For Britain to solve its economic problems, it needs to stop lying to itself about its past

On trade, ‘Empire 2.0’, and the truth in Liam Fox’s nonsense.

In May 1840, William Gladstone said that he lived “in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China”, and that he couldn’t think of “a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace”.

He was talking, of course, about the Opium Wars. If you need a reminder, they’re the ones in which the UK used its superior naval power to murder Chinese people until they finally allowed British drug pushers to flood their country with the then equivalent of heroin.

One of those industrial scale drug dealers – a Scotsman called Thomas Sutherland – understood that every big trade needs finance. And so in 1865, he and a few others founded the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation. HSBC is now the UK’s third biggest company, and still bogged down in drug-money scandals.

Britain’s second biggest company, BP, was founded as “Anglo Persian Oil” so that the UK could plunder newly found fossil fuels from Iranian soil. Our biggest, Shell, is similarly a long-term beneficiary of imperial might.

Today, in the wake of Phillip Hammond’s budget, Britain’s multiply disgraced trade secretary Liam Fox is meeting with more than 30 Commonwealth ministers in London in an attempt to discuss multilateral trade links. While this is exactly the sort of strategy that many Brexit supporters have long advocated, The Times has reported that the plan is derided by some civil servants as “Empire 2.0”. Which seems fair: Fox has a history of colonial yearning.

When the likes of Fox get all weak-kneed about the old days of the empire, we should perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that their nostalgia doesn’t extend to the genocide, forced famine, concentration camps, castration with pliers, or rape with broken bottles, though the willingness to ignore all of these does tell us something important about the British psyche. What people are interested in returning to really is that other key element of imperialism: plunder.

The trade secretary’s strategy, tied to Tory out-rider Melanie Phillips’ vainglorious ultra-nationalism in the Times this week (top tip: never challenge the Irish to an argument about the history of these islands), is merely an official attempt to execute an economic strategy based on a growing cultural trend. In recent years, we’ve documented on openDemocracy the expanding fashion for what we’ve called British Empire Kitsch. From the ever-flashier bling of November’s annual poppy-fest, (which takes place, as it happens, on the anniversary of the date that my great-grandfather was declared ‘missing presumed dead’ at Ypres, and which ‘commemorates’ his death and millions more with flashy light displays and poppies on the side of bombers); to Keep Calm and Carry On mugs; to Jubilee street parties bedecked with bunting in the design of the same Union Flags which flew over some of the first concentration camps; to that same blood stained icon becoming a fashion symbol; the years of the long recession have brought with them a nostalgia for a time when life was easier, and Britain could simply get rich by killing people of colour and stealing their stuff.

All of this is made possible by lies: the lies many of us were told about what our great-grandparents were up to in India, the lies we told ourselves when we decided not to look too closely, the lies we told the peoples we subjugated: Britain is a country built so firmly on deceit, dishonesty and backstabbing that the symbol on our national flag is not just a double-cross, but a triple.

But it’s not just about the traditional opium smoke of nostalgia and untruth. The yearning for the days of empire is the result of more than the old fashioned desire to return to some imagined glory days. At the core of what Fox says, there is in a way an important honesty. For the six years that George Osborne was Chancellor, the government spent its time trying to persuade people that our country’s biggest economic problem was our fiscal deficit. There is an interesting debate to be had about whether he really believed this, and failed, or was using it as an excuse to flog off public services and drive down wages, and succeeded, but that’s another question. In reality, the deficit which the UK really should be worrying about, and debating solutions to, has long been that in trade.

UK balance of trade, from tradingeconomics.com

And here, the stats really are serious: Britain’s balance of trade averaged minus £1458.28 million from 1955 to 2016. Our trade deficit has become chronic. As Des Cohen, who was in the Treasury’s economics team at the time, wrote for openDemocracy back in November, it was the realisation that the Commonwealth wasn’t a big enough market for exports that lured Britain into join the EU in the first place. But, while leaving the Common Market certainly won’t help, joining it didn’t solve the problem either: our long term trade figures are a disaster. What Fox’s meeting highlights is that the government is being forced by Brexit to reveal its thinking in this area, and show that it really doesn’t have any better ideas than falling back on what the Financial Times’ James Blitz calls ‘delusions‘ and wishing that the last century hadn’t happened.

There’s another way to look at this problem. As the New Economics Foundation’s Laurie Macfarlane told me when I interviewed him last week, “much of the increase in paper wealth… that’s happened in the UK… since world war two, has actually been not a result of producing more stuff: it’s basically the result of increases in house prices: asset price inflation.”

In other words, since the end of world war two – which marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire, the UK hasn’t really figured out how on earth to pay our way in the world. Even during the days of imperialism, our trade successes came at the barrel of a gun and with the advantage of being at the centre of a vast sterling zone: it’s not because of a nose for the market that BP and HSBC had their early success, but because of the gunships sat in the port behind them. As, over the decades, country after country has secured independence and left the Sterling Zone, we’ve resorted to inflating the prices of the assets we built up over a couple of centuries and more of empire, and rapidly flogged them off.

Of course, much of this strategy still relies on our imperial remnants. Our Overseas Territory secrecy areas put London at the centre of the world’s money-laundering nexus. As Donald Toon, head of the National Crime Agency, described to the Financial Times “the London property market has been skewed by laundered money. Prices are being artificially driven up by overseas criminals who want to sequester their assets here in the UK”.

The right loves to talk about how Britain is a ‘trading nation’. But that, of course, is just another lie. The truth is that we are terrible at trade. We buy much more than we sell, and produce little that anyone wants. We’re so bad at selling things to the rest of the world that the government has started producing patronising adverts trying to coax British businesses into the international market. Even in the days when people did pay for our stuff, it was usually under duress.

The process of Brexit is likely to be a series of humiliating meetings in which the country is forced to accept a procession of ruinous trade deal terms – ruinous, at least, for the majority of the population. As it does so, expect Dr Fox, or whoever succeeds him if he’s caught in another scandal, to return home, waving the Union Flag ever more vigorously, and insisting in ever more pompous terms that this is another great victory for the Mothership Britannia. People might even believe it. We’re good at accepting lies.

  • J Michael

    What an appalling article.
    “Poppy fest”
    An insulting reference to your great grandfather.

    • Adam Ramsay

      The poppy was an invention of Lady Haig to enforce silence about her husband’s crimes. The soldiers who returned from WWI protested against the early Remembrance day events, seeing them as horrific distortions of the horrors they had lived through. We should honour that legacy.

      • SackTheJuggler

        What crimes?

        • Adam Ramsay

          the whole of the first world war, for a start.

          • Goinlike Billio

            You really do exaggerate things don’t you . In fact your whole article is a massive exaggeration but to say that Britain caused the first war takes the biscuit

          • James Powys

            Ramsay gets his history from coffee-table books, the Huffington Post and poets.

          • JJ

            Flagged as offensive and ad hominem garbage.

        • JJ

          If you didn’t know about the Opium wars, the article tells you anyway. You have no excuses.

          • SackTheJuggler

            So Douglas Haig was responsible for the whole of the First World War and the opium wars too? Wow. Pass me that joint when you’ve finished with it.

          • JJ

            I interpreted your comment as applying to the UK rather than an individual. Feel free to make childish and smart-arse comments, though. I am sure you will feel better for it.

  • Alistair Livingston

    What annoys me is the constant mentions of ‘free trade’. The UK was a free trade nation from the 1830s to 1931-but then gave it up because we were no longer the only industrialised country and had been overtaken by other countries. For a bit more detail see http://greengalloway.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/brexit-and-free-trade-lesson-from.html

    • JJ

      The definition of free trade also excludes the forced trade across the British Empire, which was a major component of economic power and growth. But from an ideological perspective, the UK believed in free trade as a general principle — apart from when it did not make economic sense. This did not stop in 1831: no idea what you are talking about!

    • FanaticRealist

      Well, I wouldn’t describe the UK as a ‘free trade nation’ during that period anymore than I would describe East Germany as ‘Democratic’.

      The UK created an empire that covered around 3/4 of the globe from New Zealand to Vancouver and jealously guarded the resources within that empire, whether natural/indigenous (gold & diamonds in southern Africa) or introduced (tea in Kenya, coffee in Ceylon). We acquired that empire using the motivational tools of bayonets and frigates.

      We bought the resources back to the UK (or other stable parts of the ‘white’ Empire) where we turned them into finished goods before re-exporting them back to markets within the empire that were protected by punitive tariff barriers and local regulations that forbade production (e.g. finished cotton in India). Once the empire began to crumble in earnest after the end of WW II, the advantages of having a massively protectionist network that covered both the supply of raw materials and the ultimate destination markets for finished value-added products disappeared like scotch mist over a period of about 15 years and, by 1965, any advantage the UK held over the nations that formed the original EEC was pretty much gone.

      Of course, the UK wasn’t the only guilty party in this type of endeavour; France, Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands all have a similar background as does the United States who shielded their colonialism under the banners of various companies such as Dole, United Fruit as well as their oil companies. People who think that the United States was a stalwart beacon of freedom against the old imperial powers really need to learn how the US behaved in Cuba for nearly a century or indeed Nicaragua.

      Global free trade really didn’t exist until the ITO came into operation in 1947 and GATT was ratified by various nations in a series of rounds that lasted from 1949 to 1986 at which point the WTO was formed and carried on the work.

      The first truly global successful round of GATT came with the Tokyo round which involved 102 nations. Tokyo took place between 1973 and 1979, by which time the UK was already part of the-then EEC.

      So, in reality, the UK has never stood alone in the global free trade environment as we understand it today; there are just some people who – like the people who believe that the Pilgrim Fathers established the Massachusetts Colony in the name of religious freedom – like to believe in comfortable mythologies.

  • Violeta Vajda

    Brilliant article, Adam! Makes me think about similar mechanisms of plunder that have upheld and enforced imperialist ambitions in Central Europe, chief among them Hungary, and are still driving the inflated sense of self-importance we have over here. Also the ways in which the exploitation of Romani labour (via slavery in Romania and serfdom elsewhere) also contributed/contributes to the lies we tell ourselves in Europe.

  • Steve

    Great article. For the significance of the current account deficit (i.e. trade gap) see Duncan Weldon:

    The Current Account as a Political & Foreign Policy Issue. The UK’s huge and persistent current account deficit is a problem; Brexit risks turning it into a disaster.

  • Steve

    The opium for China was grown by the East India Company in Bengal. You can read Smith’s scathing account of the EIC and their opium growing operation in The Wealth of Nations. As Smith notes, “three or four hundred thousand people die of hunger in one year”. The company forced the population to grow opium and other goods for export. We now know that they caused the starvation and death of 10 million people, a third of the population of Bengal, in the early 1770s.

    • Goinlike Billio

      The Chalisa famine of 1880 occurred in an area not under British rule .10 million died there as well.

      • BC

        Steve was talking about the Bengal famine which occured between 1769 and 1773 in areas directly under British rule. The Chalisa famine was in the early 1780s, not 1880 and occured in areas both under direct British rule and in those areas in which the British preferred to rule through local potentates. A third famine took place in 1791 when 11 million people died. The main factor in all cases was El Nino. But the the difference between these and previous occurences of El Nino (which had not caused famine) was the British and their subordination of the economy to the needs of the East India Company and, infamously, their deliberate policy of with-holding famine relief.

        • Goinlike Billio

          Yes my mistake I meant 1780 at around the same time as the Bengal famine in an area not under British rule. The fact that this is not mentioned shows that there is little attempt at balance. the general rule is that famines which occurred under British rule were due to mismanagement or even genocide while those that occurred at other times were due to climate failures .
          In fact famines in India are always caused by climatic failures . It follows that growing more of a crop which will not grow in the area is not going to help matters. Growing cash crops will not cause a famine.
          Famines have to be relieved by bringing food in and that means better transportation . So the British although guilty of mismanagement also contributed to the solution.

          • BC

            “Yes my mistake I meant 1780 at around the same time as the Bengal famine in an area not under British rule.”

            Not under british rule but under British control. There’s no “balance” involved. They were as responsible for this one as the Bengal and Hyderabad famines.

            “the general rule is that famines which occurred under British rule were
            due to mismanagement or even genocide while those that occurred at other
            times were due to climate failures . ”

            They were all due to climate failures. The difference was that the local economy had developed to withstand them so previously they had not caused famines. The three super-famines that occurred between 1769 and the mid 1790s occured in climatic conditions which had been occuring for millenia without famines. The major difference was the ending of food production in order to facilitate the growing of cash crops (such as opium) for the East India Company. They also forbade the storing of staples such as rice in order that they could control prices. This was just as much the case in the nominally independent states as it was in the areas under direct company rule. How you conclude that growing cash crops and forbidding food storage doesn’t interfere with growing food escapes me.

          • Goinlike Billio

            Now you are inferring that there were no famines until the British came along although they are caused as everyone agrees by monsoon failure . Yet here we have one at the same time under an area under an independent ruler on whom British influence was purely nominal. Earlier famines clearly happened but are inadequately recorded.
            Growing cash crops does not cause famine for the reasons I have given.
            You also imply that they were deliberately starving them through controlling the price and hence the supply of rice. To what end was this and who was to grow the profitable cash crops ?
            I do agree that they probably mismanaged matters in the early days but this is very far from the idea of deliberate starvation.

          • BC

            “Now you are inferring that there were no famines until the British came along although they are caused as everyone agrees by monsoon failure .”

            No. I am pointing out that these were economies which had been geared to monsoons and periodic monsoon failure for millenia. The crops grown and the storage of staples prevented serious famine. Shortages would have occured from time to time but series of famines which killed more than 30 million people over a twenty year period and actually resulted in vasts amount of land falling into disuse because there was no one left to farm it would not have been sustainable. It is no random coincidence that this series of famines occured as the British took over.

            “Yet here we have one at the same time under an area under an independent ruler on whom British influence was purely nominal.”

            No. Brtiish CONTROL (not “influence”) was very real and their independence was purely nominal. All these potentates knew that the British allowed them to continue for convenience and could invade and destroy them whenever they wanted to.

            “Growing cash crops does not cause famine for the reasons I have given.”

            You have not given any coherent reason. If land is given over to growing cah crops then there is less left over for subsistence and storage. It’s simple arithmetic.

            “You also imply that they were deliberately starving them through controlling the price and hence the supply of rice. To what end was this and who was to grow the profitable cash crops ?”

            Well the end was clearly to make profit from the sale of rice in times of shortage. Perhaps you have a different explanation for the banning of of stockpiling? It’s academic anyway because the amount of land given over to cash crops and the taxes levied by the East India Company meant there was little surplus to store anyway. With regard to the taxes, they were doubled after the famine in order to get the same amount of revenue from a reduced population.

            Here’s an Indian account of the famines in general but the Bengal famine in particular: https://yourstory.com/2014/08/bengal-famine-genocide/ . There is plenty more informationon the internet if you have the stomach to read it. With regard to the later famines, Mike Davis’s “Late Victorian Holocausts” is worth reading.

          • Goinlike Billio

            Here is a map of India in the early period of British rule :
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalisa_famine#/media/File:India1765.jpg

            The pink areas were the areas under direct British rule – Bengal – which the British could control and expect to gain the land revenues. The remainder were under independent rule . The 1771 famine was in Bengal but the famines of the 1780s onward were largely in other areas Delhi, Western Oudh, Eastern Punjab region, Rajputana, and Kashmir Madras Hyderabad, Southern Maratha country, Deccan, Gujarat, and Marwar so the idea that the British were responsible is not tenable nor is the idea that the British could control the supply of rice through these areas.
            Your link disguises the fact that the British attempted to conquer famine in the late Victorian period with a series of commissions enquiries and famine relief – even Florence Nightingale had her say . They did not come to the conclusion that the problem was shortage of food. Rather it was one of improved land use and transportation which was very successful in that major famines had largely become a thing of the past by 1900.
            The link also contains what is little more than tittle tattle about Churchill. The famine had been overcome in ’41 and ’42 but the immediate cause of the ’43 famine was the Japanese cutting off the main source of supply in Burma. Britain was wholly dependent on supplies across the Atlantic not only of of food but the means to continue the war and in early ’43 was on occasion within 10 days of starvation. He could be accused of failing to divert a ship to the area but at least understandable in the circumstances.

          • BC

            ” The 1771 famine was in Bengal but the famines of the 1780s onward were
            “largely in other areas Delhi, Western Oudh, Eastern Punjab region,
            Rajputana, and Kashmir Madras Hyderabad, Southern Maratha country,
            Deccan, Gujarat, and Marwar so the idea that the British were
            responsible is not tenable nor is the idea that the British could
            control the supply of rice through these areas.”

            The East India Company was in control of the whole area. They had complete control over both trade and land use. The idea that these areas were truly independent is not tenable. The rulers simply administered their areas on behalf of the East India Company. The high death toll was the result of the change of land use which the East India Company had ordered.

            “Your link disguises the fact that the British attempted to conquer
            famine in the late Victorian period with a series of commissions
            enquiries and famine relief – even Florence Nightingale had her say .”

            My link does nothing of the sort. Famine continued because of British policy. That it took so long to put an end to it is nothing to be proud of.

            “The link also contains what is little more than tittle tattle about Churchill.”

            It is not “tittle tattle”. He deliberately allowed Indians to starve. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/7991820/Winston-Churchill-blamed-for-1m-deaths-in-India-famine.html

            “He could be accused of failing to divert a ship to the area but at least understandable in the circumstances.”

            No. He’s accused of deliberately and spitefully thwarting every effort to help. He hated Indians because they dared to defy this evil empire. It’s as simple as that.

          • Goinlike Billio

            Well if you choose to believe that the British arriving in small numbers from a tiny island 5000 miles away were able to establish an instant hegemony over a continent more than 10 times the size and 20 times the population and then for obscure reasons deliberately starve them over the course of two centuries by their control of the rice market then there is little I can do.
            Similarly if you wish to believe that Churchill was a bloodthirsty tyrant deliberately starving Indians rather than a man making difficult decisions when faced by the imminent defeat of the country he governed then again there is nothing I can do but I do not follow you on this.

          • BC

            The British East India Company was formed in 1600 so we’re hardly talking about instant hegemony. By the 1770s it had over 65,000 soldiers under its direct command and several times that number answering to them through its puppet rulers and was effectively in charge of Northern India and much of the rest of it. So the numbers were not small. They had their own navy too. By this time, the only resistance to their total hegemony came from Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, and he even he had to trade with them on their terms, which included growing the crops they specified.

            The reasons why they sought to control the market for rice and other staples are not remotely obscure. It gave them power and and allowed them to increase their profits.

            The bottom line is that this was a massive extortion racket and these were gangsters. After the First War of Independence in the 1850s, the Crown took direct control but even then the administration was largely corrupt and incompetent and as you have already indicated, it took another 50 years to stop the regular occurence of famine.

            “Bloodthirsty tyrant” is your expression and I would make no such claim. I would be quite happy to settle for evil and callous racist with a particular hatred of Indians. The evidence for that includes his own statements and is overwhelming.

          • Goinlike Billio

            The Battle of Plessey was won by a force of 3000 men against 65000. It was technological superiority not manpower which gained the victory. In fact in manpower terms they could never hope to equal an alliance against them as is not hard to imagine – how many British were there on the continent ?. They were the most powerful kid on the block that is all. They slowl;y extended their rule over 50 years . In the early days they were dependent on alliances. Most of India was governed in the way it had always been.
            After 1830 the British government took over. They were generally considered relatively uncorrupt but but their rule was over a period of massively unfavourable circumstances for both India and China (not part of the raj). In fact it is only since the late 1980s that both countries have been able to emerge and regain their previous importance.

          • BC

            The Battle of Plassey was in 1757. Whether supremacy was achieved by technological superiority or anything else is immaterial. It was achieved. They were in charge. Period. And it was not they who were dependent on alliances but those they allied with. They had already demonstrated their ability to crush anyone who defied them. That is how they were able to dictate the agricultural practices which result in the deaths of over 30 million people.

            If you want to believe that the British Empire was anything but a nasty and sordid kleptocracy, go ahead. But don’t expect the descendants of its victims to enter into trade agreements based on fond memories of it – as Liam Fox appears to be doing.

          • Goinlike Billio

            They will make a trade agreement if it is favourable to them as does anyone who enters an alliance in 1780 or an agreement in 2018.

          • BC

            “They will make a trade agreement if it is favourable to them”

            Indeed? Then why have we we just voted to leave a trade agreement which is favourable to us? Sentiment plays a part.

          • Goinlike Billio

            You mean with the EU..?
            The fact that we run a constant deficit with the EU is one of the main reasons for Brexit.
            No sentiment there

          • BC

            No. The main reason for Brexit is the deluded sentiment of a bunch of fools who think we can return to being a World power on our own without the slightest idea of how that will be accomplished. It is a clear case of sentiment winning out over self interest.

          • Goinlike Billio

            Can’t say I’ve met anyone who thought that. More like immigration, deficit , accountability . Quite definite things

          • BC

            No. Well immigration is essential with an aging population, the deficit is to do with the ineptness of UK business and will not be solved by leaving the EU and there’s certainly no accountability with one house of parliament elected by First Past The Post and the other completely unelected. Not remotely definite. It’s the “definite” things which will be to the fore when the UK opts to rejoin when the idiots with emperial delusions are all dead.

          • Goinlike Billio

            You may well be right . It may all end in disaster.
            But it does show consistency by the British. You wrongly claim that the British did not believe in free trade but they did .It had been almost an article of faith with them.
            Brexit is one great big vote in favour of free trade against the single market which erects tariff barriers against goods from outside Europe.
            I have always believed that it is geography rather than politics which decides a country’s character. Certain consistencies can be seen throughout history. The Israel/Palestine conflict is one almighty example.It is all there in the bible. The fact that Britain is an island is another.
            These things are in spite of technological change which may have rendered the ideas obsolete

          • BC

            “You wrongly claim that the British did not believe in free trade but
            they did .It had been almost an article of faith with them. ”

            The Free Trade Movement was regarded as subversive and disruptive until
            well into the 19th century. Even then, it is safe to say that there has
            never been any such thing in practice. The British have always erected tariff barriers to protect their own industry and commerce.

            “Brexit is one great big vote in favour of free trade against the single
            market which erects tariff barriers against goods from outside Europe.”

            Actually it was quite a small vote: 37% of the electorate. And nothing of the kind was voted on. It was a simple question about formal membership of the EU. There was no mention of the single market and nothing about tariff barriers. I would venture that the majority who voted Leave would not be capable
            of even discussing such notions, let alone voting on them.

            “I have always believed that it is geography rather than politics which decides a country’s character.”

            It has nothing to do with geography and everything to do with brainwashing. As children, my generation had lies about the empire pumped into us as effectively as Lance Armstrong’s performance enhancing drugs. That’s why they bel;ieve that the EU can be replaced by countries full of fond memories of the empire. Take away the brainwashed generation (everyone over 60 – that would include me) and the result in England and Wales would have been similar to Scotland’s.

          • Goinlike Billio

            The idea of free trade went back long before the nineteenth century in England. In the eighteenth century there was great discussion about what made a country strong very relevant because of the intense rivalries between them .The French favoured mercantilism and related ideas or protectionism .Tthe British partly because of Adam Smith favoured free trade. I would say that these tendencies are very evident in France and Britain to this day. Things like the Abolition of the Corn laws ,Cobden and Bright could only have happened in a country already inclined to accept them.
            The British did not do this because they were virtuous .They did it because they they wanted to succeed against rivals. Of course if they could they would erect tariff barriers with the best of them to protect their individual interests but overall they recognised the value of free trade.
            I think that you have to be over 50 years old to have learnt anything positive about the empire. Overwhelmingly a semi marxist view shown on the BBC and films and taught in schools is that it was an engine of exploitation or alternatively they know very little about it at all which I would say is the case with my children.

          • BC

            “Overwhelmingly a semi marxist view shown on the BBC and films and taught in schools is that it was an engine of exploitation”

            What does “semi Marxist” mean? By and large, the BBC and all other media have always depicted it as an essentially benign institution – spreading Christianity, civilised values and good governance: The same lie that our generation was brainwashed into believing half a century ago.

            But the whole point about this article is that the people whose fond memories of British munificence Liam Fox is banking on had first hand experience of it. They will drive a hard bargain.

          • JJ

            FYI, both BC and I are over 60. We don’t need your sort of silly condescension. And as for your ridiculous comment “semi-marxist”…Either one examines the ownership of capital and its exploitation of labour or one does not. Nor does marxist analysis require a leftist perspective: it is an analytical framework of economic policy, which you seem to be floundering without.

          • JJ

            Sigh. The Single Market is free trade with 27 other countries. The external tariffs are negotiated and some are being reduced, others are not. The belief is that unrestricted free trade with outside the EU will damage production possibilities within the EU: all the economic evidence supports that belief. Instead of this, you want non-free trade with the EU and non-free trade with the rest of the world. You are off your head.

          • Goinlike Billio

            No I have said that a single market is not free trade, that is all. Try reading what I say rather than making it up.

          • JJ

            I read what you said. Are you a moron? The Single Market (there is no such thing as a single market) is free trade plus free movement of capital plus free mvoement of persons. It is free trade plus the other factors of production. Sorry if this is too complex for you to understand.

          • Goinlike Billio

            Did I say that it wasn’t ?
            It is still not free trade. It is like Imperial Preference which had many supporters but was still voted down by the British people .

          • JJ

            What? Stop posting garbage. And get an education in economics, if you want to post comments on it.

  • BC

    “The truth is that we are terrible at trade.”

    And that’s the basis of Brexit. We shouldn’t be asking these damned foreigners to trade with us. We should be impressing on them the fact that it’s our right and their duty . Once they understand that, the hotentots and fuzzywuzzies will be queing up to to sell us their raw materials for beads. Then, when we’ve turned said materials into sub standard and shoddy goods, they can borrow real money off us to buy them back at exorbitant prices and then be happy to redeem the debt by selling us everything they’ve got left for next to nothing . The idea that they wouldn’t want to do this is preposterous. After all, the alternative would be dealing with foreigners…

    • JJ

      The UK has a long history of hypocritically claiming to want only trade in its international relations. The Empire was not based on voluntary trading relations, and the global domination of the 19th century declined rapidly from the outset of the 20th century. Yet, even after UK trade had been decimated by WWII (and the USA had acquired global dominance), Britain was still harping on about it as late as the early 1960s. This was the era of the dismal failure of EFTA, which Brits thought far superior to the EEC, Euratom and ECSC. Sadly, nobody else agreed and the EEC was the club to be in. After a decade of begging to be allowed in, with De Gaulle totally opposed, the UK entered in 1972 (with effect from 1973). Now, 45 years later, British morons FOR NO OBVIOUS REASONS want to go back to the failed ideas of the 1950s.

      I say, let’s not do this in a half-hearted way. Let’s go back to the 1950s in full style. So, no computers, colour TVs, mobile phones, internet, etc. Just books, the latest black and white small TVs, landlines, and no restaurants or eating out (unless you are stinking rich). The local “caff” should be where you socialise along with tobacco-filled pubs (make sure you don’t consume any funny foreign lager). Yes, this is the way forward for “Poverty UK” — back to the 1950s!

  • William MacDougall

    The British Empire was a great and glorious thing that did much good (such as ending slavery) and some harm (such as the Opium wars) over the years. But it is doubtful that it was of much benefit economically, compared with free trade without the costs of empire, and even more doubtful that its end is a key to understanding British economic success and failure since the end of empire.

    • Redgauntlet

      The British Empire stood by and watched one million Irish die of famine just 150 years ago while it continued to export pork and ham and lots of other produce to England. One million Irish! Has there been a word of regret about that genocide ever from the British State? Not one word.

      The Empire was and is a white supremacist Anglo-Saxan protestant racket which cared for nothing but lining the pockets of the upper class twits who run Britain today. Like Melanie Phillips….

      • William MacDougall

        I said it was a mixed picture, and yes the Irish and Indian famines are probably the biggest black spots in British history, but “Melanie Phillips running Britain today”????? News to me, and I imagine to her too.

        • Redgauntlet

          “A mixed picture” from a British Imperialist / Nationalist point of view you mean, William.

          It was an unmitigated disaster, a catastrophe, a holocaust for those who suffered and died…whole nations!

          One must ALWAYS put oneself in the shoes of the VICTIMS of history. Always, almost without any exception.

          And that is what the Brit Nat Imperialists NEVER DO. They never, ever put themselves in the shoes of the victims. They only stop to think of their own fallen, the British soldier, they do that every year. But for nobody else…

          As for the UK, it is a class-ridden, socially moribund, artistically stifled and sexually repressed backwater…

          • TwmSionCati

            Who threw away science and technology at the very first opportunity in favour of Opera, Ballet, Huntin’ an’ Fishin’, Whorin’ an’ Gamblin’

      • TwmSionCati

        What ever happened to the ‘Normans’ and their descendants who’ve been running the country since 1066 and all that?

        • BC

          They got assimilated – though this does not appear to have happened to their wealth.

          • TwmSionCati

            That’s the very point – they kept the wealth (land) in their clans by selective breeding. OK so since the invention of Life Peerages things have changed slightly – but prior to that the Norman-French aristocracy and their chums in the military and church held power.
            It’s that cabal of Monarchy, Church, Military and Landowners (Who could also raise militias) who validated each other and held the populous under their control.
            And most of those, except for some German interlopers like the Saxe-Coburg Gothas, were Norman descendents.

          • BC

            Well I don’t doubt the aristocracy retained a fair proportion of the Viking genes of the Normans. I suspect the military have diluted them quite a bit and the churchmen of the time should not (in theory at least) have passed on any genes at all.

            But I think the phrase “Anglo-Saxan protestant racket” refers to the cultural heritage rather than the actual physical DNA.

          • TwmSionCati

            Like the £350bn on the side of THE bus?
            Not to be taken literally.

          • BC

            No. That was a straightforward lie. An awful lot of people did take it literally though.. I’ve met several people whose vote was swayed by it – all confidently declaring that they want Theresa May to hurry up and do the business so that the NHS can get the money. It was £350 million per day by the way, not £350 billion.

          • TwmSionCati

            Thanks for the correction, BC.

    • BC

      “The British Empire was a great and glorious thing that did much good(such as ending slavery) ”

      It was an evil kleptocracy and extortion racket. Imperialism is the geo-political equivalent of rape. There can be no defence for it. To call it “glorious” is nothing short of sick. It certainly wasn’t the empire which ended slavery. The empire not only fought tooth and nail to retain it, it actually managed to extort compensation for the vermin who had profited from it.

      “But it is doubtful that it was of much benefit economically, compared with free trade without the costs of empire…”

      It was the entire foundation of Britain’s wealth – or rather the wealth of Britain’s ruling class. It achieved it by deliberately destroying other economies – particularly in India and the Far east – in order to eliminate competition and create sources of cheap raw materials. Captive populations were treated as cheap labour and brutally stamped down if they attempted to rectify the situation. Famine was used as a weapon (just as it is claimed in the Soviet Union did) and straightforward cold blooded murder would be employed iwhen all else failed.

      Far from benefiting from “free trade”, Britiain got rich by imposing tarriffs on imports and sending gunboats or troops to deal with anyone who presented problems.

      It would be very surprising if those Liam Fox is seeking trade with are as ignorant about the true history of this “glorious” institution as most Britons seem to be. If he is expecting to encounter fond sentiments from them then he is about to be bitterly disappointed.

      • William MacDougall

        Slavery in Black Africa pre-dated the arrival of Europeans, and ended when the British Navy stopped it, from bases in British colonies. Slavery in Arab Africa included slavery of White Europeans by Africans, and ended when European colonial powers took over.

        Yes some individual Brits gained from colonial exploitation, but after subtracting the costs the evidence that Britain overall gained is weak. Britain’s growth came from property rights and international trade, including with the Empire. Look at Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, all countries which became prosperous with little or no colonies.

        • Arthur Blue

          Germany had colonies, and did things there which were shameful. Denmark and Sweden had ( admittedly very small ) colonies too, and engaged in slaving like the other colonial powers. They were of course trying to emulate the British, who led the way in these things.

          • William MacDougall

            Tiny ones that can’t remotely explain their wealth.

          • Arthur Blue

            I have books in Danish, written by eminent Danish historians, who make quite a lot of Danish involvement in the slave trade. Most nations with maritime interests took part in it. And the financiers of Vienna got their fingers in the pie too. Germany had quite large colonies pre WW1 in East Africa and South West Africa, though most of its economic development was due to its own technological progress, which is maybe why it has lasted better, despite two major setbacks, than the British variety.

          • William MacDougall

            Doubtless individual Danes and Germans made money from slavery, but Danish and German prosperity can not possibly be the result of their colonies; they’re just not big and prosperous enough. And they confirm that you can have substantial growth without big colonies, and by extension that any claim that British growth was due to colonies needs some proof, proof that has not been provided.

          • JJ

            Try reading some economic history, instead of Tory party propaganda leaflets.

          • BC

            “And they confirm that you can have substantial growth without big
            colonies, and by extension that any claim that British growth was due to
            colonies needs some proof, proof that has not been provided.”

            I suspect you’ve inintentionally produced strong evidence (“proof”?In economics?) here. You point out that they have enjoyed substantial growth without big colonies. As Arthur suggests, this may well be why their economic well being has not declined. By contrast, the UK’s economic standing has declined as it’s empire has been lost.

          • William MacDougall

            Britain’s economic decline began when a Socialist Government was elected. And if the colonies were not responsible for growth here, any more than in countries lacking significant colonies, then their loss can’t explain economic decline.

          • BC

            Britain has never had a Socialist government. If you mean the 1945 Labour government then I’m a little puzzled. That’s when growth took off in a curve which didn’t flatten out until the effects of the Thatcherite high debt economy took effect in 2008. The problem is that other countries did better so Britain declined relatively.

          • William MacDougall

            I thought you were arguing that the decline came with the end of Empire, especially leaving India in 1947. And if it wasn’t a Socialist Government in 1945 then I can’t imagine what you think is…

          • BC

            “I thought you were arguing that the decline came with the end of Empire, especially leaving India in 1947”

            Yes. I was. The UK went from being number 2 economic power to number 11 over that period.

            You brought the 1945 Labour government into the debate. I was just pointing out that it was part of a world wide (including the US) pattern of the adoption of Keynes/Galbraith economic principles which led to the fastest and biggest growth in living standards the world has ever seen. It was a more effective management of capitalism, not Socialism. Because it was a constant which applies to all capitalist countries, it is wrong to suggest that it is the cause of the UK’s decline relatiive to the others.

          • William MacDougall

            Globalisation certainly led to faster growth in many countries, but anyway you are agreeing that the UK declined from 1945/7. The UK saw a wave of nationalisations and and a great increase in taxation and regulation – what most would call Socialism – and I think that was the main cause of the relative decline.

          • BC

            “Globalisation certainly led to faster growth in many countries,”

            Globalisation had started at least a century earlier. The new factor in 1945 was the Keynes/Galbraith position that more equitably sharing out wealth not only resulted in more wealth being created but was also more effective at warding off the danger of revolution.

            “The UK saw a wave of nationalisations and and a great increase in taxation and regulation….”

            So did most countries – including the US. The nationalisations were pragmatic rather than ideological. Strategic industries like energy, transport and communication were in a dreadful state and had to be taken into competent hands. The aim was to save capitalism, not replace it – and it succeeded.

            “…what most would call Socialism”

            Possibly. But that’s the outcome of underfunded education and overfunded propaganda. The salient point is that, whatever you call it, it wasn’t peculiar to the UK. Loss of empire was.

          • William MacDougall

            Globalisation had a reverse in the 30s with the rise in protectionism in misguided reaction to the depression; its revival after the war was a prime reason for growth. If Clause 4 wasn’t an ideological basis for Socialist nationalisations, I don’t know what would be…

          • BC

            “Globalisation had a reverse in the 30s with the rise in protectionism in
            misguided reaction to the depression; its revival after the war was a
            prime reason for growth.”

            Yes. Protectionism is a bit like austerity and Brexit: ideology posing as common sense. But the rise in prosperity was the result of the stimulation of domestic demand , not globalisation.

            ” If Clause 4 wasn’t an ideological basis for Socialist nationalisations, I don’t know what would be…”

            You are really labouring this. The nationalisations which took place after the Second World war were enacted to take strategic industries out of the hands of brain dead idiots who were running them into the ground. Far from causing decline, they ushered in a new age of prosperity. They were nothing whatsoever to do with Clause 4 which has never been applied. That’s why a bunch of tedious Trots infiltrated the Labour Party – or perhaps you never heard of Militant?

            This seems to be what you are arguing : British decline was not caused by the decline of its empire and its failure to trade on the same basis that other nations traded but was due to the application of policies which those same competitors also applied. You haven’t explained why these policies did not cause the decline of said competitors.

          • William MacDougall

            Most other countries were not nationalising to the same extent, and many were heading in the opposite direction. I don’t think anyone other than Trots think that only Trots are “Socialist”, but by all means encourage Trots in the Labour Party; they made it unelectable in the early 80s and can contribute to that again now, not that Corbyn needs much help in that…

          • BC

            “Most other countries were not nationalising to the same extent,”

            Really? Do you have details? It seems a very strange claim. Certainly France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and all the Scandinavian countries were operating large scale interventionist policies along with aiming for a more equitable distribution of wealth and active demand management. The US New Deal was of course the forerunner of all this. All retained capitalism so it wasn’t socialist at all. This leaves the UK’s inept release of its empire and inability to retain its share of trade as the clear reason for its decline relative to the rest.

            “… and many were heading in the opposite direction.”

            Who was heading in the opposite direction? I can’t think of a single democracy which did that.

            ” I don’t think anyone other than Trots think that only Trots are “Socialist”,”

            I doubt if even Trots think that. Not relevant here so I will resist the temptation to follow up.

        • BC

          The existence of “Arab slavery” is neither here nor there, William. In its older, pre-European form it was very different. Slaves had rights. As the European empires started buying slaves prices rose and the Arab slave trade went industrial and became very nasty indeed – but as a function of European colonialism. In any case, where it was stopped it was done so because it didn’t suit the European powers. Low wage work forces proved to be more commercially sound than slavery: You don’t even need to meet the burial costs of the people you work to death. It is nonsense to suggest that they did so because they were morally outraged.

          “Look at Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, all countries which became prosperous with little or no colonies.”

          All three of those countries had empires, William.

          • William MacDougall

            Slavery was awful, and European controlled transatlantic slavery probably the worst, but it predated European colonialism and was ended by European colonialism.

            They had small largely insiginficant empires, that can’t be used to explain their wealth.

          • BC

            Not entirely but all that pillaging gave the Danes and Swedes a pretty good foundation. They have all also, with one obvious but temporary exception been far more enlightened in their politics: less inequality, less social injustice and strong unions.

          • William MacDougall

            Well the Vikings were rather a long time ago, and Social Democracy rather more recent, and less clear cut that you think, but we’re getting off the subject. Certainly colonies can not explain their wealth over the last couple centuries.

          • BC

            Well, Charles the Bold’s empire was a lot more recent than the Vikings and the German grab at Afirca more recent still. But perhaps you’re supplementing Adam’s point rather than weakening it. These countries’ prosperity was more to do with commercial and industrial attainment than with imperial might and that is why they have been more enduring. By contrast, Britain’s trading supremacy declined with its empire. It revived briefly as a result of joining the EU but is now set to go into decline again as its delusions meet a reality where it cannot enforce its will without gunboats.

      • TwmSionCati

        The empire not only fought tooth and nail to retain it (slavery and the slave trade),
        *** it actually managed to extort compensation for the vermin who had profited from it.***

    • JJ

      It is quite remarkable that you try to rewrite history. Britain did not make its fortune by trading freely — especially when one considers that free trade as an political idea developed in the early 19th century. The wealth of the UK was EXPLICITLY derived from its military domination of overseas territories, control of cheap inputs (such as cotton) and export markets that were enforced. It was a global scheme (or racket, as BC correctly describes it) that enforced cheap labour overseas, then forced exports to the UK for industrial production (using cheap labour in the new satanic mills) and then exported the products across the world, and primarily to the territories it controlled.

      The problem with this economic model was that it was predicated on military occupation of foreign territories, which could never be sustained in the long run. Having lost its empire, the UK looked for replacement scams (as described in this very article). Since 1945, it has failed to find any, and instead has resorted to exploiting its own native labour force (again) and more recently to outsourcing to India so that it can exploit other countries’ workers (again). There has never been a free trade model. Have you got that?

      So, the ludicrous idea of the Brexiteers that the UK can compete in the global economy does not stand up to scrutiny even historically. In the contemporary world, it is nothing other than laughable. Even Germany — with high quality, good value manufacturing — is dependent on an undervalued currency scam called the eurozone. The UK may get an undervalued currency, but it has neither significant high quality production nor available export markets. In the context of a highly open economy, dependent on imports of almost everything, the only effect of a devalued currency is inflationary pressure and an increased trade deficit. This policy approach almost qualifies as a definition of insanity.

      • William MacDougall

        Apologists for the Empire may have claimed net economic benefits, compared with simple trade, but the evidence is actually quite weak. As you rightly explain, Britain now benefits from trade with India (and India too) without there being a colonial relationship. It could have before too.

        • JJ

          No. You are confused. It is critics of the Empire who have identified the economic benefits. There is no comparison possible with “simple tarde” because the UK has never had simple trade. You are trying to construct a counterfactual that has never existed — a very weak argument indeed.

          At this time, the UK does not benefit from trade with India. Big business benefits from outsourcing (as opposed to trade) while the average Brits suffer in terms of lost employment, lower wages etc. With regard to the actual trade, the UK mainly imports cheap goods from India, while exporting fuck all. Again, who benefits from this? It is far from clear that the relationship between cheap imports and lost manufacturing is such that the average or low paid Brit has benefited. The reasonable assumption is that the rich have benefited.

          You see, William, all of your comments are made from the vantage point of the rich, the owners or senior management of big business. You make no microeconomic distinctions concerning distribution of income and wealth. You also have no evidence to show that the UK could successfully engage in free trade — even in the past, let alone in the near future with a collapsing world economy. Your position is nothing other than ideological, and like all ideological arguments that defy reality it is guaranteed to be wrong.

  • Redauntlet

    As Shane McGowan memorably put it:

    “May the whores of the Empire
    Lie awake in their bed
    And sweat as they count out
    The sins on their heads
    While over in Ireland
    Eight more men lie dead
    Kicked down and shot
    In the back of the head…”

  • Holmeboy

    I take some of your points; there are some very dark chapters in the history of the Empire (that you mention here) such as slavery and opium wars to name but two. But, let’s not beat ourselves up about it, every single Empire has had blood and even evil on its hands, the Romans, the Nazis, Ottomans, Japanese, French, Arabs, Aztecs and Incas, the list goes on, and the British Empire was no worse then any of them, except it was ours and probably the last great Empire the world will ever see (I hope).

    You run Britain down in a hyperbolic way (I think perhaps due to the looming indyref2 you want to make UK look really crap), Britain was once the workshop of the world, that’s how it funded it huge navy and imperial adventure, so it is a myth that Britain has never been good at trade. However, that said, whatever emerges from the next few years, whether it be a UK or rUK, wil have its work cut out, and the adjustments of a post EU world will be difficult, but hopefully worth it, I’ll judge Brexit in 10 years time on whether or not it was worth the upheaval.

    • JJ

      Nope. It is not correct to say that the UK military was financed from industrial production. There was a symbiotic relationship between military power and economic wealth: if anything, the military domination across the world preceded the economic progress of the industrial revolution, and certainly not the other war around. But by the late 10th century the military and economic power of the UK had become so entangled that you could not separate them. Trade was not the issue: you are repeating the right wing propaganda that this article (and nearly all the comments) have disproven. We don’t need to wait to judge Brexit, because any clear-thinking and informed person can see outright what a disaster this is almost certain to be.

      • Holmeboy

        I’m not disputing the entanglement of economic and military power during the late Victorian period…

        Anyway, I do believe we are in for a rocky ride in the coming years, and will undoubtedly be poorer with less international opportunities for the average person, so on that score Brexit will probably be a failure, however, if we can regain control of our courts, immigration policy and security Brexit could be deemed a success, only time will tell.

        • JJ

          Exactly who should control the courts? Theresa May? As far as I am concerned, the UK courts are controlled by UK judges. It is the extreme right who are unhappy with that situation. If you mean the occasional appeals to the ECtHR, they will remain after Brexit. Nothing will change.

          • Holmeboy

            I don’t want Theresa May controlling the courts anymore then you. Yes, I meant the ECtHR, I hope we remove that from the legal system, then at least something good will come out of this.

          • JJ

            The ECHR is an international human rights treaty that is independent of the EU and predates it. If the UK denounces the ECHR as well as leaving the EU it is setting itself up as another North Korea. You are totally crazy.

          • Holmeboy

            Not really, it would give us the freedom to write our own laws, most of the world gets by pretty well without the straight jacket of the ECHR.

          • JJ

            Every single country in Europe — including Russia and Turkey — is in the ECHR. You are intending to emulate North Korea, obviously. This is the height of stupidity.

            Write your own laws! have you thought about what the British politicians have done when allowed to write their own laws in the last 20 years? The direction of law-making is generally that of empowering the state and removing people’s rights. The quality is low. And the most important and useful laws are those actually imposed on the UK by the EU — such as workers’ rights; cheaper bank transactions; cheaper roaming costs (while the current government is trying to increase roaming costs!).

            No, you live in a dreamworld, and have no grip on reality.

          • Holmeboy

            The laws you mention here are good laws, and part of the reason I voted for remain. However, the ECHR ties the states hands and plays into the hands of those who want to hurt us, people like ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Saudis etc must laugh at us, as the ECHAr is out downfall.

            I read this article o. Brexit today, this is a first class analysis of the situation:

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/11/brexit-kibasi-ippr-article-50-referendum-remain-leave

          • BC

            “However, the ECHR ties the states hands and plays into the hands of those who want to hurt us, people like ISIS, Al Qaeda”

            It does the exact opposite. The last thing these organisations want is fair and equal treatment for their people. They want to be discriminated against, oppressed and (ideally) martyred. That is how they recruit. It is those who advocate leaving the ECHR who play into their hands.

          • Holmeboy

            Yes they want that propaganda BC, but they also want to use the system to infiltrate our society with their personnel, as per the Paris attack, and the ECHR is an asset to them in this respect, it opens the door to influence and insertion.

          • BC

            In what way did the ECHR contribute to the Paris attacks, Holmeboy?

          • Holmeboy

            Some of the killers were refugees entering Europe via the mass influx that Merkel invited in 2015.

          • BC

            I thought they were all French.

          • JJ

            Abject nonsense. The principal characteristic of terrorists in the EU is that they are European citizens. And trying to blame it on Merkel, when all she did was to show some pragmatic humanitarianism — accepting that the refugee flows were legitimate but many of the Syrians were highly educated cosmopolitans who could be useful for Germany. Like the UK, Germany is short of skilled workers.

          • Holmeboy

            Abject nonsense. They were European passport holders but of Middle Eastern origin, a big difference in reality, even if you don’t think so.

            What about the Afghan thug who attacked people on a train? There is another example, I could go on and on but it is pointless, and Merkel inflicted this harm on her people, she has blood on her hands, all for her ego.

          • JJ

            You are a racist propagandist. Citizens of the EU have every right to be in their country or another EU country. Their ethnic origins do not determine if they are terrorists, any more than your ethnic origins determine your low IQ.

          • Holmeboy

            Here you go, with your name calling, actually, I just refreshed my memory of the Paris attackers:

            https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/34832512

            The authorities believe the Syrian passport was a fake. It was that passport that had stuck in my mind, so in this attack, the killers were not refugees, my mistake there.

            However, the Afghan who attacked the train was a refugee.

            https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/18/german-train-axe-attack-many-injured/amp/

            As for you, you are the worst debater on this forum, worse then all the trolls Martin, and a disgrace to academia!

          • JJ

            Indeed, let’s be clear. THE NUMBER OF REFUGEES INVOLVED IN VIOLENCE IS SO SMALL THAT IT IS A NEGLIGIBLE. Anyone who insists that refugees are committing terrorist acts across the EU is a right wing propagandist.

            You are trolling with far right propaganda. Kindly stop your personal attacks on me.

          • Holmeboy

            As a percentage of refugees, the attackers are small, however, that does not mean insignificant, they still ruin lives when they commit their attacks.

          • JJ

            As I keep on explaining to you, more violence is committed proportionally and in absolute terms by white British people. More lives are ruined by white British people. Are you going to deport them? Where to? Claiming that a small number of violent incidents by refugees or immigrants is a reason to exclude them is OPENLY RACIST.

          • Holmeboy

            This is not the point I am making!

            My point about immigrant or refugee attacks is this:

            If I went and stood in the middle of a motorway I would most likely get run over, if I didn’t go and stand in the middle of a motorway I wouldn’t, my getting run over is thus totally avoidable When applying this metaphor to the refugee crisis, it is the same. If you let a million people into your country unchecked from volatile countries sharing a culture with homicidal maniacs beheading people in the Middle East, expect trouble, if you don’t do that….. It is avoidable. There, get it Mart?

            As for white thugs and criminal etc. unfortunately we are stuck with them, the comparison you make is a complete straw man of an argument.

          • JJ

            You are just posting ignorant right wing garbage. What million refugees entered the UK? The UK does not accept refugees, in effect. You are the one making strawman arguments — complaining about refugees that never even get to the UK.

            If you persist in posting lies and right wing propaganda I will personally ask oD to ban anyone who does such things when corrected. The number of refugees arriving in the UK is such small numbers that one cannot even be bothered to count them. One million is roughly the TOTAL that arrived during the refugee crisis of 2015 for all of the EU for that year. As the UK is leaving the EU then it has no right to an opinion on the matter anyway. Keep your arrogant gobs shut, and the world will be a better place.

          • JJ

            Also flagged as personal abuse.

          • Holmeboy

            As if, calling someone a racist who is posting right wing propaganda isn’t!

            Typical of you, Mr thin skin, you can dish it out but as soon as anything is said to you, you go off crying to mama!

          • JJ

            No, when you post racist propaganda and it is described as such, that is not ad hominem abuse. Try learning some Latin.

          • Holmeboy

            Flagged as ad hominem abuse.

          • JJ

            No, it is not.

          • Holmeboy

            Yes it is, you always attack the character of me or whoever you are debating with, character assassination and discrediting, it’s a dirty underhand way of debating and that is ad hominem abuse… I’m disappointed and would have expected more from a man of your standing.

          • JJ

            FOR THE LAST TIME, IT IS NOT AD HOMINEM TO POINT OUT THAT SOMEONE IS MAKING RACIST STATEMENTS.

            Your comment is ad hominem — accusing me of character assassination and discrediting. You damage your own character and discredit yourself by posting racist interpretations, lies and false data. I am merely pointing out what you are doing. If you don’t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend the difference, this is not my fault.

          • Holmeboy

            This last post is ad hominem, since when have I posted racist interpretations, lies and false data.
            Look through my entire history of posting if you like, you won’t see any made up stories or data being linked, yes, I was mistaken on the origins of the killers in the Paris attacks (I have become fixated on the Syrian passport which was found outside Stad de France), but I don’t go around posting lies etc, it is simply that I point out things that you are uncomfortable with.
            I’ll tell you a secret, they make me uncomfortable too! I wish everyone would get on nicely, that Islam was cool, and Muslims saw the world the way I do, and believed in equality and liberty, etc, and it isn’t just Islam I am uncomfortable with, I don’t like the far right either, the hatred that comes out of them, the ignorance and plain BS and prejudice. Yes, I am uncomfortable with that, as I imagine you are.
            The difference is, I will admit to been uncomfortable with movements and trends in our societies, whereas you are cool with trendy imported prejudices but hostile to the prejudices of the natives.

          • JJ

            You are posting false “facts”, wrong data and asserting racist policies — justifying them to some extent with the fraudulent data. When I (or anyone else) tells you that the information or data posted are wrong, you do not have the right to repost them.

            I am never uncomfortable with true facts, regardless of their implications. You are confusing my attitude with your own, I suggest. And my view is that the population of the UK needs a good kick up the pants. You are always looking to blame others for your own mistakes and deficiencies, and foreigners are good scapegoats. This is a large part of the powerful movement towards nationalism-fascism that is evident in the UK — not taking responsibility for one’s own errors and faults. The UK population has very little going for it, in terms of educational level, skills and general motivation to do anything. This is what has to be addressed.

          • Holmeboy

            This is ad hominem abuse! I am not posting false facts or fake data, I rarely post links to other websites. Totally ad hominem abuse, trying to undermine my argument by attacking me rather then the points I make.

          • JJ

            You are continuously posting false facts, incorrect data and far right opinions about immigration. This is what I am telling you not to do. It is not ad hominem abuse to tell you that you are posting lies here, when they are lies. Trump-like argumentation doesn’t work with me, or any other educated people: reserve it for idiots.

          • JJ

            The right to asylum is granted by the UN 1951 Convention (which almost the entire world has signed, and is customary international law anyway and therefore binding), the ECHR of 1950, the EU Treaties and their secondary legislation, and UK law. You could not find more sources of law to grant rights than exist — and you simply repeat this far right propaganda that the ECHR is a problem.

            If I tell you that your head is on upside-down, would you believe that? It seems that you are prepared to believe anything, regardless of how stupid or wrong it is.

    • BC

      “Britain was once the workshop of the world, that’s how it funded it huge
      navy and imperial adventure, so it is a myth that Britain has never
      been good at trade.”

      “Workshop of the world” was a slogan used by Disraeli, not an historic fact, Holmeboy. Britain needed an empire to sell its shoddy goods to. When the empire declined, Britain found itself competing for trade with countries like Germany, Sweden and Denmark and let’s face, who the hell was going to buy a Jaguar which broke down on a monthly basis when they could get a BMW or an Audi? That was the end. Nope, the myth was that Britain was ever capable of living off its ability to trade with anyone it couldn’t bully with a gunboat.

      • Holmeboy

        This is nonsense BC, and you know it!

        Britain was producing lots of goods for the world, and still do, but the proportion of our economy that makes things has not grown as fast as others, we make a lot of high quality products for export, everything from cars to hip replacements , but we need to make more, lots more. One of the problems with being in the EU is that supply chains have been hollowed out, so lots of components need to be brought into the country, some of this may now return (I hope this does happen), another has been an overrelianxe on financial services which has basically screwed the rest of the economy for the last 30 years or so.

        We should not buy the glazed eye optimism of the idiots rubbing the country, but nor should we be defeatist like this article, we can make things in this country, good products, but we need to make more, lots more.

        • George Carty

          The overreliance on financial services is connected with the policy (followed by Thatcher and her successors) of using house price inflation to bribe baby boomer voters. This (together with an over-valued pound resulting from North Sea Oil) made British industry uncompetitive on price. Worse than that though, it caused most of Britain’s Mittelstand-equivalent firms to be destroyed by asset strippers who bought up companies, closed them down and then made big profits by selling off their sites for residential development. (Because residential land is much more lightly taxed than commercial or industrial land, more of the location rental value is retained by the owner to be capitalized into selling price.)

          • Holmeboy

            Totally true, and that is exactly what has been happening since the early 80s. In short, we are screwed for the next decade at least, and the at least only applies should some decent economic and industrial policy miraculously materialises.

        • BC

          That’s simply not going to happen, Holmeboy. The vision for post-Brexit is a high unemployment, low wage economy with third rate services and a police state to keep us all in line.

          • Holmeboy

            You’ll be long gone by then BC, living it up in Indy Scotland 🙂

        • JJ

          I explained to you above that the UK relied on military dominance over territories and enforced trading patterns. You continue with this nationalistic denial of reality, trying to claim that the UK was successful from production alone. It’s just not true.

          And no, the UK never had any success when it relied on free trade. Even when it made high quality unique goods — like Rolls Royce — the companies went bankrupt. And what it is this garbage that you have written about “supply chains have been hollowed out” by being in the EU? Where did you read this trash? Kindly cite the source.

          And the reason that the UK shifted to financial services is that the ruling elite after 1980 — elected repeatedly by the UK working class — decided to abandon manufacturing in favour of banking. They chose this option in order to destroy the unions. Thatcher was happy to destroy the UK economy and people voted for it. That’s where it is now, and that’s where it will stay. Trying to blame the EU for the stupidity of the British working class in voting for Tories over decades is just pathetic.

      • George Carty

        Britain was the workshop of the world in Disraeli’s time. By the turn of the 20th century, no longer.

  • Wasn’t the time that England depended on free trade during the 11th to 13th centuries, when English wool was in demand across Europe, particularly in Flanders? Wasn’t it this trade that financed the wars in France?

    • BC

      The free trade movement was embryonic in the 18th century. It certainly didn’t exist in medieval times.

  • Jacobsadder

    What this article doesn’t discuss is the sheer exploitation of the British working class who were treated no better than slaves in order to help produce that wealth. It’s erroneous to talk of ‘Britain’ collectively being guilty of the crimes you discuss – as ever, it was a cabal of elite shysters, and that continues to this day. Some historical interpretations need to be a little more discerning in pinpointing who are the innocents and who are those truly responsible, and that necessarily needs to dismiss the illusion of so called ‘national’ boundaries.

    • JJ

      True. I mention the exploitation of the British working class as a key component in one of my comments above.

      • George Carty

        Isn’t it true that by the late 19th century at least the British working class had a much better standard of living than their equivalents in mainland Europe? Apparently that’s the reason why one of Britain’s remaining big strengths in manufacturing is in the processed food sector.

        • JJ

          Hmm. I doubt it. Germany under Bismarck was terrified of the potential political appeal of Karl Marx, and put in place a pension system well in advance of the UK for this reason. Wages were also better, I think. France remained very much an agricutlural economy. Not sure what to say about Holland and Belgium, for that period. The UK really had a very poor working class, very high unemployment, and a very wealthy ruling class. This is why Marx considered the UK (along with Belgium and Holland) to be a prime country for revolutionary uprising of the poor.

          I thought the processed food specialisation in the UK was largely the outcome of feeding the population in two world wars, but I could be wrong on this.

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