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Speaker: Britain: the crisis isn't Brexit, it's Labour

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  • Tom Semmens,

    Much has been made of the Syrian civil war as being the first war triggered by climate change, and I wonder if it isn't to long a bow to draw to suggest the ongoing crisis in the UK isn't symptomatic of resource depletion, a century of economic mismanagement, and over-population? The last great natural resource of the UK, oil, came on stream in force in 1976 and production began to decline in 1999, with the UK becoming an energy importer again in 2005. Although gas allowed another peak in 2008, production has been in steep decline since then, with the cost of extraction soaring.

    Oil revenue finally ended the chronic balance of payments problem that had bedevilled the country since the 1920s. This past forty years of an oil revenue bonanza has also coincided with forty years of neoliberalism in the UK. Basically, that means UK failed to invest in infrastructure and has thrown away it's oil revenue, spending it on tax cuts, weapons, and buying off mass unrest from the de-industrialisation of the Midlands and North in the drive to ensure London retained it's position as the financial capital of the world.

    Since the UK began importing energy again in 2005, the balance of payments problem has returned and debts run up as a result of the GFC bailouts cannot be repaid.

    Effectively, the UK is now over-populated, unable to provide enough work for everyone, ethnically and politically polarised and as broke as it was in the crisis ridden early 1970s. These are intractable problems well beyond the ability of the UKs corrupt and decadent ruling class, which has failed every economic test since the 1870s, to deal with.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Effectively, the UK is now over-populated, unable to provide enough work for everyone, ethnically and politically polarised and as broke as it was in the crisis ridden early 1970s.

    I'd say all of that is true, on the proviso that you accept neoliberalism and its model of how they run their country. It's only overpopulated on the assumption that there is only so much work to go around, and that work is the only way that wealth should be redistributed, and that debt/equity ratios and balances of trade are the measure of how broke you are. In that case, yes, all your conclusions are correct.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Northshoreguynz, in reply to BenWilson,

    My simplistic answer would be to tax the wealthy to the hilt and institute a UBI.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2014 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    the Syrian civil war as being the first war triggered by climate change

    I'd consider the causes stem from the west and Russia historically supporting dictatorial government in development countries in order to keep them under "control".

    Then the US got fed up with one of these clients (Saddam) and invaded Iraq, creating a radicalised islamic insurgency in the region. They then compounded this by encouraging popular revolts against their former autocratic clients, which were then largely usurped (in Syria at least) by those radical islamists.

    I don't think this has much to do with climate change. If anything, if the US cared about climate change, they'd structure their economy to not use (imported) oil and thus would no longer care about the Middle East and would refrain from involvement there?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    Lol and the Guardian headline and slant:
    Labour donor pledges to stand against Corbyn in general election

    If he doesn't stand down, I'll run against him! Foster says.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Watching a year old podcast with Armando Iannuci and he basically says he doesn’t know who to vote for. There are 3 Labour parties and 4 Conservative parties, and that the electoral system is broken. The Conservatives can win and have absolute power with 36% of the vote, which means there was 64% against he says. Openly admits voting LibDem in 2010 so that’s not a surprise I guess.

    Which is kind of what I was arguing. The system is unable to respond to the upheavals and differences.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    Ken Loach's 2013 Documentary The Spirit of '45

    Details
    Tuesday, May 9 at 7 PM - 10 PM
    Joint event co-hosted by the Canterbury Socialist Society and the NZ Fabian Society screening Ken Loach's 2013 Documentary "The Spirit of '45'".

    Through a collection of interviews and archival footage, Ken Loach explores the landslide electoral victory of the UK Labour Party in 1945 that helped establish the post-war consensus, the welfare state, and the nationalisation of certain industries. "The Spirit of '45" looks at the legacy of this period, the strengths and weaknesses, and is instructive for audiences today in how a somewhat ambitious - though no doubt flawed - Keynesian Social Democratic programme gained enormous popular support within the British working class.

    The evening is open to all who are interested, and is being held in the wonderful Space Academy - 371 St Asaph Street (between Fitzgerald Ave and Barbadoes St - opposite Galaxy and the Dark Room). Admission is free, and the evening will run as follows:

    7pm - Brief welcome and introduction
    7.10-8 - Part one of the film
    8-8.15 - Intermission
    8.15-9 - Part two of the film

    Afterwards attendees are welcome to stay and mingle, discuss the film, have a beer and chat.

    [Event image: Poster from the Labour Party campaign, 1945]

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall,

    Attachment

    Excellent graphic in the FT today showing voting intentions since last election.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Moz,

    That sounds a lot like the bits of Scottish Labour that collapsed so thoroughly in recent years. I'm not sure how true is is London though, as I think the vast majority of central/middle London constituencies will have Labour 2000-4000 members each, with those numbers weakening the further out one gets. So one could assume that there is a reasonably active local democracy within many of those parties as it would be harder to exclude that. One also hears regular accounts of fighting at the Ward level too between various factions and groups.

    By comparison other parties are much smaller, in terms of membership. Some of the London Lib Dem constituency parties are starting to get quite big now but they are coming from such a low base that it'll probably be a new local party in all but name. The biggest LD CP i've heard of has about 1300 members and they are not really running a proper race as the local MP, so they send their keen volunteers around to other constiuencies in their part of London

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Andrews,

    Good to see all the predictions like this one were wrong. I hope the numerous commentators making these predictions look again at the detail and context rather than the opinion polls and the red tops. There was a lot in the polls, the campaign, and previous experiences around Brexit, Sanders, and Trump to give wiser heads pause for thought. Maybe better thought out comment from the commentators would give us a better understanding of where we are actually at in terms of politics and democracy - instead we get ill informed pieces such as this one providing no insight as to what the actual state of the polity is.

    London • Since Apr 2017 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Attachment

    Yeah, I think the OP could win some kind of award for outstanding un-prescience.

    And I'm loving the irony that following one of the charges on Corbyn's indictment being support for a terrorist-linked political party, May now depends for her majority on, guess what, a terrorist-linked political party.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yeah, I think the OP could win some kind of award for outstanding un-prescience.

    To be fair, none of the liberal bourgeoisie echo chamber picked up any hint of the outcome.

    To me, the outstanding thing about the Labour campaign was firstly how accurately they summed up their chances within the existing neo liberal straight jacket and secondly how they parlayed that no chance into a high risk strategy to smash out of the neo liberal straight jacket. They knew they had no chance, so they went for the doctor with their manifesto and attacked conventional wisdom. Bold and visionary and hopeful to the point of madness, but it worked.

    The contrast with the Labour party here is painful. You would have to go a long way to find an organisation with a more pathetic collection of talentless and listless bourgeoisie losers. Where Corbynistas smashed the straight jacket, Little Labour welcomes it's embrace. Where U.K. Labour is bold, NZ Labour is timid. Where U.K. Labour is visionary, NZ's seeks nothing but managerialism. About the only thing they have in common is hope, although in NZ's case it is hope they'll make until next year.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    The other quite-reasonable assumption in the original post, unquestioned by anybody else at the time, is that May would run a competent campaign. One should expect nothing less from a PM self-branding as “strong and stable government”. Instead, the wheels fell off and rolled in all directions.

    National is hardly likely to hand Labour a gift like that in September. Indeed, depressingly, it’s Labour that seems incapable of cohesive messaging or organisation. Witness the international student debacle, which (however unfairly, given it was basically Matt McCarten’s project) paints Labour as hopelessly shambolic: unable to properly look after 85 students, let alone an entire country -- and unable to see the contradiction involved in using international student volunteers to help campaign on ... reducing numbers of international students.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    The other quite-reasonable assumption in the original post, unquestioned by anybody else at the time, is that May would run a competent campaign.

    My feeling was that this failure was at least as responsible, if not more, for the outcome as any genuine improvement in Labour's outreach and messaging. Put together, we got an unusual event happening at what is a very unusual time. That the whole point of the election was never publicly discussed was a huge tactical fail on the part of the Tories, but then that boils down to the snap election itself being a fail. If they wanted to get their mandate straight, another referendum would have done the job much more straightforwardly, without screwing the Tories out of their ability to now actually manage the country. Preferably before they invoked Article 50. But this is all spilled milk, both for them and for the country (more so for the country, really - the Tories will always recover at some point, but I can't see rejoining the EU as an kind of certainty).

    Yeah, it's different here in every way. Thank the stars. I'm definitely not looking at Britain and wishing we could import their politics on the strength of that election. The only glimmer of hope is that it crumbles even harder and flips leadership. Awesome. Good times.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Think most of what the original post said is still acceptable - so far as criticisms of Corbyn are concerned anyway. However the victory of Labour and Corbyn especially in beating the extremely low expectations we all had is certainly not foreseen here.

    It's a bit like Trump in some ways - Corbyn's style of campaigning actually works in some situations and GE2017 was one of those situations. It's not the kind of campaigning that UK is used to (outside of his leadership campaigns) or indeed NZ, so that makes it very hard for people to understand or accept that it might be effective.

    The post also didn't know the Labour Manifesto and therefore couldn't appreciate how well received quite radical offers were with large parts of the electorate (e.g. the £10 minimum wage and no student fees).

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    U.K. Labour is bold.... U.K. Labour is visionary

    Well, just like the curate's egg, certain parts are. UK Labour is not united at the moment. The Blairite Progress wing are very quiet at the moment, and managed to keep their gobs shut in the election run-up, but spent most of the time before that relentlessly briefing against Corbyn and fighting with the generally Corbyn-supporting Momentum wing*. But they're still there, and now that the election is over, they've started attempting to reassert control. Because who doesn't love a good in-fight, eh? Everyone remembers Barcelona '37 with great fondness, right?

    There's also been some reports of friction during the election campaign itself between Momentum and Corbyn's team, with local Momentum groups essentially ignoring or overriding the central command and running their own campaigns (and getting better results because of it).

    *should probably also point out that Momentum is also not formally/technically part of the UK Labour party

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    My feeling was that this failure was at least as responsible, if not more, for the outcome as any genuine improvement in Labour's outreach and messaging.

    I've said several times, on this site and elsewhere, that governments lose elections just as much, if not more so, than oppositions win them. It's always a cause of slightly frustated amusement when the usual talking heads pop up for the post-match washup to talk unchallenged about how it was their brilliant strategies and winning ways and those alone that brought victory.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Ben Austin,

    It’s a bit like Trump in some ways – Corbyn’s style of campaigning actually works in some situations and GE2017 was one of those situations.

    Some of the conclusions being made aren't necessarily based on much.

    I found this on the US election quite interesting:

    Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond

    Since Nov 2016 • 356 posts Report Reply

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