At the Cliff Edge – Part Three

Over Edge Part Three – the New Model (Economic) Army Addendum – 16th January 2019 Following the devastating defeat for the ‘May Brexit Plan’, the rejection of the futile scheme now means we have gone over the cliff. As the political consequences tumble from the Westminster table to the floor of the House, we will be left with a representative process itself unable to function, I suspect. It is this calamity that is undemocratic, not the cries from the right of the Tory Party that the previous questioning and seeking clarity has been claimed, in their eyes. From the wasted, vast public expenditure spent in pursuit of narrow, partisan political ideological aims, to the new understanding by the majority of the population around the consequences and the complexity of misunderstood and ineffective negotiation on our behalf – now is the time to abandon the sly scheming of the Bullingdon Club as national policy and to reaffirm our collaborative, humanitarian commitment to the European project. Or, at the very least to hold a new referendum to re-assert the will of the people, now a referendum of informed choice, to decide our fate collectively. Without either, I would argue, there is no hope of a new socio-economic plan, as detailed below, in our increasingly isolated, beleaguered island. ‘…we argue that the UK must now embrace change on a sufficient scale to achieve ‘escape velocity’ from an economy that delivers neither prosperity nor justice, to one that achieves both. We face a decade…

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As we hurtle towards the edge of the cliff…

‘This statement is all about party political management of the factions in the Tory party – the national interest is a very poor second. What an utter shambles‘…Chuka Umunna‏Verified account @ChukaUmunna Oct 15 In a sense, in the midst of a gargantuan flow of promises, policy revision and idealogical selfishness, then it doesn’t really matter what the statement mentioned above is all about. Umunna’s tweet is a metaphor for a wider socio-political discontent. History is the important context, or rather, a lack of it and a missing sensibility to previous disastrous political outcomes. Umunna’s opinion captures a general sweep of unease with both major parties – over Brexit, the political operational vacuum at the heart of Westminster because of it, and all the ancillary debates, gesture politics and posturing that diminishes compassionate, effective government. As I emerge from my period of grief over the Europe debacle, I look back in a deeply personal reflection across the current landscape. Post the ‘Referendum of Mis-information’ and having taken the family to Europe, France and Holland, to explore new places to live and new bases for our small  businesses, they have taken the opportunity to decline relocation as a solution to my European malaise. I remain deeply pessimistic about their future, and that of their children, as a result of a party political ‘manoeuvre’ of the deepest national and international significance, a word described in the dictionary as ‘…to move skilfully and carefully‘. In this case, history here may not be kind. In the here…

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The Moral Matrix and 2017

Jonathan Haidt in this 2008 talk explores the constraints and tensions in the moral psychology of left and right. He uses the context of the American political system and discusses primary moral principles, which for us in the UK, can be seen as a proxy equating to Labour and Conservative ideologies. Given the tensions within the Labour Party at present, given the divisions created by the referendum on Europe last year, there is a merit in revisiting these earlier Haidt arguments, touching as he does on freedom, rights, power and dissent. You can see the full TED talk from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, below… Source: In the talk, leavened with an easy humour, it is easy to see identifiable Labour Party sterotypes, as well as those of the Tory persuasion. The left enjoy open-ness, change and commitment to the future well-being of others. Those of the right, in this model, cleave more strongly to notions of order, and acceptance of the suffering of some, to achieve their world vision. Haidt’s arguments about the five principal moral values that determine our political allegiance do bear subtler fruit after reflection. However, there is a more complex truth illustrated at play within and relevant to the UK Left, I would argue. There are certainly those of the left who are adherents of open-ness, change and collaborative development. The countervailing position, arguably, is reflected in the matter of the Labour…

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Film, art, reality and Ken Loach

  Embed from Getty Images  From Jarrow into the future, the never-ending march!   Spending time and resources on re-location, post referendum, has been an interesting, if difficult,  process over the summer. France has been a comfortable destination, both in terms of culture and prospective places to live. Now we have now widened our search, however, to scope projects in the cities of Rotterdam and Dublin. Both seem to offer a more supportive context for a refreshed approach to developing a social business project list, and a settled philosophical face to permanent membership of Europe. Progress reports of our search for a compassionate community in the EU, as they emerge… This has not been a brake, however, on engagement with the artistic and political culture of England. I saw two films riven with political angst and declarative for reform over this week. Below is a commentary on that viewing. Adam Curtis has delivered a provocative new film, HyperNormalisation, which seeks to show how the emergence of inward looking, technology driven, private banks and corporations have essentially subsumed the power of government, in the widest possible sense of a world with only a pretence of accountablity. The film tracks a development arc from the 1970’s onwards which shows the rise of ‘big data’ and it’s secret storage and manipulation, and how this, coupled to a capricious and opportunistic political class, had traded allegiances and money whilst dissolving their ability to solve societal problems. You can see this challenging and sometimes disturbing…

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BHS – the Parliamentary Report

If you are in business, this BHS Parliamentary Report makes for a very depressing read. It combines a narrative of weak governance and the exercise of singular personal influence that is breathtaking. The Committee make some sweeping assertions, however, about the nature of ‘business’ in the UK, which to this reader, do not perhaps reflect the true state of a wider ‘moral’ commercial landscape extant in the presently configured UK. It gives little regard, I would argue, for the good work and innovative governance practice delivered by the social business market, the ethical investment marketplace and the community endeavour or social enterprise sectors. In the UK good practice abounds, but it was not prowling the corridors of BHS at the appropriate time nor, allegedly, had the fearless support of a company management team that were vigorous and rigorous in pursuit of  customer care, employee development and growth and tilted all energy towards a cohort of pensioners, upon whose expertise and life work in the company, these missed opportunities were nurtured through time. ‘We chose to investigate BHS because it encapsulated many of our ongoing concerns about the regulatory and cultural framework in which business operates, including the ethics of business behaviour, the governance of private companies, the balance between risk and reward, mergers and acquisitions practices, the governance and regulation of workplace pension schemes, and the sustainability of defined benefit pensions…’ Source: First Report of the Work and Pensions Committee and Fourth Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee…

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Struggle is the reality!

The mainstream press and right wing political opinion would have us believe that Britain is a nation of millionaires, with a quest to hermetically seal our borders, to the detriment of our trading efficacy, and that individual choice from a menu of abundance is the default position for all ‘hard-working’ families and households in the UK. How wrong can they be? The reality for many working families is that choice does not exist and resources do not, under any prevailing economic conditions, match aggregate demand as a household unit. (‘…my income does not even cover my rent…’ a plaintive comment in this film from the Labour Party…). Policies of austerity and the tolerance of vast inequality in social and economic matters create voices of despair in our communities. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to the Keynesian interventions in the rebuilding of Europe after devastatingly destructive war and resource depletion, the solution to a fairer, more compassionate and prosperous society is spending on public infrastructure, with that infrastructure in public ownership, and the creation of economic motive and delivery that sees the redistribution of wealth, not downwards for the few, but upwards for the many…vote Labour and change the model!  

Economic apocalypse? …a versioning

Embed from Getty Images  Afloat in the economic ocean?   Are we heading for a new depression, economic collapse or is the ‘great recovery’ under way? Thomas Carlyle is credited, in reference to the work of Malthus, as characterising economics as a ‘dismal science’. The truth appears to be more prosaic. Carlyle was, in fact, writing about the promotion of slavery, the better to regulate labour and markets. Read more here. A wonderful example of how pragmatic economic theory changes over time. Not to say that sometimes the moral ascendancy can triumph over cash! It is ironic that economists, in wrangling with future financial forecasts, gambling in all but name in a free market, should so often be wrong or just plain at odds with each other. In this short article we look a set of distinct economic analysis, leaving it to the reader to cleave to the one most favoured. What does the future really hold, perhaps we will only know when we get there? In the mainstream: Weekly Economics Podcast on Twitter: www.twitter.com/weeklyeconpod Olivier Vardakoulias Twitter: www.twitter.com/o_vardakoulias Kirsty Styles on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirstystyles1 This is is the first of a revised New Economics Foundation weekly podcast on matters economic, always available on SoundCloud. The message from economist Olivier Vardakoulias is cogent, articulate and persuasive. It tracks the major players and movements in world commodity and financial affairs across the coming year, but it does not question the veracity or effectiveness of the market mechanism, nor does it decline to…

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A message from Jeremy Corbyn

The latest TV broadcast message from the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has just been made available on-line. Jeremy speaks, as always, with conviction, calmness and certitude. In the short film below he highlights both recent victories for communities and individuals, but goes on to present a clear position on community support, education, health and social care. It is this calm clarity, we would argue, that as leader of the Party, is one of the most important characteristics that Jeremy brings to the policy development debate. It is not the clamour of ideological disruption, but a process of consultative, active listening. You can join the Labour Party here.