Air Date 10/29/2022
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the destruction accomplished over decades by adherence to a libertarian, neoliberal ideology in the UK, which culminated recently in the tanking value of the British pound sterling, and the resignation of the shortest serving Prime Minister ever.
Clips today are from AJ+, the Financial Times, Kay And Skittles, Double Down News, Democracy Now!, LBC, and WhoWhatWhy, with an additional members only clip from the Financial Times. And by the way, the midterms are a week and a half away now, so be sure to check out the show notes for our Midterms Minute section highlighting key races across the country and how to get involved.
Today's focus is on the remaining toss-up races in the House. Remember, voting is not enough, so get involved and help get out the vote. And stay tuned to the end of the show for my tie-in of the [00:01:00] recent break in and violent attack at Nancy Pelosi's residence with the broad strokes of today's topic.
Why The United Kingdom Is In A Big Mess - AJ+ - Air Date 1-5-22
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: In October, 2021, Britain's fuel crisis was so bad that the government sent the army out to make deliveries to gas stations. A shortage of truck drivers had led to long lines for fuel. At the same time, and for the same reason, some supermarket shelves started looking very empty. Meanwhile, farms were slaughtering their pigs because slaughterhouses had run out of workers.
For months, employers had been warning about a labor shortage. But why was the UK suddenly short-staffed? To answer that, we've gotta go back to 2016 and a vote that shocked the world.
NEWS CLIP: The British people have spoken, and the answer is we're out.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: On June 23rd, 2016, the UK narrowly voted for Brexit, to withdraw from the European Union. It was sold as a way to get independence, save millions of [00:02:00] pounds, and gain full control of the UK's borders. But what Brexit meant in practice was leaving a political and economic union that the UK had helped build for the last 50 years. One of the EU biggest achievements was that every citizen had the freedom to travel, live and work wherever they wanted. So that meant a Brit could decide to move to sunny Spain without needing permission from anyone. And a Romanian could get a job in Britain just as easily. Brexit ended that relationship and exposed just how much the UK had relied on foreign workers for the low-paid essential work that had kept the country going.
Alexandra Bulat is from an organization that speaks up on behalf of EU citizens in the UK.
ALEXANDRA BULAT: If we look at driver shortages, if we look at social care, if we look at agriculture, for instance, those are all sectors where, quite historically, there was a high percentage of migrant workers, especially people from the European Union, especially in the jobs that are lower paid.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: Before the UK left the [00:03:00] EU, around 25% of workers from 10 Eastern European EU states worked in so-called low skilled jobs, compared to just 9% of UK-born workers. But that's all changed. And there's been an exodus of EU workers.
ALEXANDRA BULAT: Prices are going up. The quality of living is decreasing for many, many workers. And I think some people that, at least people that I spoke to, did realize they could have in some other countries in the EU or outside the EU, a better quality of life and perhaps less of a worry about their future status in terms of immigration.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: The post-Brexit immigration rules mean that when a Polish truck driver leaves the UK it's much harder to replace them with a new Polish truck driver. Brexit campaigners hoped that British workers would come forward to fill the gaps, but that hasn't happened in large enough numbers. And COVID added to the problem, delaying 40,000 truck driving tests, according to the government.
For the EU workers that the UK depended on, Brexit might [00:04:00] have been the final straw. Because even before Brexit, UK governments had played to right wing xenophobia for more than a decade. In 2007, Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised British jobs for British workers. Five years later, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government launched a policy called the Hostile Environment, which was a tactic to encourage immigrants to leave by making life difficult for them.
And the anti-foreigner message was one of the key tactics of Brexit campaigners, sometimes dog-whistley, sometimes openly racist. European embassies in London registered 60 suspected hate crimes in the three months after the Brexit vote, almost all targeting eastern Europeans. So look, the hostile environment policy, Brexit, and hate crimes, all of these things helped push key workers out of Britain and push Britain into a crisis.
ALEXANDRA BULAT: In terms of the psychological impact that Brexit did make, quite a few, quite a lot, I would say. migrants not [00:05:00] feel as welcome as they felt before. Yes. I think there is a concern about, well, hate crimes, but also broader racism and xenophobia in society.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: And Alexandra says it's only now that there are shortages that the UK is starting to realize the value of the workers it's lost.
ALEXANDRA BULAT: Migrants are not just commodities and taxpayers. They're part of our communities. They're families and neighbors. And going to rethink this whole discourse around what kind of work we value.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: While migrants suffered from xenophobic narratives and the government's hostile policies, they weren't the only group to be outcast. There was a sustained political and media attack on people living in poverty, a group that makes up about 20% of the UK population. The most vulnerable were labeled "benefit scroungers." In other words, people who live off government handouts and don't want to work. The reality though, is a little different. Of those eligible for an unemployment check, less than a third of them claim it. But the "benefit scroungers" narrative [00:06:00] set the stage for a cut in state benefits.
JEEVUN SANDHER: One in seven children are going hungry, and one in 10 adults are going hungry as well. Now the social security payments for those on low incomes is called universal credit. And this government is now cutting universal credit by a thousand pounds.
This government now cut those payments further to lead to more hungry children is absolutely disgraceful.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: In 2021, UK energy prices rose by 12%. For 3 million people, many of whom depend on state benefits, that may mean having to choose between heating their homes or buying food.
JEEVUN SANDHER: There definitely is a cost of living crisis in the UK so that we're seeing bills rising. We're expecting inflation to hit 5% by next spring. A typical family of four could expect their bills to rise by about 1700 pounds. So those are low incomes in particular, they're facing what is gonna be a cold, dark, and hungry winter ahead.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: But don't think that this is all because of Brexit. This crisis has been building for more than a decade.[00:07:00]
When the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government took power from the Labor Party in 2010, it said austerity was the only way to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. Even before the pandemic, austerity left the UK economy $130 billion smaller than it would've been without it. And average wages have stayed pretty much flat since 2008.
But COVID set household incomes back even further. It's thought they won't get back to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023.
JEEVUN SANDHER: It's difficult to quantify the exact impact that Brexit is having. It's making things far more expensive. It's making it more difficult to trade across borders. Shipping costs are 25% more to this country. That gives you a good idea of how much more expensive Brexit is making things in this country. It's about quarter more than we would expect if we were still inside the European Union.
SAKHR AL-MAKHADHI - HOST, AJ+: And while benefits are being cut and prices are rising, taxes on working people are going up.
JEEVUN SANDHER: This government wanted to raise the money, [00:08:00] it could have done so from the wealthiest people, and instead chose to raise taxes on working people. Increasingly what we're seeing this country is how well you do isn't it really about how hard you work, but it's how much you own or if you're young, it's how rich your parents are.
What's wrong with Great Britain? - Financial Times - Air Date 4-19-22
MARTIN WOLF: The UK used to be known, not so long ago, as the sick man of Europe. Then in the eighties and nineties and early two thousands, things improved. But now I find when I travel in Europe and elsewhere, people ask me, what's wrong with Britain? And it sounds very familiar to me. It reminds me of my childhood.
So this will be my answer. We are facing six interlocking crises simultaneously. The first is economic. We experienced the financial crisis, but we've sort of overcome that. But the big problem is that productivity is stagnant. In fact, we have almost the worst record on productivity among all the rich countries apart from Italy, and that makes life very, very difficult, because on average we're not getting better [00:09:00] off.
The second crisis is over national identity, and in particular, the fundamental question about whether national identity is exclusive. One must have absolute sovereignty in the nation one identifies with, or whether it can be complex, i.e. can one be European and British at the same time?
And this relates, of course, to the way this particular crisis has emerged, which is Brexit. The divisions over Brexit, which divide the country evenly, and lead one side to conclude that the other side is essentially treacherous because it is betrayed its country for this European cause.
The fourth crisis is political or a politics. These divisions over Brexit, these divisions over national identity, in other words, made into a political cause, divide our parties. They have rendered both the [00:10:00] Conservative party and the Labor Party incapable performing their functions as governing parties or as the opposition party. And that of course, makes political life basically impossible.
The fifth crisis is constitutional. These are not just narrowly political questions. Membership of the EU was a constitutional settlement for Britain. It resolved, as it were, the rules of the political game for well over 40 years. Undoing it by a referendum was itself a constitutional device. We've had this now for a few decades. But we've never really thought seriously about how you implement constitutional decisions at this kind made by referendum, 'cause Parliament has to do it and the referendum's meaning is not obvious.
And the final crisis, and possibly the most important of all, is simply one of leadership. Political leadership has been extraordinarily weak now for quite a long time, [00:11:00] and it looks likely that the next election will be between Boris Johnson leading the conservatives and Jeremy Corbin leading the Labor Party.
If so, none of these issues that I've discussed are likely to be resolved. And the overwhelming likelihood is that the British Constitution, political settlement and political life will continue to be a troubled mess for the indefinite future.
Thatcherism: What We Get Wrong About Neoliberalism - Kay and Skittles - Air Date 10-1-22
KAY - HOST, KAY AND SKITTLES: Thatcher's election in 1979 was in part a response to a series of economic crises that had defined the seventies, including a global stock market crash, a banking crisis, and an oil crisis.
Her response to this economic instability was a simple one: the free market would get us out of this jam. But to free the market, we have to destroy the post-war consensus and suppress labor unions who are restricting the market with pesky inefficiencies like workers' rights. During Thatcher's reign, she would transition both the economic model of the UK, but also the ideological [00:12:00] norms of the country towards neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism is free market ideology. It holds that if we deregulate the market, it can and will solve our economic problems, and lead to greater prosperity for all. John the Duncan, who makes a lot of great videos about neoliberalism, cites award-winning American economist Joseph Stiglitz, describing neoliberalism as "that grab bag of ideas based on the fundamentalist notion that markets are self-correcting, allocate resources efficiently, and serve the public interest. Well, it was this market fundamentalism that underlay Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and the so-called Washington Consensus in favor of privatization, liberalization, and independent central banks focusing single-mindedly on inflation."
John goes on to rightly point out a problem with the way Stiglitz characterizes neoliberalism. [00:13:00] He is certainly criticizing neoliberalism in this article, which opens by saying, "History has not been kind to neoliberalism," but he does so in a way that makes a crucial mistake. And it's a mistake that is echoed by the helpful "What is Neoliberalism?" explainers put out by the BBC and Harvard University that come up first if you search neoliberalism on YouTube. Both Stiglitz, the highly regarded academic, and these serious, well-resourced institutions are assuming that the rhetoric of neoliberalism necessarily lines up with the economic policy of neoliberalism -- which wouldn't be a problem unless politicians weren't always completely honest with us. "You really think someone would do that? Just go on the parliament and tell lies?"
Neoliberalism is best understood in two halves: ideology and economics.
The small state, free market fetishizing narrative [00:14:00] about neoliberalism that we see from Stiglitz and most mainstream discussions of neoliberalism is often treated as if it is its economic policy, when in fact it is its ideological policy. The idea that the market possesses an almost mystical capacity for self-correction and management, if only the darn state would stay out of its way, is an ideological statement. And ideology isn't for your leaders, it's for you.
So why do I describe what many consider to be the heart of neoliberalism as ideological, but not economic? Because neoliberal governments like Thatcher's do not actually shrink the state or follow a policy of non-interference in the market like the neoliberals who would follow her.
Thatcher loved the state. In fact, Thatcher significantly expanded the police and security aspects of the state throughout her time in power. This was necessary in [00:15:00] part to combat organized labor, from which she was attempting to strip crucial rights and protections.
In addition, Thatcher's government maintained what Richard Woodward calls a dual industrial policy. This is the practice of rhetorically opposing state intervention in the market, while in reality intervening quite extensively. Thatcher's government actually subsidized key industries, including the automotive industry, which also featured a bailout of British Leland to the tune of just under a billion pounds, which adjusted for inflation is worth [gasp] in 2022. The agriculture industry also received enormous subsidies. And in 1981, Thatcher defended the heavy subsidization of British farms after promising that the state would stop interfering in the market, by stating that our farmers are being asked to compete not on equal terms, but against heavily subsidized competitors. We like equality now, Maggie! This is a very [00:16:00] revealing statement. It is an admission that the fundamental argument that industry is at its best when unregulated and free of the state is incorrect. If left to their own devices, British agriculture companies would not have been able to compete with those of other countries operating on a more Keynesian model where many are partially or entirely nationalized and subsidized with public money. That economic model simply competes more effectively. Keep that idea in mind for a little later.
So how did she get away with this? Taking every opportunity to extol the virtues of state non-interference in industry and using that firmly-held belief to attack regulations on businesses and workers' rights, and then turning around and massively subsidizing private industry, that kind of hypocrisy should have been political self destruction. Surely. Well, she deployed a very clever trick that is known in the field of political science as [00:17:00] lying. "You really think someone would do that?" Woodward's research into the spending of Thatcher's government found that, while on paper industrial subsidy reduced during Thatcher's leadership, enormous sums of government spending were simply being categorized as something else.
For example, billions of pounds of agricultural subsidy were instead classified as departmental research, advisory services, and administration. I'm completely serious. It's as simple as that. They just classified their subsidies as something else in the treasury and said, Look, we're spending less on subsidies.
British journalists on social media are always announcing how important they are for holding power accountable and keeping the public informed. So it may surprise you to learn that this scandalous practice of misrepresenting state spending to give the appearance of a commitment to unimpeded free market policy went largely uninvestigated by the media at the time. There was, and has [00:18:00] continued to be, a tendency to focus exclusively on official statements and not, you know, what Thatcher's government actually did. Woodward described this as leading to a state-orchestrated masquerade, in which the very people who should have been criticizing the inconsistencies between Thatcher's ideological rhetoric and actual economic policy were instead complicit in it.
Perhaps the extremely wealthy owners of our papers and news networks who were no doubt ecstatic that the tide was turning against labor unions had something to do with that. Remember, ideology isn't for them; it's for you. Thatcher is famously quoted as saying economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.
Her neoliberal project was not just about selling off publicly-owned industries while pumping money into the pockets of private industrialists -- although that was one of her signature moves. Her project was about reorienting the [00:19:00] way the people view themselves and their relationship to the state.
The post-war consensus imbued the public with the idea that the state owes them. Regular working class people fought in two world wars, rebuilt the country after both of them, and did all of the work that actually keeps the country running. It was justified for them to expect that the state in turn would look after them.
This was the idea that Thatcher aimed to dismantle. By cultivating a sense that people are not members of a society in which they owe each other something, but sovereign entrepreneurial individuals whose value was dictated by their personal financial achievements. The perception of state assistance and publicly-owned services began to change.
During the post-war period, welfare was seen by many workers as a victory. Their struggles in the labor movement led to a system where, if a worker lost their job, was injured or became ill and unable to work [00:20:00] for long periods, the country that their labor had been propping up would have to look after them. They put in and they could take out when they needed it.
But if people are not members of society, but individuals responsible for their own economic security, welfare becomes something shameful. A worker claiming welfare is no longer enjoying their hard-earned right as a worker, they are experiencing failure as an individual who has been unable to support themselves without state assistance.
This led to a stigma around benefits, which of course has continued to the modern day. And this stigma spread throughout the public services: the state providing something for you became an embarrassment, a shameful thing. Unless, of course, you're a wealthy industrialist, accepting millions in government grants. But by concealing the subsidization of private industry and demonizing public services used by the working class, Thatcher [00:21:00] eroded solidarity among the working class and transformed many working people from class-conscious subjects who understood their position in society into temporarily embarrassed middle class homeowners.
With programs like Right to Buy, she touted home ownership as the ultimate expression of both success and security. Climbing the ladder to become middle class became the new avenue for a worker to improve their conditions, rather than unionizing and struggling for better pay and conditions with other workers.
And she was quite successful at increasing the number of homeowners who would now have a personal economic incentive to support certain conservative policies, which she achieved again via government subsidy. She once again interfered in the free market to expand the homeowning population, a crucial step in ideologically shifting the British public towards neoliberal ideals.
On the eve of the Thatcherite [00:22:00] crusade, half of all workers were trade unionists. By 1995, the number had fallen to a third. The old industries associated with working class identity were being destroyed. There no longer seemed anything to celebrate about being working class. But Thatcherism promised an alternative: leave the working class behind, it said, and come join the property-owning middle classes instead. Those who failed to do so would have no place in the New Britain.
Another way Thatcher's project was damaging ideologically is it instilled the idea in the public that capitalism and the state are diametrically opposed, that they are antithetical to each other, and as one grows the other must therefore shrink.
In fact, it is a direct byproduct of Thatcherism and the neoliberal turn that so many people who themselves have a fairly sophisticated understanding of capitalism and its problems still view anything other than full blown libertarian free market economics as somehow [00:23:00] hostile to capitalism as a system. Think "socialism is when the government does stuff," when the reality is that capitalism needs the state for a great deal of important functions. The state is able to centralize military power and control a monopoly on direct force. Through that force, it is able to protect property rights, which is extremely important if you're wealth comes from owning property, rather than selling your labor. It also serves to discipline labor by breaking strikes, criminalizing undesirable behavior, and protecting you, the boss or landlord, from physical retaliation for your economic violence against your workers and tenants. And that's to say nothing of the capacity of the state to subjugate other economies for the enrichment of capitalists at home. We're going to free your economy, even if we have to murder and enslave you to do it.
By obfuscating these aspects of the state's function, assisted [00:24:00] by a deeply incurious media by concealing the theft of billions of public funds which were funneled into the private sector, by insisting that they are shrinking the state while expanding its authority, the neoliberal politician is able to create an ideological environment where people can oppose the state, oppose all social programs, and associate those positions with greater social and economic freedom, all while supporting the armed aspects of the state, which actually enforce a certain social and economic status quo, which reduce both personal and collective freedom, all while never feeling for a second that your views are contradictory.
And that is the heart of a lot of modern conservative politics in the UK, the US and beyond.
Liz Truss: The Oligarch's Prime Minister | George Monbiot - Double Down News - Air Date 10-4-22
GEORGE MONBIOT: You could see it as an experiment. What happens when the neoliberal ultras take over a government and get everything they want? The pound tanks, [00:25:00] the economy collapses, everything goes to shit almost overnight. Welcome to Oligarch Island. Liz Truss is the oligarchs' Prime Minister. She's a kind of Manchurian candidate put in place by these dark money lobby groups on behalf of oligarchs and corporations, most of whom are not domiciled in this country at all.
She is working for global capital against the interests of this nation. These people are fake patriots. They are actually undermining the status of this nation, the short-sellers, the hedge-funders, cleaning up. The oligarchs laughing all the way to the bank, and everyone else pushed towards destitution, absolute misery, and chaos and collapse in a country that was one of the richest, most stable, most prosperous on Earth, ripped apart by this neoliberal experiment. Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are members of an extreme cult called neoliberalism. When this cult first started to be developed in the [00:26:00] late 1930s, it was regarded as just crazy, completely fringe, marginal, no one paid it much attention. But then it started receiving serious money. Money from some of the richest people on Earth. And it started being championed by those rich people's media. They began to push it and push it and push it until eventually it became the water in which we swim, or to be more accurate, the sewage in which we drown. Neoliberalism became so much a part of our political lives that we no longer even recognize it as being a distinct thing.
Neoliberalism has been the dominant ideology in this country for the past 40 years, since Mrs. Thatcher came to power, and Blair saw himself as inheriting Thatcher's mantle. He slightly modified some of its more extreme elements. You shrink the state, you transfer public services to the private sector. Try to prevent trade unions from [00:27:00] exercising power, and you switch our perceptions of ourselves from being citizens to being consumers.
The market must take precedence over politics, which means money takes precedence over democracy and the people with the money, the oligarchs, the billionaires, are the people who are effectively put in charge. And while it's been this pervasive force in this country for 40 years, Truss and Kwarteng are the most extreme advocates of neoliberalism that we've ever had in government.
They've been schooled by the dark money neoliberal think tanks. Organizations such as the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Adam Smith Institute, the Taxpayers Alliance, some of which go back to the very foundations of neoliberalism, and were the organizations that were funded in the first instance by these immensely rich people and turn this from being a fringe cult to a mainstream political [00:28:00] organization. Both Truss and Kwarteng have been rigorously trained, particularly by the Institute of Economic Affairs in this doctrine and several of their crucial advisors, people like Ruth Porter, people like Matthew Sinclair, people like Caroline Elsom, people like Alex Wilde, they are straight out of these extremist, so-called think tanks who refuse to reveal who's funding them. They're no longer lobbying government. They are the government. Now, the thing about these so-called think tanks is they claim to be independent think tanks, just thinking about stuff, as if they're some kind of academics. [They] go, Hmm, yes, what's the best policy for this country? Let us objectively determine that. In reality, they are lobby groups acting on behalf of the oligarchs and the corporations who give them their money. And every so often there's a leak and we discover who's been paying them. Oh, it's the tobacco companies. Who would've guessed? It's the oil companies. Who would've guessed? It's some really, really nasty US billionaires. [00:29:00] Who would've guessed? Could there perhaps be a connection between the people who fund them and the positions that they take? That the very rich should stop paying tax. That industry should stop being regulated. That trade unions should effectively be shut down. That protest movements should be shut down. They are just lobby groups on behalf of these organizations whose identity they won't reveal. But here's the astonishing thing. The BBC, in common with almost all the rest of the media, invites these people onto its current affairs programs every single day. They populate question time. The Today Program, Newsnight, the whole lot. They're on there almost 24/7 without ever being challenged as to who's funding them and who they represent.
So when we see the absolute financial-economic-social catastrophe that this extreme version of neoliberalism has just inflicted on this country, that catastrophe is not [00:30:00] just on Truss and Kwarteng, it's also on those dark money think tanks. It's also on the BBC. It's also on the billionaire press which is being championing these crazy ideas for so long.
I think the most likely way this will pan out is that the massive economic crisis caused entirely by this government is going to put a huge squeeze on public finances. And then this government is gonna say, Oh, we can't afford to fund public services. Damn. We'll have to privatize the NHS. We'll have to do all the things they've always wanted to do. Destroy the administrative state. Privatize everything. Rip down public services. Rip down public protections, and they'll be able to say, and this time they'll have a justification for it, There's no money. We can't afford it. And why is there no money? Because they squandered that money on giving it away to the richest people, on giving it away to the energy companies, on tanking the [00:31:00] pound, on tanking our economy. I see this program as being as dangerous politically as it is economically and socially.
For the 30 years following the Second World War governments everywhere recognized that to prevent the resurgence of fascism, you had to ensure that people's needs were met. You had to ensure that people had economic security, that if they fell out of work, they wouldn't starve, they wouldn't become destitute. You had to ensure that there were good public services, so that people's need for health, for education, for all the other things which make for a good life, were there. And governments knew that if those things were in place, people would not succumb to the siren call of fascism. They would have too much to lose. They couldn't be conned so easily if they weren't desperate for a solution. And fascism plays on people's desperation. But then with the advance of neoliberalism and its adoption by Thatcher, by Reagan, and then by their many imitators [00:32:00] around the world, that lesson was forgotten. And they ripped apart the social safety net. They ripped apart public services. And now that process is accelerating greatly. And the great danger when that happens is that the fascists come back and the fascists say, We're the new broom. We'll sort everything out. We'll sweep away the corruption. We'll solve these intractable problems. Of course, that's another lie because there is no fascist movement ever, which has not been supported by the oligarchs, but it pretends otherwise. It pretends it's gonna save us from the very forces that have caused this mess when actually it's an acceleration of those forces. The danger is that if you don't have real and workable alternatives to the disastrous program that this government is enforcing, then people are gonna look around and they're gonna turn to an anti-politics, and that anti-politics is most clearly represented by fascism.
And this is why labor has to step up. [00:33:00] This is why labor has to stop being this timid, restrained, tooth-sucking movement that it's become and actually introduce the radical proposals for changing our lives, for improving our lives, for ensuring we have the public services and the economic security that we need to ensure that it is seen as a genuine alternative to this government and not a slightly modified version of it.
I think if you were to put your finger on the beating heart of neoliberalism, if indeed it has a heart, it's the denial of humanity. It's the denial of human relations. It's the denial of anything except buying and selling. There should be no empathy, no compassion, no altruism, no kindness. We should not care about other people. That does not reflect human nature. They're constantly trying to tell us, You are selfish, you are greedy. And sure we've all got some selfishness and greed in us, but these are not our [00:34:00] dominant characteristics. There's a huge body of research showing that our dominant characteristics are empathy and altruism and benevolence and kindness towards other people - a community, a family - of being together with other people and wanting them to have good lives as well as ourselves to have good lives. So we will not stand for this. We must not stand for this. We must gather in unprecedented numbers to defy this attempt by a weird, extreme cult to impose their beliefs on us.
“We Are a Democracy in Name Only”: George Monbiot on Truss Resignation & Who Will Be Next British PM - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-21-22
GEORGE MONBIOT: What happened was that Liz Truss applied pure neoliberal theory, in the expectation that it would act as a kind of magic dust which would create massive growth and prosperity in this country, just as neoliberal theory predicted. Her policies were shaped by opaquely funded lobby groups, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the TaxPayers’ [00:35:00] Alliance, the Adam Smith Institute, Center for Policy Studies — all of which boasted, on September the 23rd, when her mini budget was published, that they had got exactly what they wanted and that they themselves were the authors of those policies. Clearly, they’re now trying to distance themselves. And what they’ve been trying to do, throughout their existence, is to sweep away taxes on the rich, to sweep away regulations, to sweep away trade unions, to sweep away protest and other fundamental civic rights, and create what they think of as a pure market economy, which really means allowing the rich to overwhelm democracy. It means plutocracy rather than democracy.
Now, in the past, successive prime ministers have had similar agendas, but they’ve also had to temper them slightly, because they have some, more or less, realistic appreciation of what the public might be able to tolerate. But Liz Truss, her great [00:36:00] failing, from the point of view of being a politician, was she’s completely unable to read people. She seems to have no social antennae at all and no concept of what she might be doing to other people. I believe she’s entirely devoid of empathy. And so, she didn’t try to disguise her agenda. She didn’t try to wrap it up in platitudes. She just forced it through. And interestingly, for someone who believes that the markets should have the final word on everything, the markets had the final word on Liz Truss, because she tanked the economy.
The really terrifying thing is not so much who’s in charge, but what they’re able to pass in terms of legislation while they are prime minister. And something which has scarcely been reported in the press here, it beggars belief that we’re not all screaming about this, was the Public Order Bill, which was passed through the House of [00:37:00] Commons just a few days ago by the home secretary, the day before she was pushed out of office. Like all Tory casualized workers in our Tory economy, as soon as she had done the business, she was chucked out. And this Public Order Bill is the most repressive legislation ever experienced in the U.K. in the modern era, and potentially the most repressive legislation in any OECD member in recent times.
If you have protested in the previous five years, you can be forced to wear an electronic tag and to have your home fitted with monitoring equipment. You can be forced to report to the police as and when they choose. You can be forced to stay at home. You can be forced not to go to certain places, no longer to associate with friends of yours. You’re no longer allowed to attend any protest or, indeed, to talk about attending a protest or encourage anyone else [00:38:00] to attend a protest. This is just one of the astonishingly draconian measures which has been pushed through, right under the radar, just before the Truss government collapsed.
James O'Brien claims trickle-down economics is as ghoulish, greedy and gross as it appears - LBC - Air Date 9-21-22
JAMES O'BRIEN - HOST, LBC: Quick shout to Julian who says, Hi, James. I could tell you a joke about trickle down economics, but you probably wouldn't get it. Just think about it for a minute, all right?
So here is the idea behind trickle down economics. Tax cuts benefit those who pay the most tax. The more tax you pay, the more you benefit from a tax cut. This is not complicated. This is not rocket science. So the thinking is, behind it, that if people who have already got the most money have even more money to spend, then that money will make its way into the pockets of the people with the least money.
I think it's a pretty disgusting ideology for two reasons. Number one, it doesn't work, but number two, it sells an [00:39:00] almighty lie. It sells a lie that policies designed to enrich the richest are somehow actually designed to help the poorest. Now, if you could prove to me that that were true, I'd have to undertake a Johnson-esque U-turn on my positioning. But for example, stamp duty cuts that are coming that will benefit people who can afford to buy homes. It will see more movement in a housing market that's already massively inflated and therefore will do absolutely nothing for people who are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. Spending large amounts of public money on building social housing that would then subsequently pay for itself would be a progressive policy. Helping homeowners buy more houses or do more deals seems to me to be almost incomprehensible if you are seriously trying to help a lot of people. Which leads me to the question that will underpin the first hour of this morning's [00:40:00] program. What is this designed to do?
The reason I mentioned Johnson's absence of integrity and policy at the beginning of this introduction was simply because we are going to talk about Liz Truss differently from how we talked about Boris Johnson. It's the difference between somebody with no plan and somebody with what may prove to be a diabolical plan. Trickle down economics seems to me to be fundamentally and fatally flawed for one very, very simple reason. The more money you've got, the less likely you are to spend it. My tax cuts - cuz I'm gonna get very well looked after as a top rate taxpayer, I'd be very, very well looked after by any tax cuts that Liz Truss introduces - are almost certainly gonna stay in my savings account. If I was already living hand to mouth, if I was already finishing each month with a little bit less than was coming in, any money that made its way into my bank account would go straight back into the economy.
This is just one simplistic and very personal, very subjective perspective on the issue. The idea [00:41:00] that you can improve the lot of everybody by improving deliberately and specifically the lot of the best off, the lot of the wealthiest, the lot of the richest, seems to me to be actually disgusting.
I'm a Catholic by birth, or not by birth, by baptism, which means I've been raised very much in the Christian tradition. And that seems to me to be completely at odds. And here's not a phrase you'll hear from me very often, but you're talking still about people who claim they're Christian when they're trying to deport people to Rwanda. This seems to me to be against Christ's teachings. The idea that you help the poorest by making sure the richest have got more. And I want you to talk to me about that. I want you to just simply talk about whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong, and whether actually those of us who strain a little too hard sometimes to see the good in everybody. I was a little bit haunted by one tweet yesterday. The one that talks about my [00:42:00] obsession to find a good Tory. And you're right, I do believe that there are good people in almost all walks of life. I make exceptions for some groupings, I suppose, some political ideologies. Obviously, good Nazis are particularly thin on the ground, but those of us who do, because it's a much healthier way to live your life strain to see the good in everybody, perhaps need to turn it down on a daylight today, because trickle down economics is as ghoulish and as greedy and as gross as it appears. It's not something that becomes less offensive the more you understand. It's not something that gives up its gifts the deeper you dig into its detail. It's something deliberately and disgustingly designed to take a topsy turvy society and put even more corn in the sacks of the wealthy while claiming that it will somehow trickle down from a sealed sack into the begging bowls of [00:43:00] society's poorest people. And we have been so gaslit and so groomed in this country by ludicrous, self-defeating nonsense in our media about striver versus skiver, about private versus public, about, you know, hardworking people, the richest people are the hardest working. Absolute nonsense. But it has been so successfully perpetrated upon our people for so long that now it reaches its apotheosis. A government that will absolutely unapologetically commit itself to the idea that we help fix a tanking economy by making sure the richest people in it have got even more money than they had yesterday.
Go on, riddle me that. And you have to be honest with me, I think, don't you? Look, I'm a top rate taxpayer and I hate this policy. That makes [00:44:00] me a champagne socialist or a virtue signaler, or whatever the word is this week, to describe people who benefit from unfairness and therefore abhor the unfairness. But who is this designed to appeal to? You know who it's designed to appeal to. You hear them on this radio station all the time designed to appeal to people who think that they've worked harder than everybody else, and that's why they're landlords or they've worked harder than everybody else, and that's why they're rich, no matter that they were often born [unintelligible]. They think they've scored a hat trick. They think the unfairness is justified, or they think that a rich man belongs in his castle and a poor man belongs at his gate. Even the poor man will sometimes believe this because God made them high and lowly and ordered their estate.
So who is this designed to appeal to? Not just to the people who will benefit from it, the people who pay a lot of tax because they earn a lot of money. It's also designed to appeal to the people, and this is the bit I've never understood, it [00:45:00] will also appeal to the people who will never, ever get a piece of the action. The temporarily frustrated millionaires as John Steinbeck called them, the people who will always be on the wrong side of Easy Street, but who want the people on the right side of Easy Street to get all the breaks and all the tax cuts, and all the bonuses and all the benefits because one day, one day, I could be on the right side of unfairness.
And those are the people I think that fascinate me the most. Someone asked me the other. What did you talk about before Brexit and Boris Johnson? And I struggled to remember, but if you did listen to the program back in those days, you'd have heard that Steinbeck quote a thousand times. There is no such thing, there was no such thing as poverty in Dust Bowl era America, just temporarily frustrated millionaires. The people who support and sustain [00:46:00] epic inequality, a huge unfairness, a fetishization of wealth, despite not having any, that's who Liz Truss is going after. I wonder whether, at this point in our economic cycle, in our national history, I wonder whether it will work this time.
Does Economics Drive All Politics? - WhoWhatW 10-20-22
MARTIN WOLF: What we forgot, crucially, is that to make this consistent with a democratic political order, you need institutions that manage the domestic economy and cushion the international processes I’ve described, manage them too, if you like, working side by side. And people forgot the latter. Now, is this easy? No, it can’t be because the economy is naturally and has been, ever since modernity began, let’s say two centuries ago, powerfully international. It can’t cease to be so. But [in] most countries there’s simply no choice.
But that creates the [00:47:00] danger of wild markets. It creates the danger, if you don’t manage it, of huge financial crises, it creates the danger of radical shifts in income distribution. All of these can be dealt with, but it requires effort and will to do so. And the problem, I think, is we’ve got what you call hierarchy in markets – I would just call world markets – while we have decided, particularly in our countries, to reduce the role of and effectiveness of government. And that creates this wild and unstable process, I think, now, that we have been seeing.
JEFF SCHECHTMAN - HOST, WHOWHATWHY: Speaking of wild and unstable processes, maybe this would be a good time to talk about what’s happening in the UK right now, because I think that a lot of the American audience follows it and really doesn’t have a good grasp of what’s transpiring there. Talk a little bit about that, Martin.
MARTIN WOLF: I think we need to put this in a longer-term context. [00:48:00] The UK has had substantial difficulty in managing well the more recent processes of economic development and avoiding falling behind. And that’s really, you might say, is the whole postwar period. So in 1950, the UK was one of the richest European countries, and now it’s, not at the bottom – I’m thinking of Western European countries – but it’s probably ranked about 15th or below in GDP per head. I haven’t looked at that detail, but it’s fallen many, many places in that ranking.
And that’s because of a whole series of problems in the British economy. Margaret Thatcher came along in 1980 promising to solve that problem by moving radically to the market. And there were some [00:49:00] improvements, productivity growth seemed to improve, but the economy became substantially more unequal. Our industry was very badly damaged, and that created large areas of our country which were poor and remaining poor. They weren’t getting any better. You’ve got similar problems, of course, regionally in America, too, high levels of regional inequality. And very unhappy people.
But this was sustainable until the financial crisis because everybody was growing. But since the financial crisis, 2007 to ’09, GDP per head in the UK has been more or less stagnant because productivity growth has more or less ceased. Nobody fully understands why it’s been so bad, but it has been. We’ve had a conservative government which promised to fix this and failed signally.
And as people got angrier, more upset, people had to find a scapegoat. And the European Union was the scapegoat: the European Union’s [00:50:00] bossiness and its regulation and all the rest of it, all these foreigners who were pushing us around, as it were. And that generated the pressure on the right for a vote on leaving the EU. And that, in turn, and that by a whisker, as it were, won.
So we went off in a wild, very damaging policy direction at the behest of a relatively small number of zealots who had persuaded the vast majority of people that what was ailing them, the things that were wrong for them, was something to do with the European Union, which was simply a lie. And ever since that revolutionary proposition that we must transform ourselves to justify this huge leap into the dark has become the dominant push motive, the force in British politics, at least in this government.
And we saw it with the exit deal we [00:51:00] had from the EU. Very bad one, a very controversial one. We saw it in the raising of Boris Johnson, [a] wildly unsuitable person to be prime minister. And then Liz Truss, an even more wildly unsuitable person, and they’re there only because of this Brexit fantasy. And what’s happened in the last month is that the most zealous believers [believe] that if only we deregulate, slash taxes, do Reaganomics, deregulate as if the EU didn’t exist, can we transform the economy into something exciting, dynamic, [and] revolutionary.
And they tried this in the middle of a world crisis. This is a world crisis. They decided to do this and they destabilized markets because people thought that investors who had to finance the British government and finance Britain, which runs a huge current account deficit, they decided obviously that this was no longer a soundly managed country, was a country managed [00:52:00] by wild risk takers. And that led to a crash in, first, Sterling, and then our government bond market, which is called the Gilt market. And this was such a disaster with this soaring long-term interest rates, which affect mortgage rates. We have variable rate mortgages mostly, and forced the Bank of England to intervene. It was a massive crisis. It was, obviously, that these people had overreached insanely, and the chancellors had to go, and the prime minister had to go. And with luck, but I stress with luck, we will have reached the limit of the Brexit fantasy.
And the advantage in Britain is we have two advantages over the US. We can’t go as far in the wrong direction as the US because we simply don’t have the same weight and power to do whatever we want. That’s quite good. And the second, I think, while these Brexiters are pretty crazy in many ways, there isn’t the [00:53:00] social authoritarian, social conservative, and if I may use the word racist element on the scale I think we see in the US.
So, I believe [and] hope that this will be a temporary madness, and we will go back to a more reasonable sort of politics. But that does depend on getting a decent government, which deals with a lot of our deeper problems. And now that will fall on [the] Labour [Party] . I think it’s almost certain to win the next election and we will have to see what happens. I’m less pessimistic now than I’ve been for a while, but I would stress I’m not wildly optimistic. The problems we’ve had in our economy, very different from yours but with some similarities, are deep-seated and they are social as well as economic by now. And it’s difficult to run the country in a coherent and sensible way in this context.
JEFF SCHECHTMAN - HOST, WHOWHATWHY: I know you have to go. One final question with respect to that. Did Brexit, at least, diffuse some of [00:54:00] the populist rage that we see in other places in Europe right now?
MARTIN WOLF: I think it has, in the following respects. It’s been tried, and people increasingly realize that it hasn’t worked, and that we are not better off as a result, but we are worse off. And people increasingly realize that the people who promoted this most actively are incompetent and foolish. And the thing that most encourages me is, right now, so this is a contrast, say, with the US, the Labour Party is expected to get about 50 percent of the vote in the next election and the conservatives 25 percent, that’s what the polls are showing.
The conservatives have never polled so low. It’s just incredible. So, a very large proportion of the population seems to have decided these people are crazy and they made promises that they couldn’t keep and perhaps never intended to keep. This is encouraging. And in addition, I would suggest [00:55:00] that the core political institutions of our country have continued to work in the sense Boris Johnson was a liar and a rogue, and we got rid of him.
Kwasi Kwarteng was an incompetent finance minister. We got rid of him at record speed. And the same with Liz Truss. And no one out there in British politics is successfully trying to mobilize public opinion around a strategy like Donald Trump’s. So, that sort of hyper-conservative policy is not actually one that we are seeing. So, I am moderately optimistic that the basic social stability of Britain will remain.
One of the more striking things is that, in Brexit, one of the big issues with stopping or controlling immigration, but the British public seems to have decided that immigration isn’t such a terrible thing after all. And it seeks to be a front-rank issue in British politics, which, in many ways, are different, or every country is [00:56:00] different.
So, I’m modestly optimistic that that fever, which was captured by the Brexiters, and the anger captured by the Brexiters with the promises they made, which have so obviously proved false, that fever may now break, and we will get back to something more normal, and really and truly unlike, say, in France or Italy and elsewhere, there are really no obvious fascistic, anti-democratic, authoritarian tendencies as far as I can see in our politics.
No one imagines we won’t have a fair election. Nobody imagines that we won’t be able to get rid of leaders who misbehave and that’s at least modestly encouraging.
The Brexit effect: how leaving the EU hit hte UK | FT Film - Financial Times - Air Date 10-18-22
PETER FOSTER: We see it, first of all, in terms of the orginal vote to leave the EU, that sent the pound down about 10% against our trading partners, and that makes imports more expensive. It also makes your exports [00:57:00] more competitive, but in this case, our exports didn't budge. They didn't go up at all, but our import prices went up, and that raised inflation by about 2-3%. So that simply made people poorer. When it's been calculated that the immediate cost of that was about £870 per household.
DANI LOUGHRAN: I'm Dani Loughran I'm the management director of Aston Chemicals, a specialty chemical distributor for the personal care industry. Our freight costs went up. Everything that's costed in dollars around the world became more expensive if you were paying in Sterling, and that was caused by Brexit.
PETER FOSTER: For many years the Brexit side of the debate felt they won the argument because there hadn't been much absolute panic in markets. In the recent mini budget, Kwasi Kwarteng really spooked the markets. Sterling absolutely plummeted, then subsequently recovered, but more serious was what's happened to government borrowing costs because the financial markets have taken the view that the budget was effectively reckless. Remember [00:58:00] the statement of, "we've had enough of experts," the mini budget was really the culmination of the economic policies that have been put in place since the Brexit vote.
HELEN THOMAS: Brexit's proponents refused to even discuss the idea that Brexit's a factor in the UK's performance. Brexit opponents or remainers wanna pin everything on Brexit. The truth is inevitably somewhere in between, but to say that Brexit isn't a factor in what you're seeing in the UK performance is silly. Of course it is.
GEORGE PARKER: We're starting to see a very interesting pattern emerging, comparing Britain with the performance of other advanced economies. After the pandemic, there was a trade recovery by all the other G7 countries, and Britain's trade recovery has been more or less flat.
PETER FOSTER: So the UK fell behind in its trade intensity.
GEORGE PARKER: One of the other things you can measure is the drop off in the number of trade relationships between smaller companies in the UK and their foreign counterparts, and that's important cause it tells you something about trade patterns, but it also tells you something about the way that [00:59:00] smaller companies in the UK used to grow by gradually expanding their business, selling stuff into the European single market, and that's simply not happening anymore.
PETER FOSTER: The LSE has calculated that the number of relationships between the UK and the EU fell by about a third in the first six months after the trade and corporation agreement came into force. The Resolution Foundation has calculated that the long run hit to wages will be £470 per person.
HELEN THOMAS: Brexit has increased bureaucracy. Many small businesses have really struggled to get to grips with that.
KIRAN TAWADEY: I'm Kiran Tawadey. Hamsteads is an organic tea company. We import tea from all over the world and sell it all over the world. We were told that we would have the most amazing deal. We were gonna get our sovereignty and we were gonna keep all the advantages of being the EU. As a business, we were dumb enough to believe that. Come January last year, we got an order from Italy. We shipped it as normal, thinking there'll be a little bit of paperwork and we'll figure it out, and it sat [01:00:00] for 12 weeks in different customs houses. So the reality was very different.
ROB WALKER: I'm Rob.
VICTORIA LEYSHON: I'm Vicky.
ROB WALKER: And we co-founded Little Star Jewelry in 2017 as a husband and wife team.
The plan was always to establish the brand in the UK first and then island onwards to France, onwards to Germany.
VICTORIA LEYSHON: The whole question of Brexit didn't really come into my thought much, cuz at no point did I think it would be as complicated for businesses to grow and to develop.
PETER FOSTER: Remember when we were part of the single market, you could throw a box of tea or a packet of bangers into the back of a van in Birmingham and just drive it to Barcelona or Bonn or Brussels without let or hindrance. Now you can't do that.
KIRAN TAWADEY: The reality was January to June, we couldn't ship anything to the EU, nothing. It's 27 countries. They all have different borders, they all have different rules, and we were treated as a third country, and we just had to suck it up.
Come May I decided I needed to do something. [01:01:00] I said, what if I set up my own entity in Europe and made that the master distributor for our company and for our products? And rather than sending small consignments at a time, which were very costly and complicated, and time hungry and resource hungry, why not just do one big consignment every so often?
PETER FOSTER: Clear customs, all those formalities, VAT once, and then distribute outta the warehouse to all of your clients in the European Union. That means less business taking place in the UK and more business taking place in the European Union.
DANI LOUGHRAN: It became just unviable for us to continue to export from the UK and use the UK as our European distribution hub. Loris would sit there for days on end. So we moved our entire European business to Poland. That immediately halved the amount of product coming through this warehouse. We are now using fewer freight partners in the UK, more in Germany and Poland. Paying our customers duties to EU countries. We're employing fewer people in the [01:02:00] UK and more in Poland. It's a reduction in money that we are paying to the UK economy. We were lucky that we were able to do that.
VICTORIA LEYSHON: We'd got some agents in France. We're doing really well in the Netherlands and in Spain. All of that has just disappeared.
ROB WALKER: We lost so much business overnight with Holland, but it doesn't mean that we have enough business already established that we'd go and set up an office in Amsterdam. It's not viable for a business of our size of two people.
Getting the product to customers in the European Union would've been two days, has now become 21 days. The only angle for us around that is to do deals with distributors, but those people work on between 30-35% margins. We're left with virtually nothing or we let the business go.
We got a Dutch sales agent who opened over 30 doors in a space of two months for over 30 customers who become two, cuz only two of them can actually be bothered with the implications of what they've got to do to get stock from us. [01:03:00] It's just too much of a headache.
GEORGE PARKER: That is the long term danger for the British economy, that smaller companies that used to expand by starting to move into European markets, which was very easy to do before 2016, will simply just not do that.
KIRAN TAWADEY: We were just upsetting all our customers. One of them actually said to us, We don't want to do with the UK anymore. We can find equal product products from within the EU. So I'm really sorry. It was a tough conversation. We went to a trade show. No European customers came to the UK pavillion, and we overheard one of them saying, there's no point going there. With Brexit, we don't even know what's gonna happen, so there's no point trying to build new alliances with British suppliers.
PETER FOSTER: The damage from non-tariff barriers is it puts the UK behind a wall, the European Union, 27 countries that have one set of rules for the movement of goods, people, capital, and labor.
HELEN THOMAS: It's broadly more cost, more agro, more uncertainty, more delays, less efficiency. In some cases, a sort of unequal playing field with competitors [01:04:00] overseas.
VICTORIA LEYSHON: A French company will buy from Germany because they'll probably be able to get the same product easier and without any of the extra costs that we're having to apply to get it out of the UK we design all of the range here and then we send it out to our manufacturers in Thailand and Hong Kong. We have a tariff for it coming into the UK, then have to pay another tariff when we're sending outta the UK because it's not produced in the UK.
KIRAN TAWADEY: The EU is very bureaucratic and before that we were within the bureaucracy and now we're outside of it.
DANI LOUGHRAN: The whole story about EU red tape making things more difficult from businesses, from our perspective, was a complete lie.
CHRIS GILES: Since 2016, business investment has been growing in all other G7 countries, but not in the UK.
GEORGE PARKER: You can see that for a very long time, business investment was an upward curve in the UK, but since 2016, in particular in the Brexit vote, it's been plateauing and the government's been trying to rectify this, been throwing lots of money at it. They've introduced something called [01:05:00] the super deduction where you get huge allowances if you invest in capital and innovation, but it hasn't really shifted the dial.
CHRIS GILES: And really worrying for the future of our economy because in the end, investment drives the capital and the ability for economies to grow into the future.
GEORGE PARKER: And some people are saying I Brexit's not the only thing by any stretch of the imagination, but something is going on.
CHRIS GILES: There might be a small effect that the UK is a more service sector driven economy than others, but France is just as much of a service sector economy as the UK, Germany, big manufacturing economy, isn't that much more of a manufacturing economy than the UK and in every other country we've seen much more business investment.
This is the Brexit effect. People don't know the direction of the UK economy. Inevitably, business investment doesn't grow as strongly.
We've seen in all areas, in prices, in terms of investment, and in terms of trade, we are seeing negative effects due to Brexit, which we can now [01:06:00] pinpoint as a Brexit effect, not a pandemic effect, not an energy crisis effect. These are very clearly Brexit effects.
GEORGE PARKER: Plainly, there's been a huge impact on the British economy caused by the COVID pandemic. Equally, the supply chain effects of the Ukraine war, particularly on the energy price, they'll be ludicrous to claim that problems facing the British economy are exclusively down to Brexit. But what you can do is draw a comparison between Britain and other countries.
CHRIS GILES: We see the UK pretty close to the bottom of the league table in terms of the forecast for economic growth, particularly in 2023. So the UK essentially sees no growth at all, and the only country that was worse than the UK was sanctioned Russia.
PETER FOSTER: You can explore the gap between the UK's performance, which has uniquely suffered Brexit, and the performance of other economies that have not.
GEORGE PARKER: The UK government would argue that's something to do with the bungee jump effect of the pandemic, where Britain went down, then came back up more quickly, and now things are settling down again.
KIRAN TAWADEY: I think it's really easy for the government to try and push the [01:07:00] Brexit effect under the carpet and blame everything onto COVID and now everything onto Ukraine. I can see it in the figures and in the way that our business is operating, but we were really hit badly by Brexit last year. We've put measures in place that are detrimental to the British economy, unfortunately, but will help us.
CHRIS GILES: The office for budget responsibility thinks that ultimately Brexit will cause the UK to be 4% worse off. It's about a hundred billion pounds a year that the economy is not producing. 40 billion pounds of tax revenues also. We are poorer because we are not getting that economic growth that we otherwise would've done.
PETER FOSTER: The Brexiteer notion of a Brexit dividend is often based around the idea that the UK can have a nimbler economy, it can deregulate. The difficulty is when you deregulate, you create a separate regulatory system.
GEORGE PARKER: The chemical industry spent 500 million pounds over a decade registering their chemicals in the European Union, which gave them access to the [01:08:00] British market in 27 other countries.
They're now having to reregister all of those chemicals for a separate UK register at a cost now estimated by the government at 2 billion pounds.
PETER FOSTER: So what we've essentially done is ask industry to spend billions of pounds duplicating a regime that already existed in the EU, and because we want to be sovereign, we want to be different, we are building our own. But that is just cost.
DANI LOUGHRAN: I don't understand anyone who says that deregulation is going to be a benefit to industry. From my industry's point of view, it is nothing but extra cost, bureaucracy, and work for no advantage whatsoever.
Final comments on the destabilization of neoliberalism
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with AJ+ explaining the recent history of the UK leading up to and following Brexit. The Financial Times laid out the six interlocking crises the UK is facing. Kay and Skittles looked at the dynamics of neoliberalism and the legacy of Thatcherism. Double Down News featured George Monbiot explaining the need for a [01:09:00] functioning government and social safety net to stave off fascism. Democracy Now! also spoke with George Monbiot about the short but eventful tenure of Liz Truss as Prime Minister. James O'Brien described on LBC the dirty ghoulish lie of neoliberalism and trickle down economics. And WhoWhatWhy discussed the trajectory of the UK through the context of internationalism versus Thatcherism, the frustration that led to Brexit, and the saving grace that at least they don't seem to have a hyper conservatism the likes of Trumpism Brewing in the UK, at least not yet.
That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from the Financial Times featuring the voices of many small business owners describing their difficulties dealing with the post Brexit market. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a [01:10:00] financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.
And now to finish off, I just want to tie in a seemingly unrelated story. As I'm recording the news that Nancy Pelosi's house was broken into and her husband attacked is still breaking and details are trickling out. Apparently the attacker was looking for Nancy herself and it seems likely it was politically motivated. And after January 6th, no event of this kind should be seen as surprising. In fact, I find it surprising that it hasn't happened more often or sooner.
I bring it up now because I think it's very much connected to the topic of today's show. It's not obvious at first glance, today we talked about the UK, yes, but really it's mostly about the effects of neoliberalism on society more broadly, definitely including the United States. it was called the Thatcher Reagan era for a reason. They shared an ideology that [01:11:00] shaped both countries across the Atlantic for decades.
My big takeaway from this episode is the importance of social stability, because the alternative is a cascade of horrors that we've seen before and are seen again right now. The most famous example is that the Nazis only managed to take over power in Germany because it was during a period of extreme instability and frustration, humans hate instability and will reach for whatever solution seems most likely to be able to stop it, and since the far right thrives on making broad oversimplified promises about law and order, emphasis on the order, that can sound appealing in a time of instability in a way that it wouldn't during a more stable time.
In our current period, we are being destabilized on many fronts simultaneously. The internet and social media have been incredibly destabilizing. They're changing the ways [01:12:00] we disseminate and consume information, and while we're still getting used to that, we get hit first by a major recession and now a pandemic. Obviously, these things isn't where our problems started. We had 30 years of neoliberalism before the advent of social media that really softened us up as a society for economic insecurity and this idea of hyperindividualism that primed us for social media, which was always going to strain social ties. But we were really primed to have it completely rip apart our already frayed social fabric. Neoliberalism tears away at social fabric, so does social media. So to have both was particularly damaging.
Then, when people are still in a state of precarity and the right wing reactionary forces are offering authoritarianism as their solution to the [01:13:00] problems of neoliberalism, that's when we get the pandemic. Which, again, would've been destabilizing in any event in the best of times, but we were already on shaky ground. And if you recall, January 6th was not the first instance of right wing violence that's happened. Recently, before that, Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, was targeted by right wing militiamen in a kidnapping plot over Michigan COVID mitigation policies. Now, luckily that plot was foiled before it got off the ground, but it just as easily could have resulted in a scenario very similar to the news that's coming out of Nancy Pelosi's house.
My point isn't to discount the role of right wing extremism in the rise of political violence, but to actually expand our understanding of the context in which that violence has emerged. A society built on the premise that we don't need [01:14:00] stabilizing systems and that pure individualism and grit are all people need will breed, first, economic instability, and then social and political instability, fueled in part by conspiracy theories believed by people who are primed to believe things that are unbelievable because of the state of precarity. And the person who broke into Nancy Pelosi's home and attacked her husband, the one piece of news that has come out about him so far is that he was a major conspiracy theorist, unsurprising. So once again, the personal is political, and it's important to understand the context of structural forces that play into, and help make more likely, .These kinds of individual actions.
As always, keep the comments coming in at (202) 999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected] That is gonna be it for today. [01:15:00] Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. To Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app.
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So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, [01:16:00] DC. My name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left Podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.
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