Tim Worstall

We can see the problem here

After a decade of reinvention, Labour has again fallen short electorally. Thursday’s dramatic loss in Hartlepool and in councils across the country has raised the perennial question for parties on the left: “What is to be done?”

Much of the discussion of Labour’s woes concentrates on British particularities, its Brexit strategy and the relative merits of the Blairite and Corbynite reinventions. However, the dilemmas Labour faces are far from particular. The last decade has not been kind to social democratic parties across Europe. The centre-left parties that dominated European politics for the second half of the 20th century have suffered a string of losses.

In France, the Parti Socialiste fell to under 8% of the vote in the last legislative elections, with no signs of recovery. In 2017, the German SPD experienced its worst postwar performance, a showing likely to worsen in September’s election. Even where social democrats are in power, their position is tenuous. The Swedish Social Democrats, the most electorally successful socialist party in Europe, struggled to form a government after the 2018 election.

The moment you say that socialism, socialists, and social democracy are the same thing then you’ve lost the argument. For they’re not, they’re alternatives.

Socialism is the idiocy of trying to replace capitalism and markets with clipboardwielders. Social democracy is taxing the snot out of capitalism and markets to pay the clipboardwielders. As the Scandinavian experience shows – countries that are indeed higher tax than we are but also more capitalist and more market – one of these two works and the other doesn’t.

Of course, not taxing the snot out of people has its merits too. But baby steps, baby steps.

Nonsense

Potatoes and lettuce will have to be replaced in the UK by small, mustardy root vegetables and dandelion leaves as a warming climate means we cannot rely on traditional crops, Kew Gardens has said.

We get most of our lettuce from Spain already. Climate change means w’ll get it from a bit of Spain 50 miles north of where we currently do.

And?

I like this as a piece of policy analysis

Let’s talk about social media functionality and how its current, virulently diseased business model might be amputated.

It’s simply implicit that social media can do good work if cut free of the abusive, predatory, American firms who use it as the lure for an adtech economy unmoored from real value or social purpose.

Social media as currently construed is terrible in truly nonlinear ways, acting as both metaphor and amplifier for the worst of late capitalism.

Just as TMFTF doesn’t have much to say about how hard-right, populist authoritarianism is deliberately wrecking intra-national capacity for the regional and global coordination needed to address climate crisis, it doesn’t seem to get how the vicious circle of hard right plus social media is hollowing out the capacity of states to fulfil the social contract that makes democracy possible.

That’s why we need to destroy Big Tech, not just because doing so might provide an (anti)-business model for emergent forms of technology-amplified cooperation. US social media companies’ business model is directly preventing people from understanding the climate crisis, and from forming the coalitions needed to work on it. It’s destroying the necessary structures of feeling and political institutions we need to get civilization through the eye of the needle that is this century. That is the problem statement. Understanding what we’re up against provides the necessary urgency and will to act radically to destroy how we currently ‘Internet’.

I know tech policy pretty well,
….
This work is urgent. Tech policy, like everything else, needs to serve and enable our direct responses to climate crisis. Time and again, the toxic predation of winner-takes-all monopolies, founded and run by tech bros, enable, amplify and are fundamentally conjoined with individual acts of male predation and abuse. Code is law, and that code is misogyny. We won’t get the non-patriarchal responses that TMFTF rightly describes as essential, if we permit another decade of violent regression on gender. All the people that would have the ideas, develop the projects and form the networks that our species needs are being driven out, now. We don’t have decades more of human potential to burn.

Umm, yeah.

And?

Sorry, but social media is more damaging than TV – whatever the research may say
Lax regulation of social platforms has allowed many to become a digital Wild West of racism, sexual harassment, and pornography

So, human beings aren’t quite as polite as some thought. And?

This isn’t the platforms at fault, it’s the folks.

It’s not Keir’s fault

Sir Keir Starmer was accused on Friday night of allowing Labour to be captured by a “London-based bourgeoisie” and “brigades of woke social media warriors” by a frontbencher

This has been going on for decades now. We could probably say that Wilson and Callaghan were Labour in that proper and solid manner. But Tony Benn – and Crossland perhaps – were definitely metropolitan frou frous imposing weirdness upon the working class.

This is what happens to organisations over time of course. Shrug. The Tories nearly lost it over Europe and only reconnected with their base at the instigation of Ukip.

The Guardian and economics

It is true that a sliver of people would rather stay home for a few months making as much, or more, from unemployment than they would defrosting meat patties or answering phones.

Gee, ya think?

‘No one wants to work anymore’: the truth behind this unemployment benefits myth

But it’s still a myth, d’ye see?

Sigh

Once upon a time the country was obsessed with the balance of payments and now we’re not.

No, peeps used to be obsessed with the balance of trade. The BoP always balances because it’s you know, something that balances?

As to why we’re not obsessed with the BoT these days it’s because we have a floating currency.

Accountant can’t count

The UK is a rich country. It has national wealth of at least £12 trillion.

That’s including the value of housing.

And our wealth should support this. Just offer decent interest rates on National Savings and the money would pour in.

We’re going to put our houses in the Green New Deal now?

Whose ethics?

That’s the important question here:

How big would Britain have to be for all its meat, milk and eggs to be ethically farmed?

Fascism is a set of ethics. Not an attractive set, I’ll grant you that, but it is a set. The mistake being made in the question is to accept that current Green, liberal metropolitan, set of ethics and being the only ethical system possible.

As has been pointed out

By Matt Kilcoyne among others.

It is a symbol of national pride that has endured for eight centuries, as well as 55 years of hurt. But a decision to change England’s Three Lions crest to promote diversity in football has failed to rouse roars of approval from fans.

Bosses at the Football Association announced on Thursday that the traditional Three Lions would be replaced on a brand new logo by a lion cub, a lion and a lioness.

The FA said the move would give the medieval crest a “fresh purpose” that would symbolise “inclusivity at all levels of football”.

“A cub, lion and lioness unite to form the new England Football crest with no boundaries; representing everyone at every level of football across the country,” a spokesman explained.

The three lions are in fact the Duchies of Normandy and Aquitaine plus the Kingdom of England. So, under the new dispensation who is the lion, who the babbie and who the pussy?

We can also ponder – there would be significant support in both Duchies for a war of freedom against Paris’ foul embrace….

That’s not a tough contest

The seat has switched from red to blue for the first time since the constituency was created. Jill Mortimer, the Tory candidate, was elected with 15,529 votes to Labour’s 8,589 votes.

Ms Mortimer said it was “a tough contest, but one that has been fought with dignity and respect”.

For a government in office at a byelection that is not a tough contest. Actually, at a GE that wouldn’t be considered tough although we’d probably expect turnout to be higher then.

It’s also a startling commentary on Ukip’s election strategy. The aim was, as you might recall, not to gain office but to leave the EU. Hartlepool was one of the most Ukip constituencies in the country. Rock solid Labour and yet very Ukip. The dual point being made was that sure, Brexit might make some Tories split away and damage Conservative hopes in the south. But oop north it was possible to damage Labour hopes the same way. That is, either major party – and who, really, cared which? – could gain electorally by picking up the Ukip policy of Brexit.

Which is exactly what has happened. Those who didn’t want it but accepted it once it happened have and are gaining seats as opposed to those still grumbling and hoping to reverse it. Ukip got what it wanted, Brexit. And as it sank in that this is what was happening that’s why the referendum took place.

Sure, it would have been much more fun to have won at Westminster and herded Mandelson, Hutton and MacShane into the auto da fe but the Ukip brand of politics was about the result, not the exercise of power.