Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The British Left, the EU and some Ruminations on British Politics

Finally, some on the mainstream British Left are starting to get that the EU is a disastrous anti-democratic enterprise inimical to the Left, as reported here:
Owen Jones, “The Left must put Britain’s EU withdrawal on the Agenda,” Guardian, 15 July, 2015.
It is about time too.

Owen Jones hits the nail on the head when he points out in this article that the EU Fiscal Compact (or the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union) of 2012 effectively imposed a ban on stimulative Keynesian economic policy in many Eurozone countries.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up, however, given how incompetent New Labour and many on the mainstream Left are about economics. Many of them endorse some slightly less offensive version of neoliberalism, which is only marginally better than what is offered by Conservatives.

It is obvious now that those on the heterodox economic Left (without going to the extremes of Marxism) who really were, or have been, prescient about the disaster of the EU and the Eurozone have been certain Post Keynesians (e.g., the late Wynne Godley here and here) and, above all, the Modern Monetary Theorists (MMTers). On reflection, some of best criticism of the outrageous stupidity of the EU and the Eurozone has come from the MMT economist Bill Mitchell on his Billy Blog.

Bill Mitchell has another fine analysis of the EU mess today here.

In Britain, the most eloquent and respected left-wing opponent of the economic follies of the EU in British politics was the late Tony Benn. Here he is below speaking out against the EU in the video below.

As we can see, Tony Benn’s strongest argument against the EU (which is absolutely right) is that it is fundamentally anti-democratic. Alas, the towering figure of Tony Benn is long gone from British politics.

Who has the British left got now? A lot of useless New Labour politicians who don’t inspire much confidence, who are the heirs of the New Labour war criminals of the last decade. One rather amusing analysis of the moral bankruptcy of New Labour on its war criminality I have seen recently comes from the idiosyncratic Conservative Peter Hitchens, in the video below.

It is also a scandal beyond words that the only really effective person in British politics who expresses the type of views that Tony Benn expressed above in opposition to the EU is Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party, as we see in the video below which is now many years old.

One has to give credit where credit is due to Farage on some issues. But on economics UKIP is strangely schizophrenic. Farage speaks of leaving the EU and of the benefits of stimulus but at the same time UKIP appears to support its own harsh version of neoliberalism and privatisation.

UKIP is essentially the re-emergence of the old Conservative Thatcherite anti-EU mentality, and if the British Left cannot provide an alternative anti-EU political platform with Keynesian and social democratic economics it risks becoming even more bankrupt than it already is. It also risks having more of its votes stolen from it by UKIP, as happened to some extent in the last election.


  1. Can't one be in support of privatization and stimulus simultaneously?

  2. Great topic, LK. I wrote about this myself.

  3. As I noted in my post for the most part in Britain and most of Europe, alas. leftists are reflexively pro-EU.

    It's conservatives like Ambrose Prtichard who have spoken out most eloquently about it.

    It seems to me that part of the problem is that in Britain the left is so demoralized that they almost seem to need the fantasy that 'Europe' will save them from David Cameron.

    Angela Merkel to the rescue!

    The piece by Jones I notice got a lot of push back from other leftists as I documented in the link above.

  4. Then again, Britain is in a mess that the EU surely can't save them from. With the push for Scottish independence Britain itself may not be around too much longer.

    Labor is in big trouble with the SNP threat. If Scotland were to leave what is left of Britain will probably vote Tory every time-thanks to England.

    Labor may go the way of the Liberal party in the 30s