Thursday, 23 November 2017

Is Rebecca Pow really so out-of-touch that she thinks people are better off than ever?

When the Tory MP Rebecca Pow intervened in John McDonnell's parliamentary speech to make the ridiculous assertion that "people have more money than ever" McDonnell replied in a very polite manner.

He calmly pointed out the horrifying fact that there are 4 million kids growing up in poverty in the United Kingdom, and the majority of them actually come from working families.

That the working poor make up the majority of people living in poverty in austerity Britain should be common knowledge, but thanks to the complicity of the mainstream media, uncomfortable facts like this are barely mentioned outside of left-wing independent media sites and in the slew of damning reports on the sheer scale of the problem from the likes of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Child Poverty Action Group and the Resolution Foundation.

It doesn't matter how much we try to raise awareness of child poverty and in-work poverty, there's always some wealthy insulated Tory around to pretend that things are fantastic, and that we've actually "never had it so good".

The problem for Rebecca Pow is that the Tory budget is full of explicit admissions that Tory austerity dogma is failing Britain, and failing British workers.

Aside from the downgrades in the UK economic growth forecasts, deficit reduction, and productivity, there's also a damning admission that the (already record-breaking) squeeze on UK workers' wages is set to continue into the next decade.

This means that the real value of workers' wages is not going to return to 2007 levels until early 2025.

That's an astounding 17 year period of zero real terms wage growth.

That's a generation of workers who have had their earning potential cruelly and deliberately blighted for the most productive years of their careers as a result of ruinous Tory austerity dogma.

Instead of progressing up the pay scale like previous generations did, millions have been trapped in low-pay insecure work without a decent pay rise in years, meaning they're actually worse off now in real terms than they were a decade ago.

It doesn't matter how many jokes and jolly japes the Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond padded out his "banter budget" with, the economic prognosis for the UK is absolutely dire, especially for ordinary working people.

The really sad thing is that millions of working people are so immune to reality that they'll actually believe the likes of Rebecca Pow and the right-wing propaganda merchants when they tell them that the Tories are doing a fantastic job and that they've never had it so good.

They'll forget all about the fact they haven't had a real pay rise in years; their nephew being exploited in the fake self-employment gig economy while their boss hides all the profits in tax havens; their niece on a dead end zero hours contract bringing her daughter up in grinding poverty; their mother being denied the social care she paid for with a whole lifetime of National Insurance contributions; the ever-worsening chaos in their local hospital; their neighbour forced to go through humiliation after humiliation to obtain the disability benefits they deserve ... because they keep on reading what a spiffing job the Tories are doing of running the economy in the pages of the S*n/Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph.

People like this will never read about how Philip Hammond's "banter budget" extends the Tory wage squeeze to 17 years, the dire state of the UK productivity crisis, or the soaring rates of child poverty and in-work poverty, because the Tory party rely on the ignorance of the masses to get away with what they do, and the right-wing press dutifully foster ignorance by not giving these vitally important issues anything like the coverage they deserve.

Until ordinary working people stop reading the right-wing propaganda rags, and stop uncritically believing Tory politicians when they defy reality by claiming that people have more money than ever, it's difficult to see how things can actually get better.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Enough with the wilfully out-of-context bragging already

The Conservatives absolutely love to use the impressive-sounding big number technique to bamboozle the gullible into believing that they're doing a great job.

On the face of it Philip Hammond's budget announcement that 1.1 million new houses have been built since they came to power in 2010 sounds good, but only if you completely ignore all context.

In reality, far from being something to boast about, this level of house building is actually the lowest since 1924.

What's even worse is that the Tories have delivered this piteously low level of house building at a time of extremely high housing demand.

Despite their ludicrous pledge to reduce net immigration to below 100,000 the Tories actually oversaw the biggest inwards surge of migration ever, peaking at 336,000 in 2015.

Immigration in itself is not harmful, but if the government of the day does not account for it by increasing housing stock appropriately and by improving and expanding local services in areas that experience high population growth, then it obviously creates problems.

Not only did the Tories fail to deliver the level of required house building to cope with their immigration surge, they also set about gutting funding for local infrastructure and services out of ideological adherence to ruinous austerity dogma.

Then there are other factors to consider too. Demographic changes and lifestyle changes mean that home occupancy rates have been declining for decades, with more people choosing to live alone, and fewer large (and extended) families occupying a single home. This means we need more houses per head of population these days.


 The result of the Tories' woeful mismanagement of the housing sector means that house prices have risen to their most unaffordable levels ever, and soared miles out of the reach of millions of ordinary working people.

In the context of such a severe housing crisis the presentation of out-of-context figures as some kind of great achievement is a massive slap in the face for the millions of ordinary working people who have been locked out of the housing market and been left to the mercy of the virtually unregulated profiteers in the private rental sector.

What's even worse is that when the Tories had the chance to help people stuck in the private rental sector out a bit, they callously voted against measures to ensure that all rented properties are "fit for human habitation".

In the end it's all just Tory smoke and mirrors. They don't really give a crap that home ownership rates have absolutely collapsed for the under-40s. They're much more interested in stoking house price inflation in order to benefit the older generations of home owners, and protecting the value of the buy-to-let property portfolios built up by the idle rentier class.

So just imagine the contempt Philip Hammond and his scrip-writers must have for the younger generations who have been priced out of home ownership that they imagine they can be duped into supporting the Tory party with such an absurd display of wilfully out-of-context bragging.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Who is actually laughing at funny ol' Phil's "Banter Budget" japes?

Oh how the Tory front bench laughed at all the jolly japes in funny ol' Phil's "banter budget". Jeremy Clarkson jokes, digs at Labour and the trade unions, "I'm a Celebrity" references, and Theresa May wielding cough sweets as if her cough was the only lame thing about her dire conference speech in October.

If you ever needed evidence that the Tories are a bunch of massively over-privileged toffs who treat the job of running our economy like some kind of private school lark, then this budget speech was it.

UK growth forecasts down by £44 billion by 2021; the Tories missing their target to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015 by even further than they admitted they were in March 2017; no resolution in sight to the productivity crisis; slashed pay growth forecasts; another £3 billion spunked on the Tory Brexit farce; a catastrophic slump in home ownership; vast trade deficits; the first OBR economic forecast ever to predict below 2% growth until the forecast horizon ...

One of the big figures not many people have picked up on is the revised £25.8 billion increase in the projected borrowing figures because the OBR are finally beginning to accept that their hyper-optimistic productivity projections of the last seven years are nowhere near the austerity era trend. As you can see from the chart above it's the first time they've not assumed that productivity is due to return to the pre-crisis trend, but they've still only halved their unrealistic expectations, rather than matching them to the dreadful almost zero improvement trend during the whole Tory austerity era.

There's always the fake good news to look out for in a government budget, and this time around it was Hammond's claim that debt as a percentage of GDP has already peaked in 2016-17 instead of continuing to rise until the end of this financial year, which has apparently only been managed by sneakily hiding £60 billion worth of social housing debt off the public balance sheet.

Not only was the budget another admission of the failure of Tory austerity dogma, their unwillingness to properly fund our vital public services, and the economic folly of Brexit, but there was very little in it to sweeten the bitter pill for people who are really struggling.

Hammond's "millenial railcard" is an absolute scam of a bribe given that it won't apply during commuter hours, and isn't available to the over-30s who have endured a 27% hike in rip-off rail fares since 2010 (double the rate of wage increases) and are now facing the biggest rail fare hike in five years in January.

In fact I'm fairly sure that for every gullible under-30 who is duped into voting Tory with this scam of a railcard, there will be half a dozen over-30s who realise that a railcard they're not even entitled to claim is insufficient compensation for having had the most productive work years of their lives blighted by the effects of Tory austerity dogma.

On the housing crisis Hammond gushed about the Tory policy of stoking house price inflation by pumping £billions into their Help to Buy scam, and reiterated the same old Tory gubbins about how they aspire to increase house building rates, with no acknowledgement whatever that between 2010 and 2017 they oversaw the lowest level of new house building since the early 1920s.

Then there was the announcement that the Tory benches really cheered. Abolition of Stamp Duty for first time buyers of properties worth up to £300,000, which will cheer younger people with enough cash to actually buy a house, but mean nothing to the millions who have been priced way out of the market. To them it's obviously just another Tory giveaway to the already quite well-to-do.

It's also worth noting that the Stamp Duty cut for first time buyers is projected to increase house prices, pushing them even further out of reach of those who are priced out of the property market.

On homelessness Hammond pledged to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027 without even a hint of an admission that rough sleeping rates have doubled on the Tory watch since 2010.

Even when it came to the NHS, Hammond fell short of providing the £4 billion emergency funding that the health service chief Simon Stevens had called for.

It's difficult not to see the headline pledge of £350 extra for the NHS for the entire 2017-18 winter period as a deliberate insult, given that several of his front bench colleagues promised that exact figure of £350 million for the NHS per week, not per winter.

George Osborne's approach to budget day used to be that it was better to distract the plebs with trivia like a penny off the price of beer or a ludicrous tax on pasties (that he could row back on later in the week) than to have them thinking too much about the dire state of the economy, or the way he was continually missing all of his economic predictions.

Hammond's approach is different. He thinks the proles can be distracted by Jeremy Clarkson puns and oh so witty "I'm a Celebrity" references, but given the absolute state of the UK economy these days, most people will conclude that funny ol' Phil has badly misjudged the mood of the nation with his 'banter budget' full of jolly jokes and japes.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


About that Kantar poll result right-wing Twitter is having a collective orgasm over

One of the standout lessons we should all have learned from the 2017 General Elections is that most of the polling companies got the result spectacularly wrong.

Aside from Survation who called in almost spot on, the rest of the big polling companies ranged from poor to absolutely woeful. The final result was 42% - 40% for the Tories, but in the final week most of the big polling companies totally embarrassed themselves by predicting landslide Tory victories. Yougov predicted a +7 point win for the Tories, Ipsos Mori and Panelbase went +8, ComRes went +10, ICM went +12, and BMG went +13.

We now know that they called the election so wrong because they weighted their results on the assumption that the younger generations wouldn't be arsed to get out and vote, an assumption that was destroyed by Labour's spectacularly successful online campaigning, and their decision to actually offer a manifesto of hope for the younger generations.

Fast forward five months to November 2017 and right-wing Twitter suddenly erupted into a massive collective orgasm over a Kantar poll showing a 4 point poll lead for the Tories.

From "centrist dad" Blairite types through to the toxic new Tory Blue-kip Tory demographic, it seemed that every right-wing Twitter account I followed was suddenly pushing this outlier poll result.

I thought the result was more than a bit odd, so I decided to have a look at Kantar's polling methodology to find out how they generated this result. The first thing to note is that their unweighted results actually showed a Labour lead, but the real kicker is the way they simply decided to ignore what happened at the 2017 general election completely, and predict a pitiful 19% turnout for the 18-24 age group, and a feeble 37% turnout for the 25-34 group.

So the only way they managed to generate such a positive poll result for the Tories was by assuming that the 2017 General Election didn't actually happen, and that the massive surge of support for Labour amongst the under-50s is suddenly going to dissipate back to nothing.

Kantar have publicly shamed themselves by using such an obviously outdated and inaccurate methodology in order to generate an outlier poll result, but one of the most interesting things is the way that the flood of right-wingers who shared this absurd rigged poll didn't even have a "that's odd" moment, and didn't bother to even remotely investigate how such an outlier result was created before they reposted it on Twitter with their snarky anti-Corbyn / anti-Labour jibes.

They just loved the rigged poll result because it confirmed their personal biases, and shared it without bothering to look into the details at all, which means they've all embarrassed themselves just as much as the Kantar pollsters who cobbled this pitiful nonsense together in the first place.

The whole episode just goes to show the incredible levels of reality-aversion some people are suffering, from the Kantar pollsters who used such an embarrassingly out of date methodology, to the unthinking right-wing Twitter mob who unquestioningly Tweeted it out because it confirmed their personal political biases.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Why economic suicide is a bad idea

It seems such a ridiculous thing to have to explain, but the outburst of Twitter outrage over the failure of Ian Murray's economic suicide amendment kind of makes it necessary to explain why economic suicide is actually a bad idea.

The likes of ex-Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron and the usual suspects from the Labour right bombarded Twitter with howls of protest after the amendment to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill by the right-wing Labour MP Ian Murray was defeated by 311 votes to 76.

Tim Farron put up a Twitter rant claiming that he'd voted to keep Britain in the Customs Union, but in reality he did no such thing. An amendment to keep Britain in the Customs Union would have specified that Britain should stay in the Customs Union, but what Ian Murray's ludicrous amendment sought to do was to force the UK to continue behaving as if it was in the Customs Union, even if we end up out of it!

Murray's amendment sought to prevent the UK from imposing tariffs or quotas on imported goods from the EU, regardless of whether the hard-right Tories contrive the "no deal" cliff edge Brexit they're craving or not.

However, the World Trade Organisation rules are clear that countries can't offer favourable trade terms to other countries unless they do it through a formal trade agreement, so that means the Murray economic suicide amendment would have forced the UK to drop import tariffs and quotas on all imports from anywhere in the world, whilst leaving the rest of the world free to impose tariffs and quotas on UK exports!

The UK trade deficit is already enormous, so just imagine the impact of eliminating all tariffs and quotas on imports while simultaneously allowing the rest of the world to impose WTO level tariffs on exports from the UK.

Just imagine how scrapping all import tariffs and quotas would render the UK absolutely defenceless when it comes to protecting British manufacturing from unfair trade practices like other nations dumping artificially cheap steel into the UK economy.

So if this amendment had passed and the Tories then forced a "no deal" flounce out of the EU, it would have hard-wired an even more fanatically right-wing and damaging Brexit than the hard-right Tories are pushing for!

Don't get me wrong here. I think the Tory red line that the UK must quit the Customs Union is a terrible idea that has already caused deadlock over the Irish border situation, and will cause a significant amount of economic damage to the UK economy when we leave, but the likes of Ian Murray and Tim Farron got it all wrong by attempting to ensure that the UK is forced to kill its own manufacturing sector stone dead if they don't get their own way.

Yet somehow these people turned the defeat of their economic suicide amendment into furious bile-laden attacks on the majority of the Labour Party for supposedly siding with the Tory hard Brexit fanatics because they lobbed their reckless and economically illiterate amendment in the bin where it belonged.

Ian Murray's amendment was so bad that he's even admitted that he expected it to lose, meaning that it was just another bit of pointless and destructive grandstanding from the Labour-right aimed at damaging their own party from within. And to see the likes of Tim Farron opportunistically piggy-backing anti-Labour diatribes onto it after its failure just proves the point.

I was particularly disappointed to see Caroline Lucas of the Green Party resort to this kind of hyper-partisan rubbish after the amendment was defeated because she's one of my favourite politicians and normally loads better than that. 

I was also disappointed to see so many SNP politicians voting in favour of Ian Murray's economic suicide amendment and then engaging in hyper-partisan attacks when it was defeated. The SNP should have considered the implications of what they were voting for before they voted for it, and they should also be perfectly well aware that Ian Murray is a right-wing Labour MP more intent on making trouble for his own party leadership than doing anything to actually help the people of Scotland.

It takes quite a level of idiocy to propose an amendment that would make a Tory "no deal" Brexit even worse by turning the UK into a lame debt-shackled sitting-duck economy that is literally begging to have its core industries ruined by allowing unlimited imports, while the rest of the world can apply tariffs on UK exports. But it takes a whole other level of idiocy to then turn around and spit bile at those who prevented you from making such an economically illiterate blunder, accusing them of collaborating with the Tories.

Even most of the rabid hard-right Brexiteers have enough sense to understand that abolishing all import tariffs and quotas on imports while other economies remain free to impose them on UK exports would be nothing short of unilateral economic surrender, but Tim Farron and his ilk are just too dim-witted to realise that they were attempting to hard-wire a super-hard Brexit that was too extreme even for the hard-right Tory Brexiteers to stomach!

It really does not engender much faith in the parliamentary process that so many MPs voted in favour of an economic suicide amendment, and then cried victim so piteously when it was defeated.

It also severely erodes the standing of the (already hopelessly diminished) mainstream media that they utterly failed to convey the reckless economic illiteracy of Ian Murray's amendment, or it's shocking implications should the Tories achieve the "no deal" Brexit they're so obviously craving.

It's utterly infuriating that so many people (including our elected representatives and the mainstream media figures who are supposedly tasked with holding them to account) are so insistent on framing everything in a over-simplistic binary opposition between pro- and anti- Brexit, when stuff like the Murray economic suicide amendment just doesn't fit.

The politicians who voted in favour of it were too lazy/irresponsible to think about the devastating economic consequences that such an amendment would have in the case of a Tory "no deal" Brexit, meaning that their haphazard knee-jerk opposition to Brexit could have actually hard-wired a more extreme version of Brexit than the foaming-at-the-mouth hard-right Tories are aiming for!

But apparently the reality of the situation is just too boring/complex for most political commentators to bother with, so they just stick with their tactic of hyper-partisan shrieking instead.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Andrew Neil just made an absolute tit of himself on Twitter

The most infuriating thing about Andrew Neil is that we all know that he's well capable of being a ferocious interviewer, but his pro-Tory and pro-Brexit biases prevent him from holding right-wing politicians and Brexiteers to account in the same way as he savages people he's ideologically opposed to.

His pro-Brexit bias is as obvious as it is understandable, after all he's a right-winger who has worked for all three of the main pro-Brexit mainstream media propaganda outlets in his time (the Murdoch empire, the Daily Mail, and the Barclay brothers' Press Holdings).

Anyone who is aware of Neil's background must be continually on the look out for the pro-Tory and pro-Brexit spin he puts on the news.

On the evening of Monday 20th November Neil posted a bizarrely hyperbolic tweet claiming that the breakdown in the German coalition government talks represented the worst political crisis in Germany since the 1940s, which he claimed to be even more severe than the Brexit mess the UK has been enduring for the last year and a half.
The reason he came out with this hyperbolic nonsense is obvious. The latest delusional Brexiteer trope is that a weakened Germany would somehow be good for the Brexit negotiations, as if the rest of Europe are just going to roll over and give the UK everything the Tories demand, just because Agela Merkel is having some domestic difficulties pulling together a coalition government!

The Tweet was utterly bizarre for several reasons. One of the main ones being that one party or another walking out of coalition talks is absolutely commonplace in countries with fair and proportional voting systems. If wrangling over coalition deals is a major Century-defining crisis, then Spain had two Century defining crises with unresolvable coalition talks in the last two years!

Another reason the Tweet is so ridiculous is that Germany has endured all kinds of extreme political situations since the 1940s. The nation was divided in half by the Berlin wall. Tensions were extraordinary. East Germany was stalked by the Stasi. West Germany was the absolute frontier of the Cold War. Then the Berlin Wall came down and Germany had to persuade the EU to break their own entry rules in order to allow East Germany fast-track entry through the process of reunification.

But perhaps the most ludicrous thing about Neil's initial Tweet is that there is one country that is definitely going through it's most severe political crisis since the 1940s, and that's the UK thanks to the Brexit shambles that Neil promotes so vehemently.

Being an ideologically blinkered Brexiteer isn't what made Andrew Neil such a pompous tit though. He made an absolute arse of himself when a guy called Jon Worth showed up to explain that all that had actually happened in Germany was that one of the four parties in the coalition talks had walked out, and that this was actually no big deal.

Neil couldn't tolerate being corrected like this so he went into full-on pompous attack mode, by replying "Guess you're not reading/watching German media".

The problem was that in his haste to bite back Neil failed to even bother to check who he was actually talking to.

It turns out that had Neil even bothered to read Jon Worth's Twitter bio, he would have found out that the guy is actually a member of a German political party, a political campaigner and a blogger on German politics.

Literally all that Neil had to do to avoid making such an arse of himself was to mouse over the guy's Twitter handle to check who he actually was before he snapped back, but he didn't bother.

And what's worse is that the comments beneath Neil's snarky reply called him out over and again for it, but he didn't backtrack or apologise at all, presumably imagining that if he just ignored it, nobody else would notice.

In a way Neil's Twitter blunder is indicative of the Brexiter mentality. These people have an ideological agenda which they propagandise for relentlessly, but they're so riddled with confirmation bias that they won't do even the slightest background research on anything that contradicts their worldview, to the point of not even checking who it is they're patronising with their bullshit.

Thus we end up with Neil making a pompous tit of himself by seeking to Brexitsplain German politics to someone who is actually an expert in German politics!

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


The Labour leadership were absolutely right to oppose Ian Murray's economic suicide amendment

When the right-wing Labour MP Ian Murray's proposed amendment to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill was defeated there was an eruption of outrage amongst the right-wing of the Labour Party and the appalling self-declared centrist types who propagandise for them on Twitter and in the mainstream media.

How they howled and shrieked that some Labour MPs had voted against the amendment designed to stop the UK from imposing tariffs and quotas on produce from the EU.

In reality the vast majority of Labour MPs abstained on the vote, with just 18 voting against the amendment and 28 voting in favour, meaning that the amendment was always going to fail, and was beaten by 311 votes to 76.

The furious centrist narrative was quickly set that the 18 Labour MPs who voted against the Murray amendment were traitors who were determined to force a Tory hard Brexit by ruling out membership of the EU Customs Union. However this  propaganda narrative couldn't be further from the truth.

In reality the Murray amendment would have worked to create an even harder Brexit than even the most foaming-at-the-mouth hard-right Tories are aiming for.

The Murray amendment would have caused a British economic catastrophe by making it impossible for the UK to apply import tariffs or quotas on any products from anywhere in the world, while all other countries could continue to apply import tariffs on the UK!

The reason for this is that if the UK reverts to World Trade Organisation rules (which seems increasingly probable given the shambolic Tory handling of the Brexit process) the WTO "Most Favoured Nation" rule states that unless you have a specific trade agreement, then you must offer the same deal to everyone. So if you've legislated to make it illegal to apply tariffs or quotas on imports from EU countries, then you can't apply tariffs or quotas from imports from literally anywhere else in the world either.

Just think back to the chaos caused by the Chinese dumping cheap steel on the world market. If the Murray amendment had have passed, the UK would have been rendered powerless to stop other larger economies from deliberately wrecking UK industries through strategic dumping.

The UK already has an alarmingly vast trade deficit with the rest of the world, and just imagine how much worse that trade deficit would have got had the rest of the world been allowed to flood the UK with unlimited tariff free imports, while UK exports are subjected to quotas and tariffs at the normal WTO rates.

The idea of totally eliminating tariffs and quotas is actually utopia for hard-right Lassaiz-Faire fanatics, but even most of the hard-right Brexiteers understand that eliminating all tariffs and quotas on imports, while other countries can continue applying them on our exports would be economic suicide.

What Murray's amendment would have achieved is a state of unilateral economic surrender. But somehow the Labour right-wing and the centrist dad types have whipped themselves up into furious outrage over the fact that the Labour front bench had the economic sense to see the dangerous economic illiteracy of the Murray amendment, and ensure that it could not pass.

It should obviously be no surprise to anyone that Ian Murray is a Labour right-winger from the Progress faction of the party, because no left-winger (or anyone with a grain of sense) would want the UK to use Brexit as an excuse to declare unilateral economic surrender.

This whole furore just goes to prove that it's not just the Tories who engage in reality-reversing propaganda, but the Labour Party right-wingers and the so-called centrists do it too.

How else is it possible to explain their furious accusations that the Labour front bench have sided with hard-Brexit Tories, when what they actually did was ensure that Ian Murray's ill-considered amendment didn't end up creating a unilateral economic surrender version of Brexit that's so extreme that even most of the fruit-loop Tory hard-Brexiteers have sufficient sense to steer clear of it!

So if you come across anyone expressing outrage that the Labour leadership opposed the Murray amendment, you can safely conclude that they're just simple-minded ideological partisans who are so desperate to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left that they have literally no interest in the reality of what actually happened at all. In fact accusing the Labour front bench of colluding with hard-Brexit Tories shows so little regard for the facts that it's obvious that they're (either wilfully or ignorantly) reversing reality.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Monday, 20 November 2017

Brexit has already cost the average British worker the equivalent of a week's wages

Ever since the EU referendum Brexiteers have continually promoted the myth that Brexit is not going to be a disaster because the "project fear" predictions of the Remain campaign supposedly didn't come true after the referendum.

The main problem with this myth of course is that the predictions of an economic downturn have largely proven quite accurate since the Brexit vote. 

It's clear that what has actually happened to the economy in the wake of the Brexit vote actually lies pretty much in the middle of what the various Brexit forecasts predicted (see image).

It's also worth remembering that many of the pre-Brexit forecasts were built on the (somewhat naive) assumption that David Cameron would stick to his word and trigger Article 50 on the day after a Leave vote.

So when Cameron didn't actually do that, he dramatically softened the immediate economic impact of Brexit by deferring a significant measure of the economic damage (thus helping to generate the seemingly ubiquitous 'Brexit isn't so bad' trope).

Even though Cameron handed the Brexiteers a huge propaganda boost by renageing on his empty threat to trigger Article 50 on the day after the EU referendum, the Brexit vote still caused a significant measure of economic damage.

The immediate slump in the value of the Pound took time to filter through to millions of ordinary British workers through rising inflation, but those who live, study, or have business elsewhere in the EU suffered an immediate 10%-15% collapse in their living standards (think of the adverse effect of the £ slump on UK pensioners in Spain who saw the value of their pensions decline dramatically, or UK based businesses reliant upon imports from the EU).

We already know that since Brexit the value of the pound has collapsed, inflation has risen significantly above the Bank of England interest rate, the real value of UK workers' wages has declined dramatically, and the UK has slumped to the lowest growth rate in the EU.

Now a study from the Centre for Economic Performance and the London School of Economics has calculated the scale of the damage for ordinary working people.

According to their calculations, the post-Brexit rise in inflation has caused price increases of £404 per year for the average household.

If the damage is calculated in terms of the reduced real value of workers' wages, it's equivalent to a £448 per year pay cut for the average worker, which is the equivalent of losing an entire week's salary.

The extraordinary thing is that Brexit has already collapsed the UK growth rate, caused a significant rise in inflation, and trashed the real incomes of millions of ordinary British workers, yet it hasn't even happened yet!

Had David Cameron triggered Article 50 on June 24th like he said he would, the UK would already have had to have concluded the Brexit negotiations by the end of 2017 so as to leave time for the ratification process (any EU-UK deal is subject to democratic approval in the parliaments of all EU member states).

So given that Brexit has robbed millions of workers of the equivalent of a whole week's wages, and that the impact on the wider economy is right in the middle of the forecasts, isn't it about time that we lob these dishonest "Brexit isn't so bad", "Remain were pushing project fear lies" tropes into the dustbin (a bin that is already pretty damned full of other Brexiteer lies)?

But even as we're lobbing this dishonest Brexiteer trope in the bin, they're coming up with a new propaganda narrative aimed at pinning the blame for the Brexit damage onto pretty much anyone who is opposed to their own fanatical "no deal" interpretation of the Brexit vote.

The Brexiteers accused Remainers of lying and fearmongering when the economic predictions showed that Brexit would be bad for the UK economy and bad for ordinary British workers, and now that these predictions are demonstrably coming true, they're now seeking to pin the blame for their own mess onto the very people who predicted these negative outcomes in the first place!

The problem of course is that it's ridiculously difficult to reason people out of a belief that they didn't reason themselves into in the first place. So people who are ideologically committed to Brexit will shrug off the erosion of their own wages, and accept the Brexiteer propositions that the blame for any negative outcomes lies with anyone but the Brexiteers themselves (Remainers, the EU27, the courts, the opposition parties, academics who dare to critique the Brexit process, the left-liberal elements of the press, economists and other experts ...).

To many people Brexit is like a religious cult based on the unquestionable assertion that "Brexit is good", so even if they're shown how it isn't good, they'll tinker around with ancillary beliefs until they develop a convenient excuse.

Just as the religious cult leaders might absolve the gods of blame for the devastating flood/drought/famine by claiming it's vengeance for the people not praying hard enough, the leaders of the Brexit cult are beginning to insist that Brexit isn't to blame for the low growth/high inflation/collapsing wages, but that the public are to blame for not believing in Brexit fervently enough!

We know that Brexit is already harming the UK economy and the lives of millions of ordinary workers, and we know that the damage will be very much worse if the hard-right Tories get the ruinous "no deal" Brexit they're craving. So the only way of stopping this extreme Brexit disaster from happening is by breaking people out of the Brexit cult, which is clearly easier said than done.

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