Paul Mason asks “Can Starmer calm the markets enough to fulfil Labour’s plan?” (TNE #314). A decision to realign with the EU with a view to rejoining the single market would definitely be a good start.
By far the biggest destructor is the economic fallout from Brexit. Starmer’s “plan” is the same as the Tories’: stick his fingers in his ears and go “La La La”. There is no future with either of the two Brexit parties, just decline and more decline.
I don’t understand the reluctance to consider being back in the single market. The trading rules are consistent across the market and there is plenty of opportunity to have input into those rules, as Norway and Switzerland do.
Freedom of movement was not absolute; UK governments simply didn’t put mechanisms in place to administer it properly. I’d rather we were back in the EU, but the single market and customs union would be an excellent start.
For Starmer to calm the markets, leave business alone. Hit the carbonators with a windfall tax to plug the £32bn black hole. Let the rest cough up the new realistic corporation tax rate of 25%. Oh, and promise to put staff members on the board.
Mandrake (TNE #314) reports that Matt Hancock is eager to make a big comeback and earn money. His mate owns a pub. Couldn’t he help there?
Surely Hancock’s already had his Half Hour?
Swear by him
Re: Alastair Campbell on Boris Johnson (Diary, TNE #314). It’s just as well that Boris Johnson wasn’t re-installed as our prime minister last week, otherwise we might never have seen Krishnan Guru-Murthy on our screens again.
Potters Bar, Herts
Re James Ball’s “The Rishi Horror Show” (TNE #314).
Sunak’s “new” cabinet looks very much like an ad hoc mix of MPs – admittedly from across the various factions in the Tory Party – very few of whom have displayed any real ability to tackle the nation’s problems, including a particularly clueless and frankly dangerous home secretary who resigned less than two weeks ago after admitting she broke the ministerial code.
If I were a master cabinet maker, I’d advise him to take it apart and start again. It looks like a failed apprentice piece – and where is the minister for Brexit opportunities, or has that been absorbed into an as-yet-to-be-revealed post of Ignoring the Blindingly Obvious?
Cause of all ills Steve Richards’ “A party driven mad by the Europe conundrum” (TNE #314) states that “…some of those who worked with [Boris Johnson] doubt if he has ever read in full the calamitous Brexit trade deal negotiated haphazardly by… Frost”. Whether or not intentional, this is an absolute gem of sly understatement (there must be a Greek word for it).
We must continue to focus on this point, as many would regard Johnson’s negligence in the matter as the immediate if not the fundamental cause of our present Brexit problems. Nigel Britton They’re still being driven mad by it, but, tragically for the rest of us, they’re still in power and IMHO not showing enough signs that they are going to be shifted from that power.
This government will cling on until the last possible bitter moment, and even then it will resentfully concede a general election has to be held. Every Tory MP knows that they will lose the election and then, in opposition, the civil war will commence as secretive factions like the European Research Group try to defend their hold on the party while disavowing any responsibility for the electoral loss.
I wonder just how many in government now – never mind the general electorate – are secretly yearning for a return to the EU, but would never admit to it. Remember that a lot of Tory MPs originally voted Remain and practically the whole of Labour did, bar a handful.
Depressed by John Kampfner’s “Belittled Britain” (TNE #314), I listened to The Men They Couldn’t Hang song The Lion and the Unicorn. Though released in 1990, it sums up a diminished UK so is relevant now:
“I’ll tell you tales of kings and sailors
Puritans, outlaws, thieves and traitors
Show you round the land we made
Whisper something we betrayed
So where’s the hope, where’s the reason?
Poisoned by the years of treason
Where’s the justice, where’s the grace?
Disappeared without a trace.”
As a TNE co-owner, I was pleased to be able to gift one of the band members a free subscription to this paper. Should cheer him up a little.
Trial by fury
What a fascinating historical piece (with a contemporary application) on the witch panic by Jay Elwes, (‘The Salem of Europe” TNE #314). This indeed really got going earliest in southern Germany (and neighbouring areas) with the odious “Hammer of Witches” in 1486-87, and gradually spread out from there – as demonstrated by the best and widest account of this, by Henningsen and Ankarloo (translated from the Swedish in 1990).
But this also shows that the height of this persecution was not just a matter of “relics of a savage, pre-scientific society”, nor simply of medieval poverty and “back-breaking labour”, as these were features also of the so-called Dark Ages, when people by contrast maintained a healthy scepticism towards the claims about people later persecuted as witches. What had changed was an early modern attempt to take such claims literally, and make them all “fit” their preconceptions.
Later, persecution of people for witchcraft faded as a new scepticism emerged, and those regions where witch-hunts started earliest also ended them first. But as the Holocaust and later evils prove, persecution and prejudice still cause misery.
Tanit Koch is right to say there is some anti-Americanism in Germany (Germansplaining, TNE #313). However, we do have to differentiate a bit between the old anti-Americanism and a new form.
The old anti-Americanism was mainly a position of the political left, and they blamed the “imperialistic stance” shown by the USA in the Vietnam and Gulf wars.
Today, the German left knows that without the USA, our current wealth wouldn’t be possible. The hardcore anti-Americans in Germany nowadays are the extreme right and some of the old communists, who still live in the cold war era.
Re: Peter Trudgill on the “Language of an invader” (TNE #313).
I know a Ukrainian who speaks Russian. From what they have told me, the Russian language is a question of class and education rather than ethnicity.
The urban population of Kyiv has spoken Russian since the time of the Tsars. For generations, it was the language of the educated class only. During the Soviet era though, the Ukrainian language was relegated to rural areas and suppressed.
Ukrainians who speak Russian are no different from Irish or Americans who speak English, or Austrians or Swiss who speak German – citizens of an independent nation that happens to share a language for historical reasons.
I enjoyed Patience Wheatcroft’s article re Truss and her economic incompetence (“The Truss interlude has buried Britain”, TNE #313). On the subject though of our poor productivity she, like many other commentators, failed to mention the role of poor management and wage differentials, which must affect motivation and engagement.
I was disappointed to find in TNE #314 no mention of the first National Rejoin March (NRM) that took place in central London on October 22, although the TNE website did have a story about it. T
here were many speakers at the rally in Parliament Square who gave powerful arguments in favour of the UK rejoining the EU. In particular, Guy Verhofstadt spoke of how the UK’s departure had also left the EU weaker. He promised to attend every subsequent NRM, wherever they take place around the country.
Kingston upon Thames
A few weeks ago 50,000 people marched in London on the first Rejoin the EU event. Although they may have attended as individuals, there was no visible Liberal Democrat Party contingent present on the day. If the Lib Dems are not prepared to reach out to the Remain demographic, I do not see the point of their existence. Millions of us are crying out for a political party that will acknowledge our despair at the current political situation and that will campaign actively to overturn Brexit.
Chain of chaos
There is now a formula to describe the chain reaction that led to the recent political chaos in the UK. It is as follows:
(C1+C2+E) + (C3+C4) + (F+U) + C5 + B + M + J + (T+K)
(Where B=Brexit; C1=David Cameron; C2=Conservative Party; C3=Dominic Cummings; C4=Cambridge Analytica; C5=Jeremy Corbyn; E=European Research Group; F=Nigel Farage; J=Boris Johnson; M=Theresa May; S=Rishi Sunak; T=Liz Truss; U=Ukip; K=Kwasi Kwarteng.)
It will take more than an S to reverse this. Chris Fitzpatrick Dublin 6, Ireland
In 1905 Winston Churchill deserted the Conservatives and joined the Liberal Party. In the general election of 1906, the Liberals won a landslide victory under Henry Campbell Bannerman, with 397 MPs elected.
Were a group of 40 pro-Remain Conservative MPs to join the Labour or Lib Dem parties now, they could force a general election. If they remain as they are, many will face losing their seats in 2024. To secure their futures they need to change sides.
What are these Brexit freedoms? This is from a Brexit-voting friend who recently emailed me about the problems of doing business with Europe now: “Importing goods is a fucking nightmare and is costing me a bloody fortune. I have to pay VAT and duty on all goods coming in and I cannot claim the VAT back for up to three months.”