people sin is by directly tempting them. That’s right. Satan can use us. The world can use us. The flesh can use us to be the direct source of temptation. We know that. We’ve had people who come to us and say, “Let’s do this.” “Well, that’s not right to do.” “I know, but we’ll get away with it.” From the time you’re little, you hear that deal. “Oh, listen, we paid enough tax in that last year, honey. I mean just go ahead and put it down. I know we didn’t have a right claim that deduction, but put it down anyway. They’ll never know.” And so you have led someone into sin. Better you should be drowned in the middle of the sea.

Or you let your children expose themselves to garbage and filth on television or at the theater or wherever, in the things they read. You are leading that child. Better you should be dead. Or maybe in your business, you’re getting your employees involved in that which is illegal and illicit and not right, and you’re causing those who are Christian employees in your business to do things that are not right. Better you should be dead than seduce God’s people. Young man take a young girl out and try to get to compromise her virtue. Better you should be drowned, my friend, than that you should steal the virtue of some lovely young girl…

The Bible has many examples of sin emanating from temptation. God punished all of those sinners, from Jereboam to Jezebel, as they led others into sin.

Sins of omission involve turning a blind eye to certain situations which result in physical or emotional pain. Ignoring a friend or family member’s anxiety is one example. That anxiety can lead them to drink, drugs, self-harm or suicide. Postponing the spiritual guidance of young children in our care is another. I know parents who leave that to teachers, because they cannot be bothered. That can lead to immorality, nihilism and/or atheism in an adolescent. A manager who does nothing about bullying in the office is also guilty in not only encouraging a dysfunctional atmosphere but encouraging, even indirectly, an employee’s hurt and loneliness.

Americans and Britons are enjoying a three-day holiday weekend. The Americans have Memorial Day (remembering those who died in the armed forces) and the British celebrate Whitsun (Pentecost) — now Spring — Bank Holiday Monday. Let’s make sure we enjoy these days in the the way He would wish. As the Lord’s Prayer says:

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Next time: Matthew 18:7-9

Steve Hilton was Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of strategy and prior to that worked at Conservative Central Office for many years.

He has just thrown his hat into the Brexit ring and has no doubt upset his good friend of long standing.

Hilton has not been without controversy during his years with Cameron and the Conservative Party. He helped Cameron rebrand the party to make it more green and socially progressive. He also spoke of replacing older traditional party members at the grassroots level with younger, more trendy types to broaden Conservative appeal.

If he looks as if he could work in Silicon Valley, you would be right. Hilton is co-founder and CEO of, a Silicon Valley technology start-up.

Earlier in the EU Referendum campaign, he said he would stay out of it. However, with the publication of his new book, More Human, he has openly expressed why he supports Brexit.

On May 23, he laid out his reasons why for the Daily Mail. The Mail introduces his article with background about him and his career, and says (in part):

The Remain camp has tried to characterise those who want to quit the EU as being the old-fashioned Tory Right or having Ukip tendencies. It is, however, impossible to slide Mr Hilton neatly into this box (nor, dispelling this particular myth, is it possible to view Michael Gove in this way). Indeed, in 2001 he is said to have been so disenchanted with the Tories’ drift to the Right under William Hague that he supported the Green Party.

Excerpts of Hilton’s Brexit points follow. Sub-headings and emphases are my own.

EU bureaucracy and rules

every few days, a pile of paperwork about a foot high was circulated in Whitehall. The paperwork gave the go-ahead for Government action and was supposedly based on written approval from the relevant ministers.

But here’s the catch: ministers were given two days to respond to any proposal. If no response came, then this was taken as a ‘yes’.

There was no way any minister could possibly read all the proposals by the deadline. Furthermore, there was an unspoken rule that one department wouldn’t interfere in proposals coming from another. In fact, as I recall, there was only one minister who regularly did so (much to the consternation of the others), and that was Michael Gove …

I asked for a detailed audit.

It turned out that some 30 per cent of government action was relevant to what we were supposed to be doing. The rest — you’ve guessed it — was generated from within the civil service machine, the majority coming from the EU.


It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage — even though I have no doubt that things have improved since the Coalition Government’s early days [2010].

… my view, based on a pragmatic, non-ideological assessment of how the EU operates, is that as long as we are members, our country cannot be ‘run’. Membership of the EU makes Britain literally un-governable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.

A democracy is based on the notion that the people — or their directly-elected representatives — are able to decide issues for themselves. And yet membership of the EU brings with it constraints on everything from employment law to family policy, all determined through distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control

As I say to my American friends who don’t really get what the EU is: ‘All you need to know is that it has three presidents, none of whom is elected.’

If Remain wins

the EU after a British vote to stay would be a very different creature from the one we have today. It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British with their endless complaining and threats to leave.

Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone. Look how they treated a British Prime Minister armed with the threat of Brexit. Can you imagine how they would treat a future PM without such a powerful card to play?

And remember that this is for the long term. Even if you think Cameron’s deal will protect us from the worst excesses of the EU, the fact is that he will be in office for only another four years at most.

Why Brexit?

To regain control over our country’s destiny, so that a democratically elected government in Britain is free to carry out its mandate, whether that’s Left, Right or Centre.

For me, it would mean economic and employment policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business; family policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to bring up children; competition, planning and government reform that finally allows us to prioritise the small, the local, the ‘inefficient’, the beautiful, the human …

That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I think we should leave.

On Project Fear talking points

People ask: what about the economy, and access to Europe’s Single Market? Would we end up like Norway? Or Switzerland?

No. We’re bigger than that; better than that. Our independent relationship with the EU would be like that of our peers — the U.S. is not a member of the EU, but the last time I checked, General Motors had no problem selling cars there. Or Heinz, ketchup. Or Starbucks, coffee.

the bottom line on the economic argument is that no one really knows. It’s clearly ridiculous to claim that it’s settled in either direction; there are risks whatever we do …

Then we’re told that the EU is vital for our security. Really? I was pretty amazed when I first heard this point being made. The idea that a British Prime Minister can’t protect Britain properly without the EU is frankly astonishing and, if true, rather alarming.

Forgive me if I’ve missed something, but I wasn’t aware that this referendum is about leaving NATO.

And our closest security partner is the U.S. We manage to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in fighting terrorism and other threats without being locked in a supra-national institutional embrace. We co-operate as two countries. That’s what we would do if we left the EU

Look at the Remainers

They want us to stay in the EU because their whole world depends upon it. Their lifestyle of summit meetings and first-class flights and five-star hotels; their flitting and floating from New York to Brussels to Beijing, serving the interests of the technocratic elite — the bankers, bureaucrats and accountants who run the modern world and who, regardless of which government is in power in which country, push the same old dogma of globalisation, privatisation and centralisation.

It’s a long, meaty, worthwhile essay. Please do take the time to read it in full.

Thank you, Steve Hilton, for an eloquent expression of support for Brexit.

In closing, all of this week’s EU Referendum posts can be found on my Marxism / Communism page under Brexit. I will run them again by title and link just before June 23.

End of series

On March 14, 2016, it emerged that 53% of the French would welcome a referendum on their membership of the European Union.

The Independent reported:

Given the opportunity to vote, French opinion divided between 44 per cent saying they would stay and 33 per cent saying they would leave, with the rest unsure.

The figures appear to show that a possible referendum in France would be not dissimilar to the race in the UK, where latest polls show a narrow lead for the “In” camp …

France is the EU nation that wants Brexit the most. Only 56% of the French want us to remain in the EU. Some perceive our renegotiations poorly, but others are interested (positively) to see what might happen.

By contrast, 73% of Germans would like to see us remain and 79% of the Irish do.

Among Swedes, that figure drops somewhat to 67%.

On March 14, EurActiv reported on the same figures. With regard to Britain (emphases mine):

The British referendum is a laboratory for other referendums in Europe,” commented Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London, quoted in French daily Le Monde.

You bet — which is why Menon added:

Such trivialisation could produce devastating effects.

If only. The European project with all its anonymity, bureaucracy, legislation and waste truly deserves to unravel, country by country.

After the French, the Swedes are the next group most wanting a referendum (49%). More than a third (37%) would like to leave.

All these figures come from a study produced by the University of Edinburgh. The study’s authors caution that we should not conflate the desire for a referendum with euroscepticism.

It is interesting that many in France and Sweden think that Brexit would not affect us economically. In fact:

In both France and Sweden, there were also more people who think the UK economy would do better outside of the EU although the most common response in both countries is that Brexit would make no difference.

Five weeks later, EurActiv reported on a Swedish poll by Sifo showing that, if the UK votes Brexit, 36% of Swedes would also vote to leave (33% would vote to remain), nearly matching the University of Edinburgh’s:

“If there’s going to be a ‘Brexit’, then this would raise so many questions related to the impact on the EU and the Swedish membership,” said Göran von Sydow, a political scientist and researcher at the Swedish Institute for European Political Studies (SIEPS).

So, Swexit (my word — you read it here first) could be a real possibility.

Furthermore, if the Swedes follow us in holding a referendum, other northern European countries will surely follow:

… in Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party is the second-biggest in the parliament, the party’s spokesperson for EU affairs Kenneth Kristensen Berth said Brexit would automatically force Denmark to reconsider its own membership.

Not least since Denmark mainly joined the EU together with the UK back in 1973 because Britain was its biggest export market at the time.

The Spectator‘s Fraser Nelson has a good article accompanied by graphs which explain the Swedish perspective on the matter. He rightly observes:

This throws open a fascinating new line of argument for Leave. What if those voting to leave, far from being isolationist, are pioneers of a new globally-minded alliance of countries who are fed up with having to discriminate against non-European goods, services and people? Might a vote to leave put Britain at the forefront of a new internationalism: one based on genuine co-operation and respect for sovereignty?

And the Remain camp can, of course, say that Britain would be voting not just to leave the EU but to smash the whole thing. The collapse of the EU would be bound to bring horrid uncertainty: would we wish that upon our neighbours?

All told, Jean-Claude Juncker should – by now – be wishing that he had given David Cameron the deal that he wanted. The PM’s demands were modest, came with a firm democratic mandate – and one would have given him a valuable weapon to use in this debate. A deal granting a looser alliance with Britain and our northern European friends (imagined in Andrew Marr’s Brexit novel Head of State) would have made an ‘in’ vote a certainty.

People like Jean-Claude Juncker are the reason why many Britons will vote for Brexit. Juncker and Co’s arrogance is unsurpassed.

First, Brexit. Then, all being well, Swexit, Dexit (also coined here) and, perhaps, Frexit. The possibilities are awesome*!

*traditional sense of the word

Peter Smith.jpgNot a day goes by in Britain now without a warning from pro-EU Conservative government ministers about Brexit.

We’ll have a recession. Well, that’s probably on the cards, anyway.

The stock market will crash. That, too, is possible — Brexit or not. It won’t just be in the UK, either, but also in Europe and elsewhere in the West.

The latest is that house prices in Britain could plummet. For under-40s living in London and the Home Counties, that comes as welcome news.

The bottom line is that no one knows exactly what is going to happen. And most of what actually happens is unlikely to have anything to do with our position in or out of the European Union.

The Most Revd Peter Smith, Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Southwark (encompassing South London to the South Coast of England), has criticised the government’s Project Fear — as Brexit supporters call it.

The archbishop is the first senior cleric — Catholic or Protestant — to express empathy with Brexit, although he says he is still undecided.

On May 19, he gave an interview on the subject to Vatican Radio, which has the full audio.

On May 23, The Catholic Herald published an article on the interview, which is well worth reading.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Archbishop Smith, the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales … criticised the Remain campaign for attempting to “scare” the electorate into voting to stay in the EU when they go to the polls on June 23.

He dismissed as “ludicrous” the bleak economic forecasts predicted by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the event of a Brexit win.

“When we joined the European Union many decades ago, the chief arguments were about trade, that we would be better off and it would help the economy,” said Archbishop Smith …

The euro hasn’t worked particularly with the poorer countries in Europe – Greece, Portugal, Spain to an extent. It is not working with the euro and all of us are glad that we didn’t go into the euro because of the different economies on the continent of Europe.”

“I am very sceptical of the arguments the Chancellor makes. When he does a budget each year very often by the end of the year his forecasts are all over the place.

“When you look at the budgets even after 12 months very often the Chancellor is wrong because you can’t pin the economy down like that because it is so involved with the world economy which goes up and down.”

He added: “Most people are completely puzzled. They don’t know what the real arguments are and then they hear these scare stories like the Chancellor saying in 14 years’ time we will £4,000 plus less (worse off).

With great respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer I think it is ludicrous. He doesn’t know, and we don’t know

He did not think much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric either:

Archbishop Smith said that “The real difficulty is that there has been no clarity on either side of the argument” and that “there hasn’t been much argument at all.”

“There has been a lot of emotional speculation and so on,” he said.

Outside of Brexit: The Movie, he is right.

Archbishop Smith makes good points, especially as a party of one. It must be lonely being the sole major cleric to see the benefits of Brexit.

The last time Britain had a referendum on membership in the European construct was June 5, 1975.

Back then, it was known as the European Common Market and the European Community.

The late Labour MP Tony Benn — formerly Anthony Wedgwood Benn, the Viscount Stansgate — until he modified the former and renounced the latter, was hardly a political idol of mine. Therefore, my quoting him here is likely to be a one-off. I do so, however, because on the European project he made sense — then and now.

The Spectator has helpfully resurrected Benn’s letter to his constituents before the 1975 referendum took place. It is eloquently worded. It is a shame no one at The Spectator proofread it. It looks as if the letter has been scanned, because there are many punctuation errors that were, no doubt, absent from the original. I have made those corrections below.

I highly recommend the letter to my fellow Britons, whether they intend to vote Leave or Remain. Brief excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Benn’s letter begins as follows:

In 1975 you will each have the responsibility of deciding by vote whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Common Market or whether we should withdraw completely, and remain an independent self-governing nation. That decision, once taken will almost certainly be irreversible.

The next part enumerates five rights the British people enjoyed through parliamentary democracy: enabling us to vote leaders in or out; establishing our own laws and taxes without outside interference; having courts that judge according to our own laws; exercising accountability among Members of Parliament, therefore, by extension, to the British public and, finally, continuing peaceful change by MPs on behalf of the voters.

In short, the power of the electors of Britain, through their direct representatives in Parliament to make laws, levy taxes, change laws which the courts must uphold, and control the conduct of public affairs has been substantially ceded to the European Community whose Council of Ministers and Commission are neither collectively elected, nor collectively dismissed by the British people nor even by the peoples in all the Community countries put together.

These five rights have protected us in Britain from the worst abuse of power by government; safeguarded us against the excesses of bureaucracy; defended our basic liberties; offered us the prospect of peaceful change; reduced the risk of civil strife; and bound us together by creating a national framework of consent for all the laws under which we were governed. We have promised a ballot box decision because all these rights are important, and none should be abandoned without the explicit consent of the people.

no one who votes [at] the ballot box should be in any doubt as to the effect British membership has had, and will increasingly continue to have, in removing the power the British people once enjoyed to govern themselves.

Having campaigned so long to win for you the right to have a referendum I am proud to serve in a government that has promised that the final decision will be made by all the electors through the ballot box …

The arguments presented to the British public that year led them to believe that the Common Market was a matter of trade only. Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Labour) had ‘renegotiated’ Britain’s position within the European Community. It is not surprising, therefore, that voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin that the UK should remain a member of the Common Market. You can read the content of the 1975 pamphlet here.

Since then, the number of member nations has increased from nine to 28. More will be added, possibly even Turkey, not historically considered to be in Europe geographically. Various treaties over the past quarter-century have changed the nature of membership. Consequently, British Prime Ministers have had to renegotiate aspects of our membership.

The Common Market and European Community became the European Union. With the EU came increased loss of national sovereignty, not only for the UK but also for other member nations. We are now subject to the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice, both powerful and largely anonymous institutions which exercise increased power over every EU member state.

Tony Benn foresaw this.

I would urge every British voter to seriously consider his words and to read what he had to say in full.

We do not know how the EU will evolve in the next 12 months, the next decade or the next 40 years. As it is highly unlikely we will see another EU referendum in our lifetime, please think carefully about how you intend to vote in the upcoming referendum on June 23 and why you are doing so.

On April 26, 2016, The Guardian reported that the Church of England published a short prayer for the EU Referendum:

God of truth, give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum with honesty and openness. Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion and discernment to those who vote, that our nation may prosper and that with all the peoples of Europe we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.


The article says that the prayer was carefully worded to maintain neutrality.

However, the Right Reverend David Hamid, the Anglican Suffragan Bishop in Europe, told The Guardian he hopes Remain wins because a number of his congregants are British expats living and working on the Continent. He also thinks remaining in the EU secures peace.

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, also supports Remain because he prefers the status quo; it is easier, he says, for countries to work together.

Apparently, so do those placing EU Referendum bets with Ladbrokes. On May 21, Matthew Shaddick (‘Shadsy’ at wrote an article for The Spectator discussing the bets placed recently on the referendum’s outcome. Shaddick is Ladbrokes’ head of political odds. He says:

Bookies have seen a very substantial swing toward Remain over the last few days. The odds on the UK staying in Europe have collapsed from 1/3 last week to 1/5 today. This shows that the chances of Brexit are now at a new low of just 21 per cent compared to the giddy heights of 40 per cent at the end of 2015.

On balance, the polls have probably been better for Remain recently, but there’s still a lot of variance, with some surveys still showing Leave ahead. However, the betting public can only see one result: with more than nine pounds out of every ten wagered at Ladbrokes over the last month being staked on a Remain victory.

Conventional wisdom and history tells us that bookies are not often wrong. Shaddick reminds us that they got the results of both the 2014 Scottish Referendum and 2015 UK election results correct.

He concludes:

On the Referendum, I’ve gone for a bet on Remain winning with between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of the vote, but if the odds for Leave get any bigger that might become the value bet.

No doubt he has seen the results of a huge poll of 22,000 voters, published in The Independent on May 18 and to be released in full later this month. The Independent says:

The outcome of the EU referendum vote is on a knife edge with little more than one month to go, according to one of the largest surveys to date.

… Remain has a narrow lead of 43 to 40.5 per cent, according to new data from the British Election Survey.

But the advantage is wiped out among voters who say they are very likely to vote – giving Leave the victory by 45 per cent to 44.5 per cent.

We have one month left until voting takes place on Thursday, June 23. Meanwhile, the name calling on the Remain side is ramping up. As James Delingpole, journalist and Leave supporter who is in Brexit: The Movie, put it for The Spectator:

… if I were an undecided wondering where to place my X, I think the thing that would swing it for me would be the marked difference in tone between the two camps — with the Remainers coming across as shrill, prickly and bitter, and the Brexiters surprisingly sunny, relaxed and optimistic.

This isn’t what you might have expected at the start of the campaign. Really, it makes no sense. When you’re the odds-on favourite with the weight of the global elite behind you — Obama, Lagarde, Goldman Sachs, the BBC, Ed Balls — you ought to be able to afford to be magnanimous, jolly and decent. It’s the anti-EU rebels, the spoilers, the malcontents, you’d imagine would be most afflicted by rage, spite and peevishness.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Yes, there has been some vicious factional backbiting between the different Brexit camps, I can’t deny that. The tone of their campaigning, though, has been almost weirdly upbeat: Boris larking about with Cornish pasties and angle-grinders; Gove batting off Marr with his effortless good cheer; Farage with his pint-and-fags common touch; Martin Durkin with his insightful, inspirational and often very funny crowd-funded documentary Brexit: the Movie.

He’s right. I certainly won’t be discussing it offline anymore. Once was enough. Everyone — bar one, thanks to Brexit: The Movie — I know is for Remain. If Leave wins, I’ll never hear the end of it, until five years from now, when we turn our nation into a hybrid of Switzerland and post-war Germany.

It seems to me that the Remain people are fearful Leave might just squeak through. We can but see.

If my British readers have not yet seen Brexit: The Movie, I highly recommend it:

The documentary’s première took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Dick Puddlecote, who is a business owner, was there. He wrote, in part (emphases mine):

… my objection to the EU has always been based on the handicapping effect of never-ending regulation that is impossible to avoid from such an institution. If you dedicate a few hectares of a major European city to thousands of highly-paid people whose livelihood depends on dreaming up new regulations, what else are they going to do but regulate?

(Interesting nugget from the movie. “Many EU staff are paid more than the Prime Minister, but how many? 5? 10? No, 10,000!”).

But, I hear you say, regulations keep us safe don’t they? We need them. Well up to a point yes, but that point passed decades ago in the case of the EU. I’ve written about EU regulations in my industry before which have absolutely nothing to do with safety whatsoever, but instead impose unnecessary costs on businesses, inhibit employment and push up prices for consumers.

The film explodes the myth that the UK cannot do business with any other nation unless we are in the EU. It also discusses the monetary waste of the EU project.

For a 71-minute film, it moves quickly. If you have not yet seen it, please consider taking the time to do so.

Two points that I liked were the models put forward for the UK to follow a Swiss or post-war Germany model of trade and the fact that trade deals would go on with us regardless.

As journalist and Leave supporter James Delingpole, who is in the movie, says:

What, meanwhile, are the Remainers offering us? More of the same old same old. It’s an instinct I can well understand. The familiar is very comforting, as we learned earlier this month in another context from a man named Albert Woodfox who’d been released after 43 years in a Louisiana penitentiary, most of it spent in solitary in a 6ft by 9ft concrete box. ‘In a cell you have a routine, you pretty much know what’s going to happen… So there are moments when, yeah, I wish I was back in the security of a cell. I mean, it does that to you,’ he said.

I feel much the way towards the Remainers as I do towards poor Albert: pity and sympathy, rather than hatred. But this generosity of spirit is not something I’ve seen much reciprocated towards Brexiters.

I completely agree. More on the Remainers’ attitude tomorrow. It can quickly lead to arguments.

UPDATE: However, this film managed to convert a good Remain friend of mine to Leave.

Minority Leave

The Mirror sponsored a debate on the EU referendum with Lord Peter Mandelson (Labour), Nigel Farage (UKIP) and, among others, Labour supporter and Leave proponent, novelist Dreda Say Mitchell.

You can view the debate here.

Dreda Say Mitchell, who is black, wrote about her experience at the debate for The Guardian; the discussion, she said, regrettably, turned to racial issues. Despite that, this is why she is voting Leave:

I’m fed up with hearing about what’s good for big business and high-flying professionals; at street level, views are far more mixed. I don’t know many kids from the estates who are excited about starting their own media company in Milan. 


I am also unwilling to cede the leave argument to rightwing Conservatives when there’s a long and proud tradition of leftwing opposition to the EU. The arguments made by Tony Benn, Barbara Castle and Peter Shore a generation ago still stand as far as I’m concerned. It’s for other leftists to explain why they don’t.

Labour Leave

The Guardian article Mitchell linked to there tells us that 213 of Labour’s 231 support staying in the EU. It was published on January 20, when Labour Leave launched their campaign. MP Graham Stringer, a co-founder of the campaign, gave the historical position; thirty years ago, Labour supported being part of Europe because they thought Brussels would serve as a workers’ defence against Margaret Thatcher’s government. Stringer explained that, since then, things have changed. He warned that staying in the EU would make it difficult for Britain to preserve workers’ rights, renationalise the railways and even maintain a universal Royal Mail service.

The other two co-founders of Labour Leave are MPs Kate Hoey and Kelvin Hopkins.

The campaign’s secretary is John Mills, a generous and loyal Labour donor. He founded home and beauty products company JML, which often advertises on television.

The Labour Leave website tells us that, since January 1, 2016, the UK has sent £7,050+ million to Brussels. The figure will be higher by the time you read this post, which I am writing on May 20, because HM Treasury sends £50 million to the EU every day.

Imagine how we could have spent that money on the NHS and on schools.

The Guardian‘s economics editor

On Friday, May 20, Larry Elliott, The Guardian‘s economics editor, wrote ‘Brexit may be the best answer to a dying eurozone’.

He observed that the Bank of England’s Mark Carney coming out in favour of Remain might be the turning point for our staying in the EU. However, Elliott pointed out that Carney said nothing about the longterm ailments of the eurozone. And, even if the UK is not part of the eurozone:

… let’s be clear: staying in the EU means hitching the wagon to a currency zone unable to go forwards or backwards, and which will continue to struggle as a result.

Elliott reminded us of the late Tony Benn’s warning about the EU project. This might be one of the only times I have ever agreed with a Benn position. In the 1970s, he said:

I can think of no body of men outside the Kremlin who have so much power without a shred of accountability for what they do.

Precisely. And the EU and US are working secretly on TTIP, a trade agreement about which no one, outside the small group involved with it, is allowed to find out anything. That secrecy proves Benn’s point brilliantly.

The EU we have on June 23 is unlikely to remain static or controllable in future. The officials and politicians at the top of the EU gravy train all say that ‘more Europe’ is the answer. Elliott concludes that the EU:

it is the USSR without the gulag.

Just so — at least for now.

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