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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Don’t be fooled by Eurosceptic ‘libertarians’…

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

…as they are just xenophobes.

This applies aptly to the Tory right and UKIP. Some might be theoretically libertarians but by calling for a withdrawal from the EU they cannot call themselves libertarians in practice.

The EU guarantees free trade, the basis for a free market, across member states. Freedom of movement for goods, capital and, most importantly, people.

Any renegotiation of Britain’s membership would precede the removal of these important contributing factors to the British economy.  Britain would become an isolated island with an increasingly discriminatory immigration system.

The EU is not perfect. Any one who says otherwise is deluded. However, it does lay an important foundation for the liberalisation of a global economy. The future of make-up of the world economy will likely be based on political and economic blocs – like the EU is. Like the USA technically is.

Once this shift has occurred free trade can take place between the blocs. It won’t happen in for a long time, but it will happen based on ongoing political and economic trends of co-operation at a supra-national level.

The right wing wish to prohibit this trend. A protectionist measure in the name of freedom.

 

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Infrastructure Investment: Privatisation

November 28, 2011 1 comment

George Osborne, ahead of Tuesday’s Autumn statement on the economy, has announced that there will be a £30bn investment in UK infrastructure. £25bn to come from pension funds and the China Investment Corporation and the remaining £5bn to be provided by central government funded by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

As a Keynesian, I favour a demand led approach but I also recognise that there is also a shortfall in the supply side, such as re-skilling of the unemployed. As Sam Bowman tweeted earlier: “Ha ha. £30 bn of infrastructure spending. Good one. That will help people to reskill for the future, won’t it? #jesuswept” I also recognise that the two are symbiotic, but that’s for another blogpost.

Investment in the UK infrastructure could be handled much better and it could also draw in more short-term capital for the Treasury. I’m referring to privatisation. Fixed Phone Lines, made of copper, need to be replaced by fibre optics to cope with increased demand on bandwidths due to a recent surge in people and products using and requiring broadband. BT currently has a de facto monopoly on this aspect of telecommunications infrastructure, with Virgin offering a cable based alternative in limited areas. The liberalisation that often comes with privatisation will provide more choice to the consumer, remove BT’s Universal Service Obligation as it has, in my opinion, failed in its obligation to provide access to advanced communications (broadband) across the nation, and create a more efficient broadband service thus aiding in growth.

Motorways could be sold off and made toll roads based on a Vignette. This would increase the immediate short-term access to capital that the UK government needs to reduce deficit and debt, remove its obligation for maintenance of the system and collect a revenue stream through a tax on the toll charges.

The attraction to these types of investment would be that the return of investment would be almost immediate and it would be of benefit to most of the citizens of this country. If the Chinese are looking to invest in the west, then the UK must be open to investment. With $410bn, that is a lot of capital to invest and the UK could do with all of it.

Retort to the Telegraph

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

On Friday, The Telegraph ‘reported’ on “Germany’s secret plans to derail a British referendum on the EU”. The plans aren’t that secret. The think tank, Open Europe, has provided an English translation of the document, entitled:  The future of the EU: Necessary integration policies for progress towards establishing a Stability union.

The document itself mainly concerns itself with changes to Article 126 of The Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. Article_126 is largely about maintaining a resemblance of balanced budgets amongst member states.

The document proposes that paragraph 10 of Article 126 be deleted. Paragraph 10 states “The rights to bring actions provided for in Articles 258 and 259 may not be exercised within the framework of paragraphs 1 to 9 of this Article.”

Article 258 and Article 259 deal with legal proceedings being brought against a member state by either another member state or the Commission if a Treaty is deemed to have been broken.  This would allow direct intervention into the affairs of the offending member state by the Commission or, in this case, a European ‘Stability Commissioner’.

The crux of The Telegraph’s argument comes as a note at the bottom of the penultimate page.

“Limiting the effect of the treaty changes to the Eurozone states would make ratification easier, which would nevertheless be required by all EU member states (thereby less referenda could be necessary, which could also affect the UK).”

The proposals in the document are a change to a part of a treaty which only affects Eurozone members. However, as all treaties have to be ratified by members of the EU Britain would need to ratify the changes. The changes would only affect Britain if it were to join the Eurozone.

I recall the public being offered a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU if there was a fundamental treaty change which affected its relationship with Europe. This proposed treaty change doesn’t affect Britain in the slightest.

The ECB won’t save the day, but Germany might

November 14, 2011 1 comment

As things stand in the Eurozone the European Central Bank (ECB) is incapable of providing the much needed status of Lender of Last Resort. It is prohibited from printing money by the Maastricht Treaty, but it is able to buy government bonds as part of its function to maintain price stability. As had been experienced last week when there was a run on Italian and Spanish bonds, the ECB bought bonds to force the price down, and thus stable (for a short period of time).

As has been pointed out by Paul Krugman, the crisis that is currently striking the Eurozone is a result of an imbalance of payments. Germany, thus, needs to spend. It’s very rarely that I praise George Osborne, but he has said:

“If you think of currency unions, here in the United Kingdom or in the United States, we do transfer money around the country in order to try and get greater equality in the economy. I’m afraid that needs to happen in the euro, because we are not there yet and the instability is having a huge effect.”

This is crucial for the survival of the Euro. A monetary union requires a fluid movement of capital across the union. So far, the Euro has been a disappoint. A monetary union without the necessary sacrifices to make it work. I believe it has only worked through a series of fortunate circumstances, such as a prolonged period of growth. 2008/9 was the the first time the Eurozone had experienced a recession in its 10 plus year history. Now that a sovereign debt crisis has struck the southern economies of Greece, Italy and company – which was created by the cheap and easy credit of the noughties – it is the first time where the Euro has been tested to its limits. Its limits have proven to be woefully weak.

But progress is being made, on the political stage. On Monday, at a Christian Democrat Union (CDU) Conference, Merkel was reported to have pressed for an economic and political union in the Eurozone. @EPPTweet tweeted earlier: RT @SMuresan#Merkel at #CDUpt11: “We have to complete monetary and economic union and pave the way for political union in #Europe” #epp

This is a step in the right direction, but there also remains a stumbling block – the German constitution. We shall see what happens, but progress is being made and the faults of the Euro are, apparently, in the process of being corrected.

 

Soon to be Dead Ed

On Thursday Ed Miliband defied the wishes of his paymasters and called the strikes a mistake and further claimed that the Basic State Pension is enough for everyone to survive on and didn’t know what all the fuss was about. He said this as he hoisted the Hammer and Sickle flag above his £1.6 million home near Hampstead Heath.

The Unions were fuming. With the usually docile ATL issuing a fatwa on Miliband’s head – dead or alive (preferably dead). A Unison representative said they gave life to Miliband and they ‘can take it away’. Bob Crow, of RMT fame, offered to ‘crack some f***ing nuts!”

Those on the right issued as statement in solidarity with Miliband, stating that it is ‘better to be dead than red’ whilst they visibly backed away from Mr. Miliband in case the angry mob turned on them after dealing with Miliband. Have fear right wingers, they’re after you too.

Some or all of this report may have been made up.

Obituary: Britannia

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The Great and ever victorious Britannia is dead. She will be mourned by a nation.

Britannia was born at the beginning of time to Europe and God. She was the outsider in her family, rejected by her jealous sisters for her ravishing beauty, her fierce temperament, and hips that would bear an Empire.

Every woman wanted to be her and every man wanted to be with her.

Her sister, Marianne, was, for a long time, jealous of Britannia. While Britannia had the beauty and the modesty Marianne was off cavorting with French peasants. Marianne wanted to be Britannia, but eventually she settled to be the fiery, less attractive sister who has a thing for short cowardly men, and a penchant for cheese.

She had relationships with many people; the longest on/off relationship was with Mister Conservative, though she had flings with Messrs Labour and Liberal. Mister Conservative was her favourite, and she his. They had their fallings out, as do all relationships. He cared for her like a gentle lover would. He gave her gifts, fed her grapes as she relaxed on the Chaise Longue, read to her. He made sweet, sweet love to her. It was a special relationship and from their communion many children were borne. When they argued, he was out of the House for a while, before she forgave him and invited him back – mainly for the sex.

But when they did have their arguments, there were always others to step into the gap Mister Conservative left. Those were namely Messrs Labour and Liberal. Mister Liberal was a timid lover who rarely showed any passion and drive that attracted Britannia. Love was made, but there wasn’t much in it. Mister Labour was the casual fling; she was the casual fling for him. He often neglected her and was often found in the embrace of other women, especially N.H. Service. But he was good to her when he was around, often buying her gifts and showing her the passion she craved. In the end she always went back to Mister Conservative.

Her downfall arrived on the 19th of October in the Two Thousand and Tenth Year of our Lord. Britannia was cruelly beaten to death by the man who claimed loved her, encouraged by his jealous business partner Mister Liberal Democrat.

It is a complicated tale to tell and not a pleasant outcome. Mister Liberal Democrat, having never experienced the taste of Britannia and never likely would do either, entered into a business arrangement with Mister Conservative after arrangements with Mister Labour collapsed. It was a good deal for Mister Conservative, he was back earning money and he was back in the embrace of his beloved Britannia. Jealous of what Mister Conservative had with Britannia, Mister Liberal Democrat began feeding Mister Conservative lies about Britannia and how she was some sort of cheap whore. These rumours remain as rumours, vile and malicious as they are. In a fit of rage, encouraged by Mister Liberal Democrat, Mister Conservative beat Britannia to death. Blinded her because she saw too much, gagged her because she threatened to speak up. Shield stolen so she could not defend herself and trident snapped so she could not attack back. All this was done in the presence of Mister Liberal Democrat who was shouting encouragement and lies while sadistically shaving Britannia’s lion. If that was not enough, they maimed her three sons. The oldest, Royal Navy was drowned before being crippled. He is still in intensive care. Her middle child, Army, was up in arms about the commotion before he too was bloodied and crippled. He may never walk again. The youngest, Royal Air Force was quiet throughout, but he did not escape the carnage. He had his wings clipped and his aspirations of becoming a pilot may never happen.

Shocked at what happened, Mister Conservative broke down in tears and began blaming Mister Liberal Democrat. Mister Liberal Democrat, with his silken tongue, convinced him to blame it on Mister Labour’s neglect that ultimately led to her ‘suicide’. Fortunately for justice the plot was foiled. Messrs Conservative and Liberal Democrat were not available for comment at the time of printing.

Britannia is survived by many, many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc., etc.

Britannia, born when time began, died 19/10/10, aged ageless.

Generation of the damned

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The Coalition’s recent announcement of cuts to the Benefit system, coupled with perceived cuts to the public sector and welfare state in the October Spending Review has damned an entire generation to relative poverty and poor prospects.

It is a well known principle that investment in the welfare state and education can enable individuals to remove themselves from the poverty cycle. As has been discussed in a previous post: you are only as rich as your poorest citizen. The cuts seek to trap our poorest citizens in the poverty cycle without any means to remove themselves.

The Conservatives, especially Cameron, hark on about Broken Britain. Britain is not broken, but it soon will be. It is also well known that anti-social behaviour and general social ills are created and fuelled by poverty, bear in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule. So to ‘fix’ broken Britain what is needed is investment in education, as the great liberator, and welfare to work schemes as well as maintaining the welfare and universal benefit system – means testing might be a better option than an arbitrary reduction.

The ‘Free’ schools are another name for Grammar Schools but free from state control and therefore able to select pupils thus further damning children from poor areas. I, separate from Oldfield-Pike, advocate a fully comprehensive education system so that there is not two-tiers within the education system.

The perceived result of the Browne Review, set to announce tuition fees to £10,000, coupled with the governments reduction in funding for Higher Education will inhibit the majority from applying to go to University and will reduce the calibre of the institutions for those that do. Now, more than ever, do we, as a country, need to push for greater investment in education or we risk falling behind the rest of the world in teaching and research.

The Coalition government wants to get people into work and off the benefit system but the way they are approaching it can only spell disaster. The welfare to work programmes have been scrapped which means relying on the voluntary sector to provide the programmes through the ‘Big Society’, but, because public spending is being cut across the board, there is not any money for charities etc. to provide for these welfare to work schemes thus trapping them in the poverty cycle with their children and their children’s children ad infinitum.