December 2017 backstop


Pro-Brexit politicians who say UK voters must be held to their decision in the 2016 referendum say.. ..that they themselves should not be held to their decisions to accept the backstop in December 2017 and March 2018 because they were “misled”.

An Australian/ UK trade agreement

Steve Analyst looks at what the Australians say about Brexit and a UK trade deal.  Don’t hold your breath is probably a quick summary.  As the hard work of journalism has been done, it should be quite easy for the BBC to give everyone a summary.

There is a Brexit deal the country can live with, but the government cannot

Simon Wren-Lewis:

Finally there are two interesting asides from this basic argument worth making. I talked to a very well known BBC presenter last week who was convinced that Brexit was nothing to do with the BBC. They are wrong on the economic costs, because the BBC did not regularly say that the overwhelming view of academic and business economists was that Brexit would do economic harm. Too often they assumed that this was self evident because all the major institutions (OECD, IMF etc) said this, but the ‘anti elite’ theme of Leave was designed to counter that, and giving equal time to both sides without any context (and of course constant newspaper propaganda) allowed Leavers to believe they would be better off.
But my criticism of the BBC is not just about the economic costs. One of the Leave messages that was attractive to many people was being able to do trade deals with other countries. I do not remember constant reminders from journalists saying that this was incompatible with membership of the SM, and so we had to choose between frictionless trade with the EU or doing these new deals. This statement is not controversial but a simple fact. It is also a fact that anything short of a CU and SM for goods will require a hard Irish border. This was the kind of basic information that the public craved for, and the BBC did not give it because their priority was not to upset either side. It is academic how important this all was to the final vote: the fundamental point is the BBC departed from its mandate to educate and inform at just the point the public needed and wanted it most..

John Major and Jacob Rees-Mogg


By Rees-Mogg’s age, Major had already been Prime Minister for two years, as well as Chancellor, Foreign Secretary & Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Jacob Rees-Mogg hasn’t yet been a junior minister despite Chris Grayling, Andrea Leadsom and Gavin Williamson being in the cabinet.


John Major, son of a failed gnome salesman, local grammar school, 3 O levels, 5 Cabinet roles, including 3 of the 4 great offices.

Jakey, son of a Lord, grew up in a mansion, Eton, Oxford, backbench nonentity.


The truth about brexit

Originally a thread of tweets and now a pdf, this is the sort of factual analysis the BBC should be producing.  Why isn’t someone contacting Edwin Hayward to make a Panorama programme about it?

Here’s the truth about Brexit, the “punishment” some people claim the EU wants to inflict on us, the full horrific consequences of no deal, and the dangers lurking behind any deal we reach. Buckle in, it’s pretty long. Better to be thorough than to leave anything out. 1/47



Police spies infiltrated UK leftwing groups for decades

The Guardian:

The database is incomplete as the full list of groups that were spied on has yet to be established.

The list so far compiled, however, suggests police spies overwhelmingly monitored leftwing and progressive groups that challenged the status quo, with only three far-right groups infiltrated – the British National party, Combat 18 and the United British Alliance.

Undercover officers spied on 22 leftwing groups, 10 environmental groups, nine anti-racist campaigns and nine anarchist groups, according to the database.

They also spied on campaigns against apartheid, the arms trade, nuclear weapons and the monarchy, as well as trade unions. Among those spied on were 16 campaigns run by families or their supporters seeking justice over alleged police misconduct.  According to the database, police spied on 12 animal rights groups and eight organisations related to the Irish conflict.

My emphasis.  And then there’s this:  MP demands Met police explain why Brexit inquiry dropped.  Most odd.


No, the housing crisis will not be solved by building more homes

Financial Times:

‘Why Can’t You Afford A Home?’ by Josh Ryan-Collins – a researcher at University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose – is about the phenomenon which he dubs ‘residential capitalism’.

It follows on from his less snappily-titled volume ‘Rethinking The Economics of Land and Housing’, which was written jointly with fellow economist Laurie Macfarlane and policy wonk Toby Lloyd and published last year.

Both books address the question of why a growing number of people are being priced out of the property market, with rising house prices accelerating away from household incomes.

The answer is financialisation – and it is not an aberration, according to Ryan-Collins. The ‘housing crisis’ needs to be understood primarily as a product of the banking system.

For starters it’s not just a British problem; this is a trend which has gripped developed economies across the world over the past three decades.

“Two of the key ingredients of contemporary capitalist societies, private home ownership and a lightly regulated commercial banking system, are not mutually compatible,” he writes. Instead they “create a self-reinforcing feedback cycle”.

The post-War popularisation of home ownership put pressure on governments to reduce property taxation, which made it more attractive for banks to lend, with the result that mortgage lending replaced corporate lending as banks’ main area of business.

In the early 1980s, business lending equated to around 40 per cent of GDP on average in advanced economies, while mortgage lending was around 25 per cent. By the time of the financial crisis, mortgage lending had grown to 75 per cent of GDP while business lending had only grown slightly, to 45 per cent.

Much of the reason why policymakers have failed to tackle the ‘housing crisis’ is because they have not grasped that land is fundamentally different to other economic inputs, Ryan-Collins argues: “Land is immobile, irreproducible and appreciates in value over time.”

Lending to business supports capital investment and wages, fuelling growth, but lending on existing property and land is by comparison unproductive. Land is unusual in economic terms, in that it exists in fixed quantity; increased lending against it serves therefore only to drive up its value. And the banking sector’s health has become dangerously intertwined with property prices.

John Humphrys and Brexit (again)


John Humphrys’ first question to Kier Starmer was wouldn’t the patriotic thing be for Labour to support Theresa May on Brexit. Patriotic?? What’s patriotism got to do with any of this? #r4today

2:14:01 in on BBC Radio Four Today 15 October 2018.


John Humphrys at his scintillating best on #r4today

Humphrys: “You haven’t mentioned a People’s Vote in this interview so far”
Starmer: “You haven’t asked me about it”
Humphrys: “Well I am now”
Starmer: “What’s the question?”

2:21:25 in on BBC Radio Four Today 15 October 2018.

Boris Johnson


Kind of amazing that Boris Johnson’s pitch is “I was too rubbish as foreign secretary to understand what the word ‘backstop’ meant, please make me prime minister”


Piketty: our politics is now about Brahmin vs Merchant elites

Via John Naughton, details of a paper by Thomas Piketty. He constructs a long-run data series from post-election to document a striking long-run evolution in the multi-dimensional structure of political cleavages in the US, UK and France:

In the 1950s-1960s, the vote for “left-wing” (socialist-labour-democratic) parties was associated with lower education and lower income voters. This corresponds to what one might label a “class-based” party system: lower class voters from the different dimensions (lower education voters, lower income voters, etc.) tend to vote for the same party or coalition, while upper and middle class voters from the different dimensions tend to vote for the other party or coalition.

Since the 1970s-1980s, “left-wing” vote has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to what I propose to label a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high- education elites now vote for the “left”, while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so) — i.e. the “left” has become the party of the intellectual elite (Brahmin left), while the “right” can be viewed as the party of the business elite (Merchant right).

I show that the same transformation happened in France, the US and Britain, despite the many differences in party systems and political histories between these three countries.