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Tag Archives: Brexit

Some lessons in how to combat the Tory propaganda machine

 The initial results of voting last Thursday are very easily explained. First, voters had a terrible year in 2020 and government help in getting the vaccine out means 2021 is looking much better, so naturally voters will reward the government. That means the Tories in England, Labour in Wales and the SNP in Scotland (modified by tactical voting against a second independence referendum). It’s like Brown’s poll bounce as he saved the banks, and therefore large parts of the economy, from...

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The UK’s place in the world

As an economist, I naturally focus on the economic aspects of the EU. The EU is mostly about economics. To counterpoise sovereignty as an alternative perspective to economics misses an important point: most EU rules stem from the economics of free trade within the EU. The EU wants common regulations to make it easier to trade. The EU wants restrictions on state aid to prevent countries giving their own firms an advantage over others in the union. Much the same applies to labour market and...

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How business lost its influence on right wing parties

This covers ground which others may be more knowledgeable about, so please let me know of any references or sources that I really should read that cover issues central to the discussion below. When Trump threatens governments that want to tax tech giants, most of which are based in the US, it seems like the familiar story of governments acting in the interest of business. But when Trump imposes tariffs on imports he may be favouring particular firms, but he is also acting against the...

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Was the Remain campaign always doomed?

In hindsight it is tempting to say that Remainers should have set their sights on something close to a BINO type deal (UK remaining part of the Single Market (SM) and Customs Union (CU)) rather than campaigning for Remain, and some have already suggested that. Is that a reasonable conclusion in the light of Remain’s defeat in December 2019? In mid May it all looked so different. I wrote“It seems odd writing that Brexit is on its deathbed, in a coma but with no chance of recovery, when a year...

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How to disguise a really big lie? Put it on a bus.

The Tories, and particularlytheir leader, lie all the time. It is quite shameless. But there is a corollary to this. If your whole campaign is based on one big huge lie, make it your main slogan. Because, even today, many voters still think you wouldn’t dare lie about something so important. Unfortunately recent history suggests otherwise. We all remember the £350 million for the NHS lie in the 2016 referendum. It was famously on a bus. Except it seems that a good part of the voting...

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The differences between Labour and the Conservatives on fiscal policy

The Conservatives have learnt the lesson of 2017, and have ditched austerity in order to offer higher spending to the electorate.They hope voters decide that there isn't much difference between the two parties on this score. But voters would be wrong to do so. In Labour's case the extra spending is sustainable, whereas for the Tories it will not be. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the Tories are not proposing large tax increases, while Labour almost certainly will - in the...

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LibDem fantasies about the December election

There is one fact that too many people are currently in denial about. If Labour stay roughly where they are in the opinion polls then Johnson will lead a majority Conservative government from 2020 until 2025. We will either get his hard Brexit deal, or something worse. No ifs or buts, no caveats. It is just impossible for him not to win. Could a realistic LibDem surge at the expense of the Tories prevent that? The short answer is no. There are just not enough seats that they can win. A...

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Journalists’ own pact with the devil

While Dominic Cummings is no genius, he does have a good understanding of how the UK media works, and therefore how to manipulate it. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most obvious is to use privileged access in return for uncritical coverage. This is how it works. One of the prizes journalists most aspire to is being first with the news. To get an ‘exclusive’ story. In the political world the biggest generator of news stories is the government. This gives the government the...

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Brexit is a denial of economics as knowledge

A well known Brexiters said it was almost worth doing Brexit because of the anger I feel about it. He is right about the anger. The prospect of Brexit has filled me with the same horror as austerity did. The connection between the two is obvious. Both involve subjecting the whole country to a policy that basic economic ideas tell you will do nearly everyone harm. We have seen nothing like this in my lifetime. The only person to try austerity (by which I mean fiscal consolidation in a...

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Is this good for Johnson, whether he wins or loses?

I have no idea whether Johnson will get his deal through on Saturday. As the broadcast media is obsessed by headcounts I will leave it to them. What I will say is that the idea that MPs will be taking a decision that has a profound influence on everyone in this country (in which will do such serious economic and political damage to the UK) on the basis of only two days of scrutiny with no assessment of its impact is just absurd, and typifies everything that is wrong about Brexit. Who knows...

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