uk https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/front cached version 15/11/2018 12:40:38 en Labour MPs should vote against Theresa May's Brexit deal. It is a poison pill https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/sunny-hundal/labour-mps-should-vote-against-theresa-mays-brexit-deal-it-is-poison-pill <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563411/PA-33002545.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563411/PA-33002545.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jeremy Corbyn with Keir Starmer. Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images</span></span></span><span>The time has come. Theresa May is about to unveil her Brexit deal to MPs in Parliament and call on them to support it. Take it or leave it, she will say. </span><span>It's either my deal or the chaos of no deal</span><span>. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>I know it has been extremely difficult to stay on top of the news. Keeping track of Brexit news felt like wading through a swamp sometimes: it was thick, incomprehensible and full of dread. I’m not going to recount anything. Instead I want to take a step back and offer the broader picture.</span></p><h2 dir="ltr"><span>1. This was a one-sided deal</span></h2><p dir="ltr"><span>Brexit was a polarising vote but the support for and against it was spread across party lines. Many Conservatives were opposed to leaving the EU and many Labour voters can’t wait to get out. Theresa May had an historic opportunity to take a non-partisan approach to Brexit negotiations and work with Labour to achieve consensus. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Instead she did the opposite. The Tory party kept becoming more extreme in its approach to Brexit and she kept going with it. Prominent Brexiteers said there was no need to leave the EU Single Market (<a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/boris-johnson-single-market-brexit-campaign-customs-union-2018-1?IR=T">here’s Boris Johnson</a>). Now they are dead against it. They said Brexit wouldn’t mean leaving the EU Customs Union. Now they are dead against staying in that too. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The PM didn’t bring the country together. Instead she sought to polarise opinion in her favour and appease the extremists in her own party. David Cameron had made the same mistake. Now, Jacob Rees-Mogg became all powerful.</span></p><h2 dir="ltr"><span>2. ‘No Deal’ is a bluff</span><span> </span></h2><p dir="ltr"><span>“I reject this false choice between the PM’s deal and ‘no deal’ chaos,” wrote Tory ex-minister Jo Johnson last week <a href="https://medium.com/@JoJohnsonUK/why-i-cannot-support-the-governments-proposed-brexit-deal-3d289f95f2bc">when he resigned</a>. He was right. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The government would be mad to let Britain crash out without a deal, and everyone knows it. Our way of life is too intertwined with the EU to leave without a deal. No deal would wreak havoc on businesses across the country, create food and medicine shortages, possibly even spark riots. To be offered this as a serious choice is an insult. As IPPR’s Tom Kibasi </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/05/no-deal-brexit-eu" target="_blank"><span>has pointed out</span></a><span>, “Panic over crashing out of the EU is being whipped up deliberately to railroad parliament.”</span></p><h2 dir="ltr"><span>3. Theresa May is hoping to take Corbyn down with her</span></h2><p dir="ltr"><span>There’s only one conclusion to draw from this. Labour MPs must hold firm and reject the deal that Theresa May offers them. </span><br /><span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Why? Because it will take Britain out of the EU Customs Union without an alternative. And worse, it will do so a few years from now, thus prolonging uncertainty and decline. It is the worst of all worlds. The Tories had promised their deal would deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union. It doesn’t. It wants a clean break without any alternative. Businesses have rightly pointed out that <a href="http://www.cbi.org.uk/insight-and-analysis/top-5-consequences-of-no-deal-brexit/">this would be reckless and dangerous</a>. Even Tory ministers have said it. <br /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The Prime Minister has been so eager to appease extremists in her own party, she has ignored the interests of the country. Now she is hoping to pressure Labour MPs to bail her out.<br /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Corbyn has said Brexit is inevitable. But if Corbyn votes to support Theresa May’s deal, this will be his Iraq.</span><span> Voting for this Brexit deal will be catastrophic enough to sweep away any Labour MP, including Corbyn. Anyone who votes for it could never lead the party.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The damage to the country due to the deal will be too great. May is asking Labour MPs to vote for a prolonged poison pill. They would be foolish to take it.</span></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government Labour Party Brexit Sunny Hundal Thu, 15 Nov 2018 10:46:13 +0000 Sunny Hundal 120582 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit (and Boris) torpedoed https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/brexit-torpedoed-jo-johnson-boris-johnson <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The battle of Brexit has finally been joined as Boris Johnson is blown out of the water by his own brother.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jo Johnson's surprise resignation over Theresa May's Brexit plans have been criticised by his brother, Boris. Image: PA Images.</span></span></span>When the Argentinian dictatorship of General Galtieri seized the Falkland Islands, known to them as the Malvinas, in 1982, Parliament echoed with the rage of wounded, Anglo-British patriotism. It endorsed the dispatch of a “task force” to ensure Britain’s claim. As the ships sailed across the equator the balance of public opinion opposed the use of force. Then, Thatcher ordered HMS Conqueror to torpedo the antiquated Argentinian battleship Belgrano. The nuclear-powered submarine sunk its target. Over 300 of its crew drowned in the South Atlantic. The ruthless display ensured war would follow. Opinion swung decisively behind the Prime Minister. While some of his soldiers and pilots fought hard, Galtieri's bravado display of puffed up aggrandisement collapsed, humiliated by an utter lack of preparedness for a real battle.</p> <p>Today, it is the Generalissimo of Brexitannia, Boris Johnson, who has been torpedoed. After two long years of preparation the battle of Brexit has finally been joined by a well-aimed, perfectly executed strike which has holed the Leave campaign that he led below the water line. The torpedo was the stunning <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jo-johnson-s-damning-resignation-statement-in-full-70jt677j3">resignation statement</a> of his younger brother Jo Johnson MP. Johnson junior was Theresa May’s loyal Minister of Transport. Now, he has pulled out of the government denouncing its negotiations with the EU as a catastrophe of statecraft while clinically skewering his brother’s braggadocio. He has pledged to vote against the prime minister’s deal with the EU should it reach the House of Commons, where its defeat is now likely. He has called for a People’s Vote instead, to endorse remaining in the European Union. </p><p>Johnson junior was a Remainer, like all ‘sensible’ ruling class conservatives including the prime minister, and he backed her attempt to deliver a Brexit that ‘works’. But the prime minister could not escape its contradictions. As I <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">have shown</a> the EU is above all a union of regulation. This is its central achievement: a customs union and single market, accomplished with the British, who played a central role in its creation over the course of 40 years. Regulation is <em>not</em> the same as sharing traditional sovereignty and for EU members like the UK who are outside of the Eurozone the classic pillars of sovereignty remain overwhelmingly national. Such is its strength, whatever happens to the common currency, Europe’s regulatory union will continue. Its advantages explain the commitment to continued membership of countries strongly opposed to many of the EU policies. It offers over 500 million people a growing cosmos of opportunity across all their nations with shared human rights and high environmental, safety and employment standards as well as an exceptional open market for capital and business – both manufacturing and services.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">&nbsp;The proponents of hard-Brexit desire an Anglo-America dominated globe of deregulated capitalism.</p><p>The vote for Brexit led by Boris Johnson claimed that Britain could have all the economic advantages of participating in the European space without applying its rules. Behind this absurd claim was and still is an alternative worldview. The proponents of hard-Brexit desire an Anglo-America dominated globe of deregulated capitalism. For all of his apparent indifference to leaving the EU, for which he is rightly criticised, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has been consistent – and consistently right – in pointing this out. Describing his desired version of Brexit <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/interview-with-labour-leader-corbyn-we-can-t-stop-brexit-a-1237594.html">to Der Spiegel</a> last week he said, “we wouldn't be trying to face towards the deregulated economy of the United States, which the one wing of the Tory Party is trying to do all the time”. </p><p>Viewed from within the parochial insanity of Britain’s Brexit breakdown, the argument seems to have become an incomprehensible squabble about whether or not it is “vassalage” for the country to endorse an Irish “back-stop to the back-stop”. Step outside and the issue is clear and important. Should a country like the UK remain within the European regulated space and its model of capitalism (supported by Japan and China) or should it seek to embrace a deregulated model spearheaded by the Trump administration (supported by Russia and Saudi Arabia)? </p><p class="AB01">Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn prefer the former while wishing to “respect” the referendum. Both want to retain regulation and ensure continuity of trade. Their shared desire for a pragmatic outcome collides with the reality that it is not possible to remain within a regulated space while not being regulated by it. At least, there is no point to it. This simple truth is driven home by Jo Johnson in his statement. Rightly, he ignores the Irish backstop and concentrates on the core issue. He summarised his judgment to the <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-6374301/PM-s-Brexit-plans-pressure-Jo-Johnson-resignation-DUP-warning.html">Daily Mail</a>:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p class="AB01"><span style="font-style: normal;">“[Brexit] was meant to be about a brave new future as a deregulated economy. But we’re signing up to the common rule book on standards and health and safety, the environment and all the rest of it. It’s completely incoherent”. He added, it is “riddled with such contradictions as to make no sense at all now at any level”.</span></p></blockquote> <p>This devastating, undeniable verdict describes the deal the cabinet will try to come to and then present to parliament. It may not get that far. If it does Jo Johnson’s intervention has probably ensured it will be voted down. For, simultaneously, he has strengthened three blocks of votes against the deal. </p><div><ul> <li>•&nbsp;He has inspired Tory remainers like himself to risk a demand for a People’s Vote, as he has spelt out why any such deal is far-worse than staying in.</li> <li>•&nbsp;He has made it much more difficult for his own party’s Brexiteers to support the deal as a 'step in the right direction'.</li> <li>•&nbsp;And he has made it harder for Labour MPs to cross the floor and support the government, on the grounds that the deal will deliver Brexit and thus ‘respect’ the referendum, for as he shows, it fails to do so.</li> </ul></div><p class="AB01">The alternative is a so called ‘No-deal’. This means <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/anthony-barnett/trump-or-brussels-brexit-and-art-of-no-deal">in fact</a> a deal with Washington. Given the forces working for such a change of direction and their influence, the possibility should not be underestimated. Their weakness is that they hide their aims and the costs from public gaze. Jo Johnson is clear about this too. He describes the immense “real pain” after studying the consequences, from medical shortages to the strangulation of supplies through Dover, as set out in detailed government briefing papers. He does not deny that the country can “ultimately survive”. But he states:</p><blockquote><p class="AB01"><span style="font-style: normal;">“my message to my brother and to all Leave campaigners is that inflicting such serious economic and political harm on the country… cannot be what you wanted nor did the 2016 referendum provide any mandate for it”. </span></p></blockquote><p class="AB01">The last point is the decisive, democratic one. Brexit supporters have no right to impose any such outcome even if secretly they believed this is what it would involve. </p> <p>As for his brother himself, Boris Johnson seems never to have bothered to think about the realities, other than his own self-projection. In today’s <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/11/11/brother-right-mrs-mays-deal-biggest-statecraft-failure-since/"><em>Daily Telegraph</em></a> he dismisses Jo’s measured, fraternal rebuke and claims ‘No deal’ would be no problem at all. “There might be some temporary effects, but as with the Millennium Bug I do not think the planes would fall from the sky or that medicines would have to rationed, or any of the other nonsense”, he writes. </p><p>If acted on, this vacuous phrasemaking, waiving aside all analysis, would cast a million people into unemployment. Napoleon advised that, “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty”. Boris Johnson was 18 in the Falklands War and 20 when Thatcher hit her prime in its aftermath. He dreamed of becoming her. At the conclusion to the final TV referendum debate, Boris Johnson summoned his countrymen to declare “independence” and speak up for “hundreds of millions” across the EU deprived of their democratic voice, as if he was the blessed Margaret leading those groaning under Communism to the freedom of the West.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It seems poetic justice that a state, once so skilled in divide and rule, should see its last days flicker with the jealousies of sibling rivalry.</p> <p>Instead, he became the United Kingdom’s home-grown would-be Galtieri only to be deflated by his own brother. It seems poetic justice that a historic, empire state, once so skilled in divide and rule, should see its last days flicker with the jealousies of sibling rivalry.&nbsp; For the second time in a decade the future of British politics has been shaped by fratricide, following on from Ed Miliband’s devastation of his older, Blairite brother’s ambition to lead the Labour Party. But theirs was a mere argument in opposition, over how to best recover from defeat. A quarrel dispatched into history by Jeremy Corbyn. This week, the showdown over Brexit within the ruling Tory government has brought late-Britain’s family-pandyism to a different magnitude of seriousness as battle is joined over the country’s role in the world.</p> <p class="AB01">When battle is joined, outcomes are hard to predict. The Leave campaign promised an easy, money-saving separation from the EU. But the country might still end up paying the costs of breaking from European regulations to embrace a Trump-style free market nationalism. For the danger of the People’s Vote campaign as advocated by Jo Johnson is the way it is purely about restoring the UK’s role within the European marketplace. That a member of a British government should demand more democracy is as welcome as it is surprising. But a campaign to reverse Brexit entirely based on a negative critique of its costs will not convince anyone who has set their face against being “ruled by Brussels”. If a new referendum on Brexit is also led by a Johnson, let alone two, we already know the outcome: the country will be the loser.&nbsp; </p><p class="AB01"><em>Anthony Barnett’s recent talk on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ksdrYYUY2w">Albion’s Call</a> can be watched on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ksdrYYUY2w">YouTube.</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/anthony-barnett/trump-or-brussels-brexit-and-art-of-no-deal">Trump or Brussels: Brexit and the art of &#039;No deal&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/film-albion-s-call-brexit-democracy-and-england">Film: Albion’s Call: Brexit, democracy and England</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">Why Brexit won’t work: the EU is about regulation not sovereignty </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government Brexit Anthony Barnett Mon, 12 Nov 2018 11:57:19 +0000 Anthony Barnett 120538 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Revealed: How Arron Banks’s campaign ‘ambassador’ made his millions in Russia https://www.opendemocracy.net/how-arron-banks-campaign-ambassador-jim-mellon-made-millions-in-russia-nigel-farage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jim Mellon introduced Brexit ‘bad boys’ Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, and was a Leave.EU ambassador. He claims he hasn’t been involved in Russia since the 1990s. But our investigation shows he still has major financial exposure to Russian investments.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/mellon-farage-banks.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/mellon-farage-banks.jpg" alt="lead Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks" title="" width="460" height="230" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks. Image L-R: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=94&amp;v=JlSsLS3WfHw" target="_blank">Master Investor</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/16700055172" target="_blank">Michael Vadon</a>, PA Images. </span></span></span></p><p>In early 1990s Russia, a lot of people died. Organised criminals and ex-Soviet officials fought vicious turf wars for control of industries and political power. And a man called Jim Mellon became fabulously wealthy.</p><p dir="ltr">Two decades later, Mellon toured his friend Nigel Farage around a number of potential major political donors. In late summer 2014, <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/farages-millionaire-donors-find-ways-to-save-money-on-tax-ncxc8cg99ld">he introduced the UKIP leader</a> to the insurance salesman Arron Banks. Within a few weeks, Banks had pledged a million pounds to the anti-EU party and, the next year, Mellon donated a <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11717415/Millionaire-Jim-Mellon-backs-20million-anti-politics-campaign-to-leave-EU-as-name-revealed.html">reported £100,000</a> to <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11717415/Millionaire-Jim-Mellon-backs-20million-anti-politics-campaign-to-leave-EU-as-name-revealed.html">theKnow.eu</a>, a forerunner to Banks and Farage’s Leave.EU campaign. Mellon was described as an “ambassador” for Leave.EU, and was scheduled to appear at Leave.EU’s launch.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image10.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image10.png" alt="theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign." title="" width="460" height="290" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Last week the National Crime Agency <a href="http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/1498-nca-initiates-investigation-following-electoral-commission-referral">announced an investigation</a> into Arron Banks and others linked to Leave.EU over suspected criminal offences committed in the Brexit referendum, after the <a href="https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/roles-and-responsibilities/our-role-as-regulator-of-political-party-finances/sanctions/report-on-investigation-into-payments-made-to-better-for-the-country-and-leave.eu">Electoral Commission</a> found there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of £8m in funding for the pro-Brexit groups he backed. This followed <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">reporting from openDemocracy</a> and others which raised pressing questions about how Banks could have afforded to become the biggest political donor in British history.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK parliament’s ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news has <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/363.pdf">asked questions about Banks’s Russian links</a>, and the Observer newspaper has revealed a string of connections between Banks and Russia. In <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/09/arron-banks-russia-brexit-meeting">notorious emails</a> between Banks and the Russian embassy, Banks describes Jim Mellon as his business partner. But Mellon, the man who introduced Banks and Farage, has escaped much scrutiny – until now.</p><p dir="ltr">During the 2016 referendum campaign, a representative of Jim Mellon, <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/millionaire-backer-for-leave-does-not-have-right-to-vote-0bpb9b75c">Denham Eke said</a> he had “not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s” and had “no relationship with Russia”.</p><p dir="ltr">However, an investigation by openDemocracy has revealed that firms in which Mellon has major interests have maintained close links with prominent Russian businessmen – and have profited significantly from decisions made by Vladimir Putin and his associates over the last 25 years.</p><p dir="ltr">Specifically, we have learned that:</p><p>- Firms linked to Mellon have continued to invest in Russia for over 25 years and adopted a strategy of investing in firms with “management close to Putin.”<br />- One fund linked to Mellon set up a new firm to buy Gazprom shares on the very day that Putin announced foreigners would be allowed to purchase them.<br />- The same Mellon-linked fund was selected to invest in Russia’s state diamond company as it was privatised.<br />- Mellon holds a stake in a bio-tech firm with labs in the Skolkovo science park in Moscow. The<a href="https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2014/04/fbis-boston-office-warns-businesses-of-venture.html"> FBI have warned</a> that Skolkovo is a front for industrial espionage activities.<br />- Firms linked to Mellon were involved in a number of deals with politically exposed Russian oligarchs including an ex-KGB officer, Andrey Pannikov, and Roustam Tariko, who sponsored the Miss World event in Moscow attended by Trump.<br />- Mellon invested £120,000 in a South London beauty salon run by a Russian ex-Alfa Bank employee.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mellon highlights that he had no executive role in the firm with the most Russian connections – Charlemagne Capital – and says he was not directly involved in the investment decisions. However, he was a co-founder, non-executive director and major shareholder of the firm.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon’s business partner Arron Banks is listed as the main funder of the Brexit campaign, claiming to have put £12m into Leave.EU and other anti-EU groups. However, as openDemocracy <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">revealed last year</a>, there are serious questions about how Arron Banks could have afforded to donate that amount of money to the Brexit cause. Banks claims he made all his money from his insurance businesses, saying “The Leave.EU campaign was funded by myself, Peter Hargreaves and the general public… allegations of ‘Brexit’ being funded by the Russians... are complete bollocks from beginning to end.”</p><p dir="ltr">There is absolutely no allegation that Jim Mellon is the source of Banks’ Brexit funding, nor that he has broken any law. But our investigation does reveal yet more connections between an important Leave.EU ambassador and Russia, including prominent Russians with close links to Putin.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon has declined to provide openDemocracy with a comment on the record about any of the questions we put to him.</p><h2>How did Mellon make his millions?</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image5_0.png" alt="Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left)." title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left). Image: Instagram.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">During the chaotic privatisations of the early 1990s, Russian citizens were given vouchers which entitled them to buy shares in the privatised state companies. While the traditional Soviet economy collapsed, a violent black market thrived.</p><p dir="ltr">On an early visit to Russia, Jim Mellon talks of having to<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/7eab96ce-bf96-11e1-bb88-00144feabdc0"> barricade the door of his hotel</a> in Vladivostok where, just a week later, a New Zealander was “hacked to death”. After hiring bodyguards, he and his business partner, Jayne Sutcliffe, picked up suitcases of share vouchers for “little more than a bottle of vodka” and overnight transformed $2m to $17m.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon then founded his investment business, Regent Pacific, and began to invest millions of pounds in Russia throughout the 1990s, taking large stakes in many of Russia’s biggest companies.</p><p dir="ltr">These days, Mellon is a resident of the Isle of Man, the offshore banking centre between the UK and Ireland which<a href="https://www.spearswms.com/its-going-to-the-dogs/"> he says</a> is “a good base to establish new businesses from a tax and regulatory point of view.”</p><p dir="ltr">It also means he is not eligible to vote in the UK. However, Mellon has provided tens of thousands of pounds to UK political causes from his UK-based companies, backing the Conservatives, UKIP and both Leave.EU and the official Vote Leave Campaign. This is all legal. </p><p dir="ltr">However, questions have always circulated about the extent of Mellon’s involvement in UK politics, his business career and ties to Russia. &nbsp;</p><h2 dir="ltr">Who is Jim Mellon?</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image7.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image7.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Mellon, an Oxford-educated Scot, is the son of <a href="https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/media/uploads/files/Mellon.pdf">Sir James Mellon</a>, a British diplomat who served in East Berlin before becoming ambassador to Denmark, High Commissioner in Ghana and Consul General in New York.</p><p dir="ltr">He began his career as an investment analyst in Hong Kong in 1979 before going on to <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/7eab96ce-bf96-11e1-bb88-00144feabdc0">found Thornton Management</a> with former colleague Richard Thornton in 1984. When the firm was sold four years later, Mellon became a millionaire. He bought homes in Ibiza and the Isle of Man where he continues to live, and went on to found Regent Pacific in Hong Kong, which soon became one of the largest investors in the Russian market on the back of the share certificates he bought from “Russian housewives”.</p><p dir="ltr">In 1994, Mellon <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/30/your-money/IHT-briefcase-regent-pacifics-new-fund-will-target-russian.html">described privatisation</a> in Russia as “the largest and fastest restructuring of an economy in human history”. By 1997, Bloomberg featured Regent Pacific in an article titled “<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1997-06-22/the-bad-boys-of-emerging-markets">The Bad Boys of Emerging Markets</a>”. The firm had over $1.1 billion invested in Russia, and also ran its third largest brokerage house.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The same year, the company was listed as the second largest shareholder in Uralmash, a manufacturer of heavy engineering vehicles notorious for its connections to the <a href="https://smallcrowdedworld.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/the-uralmash-gang-a-case-study-of-russian-organized-crime/">Uralmash gang</a> which fought a vicious turf war to control the city of Ekaterinburg.</p><p dir="ltr">Regent Pacific also took <a href="https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/prices-and-markets/stocks/new-and-recent-issues/new-recent-issue-details.html?issueId=8824">a stake</a> in Lukoil, a company <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=141943329&amp;privcapId=728733">co-founded</a> by<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c3c5c012-21e9-11dd-a50a-000077b07658"> Andrey Pannikov</a>, an ex-KGB man who had been expelled for espionage from Sweden in 1988. Pannikov had obtained the first oil export license issued by Russia and had begun to foster close relations with Vladimir Putin, then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, whom he was rumoured to have financially supported.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon and Regent Pacific also <a href="http://faculty.som.yale.edu/zhiwuchen/EmergingMarkets/Peregrine%20plus%20Gazprom%20cases.pdf">attracted the attention</a> of the board of Gazprom, the state owned Russian gas company. At the time, there were only a limited number of shares available to foreign investors due to the Russian government’s policy of ensuring the company remained in Russian hands.</p><p dir="ltr">A parallel market was set up by <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/19/business/ownership-of-gazprom-questioned-shares-fall.html">Deutsche Bank</a> to trade these stocks. Overseas investors could buy ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) from Deutsche which were actually packages of Gazprom shares deposited with the bank in Russia.</p><p dir="ltr">Predictably, the prices of locally traded shares and the ADRs widened: “Russian only” shares cost much less than the shares traded by western investors.</p><p dir="ltr">To exploit this difference, Regent Pacific set up a Russian company to buy Gazprom stock on the Russian market and then to sell units in this company to foreign investors. Mellon quickly <a href="http://old.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/tmt/310868.html">raised $200m</a> from western investors.</p><p dir="ltr">However, the scheme led to the Gazprom board voicing their disapproval of Regent Pacific’s methods. Mellon later<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20180402225713/http://www.oldmasters.net/journal/jim-mellon-interview-spears-wms-magazine-issue-no-13/"> told a reporter</a> he decided to leave Russia, fearing he “might end up at the bottom of the Moscow River”. Following pressure from influential ministers and the Gazprom board, Mellon cancelled the scheme saying later, “We had too much at stake in Russia ... and I know when to walk away.”</p><p dir="ltr">Then, during the Russian financial collapse of 1998, Mellon’s funds dramatically collapsed in value, wiping out much of his investors funds. Regent Pacific had to lay off over 40 workers in their Moscow office. It seemed Mellon’s days in Russia were nearly over.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Putin’s Russia</h2><p style="text-align: left;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/regent pacific offices.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/regent pacific offices.png" alt="Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong." title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong. Image: Google Maps.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">However, by 2000 the Russian economy had begun to rebound – and so did Regent Pacific. Mellon and his business partner Jayne Sutcliffe split their funds into two companies, with Mellon running the Hong Kong-based Regent Pacific and Sutcliffe leading the London-based Charlemagne Capital, <a href="https://www.devere-group.com/fundhouses/CharlemagneCapitalLtd.aspx">which focused on</a> investments in Russia, and other east European emerging markets. This is the point at which Mellon’s spokesperson claims he severed his links with the country. But Mellon remained a major shareholder and <a href="http://fstfwd.co/directors/jim-mellon">non-executive director</a> of Charlemagne, and his father took up <a href="https://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/company-officers/0575ta.HK">a place on its board</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Yeltsin had been replaced by Vladimir Putin. The new leader appointed Medvedev, the current prime minister, to the board of Gazprom and began kicking out old Yeltsin appointees and replacing them with his own hand-picked men, such as Herman Gref, the <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/30/politics/full-us-list-of-russian-oligarchs-with-putin-ties-intl/index.html">now-sanctioned</a> CEO of Sberbank.</p><p dir="ltr">Putin decided to relax restrictions on foreigners holding Gazprom stock. In a meeting on 30th October 2003, he gave his consent to the type of scheme Mellon had attempted to set up five years earlier.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the Russian website <a href="https://neftegaz.ru/press/view/202">neftegaz.ru</a>, <a href="https://opencorporates.com/companies/bm/34356">on the same day</a>&nbsp;Charlemagne Capital established a company called Novy Neft in Bermuda to purchase the new shares and raised $100m from investors within a fortnight. This was either enormously fast paperwork, or Charlemagne had prior knowledge of Putin’s announcement.</p><p dir="ltr">The scheme was enormously successful. A second fund, <a href="http://www.bsx.com//NewsArticle.php?ArticleID=1100791525">Novy Neft II</a>, soon followed. Gazprom shares rose in value, both funds saw large increases in the values of their stocks and investors saw significant gains.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Russian diamonds, Trump, and Arron Banks</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image6.jpg" alt="Arron Banks (second from the left)." title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>From left: Leave.EU campaigner Gerry Gunster; Arron Banks; Donald Trump; Nigel Farage; Andy Wigmore; Raheem Kassam, former adviser to Farage and former Editor in Chief of Breitbart UK (Twitter).</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/08/revealed-leaveeu-campaign-met-russian-officials-as-many-as-11-times">2013</a> and<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-11/oppenheimer-lazard-said-to-be-among-buyers-of-alrosa-shares"> 2016</a>, Charlemagne Capital was selected to participate in partial privatisations of Alrosa, the Russian state diamond company, and the <a href="https://www.petragems.com/education/top-ten-diamond-companies-in-the-world-/">second largest</a> diamond producer in the world.</p><p dir="ltr">The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a now sanctioned Russian sovereign wealth fund run by Kirill Dmitriev, selected Charlemagne as an investor in 2013. Dmitriev has more recently been in the headlines for secret meeting with a Trump confidant,<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/a5f0691c-2dae-11e8-9b4b-bc4b9f08f381"> the Blackwater founder, Erik Prince</a>, in the Seychelles during the US presidential election campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2016, when there was another part-privatisation, Charlemagne was invited to participate again. Between the announcement of the sale and its completion, investors were only given five working days to subscribe to the shares, offered at <a href="https://en.crimerussia.com/oligarchs/diamonds-for-oligarchs-why-privatization-won-t-save-russian-economy/">a sharp discount</a> to the government’s own valuation.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon owned 40% of Charlemagne when it was established and continued to hold at least 20% of the business until 2016. His father, now in his late eighties, sat on its board from 2000 until its sale, although Mellon denies any involvement in the operation of the business or any knowledge of its investments.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK House of Commons Inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, which has released a report on the Brexit referendum campaigns,<a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/36308.htm#_idTextAnchor033"> has highlighted the Alrosa deal</a> as a point of concern, particularly as it was raised in emails between Brexit-backer Arron Banks and the Russian ambassador. Another deal floated by the Russians to Banks concerned the consolidation of a number of goldmines, and in emails seen by openDemocracy, Banks says “I’ve chatted to Jim Mellon who is my partner in the bank (Isle of Man based Manx financial). Jim has extensive interests in commodities.”</p><p dir="ltr">While Mellon denies knowing or having close ties to any Russian business or political figures, he does concede to having met the Russian ambassador to the UK on several occasions over the past few years. For this part, Arron Banks <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/08/revealed-leaveeu-campaign-met-russian-officials-as-many-as-11-times">caused controversy</a> when it transpired that he had in fact met the Russian ambassador eleven times, despite having long maintained he had only met him once.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Mergers in the Caribbean</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image9.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image9.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Trinity Exploration.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In 2012, two Trinidad and Tobago based oil firms merged: Bayfield and Trinity. Andrey Pannikov, the former KGB man with close ties to Putin’s inner circle,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/prices-and-markets/stocks/new-and-recent-issues/new-recent-issue-details.html?issueId=8669"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">owned 20% of Bayfield</span></a>. Jim Mellon’s firm Regent Pacific was a major investor in Trinity. Trinity had booked strong profits in 2011. Bayfield, however, was struggling, yet the two companies merged in a deal which seemingly made little sense for shareholders who were forced to accept large losses on their investments. Pannikov himself lost millions on his investment in Bayfield but was able to see the loss-making company salvaged by Trinity. Mellon admits the deal lost Regent Pacific £5m, and despite being a non-executive chairman and a major shareholder, he denies being personally involved and says he has never met Pannikov.</p><p dir="ltr">In the mid 2000s, Charlemagne Capital became one of the largest shareholders in the Central European Distribution Company, based in Poland. But the firm was hit hard by the 2008 crisis, and in April 2013 entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in order to restructure its debts. &nbsp;In the pre-packaged deal, over one third of the group’s debt was written off and Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko took ownership of the business. The New York Times called the deal an “exercise in stiffing shareholders”, but Charlemagne was able to exchange its equity for debt and salvaged 83% of the value of their investment. A rival offer from an Alfa Bank consortium put in a larger offer for the business, but strangely this seems to have been immediately rejected.</p><p dir="ltr">A few years later, Roustam Tariko sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow, where he had <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/02/26/trumps-miss-universe-gambit">a neighbouring VIP box</a> to its organiser, Donald Trump.</p><h2 dir="ltr">“Firms whose management is close to Putin”</h2><p dir="ltr">Charlemagne Capital continued to invest heavily in Russia throughout the 2000s as Putin consolidated his grip on power. In 2003, Stefan Böttcher, a Charlemagne fund manager, described how the business had a policy of investing in “<a href="https://translate.google.ae/translate?hl=en&amp;sl=ru&amp;u=http://inosmi.ru/world/20040603/210090.html&amp;prev=search">firms whose management is close to Putin</a>.”</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon states that while he was a major shareholder in the business, he had no operational control and was not made aware of any investment decisions or strategies and thus had no involvement in or influence over the deals in Alrosa, Novy Neft, or the CEDC takeover. When the firm floated on the London stock market in 2006, Mellon reduced his shareholding from 40% to around 20%. The business boasted $4 billion in assets under management, which were mostly invested in Russia, and other east European countries.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon also denies having ever met Andrey Pannikov or Roustam Tariko, but often meets Russians, including the ambassador to the UK, and personal friends at cultural and business gatherings.</p><h2 dir="ltr">“Lasers”, and Russian Intelligence</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="224" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">One such personal friend is Anna Saprykina, a former Alfa Bank employee who now runs a company called Body Silk in Hither Green, South London, which specialises in laser hair removal. Born in Russia, but with over 10 years spent in the UK, Saprykina is now a British citizen. A keen classical musician, she tells the story of how she and her sister were looking for investment to set up their business when they were introduced to Mellon at a concert in 2010.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon invested £120,000 in the business. Eight years after it was established, it is currently for sale having racked up losses of £240,000. Saprykina, advertised the business as “ideal for a Tier One Entrepreneur visa” on her LinkedIn page.</p><p dir="ltr">Alfa Bank, Saprykina’s former employer, has been<a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/09/politics/fbi-investigation-continues-into-odd-computer-link-between-russian-bank-and-trump-organization/index.html"> named as a conduit</a> for Russian intelligence activities in multiple countries and is a focus of the Mueller investigation into ties between the Russian state and Donald Trump, although there is no suggestion that Saprykina has been involved in Russian intelligence.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 17.53.51.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 17.53.51.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jim Mellon's Facebook</span></span></span></p><h2 dir="ltr">The ‘money fountain’</h2><p dir="ltr">Mellon first met Banks when he invested in Conister Bank, an Isle of Man bank which Banks and his partners from Brightside insurance had recently been bought out of insolvency. The two men became business partners in the venture they would soon re-name Manx Financial.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Arron Banks and Mellon continue to hold significant stakes <a href="https://www.mfg.im/investor-centre/aim-rule-26">in Manx Financial</a> and have also co-invested in other businesses together. It was from this relationship that Banks’s involvement in UK politics would grow as Mellon introduced him to Nigel Farage. The three men were reported discussing “other ways” of funding the then near-bankrupt UKIP to get around Mellon’s non-resident status according to <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/citydiary/10106554/Dashwood-Bangers-and-cash-for-Nigel-Farages-Brussels-blow-out.html">a Telegraph report in 2013</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">When openDemocracy (and others) have<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit"> looked into Banks’ true wealth</a>, we have not found evidence that he is as rich as he claims. With Mellon, however, there is little doubt that he has the trappings of a very wealthy man. He moves between luxury homes in Ibiza, Berlin and the Isle of Man on a private jet and gets the<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brand_New_Heavies"> Brand New Heavies</a> to play at his parties. But, given that most of his businesses are based in secretive tax havens, it is difficult to gauge whether Mellon is, as Canadian senators said in a report about another of his businesses, “in constant financial difficulty” or more correctly valued at £1 billion, as the Sunday Times Rich List reported<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-44082195"> this year</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">There is no suggestion that Mellon is the ultimate provider of the disputed funding for Leave campaigns.</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Living for 200 years’</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image4.jpg" alt="" title="" width="352" height="499" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Today Regent Pacific, Mellon’s Hong Kong based business, is moving into biotech. Mellon says humans can live for 200 years due to all manner of technological advances, and claims he knows which ones to invest in. He calls this ‘longevity science’, tells investors it’s a ‘<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/30bb0752-6d5e-11e8-92d3-6c13e5c92914">money fountain</a>’, and has even co-written a book about longevity, called “Juvenesence” and set up a business with the same name.</p><p dir="ltr">Once again, his recent foray has brought him into contact with well-connected Russians. One of the companies Mellon <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/imi-bit040617.php">owns a stake</a> in is the start-up Insilico medicine, which has <a href="http://insilicomedicine.org/about/news/">80% of its staff in offices</a> and labs at the Skolkovo Foundation Science Park in Moscow.</p><p dir="ltr">The Skolkovo Foundation is <a href="https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/skolkovo-foundation-to-get-15bln-in-2013-2020-26383">the brainchild</a> of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions-renova/u-s-sanctions-on-vekselberg-have-1-5-2-billion-assets-frozen-sources-idUSKBN1HS0FB">Viktor Veskelberg</a>, a sanctioned oligarch and close <a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/11/17337448/viktor-vekselberg-michael-cohen-trump-russia">confidant of</a> Putin. It has been described by the FBI as an attempt to conduct industrial espionage.</p><p dir="ltr">Mellon says that while he has visited the Skolkovo business park to see the Insilico Medicine operations, he has not had any interaction or meetings of any type with members of the Skolkovo Foundation, which often invests in businesses based on its campus, and points out that the firm is registered in the US and also has a base at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image11.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/image11.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="283" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Skolkovo park in Moscow. Image: Google.</span></span></span></p><h2>“Snake in the grass”</h2><p dir="ltr">Arron Banks, the self-styled ‘bad boy of Brexit’, has already been found to have misrepresented the extent of his connections with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/08/revealed-leaveeu-campaign-met-russian-officials-as-many-as-11-times">Russian officials</a> and the value of his <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/.../not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-valu...">investments</a>. As openDemocracy has repeatedly shown, major&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">question marks</a> hang over the true extent of the insurance tycoon's wealth. Our reporting has also revealed how he <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit">misled parliament about his business and political operations</a>, and how he accessed data on millions of voters. In the midst of intense political rows over the Brexit negotiations, Banks has also openly threatened to rally Leave.EU’s supporters to unseat anti-Brexit Tories.</p><p dir="ltr">For all these reasons, the questions about how Arron Banks found the money to become the largest political donor in UK history are not merely historic. They urgently need answers. There is no evidence to suggest that Mellon himself is the true source of Banks’s Brexit funds. However, while his spokesman said that Mellon “had not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s”, our investigation shows that his financial exposure to Russian investments remains significant.</p><p>British parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have called for a Mueller-style investigation into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum. One of the most prominent voices demanding this is the Conservative MP Damian Collins, chair of parliament's ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news. Arron Banks last week month sent letters to all of Collins’s constituents calling him “a disgrace” and “a snake in the grass”, and urging Leave.EU supporters to “put his position into question by joining the Conservatives and applying pressure from within the party”.</p><p>Both Mellon and Banks have declined to respond on the record to any of the question we have put to them.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">Arron Banks and Brexit’s offshore secrets</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/revealed-arron-banks-s-staff-crunched-millions-of-voters-data-after-brexit-vote">Revealed: Arron Banks’s staff crunched millions of voters’ data after Brexit vote</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">We need to talk about where Brexit funder Arron Banks gets his money</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit">Arron Banks lied to parliament about his Brexit campaign, say whistleblowers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/leigh-baldwin-marcus-leroux/not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-value-of-his-dia">Not everyone agrees with Arron Banks about the value of his diamond mines</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Russia UK Democracy and government investigations Jim Mellon Brexit Arron Banks DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Iain Campbell Sat, 10 Nov 2018 08:50:38 +0000 Iain Campbell 120491 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Labour history shows us where workers “took back control” without building walls https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/steven-parfitt/labour-history-shows-us-where-workers-took-back-control-without-building-walls <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Current debates on automation, precarity, identity and internationalism would do well to better observe the lessons of labour history.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/WORKERS OF THE WORLD].jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/WORKERS OF THE WORLD].jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Workers of the world, unite! Credit: Rockman of Zymurgy/Flickr, CC 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>Labour history should be a field in demand. Jeremy Corbyn appears as a possible British Prime Minister, and a growing number of Americans see their salvation in strikes and socialism. Journalists write endlessly about the “white working class,” a force with the power to elect Trump, vote for Brexit, and support a slew of rightist demagogues across Europe. Shelves of books anticipate full automation and the end of work, or the casualisation of work, or the rise of a post capitalist order from within the existing system. These events and trends all have a past, and they can and must be found in the history of work, workers, and their movements.</p> <p>Yet labour history is the subject that dare not speak its name. Unions no longer promote their own history with the old enthusiasm. </p> <p>The men behind New Labour forgot their Party’s past as much as humanly possible, and blundered, as amnesiacs often do, from Iraq to Northern Rock. Marginalised in the academy, senior labour historians anxious to help junior ones advise them to rebrand as a social historian, political historian, economic historian - anything but a labour historian - if they want that elusive permanent job.</p> <p>This abdication leaves the survival of labour history in fewer hands. Small academic societies, such as the Society for the Study of Labour History, hold the fort in the universities. Institutions such as the People’s History Museum still put labour history before the public. Musicians keep the old songs of protest alive, and write new ones. Trade unionists with great passion, few resources, and disparagingly referred to by some academics as amateurs, do the bulk of the work. They have kept the labour movement in touch with its past.</p> <p>The conundrum facing labour history is simple. Its subject matter is so obviously relevant for all those who want to understand how we have reached our current predicament. Its decline as a subject at universities, and among workers themselves, is so obviously due to a long fall in union membership and the crisis of labour and social democratic parties all over the world. Resolving that conundrum will depend on a great many things, the biggest being the revival of organised labour, left-wing success at the ballot box, and greater public attention to the conditions that people face on the job. </p> <p>In the meantime, the way to promote labour history surely lies in using one side of the conundrum against the other: demonstrating its relevance to begin to reverse its decline. Other historians will zero in on other trends, and other examples; the following British and American ones relate most closely to my own work. </p> <h2>The working class is not just white</h2> <p>We live in what seems like a paradox: the “working class” is seldom discussed in the press, except as the object of pity or scorn, yet the “white working class” is everywhere. Trump, Brexit, the rise of “populism” in Europe, are all due to angry whites in hard hats and Hi-Viz jackets. In this reading of recent history, the white working class – ignored, ridiculed, left behind – finally took its revenge on the liberal elites who once patronised it. </p> <p>This story now carries the status of Received Truth, despite its major defects - the main one being that the working class is not just white, nor has it ever been. Black workers were an integral part of the American working class even before the emancipation of the slaves. From the Knights of Labor, the nineteenth-century labour movement, to the Congress of Industrial Organizations of the 1930s, all the great uprisings in American labour history depended on thousands if not millions of black workers. </p> <p>The same was true of Britain. Well before large-scale Commonwealth immigration after the Second World War, the British working class was far from lily white. Black and Asian people have always been a part of the trade unions, Labour and Communist Parties. Shapurji Saklatvala, elected as a Communist MP in the 1920s, was of Indian birth. Even the Chartists, a working-class movement which demanded the democratisation of British life in the 1830s and 1840s, could call on black militants. William Cuffay, a so-called mixed-race tailor from London, paid for his trade unionism and Chartism with a near-life sentence to Tasmania in 1848.</p> <p>This home truth – that whites are not the only “workers,” and non-white people are defined by their class as well as their race – might seem obvious. Yet it cuts across the grain of so much recent political coverage. And even when historians do talk about a “white working class,” they don’t refer to xenophobia in the Rust Belts of the West but to the great expansion of European empires, and areas of European settlement, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. If journalists want to use the phrase, they might want to dwell on its imperial origins – and not just on the presumed bigotry of all pale-skinned workers.</p> <h2>Immigration does not just mean borders</h2> <p>They might do the same for the immigration debate as well. This is not an area where unions and social democratic parties can always look back with pride. The Australian Labor Party pushed for the aptly-named White Australia policy, and got it in 1901. The American Federation of Labor lobbied for the 1924 Immigration Act: its strict racial and national quotas ensured, among other things, that most Jewish people fleeing Nazi persecution in the 1930s found the American border closed to them. If these lamentable episodes weren’t enough, nineteenth-century labour movements in every English-speaking country, with the partial exception of the UK itself, called for the exclusion of all Chinese (and in some cases all Asian) immigrants. </p> <p>This difficult history seems to fit with the way that the immigration debate is usually phrased: between a xenophobic working class that wishes to simply close the borders, and liberal middle-class types who want to keep them open. There is an element of truth to this picture, but only an element - and they leave out a whole alternative history that runs right through to the present.</p> <p>Some unions, for instance, wanted to regulate immigration rather than restrict it. Trade unionists in the International Workingmen’s Association in the 1860s and 1870s (famous as Marx’s First International), and the American Knights of Labor in the 1880s, were concerned that employers moved workers across borders to break strikes or undermine their closed shop. Rather than simply try to exclude them, both movements sought to build international connections between workers in the same trade, taking in willing recruits from abroad, helping them to build up organisation at home, and therefore (hopefully) avoiding the need for people to migrate for purely economic reasons. </p> <p>Others wanted to do away with borders altogether, or acted as if they didn’t exist. The Industrial Workers of the World, a radical movement that began in the USA in 1905, spread around the world, and still survives today, thought from the beginning that race and nationalism were a kind of bourgeois trick to divide workers from each other. They energetically recruited black and foreign-born workers, both as members and leaders. IWW Local 8, active on the Philadelphia waterfront in the 1910s, was celebrated for the fact that it brought together a workforce one-third black, one-third native-born white, and one-third immigrant – all under the IWW’s best-known black leader, Ben Fletcher.</p> <p>They have parallels today. New unions such as the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) and United Voices of the World (UVW) reject national chauvinism, and unite immigrant and local workers against some of the most powerful and prestigious institutions in Britain: Uber, Deliveroo, the London School of Economics, the University of London. The point here is that the immigration debate does not necessarily lead to a binary choice between opening and closing the borders, or between internationalism and xenophobia. Labour history is replete with examples where workers “took back control” – but on their own terms, and without always building walls.</p> <h2>European unity doesn’t always mean internationalism</h2> <p>Its study might also qualify certain shibboleths in the aftermath of Britain’s EU referendum. That vote was cast afterwards as a choice between internationalism or racism – or, more crudely, as smart, enlightened Remainers versus dumb, bigoted Leavers. The official Leave campaigns did, of course, plumb the depths of prejudice as their plan for victory. Yet the statement “the EU equals internationalism” also suffered from severe problems of its own.</p> <p>One is that widespread pro-EU feeling on the left is a recent thing. Conservative splits over Brexit today mirror earlier Labour splits over the Common Market. Racism was not the underlying reason for the hostility of Tony Benn, Michael Foot and many other prominent Labour MPs to what became the EU. They opposed it because they saw it as making socialism in Britain nearly impossible, because of the emphasis always placed by European institutions on free markets. They saw it as undemocratic, with so many powers handed over to unelected bureaucrats and commissioners. They further thought that membership of “Europe” would leave British governments unable to put up barriers, where necessary, to keep factories open and full employment at home.</p> <p>This buried tradition might not appeal to Europhiles. Yet its existence makes a fool out of every demagogue who prefers to place all Leavers in the Boris and Farage camp. Nor is hostility to the EU a peculiarly British trait. Left-wingers in France, for example, successfully led opposition to ratification of the Lisbon Treaty as recently as 2005 (naturally, the treaty went ahead anyway). And the people who equate the EU with internationalism might also want to consider what European unity has often meant in practice.</p> <p>&nbsp;If Europe had a Golden Age of socialism, it was in the years before the First World War, when socialist parties all over Europe began to seriously contend for power and when even their enemies thought they might bring a new social order into being. At congresses of the Socialist (Second) International, speakers continually called for working-class unity all over the world. Yet these congresses consisted almost entirely of European delegates, or delegates of European ancestry, and they repeatedly hedged on what to do about the great European empires: whether future socialist governments should abandon, transform, or retain them. </p> <p>Some delegates even reiterated the racist tropes of their masters – that the colonial peoples were children who must remain under the tutelage of the advanced European peoples. European unity, one kind of internationalism, clashed with a broader, global, anti-imperial kind. Contemporary echoes of that old colonial mindset still exist, whether we consider the damage done to farmers in the Global South by the Common Agricultural Policy, or the construction of Fortress Europe, with its high external borders, as a precondition for “freedom of movement.” Labour history, in other words, complicates comfortable assumptions about the rights and wrongs of Brexit, and the EU itself.</p> <h2>Automation and precarity are not new</h2> <p>Depending on which book you pick up in your local library or bookstore, we live in the age of the precariat, or the end of work, or on the verge of fully-automated luxury communism. Futurism has returned with a vengeance. These works, from Guy Standing’s <em>The Precariat</em> to Paul Mason’s <em>Postcapitalism</em>, all rest on one or more of the following ideas: the end of the old working class, the transformative power of digital technologies, and the rise of automated production. </p> <p>What to make of these claims? History can’t predict the future, but it can caution those who do. John Maynard Keynes, for example, thought in 1930 that higher productivity would, in the not-too-distant future, allow people to work a maximum of 15 hours per week. The world of <em>Star Trek</em> seems to be based on the idea that humans no longer need to work to consume what they wished. The tendency to assume that what is happening now is wholly new has a long history. </p> <p>Take the rise of the precariat, the insecure new social class whose members survive on a diet of casual, short-term contracts. Many studies question the notion that the precariat has devoured the old industrial working class and a layer of formerly middle-class professionals: they claim that its growth has stalled since the 2000s, except in service industries such as education and hospitality. The gig economy has not yet swallowed us all up, nor does it seem likely to do so anytime soon. </p> <p>The historical case is even weaker. Precarious work has been a fact of life for most people in the Global South for the past few centuries, and was indeed the norm for the vast majority of workers in the advanced industrial countries until at least the Second World War. The young mother who now waits on call for a day’s work is the direct descendant of the nineteenth-century prole, hanging around the waterfront for a sliver of waged labour. </p> <p>The same applies to automation. The history of work since the Industrial Revolution is the history of men and women displaced by machines. The railroad brakeman disappeared with the automatic brake, the weaver with the power loom, the carriage maker with the advent of the automobile. The only constant in the history of capitalism is change, and the worker has borne the brunt of it. Current advocates of the idea that robots will soon make us all redundant run up against the fact that automation itself is nothing new. </p> <p>That doesn’t mean that we won’t, at some point, get to a point where old jobs disappear much faster than new ones emerge. That would, as the advocates of “postcapitalism” or “fully-automated luxury communism” suggest, require a new social and economic system. Capitalism is based on the link between wages, prices and profits, none of which would have any meaning in a world without labour and with an abundance of goods. Yet this project will span decades, if not more. In the meantime, we should remain sceptical of the idea that all past trends will soon be irrevocably shattered, whether the shattering will make us jobless or force us all onto zero-hour contracts. </p> <h2>Labour movements are always in crisis </h2> <p>And we should also remember that labour movements remain in perpetual crisis. As with automation, as with the precariat – as with all predictions that the world of work will suddenly, dramatically change – we should challenge the idea that the current predicament of organised labour has no precedents. Sure, the signs of crisis are everywhere. Union membership stagnates. The British Trades Union Congress, for example, worries aloud about its failure to recruit young people in large numbers. Historic parties of the left, from the French Socialists to the Greek PASOK, have nearly vanished. Their replacements – Syriza, most tragically – have so far fared little better.</p> <p>But this is not a new story. Arguments that organised labour is in crisis, even doomed, date back to the 1870s at least. The American Knights of Labor attracted nearly a million members by 1886 on the proposition that trade unions had become too weak and too isolated to compete with Big Capital. The US labour movement nearly collapsed in the 1920s, only to revive between the 1930s and 1970s, then fall away again in the 1980s. Yet American unions are still here, however weakened.</p> <p>British trade unions suffered greatly from the depression of the 1870s and 1880s: some larger ones nearly collapsed under the weight of jobless members claiming unemployment benefits out of union funds. Even at the height of its strength, between the 1950s and 1970s, prominent commentators such as Ralph Miliband and Eric Hobsbawm saw a crisis in the British labour movement, and predicted a greater crisis to come. It came in the 1980s – yet British unions are still here.</p> <p>If labour history tells us anything, it says that labour movements never idle along in stasis. If they don’t move forward they retreat. The current crisis might exceed the severity of all previous ones, and labour movements may never recover from it. Yet they might also storm back instead. The recent campaign of Bernie Sanders was a high-water mark in the electoral fortunes of a self-proclaimed American socialist, while British Labour have never had a left-wing leader so close to power as Jeremy Corbyn. Big strikes, such as those by teachers in the US, or university staff from lecturers to cleaners in the UK, still go on. New movements, such as the American Fight for $15 or the London-based IWGB and UVW, still arise. </p> <p>Labour history does not stand in for a crystal ball. Nor is it simply the historical context to our current problems. Labour history encompasses many topics not mentioned here: the gendered division of labour, the co-operative movement, the lives of slave as well as free workers, the poems and novels of working-class writers, the music halls, taverns and clubs where workers passed their leisure time - and much else besides. It is, again, more than just a manual for prospective revolutionaries, union organisers and social-democratic politicians. But it does provide lessons, or at any rate examples to learn from. It does illuminate the forces changing our world. And it does point, however hazily, to possible trends in the future. For these reasons, if no others, we now need labour history more than ever.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/len-mccluskey/fast-food-strikes-show-young-workers-get-what-trade-unionism-is-about">Young workers know they&#039;re being ripped off - and that unions are the answer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/ivan-manokha/opposing-labour-market-uber-culosis">Opposing labour market Uberculosis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/gabrielle-pickard-whitehead/migrant-led-activism-stamping-out-racial-hostility-in-uk">The migrant-led activism stamping out racial hostility in the UK</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Steven Parfitt Fri, 09 Nov 2018 11:14:44 +0000 Steven Parfitt 120521 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How Britain is a bad influence on the Gulf states – an interview with David Wearing https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair-david-wearing/how-britain-is-bad-influence-on-gulf-states-interview-with-david-weari <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>Could Britain ever promote democracy in the Gulf? Only if it turns its own foreign policy away from neoliberalism and militarism, David Wearing argues in a new book.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/britain saudi.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/britain saudi.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman entering Downing Street in March 2018. Credit: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><strong>Ian Sinclair: You argue that the UK’s interest in the Gulf’s vast oil and gas reserves is not about “direct energy supply” to the UK. Can you explain why this is, and what the UK’s interest is really about?</strong></p> <p><strong>David Wearing:</strong> Britain imported a lot of oil from the Middle East during the post-war years, but this tailed off significantly from the 1970s as North Sea oil came on stream. At this point, we import a little more than we export, and only about 3% of our imports come from Saudi Arabia, less from the other Gulf states. However, gas is an important part of the UK’s energy mix, and imports from Qatar comprise about 13% of our gas consumption. </p> <p>Gulf oil does matter to the UK, but in different ways. First there’s the structural power in the world system that major states gain from control over hydrocarbons – the lifeblood of the industrialised world economy. Those sorts of geopolitical questions are slightly above the pay-grade of post-imperial Britain, but are of real relevance for the global hegemon, the United States, and the UK of course supports and complements US power in the Gulf. A reasonably stable flow of oil out of the Gulf is also important to the world economy (and thus to British capitalism, with its extensive global connections) since price shocks can be hugely disruptive. And Gulf oil remains a major commercial prize for two of the UK’s leading firms, BP and Shell.</p> <p>What the UK is interested in above all is the wealth that Gulf oil sales generate, and how it can use the connections developed with the Gulf Arab monarchies during the imperial era to attract those “petrodollars” into the British economy and arms industry.</p> <p>The move to neoliberalism, and the consequent growth of the City of London alongside the decline of manufacturing export industry, has left Britain with a large and growing current account deficit. Running such a deficit puts downward pressure on your currency, which can be offset in two ways: first, by finding areas of the world where you can run a trade surplus, thus narrowing the overall deficit, and second, by attracting foreign inward investment, by which demand for assets in your own currency “finances” the deficit, and keeps your currency stable. </p> <p>While neoliberalism in the UK was becoming more entrenched, the Gulf states were enjoying a huge windfall from oil prices, starting in the early 2000s and continuing until very recently. Gulf demand for imports of goods and services rocketed, as did the sovereign wealth they had available for investment. So British neoliberal capitalism and Gulf rentier capitalism came to complement each other. The UK provided the goods and services and the investment outlet that the Gulf monarchies required, while the Gulf monarchies provided an export market with which it was possible to build a trade surplus, as well as a source of capital inflows that could help finance the current account deficit. </p> <p>In addition, about half of UK arms exports go to the Gulf, mainly to Saudi Arabia. Britain’s post-war strategic objective to remain a global military power despite the loss of empire requires it to maintain its own arms industry. Arms exports make that industry more economically viable, especially when we’re talking about the major, sophisticated weapons systems – military jets and the supporting infrastructure – that the UK provides to the Gulf monarchs. Those exports are a very small part of total UK exports worldwide – less than 1% – ad alternative employment could certainly be found for arms industry workers. This is not about economic benefits for the British people but the strategic priorities of the British state. </p> <p>So “Gulf wealth matters to Britain”, as the book title says, but to a specific neoliberal, militaristic Britain. Gulf wealth could matter a lot less to the UK if we ran our economy differently and reconfigured our foreign relations. </p> <p><strong>IS: During the 2010-11 ‘Arab Spring’ there were significant pro-democracy protests in the Gulf, most notably in Bahrain. What was the UK’s response to these events?</strong></p> <p><strong>DW</strong>: Notwithstanding the nominal “concerns” expressed by Whitehall about state abuses during the anti-democratic crackdown, the UK effectively took up the PR line of the Bahraini government: that the violence was down to sectarian divisions, that any abuses were regrettable mistakes, and that “reform” was now underway – led by the regime – to resolve matters. In reality, the uprising was broad based and democratic, the abuses were the predictable response of an authoritarian regime to the threat of democracy, and the “reforms” were designed to whitewash the regime’s international image and consolidate its position after that threat had been substantively extinguished. British arms sales increased during this period, and strategic military ties deepened considerably, in what was a visible vote of confidence in continued monarchical rule. </p> <p>This was entirely consistent with the preceding two centuries of Britain’s involvement in the region. The Gulf was originally brought under the control of the British Empire as part of a wider buffer zone around the Indian subcontinent. Local rulers were given British protection, and through the crucial decades of state formation and development, especially as the oil revenues came in, the UK and increasingly the US played a decisive role in entrenching monarchical rule and building up the body and muscle of the coercive apparatus that blocked any prospect of socio-political change (despite the brave efforts of many of the region’s people). </p> <p>In light of this, one can only attribute the common association of democracy with especially “Western values”, and the belief that authoritarianism springs from the region’s “culture”, to a refusal to look at the history, together with a deeply ingrained set of basically racist assumptions that frame many people’s understanding of our relationship with this part of the world. </p> <p><strong>IS: How might the economic and political responses needed to combat climate change alter the UK’s relationship with the Gulf?</strong></p> <p><strong>DW</strong>: It’s increasingly understood that global decarbonisation is now a matter of urgency. Fundamentally, the majority of the world’s oil has to stay in the ground. Most Gulf oil goes to East Asia, and China in particular is making massive efforts to decarbonise. The oil-dependent Gulf monarchies could well be sitting on stranded assets, which means the petrodollars helping to prop up British neoliberalism and post-imperial militarism could soon begin to dry up. The UK needs to adapt to these realities.</p> <p><strong>IS: In the short-term, arguably the best chance for making significant and lasting positive change to the UK’s relationship with the Gulf monarchies is electing a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. How difficult would it be for a newly elected Labour government to shift the UK’s relationship with the GCC?</strong></p> <p><strong>DW:</strong> These relationships are contingent, not inescapable. The Labour leadership’s aim of demilitarising UK foreign policy and transitioning away from neoliberalism fit well with – and would be decisive in making possible – a major rethink of UK relations with the Gulf Arab monarchs. The fact that it is achievable, however, does not mean that it wouldn’t be a challenge. </p> <p>There are interests within the Labour Party committed to Britain maintaining a major arms industry, and its status as a military power. The 2017 manifesto was clearly a compromise between those interests and the Corbyn leadership. Sustaining that compromise results in the current line that Britain can compensate for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia by selling an equivalent value of arms elsewhere. The reality is that alternative markets simply do not exist. Ending arms sales to the Gulf will undoubtedly impact on the UK arms industry and thus the UK’s ability to maintain its status as a military power. Corbyn and his allies will likely be fine with that, especially if they (correctly) believe that alternative jobs for arms industry workers could be created as part of the proposed industrial strategy. But they will be forced to stop triangulating on this issue area, and to take on and defeat the party right. If they frame that battle around what’s happening in Yemen they could mobilise the support of the mass membership and probably win. </p> <p>On the wider economic dimensions, an export-oriented industrial strategy would over time obviate the need for petrodollar inflows to finance the current account deficit, but in the short and medium term that need might remain. The Saudis would have the option of retaliating against any cessation of UK arms supplies by pulling some of their investments, and Labour should at least be war-gaming such a scenario in advance of taking office. I suspect that, in their current position of weakness, especially after the Khashoggi murder, it’s doubtful that the Saudis would want to further alienate the Western allies upon whom they depend by taking such an aggressive action. I also suspect that a major programme of public investment under a Labour government would attract a good deal of foreign capital, which may well offset any withdrawal of Saudi and Gulf capital. But again, these are challenges that Labour would have to think through and prepare for. </p> <p>The major misconception I’ve found when discussing my book in public and in the media is that the Gulf monarchs have decisive power over the UK and that there’s nothing policymakers can do about the relationship. That isn’t true. Recalibrating and disentangling these relationships is certainly possible. It won’t be easy, but the coming changes resulting from global warming make this challenge an inescapable one.</p><p><em><span class="MsoHyperlink"><a href="https://www.wiley.com/en-ru/AngloArabia%3A+Why+Gulf+Wealth+Matters+to+Britain-p-9781509532032">AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain</a></span><span>&nbsp;exploring the UK’s relationship with the authoritarian Gulf states is published by Wiley.</span></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/andrew-smith/natural-history-museum-has-been-used-by-saudi-regime">The Natural History Museum has been used by the Saudi regime</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/andrew-smith/debunking-myths-that-underpin-britains-arms-exports-to-saudi-arabia">Debunking the myths that underpin Britain&#039;s arms exports to Saudi Arabia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/matt-kennard-mark-curtis/britain-s-warfare-state">Britain’s warfare state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/andrew-smith/even-saudi-arabia-accepts-that-saudi-forces-are-killing-civilians-in-yemen-so-why-is">Saudi forces are killing civilians in Yemen, so why is the UK still arming the regime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mieczys-aw-p-boduszy-ski/anti-islamist-campaign-and-arab-democracy">The anti-Islamist campaign and Arab democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Yemen Saudi Arabia UK David Wearing Ian Sinclair Fri, 09 Nov 2018 10:04:45 +0000 Ian Sinclair and David Wearing 120517 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Revealed: Arron Banks’s staff crunched millions of voters’ data after Brexit vote https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/revealed-arron-banks-s-staff-crunched-millions-of-voters-data-after-brexit-vote <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Whistleblower says Banks’s staff were told to ‘urgently’ process personal information on millions of voters after the referendum – and still had it months later. Why?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/banks.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/banks.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks. Image, BBC.</span></span></span></p><span>Senior staff at Arron Banks’s insurance company had access to the personal information of millions of British voters months after the Brexit vote, according to a new whistleblower from inside Banks’s Brexit campaign.</span><p>Under UK electoral law, this data should have been securely destroyed after the referendum – and Banks has previously claimed to MPs that there was no data sharing between his insurance business and his Leave.EU campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy has already <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit">revealed</a> that Banks misled Parliament about how his Brexit campaign was run, and the role played by staff at his Eldon insurance business. He also failed to declare the part played by Eldon staff to the Electoral Commission, as is required by law.</p><p dir="ltr">Now further emails seen by openDemocracy reveal for the first time the scale of the data warchest that Banks, Brexit’s largest donor, has built. He has since pledged to use his Leave.EU campaign to unseat anti-Brexit Tories and encourage his supporters to take over the Conservative party.</p><p dir="ltr">Damian Collins, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into fake news, said that openDemocracy’s latest revelations about Leave.EU and Eldon “suggest that they were potentially holding data that they knew they shouldn’t have, which would be a clear breach of the law, as well as contradicting, once again, what Arron Banks said to Parliament”.</p><p>It is not clear whether the data was used or whether it has now been destroyed. Banks did not respond to questions from openDemocracy.</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Snake in the grass’</h2><p dir="ltr">Last month, Arron Banks <a href="https://twitter.com/davidbenjyman/status/1057267255912882176">wrote to every household in Damian Collins’s constituency</a>, calling the MP a “snake in the grass” and a “disgrace” after the chair of the parliamentary inquiry in fake news called for a Mueller-style investigation into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum.</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/01/arron-banks-referred-to-agency-over-suspected-offences-in-brexit-campaign">National Crime Agency</a> has since announced it is investigating Banks over his £8m Brexit donations, saying there were reasonable grounds to suspect Banks was “not the true source” of the money.</p><p>The Information Commissioner’s Office has also told Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU it will fine them £135,000 for “serious breaches” of data laws. In one instance, more than one million emails marketing Banks’s insurance business, Go Skippy, were sent to Leave.EU subscribers.</p><p>The ICO is currently investigating whether Eldon Insurance in turn shared the personal information of its customers with Leave.EU, which could be another breach of the law.</p><p dir="ltr">Now, new information obtained by openDemocracy suggests that senior Eldon staff had access to far more electoral data from Leave.EU than previously reported.</p><p dir="ltr">In the run-up to the Brexit vote, Leave.EU received electoral registers from councils across the UK. The registers contain a wealth of information about voters, includings names, addresses, and postcodes. Registered participants in an upcoming election are <a href="https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/162824/List-of-people-entitled-to-be-supplied-with-the-electoral-register.pdf">allowed</a> to request the registers.</p><p dir="ltr">Electoral Commission guidance states that registers “should be securely destroyed… once the purpose for which the register has been supplied has expired”. Failure to do “would ultimately be for the police to investigate”.</p><p>But in September 2016, three months after the Brexit referendum, a Leave.EU staffer wrote an email to campaign CEO Liz Bilney and a senior Eldon insurance staffer saying that “the electoral data hasn’t yet been deleted”.</p><p><span><span><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/yO2-6Z8zP98KX-2RMYfWH1li98ZzDA30VF9K1p3UYQ6ipfYozuKsUmY_aU8S0lxTn85TKq73wdJSfb6O-lG035zEhwjSHZGD1dYWVJD-A0VM3q_HJUUQh5T_kZfmKbDZ5_xwH0p-" alt="" width="602" height="275" /></span></span></p><p>A later response said: “We have deleted that data that Ross used from \\SKIPPY\Electoral Registers$\”. This email was sent by a staffer at Southern Rock, Banks’s Gibraltar-based insurance firm. The file prefix – ‘Skippy’ – is very similar to Go Skippy, the brand name under which Eldon Insurance trades.</p><p dir="ltr">Why Southern Rock, a Banks-owned insurance company based in Gibraltar, would have access to personal information about tens of millions of British voters is not clear. Among the email’s recipients are staff with Rock Services email addresses. Banks has said that Rock Services provided the £8m that he gave to the Brexit campaign.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Personal data crunched</h2><p>Banks has maintained that there was no data sharing between Eldon and Leave.EU, telling Parliament previously that his insurance business had an “exceptionally strong data control culture to prevent any misuse of data”.</p><p>Last weekend, openDemocracy reported that Leave.EU received hundreds of electoral registers from across the UK.</p><p><span><span><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/UUTCPCJLmlgTlbJ_cTQtrEO2uYbl5dylllfQFDWs0KJkK-2e5D9OC-iwCywoRHvvrzhp8LtsWoJfwcvNrk_MA3S6XpJd9-5qZ3gw_mj36tYl1VEXoxKHZwhY4lVsV2zC9nn0ope3" alt="" width="492" height="278" /></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In early June, a few weeks before the Brexit vote, Leave.EU CEO Liz Bilney complained that the campaign had collected data on only 14.7 million voters. Around the same time, a small team was created inside Banks’s Bristol HQ to format the electoral registers. “Nobody was told what the point of doing all this was,” someone familiar with the process told openDemocracy</p><p dir="ltr">By referendum day, the huge task of formatting all the electoral registers was far from complete. But just days after the unexpected Brexit vote, a small group of Leave.EU employees began processing the rest of the registers at Lysander House, Banks’s Bristol HQ and home to both Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU, openDemocracy has been told.</p><p dir="ltr">Pressure was put on staff to process the electoral registers more quickly, even though the campaign was over. “There was a level of urgency with it. People were getting angry emails saying, ‘This must be done.’ I didn’t know what it was for,” the source said.</p><p>Once all of the electoral rolls had been formatted, the spreadsheets were sent to a senior Eldon employee, the source claimed. How the formatted registers – which would have contained detailed data about tens of millions of British voters – were then used is not clear.</p><p dir="ltr">“We would format the registers and then send them on to a guy at Eldon and he would do whatever they did with them,” a Leave.EU source told openDemocracy. “I asked them why we were still doing this [after the Brexit referendum] but nobody gave me answer.” Arron Banks has declined to answer openDemocracy’s questions.</p><p dir="ltr">Banks has previously said that he believes big data is the future of both politics and business. In an email sent on 24 May 2016, an Eldon staffer says that “Arron [Banks] and Liz [Bilney]” want the website of the Go Skippy – the brand used by Eldon Insurance – “fit for purpose in line with the big data project”. There is no evidence that electoral roll information forms part of the “big data project”.</p><p dir="ltr"><span><span><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/WHzmsGvYrJ15GiUy0x4wW9H3F_lwXFJrf2OQmOkWx0itI1S2Hk7HE_8Q25x1SbrF_7oQBTEXIJjMgC0UTO91TNdDSu5ShYYhjdWrR51i-WFNEqJdZ1NIDC5IwJli00C9TXZyGPEd" alt="" width="537" height="370" /></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In December 2016, Banks set up a data analytics company, <a href="https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10529695">Big Data Dolphins</a>. The following year, Banks <a href="https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-4958846/Brexit-bad-boy-net-millions-insurance-float.html">told journalists</a> that Eldon was using the same “artificial intelligence experts” that Leave.EU had deployed to target swing voters during the Brexit vote.</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘Mueller-style inquiry’</h2><p dir="ltr">Commenting on openDemocracy’s story, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "These further explosive revelations need to be examined as part of the ongoing investigations by the Information Commissioner, National Crime Agency and the police.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">“It is becoming clearer by the day that multiple crimes were committed by the pro-Brexit campaign and we are only just beginning to understand the extent of these. That is why there are growing calls for a full Mueller-style inquiry like the one going on in the States to get to the bottom of whether the EU referendum was subverted."&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Kyle Taylor, of campaign group Fair Vote, said: "The scale of this illegal operation is even larger than perhaps anyone thought likely. </p><p>“It also offers yet another example of why there must be an independent public inquiry into the EU referendum. This is much bigger than Brexit. It's about the sanctity of and trust in our democratic system. Our very way of life is at stake."</p><p dir="ltr">Banks has so far not responded to openDemocracy’s requests for comment.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit">Arron Banks lied to parliament about his Brexit campaign, say whistleblowers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-whistleblowers-say-arron-banks-misled-viewers-o">Whistleblowers say Arron Banks ‘misled’ viewers on BBC Andrew Marr show</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">We need to talk about where Brexit funder Arron Banks gets his money</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">Arron Banks and Brexit’s offshore secrets</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/leigh-baldwin-marcus-leroux/not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-value-of-his-dia">Not everyone agrees with Arron Banks about the value of his diamond mines</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/what-we-learned-about-arron-banks-at-fake-news-inquiry">What we learned about Arron Banks at the fake news inquiry</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/following-banks-money-who-provided-payment-in-paraphernalia">Following Arron Banks&#039; money: who delivered the payment in paraphernalia?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government investigations Arron Banks Brexit DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Jenna Corderoy Peter Geoghegan Fri, 09 Nov 2018 08:47:25 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Jenna Corderoy 120516 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why politicians need to 'take responsibility' for children's health too https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/al-aynsley-green/why-politicians-need-to-take-responsibility-for-childrens-health-too <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This government is betraying children on a grand scale, and making positive ‘choices’ impossible.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/child poverty.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/child poverty.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Clacton, Essex. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health rightly points out that preventing ill health is crucially important in tackling the soaring costs of health care. This week he <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-responsibility-health-prevention-matt-hancock-a8617501.html">exhorts people to “take responsibility” for their health</a>. </p> <p>But he omits to say that much adult ill health has its roots in childhood. And current government policy is not only failing to give children to the best start in life, but creating an economic environment driven by austerity where parents and families are unable to take control of their children’s health.</p> <p>This government is betraying children on a grand scale, and making positive ‘choices’ impossible. </p> <p>Poverty stalks the land with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/16/new-study-finds-4.5-million-uk-children-living-in-poverty">more than 4.5 million children living below the breadline</a>, over half of them being trapped there for years. It is hardly surprising that those in hardship are more likely to have poor health, bombarded with pressures to eat cheap fast food, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-45420295">unable to afford to meet government healthy eating recommendations</a> and without time or <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/04/childhood-obesity-linked-to-air-pollution-from-vehicles?CMP=twt_gu">healthy environments to take exercise in</a>. </p> <p>Shamefully <a href="http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/the-extra-costs-of-raising-a-disabled-child/">poverty is especially prevalent in families with a child with a disability</a>. Just imagine what it is like trying to provide for healthy food, sport and exercise in a family with a disabled child requiring 24-hour care seven days a week. </p> <p>Take the plight of mother Jo Cousins who is facing the loss of vital support for her disabled son Seth as a result of <a href="https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/our-children-are-so-vulnerable-mother-wants-northampton-respite-centre-s-funding-reinstated-so-it-can-continue-to-provide-invaluable-service-to-her-disabled-son-1-8456697">Northamptonshire’s dire finances closing the centre for respite care</a>. </p> <p>The difficulties these families face is exacerbated by the “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/06/mps-call-for-review-of-pointlessly-cruel-benefit-sanctions?CMP=share_btn_tw">pointlessly cruel” benefit sanctions</a> identified by MPs to be arbitrary and punitive. </p> <p>The debacle over changes to Universal Credit expose a ‘group think’ political mindset out of touch with real people and their lives alongside a stark lack of compassion for the most vulnerable.</p> <p>The heart-rending report of a <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-girl-forced-beg-13546259">9-year old child begging a charity for any work going to pay for food</a> since her mum had died and her dad had lost his job is a devastating indictment of the effects of this political attitude driven by the Treasury. </p> <p>The number of homeless children and those needing protection is soaring, with many authorities failing to intervene until complex cases reach crisis point; <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/15/child-protection-inadequate-ofsted-report">around two thirds of all looked after children (around 47,000) are under the care of councils that, say Ofsted, are inadequate or require improvement</a>. </p> <p>Eight years of savage austerity have devastated children’s services so that we now have some of the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-british-state-betrayed-children-countries.html">worst outcomes for children</a> across health, social care, education, youth justice and poverty in the developed world. </p> <p>The health of children overall is dismal including soaring rates of emotional and mental ill health – despite the fact that <a href="https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/policy-and-research/public-and-population-health/child-health/growing-up-in-the-uk">the challenges have been well known for at least 20 years</a>. Over 150 children every day are being turned away from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) with some children being <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/08/gps-telling-children-exaggerate-mental-health-symptoms-want/">advised by GPs to exaggerate their symptoms to get access to treatment</a>.</p> <p>Over one third of children are obese, we have one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe, poor control of diabetes, and inadequate transition to adult services for children with physical and learning disabilities. It all points to <a href="https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/state-child-health">massive challenges for families and children created by government policies</a>. </p> <p>But it is not only in health and social care where there are shocking examples of disastrous political policy, indifference to the best interests of children, and an ideological fixation on making ‘choices’ which are, to many, an impossible dream.</p> <p>Thus, outstanding schools teach a minority of children where parents can pay for independent education or live in the catchment of an excellent state school; but there are countless other children whose parents can’t. Children whose schools are hit by a government-triggered <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/teachers-crisis-education-leaving-profession-jobs-market-droves-who-would-be-one-a7591821.html">exodus of experienced teachers</a>. A government that has <a href="https://www.tes.com/news/teacher-training-we-are-witnessing-dangerous-lowering-bar-entry">lowered the entrance requirements for teacher training</a>, and has cut school funding so deeply that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/sep/28/a-complete-crisis-2000-school-leaders-rally-against-cuts">thousands of head teachers have taken to the streets to protest</a>, that has imposed a narrow test-oriented curriculum driven by zealots teaching to the test. A government that dismisses the stress and even child exclusions caused by the perverse incentives of SATS league tables. </p> <p>It all points to an education system not fit for purpose today. Against this we have a <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/school-funding-cuts-dfe-uk-statistics-authority-headteachers-investigation-a8569116.html">minister being exposed to distort the statistics on spending for schools, deepening public distrust of politicians</a>.</p> <p>Alongside poverty and inequality of hope there is the <a href="http://www.revolving-doors.org.uk/file/2230/download?token=6OH6Xo32.">revolving door of young offenders returning to prison</a> in a ‘system’ attuned to the Victorian ethos of punishment and control. </p> <p>An objective observer such as an alien from Mars would see here today a government that appears oblivious to the importance of children in society.</p> <p>Through an economic lens we need healthy, educated, creative, happy children equipped with the life skills for those who can to become confident adults and parents in due course. And those who can’t through disability or disadvantage must be supported to develop their full potential. Surely, this should drive political policy, but it doesn’t. </p> <p>My new book “The British Betrayal of Childhood” highlights the need for a “paradigm shift” in our public and political attitude to children, modelling an approach from the very best countries for children such as Canada, Holland and Finland. </p> <p>Building local community responsibility for children is key. “It takes a village to raise a child”, as they say. In other words, the ‘nurture’ of children should be everybody’s business – parents and families, schools, faiths, businesses, voluntary and statutory services – all driven by the best interests of children in policies and practices that address their needs.</p> <p><a href="http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/">The Human Early Learning Partnership model in Canada</a> describes the local<em> </em>context through ‘mapping’ children’s lives from routine data. The concept is simple – to ‘map’ by postcode locality data on children’s lives – inputs, outputs and outcomes across health, education, social care, youth justice and poverty. These data are used by childhood coalitions, schools, government ministries and researchers to inform advocacy for children’s needs, and to recommend changes to policies and funding. </p> <p>There is incontrovertible evidence that we really are betraying our children on a grand scale in Britain today. Rather than exhorting the poor, the young and the marginalised to exercise ‘choices’ they simply don’t have, I call on politicians of all parties to listen to the reality of child and family life, understand the enormity of what has to be done and produce a coherent long term cross-party political agreement on what we should be trying to achieve for our children. This can then be the basis for consensual, common sense policies to improve outcomes. Politicians have responsibilities for children too! </p> <p><em>Sir Al Aynsley-Green’s book <a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-British-Betrayal-of-Childhood-Challenging-Uncomfortable-Truths-and/Aynsley-Green/p/book/9781138297920">‘The British Betrayal of Childhood’ is published now by Routledge</a></em>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/childhood.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/childhood.png" alt="" title="" width="229" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/how-mental-health-services-fail-young-people-and-wh">How mental health services fail young people and what can be done about it</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shauneen-lambe-maryrachel-mccabe/how-we-treat-children-in-uk-dark-side-of-our-soul">How we treat children in the UK: the dark side of our soul</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/ian-sinclair/universal-credit-internationally-unique-in-its-harshness-and-headed-for-7-million-of">Universal Credit - internationally “unique” in its harshness, and headed for 7 million of us</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/al-aynsley-green/who-is-speaking-for-britains-children-and-young-people-challenge-to-chi">Who is speaking for Britain&#039;s children and young people?: a challenge to the children’s sector</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk ourNHS UK health Children Al Aynsley-Green Fri, 09 Nov 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Al Aynsley-Green 120507 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Great War, and how it ended https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/david-elstein/great-war-and-how-it-ended <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite its extensive Remembrance coverage, the BBC hasn't actually tried to explain to its audience how and why Germany lost the war in 1918.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/The_British_Army_on_the_Western_Front,_1914-1918_Q4662.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/The_British_Army_on_the_Western_Front,_1914-1918_Q4662.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="373" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Soldiers of the 11th Battalion on the Western Front. Credit: Imperial War Museum, non commercial license.</span></span></span></p><p>November 11th marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended (most of) the First World War. I say “most of”, because fighting continued in various theatres in Europe and the Far East, in some places for years. But that day in 1918, with a cease-fire commencing at 11 am, saw silence at last fall on the Western Front, where the bulk of the war’s millions of military casualties had died, been wounded, ingested gas or suffered permanent mental scarring, and where millions of civilians experienced harsh occupation, destruction of property and years of displacement. Much of Belgium and northern France had been turned into churned mud, as offensives surged and ebbed, and hundreds of miles of trenches were dug, captured and re-captured.</p> <p>The extensive programming devoted to the end of the war, primarily broadcast by BBC television and radio, has understandably emphasised personal experience. We are, after all, in the age of #MeToo. And there is a wealth of personal testimony available, in letters, in diaries, and in interviews with surviving combatants recorded over the last few decades. It is of course much easier to identify with individuals rather than grand strategy; and with particular battles and incidents rather than the sweep of a military campaign.</p> <p>Four years ago, programmes marking the outbreak of the war had a simpler task. There were, of course, no “ordinary people” to personalise the sweep of events. And the fact that the entire stampede into war after the assassination at Sarajevo took just 37 days made it easier to tell the full story. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/david-elstein/bbcs-great-war">I had my criticisms of BBC TV’s 3-hour drama “37 Days”</a> but at least it tried to cover the ground. Likewise, many other programmes on radio and television dealt with the lead-up to the war. Particular credit was due to Radio 4 for its deployment of leading historians Margaret MacMillan and Christopher Clark, one telling the story of that lead-up day by day, the other offering five 15-minute essays on the broader picture. (Sadly, Radio 4 had no room for my 2-hour audio drama, entitled “July 1914: Countdown to War”, which told the full story. I do not believe any of the many executives I sent the CD to even listened to it.)</p> <h2>The BBC forgets some of the Allies</h2> <p>In between 2014 and 2018, coverage of the war has been intermittent at best. Radio 4 drama has relied exclusively on two occasional series, “Tommies” and “Home Front”, using fictional characters and situations – with references to real events – to illuminate the battle front and the domestic realities during those years. Unfortunately, this admirable ambition could not also embrace any kind of overview of the course of 1918, and the dramatic story of how the war ended. Radio 4’s equivalent of Christopher Clark’s tour d’horizon four years ago is now simply another dip into the sound archives by Dan Snow.</p> <p>Perhaps the closest to overview – at least, in its title, “100 Days To Victory” – has been an Australian-Canadian co-production, with a credit for BBC Scotland, telling the story of how Australian and Canadian soldiers (and some Scottish regiments) made a distinctive, even decisive, impact on the fighting on the Western Front in the last months of the war. This was a mixture of archive, specially shot drama footage (of battle, and of the leading generals interacting), dynamic graphics and expert interviews. It was certainly refreshing to have a wide range of rarely seen Canadian, Australian and Scottish academics offering pithy opinions. That Field Marshal Haig was a Scot meant that the story could focus on him alongside the Monash and Currie, the talented and unusual Australian and Canadian commanders (neither came from a military background). The trio were joined by Ferdinand Foch, the French general appointed to co-ordinate the Allied war effort, with the four of them repeatedly marching abreast towards camera, in true “Law and Order” style.</p> <p>That Foch was prematurely labelled “Marshal” was less of a problem than that General Pétain, who actually commanded the largest Allied force, the French army, was airbrushed out of the story, along with all his senior officers, including Mangin, who led the break-out at Château-Thierry in July that actually marked the turning of the tide against German dominance. Pershing, the American commander, was glimpsed just once though fortunately three of Haig’s British generals (who actually commanded the armies of which the Australian and Canadian divisions formed a part) got a look-in: Horne, Rawlinson and Byng.</p> <p>There is no dispute that Currie and Monash helped develop and implement the “all-arms” battle tactics that proved so effective in August, September and October 1918: the combined use of huge artillery onslaughts before the start of battle, rolling barrages during attacks, leap-frogging infantry formations, tank units manoeuvring alongside infantry, and aircraft joining in from above. The first major thrust using these tactics – the Amiens offensive of August 8th – was still being referenced by the German Panzer commander, Guderian, in May 1940, as he and Rommel powered through the French defences in their initial blitzkrieg.</p> <p>The series gives due credit to the Australian and Canadian roles in the Amiens attack on August 8th, including the elaborate deception where Canadian shock troops were infiltrated into the Allied line without the Germans realizing an offensive was imminent – but the capture of Montdidier by the French on the same day is ignored. The exemplary assault on Mont St Quentin by 550 Australians attacking three times as many entrenched German troops is rightly highlighted, as are the Canadian achievements at the Drocourt-Quéant line on September 2nd (exposing the Hindenburg Line) and the Canal du Nord (breaching the Hindenburg Line) later that month, but the Belgian army is never mentioned. </p> <p>The listings information for these two hours says they show how “the Allies” won the war: perhaps more accurate would be, how “some Allies” won the war. And to be fair to the Australian writer/director and Canadian writer, due respect is paid to the English division of Territorials, the 46th North Midland, who made the decisive crossing of the Hindenburg Line. Likewise, the capture of Cambrai and Mons is given more rounded treatment. And Monash is roundly criticised for a pointless attack in October 1918 that cost 135 Australian soldiers their lives (Currie, too, was accused of cynical disregard for his men’s lives, but robustly rejected the charge).</p> <p>In itself, this production has much to recommend it; as did the lengthy outside broadcast from Amiens in August that the BBC mounted, telling the story of that important battle and showing the service of commemoration. But at no point in its extensive coverage has the BBC attempted to explain to its audience how and why Germany lost the war in 1918. After defeating Russia in March Germany had seemed poised, all through the Spring of that year, to gain victory. Haig was contemplating evacuating the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, and Pétain was preparing to call for Paris to be evacuated, too. Watching “100 Days To Victory” is rather like viewing the highlights version of a football match which focuses almost entirely on the exploits of one side’s two wingers, leaves out half the goals scored, and makes no mention of the errors by the opposing goalkeeper.</p> <h2>German mistakes</h2> <p>When Germany’s First Quartermaster-General, Ludendorff, launched his series of powerful offensives that Spring, the significant territorial gains made were shadowed by the growing weakness of his strategic position. None of the offensives fully achieved its aims, mostly because shortages of lorries and horses hampered re-supply of munitions. The new forward positions were difficult to defend, and invited counter-offensives. The army itself was being hollowed out from the inside, as those killed, wounded or captured were replaced by old men and teenagers. Back home, the British naval blockade was causing increasingly severe food shortages. Germany’s allies were in even worse straits – the Austro-Hungarian soldiers attacking Italy were living on starvation rations. As American troops and supplies poured into France, the balance between the two sides was being profoundly undermined.</p> <p>Once the Allied counter-attacks began, Ludendorff refused to believe they could be sustained, and declined the advice from his experts to retreat to more defensible lines: by the time he fell back to the Siegfried Position (what the Allies called the Hindenburg Line), the enemy forces were almost upon it. His peculiar notion that calling for an armistice would allow the German army a breathing space, the better then to resume hostilities, instead shocked a disbelieving Bundestag into realisation that the expectation of victory was illusory. What might have been peace negotiations if they had been embarked upon in July turned into a desperate and lengthy attempt, during which time hundreds of thousands more German soldiers became casualties, to avoid the word “surrender”. Instead, the “armistice” (whose terms were in practice dictated by the Allies) allowed even the new Socialist German Chancellor, Friedrich Ebert, to welcome troops returning to Berlin as “undefeated in battle”. Ludendorff himself strongly supported the myth of the “stab in the back”: the Empire and its brave army undermined by pacifists, Jews, communists and other leftists. He became an early and strong supporter of Adolf Hitler.</p> <p>Perhaps foolishly, in failing to learn from my 2014 experience, I wrote and produced another 2-hour audio drama this year, “Countdown To Peace”, telling just this story, basing it on by far the best book on the period, David Stevenson’s “With Our Backs To The Wall: Victory And Defeat In 1918”. But again, BBC Radio drama had no desire to broadcast it, even at no fee (or even, as far as I can establish, to listen to it). “Tommies” and “Home Front” will have to suffice.</p> <p>Fortunately, the online subscription service Audible (a kind of audio equivalent of Netflix) has licensed both productions, and it will be available from November 11th onwards for its “all you can eat” offering to its customers. Any readers interested in the CD version can obtain it by writing to me (<a href="mailto:elsteindavid@aol.com">elsteindavid@aol.com</a>): all proceeds (£10 per drama) to openDemocracy.</p> <p>BBC Radio drama offers much excellent output: but it is also an effective monopoly, the last remnant of the pre-1955 version of the BBC, which decided on absolutely everything the audience could be allowed to hear or see. Competition has since eliminated the worst of that anti-creative situation, but in radio drama it persists (commercial radio cannot afford to broadcast drama). Imagine if every provincial theatre, along with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, had to secure approval from two or three bureaucrats in London before they could mount a single production: the creative community and the audience would be up in arms. But that is the fate of those who write, produce, direct or perform radio drama in this country: at least until public realisation, a brave rival (perhaps Channel 4?) or burgeoning subscriber-funded audio services come to their rescue. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/david-elstein/bbcs-great-war">The BBC&#039;s Great War</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/debates-about-poppies-are-nothing-new-but-tone-has-changed-in-brexit-britain">Debates about poppies are nothing new, but the tone has changed in Brexit Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/vron-ware-ben-wadham/ww1-and-battle-of-national-myth">WW1 and the battle of the national myth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/adrian-vanklaveren/bbcs-great-war-beeb-responds">The BBC&#039;s Great War - the Beeb responds</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk David Elstein Thu, 08 Nov 2018 16:41:30 +0000 David Elstein 120508 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reflections on the ‘open letter’ debate: a middle way to approaching the radical right? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/julian-g-pffarth-marta-lorimer/reflections-on-open-letter-debate-middle-way-to-ap <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How should we study, present, and represent the radical right? Some from among the hitherto quiet observers speak up, in the interests of a broader conversation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2018-11-08 at 11.26.49.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2018-11-08 at 11.26.49.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot: Twitter.</span></span></span></p><p>A few weeks ago, part of the academic community on Twitter got into a heated discussion on the normalisation of radical right discourse. It all started when two much-followed academics announced that they would be taking part in the controversial debate entitled ‘Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat to the West?’ The title of the event provoked a rebuke from numerous scholars, leading the organisers to <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/immigration-and-diversity-politics-a-challenge-to-liberal-democracy-tickets-51188298579">change the title</a> to the less inflammatory ‘Immigration and Diversity Politics: A Challenge to Liberal Democracy?’ It also led to the publication of an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/academics-for-meaningful-debate/framing-ethnic-diversity-debate-as-about-threat-legitimises-hat-0">open letter</a> outlining what the signatories held was wrong with the initial title, and opposing the tendency to mainstream radical right ideas by selling them as ‘open debate’. Amongst the most interesting features of this Twitter exchange has been the conversation that it has sparkedon how researchers, journalists, or political observers, should engage with radical right politicians, themes, and movements. </p> <h2><strong>The debate</strong></h2> <p>This ongoing debate has revealed a polarisation in scholarship that reflects a more general division over how to address the radical right in Europe and beyond. Broadly speaking, we can identify two stylised ‘camps’ in the online debate: the ‘sympathetic listeners’ to radical right concerns and on the other hand, the ‘radical right sceptics’ (for lack of a better term). </p> <p>The ‘sympathetic listeners’ to radical right concerns arguably represent a minority position in a field which was, at least initially, largely inhabited by researchers concerned with the rise of new forms of fascism. Those on this side of the debate start from the claim that radical right parties are a relevant factor in modern societies and that, as scholars, we should engage with the ‘legitimate concerns’ of their voters. </p> <p>On one hand, they highlight the importance of culture, an increasing uneasiness with immigration, fears of demographic change and the feeling, experienced by some, of becoming ‘strangers in their own country’. On the other hand, they evince scepticism about identity politics and the globalist-liberal elite. Many in this camp hold that the debate on these issues has been stifled by a prevalently left-wing academia and a politically correct elite that wants to avoid discussing these views because they clash with their vision for society. These issues, they argue, should be discussed. For, if democracy is to represent people, then all concerns should be heard, not only those of the ‘comfortable’ ones. </p> <p>The other camp in this debate is that of ‘radical right sceptics’, or what the sympathetic listeners probably refer to when they talk about ‘liberal academia’. While many agree with the importance of studying the radical right (in many cases they have dedicated a large part of their career to doing so), they express some concerns about the sympathetic listeners’ strategy. In particular, they worry that presenting radical right ideas as ‘legitimate concerns’ and ‘contributions to the marketplace of ideas’ ends up doing two things. It legitimises far right discourse by providing it with a clout it does not have, while largely overplaying the relevance of these ideas in the public space. </p> <p>Among the sceptics, there is a subcategory of more activist scholars, who will claim that as academics, we should actively counter radical right narratives through our work. The academic, in this view, should reveal the radical right for what it really represents: threats to the values of (liberal) democracy. </p> <p>One argument that emerged in this camp was that, instead of emphasizing the <em>rise</em> of the radical right, one should rather speak of it as an “unpopular minority” and avoid any unnecessary reporting on or giving platform to radical right claims and strategies. But of course, this may lead to doing the opposite of what the sympathetic listeners do – underplaying the relevance of the radical right in modern European societies.</p> <h2><strong>A third way?</strong></h2> <p>Within this wider debate, there has been a broad group of quiet observers, who did not feel particularly represented by either approach. As qualitative researchers whose work focuses on radical right ideology, we felt this unease rather strongly, because it reflects the tensions that we face on a daily basis when we read, analyse, and write about the radical right. </p> <p>We have found both arguments flawed. While agreeing with the sceptics’ camp on the importance of not getting too sucked into our object of analysis, we also feel that downplaying these parties and their voters may lead to further polarisation and ignore the extent to which many of the positions they hold are widespread. Equally, it excludes the perspective of those who have to face the consequences of the spread of radical right ideas. </p> <p>The ‘sympathetic listeners’ approach, on the other side, we found problematic for the same reasons raised by ‘sceptics’. It all too uncritically buys into well-established radical right narratives of a ‘Muslim invasion’ or a ‘detached globalist elite’, and advances this as merely an unconventional view. Furthermore, it appears to privilege the ‘legitimate concerns’ of some, while completely ignoring the fact that others have ‘legitimate concerns’ about radical right politics – and this is not a small group of people. Where the ‘sceptic’ camp underestimates the ideological thrust of the radical right, by contrast, the ‘sympathetic listeners’ endow it with scientific legitimacy.</p> <p>How then, do we as academics try to chart the course between these two exclusive approaches? As Early Career Researchers, we consider this question closely as we seek to balance our roles as researchers within a field and as researchers on the ground. Finding our voice as scholars can conflict with the need to gain access to our objects of study. Below, we outline how we have dealt with these questions in the hope to contribute to a broader conversation on how to study, present, and represent the radical right.</p> <h2><strong>Our (tentative) approach</strong></h2> <p><strong>– Acknowledge bias:</strong> The starting point for us is to acknowledge that as academics, we cannot be completely neutral. There is a misleading myth that exists in scholarship, and that has formed part of the basis for the ‘sympathetic listeners’ claim to seek ‘Truth’, which is simply not true. Academics are people. Not only are they people, and often people with a high interest in politics. We have ideas about how politics work, how they should work, we participate in elections, some of us are party members. We come to the field with views that are likely influenced by who we are. </p> <p>Our object of study is therefore likely to be influenced by this. Yet it need not mean that we cannot be somewhat dispassionate or listen to the objects of our study, though it does require that we acknowledge our potential biases. </p> <p><strong>– Seek to understand the radical right on its own terms (but don’t believe all of it</strong>): The second point is that, within these confines, we should seek to be as neutral as possible. When we analyse the discourse of the radical right, we try to see their internal logic, understand how the world makes sense to them through their eyes, rather than through ours. </p> <p>In our own work, we have done this by using their terms of reference rather than ours, for example, defining certain radical right ideologues as <a href="https://www.europenowjournal.org/2018/10/01/between-the-street-and-the-salon-the-local-and-the-national-mediating-intelligentsia-and-the-german-new-right-in-dresden/?fbclid=IwAR0O_LDcAVIxSnG5JWuhwRa2O-JQ3AkUMxrg39jn62cpuZdOKT3silsstMA">‘intellectuals</a>’ or highlighting the value of ‘<a href="http://www.euvisions.eu/right-thinks-europe/">liberty</a>’ to radical right parties. We have focused on their ideology, trying to understand how it fits within a broader history of ideas, and how it compares to mainstream discourse. </p> <p>We have always, however, been aware of the fact that this is their truth, not ‘the Truth’. It is an ideology that we are dealing with, a way of seeing the world making sense for some but not for others. In this sense, while we do try to understand them on their own terms, we do not buy into their narratives. Representation is not endorsement, and in ignoring radical right views we will have trouble gaining insight about them. Whether what they say is good or bad in our view is best left to the conclusions of the study. </p> <p><strong>– Make a sober argument:</strong> Finally, studying contemporary political phenomena in times of polarisation can lead to both underplaying and overplaying. We know that there are other important phenomena out there worth studying and which may have long-term impact, but we still think that radical right parties are important to understand. They have been growing for many years now, representing a familiar feature transnationally. </p> <p>At the same time, we should not overstate their relevance. Their growth is not linear, however, and they have not been successful everywhere. There are other political phenomena of interest, such as Green parties or ‘left-wing populist parties’. This does not make them unimportant, but holds that they are not all-important. Their achievements are in many ways impressive in themselves: there is no need to over-claim. </p> <p>We hope that this tentative approach shows that even if we disagree with some of the positions put forward by either side of the debate, we believe that it is an important conversation to have. This debate resonated with so many outside academia not only because it is on the popular subject of the radical right, but also because it touches on the essence of fair and open political debate in times of polarisation. We hope that by offering a middle way between both poles, our approach outlines another meaningful path for future scholarship on the radical right.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/academics-for-meaningful-debate/framing-ethnic-diversity-debate-as-about-threat-legitimises-hat-0">Framing ethnic diversity as a &#039;threat&#039; will normalise far-right hate, say academics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/matthew-feldman/paging-mr-aaronovitch-radical-right-doesnt-need-any-more-help-from-mainstream">Paging Mr Aaronovitch: The Radical Right doesn&#039;t need any more help from the mainstream</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/roger-eatwell/rising-tide-of-national-populism-we-need-to-talk-about-immigration">The rising tide of national populism: we need to talk seriously about immigration</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Marta Lorimer Julian Göpffarth Thu, 08 Nov 2018 11:21:58 +0000 Julian Göpffarth and Marta Lorimer 120498 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why healthcare for all is a feminist issue https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/feminist-fightback/why-healthcare-for-all-is-feminist-issue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Health charges for migrants are hitting women hardest. Yesterday feminist activists changed the sign on the new Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament square in protest.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/group photo.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/group photo.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Protestors in parliament square yesterday. Credit: Feminist Fightback</span></span></span></p><p>Yesterday dressed as suffragettes, activists from Feminist Fightback changed the sign on the new Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square from ‘Courage calls to Courage Everywhere’ to ‘Feminists demand healthcare for all,’ in protest against NHS charges for migrants.</p> <p>“We took this action because universal healthcare, like universal suffrage, is a feminist issue”, explained Eleanor Smith, who took part in the action. “This year marks 100 years since some women got the vote, but women under thirty and 2 million working-class women who did not meet the property qualification had to wait another 10 years. Today, there are exclusions too. Some people are eligible for free abortion and pregnancy services, which feminists have fought for, while others must pay enormous charges for the care they need.”</p> <p>Migrants who are not considered ‘settled’ in the UK are now charged for these essential, life-saving services at 150% of the cost. Abortion is charged up front, costing £1,300 in an NHS hospital. Birth, including pre and post-natal care, is charged after the event and costs up to £7,000.</p> <p>Hospitals may pass debts on to a debt collector who will harass the patient. In fear of debt, deportation or because they are unable to pay, some people do not access the healthcare they need, with devastating consequences.&nbsp;</p> <p>Beatrice came to the UK in 2012 from West Africa as a student and was disowned by her family after becoming pregnant. Because she did not have a visa, Beatrice was billed around £6,000 the day after her baby was born, a sum that is totally unaffordable for her. In the months after the birth, she was harassed by calls from debt collectors.</p> <p>“It’s just me alone with my child. And they’re telling me you have to pay, when my child was four months. I almost went mad. I almost went crazy”, Beatrice said. “When they were calling me and saying I have to pay, I have to do this, there was a point I felt like just dying.”</p> <p>Beatrice had several common but potentially dangerous medical conditions during the pregnancy. However, she told campaign group Maternity Action that if she had known about the charges, she would have avoided going to hospital and tried to give birth at home.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/megaphone photo (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/megaphone photo (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Feminist Fightback</span></span></span></p><p>Rosa Campbell, another Feminist Fightback member, said, “We changed the banner because we do not uncritically celebrate Millicent Fawcett. Fawcett, like other suffragettes, was complicit in racism and imperialism. Fawcett was outraged that Maori women in New Zealand got the vote before British women. Ensuring everyone has access to the care they need, irrespective of immigration status, is a critical issue for feminists. We believe we must move forward with a feminism that challenges oppression and fights genuinely for justice for all.”</p> <p><strong>Get involved:</strong></p> <p>Come to a <a href="http://www.feministfightback.org.uk/events/category/organising-meeting/" target="_blank">Feminist Fightback meeting</a> and be part of the campaign to end the charges. The meetings are open to all women, including intersex, trans and cis women, and to people of diverse gender identities in need of feminist solidarity.</p> <p>Get involved with <a href="http://www.docsnotcops.co.uk/" target="_blank">Docs Not Cops</a>.</p> <p>Use the <a href="http://patientsnotpassports.co.uk/" target="_blank">Patients not Passports toolkit</a> to find out how you can start a campaign where you are or how you can take action if you’re a healthcare worker.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/erin-dexter/making-nhs-hostile-environment-for-migrants-demeans-our-country">Making the NHS a “hostile environment” for migrants demeans our country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/ed-jones/upfront-nhs-charges-one-year-on-6-reasons-why-they-harm-us-all">Upfront NHS charges one year on - 6 reasons why they harm us all</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/rayah-feldman/pregnant-women-bear-brunt-of-government-s-clampdown-on-migrant-nhs-care">Pregnant women bear brunt of government’s clampdown on ‘migrant’ NHS care</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/ex-boss-of-england-s-nhs-blasts-nhs-migrant-policy-as-national-scandal">Ex-boss of England’s NHS blasts NHS migrant policy as a “national scandal”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk ourNHS Feminist Fightback Wed, 07 Nov 2018 11:37:02 +0000 Feminist Fightback 120486 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Whistleblowers say Arron Banks ‘misled’ viewers on BBC Andrew Marr show https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-whistleblowers-say-arron-banks-misled-viewers-o <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brexit funder said staff working for his controversial Leave campaign were put on different contracts, and declared to elections watchdog. But evidence seen by openDemocracy tells a very different story.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/screen-shot-2018-11-04-at-20-59-06-1024x565.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/screen-shot-2018-11-04-at-20-59-06-1024x565.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks on Marr, BBC.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Arron Banks has been accused by MPs of “not telling the truth” after whistleblowers told openDemocracy that the Leave.EU founder misled viewers about his controversial Brexit campaign on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Banks, who is now under criminal investigation over his £8m Brexit donations, told the BBC that staff at his Eldon Insurance company who worked on his Leave.EU campaign were put on separate contracts. Banks also claimed that this arrangement was declared to the UK’s electoral watchdog, as is required by law.</p><p dir="ltr">But interviews with former Eldon staff and documents seen by openDemocracy suggest that employees regularly worked on both Banks’s insurance business and his political campaign. “There were no separate contracts for the Leave work. None at all. You were just told to do that at the same time as working on the insurance business,” a former Eldon staffer told openDemocracy.</p><p dir="ltr">The Electoral Commission also said that it "has no record of Leave.EU reporting services it received from Eldon Insurance for the referendum." </p><p dir="ltr">Banks has been under pressure to explain the relationship between his insurance business and Leave.EU after <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit?fbclid=IwAR3RjxcG1fHEZ7ghlIC8iT9RaF3wc4dkDXTXMn7u9f3RtstBi1VIliw1XWA">openDemocracy revealed that staff worked for both organisations ahead of the Brexit referendum</a>. Any such work in the months before the election should be declared under electoral law, and Mr Banks has repeatedly denied any such work taking place. In June, he told parliament that there was no overlap between Eldon and Leave.EU. </p><p dir="ltr">Damian Collins MP, chair of parliament’s inquiry into fake news, said that openDemocracy’s latest revelations show that Banks is “not telling the truth once again”.</p><p dir="ltr">““[Banks] was really clear to the committee that Eldon was kept totally separate from Leave.EU but now we have former Eldon employees saying that they worked on both the referendum and for Eldon. Once again it appears that he has not been straight with the answers he gave at the committee,” Collins told openDemocracy. </p><p dir="ltr">Potential sharing of voters’ personal data between Leave.EU and Eldon insurance has formed part of an Information Commissioner’s Office investigation, which is due to report Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">“There are really important issues as well in terms of data protection law and electoral law if staff at an insurance company were simultaneously working on a political campaign which they should not have done. Banks, knowing that they shouldn’t do it, had said publicly that they hadn’t,” said Collins.</p><h2>'It's just what you were told to do'</h2><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy has obtained a copy of a contract signed by an Eldon Insurance employee who often worked for Leave.EU. The contract, with a start date just weeks before the referendum, makes no mention of Leave.EU. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />The same employee was frequently asked to do Leave.EU work after the date that their contract with Eldon signed, according to emails leaked to openDemocracy. One email states that the employee spent half of their time in June on Leave.EU work.</p><p dir="ltr">Another former Eldon employee said that they had also only signed a contract with the insurance company, even though they were frequently asked to work on Leave.EU material in the run-up to the Brexit vote. An Eldon insurance contract signed by a third former staffer makes no mention of working for any Leave campaigns even though emails clearly show that they worked for Leave.EU and other Brexit groups.</p><p dir="ltr">“We worked for all the different groups. I worked for Leave and I never had a contract for Leave. It was just what you were told to do,” a source said. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Suspicion of donations from ‘impermissible source’</h2><p dir="ltr">Last week the National Crime Agency announced that it was investigating Arron Banks and his Leave.EU campaign after the Electoral Commission announced that it had found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Banks’s £8m donations had come from an impermissible source.</p><p dir="ltr">Media reports alleged that in early 2016, the then Home Secretary Theresa May declined a request by one of the security services to investigate Arron Banks. In response to a freedom of information request submitted by openDemocracy last month, the Home Office refused to confirm or deny whether they held any relevant material relating to Banks and Leave.EU. </p><p dir="ltr">“The most prominent reason to neither confirm nor deny that we hold the information requested is that doing so would impede the future formulation of government policy,” the Home Office said. openDemocracy will be challenging this. </p><p dir="ltr">Commenting on openDemocracy’s latest revelations, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: “In his attempts to bluster and obfuscate, Banks only managed to tie himself up further in knots with his contradictory or evasive answers. That is why it is so important that we finally have a proper criminal investigation into this whole matter. It is vital that the NCA devotes sufficient resources to this investigation so it can progress quickly and reassure the public that the 2016 Brexit referendum was not subverted.”</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “During the EU referendum, campaign groups could accept donations – including of services – from permissible companies, and could pay for services.</p><p dir="ltr">“The Electoral Commission has no record of Leave.EU reporting services it received from Eldon Insurance for the referendum.”</p><p dir="ltr">Arron Banks was approached for comment but has yet to respond.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit">Arron Banks lied to parliament about his Brexit campaign, say whistleblowers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">We need to talk about where Brexit funder Arron Banks gets his money</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government investigations Brexit Arron Banks DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Jenna Corderoy Peter Geoghegan Mon, 05 Nov 2018 18:12:44 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Jenna Corderoy 120474 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The tightrope of Brexit and class appeal: can Corbyn make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/noam-titelman/tightrope-of-brexit-and-class-appeal-can-corbyn-make-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If Labour seeks to mobilize its traditional working-class base, changes in MPs´ backgrounds may be far more relevant than any change in its policies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39233677.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39233677.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People take part in the People's Vote March in London, Britain, on Oct. 20, 2018. Ray Tang/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In 2015, when Corbyn was running for the leadership of Labour, he <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-will-set-up-a-fund-to-help-people-on-low-incomes-become-labour-mps-10468820.html">proposed a fund</a> to enable working class members to become MPs. The leadership candidate explained the reasons for this fund in the following way: “If the party is to win back the five million predominantly working-class voters lost since 1997, then we must reflect those we seek to represent. It is not enough to be for working people – we have to be of working people as well”<a href="#_edn1">[i]</a>. </p> <p>There has been a gathering conversation on the difficulties for Labour of appealing to the working class. These difficulties have been typically framed around the nature of the policies pushed by the party since the late eighties. Perhaps the clearest expression of these elements is: “the dropping of the traditional version of Clause IV of Labour’s constitution in 1995 and the simple fact that Labour’s manifestos have not contained the word ‘socialism’ since 1992”<a href="#_edn2">[ii]</a>. A second less obvious element in this debate is the diminishing number of Labour MPs with a working-class background, who have been replaced by middle class “career politicians”<a href="#_edn3">[iii]</a>. Behind these two perspectives on the way a party may reflect those whom it seeks to represent, lie two ways of understanding the behaviour of the electorate. </p> <h2><strong>Social democracy and electoral behaviour theory</strong></h2> <p>Traditional electoral behaviour theory is divided between those who see voting as an irrational action of identity politics and others who see it as a rational utility-maximizing decision. In the first view the population is socialized in specific collectives such as classes, and this socialization determines their behaviour in terms of party identification and vote. In the “rational choice” perspective on voting behaviour, politicians, rather than parties, compete for an electorate that is completely detached from loyalty to any collective. The voter chooses his or her vote in a market-like fashion, by comparing the available offer of policies and selecting the candidate whose policies are the closest to his or hers<a href="#_edn4">[iv]</a>. </p> <p>Over the last couple of decades, most of the debate, has been framed solely around rational choice models, mainly focused on the policies of parties and how they match their constituencies’ preferences. However, there is growing evidence<a href="#_edn5">[v]</a>, in the case of the relationship between Labour and the British working class, that party identification might be equally, if not more, relevant and that these identity elements are more related to who the party representatives are and how they directly relate to the constituency they seek to reflect. </p> <p>Both in party identification or rational choice perspectives, one of the traditional debates surrounding the emergence of social democratic parties has been the trade-off socialist parties face when deciding to engage in electoral disputes: the “dilemma of electoral socialism”<a href="#_edn6">[vi]</a>. The dilemma comes from the fact that in capitalist societies the proletariat is not large enough to win elections, to surpass the 50 per cent threshold. Hence the dilemma, in which “socialists must choose between a party homogenous in its class appeal but sentenced to perpetual electoral defeats and a party that struggles for electoral success at the cost of diluting its class character”. </p> <p>As social democratic parties have renounced being the “party of the working class”, instead becoming the party of “the masses, the people, the nation, the poor, or simply… citizens”<a href="#_edn7">[vii]</a>, they have also put behind them the salience of class struggle and class identity once at the centre of political debates. The trade-off comes from the fact that as social democratic parties seek to expand their class appeal beyond working class, to achieve electoral wins, they end up losing their capacity to mobilize workers. Esping-Anderse summarized this tension with the maxim that social democracy is defined by “the decision to subordinate class purity to the logic of majority politics”<a href="#_edn8">[viii]</a>. Is this analysis of the dilemma of electoral socialism useful for understanding the development of the British Labour party, and specifically the dilemma of a trade-off between policies that appeal to the middle classes and those that appeal to the working class?</p> <h2><strong>The electoral dilemma in the British Labour party</strong></h2> <p>In terms of class appeal, there is some agreement that Labour´s electoral success in the 2017 general elections was owing to its ability to attract new younger educated voters<a href="#_edn9">[ix]</a>. There is even more agreement on the fact that Conservatives increased their appeal to working class voters significantly more than Labour<a href="#_edn10">[x]</a>. More importantly, Labour has not so far been able to reverse the long-lasting tendency of working-class citizens who have systematically stopped participating in elections. It seems as if a strategic decision must be taken by Corbyn’s leadership to increase Labour’s appeal to workers: finding a way to extend the appeal beyond educated liberal middle class, to the working class, without losing the capacity to mobilize that same middle classes which “continue to hold different policy preferences to the working class”<a href="#_edn11">[xi]</a>.</p> <p>Some have suggested it should be possible to appeal to working-class voters who were attracted to UKIP´s positions and who have migrated towards the Conservatives. For example, Andrew Harrop<a href="#_edn12">[xii]</a> proposes to face this challenge by incorporating some of the Conservatives´ discourse in terms of patriotism and anti-terrorist positions. A different way of trying to cater to both middle class and working class policy demands was offered in this <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/15/lib-dem-bounce-lewisham-east-labour-brexit-stance-byelection">article</a> by Owen Jones. Summarizing the position taken by Labour´s leadership, he proposes that the party should “tread a careful Brexit tightrope… it needs to build a broad coalition of remain and leave voters”<a href="#_edn13">[xiii]</a>. But the somewhat disappointing results for Labour in the by-elections may have shed some doubt on the potential for such a balancing act.</p> <p>There seem to be to be two main weaknesses in these strategies: the first, as Harrop states it, is that “Labour today is the party of social-liberalism in Britain and any overt turn away from that would be hopelessly inauthentic and end up alienating more people than it attracted”<a href="#_edn14">[xiv]</a>. The second is that, even if such a middle ground were possible and could win elections, there are real concerns about the viability of a government that attempts to walk such a tightrope, trying to please both remainers and leavers. After such a long and difficult road for the re-emergence of the left in Labour, it would be a real tragedy if such a government ended up unsuccessful because it disappointed the expectations of its constituency.</p> <h2><strong>Labour Party identification</strong></h2> <p>A possible solution to this challenge is to focus on the votes Labour has lost in the working class, not to UKIP or the Conservatives, but to reduced voter turnout. And if Labour seeks to mobilize its traditional working-class base, changes in MPs´ backgrounds may be far more relevant than any change in its policies. There is a limit to how much appeal any mere cold policy offer has in actually mobilizing the electorate. But there may be an important opportunity for Corbyn’s leadership to face its current dilemma by maintaining a programme that appeals to a liberal middle class, but to reinstate the salience of class and working-class identity through its descriptive representation. </p> <p>New Labour deliberately changed the candidates’ selection strategies of Labour (the so called “modernization” of the party by Kinnock) in a bid to distance the party from the working-class radicalism associated with trade unions, replacing them with middle class candidates. The result was a sharp fall in working class MPs, which by 2010 amounted to less than 10 percent of Labour’s MPs<a href="#_edn15">[xv]</a>. To increase the number of Labour MPs with a working class background may require relatively few changes. As the decline is due to recruitment decisions and not to voters’ preferences, reversing this change would only require ensuring more working-class candidates. Furthermore, there is relevant evidence that working-class candidates may be electorally successful, especially in working-class heartlands if given the chance to compete. </p> <p>Carnes and Lupu, for example, find in their survey experiment, that the general population in Britain is not biased negatively towards working-class candidates and while “[w]hite-collar respondents were about as likely to vote for working-class candidates…working-class respondents were somewhat more likely to vote for them”<a href="#_edn16">[xvi]</a>. Similarly, Campbell and Cowley find a negative relationship between voting preference for candidates and their wealth, with working-class voters especially sensitive to this characteristic: “This experiment appears to provide strong support for the identity politics claim that voters want a representative who is ‘like them’”<a href="#_edn17">[xvii]</a>. This is particularly relevant when combined with Evans’s and Tilly’s findings in 2017 that “with only gentle prompting, 60 per cent of the population think of themselves as working class”<a href="#_edn18">[xviii]</a>. </p> <h2><strong>Overcoming the Brexit tightrope</strong></h2><p>The avoidance of a clear and strong position on Brexit, even if electorally successful, seems doomed to ongoing problems if a Labour government is ever to emerge. </p><p>Focusing on being once again a party that not only stands for labour but is also the social and political expression of the British working-class, while taking a stronger stance on Brexit, for example by supporting and leading the campaign for a people’s vote, may be a more effective and ideologically coherent position in the long run. Furthermore, this may become a necessary and urgent example for other social-democratic parties in Europe, in the face of an emerging force of ethno-nationalism with a strong appeal to the working class.</p> <p>The Labour party under Corbyn’s leadership, seems to be in a fruitful position to face Przeworski’s electoral dilemma, and overcome its inherent trade-off. However, the dilemma itself persists in as much as the necessity for supra-class alliance is still inevitable. </p> <p>Nonetheless, the re-emergence of the salience of class, through a focus in promoting working-class candidates, can once again make the Labour party “the party of the working-class”, even if this is part of a supra-class alliance. That is, Labour could be the party where any worker who wishes to participate in party politics knows he or she may participate and be able to represent their fellow workers.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1"></a><strong>References</strong></p> <p>[i] Stone, J. (2015, August 24). Jeremy Corbyn will set up a fund to help people on low incomes become Labour MPs.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[ii]</a> Tilley, J., &amp; Evans, G. (2017). The New Politics of Class after the 2017 General Election.&nbsp;<em>The Political Quarterly</em>,&nbsp;<em>88</em>(4), 710-715. (p.117)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref3">[iii]</a> For more on this see Cairney, P. (2007). The professionalisation of MPs: Refining the ‘politics-facilitating’ explanation.&nbsp;<em>Parliamentary Affairs</em>,&nbsp;60(2), 212-233.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref4">[iv]</a> Dunleavy, P., &amp; Husbands, C. T. (1985).&nbsp;<em>British democracy at the crossroads: voting and party competition in the 1980s</em>. Taylor &amp; Francis.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref5">[v]</a> For example, see: Heath, O. (2015). Policy representation, social representation and class voting in Britain.&nbsp;<em>British Journal of Political Science</em>,&nbsp;<em>45</em>(1), 173-193.; Heath, O. (2016). Policy alienation, social alienation and working-class abstention in Britain, 1964–2010.&nbsp;<em>British Journal of Political Science</em>, 1-21.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref6">[vi]</a> Przeworski, A. (1985).&nbsp;<em>Capitalism and social democracy</em>&nbsp;(Studies in Marxism and social theory). Cambridge : Paris: Cambridge University Press ; Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref7">[vii]</a> Przeworski, A. (1985).&nbsp;<em>Ibid</em>. (pp.24-27)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref8">[viii]</a> Esping-Andersen, G. (1985). <em>Politics against markets: The social democratic road to power</em>. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. (p.8)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref9">[ix]</a> Harrop, A. (2017). Where Next for Labour?&nbsp;<em>The Political Quarterly</em>,&nbsp;<em>88</em>(3), 395-399.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref10">[x]</a> See the following for a general overview on the 2017 general elections and this particular issue: Tilley, J., &amp; Evans, G. (2017). The New Politics of Class after the 2017 General Election.&nbsp;<em>The Political Quarterly</em>,&nbsp;<em>88</em>(4), 710-715 Heath, O., &amp; Goodwin, M. (2017). The 2017 General Election, Brexit and the Return to Two‐Party Politics: An Aggregate‐Level Analysis of the Result.&nbsp;<em>The Political Quarterly</em>,&nbsp;<em>88</em>(3), 345-358.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref11">[xi]</a> Tilley, J., &amp; Evans, G. (2017). <em>The new politics of class: the political exclusion of the British working class</em>. Oxford University Press. (P.197)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref12">[xii]</a> Harrop, A. Ibid. (2017).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref13">[xiii]</a> Owen Jones (15 June, 2018). A LibDem bounce in Lewisham should not shift Labour’s Brexit stance. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/15/lib-dem-bounce-lewisham-east-labour-brexit-stance-byelection. (19 October, 2018).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref14">[xiv]</a> Harrop, A. (2017). Ibid. (p.391)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref15">[xv]</a> Heath, O. (2015). Ibid</p> <p><a href="#_ednref16">[xvi]</a> Carnes, N., &amp; Lupu, N. (2016). Do Voters Dislike Working-Class Candidates? Voter Biases and the Descriptive Underrepresentation of the Working Class.&nbsp;<em>110</em>(4), 832-844. (p. 839)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref17">[xvii]</a> Campbell, R., &amp; Cowley, P. (2014). Rich man, poor man, politician man: Wealth effects in a candidate biography survey experiment.&nbsp;<em>The British Journal of Politics &amp; International Relations</em>,&nbsp;<em>16</em>(1), 56-74. (p.72)</p> <p><a href="#_ednref18">[xviii]</a> Evans and Tilly (2017). Ibid. (p.197)</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics social class Jeremy Corbyn Brexit Noam Titelman Mon, 05 Nov 2018 13:02:39 +0000 Noam Titelman 120472 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stop and search doesn't solve knife crime, so why not try something new? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/kam-gill/stop-and-search-makes-matters-worse-in-uk-so-why-not-try-something-new <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Stop and Search is to modern policing what bloodletting was to ancient medicine - ineffective, but clung to.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/stop and search.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/stop and search.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Stop and Search is to modern policing what bloodletting was to ancient medicine. An ineffective ‘cure’, which, in the absence of alternatives, gets tried again and again, despite its propensity to make the situation worse. Each failure causes its proponents to double down and call for more.</p> <p>This week a sixteen year old boy was killed in Tulse Hill, the fifth in six days, bringing the total number of <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/evening-standard-comment-act-fast-to-stop-knife-deaths-on-our-streets-grenfell-unites-london-our-a3981976.html">homicides in London to 119 this year</a>. In response, calls for increased stop and search have become strident. The response from politicians and police has been at best confused.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>As a <a href="http://www.stop-watch.org/uploads/documents/The_Colour_of_Injustice.pdf">recent report</a> from police reform campaign <a href="http://www.stop-watch.org/news-comment/story/the-colour-of-injustice">StopWatch</a>, <a href="https://www.release.org.uk/">drugs charity Release</a> and the LSE has demonstrated, stop and search remains wildly disproportionate, ill-targeted and harmful. Despite a drastic reduction in total levels of stop and search: which have plummeted 75% between 2010/11 and 2016/17, black people were stopped at eight times the rate of white people in 2016/17. </p> <p>And despite continual concern raised about the prevalence of knife crime, the overwhelming majority of stops were for suspicion of low-level drug offences. Two thirds of all searches were for drugs in 2016/17. Black people were stopped and searched for drugs at nine times the rate of white people, despite the fact that self-reported drug use is lower within the black community than the white. The picture painted by these stats is one of ingrained, and persistent discrimination. Discrimination that harms community trust in the police while doing little to remove knives from the streets. </p> <p>Evidence shows that stop and search is a blunt tool for tackling knife crime, and may even make things worse. We’ve known this since the early 2000s when a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265004960_The_Impact_of_Stops_and_Searches_on_Crime_and_the_Community">home office study published shortly after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry</a> found it had “a small impact on the detection and prevention of crime” and provided “little solid evidence that searches have a deterrent effect”. Similar results <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/do-initiatives-involving-substantial-increases-in-stop-and-search-reduce-crime-assessing-the-impact-of-operation-blunt-2">were found</a> in <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116544/horr53-report.pdf">2011</a> and <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/do-initiatives-involving-substantial-increases-in-stop-and-search-reduce-crime-assessing-the-impact-of-operation-blunt-2">2016</a>. </p> <p>The good news is there are tested alternatives that lead to significant reductions in knife crime, and that that senior police leaders have shown an interest in them. </p> <p>At the turn of the century, Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world and Glasgow had the highest murder rate in western Europe. Yet by 2017, of the 35 children and young people who were killed by knives, none were in Scotland. </p> <p>Rather than insisting that knife crime could only be supressed by tough policing, the Scottish government funded the Violence Reduction Unit - a program which tackled knife crime as a public health issue. This meant taking a holistic approach, focusing on work, housing, education, and counselling. Young people at risk from knife crime were offered support that addressed a whole range of challenges that help to create a situation where they might turn to violence. In the early days the programme involved a heavy emphasis on stop and search, and threats of serious jail time if participants didn’t straighten up and fly right. However this was found to be ineffective and it was de-emphasised in later iterations.</p> <p>In the US, the Boston Gun project achieved similar effects: known gang-members were presented with evidence of their crimes, and detailed explanations of the consequences of continuing, as well as incentives to stop offending: increased access to social services as well as education and job opportunities. </p> <p>It is encouraging therefore, to learn that England’s most senior police officer Cressida Dick, Chief Inspector of the Met, has been on a fact-finding mission to Scotland to learn more. Not only that, but she seems to have come away with a more holistic view of policing. Recently, she highlighted the role of poverty in causing crime and the limits of policing if the wider drivers of criminality are ignored. </p> <p>Or it would be encouraging, if Cressida Dick wasn’t <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/13/met-chief-cressida-dick-stop-and-search-london">calling for</a> increased use of stop and search at the same time. In fact, we are still hearing the Met, the Mayor and others double down on stop and search.</p> <p>StopWatch research and monitoring coalition <a href="http://www.stop-watch.org/news-comment/story/youths-on-gangs-matrix-stopped-and-searched-up-to-three-times-a-day">recently released</a> a report exposing the <a href="https://www.thecanary.co/uk/2018/09/24/the-met-polices-gang-database-is-ineffective-humiliating-and-racist/">emotional and psychological</a> trauma imposed by the London’s so called ‘Gangs Matrix’ in which innocent, mostly black men, are targeted for harassment and humiliation on a regular basis. The findings re-affirm the counter-productive nature of programs like stop and search. </p> <p>The former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who left office expressing concern about the overuse of stop and search, called for the police <a href="https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/seven-key-points-boris-johnsons-15227533">to do more of it</a> at the Conservative Party Conference. Earlier this autumn the current Mayor, who has already performed a few U-turns on the issue, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/19/sadiq-khan-london-mayor-launches-anti-violence-plan-based-on-glasgow-unit">called for violence to be treated as a public health issue</a> and admitted that solutions won’t come overnight. It remains to be seen whether he can be pushed to follow through. </p> <p>Those at the top know that stop and search is ineffective and counter-productive. They also know what an effective solution would look like. But faced with evidence that the treatment has failed, they still cannot bring themselves to abandon it entirely and try a genuine cure. </p> <p>Tackling knife crime will be hard, and it may not ever be completely achieved. But surely we owe it to generations of young people who grow up in its shadow to make a serious, committed and clear-eyed attempt? That starts with doing what really works – not what’s failed before and continues to fail now.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/rebekah-delsol/shame-on-you-sadiq-khan-london-deserves-better-than-more-stop-and-search">Shame on you, Sadiq Khan – London deserves better than more ‘stop and search’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/natasha-dhumma/stop-and-search-young-londoners-hold-police-to-account">Stop and search: young Londoners hold police to account</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/imogen-tyler-jenna-lloyd/from-tottenham-to-baltimore-policing-crisis-starts-race-to-bot">From Tottenham to Baltimore, policing crisis starts race to the bottom for justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Policing Kam Gill Mon, 05 Nov 2018 11:27:20 +0000 Kam Gill 120469 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Migration complexity requires a less conditional compassion https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/georgia-cole/migration-complexity-requires-less-conditional-compassion <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We must not replace misleading and dehumanising portraits of migration with mono-dimensional accounts of vulnerability and victimhood, which paradoxically continue to set those on the move apart from us.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33406534.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33406534.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Small migrant camp set up in woodland in Calais in October 2017, one year on from the demolition of The Jungle where 8,000 migrants lived. Joe Giddens/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>At the end of a set of academic talks that dwelt heavily on the UK’s hostile environment for immigrants, an audience member raised their hand. “Why do individuals still want to come to England then if it’s so hard for them here?” One panellist recounted their personal story of how they moved to the UK “for love”, following a family member who had already emigrated from West Africa to the United Kingdom. Others drew on various experiences. They spoke of how the desire to be with family and friends made no journey insurmountable and no sacrifice too much.&nbsp;Our shared need for meaningful and caring human relationships was the overwhelming reason people gave for tolerating appalling conditions in Calais before moving onwards across the Channel. </p> <p>While for many this is undeniably the case, nevertheless, presenting such a one-dimensional picture of migration to an open and interested audience seemed to me like a missed opportunity. At a time of deepening scepticism about migrants and their motivations, I ask myself what indeed are the potential risks of presenting singular explanations for human movement?</p> <p>Understanding migratory dynamics around the world and across Europe requires a much more diverse set of explanations. In their countries of origin, individuals might flee persecution and violence, suffocating state policies, or the stasis of struggling economies. They might leave to protect their lives, but keep moving to enhance them.&nbsp;Some might wish to remain close to the country they left but be pushed further afield by familial expectations or financial obligations. Others might face disapprobation by choosing to leave their communities behind.</p> <p>Alongside moving for family, people make decisions based on where their language skills will be rewarded, where they think they will find a job, where they know a population of their co-nationals already exists, and, as well as many more reasons, where they hope they can access key social services, education, support and protection. Throughout their journeys, they move away from restrictive policies, racist police and publics, impenetrable job markets, and endless other sources of insecurity and anxiety.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Like us, migrants are not purely sentimental beings. Decisions around their direction of travel can involve enormous trade-offs and enormously hard choices. It is through accepting the texture of these movements, however, that we are able to relate to people as we see in them the features of our shared humanity. Part of building grounded and rounded relationships depends on this ability to recognise the range of emotions, skills and characters we all display. It involves acknowledging that individuals on the move share elements of each and every one of us: that they are complicated, ageing, growing, changing, and certainly imperfect.&nbsp;</p> <p>By focusing on those individuals who would appear superficially as the most enriching for our societies – or the least threatening – we establish certain norms around those acceptable to admit.&nbsp;&nbsp;This risks demonising the less ‘emotive’ arrivals, and those who are not content when one goal of their journeys has been achieved. It leaves far less space for the multi-facetedness of human behaviour and changeable human interests. As great people have long cautioned, there are inherent dangers to the single story.</p> <p>On the other hand, failing to acknowledge this complexity has enormous political risks. It constitutes a missed opportunity for an honest and compassionate discussion about the drivers of migration. When we frame support for open borders and a greater freedom of movement in terms of helping people reach their families, all it takes is one story when that is not the case to throw that narrative and those who tell it into disrepute. We are then dismissed as naïve, out of touch, and unrealistic, and our ability to bridge ideological and political divides is seriously undermined.</p> <p>More seriously this risks shattering trust in the arguments for an end to criminalising migration. There are times when strategic essentialisms are necessary. But when we are given the rare time and space to publicly nuance narratives around migration, isn’t it important for us to push in the opposite direction?</p> <h2><strong>One alternative</strong></h2> <p>One alternative might involve encouraging a less conditional compassion. This should resonate with people’s understandings of migration, but seek to overlay this with strong arguments for empathy and openness. </p> <p>Across the spectrum of opinions on migration it is recognised that one reason why people move is to better their economic situation. If we deny this, we foreclose the ability to shape the debate around it in more compassionate directions. If we admit these mixed motivations, seek to explain them with and through the voices of those on the move, and begin to counter the denigrating reaction that people have to these mixed motivations, we might have a broader and longer-lasting impact with our advocacy. </p> <p>The same goes for other factors influencing people’s journeys. If we do not tell and respond to the full story, we cannot engender ethical principles that will hold up to scrutiny and objection.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>How the predicaments that individuals face are understood, and how their characters and needs are framed, absolutely underpins the ways that governments and citizens respond to their arrival and whether they feel compelled to welcome and assist people. </p> <p>In working to change this, however, we must not replace misleading and dehumanising portraits with mono-dimensional accounts of vulnerability and victimhood, which paradoxically continue to set those on the move apart from us. Instead we might think of ways to inject humanity and honesty into discussions on human mobility, to bridge the gap crudely evident between left and right, ensuring in the process that our responses are genuinely sympathetic to the complexity of people’s experiences and emotions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Ideas International politics migration Georgia Cole Mon, 05 Nov 2018 10:07:58 +0000 Georgia Cole 120465 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK Government must not sacrifice our rights in the name of security after Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/corey-stoughton-jago-russell/uk-government-must-not-sacrifice-our-rights-in-name- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Theresa May has made no indication or commitment that she plans to hold onto some hardwon vital safeguards after Brexit.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-6223970.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-6223970.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="290" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Andrew Symeou with supporters at extradition hearing in Westminster Magistrates Court, London, August 2008. Fiona Hanson/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Whether you are a victim of crime, accused of a crime, or simply someone who believes in the value of fair play, we all have an interest in ensuring rights are safeguarded in the criminal justice process. </p> <p>When it comes to future policing and security cooperation with the European Union (EU), the UK Government has been singular in its focus on fighting crime. Headlines like ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/24/brexit-could-lead-to-security-threat-at-border-says-watchdog">Brexit could lead to security threat</a>’ and ‘<a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Brexit+will+make+it+harder+to+bring+foreign+criminals+to+justice&amp;rlz=1C1OPRB_enGB805GB805&amp;oq=Brexit+will+make+it+harder+to+bring+foreign+criminals+to+justice&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.188j0j7&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">Brexit will make it harder to bring foreign criminals to justice</a>’ reflect the Government’s fears over maintaining policing and security arrangements and <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-munich-security-conference-17-february-2018">determination</a> to maintain access to the full arsenal of cooperation measures. Theresa May has <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-munich-security-conference-17-february-2018">made it clear</a>, for example, that she is determined to keep the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) – the EU’s fast-track extradition measure – after the UK leaves the bloc. </p> <p>At <a href="https://www.fairtrials.org/">Fair Trials</a> and <a href="https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk">Liberty</a>, we have serious concerns over how new security cooperation may erode fundamental fairness and result in worse outcomes for the human rights of everyone living in the UK post-Brexit. </p> <p>The introduction of the EAW in 2004 heralded a new era of fast-track extradition across the EU, introducing strict new time limits for accused persons facing extradition and removing some of the previous barriers to extradition. However, this new era also brought about new problems: high profile cases of injustice began to emerge as people found themselves subject to this new kind of extradition. </p> <p>Take the case of <a href="https://www.fairtrials.org/case-study/andrew-symeou">Andrew Symeou</a>, a British student extradited to Greece, where he spent 11 months in pre-trial detention in dreadful conditions. The case against him was clearly flawed, but British courts had no power to stop his extradition. He was eventually found not guilty, but the entire ordeal lasted nearly four years. <span class="mag-quote-center">He was eventually found not guilty, but the entire ordeal lasted nearly four years. </span></p><p>Fair Trials and Liberty both campaigned for reforms, raising awareness of cases where extradition was unjustified, unnecessary and would result in serious human rights violations. Extradition has the power to destroy people’s lives and tear families apart – it should only be used as a measure of last resort. </p><p>After determined long-term advocacy and campaigning, progress has been made. In 2014, the UK Government enacted reforms which gave new protections to people facing extradition under the EAW. These protections mean that where extradition would be disproportionate to an accused person’s human rights or where that person would have to face months of pre-trial detention abroad, judges have the power to halt the extradition. </p> <p>The Prime Minister has made no indication or commitment that she plans to hold onto these vital safeguards after Brexit. It would be a perverse outcome if leaving the EU resulted in <em>more</em> people being extradited to the EU – but that result is a possibility if rights protections are not put centre stage. <span class="mag-quote-center">While the UK has a historical reputation for good due process rights, the new procedural rights being rolled out across Europe risk leaving the UK lagging behind. </span></p> <h2><strong>Human rights advances</strong></h2> <p>In recent years, the EU has also become more sensitive to the need to protect the human rights of those subject to EAWs and European courts have shown an increased willingness to refuse extraditions on human rights grounds. EU efforts include the introduction of new cooperation measures limiting the use of EAWs. </p> <p>The success of EU policing and security cooperation is not only down to the arsenal of tools available to Member States. It is also down to the progressive rights framework underpinning it. Since 2009, the EU has been developing new human rights standards for suspects involved in criminal proceedings across Europe. These new standards, including access to a lawyer and the presumption of innocence, guarantee that suspects are protected by the same basic rights across Europe. </p> <p>The UK has a complex history when it comes to cooperating with the EU on security, and has often been criticised for adopting a ‘cherry-picking’ approach. These new procedural rights are no different – the UK only opted into two of the six EU laws. While the UK has a historical reputation for good due process rights, the new procedural rights being rolled out across Europe risk leaving the UK lagging behind. </p> <p>With Theresa May intent on protecting UK access to the EAW, the Government must commit to maintaining our domestic safeguards as well as insisting on the continued use of a range of EU security measures. </p> <p>Cooperation between the UK and its European neighbours is critical to ensuring that towns and cities across Europe are kept safe – but you don’t defeat the threats faced by the UK and the EU27 by sacrificing shared values, or by flouting human rights and the rule of law. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk UK Civil society Democracy and government human rights Brexit Jago Russell Corey Stoughton Sun, 04 Nov 2018 11:53:15 +0000 Corey Stoughton and Jago Russell 120446 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arron Banks lied to parliament about his Brexit campaign, say whistleblowers https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/breaking-arron-banks-lied-to-parliament-about-his-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Major Brexit bankroller, now under investigation by the National Crime Agency, “deliberately misled” parliament about his insurance company’s political work, and amassed campaign data ‘warchest’</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564977/arron banks_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564977/arron banks_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="323" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Brexit donor Arron Banks lied to MPs about the political work that his insurance company did for his controversial Leave campaign, according to whistleblowers who worked at Banks’s Bristol headquarters during the Brexit vote.</p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of emails leaked by former employees of Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to openDemocracy show insurance staff frequently working on the Leave campaign in the run-up to the 2016 referendum. Banks, who was referred to the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/2401bf9a-ddd1-11e8-8f50-cbae5495d92b">National Crime Agency this week</a>, repeatedly told MPs that his insurance businesses and his political campaigning were separate. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Damian Collins, chair of parliament's inquiry into fake news and disinformation, said that the evidence appeared to "flatly contradict" what Banks told his committee in June and that Banks could have "deliberately misled the committee and parliament on an important point." </p><p dir="ltr">“If Eldon employees were being paid to work on the campaign, it should have been a declared expense. We asked him directly if he’d used his insurance employees to work on the campaigns and he said they didn’t,” Collins added. </p><p dir="ltr">Under British electoral law, campaigns cannot co-ordinate or ‘work together’ unless they declare their spending jointly. However, emails and testimony from insiders suggest that insurance staff in Bristol frequently worked not just for Leave.EU but also for other Brexit campaigns at the same time. This was not declared to the Electoral Commission, raising questions about whether Banks’s campaign could have breached electoral law (<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44080096">again</a>).</p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy’s long-running investigation into Banks’s political and business interests, in collaboration with the Bristol Cable, also found that:</p><ol><li>Eldon Insurance employees were directed to work for Banks’s Brexit campaign, contradicting statements made by Banks and his colleague Andy Wigmore in parliament.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br /></li><li>Insurance staff were frequently assigned to work on material for Banks’s Leave.EU and other Brexit campaigns. This work was not declared on submissions to the Electoral Commission, despite being a requirement of UK electoral law.<br /><br /></li><li>Banks’s Brexit campaign amassed data from tens of millions of British voters through the UK electoral register. Former Leave.EU staff have raised questions about whether this data was destroyed after the referendum, as stipulated by British electoral law.<br /><br /></li><li>The NCA is investigating whether Banks is the “true source” of £8m he provided to Leave.EU and Better for the Country Limited. We can report for the first time that Better for the Country had spent £1.5m by December 2015, two months before the referendum date had even been announced.<br /><br /></li><li>Eldon and Leave.EU staff at Banks’s Bristol HQ also worked for UKIP at the same time, with Leave.EU’s office even depicted as a UKIP membership centre in a party magazine. Banks told parliament in June that he “never had a role” in UKIP.</li></ol><h2 dir="ltr">Mixing business and politics</h2><p dir="ltr">In June, <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/oral/85344.html">Arron Banks told the DCMS committee</a> that Leave.EU and his Eldon Insurance business were separate organisations with different staff. Leave.EU did not “use staff who had previously worked in the insurance business,” Wigmore told MPs.</p><p dir="ltr">But employees worked across different political campaigns at the same time as working for Banks’s insurance company, according to emails and interviews with former Eldon and Leave.EU staff. </p><p dir="ltr">An ex-Eldon insurance employee who worked at the company in the run-up to the referendum told the Observer: “I made it absolutely clear that I didn’t want to work on the political stuff. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t want to be complicit in it. Some of these images were really horrible. The immigrants and refugee stuff. But there were always these urgent requests coming in. You were told to stop what you were doing and do something for Leave.EU or Grassroots Out or the GO movement.</p><p dir="ltr">“There were quite a lot of spats about it. People were frozen out if they refused to work on it.”</p><h2 dir="ltr">Calls for Mueller-style investigation</h2><p dir="ltr">Banks, the self-styled ‘bad boy of Brexit’, has already been found to have misrepresented his connections with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/08/revealed-leaveeu-campaign-met-russian-officials-as-many-as-11-times">Russian officials</a> and the value of his <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/.../not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-valu...">investments</a>. As openDemocracy has repeatedly shown, huge <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">question marks</a> hang over the true extent of his wealth.</p><p dir="ltr">This week the National Crime Agency announced it was investigating allegations of multiple criminal offences by Banks and his Leave.EU campaign. Banks has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/01/arron-banks-referred-to-agency-over-suspected-offences-in-brexit-campaign">rejected the allegations</a> and said that they are motivated by political bias.</p><p dir="ltr">Banks has also recently boasted that he would <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/arron-banks-join-tories-and-unseat-the-traitor-theresa-6gdc8kqdn">use Leave.EU’s support base to unseat Conservative MPs </a>he believes are not committed to a hard Brexit. Last week, he <a href="https://twitter.com/davidbenjyman/status/1057267255912882176">wrote to every household in the constituency of Damian Collins MP</a>, calling the Tory chair of the parliamentary inquiry into ‘fake news’ a ‘snake in the grass’ and a ‘disgrace’, after Collins called for a Mueller-style investigation into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum.</p><p dir="ltr">Collins’s DCMS committee previously published evidence and testimony supplied by an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser about how Leave.EU employees used Eldon insurance data to target voters. Banks denied these claims. </p><p dir="ltr">The relationship between Eldon, UKIP and Leave.EU is one of the focuses of an investigation by the Information Commissioner into the use of data in the referendum. The final report will be published on Tuesday and the ICO head, Elizabeth Denham, will answer MPs inquiry in a hearing of the DCMS committee.</p><p dir="ltr">Arron Banks has declined to answer any of openDemocracy’s or the Observer’s questions. Earlier this year, he denied to the Observer that any Eldon employees had undertaken any work for Leave.EU. </p><p dir="ltr">Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "I hope that the National Crime Agency will consider these serious new findings as part of their investigations into Mr Banks and his financial affairs. It's already clear that parliament was misled on a number of central issues and that serious and growing concerns about the true source of Mr Banks's wealth remain unexamined.”<br /><br />Leave.EU has already been fined for <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44080096">breaking British electoral law</a> during the Brexit campaign, and has been referred to the police for potential criminal charges.<br /><br />However, openDemocracy recently revealed that the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay/met-police-stall-brexit-campaign-investigations-claiming-polit">Met Police has yet to open an investigation</a> into either Leave.EU or Vote Leave. Conservative MP Anna Soubry said: “We need to have a full and thorough investigation into all these allegations and they must be completed as a matter of grave urgency”</p><h2 dir="ltr">'Propaganda' – and misleading parliament</h2><p dir="ltr">Without Leave.EU, according to Arron Banks, there would be no Brexit. In his autobiography, Banks claims that Leave.EU’s social media team was reaching almost 20 million people a week ahead of the 2016 referendum. </p><p dir="ltr">The campaign was run by only around 30 staff on the top floor of Lysander House, a boxy glass-fronted building on the edge of Bristol that is also home to dozens of Banks’s companies, including Eldon Insurance. Here, around 20 junior Leave.EU employees sat by rows of phones, calling potential donors and supporters. Separately, a ‘political team’, directed by Banks, orchestrated the creation of controversial content for social media that was produced by a small pool of designers.</p><p dir="ltr">When Banks appeared before parliament in June, he assured MPs that Leave.EU staff were “clearly demarked” in Lysander House and were separate from the Eldon insurance business based there. Banks’s sidekick Andy Wigmore told parliament that Leave.EU had not used “<a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/fake-news/oral/85344.html">staff who had previously worked in the insurance business</a>”. </p><p dir="ltr">However, this supposed division between Leave.EU and Eldon insurance simply did not exist. Hundreds of emails and documents obtained by openDemocracy, and interviews with former Leave.EU staff, show that Eldon staff were intimately involved in the Brexit campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">A longtime Banks employee, Pamela Palmer, assembled and managed Leave.EU’s call centre. Palmer is listed on Eldon’s <a href="https://eldoninsurance.co.uk/careers/what-our-team-members-say/">website</a> as an operations manager, where she is quoted saying “I have been part of the Eldon team for a number of years.” Palmer was “in charge of all of us kids”, says one former Leave.EU staffer. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.30.26.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.30.26.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="680" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In March 2016, Palmer wrote that she had received “1 million phone numbers and the members data”. Palmer had email addresses for Leave.EU, Eldon Insurance and <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11717415/Millionaire-Jim-Mellon-backs-20million-anti-politics-campaign-to-leave-EU-as-name-revealed.html">theKnow.eu</a>, a forerunner to Leave.EU <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11717415/Millionaire-Jim-Mellon-backs-20million-anti-politics-campaign-to-leave-EU-as-name-revealed.html">bankrolled</a> by Banks’s close associate Jim Mellon. Liz Bilney was listed as theKnow.EU’s CEO, and the <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20150828053958/http://theknow.eu:80/">campaign’s website</a> encouraged supporters to enter their names, telephone numbers and addresses into theKnow.EU database. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.31.42.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.31.42.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Another Eldon veteran, Holly Gardner, described herself as “project manager on secondment to Leave.EU”, which she lists as being a part of the Eldon Group on her LinkedIn profile. Many of those working for Leave.EU had email addresses belonging to another Banks’s company, Rock Services, which also paid their wages. Leave.EU was, and still is, based within Eldon Insurance’s Bristol HQ.</p><p dir="ltr">A former Eldon employee who worked on Leave.EU material said the campaign was practically an extension of the insurance business: “It was the same people involved in everything. It was totally incestuous. They were all absolutely the same thing. Different heads but the same body. It was basically a giant Hydra.”</p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of emails show Leave.EU staff assigning political work to Eldon Insurance employees. Banks himself is included in some of this correspondence. </p><p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/1HBRZ1jwWKbRT0mRSoRcGbx93my4wiJDOzY1LzLOE2Hl5oD56OXzOHUl1Lfu4pzacD-hr9a2zVzUKOHyqRiMblt85Ha8arvy_VL8M-bnMD-sEGXRVH2nQTsPxXxq-AhK1Wvu-A7I" alt="" width="927" height="269" /></p><p dir="ltr">Under UK election law, participants in political campaigns must declare any services that they receive during the campaign. Although our evidence shows Eldon staff working on Leave.EU work, Banks’s campaign did not declare any services from Eldon insurance in its spending return.</p><p dir="ltr">“During the EU referendum, campaign groups could accept donations – including of services – from permissible companies, and could pay for services,” a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said.</p><p dir="ltr">“The Electoral Commission has no record of Leave.EU reporting services it received from Eldon Insurance for the referendum.” </p><p dir="ltr">Banks’s insurance staff were involved indirectly in the Brexit campaign, too. A few weeks before the Brexit vote, Banks invited a small group of insurance employees to view an anti-immigration video before it was posted on Leave.EU’s Facebook channel. </p><p dir="ltr">“One of them commented ‘it wasn’t informative enough’,” a former Leave.EU staffer recalled. “Banks said ‘it isn’t meant to be informative. It’s propaganda’.” </p><h2 dir="ltr">Better for the Country?</h2><p dir="ltr">In late May 2015, Banks created a company called <a href="https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09609018">Better for the Country</a> Limited. Just weeks earlier, David Cameron’s Conservatives won a general election majority on a manifesto that included a commitment to hold a referendum on European Union membership. Better for the Country donated at least £2.3m to various Leave groups between February and June 2016, according to filings with the <a href="http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/?currentPage=1&amp;rows=10&amp;query=better%20for%20the%20country%20&amp;sort=AcceptedDate&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;isIrishSourceYes=true&amp;isIrishSourceNo=true&amp;prePoll=false&amp;postPoll=true&amp;register=gb&amp;register=ni&amp;register=none&amp;optCols=Register&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=AccountingUnitsAsCentralParty&amp;optCols=IsSponsorship&amp;optCols=IsIrishSource&amp;optCols=RegulatedDoneeType&amp;optCols=CompanyRegistrationNumber&amp;optCols=Postcode&amp;optCols=NatureOfDonation&amp;optCols=PurposeOfVisit&amp;optCols=DonationAction&amp;optCols=ReportedDate&amp;optCols=IsReportedPrePoll&amp;optCols=ReportingPeriodName&amp;optCols=IsBequest&amp;optCols=IsAggregation">Electoral Commission</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">This week, the National Crime Agency launched an investigation into Better for the Country Limited and Leave.EU, after the Electoral Commission found that there were “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/01/arron-banks-referred-to-agency-over-suspected-offences-in-brexit-campaign">reasonable ground</a>s” to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of cash he provided to both outfits.</p><p dir="ltr">The Electoral Commission said that Better for the Country and Leave.EU spent at least £2.9m on Brexit, but our investigation suggests that the true figure could be much higher.</p><p dir="ltr">Under UK election rules, only campaign spending in the final ten weeks of the campaign – the “referendum period” – needs to be reported to the Electoral Commission. The campaign could only spend up to £700,000 during this period. Leave.EU declared spending £693,094. </p><p dir="ltr">But by December 2015 – six months before the Brexit vote and before the referendum date had even been set – Banks’s Better for the Country Limited had already spent more than £1.5m. In an email dated 11 December, Leave.EU CEO Liz Bilney is told that Better for the Country has “spent £1,512,689 so far”. This spending was legal but did not have to be declared to the Electoral Commission so this is the first time detailed information has been published revealing exactly how much Banks’s campaign was spending long before polling day.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.33.35.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.33.35.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>UKIP? Or Leave.EU? Or both?</h2><p dir="ltr">Before Brexit, Arron Banks was best known as UKIP’s biggest donor. In 2014, he pledged £1m to the party – although he ended up giving just over £400,000. During the ‘fake news’ inquiry in parliament, Banks distanced himself from UKIP. Asked in parliament how he demarcated his roles in UKIP and Leave.EU, Banks said that he “never had a role in UKIP”.</p><p dir="ltr">But UKIP appears to have been very much involved in Leave.EU’s organisation.</p><p dir="ltr">In February 2016, a UKIP magazine published a photograph of a visit to the party’s “Bristol membership office”. The photo is taken in Leave.EU’s office in Lysander House. Pamela Palmer is described as being the call centre manager. Another Leave.EU staffer is listed as “UKIP renewals leader”, according to emails obtained by openDemocracy. Her LinkedIn lists her employment at the time as a team manager at Eldon Insurance.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.35.04.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 20.35.04.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="569" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: UKIP magazine, February 2016</span></span></span> That same month an Eldon insurance employee emailed Leave.EU CEO Liz Bilney asking whether “we will be sending out UKIP emails from our office.” Employees for Eldon and Rock Services worked on UKIP messaging materials, including mailshots to UKIP supporters, and messages from Nigel Farage.</p><p dir="ltr">In May, Bilney was <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/leaveeu-fined-70000-over-eu-referendum-funding-and-spending-11367242">reported to the Metropolitan police</a> for her role in Leave.EU’s numerous alleged breaches of electoral law. On Thursday, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-46065111/leaveeu-chief-executive-liz-bilney-welcomes-police-investigation">Bilney said she “welcomed”</a> the National Crime Agency investigation, saying she was confident she and Banks would be exonerated.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Data on ‘tens of millions of voters’ </h2><p dir="ltr">The source of all the personal information used by Leave.EU’s call centre to target voters from across the country is unclear. A former staffer said that the campaign had a database with names, phone numbers and emails. But Leave.EU team leaders seemed unsure of the source of the data. “You’d ask the team leader and they’d say Facebook or ‘I don’t know’,” an insider told openDemocracy. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In March 2016, a few months before the Brexit vote, Leave.EU staff began asking for copies of the electoral register across Britain. Electoral registers contain a wealth of information about voters, includings names, addresses, and postcodes. Registered participants are <a href="https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/162824/List-of-people-entitled-to-be-supplied-with-the-electoral-register.pdf">allowed</a> to request the registers ahead of an election. </p><p dir="ltr">Leave.EU received registers from at least 64 councils, according to documents released to openDemocracy under Freedom of Information laws, but a former staffer said that the campaign received data from every local authority in the UK, which would include tens of millions of voters.</p><p dir="ltr">In early June 2016, Leave.EU CEO Liz Bilney sent an email complaining that the campaign had only gathered records of 14.7million voters. “I’m shocked, we need all the data in,” Bilney told Palmer.</p><p><span><span><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/pFgw5XDzOBm7hkruvapEng3lxArm-w5-WhTptQ8c_4jspEyydiJ9qJxZj2Lld3e8BmK1AwrK-zVlQIT4KEiI656qOCJvSTN4fodkdmI7YcV2ZaIDnxRz1CIKELpopQpUyNFAATGn" alt="" width="430" height="662" /></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Staff from Banks’s other companies were brought in to help with the mammoth task of requesting the details of tens of millions of voters. An email released to openDemocracy following a Freedom of Information request shows an Eldon staff member chasing Runnymede council for its electoral register. </p><p dir="ltr">A junior Leave.EU staffer was tasked with formatting the electoral registers. &nbsp;A week before the Brexit vote, three Eldon temps were seconded to assist. All the data was entered into Excel and edited to ensure that it was all presented in the same format.</p><p dir="ltr">Leave.EU staff who worked with the electoral registers said they did not know what happened to the data after the Brexit referendum, leaving open the possibility that it could have been transferred to third parties, including Eldon Insurance. The Electoral Commission says this information “should be securely destroyed” once the purpose for which it has been supplied has expired. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.</p><p dir="ltr">In parliament in June, Jo Stevens MP asked Banks if any data gathered by Leave.EU was shared with his insurance companies. Banks replied: “I do not believe so”.&nbsp;<span>Adverts for Banks’s insurance firm GoSkippy have often been sent to people on Leave.EU’s mailing list. Banks has previously defended the practice, saying: “Why shouldn’t I? It’s my data."</span></p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy also discovered that Eldon staff requested electoral registers on behalf of both Leave.EU and other Brexit groups. Pamela Palmer sent numerous requests for registers to councils for the register on Leave.EU. In a letter dated 5 April 5 2016, Richard Murphy, of Grassroots Out, wrote that Palmer was authorised to accept electoral registers on behalf of his Brexit group.</p><p dir="ltr"><span><span><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/puXs3k-_z1ZA7fEosr76ljbUuOyIsLtAZvS_MRHOZ2yYz7nNVmEobXQXdsWpDWTxA69YtlQp9ZJsidFrxjjIn-C3YRMA_eEkoYTwZmL-w2Aks3rwMx3pJ638WiELLGm1hCRID8Hk" alt="" width="624" height="504" /></span></span></p><p>On 21 April, less than a week after the start of the official referendum period, Holly Gardner wrote to Pamela Palmer at Leave.EU with “attached GO data”. GO could refer to Grassroots Out or GO Movement, which were both registered Brexit campaigns that were led by Tory MP Peter Bone. Gardner’s email suggests that Leave.EU had access to, and was using, data collected by GO.</p><p><span><span><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/Ec0NscW3vTER0gZ7bwP_TvD7djzxzIF875JchsQqHCnQRH15AHehiKAiQLmVcG_M6vDRd57biBBz9LiRdvoFp2jZ9IbINsGYabQjoE4vdNeQvrwfVnjtecxkW9-IRrDLEWrPdGjw" alt="" width="624" height="509" /></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">On May 6 2016, just weeks before the Brexit vote, a ‘creative team leader’ at Eldon wrote to Liz Bilney to discuss the ‘hand over’ of the Grassroots Out website which was controlled by Leave.EU staff. Insiders told openDemocracy that they were continually asked to work on material for Grassroots Out and other Brexit campaigns, including UKIP.</p><p dir="ltr">“I honestly couldn’t tell you what the differences were between the campaigns. We were just told to change the header or the footer depending on which campaign it was for but they were clones of each other,” the source said. </p><p dir="ltr">Under UK election law, different campaigns must declare if they are “working together” during the final ten weeks of the campaign. According to Electoral Commission filings, Leave.EU and Grassroots Out were registered as separate campaigns during the Brexit referendum, which means they could not coordinate campaign activities. </p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, the official Vote Leave campaign was <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/vote-leave-campaign-eu-referendum-spending-limits-brexit-beleave-boris-johnson-a8430191.html">fined</a> for breaking its spending limit by coordinating with a smaller pro-Brexit campaign. </p><h2>Pushing Tories into a hardline Brexit</h2><p dir="ltr">Banks has recently pledged to use Leave.EU to push the Tories into a hardline Brexit position. "The best way to secure Brexit and our country's future is via the Conservative Party,” the Leave.EU chief wrote in the Times in August. "To that end, I am urging the 90,000 members of my Brexit campaign Leave.EU and the 1.4million who follow us on social media to join the Tories and have a say." </p><p dir="ltr">Banks has sent tens of thousands of Leave.EU’s supporters emails and social media messages telling them to join the Tories. Letters on Leave.EU headed paper were sent to constituents of the chair of Damian Collins MP – including people who were not supporters of Banks’s Brexit campaign. </p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy asked Arron Banks where the data used to target Collins’s constituents came from, as well as numerous other questions. So far we have yet to receive a response. </p><p dir="ltr">We also asked Andy Wigmore and Liz Bilney about the claims made in this piece. Neither have responded. </p><p dir="ltr"><em>Adam Cantwell-Corn of the Bristol Cable contributed additional reporting on this piece.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>This piece was edited on 4 November to reflect that Jim Mellon did not create theKnow.eu but donated a <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11717415/Millionaire-Jim-Mellon-backs-20million-anti-politics-campaign-to-leave-EU-as-name-revealed.html">reported £100,000</a> to the campaign in 2015 and had pledged to give more.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">We need to talk about where Brexit funder Arron Banks gets his money</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">Arron Banks and Brexit’s offshore secrets</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay/revealed-met-police-ignored-brexit-campaign-evidence-for-month">Revealed: Met Police ignored Brexit campaign evidence for months</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/leigh-baldwin-marcus-leroux/not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-value-of-his-dia">Not everyone agrees with Arron Banks about the value of his diamond mines</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government Brexit Arron Banks investigations DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Jenna Corderoy Peter Geoghegan Sat, 03 Nov 2018 19:49:51 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Jenna Corderoy 120439 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The rising tide of national populism: we need to talk seriously about immigration https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/roger-eatwell/rising-tide-of-national-populism-we-need-to-talk-about-immigration <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;"><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp;">There is a key democracy argument in <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/National-Populism-Against-Liberal-Democracy/dp/0241312000">this new book</a> which calls for an urgent step change in our liberal democracies and a new type of political leadership.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-23822430.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-23822430.jpg" alt="lead lead lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>RAF veteran John Watkins, 89, from Boston, Lincolnshire, marking the 70th anniversary of VJ Day. Jonathan Brady/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>In <em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/National-Populism-Against-Liberal-Democracy/dp/0241312000">National Populism: the Revolt against Liberal Democracy</a></em>, Matt Goodwin and I examine the factors which lie behind major political developments such as: the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s victory, and the growth of political parties like the French National Rally (formerly National Front), the Austrian Freedom Party, the Alternative for Germany and the League in Italy, whose entry into government in 2018 has been followed by its rise from third to first place in opinion polls.</p> <p>Two broad academic interpretations have emerged to explain these developments. The first stresses economic change and its effects on ‘the losers of modernisation’/the ‘left behinds’. The second, and more common, approach holds that the key driver has been cultural. The rise of parties like the National Front began well before the onset of recession, and some of the strongest can be found in rich countries like Austria. For the culturalist approach, support is fired by opposition to immigration and by linked themes like law and order. <span class="mag-quote-center">This polarised debate glosses over an important further factor – namely, attitudes towards mainstream parties and liberal democracy generally.</span></p> <p>However, this polarised debate glosses over an important further factor – namely, attitudes towards mainstream parties and liberal democracy generally. Liberal economic and political elites are frequently blamed for the onset of recession and austerity in many countries. There is also a widespread belief that mainstream politicians have failed to conduct an open discussion about immigration, that they have even lied about numbers and impacts. A 2017 Ipsos poll found that in Britain politicians were the least trusted profession, with just 17% expressing faith in them, while once-derided weather forecasters were trusted by 76%.</p> <h2><strong>Attitudes to immigration in Britain</strong></h2> <p>Let’s start by looking briefly at recent trends in Britain. Certainly immigration has been at historically high levels. It has also encompassed what academics call ‘hyper-diversity’, including the arrival of new groups which some voters fear cannot be assimilated. In the case of Muslims, this xenophobia is reinforced by fears about terrorism.</p> <p>There are clear examples where recent voting has been influenced by such changes. Take Boston in Lincolnshire, which saw a tenfold increase in the number of non-British EU citizens between 2001 and 2011, often arrivals from new member states in eastern Europe to work in the food-picking and packaging industries. In the 2014 European Parliament elections UKIP gained over 50% of the vote here, its best local result. If we look at opinion polls, we see that the percentage of British people who believed that immigration was a major issue rose from 7% at the turn of the new millennium to 48% in 2016, making it top of the list of voters’ concerns at the time of Brexit. <span class="mag-quote-center">The precise relationship between voting and immigration, however, is complex.</span></p> <p>The precise relationship between voting and immigration, however, is complex. Concerns are often greatest in areas where people have recently arrived, or where there are fears about such an influx. On the other hand, the Brexit vote was often lowest in parts of Britain, like London, which have relatively large ethnic minorities. Part of the explanation of this diverse pattern can be found in social-psychological ‘contact theory’, which holds that over time people from different ethnic groups accommodate to each other through direct interaction. </p> <p>Opinion poll evidence also needs to be interpreted in the light of the behavioural economics concept of a ‘heuristic’, which refers to the way in which people often solve complex problems with simple answers. Telling pollsters that ‘immigration’ is the major issue can hide a variety of concerns, as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/26/alternatives-take-back-control-local-projects-austerity">a recent <em>Guardian</em> article</a> by <span>Aditya Chakrabortty</span> reveals. When he visited Llanhilleth before the 2016 referendum, he found that the ‘rote’ reason for supporting Brexit was ‘immigrants’, in spite of the fact that in this South Wales former mining village ‘the only foreigners were inside the Daily Mail’. However, anger wasn’t directed at immigrants or Eurocrats so much as at British governments, which neither cared about nor listened to people like them. <span class="mag-quote-center">In this South Wales former mining village ‘the only foreigners were inside the Daily Mail’.</span></p> <p>Make no mistake, immigration is undoubtedly a major concern for many voters. But only a very small percentage seek a widespread ban on immigration, let alone hold truly racist values in the sense of believing in a hierarchical division of the world based largely on colour and/or hatred. </p> <p>This is confirmed by the September 2018 National Conversation on Immigration report. Its online survey, which was open to anyone, produced highly polarised replies about the benefits of immigration. But its representative sample revealed only 15% who were highly supportive of, or strongly opposed to, immigration – with the extremes split roughly equally. The vast majority of British people are ‘balancers’ who recognise the rights of genuine asylum seekers and need for migration, but who voice concerns like:</p> <p>1)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the skill sets immigrants should have.</p> <p>2)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the impact they have on localities, especially in the short run.</p> <p>3)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the extent to which they should be expected to assimilate into the dominant culture, which many people still strongly identify with (though their conceptions of Britishness often differ). <span class="mag-quote-center">Their conceptions of Britishness often differ.</span> </p> <p>We need to be wary that ‘representative’ opinion polls may fail to pick up the racist views of some respondents, who have become aware of what are socially acceptable responses about immigration (unlike online platforms and straw polls which tend to be dominated by extremes). Such polls may also not pick up what academics term ‘implicit racism’, namely biases and stereotypes such as homogenising all Muslims. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence from studies of diverse activities, from football crowd behaviour to the growth of mixed marriages, that British people generally are far more tolerant than over a generation ago. In 2018 a Royal Prince married a mixed-race bride who is foreign, and it is inconceivable that there could be a repeat of the behaviour of a section of Liverpool football fans in the 1980s when they greeted a new star black striker by throwing banana skins onto the pitch.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Immigration and democratic renewal</strong></h2> <p>The National Conversation survey found that only 15% of British people thought that governments had managed immigration competently and fairly, a dismal figure which reflects a widespread failure of communication. </p> <p>Since the beginnings of large scale immigration in the late 1940s, mainstream politicians have typically been loathe to speak openly about it. This partly reflects fears that this could involve taking potentially vote-losing positions and/or worsen community relations. But it also stems from the deep-rooted suspicion of the ‘masses’ which lies at the heart of liberal democracy, a fear which <em>National Populism: the Revolt against Liberal Democracy</em> charts over centuries. </p> <p>A common response to the rise of parties like UKIP is to brand them as ‘racist’, even ‘fascist’. These charges do not just come from self-styled ‘anti-racists’/’anti-fascists’. Symptomatically, in 2006 David Cameron dismissed the rising ranks of UKIP as full of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’. Some national populist supporters undoubtedly wear the racist badge with pride, but most see themselves as raising legitimate issues and resent the extremist charge. As a result, they often react by becoming further alienated from what they see as overweening liberal elites and their Politically Correct agendas. <span class="mag-quote-center">Most national populists see themselves as raising legitimate issues and resent the extremist charge.</span></p> <p>These last observations point to two ways in which we should move on. Looked at from the top-down, we need politicians to be braver, to lead and talk more openly about immigration policy. We need them to explain the labour needs of the British economy. There is widespread support for immigrants such as doctors and nurses, but many oppose unskilled immigration. However, whilst automation will reduce the demand in towns like Boston, the need for unskilled workers in places such as in care homes is likely to grow given the ageing population. There also needs to be a greater attempt to dispel wider fears of the type challenged by the Migration Advisory Committee report in September 2018, when it found no evidence that European migration ‘has reduced the average level of subjective well-being’ in communities. <span class="mag-quote-center">We need politicians to be braver.</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Boston_-_panoramio_(20).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Boston_-_panoramio_(20).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Boston, Lincolnshire, panoramic view, 2007. Wikicommons/ Tanya Dedyukhina. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>From the bottom-up, we need groups and individuals to talk more about immigration and how best to live together. Precisely what kind of immigration rules should we apply? Do we need to set out a new and more inclusive conception of national identity? If the latter is important, it will need to combine old aspects of British identity with the new realities of migration and multicultural communities. It will need to built on a sophisticated understanding of psychological theories concerning attitude change. ‘Confirmation bias’ theory shows us that people tend to reject attacks on deeply held views. One way forward, therefore, might be to play on conceptions on fairness, which hark back to the old British trope of fair play. In 2018, YouGov found that the vast majority of British people thought that the early ‘Windrush generation’ of black immigrants had the right to remain here even if they had not regularised their residency, rejecting the unfairness of the Home Office policy of seeing them as illegal immigrants. <span class="mag-quote-center">From the bottom-up, we need groups and individuals to talk more about... how best to live together.</span></p> <p>The results of such conversations will not be rapid, as the top-down approach faces the problem that many people distrust politicians and experts. But the rise of national populism helps show what happens when we have democratic ‘leaders’ who do not seek to educate and point to the way forward on key issues. The bottom-up approach faces the problem that it can be hard to spot common ground in an often polarised debate, which pitches those who defend universal equality and human rights against those who defend the pre-eminence of the national interest and ‘natives’. But just remember that 85% of British people are ‘balancers’, and the evidence is that they are open to conversations and democratic compromise about the best way forward. <span class="mag-quote-center">They are seeking a new form of democracy where ordinary people’s views count for more.</span></p> <p>Contrary to the claims of many, the vast majority of national populist supporters are not authoritarians seeking to overthrow democracy, though socially conservative ideas are common among them. Rather, they are seeking a new form of democracy where ordinary people’s views count for more. </p> <p>The fact that many national populist voters have relatively low levels of education, and are not greatly interested in politics, does not mean that their views should be ignored or seen as necessarily a threat to democracy. Rather, national populism is Janus-faced. It poses dangers in its delegitimisation of mainstream politics and through its xenophobic side. But it also highlights the need for democratic renewal. The fact that we need widespread institutional change to achieve this, like proportional representation and greater local democracy, does not negate the urgent need to begin a serious conversation about immigration as part of this renewal. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-thumbnail.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-thumbnail.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="323" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Boston,Lincolnshire. Wikicommons.Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/National-Populism-Against-Liberal-Democracy/dp/0241312000">National Populism: the Revolt against Liberal Democracy</a>, </em>Pelican Books, October 2018<em>.<br /></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk United States EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics migration Roger Eatwell Sat, 03 Nov 2018 08:42:25 +0000 Roger Eatwell 120432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump or Brussels: Brexit and the art of 'No deal' https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/anthony-barnett/trump-or-brussels-brexit-and-art-of-no-deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Even if the UK parliament approves a Brexit agreement it will satisfy no one. The real choice the country faces is beween re-entering the EU or becoming a satellite of Washington. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Borisblah.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Borisblah.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><h2><strong>The Question</strong></h2> <p class="AB03">How is it <em>possible </em>that Britain is contemplating a ‘No deal’ breakdown of the Brexit talks only weeks away from their deadline? How can it be conceivable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer while warning against it, is budgeting £500 million for scoping out a ‘No deal’ as the authoritative S&amp;P Global Ratings publishes <a href="https://www.capitaliq.com/CIQDotNet/CreditResearch/RenderArticle.aspx?articleId=2121981&amp;SctArtId=462210&amp;from=CM&amp;nsl_code=LIME&amp;sourceObjectId=10751413&amp;sourceRevId=2&amp;fee_ind=N&amp;exp_date=20281030-00:51:48">a financial analysis</a> that shows “A no-deal Brexit could push the U.K. economy into a moderate recession and lower the economy's long-term growth potential [leading to] the economic loss of about 5.5% GDP over three years”? Which means, the agency spells out, “a loss per household of £2,700 in income per year, 2019-2021”. A more hair-raising overview of the likely consequences is elegantly presented under 29 headings in the <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n21/swati-dhingra/what-would-it-be-like?utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=4021&amp;utm_content=ukrw_subs">London Review of Books</a>. For a thorough description of what a ‘No deal’ could be like we have to turn away from the London media to <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-dangers-of-a-no-deal-brexit-a-1228487.html">Der Spiegel’s</a> Peter Müller and Jörg Schindler, to learn what could happen on 30 March 2019 if Britain leaves the EU without any agreement. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="AB03">The New Statesman’s political editor, <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/10/brexit-trap-there-any-way-out">George Eaton</a>, quotes Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer MP as saying ‘No deal’ is inconceivable: Parliament, would not let it happen. Eaton himself says a ‘No deal’ would represent “The greatest failure of statecraft in British post-war European history”. Nonetheless, his colleague Steven Bush, in his lucid ‘Morning Call’ emails, insists there is no “plausible path to a parliamentary majority” for any agreement the Prime Minister brings back from Brussels and therefore “unless the politics shift” the UK will indeed leave “without a deal”. When the ex-Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis MP <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brexit-deal-will-pass-as-terror-will-win-david-davis-says-pfxkc2ft3">appeared to disagree</a>, saying “Terror… the fear of no deal… That will win and there will be a deal”, he promptly recanted the next morning on Twitter to predict that no agreement between the Prime Minister and Brussels will pass the Commons. </p> <p class="AB03">With such high stakes and uncertainty it’s natural for everyone to be obsessed with what happens next and miss the larger picture. Brexit is not just a bizarre, unpredictable dispute between Westminster politicians over the supposed ‘will of the people’. It has become a battleground in a much larger war: between two forms of capitalism in the post-crash age. One seeks to maintain a regulated, law-based world that manages competition between nations and alliances, the other to unleash a deregulated, to-the-victor-the-spoils model of traditional, international rivalry. </p> <p class="AB03">This is why it is a mistake to perceive ‘No deal’ as being a “failure”. For sure it will be a defeat for those on the left. But it will be a victory for the other side, and will be greeted as such by influential figures on the British right - while a can of diet coke will be raised in celebration by the ogre in the White House. For there is no such thing as a ‘No deal’. There is either a deal with the EU or with the US. An agreement between the UK government and the EU is probable and might not be voted down by the Commons. But even then it will satisfy no one. The polarisation inherent in the referendum is intensifying. Britain will have to choose between remaining within the European regulated space – ideally by reversing Brexit after a People’s Vote - or affiliating to an American-led deregulated one. </p> <p>These are not polar opposites. Both are forms of globalization, as Quinn Slobodian <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/opinion/trump-far-right-populists-globalization.html#click=https://t.co/zpuQhzXm3i">points out</a> in a masterly, forensic demystification of the hard right. In their different ways both desire competition, need some regulation and aim to manage democracy. The centre of the conflict lies within the United States, whose government is now impatient with a world order its predecessors created but which it feels no longer ensures that America comes first. With Brexit still unresolved, however, the UK has become the frontline of the conflict. Given the polarization unleashed by the American president and his supporters, the UK could become the first satellite of the Trumpian, American space. This is the aim of British supporters of ‘No deal’. They deploy the language of independence and don’t openly advocate subordination to Washington. Nonetheless, this will be the consequence of an outcome once thought incredible. </p> <p>This is not because Donald Trump takes any special interest in the United Kingdom, on the contrary. In a wonderful new book, <em>The Fifth Risk</em>, Michael Lewis provides a jaw-dropping account of President’s destructive hostility to government. Combining gripping reportage with a conceptual grasp of the larger consequences, Lewis shows at first-hand how vital aspects of America’s exceptional government - its energy safety, its nuclear waste, its meteorology, its funding of start-ups - are being wrecked by the administration in a concerted effort to devastate the public sphere. What matters is not the man, with whom Americans are far too obsessed, but the lasting effects of his policies. The White House has becoming a wrecking ball. Internationally, the main structure that stands in the way is the European Union as it has begun to set global standards for regulation. Brexit is a delightful opportunity to maim if not destroy Brussels and all its stands for.</p> <p>Like most commentators I regarded such a ‘no deal’ scenario as near inconceivable. On the eve of Trump’s visit to the UK in July this year, Adam Ramsay argued in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/trumps-visit-marks-start-of-shock-doctrine-brexit">openDemocracy</a> that shock doctrine supporters of the US president want a hard-Brexit, supported by right-wing think tanks such as the IEA, the Institute for Economic Affairs, and the dark money that supports their causes. I was sceptical of such alarmism. Now, from a very different political perspective, Sir Ivan Rogers has <a href="https://share.trin.cam.ac.uk/sites/public/Comms/Rogers_brexit_as_revolution.pdf">set out</a> a compelling account of the role and worldview of what he calls the “Brexit revolutionaries” and the likelihood of their success. There are few with a more intimate knowledge of both Westminster and Brussels than Rogers. He was the UK’s Ambassador to the EU, negotiated the deal that Cameron put to the country in 2016. When he advised Theresa May that her approach was unrealistic, she fired him. So far, all his warnings have been vindicated. </p> <p>If asked, a large majority of Britain’s voters would reject subordination to an American model. Yet their referendum may make this their fate. The external reasons are clear, given the Trump administration’s goals and the think tanks that are its praetorian guard. The domestic reasons for the Calvary of Brexit are more opaque. They can be traced to the ‘impossible desire’ shared by leaders of the United Kingdom that lies at the root of Brexit; the desire to be a completely ‘sovereign’ and ‘independent’ country. </p> <h2><strong>The shared self-deception behind the lies of Brexit</strong></h2> <p>This is not simply an expression of imperial nostalgia as the EU negotiator Michel Barnier has <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6294069/Merkel-Macron-tell-Barnier-flexible-Brexit-talks.html">just claimed</a>. Britain renewed itself in far-reaching ways, first under Labour after 1945, then with Margaret Thatcher after 1979. Both episodes involved social, economic, political and military transformations, dedicated to ensuring a new role for the country in world affairs. Both saw towering domestic achievements that appeared to vindicate a proud belief in Britain. But neither succeeded. The result today is frustration and England’s sense of impasse needs to be understood not as the consequence of decline but of failed renewal. It is this that generates the incoherent, thwarted energy expressed by Brexit, which is far from being the mere dying spasm of a spent regime. (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different stories).</p> <p>England’s rage was especially evident in the Leave side’s conduct of the referendum: the role of dark money, outright illegalities, absurd claims of the financial benefits of exiting the EU, and vile, anti-immigrant untruths perpetuated via social media. </p> <p>Its sense of frustrated renewal also helps to explain a more significant deception that cast its spell over the entire referendum campaign. One that was reproduced by both sides, continues to this day and originated with those who called the referendum. Even as he prepared the public for a vote on EU membership, the then Tory premier David Cameron opened the way for his own defeat by perpetuating its untruth. “Let’s be frank”, he <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-would-do-okay-outside-the-european-union-david-cameron-says-a6727031.html">told voters</a>, often a sign that self-deception is on its way, “Britain is an amazing country. We’ve got the fifth biggest economy in the world. We’re a top ten manufacturer. We’ve got incredibly strong financial services. The world wants to come and do business here… The argument isn’t whether Britain could survive outside the EU. Of course it could”. </p> <p>Just like Cameron, Theresa May, who was his Home Secretary, opposed the UK leaving the EU. But she too agreed that the country was perfectly capable of doing so. When he lost the referendum, Cameron resigned and she seized the opportunity to succeed him. She then doubled down on the conceit involved. In her keynote speech to the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-speech-tory-conference-2016-in-full-transcript-a7346171.html">2016 Tory Party conference</a>, her first to it as party leader as well as Prime Minister, she told her Conservative colleagues, “We are leaving to become, once more, a fully sovereign and independent country”. Three months later, in January 2017, at London’s <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2017/01/17/theresa-mays-brexit-speech-full/">Lancaster House</a>, when May set laid down her principles for Brexit, she described the referendum as, “a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global”. </p> <p>May was channelling the main advocate of Brexit, Paul Dacre&nbsp;who edited the <em>Daily Mail </em>for 25 years. Defending Leave voters against their critics, he&nbsp;<a href="https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-mail/20180209/281483571838308" target="_blank">described</a>&nbsp;their main motive as being “a deep-seated human yearning to recover our national identity and independence”.&nbsp;Which is why, he explained, arguments of economic costs fail to persuade them to change their minds.&nbsp; </p><p class="AB03">The source of this self-centred British nationalism is not directly that of empire, which embraced subjects around the world, but its remotest depot, the Falkland Islands. The Conservatives, both Remainers and Brexiteers, are the children of Thatcher’s triumph in the 1982 war. One that allowed her <a href="https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/104989">to proclaim</a>, “There were those who would not admit it… but had their secret fears that it was true: that Britain was no longer the nation that had built an Empire and ruled a quarter of the world. Well they were wrong. The lesson of the Falklands is that Britain has not changed…”. In their wet dreams, the advocates of Brexit see Britain as once more astonishing the world with its defiance and a magically quick victory, that opens the way to a decade of economic growth. In reality they are recycling the detritus of the South Atlantic while the European Union is not Argentina. It has not declared war on even a toenail of the British Isles, however much they seek to turn it into an aggressor (“similar to Hitler”, Boris Johnson; “Mafia”, Jacob Rees Mogg; “like the Soviet Union”, the current Foreign Secretary). So Barnier is not completely wrong, there is a nostalgia, but it is for a recent triumph. One that echoes in Nick Timothy’s recent column in the <em><a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/10/31/radical-brexit-speech-theresa-may-could-still-make/">Daily Telegraph</a> </em>(Timothy was for a long time advisor and speech writer to Theresa’s May and drafted her original Brexit programme): “if we want Brexit to be a success, we must be bold. We can quiver and fail, or dare and succeed”. </p> <h2><strong>The truth of the matter</strong></h2> <p class="AB03">The dishonesty of such post-crash, regurgitated Thatcherism has never been publicly called out by any of the country’s political leaders. Britain is indeed a resilient, enterprising and significant country. But Thatcher’s legacy wrecked much of the indigenous manufacturing industry, bloated its finance sector and privatised the state, turning the UK into perhaps the most dependent and vulnerable middle-range economy in the world. It is no longer capable of being a “fully sovereign, independent country”. To take three snapshots:</p> <blockquote><p>It has a chronic balance of payments deficit, currently 4% of its GDP. As a result the value of the British pound “relies on the kindness of strangers” as the head of the Bank of England <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-boe-banks/bank-of-england-says-uks-reliance-on-kindness-of-strangers-for-finance-is-rising-idUSKCN1GS12P">put it. </a>There is much talk now by those advocating Brexit about the opportunities to strike independent trade deals. But Britain has long been unable to sell enough to itself. Italy has a healthy trade surplus by comparison.&nbsp; </p><p>Most of the UK’s stocks and shares are held abroad. At the end of 2016, the rest of the world <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/investmentspensionsandtrusts/bulletins/ownershipofukquotedshares/2016">owned 53.9% of the UK stock exchange</a>. A higher proportion than the 51.9% that the Leave campaign got earlier that year. </p><p>A new <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/3ee09db6-cbb8-11e8-b276-b9069bde0956">IMF analysis</a> reports that the UK government’s net worth is a negative liability of £2 trillion. As a percentage of the public balance sheet this is the worst for any advanced economy, with the sole exception of Portugal. </p></blockquote> <p>It is hard to quantify the sheer penetration of direct foreign ownership of the UK’s strategic assets, from its railways and water supply and power infrastructure to its leading newspapers and hi tech sector, not to speak of its car manufacturing. The marketization initiated by Margaret Thatcher, deepened by Tony Blair and intensified by David Cameron, has left the country acutely unequal and lopsided. One <a href="https://newleftreview.org/II/105/tom-hazeldine-revolt-of-the-rustbelt">analyst shows</a> that the UK now has the greatest regional inequalities of any country across the whole of the EU. </p> <p>It is particularly galling to listen to arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson when, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/foreign-secretary-speech-britain-is-back-east-of-suez">as Foreign Secretary,</a> he lauded London as being the “Eighth Emirate”, because so much of it is owned by Middle Eastern potentates including London’s tallest building, its poshest store, its Olympic village, a leading football club and its main exhibition centre - not to speak of the country’s historic merchant shipping company P&amp;O – the Pacific and Orient - now owned by Dubai. Johnson concluded the final TV debate of the referendum by declaring that victory for Leave would be “independence day”. He was rightly criticised for propagating the lazy notion that the UK is a ‘colony’ or victim of the EU. The shaping falsehood behind it is the assumption that Britain is capable of being ‘independent’ in the traditional sense. </p><p>It isn’t. </p> <h2><strong>The necessity of regulation</strong></h2> <p>There is nothing shameful about this reality, even if the UK is more exposed than most to the necessity of being part of a larger market place whose rules it cannot unilaterally decide. Indeed, under Thatcher the UK played a pivotal role in the formation of what is the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">finest achievement</a> of the EU, the creation of an international regulated space. This is not at all the same as a sovereign power. It has generated a zone of shared freedom, which far from subjugating the UK or any of the member states enhances their economic and social life. What Britain lacks is the patriotism that expresses this. </p> <p>Instead, Brexit nationalists proclaim that an economic nirvana awaits the UK outside of the supposed confinement of the EU’s customs union, with only the most minor adjustments. The evidence suggests otherwise. To bring it to life, recently, as the negotiations hit an impasse, on just one day, 15 October, three foreign companies (who have been understandably low-profile) issued <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/15/ford-u-turn-carmaker-says-no-deal-brexit-could-force-it-to-leave-uk">unusual public warnings</a>. Ford said a no-deal was a “red line’ for its car manufacturing in Britain; Nissan warned of “serious implications”; and the drugmaker AstraZeneca which employs 7,000 in the UK, announced it had put UK investment “on hold”. </p> <p>Prime Minister May is loyal to a vision of one-nation conservatism that embraces the need for workers and towns to prosper. She has not faltered in her judgement that this means the UK must stay close to the EU. Initially she wanted the advantages of membership while hoping to escape the obligations of its rules. As she slowly learnt this was not possible she sought to stay within the EU’s rulebook for manufacturing but not services. She persuaded her Cabinet to agree to this, in what is now called the Chequers proposal, named after the Prime Minister’s country house. For all the talk about the Irish border, the heart of the government’s difficulty is simple: how to remain within the EU’s regulated space without being regulated by it. </p> <h2><strong>Show manufacturing the door</strong></h2> <p class="AB03">It can’t be done, a point made by Boris Johnson who resigned from the Cabinet after Chequers, claiming any attempt to accept May’s priorities would turn the UK into a “vassal state”. What, then, is his and his fellow Brexiteers’ response to the many concerns of manufacturers? Johnson summed it up in two words, which were reported in their full Anglo-Saxon without asterisks by both the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8075e68c-7857-11e8-8e67-1e1a0846c475">Financial Times</a> and <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-44618154">the BBC</a>. I quote, “Fuck business”. </p> <p class="AB03">We have to take this reaction seriously. It is no joke. The hard Brexiteers see destruction as essential to clear the way to their vision of Britannia reborn. The president of the CBI (the Confederation of British Industry) <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8fc6f5a2-6edb-11e8-852d-d8b934ff5ffa">warned</a> that outside the Customs Union, “ ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct,’ pointing to the car industry in particular”. Ian Duncan Smith, another leading anti-European and ex-Minister <a href="https://brexitcentral.com/car-industrys-prophecies-doom-must-not-allowed-prevent-brexit/">argued</a> in response that car manufacturing only accounts for 0.57% of the UK’s employment and 0.8% of gross value added. So let’s not be “obsessed” by it. The Chief Executive of Philips <a href="http://www.cityam.com/266371/philips-chief-executive-warns-no-deal-brexit-hit-british">says</a> the future of the UK as a manufacturing hub is at risk. The country’s most profitable export sector, British chemicals industry, has <a href="https://www.cia.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Policy%20Position%20Statements/171207%20REACH%20letter%20to%20Michael%20Gove.pdf?ver=2018-01-04-162410-830">long stated</a> its need to remain in the customs union just like the British manufacturing economy as a whole which is integrated with the EU’s and needs a customs union with it. Not to speak of agriculture. But let's not be "obsessed" with all that. An "adjustment" will be necessary as the price of freedom. Jacob Rees Mogg, another leading Brexit advocate, laundered and ironed Boris Johnson's filthy language, the benefits <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/jacob-rees-mogg-economy-brexit_uk_5b54e3b5e4b0de86f48e3566">will be reaped</a> "over the next fifty years" </p> <h2><strong>Three sources for a Hard Brexit</strong></h2> <p>How, then, is it possible that such an outcome can be gathering support? While the passion may be a thwarted Anglo-British nationalism, the economic answer is three-fold. First, there is the free-market tank prospectus, second the City of London is indifferent and, most important of all, the United States is keen to break the EU. </p><p class="AB03">The fantastic economic policies of the hard Brexiteers have been dissected by <a href="http://chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com/">Chris Grey</a> and <a href="https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/">Simon Wren-Lewis</a> and the insane politics and insufferable self-deceptions by <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/author/ian-dunt">Ian Dunt</a>. Their arguments are met by silence. So we have to turn to Steve Baker MP for a summary of the Brexiteer world-view. He resigned from the government to become the organiser of the ERG group of parliamentarians for a hard-Brexit. When his hopes <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/09/could-not-stay-brexit-minister-knew-could-have-free-trade-not/">were high</a> he proclaimed the need for “boldness, vision, ambition and resolve to recover our democratic self-government and help change the world for good”. </p> <p class="AB03">Inflated by such hopes, he felt Britain “is on the cusp of catalysing a transformation in world trade”, no less. “If we can combine a comprehensive EU tariff-free trade deal, together with accession to the Pacific Rim CPTPP, with a US bilateral deal and a new platform agreement for financial services, then we will improve the prosperity and prospects of hundreds of millions of people”. As deflation set in, Baker blamed the CBI for being nothing less than “a grave menace to the political stability and economic prospects of the UK”. He looked back with longing to the proposals of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brendan-montague/how-legatum-has-written-hymn-sheet-for-dirty-brexit">Legatum</a> Institute Special Trade Commission (for which see openDemocracy's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-who-are-brexiteers-favourite-think-tank-and-who-is-behind-them">Peter Geoghegan</a>) and the Institute for Economic Affairs (for which see <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/revealed-how-uk-s-powerful-right-wing-think-tanks-and-conse">Adam Ramsay and Peter Geoghegan</a> who have also reported in the <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/brexit/2018/10/liam-fox-s-american-friends?fbclid=IwAR08NkTcmqlAaAbXcUMZZtSq93hPc08y6xLvEP_1pmpRzjeHdMKWL-gybD4">New Statesman</a> on another Cabinet Brexiteer, Liam Fox, and his connections to right-wing US institutions and his dream of frictionless trans-Atlantic trade). Taken singly, the shock-jocks of Brexit are easily mocked. But they represent a well-connected, very well-funded worldview, capable of playing a long game. For them a 'No deal' would be like winning the lottery while an incoherent agreement that takes the UK out of the EU leaves all to play for. </p> <p>The UK’s genuine economic strength is located in its financial services sector, which does play a nodal role in the world economy. The EU is only a small part of its business. The <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/7a318a42-cb9f-11e8-b276-b9069bde0956">Financial Times</a> explained one part of the background: “Clearing houses, largely run by exchanges, sit between parties in a deal and manage the impact to the market should one side default. London is the heart of the global business. Its three clearing houses — LCH, ICE Clear Europe and LME Clear — process more than $450 trillion in interest-rate, credit, forex and metals-related swaps from around the world”. It also <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c2519f62-cbd4-11e8-9fe5-24ad351828ab">points out</a>, “the European Central Bank estimates 90 per cent of interest-rate swaps coming from the EU are cleared through London. But for LCH [the London Clearing House], derivatives business secured from EU banks is just 14 per cent of the global total”.</p> <p>Alongside the legitimate lubrication of the entire world economy in which the EU plays only a small part, the City also sits at the centre of a permissive network of money-laundering supported by a global network of tax havens under British suzerainty, from the Channel Islands to the Caymans. Recently brought to life by the TV mini-series <em>McMafia</em>, this network of activities also regards the EU as relatively marginal.</p> <p>Whether smoothly managing derivatives or tax avoidance, the networks of the City of London are used to working around national barriers. They will set up offices inside the EU where necessary. Already <a href="https://www.capitaliq.com/CIQDotNet/CreditResearch/RenderArticle.aspx?articleId=2111891&amp;SctArtId=461208&amp;from=CM&amp;nsl_code=LIME&amp;sourceObjectId=10729660&amp;sourceRevId=1&amp;fee_ind=N&amp;exp_date=20281010-15:06:25">they have</a> “passed the point of no return” in planning for an organised Brexit. As <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/tamasin-cave-kenneth-haar/deal-or-secret-deal-eu-uk-trade-deal-looks-even-more-secretive-than-tti">Tamasin Cave and Kenneth Haar</a> have shown, the financial sector has exploited its unrivalled access to both Brussels and the British government to secure their sectoral interests. Meanwhile, its more audacious hedge funds are outright opponents of the EU’s regulatory impulses. Rarely can a wealthy capital have been so indifferent to the larger fate of its country. If the City of London had been as opposed to Brexit as is manufacturing, neither a hard Brexit nor a no deal would be on the cards. </p> <h2><strong>Trump’s foe</strong></h2> <p>While the City is merely relaxed about Brexit, Britain’s traditional global ally sees it as a positive opportunity - to diminish Europe. On his way to meet President Putin this summer, Trump was asked by <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-interview-cbs-news-european-union-is-a-foe-ahead-of-putin-meeting-in-helsinki-jeff-glor/">CBS News</a> to identify his "biggest foe globally right now" and he replied, “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe”. Just this month, in a <em><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-full-interview-60-minutes-transcript-lesley-stahl-2018-10-14/">60 Minutes</a></em> interview with Lesley Stahl he said, “I mean, what's an ally? We have wonderful relationships with a lot of people. But nobody treats us much worse than the European Union. The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that's what they've done... You know what's hostile? The way they treat us”.</p> <p>On 10 October, shortly before his <em>60 Minutes</em> interview, there was a striking example of the way Brexit is intensifying US enmity to the EU. Trump’s head of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Christopher Giancarlo issued an astonishing threat. The administration would <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/9935d5c8-d2da-11e8-a9f2-7574db66bcd5?segmentId=6132a895-e068-7ddc-4cec-a1abfa5c8378">bar</a> EU banks from using “US clearing infrastructure” in retaliation if Brussels decided to regulate the financial trading of its derivatives when the City of London leaves the EU. Soon after the <em>60 minutes </em>interview, the White House <a href="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?js=RAW&amp;maximize=true&amp;hide=true&amp;position=absolute&amp;hl=en-GB&amp;emailsLink=true&amp;sk=true&amp;titleBar=false&amp;border=NONE&amp;eventCallback=ParentStub1277142299567&amp;zx=imv0xvp0h9i&amp;shva=1#inbox/WhctKJVBBcBKZCztskNBPHNjkJkHlXWBChgDpfsZSFNvQfhCrdtHcmpmWhmSDXZJvdnnjSV">gave Congress</a> the necessary 90 days notification of its intension to open trade negotiations with the United Kingdom. Should the UK reach agreement with the EU, this may have to wait until the UK actually leaves. But if there is a ‘no deal’, Washington will be standing by. Making its announcement now sends a message of encouragement to the hard Brexiteers as their moment arrives. </p> <h2><strong>Trump’s men</strong></h2> <p class="mol-para-with-font">The British politician <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/world/europe/trump-may-brexit-sun.html?module=inline">singled out</a> by Trump to integrate the UK into the President’s project is Boris Johnson. For his part Johnson <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-boris-johnson-donald-trump-all-sorts-of-chaos-says/">has said</a>, “I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness. Imagine Trump doing Brexit… He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.” </p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Brexiteers are thinking such thoughts more and more, calling in advance for cuts to taxes, streamlined regulations and opening up the UK markets to the US (to summarise Daniel <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/10/14/brexit-theresa-mays-terms-would-worst-worlds/">Hannan</a>). There are apparently strong supporters for such an eventuality in the Cabinet. Among them the current Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6172943/Sweeping-tax-cuts-workers-help-no-deal-Brexit-Sajid-Javid-told-Cabinet.html">is reported</a> to have told his colleagues in September that if the EU did not accept the UK’s demands, Britain should just leave while implementing, “sweeping tax cuts and deregulation on workers' rights, scrapping automatic enrolment into pension schemes and ditching environmental regulations… He referred to it as a shock-and-awe strategy”. Perhaps he had forgotten how this phrase echoes the disastrous assault upon Iraq. </p> <p>Any such strategy will need the tabloids to whip up a chauvinistic atmosphere, led by the Sun, owned by Trump’s fellow billionaire American, Rupert Murdoch. Brussels will be pilloried for its punitive intransigence, even as the UK’s Japanese and Indian-owned car companies load their robots onto lorries for production lines on the other side of the channel. The Brexiteers won’t mind. This is the key point: an irrevocable disintegration will have taken place as Britain’s ties to Europe are severed. The more savage the better, as this will then justify the economic losses as the population is rallied against Brussels. The disruption will provide an ideal environment for populist mobilization, to create an irreversible breach in European solidarity. </p> <p>In all likelihood May will get an agreement that keeps the UK in the EU’s regulated space for the time being, even if the Brexit revolutionaries condemn it as years of “vassalage”. The problem for May is her lack of a nationalist counter-argument to theirs. For if Britain is to be within its influence why leave the EU at all? Incapable of admitting a change of mind and without media or popular support, the Prime Minister may therefore fail to get the necessary parliamentary backing. If, then, the House of Commons is also prevented from calling for a second referendum, the Brexit revolutionaries will have their way and it will be no-deal. Once more they will proclaim Independence Day. But Trump and all he represents will be waiting for them, welcoming the UK into his anti-EU alliance with generous terms that cannot be refused in the otherwise dire circumstances and Britain will enter the US sphere of corporate servitude. </p> <p><em>Anthony Barnett’s recent talk on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ksdrYYUY2w">Albion’s Call</a> can be watched on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ksdrYYUY2w ">YouTube.</a> </em><em><span>This article is based on a public lecture organized by the<span>&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://www.history.ucla.edu/">Department of History</a><span><span>&nbsp;</span>and the<span>&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://www.international.ucla.edu/euro/">Center for European and Russian Studies</a><span><span>&nbsp;</span>of UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), 15 October 2018 (with many thanks for the feedback).</span><br /></em></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-campaign-for-people-s-vote-is-changing-politics-again">How the campaign for a People’s Vote is changing politics (again)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/tamasin-cave-kenneth-haar/deal-or-secret-deal-eu-uk-trade-deal-looks-even-more-secretive-than-tti">&quot;Deal&quot; or &quot;Secret Deal&quot; – the EU-UK trade deal looks even more secretive than TTIP</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK EU United States Democracy and government Brexit Anthony Barnett Fri, 02 Nov 2018 15:49:17 +0000 Anthony Barnett 120423 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump – don’t let ‘Tommy Robinson’ preach his anti-Muslim message in the US https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/matthew-mcgregor/trump-don-t-let-tommy-robinson-preach-his-anti-muslim-message-in-us <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Right wing members of Congress have invited the EDL founder to a major event in Washington DC, despite his criminal record.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/tommy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/tommy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: 'Tommy Robinson' leaving the Old Bailey on 23/10/18. Rights: David Mirzoeff/PA images</span></span></span></p><p>Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, has been <span><a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/tommy-robinson-jail-free-congress-us-republican-event-trump-visa-washington-speech-gosar-a8601866.html">invited</a></span> to speak at a major conference in Washington DC. If he’s allowed to attend, it will give him a big platform to push his anti-Muslim agenda. It will give him the respectability of appearing alongside members of Congress. And it could net him in the range of <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/27/tommy-robinson-edl-stands-to-make-1-million-pounds-on-us-speaking-tour">£1million</a></span> via fundraising. The question is whether – given his long criminal record – he’ll be allowed to attend. </p> <p>Here’s the situation: the <span><a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/research/islamophobia-hub/">Middle East Forum</a></span> has, in conjunction with the <span><a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/research/islamophobia-hub/">David Horowitz Freedom Center</a></span>, invited Lennon to the United States in mid-November. In addition, Rep. Paul Gosar and six other members of Congress have invited Lennon to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society in a closed-door event.</p> <p>Our analysis suggests that Lennon will raise in the range of £1m as a result of the exposure and links he can foster on this trip if he is allowed into the US. We expect him to use his media profile and funding to tour the country organising demonstrations about grooming scandals. Previous demonstrations organised by, or for, Lennon have <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5824805/Supporters-Tommy-Robinson-clash-police-London.html">descended into violence</a> and left a trail of division. </p> <p>On Tuesday 23rd October, outside the Old Bailey in London, Lennon announced his intentions:</p> <p><em>"I want to spend the next six months travelling to towns and cities blighted by these problems. By next summer the entire world is going to the true extent of the rape of Britain. Again, I am going to have more in videos coming up".</em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Some people have asked how he’d be allowed to travel to the US given his record. In 2013 Lennon was jailed for 10 months for using someone else's passport to travel to the USA. Lennon used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to New York. He entered the US illegally then used his own passport to return to the UK. It is believed that Lennon received a ten-year ban on re-entering the US following his 2013 conviction. </p> <p>But the Trump administration can override these bans if they want to, giving Lennon the possibility of getting in for his lucrative speaking engagement. It seems that the people behind the invite to Lennon have made a request to the US administration to lift his ban. The Middle East Forum and the David Horowitz Freedom Center both have very good political links to the Trump administration. </p> <p>The people behind this event are <span><a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2018/10/28/six-reasons-stephen-lennon-might-well-allowed-get-us/">pushing at a half-open door</a></span>. The Trump administration has strong links to the self-defined “counter-jihad” movement. There were early appointees like Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn and Sebastian Gorka. More recent appointments include National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/23/politics/kfile-john-bolton-pamela-geller/index.html">close links</a> to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamela_Geller">Pamela Geller</a>, an American activist notorious for her anti-Islamic writings, and the new chief of staff of the National Security Council, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/06/09/trump-picks-another-muslim-hater-as-one-of-his-aides/?utm_term=.a846ec4b74f6">Fred Fleitz</a>, part of a group who promote anti-Islamic conspiracy theories. Trump himself received briefings from <a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/research/islamophobia-hub/profiles/key-players/#gaffney">&nbsp;Frank Gaffney</a>, a key figure behind the ‘Obama is a Muslim’ conspiracy theory, and Bridget Gabriel, head of <a href="https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2018/09/16/inside-americas-biggest-anti-muslim-organisation/">the largest anti-Muslim campaign group in the US, ACT for America</a>. ACT recently boasted of having monthly meetings with the White House. This is an administration infected with anti-Muslim prejudice. </p> <p>The Trump administration has shown its own support for Lennon, especially following his imprisonment for contempt. The British ambassador to the US was lobbied in June by Trump’s ambassador for religious freedoms, Sam Brownback, who <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-britain-robinson/trumps-ambassador-lobbied-britain-on-behalf-of-jailed-right-wing-activist-tommy-robinson-idUSKBN1K331J">demanded the UK government be more sympathetic towards the former EDL leader</a>. At the same time, Donald Trump Jnr, Trump’s son, <a href="https://twitter.com/DonaldJTrumpJr/status/1000792376171028480">personally tweeted out his support for Lennon</a>.</p> <p>If Stephen Lennon is allowed into the United States, it will have a marked, and negative, impact on community relations in the UK. If the Trump administration makes a special case of Lennon and lets him in, it will be a slap in the face for the British government, and encourage elements of the far right in the US itself. </p> <p>The US government should decline to overturn the banning order that Lennon is believed to be subject to. The UK government should make clear to the US government that it is not in the public interest for Lennon to be allowed to attend the events he’s been invited to. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/matthew-feldman/paging-mr-aaronovitch-radical-right-doesnt-need-any-more-help-from-mainstream">Paging Mr Aaronovitch: The Radical Right doesn&#039;t need any more help from the mainstream</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk United States UK Civil society far right Matthew McGregor Fri, 02 Nov 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Matthew McGregor 120405 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why legal aid matters and what you can do about it https://www.opendemocracy.net/oliver-carter-and-charlotte-threipland/why-legal-aid-matters-and-what-you-can-do-about-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> 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more. The government are reviewing the cuts. We have a final chance to tell them we care.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WOj9GJ77S3w" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">Between 2010 and 2016, the Coalition government reduced the budget of the Ministry of Justice by 34%. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/10/contents/enacted">The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 </a>(LASPO) brought swingeing cuts to legal aid, ending financial support for those who rely on vast areas of social welfare law – including most debt, benefits, housing, employment and immigration advice.</p><p dir="ltr">The result was an 84% reduction in the number of civil (non-criminal) cases funded by legal aid. Hundreds of thousands of people each year are now denied access to justice as a result of the cuts to legal aid.</p><p dir="ltr">As well as partially or wholly removing significant areas of the law from scope, LASPO also increased the financial eligibility thresholds. This means that even when a case is theoretically covered by legal aid – indicating that a person’s situation must be serious – they may not be eligible, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/policy-campaigns/campaigns/access-to-justice/legal-aid-means-test-report/">even if they are living</a> well below the poverty line. If someone has equity in their home this now counts towards what is considered to be disposable capital.</p><p dir="ltr">Our society is in a sorry state if a person must sell their home or sacrifice their ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living in order to enforce their basic rights. </p><p>To document the impact that this change has had on people’s lives, <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openjustice">openJustice</a> is marking this year’s Justice Week with the launch of Voices for Justice, a new series of short films and articles demonstrating the impact of the legal aid cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The government are currently reviewing the cuts. This might be our last chance to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-justice-make-legal-aid-available-for-people-who-cannot-afford-a-lawyer-f6e31469-fdef-4138-8985-3902321948f1?recruiter=602087660&amp;utm_source=share_petition&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=undefined">tell them that legal aid matters</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Voices for Justice begins with the story of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jekgcm0xwo">Eleanor Peterson</a> who fell victim to the toxic combination of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ measures and the dramatic legal aid cuts. Eleanor’s case was part of the Windrush scandal, which involved the Home Office wrongfully withholding legal rights from long-term UK residents. The lack of legal aid contributed to the Windrush scandal by making it difficult for the people involved to assert their rights or protect themselves from wrongdoing.</p><p dir="ltr">There are thousands of others, whose stories are not high profile but are as compelling and shocking as those in Windrush. They are suffering in silence, struggling to get justice. </p><h2>Impact</h2><p>Research from the <a target="_blank" href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmjust/311/31102.htm">Justice Select Committee</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur45/4936/2016/en/">Amnesty International</a>, the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/laspo-4-years-on/">Law Society</a> and the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Bach-Commission_Right-to-Justice-Report-WEB.pdf">Bach Commission</a> has shone a light on the impact that the legal aid cuts are having on individuals. These reports show that the cuts are compromising the life, health and liberty of many people in England and Wales. Amnesty concluded that “<i>in human rights terms, the cuts to legal aid constitute a retrogressive measure</i>”.</p><p dir="ltr">Many senior lawyers, judges, politicians and researchers believe that our justice system is in crisis. The Bach Commission on Access to Justice, set up by Labour, concluded that LASPO has “<i>seriously damaged the functioning of the justice system, especially for those most in need</i>”.</p><p dir="ltr">There appears to be a growing recognition within the Conservative party that the cuts have been harmful and, in some areas, actively counterproductive by creating additional costs to the courts and other parts of the state. Bob Neill, the chair of the Justice Select Committee, recently said that LASPO "went too far".</p><h2>A false economy</h2><p dir="ltr">The Public Accounts Committee <a target="_blank" href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmpubacc/808/80802.htm">report</a> on reforms to civil legal aid was heavily critical of the government. It observed that the Ministry of Justice “<i>does not know whether the reduction in spending on civil legal aid is outweighed by additional costs in other parts of the public sector as a result of the reforms</i>”. Adding that perhaps this is because the MoJ “<i>gathered little evidence before implementation and did not make good use of the information that it did have</i>”. </p><p>Without a lawyer’s support, many situations escalate until they end up costing the government more than the previous legal aid provision would have. For example, simple housing health and safety claims, when unaddressed by people who cannot afford legal advice, often now turn into healthcare situations, costing the NHS and the government far more than the original legal aid.</p><p dir="ltr">The Grenfell tragedy is a chilling example of what can happen when free legal advice is not given before a housing repair issue poses a serious risk to health and safety. This is why the Law Society and others <a target="_blank" href="https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/policy-campaigns/campaigns/early-advice/">are calling</a> for the government to reinstate legal aid for early advice. This might be the area where the government are most likely to relent.</p><h2>Advice deserts</h2><p dir="ltr">Even when people are entitled and financially eligible for publicly funded advice, they are having problems finding it.</p><p dir="ltr">A lawyer recently said “<em>when you throw a lawyer in the air, they will land on their feet</em>”. Although the legal aid cuts have affected the livelihoods of lawyers, they have the skills and know-how to shift their focus and find other ways to earn a living. As lawyers transition, entire regions of the country are being left with no free legal advice at all, even for cases that are still in scope. Access to justice should not be a postcode lottery or depend on whether you have a car to travel long distances to an area with legal aid advice.</p><p dir="ltr">Some areas now do not have a single lawyer providing advice on matters such as housing and immigration. John Nicholson of Greater Manchester Law Centre told us: "<i>at the last count, there is no legal aid provider for immigration or asylum in Lancashire, a county to which the home office is increasingly dispersing applicants because much of the housing is poor (and therefore cheap)</i>". People in these areas simply have nowhere to go to resolve their problems. This means doctors, mental health services, local authorities and other public services will be taking up the slack.</p><p dir="ltr">These cuts are having a dramatic impact on our constitution as democracy and the rule of law are undermined. As the Supreme Court <a target="_blank" href="https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-judgment.pdf">recently pointed out</a>, without unimpeded access to the courts:</p><p dir="ltr" class="blockquote-new">"<em>laws are liable to become a dead letter, the work done by Parliament may be rendered nugatory, and the democratic election of Members of Parliament may become a meaningless charade</em>."</p><p>You might be thinking that all of this begs the question: Who benefits? It’s not the hardworking families of Britain, the squeezed middle or the just-about-managing. First, it’s the state. The state – including local authorities, the police and government departments – becomes less accountable to its citizens when their ability to challenge the lawfulness of its conduct is reduced. And second, it’s the landlords, the employers, the men who trap women in abusive relationships: those who abuse positions of power, against whom the law is supposed to protect us.</p><p dir="ltr">The cumulative impact of these measures, as well as curtailing access to justice and weakening human rights, is to make it more difficult to hold the powerful to account. Concern about this should unite us all.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the coming months we will be publishing more films featuring the stories of individuals who have suffered under these cuts. If you have a story that you would like to share please email&nbsp;charlotte.threipland@opendemocracy.net.</p><p><strong>Now is the time to tell the government that we care. Please take three minutes to write to the <a href="https://lawsociety.e-activist.com/page/26570/action/1">Lord Chancellor</a>, sign <a href="https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-justice-make-legal-aid-available-for-people-who-cannot-afford-a-lawyer-f6e31469-fdef-4138-8985-3902321948f1?recruiter=602087660&amp;utm_source=share_petition&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=undefined">this petition</a> and <a href="https://www.moreunited.uk/legal_aid2?rel=campaignHub">write to your MP</a>. &nbsp;</strong></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk UK Voices for Justice access to justice openJustice Justice for the rich alone? (openJustice) Charlotte Threipland Oliver Carter Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:29:26 +0000 Oliver Carter and Charlotte Threipland 120396 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 7 ways the ‘Finance Curse’ harms the UK – how can we lift it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/7-ways-finance-curse-harms-uk-how-can-we-lift-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The City of London is a huge drag on the UK’s real economy. But we can – and must – lift the 'Finance Curse'.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/London_Thames_Sunset_panorama_-_Feb_2008_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/London_Thames_Sunset_panorama_-_Feb_2008_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: City of London skyline. Credit: David Iliff, CC 3.0</span></span></span></p><p>In the decade since the financial crisis something has gone badly and obviously wrong with the UK’s political economy. Stagnating wages, low productivity and rising living costs have marked Britain out as an outlier in the developed world. Yet its globalised financial sector continues to generate lavish fees and windfall gains for a brilliant few. Now however, some sense of the downside of hosting an overactive financial sector is becoming clearer. The vigour of finance derives precisely from its ability to capture resources from the rest of the economy. Even as the host sickens, the City of London glows with unearthly health. The proposition that Britain suffers from a financial curse needs to be taken seriously.</p> <p>Over the next two years in a series of short articles addressing the theme of <em>Lifting the Finance Curse</em>, we will investigate in more detail the costs of accommodating an oversized, rent-seeking financial sector. We will also set out how to alleviate and reduce this drag on the economy. We begin by setting out what we mean by a finance curse, and how to take the first steps to tackle it, by framing it as a problem of political economy. In other words, a problem of the way that politics and economics in Britain combine to promote the interests of favoured insiders. </p> <p>The finance curse is a set of processes that take root in countries that become over dependent on finance. This is a financial version of the <a href="https://www.nber.org/papers/w15836">resource curse</a>, which blights some developing countries, with the role of the dominant mineral sector taken by global, or offshore financial centres and oversized, over-prioritised financial sectors.</p> <p>It involves the crowding out of other sectors, damaged economic diversity and macroeconomic performance, and geographical patterns of over- and under-development. These all spill over to entrench social division and skew policy orientation and political power. Nick Shaxson’s recent book, <em>The Finance Curse: How Global Finance is Making Us All Poorer</em> is the first attempt to describe this process in a systematic way for general readers. This series looks to build out from Nick’s work; to develop proposals for reform in the UK context, and to look at how this would be politically workable, in terms of the constituencies and coalitions it would appeal to.</p> <p>In our recent <a href="http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/2018/10/05/uk-finance-curse-report/">analysis at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute</a>, we set out to calculate the macroeconomic costs of lost growth potential resulting from the UK’s oversized financial sector, by constructing counterfactual growth pathways, based on growth performance without the 2008 financial crisis, but also from regression formulas derived from a literature known as <a href="https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12161.pdf">‘too much finance’</a>. This literature shows that once credit goes beyond <a href="https://www.bis.org/publ/work381.pdf">100% of GDP</a> it starts to impede growth performance. When two of the co-authors of that research conducted a similar calculation for the <a href="http://rooseveltinstitute.org/overcharged-high-cost-high-finance/">United States</a>, the biggest contribution to the overall price tag was the calculation for the cost of the 2008 crisis. For the UK however, almost 60% of the figure was accounted for by a category known in the literature as ‘misallocation’, or more precisely, how big and overly dominant finance acts to crowd out and harm other sectors. </p> <p>Our headline figure of £4.5 trillion, indicating the UK economy is cumulatively 14% smaller than it could have been over the period 1995 to 2015, has drawn a lot of attention. In truth, this is an estimation or a guide which focuses attention and minds on the fact that something dysfunctional is at work in the UK economy. What really matters is the story behind these numbers. It is this that we intend to document and cover more fully over the coming months. </p> <p>The finance curse provides a framework for exploring and understanding a range of symptoms and processes, and can therefore inform what policy makers should look for and remain vigilant of, and where they should target remedial and preventative action. Seven finance curse symptoms warrant further consideration. </p> <h2>1) A financial version of <strong><a href="http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=dutch-disease">Dutch disease</a></strong>.</h2> <p>Financial inflows inflate the exchange rate and create other local price distortions (property) so that alternative export sectors find it harder to compete internationally. A range of influential commentators from <a href="https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/notes-on-brexit-and-the-pound/">Paul Krugman</a> to Mervyn King and <a href="https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/10/12/2177179/brexit-and-britains-dutch-disease/">Ashoka Mody</a> (formerly of the IMF) have identified this as being prevalent in the UK.</p> <h2>2) A form of <strong><a href="https://www.dnb.nl/en/binaries/Working%20Paper%20392_tcm47-296166.pdf">brain drain</a></strong></h2> <p>Financial sector rewards and compensation packages draw talents and skills away from higher productivity sectors.</p> <h2>3) Misallocated investment including <strong><a href="http://repec.graduateinstitute.ch/pdfs/Working_papers/HEIDWP12-2017.pdf">rent extraction and attraction.</a></strong> </h2> <p>We have seen above how relatively low amounts of finance in the UK go to corporate and export sectors. Risk models often favour <a href="https://www.bis.org/publ/work490.pdf">high collateral, low productivity investments</a> such as property and other financial assets. When financial firms take positions in predominantly non-financial firms they can demand high short-term returns and restructuring that can damage long-term productivity (rent extraction). Having a large financial sector with a vast range of advisors, brokers and assets and can also as a magnetic attraction to pools of investable funds.</p> <h2>4) Systemic risk, volatility and financial crisis. </h2> <p>Research shows that <a href="https://www.ijcb.org/journal/ijcb11q4a8.pdf">a high credit to GDP ratio</a> increases the risk of financial crisis, <a href="https://www.bis.org/publ/work534.pdf">which ordinarily are much more severe</a> in terms of the resulting recessions than usual business cycles are, and this is explicitly recognised in <a href="https://www.bis.org/bcbs/ccyb/">Basel III</a>. </p> <h2>5) Geographical distortions.<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Large financial centres and clusters can suck human and financial capital, creating over-development, property and housing distortions, space limitations, overcrowding and infrastructure pressures, while other areas suffer from underdevelopment.</p> <h2>6) Rising inequality and social segregation. </h2> <p>A reliance on a big financial sector brings vast rewards for some, but low paid, low skilled, causal work for others, leading to a reliance on credit to support living standards, further diminishing disposable income, restricted access to home ownership. and fluctuations in demand. Communities and living spaces can effectively become segregated and gated.</p> <h2>7) Concentrations of political power and a narrowing of political agendas. </h2> <p>The <a href="https://academic.oup.com/ser/article-abstract/14/2/309/2451755">lobbying power</a> of the City of London and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03085147.2017.1359909?needAccess=true">its informal linkages to elements of the British state</a> is well documented. Public debates around finance narrow, so that more is always presumed to be better and <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/">integral to the national interest</a>, even in the face of contrary evidence. Does a country’s political culture and processes support vigilant scrutiny and oversight of financial sector activities, or is there a political silence on the potential downsides of a large financial sector, and is a country’s development trajectory being designed around the needs of the financial sector? How does the existence of vast financial sector shape the mentality of politicians and public officials? </p> <p>Obviously, these symptoms and their salience in the UK will vary across time. Some will be more pronounced than others, and some may be barely evident at all. But as a frame, this range of interconnected factors gives us a sense of what we need legislators and regulators to be wary of. It can also help to transform the public debate and the collective mindset about finance and its social purpose. By collecting evidence on all of these features, we can start to build a picture of what a programme of action to lift the finance curse might look like. That evidence and the related programme of action will be laid out in a forthcoming series of Open Democracy articles. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/will-brexit-upset-city-s-democratic-plans">Will Brexit upset the City’s ‘democratic’ plans?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/tamasin-cave-kenneth-haar/deal-or-secret-deal-eu-uk-trade-deal-looks-even-more-secretive-than-tti">&quot;Deal&quot; or &quot;Secret Deal&quot; – the EU-UK trade deal looks even more secretive than TTIP</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk London UK Lifting the Finance Curse John Christensen Andrew Baker Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:12:44 +0000 Andrew Baker and John Christensen 120393 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why Labour's pledge to "renationalise electricity" doesn't go far enough https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/why-labours-pledge-to-renationalise-electricity-doesnt-go-far-enough <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>And how a Canadian province might show the way forward to deliver cheap, sustainable, democratic, planned electricity supplies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/geograph-449523-by-Mr-T.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/geograph-449523-by-Mr-T.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Much was made of the Labour Party’s supposed commitment last year to renationalise energy. Certainly the pledge to return the electricity grid to public ownership was welcome. However, beyond that, there was no promise to nationalise anything. Instead, it pledged to support “the creation of publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers” (1). Meanwhile, a supplementary industrial strategy document suggests that most generation will remain private, with perhaps some co-operative and council ownership of small renewable projects (2). </p><p dir="ltr">The reason most people would favour returning energy to public ownership is to better control prices and the sources of electricity. They seldom have to deal with the local grid company and never have to deal with the national grid. Thus, Labour’s focus on renationalising only the grid can not, on its own, address people’s concerns. Prices and tariffs are issues with the energy suppliers, which Labour has only pledged to compete against rather than nationalise. The source of our energy is an issue of generation, on which Labour has said little at all.</p><h2>The market has failed to generate the energy mix we need </h2><p dir="ltr">While Labour’s proposals would undoubtedly represent an improvement on the current system, they fails to address the key problem in Britain’s electricity sector (3), which is the existence of a liberalised market. In our current, the generators, grid, and retailers are “unbundled” into separate companies. Generators compete to sell electricity to the retail companies (who sell it on to consumers), matching supply to demand on half-hour intervals, with the grid’s “system operator” running a market which ensures they are matched on shorter time-periods (4). Unfortunately, experience has shown that such markets systematically under-invest in new generating infrastructure because uncertainty in the future wholesale price of electricity makes it unclear whether it will be profitable (5).</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/profitable.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/profitable.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="166" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A comparison of the structure of the post-War nationalised electricity industry (top) and the privatised structure which exists now (bottom).</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The unplanned nature of these markets causes severe problems for the transition to a zero-carbon future. For most emissions-free sources it is difficult or impossible to vary output, so proper “system integration” allowing supply to meet demand becomes challenging. A government-commissioned report recommended aiming to “ensure that the operational and investment decisions made by private entities achieve outcomes as close as possible to the theoretical ideal prescribed by Imperial [College]’s modelling" of the optimal mix of energy sources (6). In effect, we are being told that the government knows what the optimal mix of electricity sources is but, rather than just build it themselves, they are now trying to develop market mechanisms which will encourage private utilities to come to similar conclusions.</p><h2>New Brunswick shows the way forward</h2><p dir="ltr">The trend towards neoliberal electricity markets is a global one, and one that Labour must start to reverse. To my knowledge, only one jurisdiction has done so to date (although a number of others have resisted the pressure to liberalise altogether). In 2003, New Brunswick, Canada, split its publicly owned electrical utility, NB Power, into a transmission company, a distribution and retail company, an independent system operator, and three generating companies. While no assets were privatised, the system operator was meant to ensure the "efficient operation of a competitive market" in electricity (7).</p><p dir="ltr">Ten years later it was clear that this had been both an ideological and a business mistake. New Brunswick was too small a market for meaningful competition, so all that this fragmentation had done was add extra costs. The government passed a new Electricity Act (8) which merged the companies back into a single utility with a statutory monopoly and a mandate to ensure low and stable electricity rates (9). Interestingly, NB Power also now took over provincial efficiency initiatives, marketing energy-efficient products to households and providing grants for renovations. Permission from cabinet was needed for all important business decisions and day-to-day oversight was provided by the independent Energy and Utilities Board.</p><p dir="ltr">With the restoration of a vertically-integrated utility, it once again became possible to engage in long-term planning. At least once every three years NB Power is required to produce an “integrated resource plan” which assesses future electricity demand, surveys the company’s existing assets, projects what new infrastructure will need to be built, and consults with stakeholders (10). These are required to look at least 20 years in the future, ensuring &nbsp;that potential new projects are discussed well before they need to be built. The vertical integration of NB Power also means that plans for efficiency and demand management initiatives are treated as equally viable approaches as building new generators. While NB Power has not been mandated to do so, it is this sort of approach which would be required to aggressively decarbonise electricity and fight global warming.</p><p dir="ltr">This was all done by a conservative government, so it does not represent a model which we would wish to simply copy and paste onto Britain. There was no attempt to institute democratic management and only token efforts towards achieving climate change goals. However, it does prove that it is possible to restore electricity fully to public control and dismantle the liberalised market. It also provides an example of how a vertically-integrated utility can interact with liberalised markets in neighbouring jurisdictions, by offering to transmit their electricity through its grid for a set fee (11). This will be important if the UK wishes to continue trading with the European market and in order to prevent Ireland from being cut off.</p><h2>Decentralisation doesn’t always deliver</h2><p dir="ltr">So, what approach might the UK take? We must satisfy the following goals:</p><ol><li>Allow long-term, nationwide planning of the future energy supply</li><li>Permit continued access to the European electricity market</li><li>Ensure low, stable energy prices for consumers</li><li>Treat energy sales as a public service, rather than a business</li><li>Provide democratic control over decision-making processes</li></ol><p dir="ltr">Contrary to popular opinion, I do not believe that renewable resources are conducive to decentralisation, due to the system integration challenges I described earlier. As a number of unions argued at a recent <a href="http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/">Trade Unions for Energy Democracy</a> (TUED) meeting (12), market mechanisms are unsuitable for coping with periods when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow and instead nationwide planning will be required (13). While decentralisation makes sense in a number of sectors (e.g. water, local buses), national ownership is the best choice for electricity generators. </p><p dir="ltr">There is more scope for creativity with the distribution (i.e. low-voltage) grid and retail sectors, but there are still trade-offs. Highly localised ownership will provide greater scope for democratic control, but will also result in higher costs for those in rural areas compared to those in dense urban settings. To avoid such inequities, national ownership is worth considering. The trade union UNISON recently issued a report to TUED making a strong case for nationalising and merging the supply divisions of the Big 6 rather than trying to outcompete them on the local level (14). </p><p dir="ltr">But a more decentralised model, in which ownership is always held where there is a directly elected level of government accountable, remains a viable option if carefully designed.</p><h2>6 steps to full public ownership of our energy </h2><ol><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Nationalise the transmission networks (i.e. the national grid), system operator, nuclear power plants, storage facilities, and large renewable installations. These would be placed in the hands of a new public enterprise which could be called something like the Power Generation Board (PGB). The PGB would be the only entity allowed to build new assets of these types.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Nationalise the distribution networks. If possible, break these up into pieces owned by individual local authorities so that they are owned at a level where there is a directly elected government. These new enterprises would also create electricity retail divisions which would, initially, compete against the Big 6.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">If it is not feasible to break up the distribution networks in this way, an alternative approach must be taken. One would be for each local authority to form a retail company (again, initially competing against the Big 6) and these would co-operatively own the transmission grid in each region. Maintenance work would be contracted to the local retailers, although regional coordination would likely remain necessary.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Set a date after which all suppliers must purchase wholesale electricity from the PGB. The remaining fossil fuel power plants would be required to operate on contract for the PGB. If necessary, these contracts could be imposed by statute or the remaining generators nationalised.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Set a date after which all customers must purchase their electricity from the local council-owned retailer. During a transitional period people would sign up with the local supplier using the same process as exists for switching today. Without such local monopolies, public control over tariff structures could be undermined by businesses or the rich switching to suppliers who are more favourable to them at the expense of everyday consumers.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Require the PGB to develop a framework and set of fees for transmitting electricity from non-British generators through its grid, so that Ireland can remain connected to the European market. Once completed, this would replace the existing wholesale electricity market.</p></li></ol><p dir="ltr">Where assets are renationalised it can be a matter of debate what, if any, compensation should be provided. The PGB would be tasked with rapidly decarbonising Britain’s energy supply. Given that, there is little point in buying out fossil fuel power plants. In the mid- to long-term the PGB would handle the vast majority of the UK’s power generation. The local retailers might consult locally about both new infrastructure decisions and tariffs. Local retailers could purchase electricity generated within their jurisdiction (e.g. from small renewable installations or by cogeneration), though caution over such feed-in tariffs would be needed, as these can sometimes result in higher electricity costs overall (15). The PGB should ensure the local bodies provide proper price signals to the small generators.</p><p dir="ltr">This model satisfies all five of the goals outlined above. It is certainly not the only model which could do so, but it serves as an example of some of the necessary structures. As we discuss exactly how we want to go about returning electricity to the public sector, it is vital that we look beyond mere questions of ownership to ones of organisation and control. Otherwise we might find our newly nationalised companies recreating many of the problems of their private counterparts.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>This article is co-published with <a href="https://weownit.org.uk/">WeOwnIt</a>.</em></p><h2>References</h2><p dir="ltr">(1) <a href="https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/labour-manifesto-2017.pdf">For the Many, Not the Few</a>, The Labour Party, 16 May 2017, p. 20. Accessed 1 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(2) <a href="https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/labour-manifesto-2017.pdf">Richer Britain, Richer Lives: Labour’s Industrial Strategy</a>, The Labour Party, 1 June 2017. Accessed 1 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(3) The manifesto said little on gas and nothing on petrol, which represent about 30% and 50% of UK energy consumption, respectively. (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-consumption-in-the-uk">Energy consumption in the UK</a>, Department for Business, Energy &amp; Industrial Strategy, 30 November 2016. Accessed 7 April 2017.) This was a glaring omission, but this article will focus on electricity for reasons of brevity and because gas and petrol will need to be largely phased out to address climate change.</p><p dir="ltr">(4) “<a href="https://www.elexon.co.uk/documents/training-guidance/bsc-guidance-notes/beginners-guide/">The Electricity Trading Arrangements: A Beginner’s Guide</a>”, ELEXON, 16 July 2018. Accessed 12 September 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(5) E.g. “<a href="http://gala.gre.ac.uk/2775/1/COMPLETED_PSIRU_Report_(9816)_-_2009-12-E-Indon.pdf%20">Global experience with electricity Liberalisation</a>”, David Hall, Professor Stephen Thomas, Violeta Corral, 4 May 2010. Accessed 1 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(6) <a href="https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/system-integration-costs-for-alternative-low-carbon-generation-technologies-policy-implications/">System integration costs for alternative low carbon generation technologies</a>, NERA, Prepared for the Committee on Climate Change, 22 October 2015. Accessed 1 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(7) &nbsp;“<a href="http://www.gnb.ca/0062/acts/BBA-2003/Chap-E-4-6.pdf">Electricity Act</a>”, &nbsp;Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, 11 April 2003. Accessed 28 July 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(8) &nbsp;“<a href="http://www.gnb.ca/legis/bill/pdf/57/3/Bill-39.pdf">Electricity Act</a>”, Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, 7 May 2013. Accessed 25 July 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(9) &nbsp;“<a href="https://www.nbpower.com/en/products-services/residential/rates/rate-comparisons/">Rate Comparison</a>”, NB Power, August 2018. Accessed 1 August 2018. New Brunswick has middling electricity rates compared to other provinces, but fairly low ones for a province without significant hydroelectric resources and in comparison with many parts of the USA. Additionally, rates are quite stable, with increases typically at or below the rate of inflation.</p><p dir="ltr">(10) &nbsp;<a href="https://www.nbpower.com/media/772015/nb-power-2017-irp-public-english.pdf">Integrated Resource Plan</a>, NB Power, 2017. Accessed 1 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(11) &nbsp;“<a href="http://tso.nbpower.com/Public/en/op/transmission/tariff.aspx">Open Access Transmission Tariff</a>”, NB Power, 6 May 2016. Accessed 28 July 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(12) “<a href="http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/uk-unions-and-labour-party-discuss-reclaiming-power-sector/">Reclaiming UK Energy: What’s the Plan?</a>”, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, 16 July 2018. Accessed 6 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(13) “<a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzZWcWkNKmz_VE56Vy1BbWpyZE9QMmtwTWQ0NURPYXZoN0dr/view">All, or Something? Towards a “Comprehensive Reclaiming” of the UK Power Sector</a>”, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, 16 July 2018. Accessed 6 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(14) “<a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UVM8kOfWfoyMWrMbb0XyUpuaQVD19NXscVjnXNnDWhI/edit">The need to take into public ownership the customer and retail operations of big 6</a>”, UNISON SGE, 16 July 2018. Accessed 6 August 2018.</p><p dir="ltr">(15) &nbsp;NB Power, 2017, p. 94, for example, notes that its net-metering program for solar energy reduces costs to the grid by less than it reduces energy sales, resulting in higher prices for those without solar panels if they become wide-spread.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/hilary-wainwright/new-economics-of-labour">The new economics of Labour</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/david-hall/here-s-what-publicly-owned-energy-would-actually-cost-and-why-stockbrokers-got-it-wron">Here’s what publicly owned energy would actually cost – and why the stockbrokers got it wrong</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/thomas-hanna-joe-guinan/democracy-and-decentralisation-are-their-watchwords-for-corbyn-and-mcdonn">Democracy and decentralisation are their watchwords: for Corbyn and McDonnell, it’s municipal socialism reinvented</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Democracy and government Economics Privatisation Renationalisation Utilities Chris MacMackin Thu, 01 Nov 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Chris MacMackin 120360 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Here’s why not everyone in fishing is excited about Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/amy-hall/here-s-why-not-everyone-in-fishing-is-excited-about-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Heading">It’s not the EU that’s breaking the UK’s small fishing fleets, it’s the big industry players. And Brexit could make that worse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Heading"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/fishing boats_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/fishing boats_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Fishing boats, Mevagissey, Cornwall. Credit: Amy Burton/Flickr, CC 2.0</span></span></span></p><p class="Heading">I’m from Cornwall, a county where over 56 per cent of voters in the 2016 referendum opted to leave the European Union. When I’ve asked people why, one of their top reasons is fishing – taking back control of our waters and becoming free of the unfair rules set by bureaucrats in Brussels.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">The pro Leave fishing community has been very visible in the Brexit debate. The dominant narrative says that Brexit presents a <a href="https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1029541/Brexit-news-latest-UK-deal-date-vote-EU-Theresa-May-today-fishing">“sea of opportunity” </a>for the fishing industry and hope for <a href="https://neweconomics.org/2018/08/coastal-communites-in-the-uk">struggling coastal communities</a>. A poll conducted by the University of Aberdeen just before the referendum found that o<a href="https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/9282/">ver 90 per cent</a>&nbsp;of fishers were planning to vote Leave.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">But not everyone in fishing thinks the same. There is an alternative perspective about who is to blame for the difficulties faced by small scale fishers in the under 10 metre fleet, also known as the small scale fleet. In this version, corporate power and some of the UK’s richest individuals have a bigger role to play, as does the neglect of successive UK governments. </p> <p>“I could not believe the result of the [Brexit] referendum,” says Chris Bean, who usually fishes in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall. The 71 year-old is staying on land today as the gale force winds and rain of Storm Callum rage outside. “It could have gone the other way. If the fishing fraternity hadn't put out a lot of fairy-tale dreams about what would happen, we would never be in this situation. We had people come into the market on the Saturday after the vote saying, ‘I don't know what I've done – I voted to leave because I didn't think it would happen.’ It was like a protest vote.”</p> <p>Growing up on the Helford River, Bean built his first punt when he was 11 years old. He says he was an opportunist, inspired by the older guys fishing with rods. He has now been commercial fishing for around 47 years.</p> <p>Bean and his colleagues at Kernowsashimi, the small business he runs, use ‘static gear’ like nets and pots to catch a range of fish and seafood including monkfish, shellfish, crab, haddock, sole, bass and mackerel. Around 70 per cent of their catch is couriered outside the county, mainly to London, as soon as it reaches the shore. </p> <h2><strong>Whose fish? Brexit won’t fix unfair quota distribution and 'Big Fishing'</strong></h2> <p class="LO-Normal">There is a significant difference in the money made by different UK fishing fleets. According to the New Economic Foundation's (NEF) <a href="https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Not-in-the-Same-Boat-PDF.pdf">Not In The Same Boat report</a>, the large-scale fleet has an average profit margin of 19 per cent, whereas the small-scale fleet operates at a profit margin of 0 per cent. </p> <p class="LO-Normal">Who gets to fish and where has been a thorny issue in the Brexit debate. But it’s the <a href="http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/36345/1/295-5195-2-PB.pdf">British government </a><a href="http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/36345/1/295-5195-2-PB.pdf">that</a><a href="http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/36345/1/295-5195-2-PB.pdf"> allocates</a> our quota, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/25/westminster-not-the-eu-is-to-blame-for-the-sorry-state-of-uk-fishing">not the European Union</a>. Unfair quota distribution is <a href="https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-pinching-our-fish/">still likely to be an issue</a> once the UK is outside of the European Union, particularly if power continues to lie in the same hands. Right now, under 10 metre boats represent <a href="http://www.nutfa.org/brexit/4593280478">77 per cent </a>of the UK fleet but have access to <a href="https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Not-in-the-Same-Boat-PDF.pdf">less than</a><a href="https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Not-in-the-Same-Boat-PDF.pdf"> 2 per cent</a> of the overall quota allocation.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – the set of rules through which European fishing fleets and fish stocks are managed – the pool of fish available in each sea area is calculated based on scientific advice about fish stocks. It is then used each year to calculate the total allowable catch (TAC), which is split into national quotas. There is not a quota for every species. </p> <p class="LO-Normal">It’s up to each government to decide how it distributes this to its fleets. Each year most of the UK’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/griffin-carpenter/brexit-so-long-and-thanks-for-all-fish">fishing rights</a> are distributed based on a Fixed Quota Allocations (FQAs) system. FQA holders are granted a fixed share of the UK’s TAC for a particular species. Those who are members of a Producer Organisation – mainly those with larger boats – get individual quotas, while others access an FQA pool managed by the government. Fishers with limited access to quota can buy or lease more, at a price. </p> <p class="LO-Normal">Distribution of the quota is based on fishers’ past activity, using a reference period of 1994-1996 – a period during which under 10m boats were not required to report their landings. This system has been widely criticised for underestimating the past catch for the small scale fleet. </p> <p>“There's so much going on in the industry that I don't agree with,” says Bean. “We’re stuffed for quota. Sometimes we can’t go fishing for certain species because we’ve got no quota. This is all wrong. Our industry is shrinking because of the lack of fishing opportunities for the under 10s.”</p> <p>The concentration of ownership of fishing access is a big issue for inshore, small scale fishing. According to <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/press-releases/uncovered-rich-list-codfathers-dominating-uks-fishing-industry/">an investigation published by Greenpeace’s Unearthed unit</a> earlier this month, over a quarter of the fishing quota for the UK as a whole is owned or controlled by five wealthy families. For England alone, they found that more than half (53 per cent) of the quota is in the hands of just three companies.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, said at the time: “Many of these companies were amongst those touting the opportunity to ‘take back control’ of our waters by leaving the EU. They're taking politicians and regular fishermen for a ride, because they know exactly who's in control. And the same politicians who slammed Europe for breaking Britain’s fishing sector are the ones restricting the majority of fishing quota to this handful of wealthy families.”</p> <p>“The under 10s have suffered because access to the resource, access to fish, has become a commodity, has become privatised,” says Jeremy Percy of NUTFA – the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, one of the groups that represents the small scale fleet.</p> <p>It’s possible to make millions of pounds leasing fishing quota, without going out to sea. According to Unearthed, one company – which holds over half of Northern Ireland’s quota – “<a href="https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/press-releases/uncovered-rich-list-codfathers-dominating-uks-fishing-industry/">disposed of its boat</a> and earned £7m in a year from its quota while waiting for a new one.” </p> <h2><strong>Whose fish? Why ‘foreign boats’ aren’t because of the EU</strong></h2> <p class="LO-Normal">The sight of ‘foreign boats’ in UK waters is one that frustrates many, but non UK boats have been fishing there since before the UK joined the European Union, mainly for species that aren’t popular to eat here. Of course, UK boats also fish in the waters of other countries.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">One major issue is that UK quota can be sold to companies outside of the UK, as long as they can demonstrate a ‘clear economic link’ to the country. Foreign fishing companies can then operate in UK waters in boats ‘flagged’ as British.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Unearthed’s investigation found that in England around half of fishing quota is held by Dutch, Icelandic and Spanish companies.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">The <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fisheries-white-paper-sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations">government has said </a>that it is reviewing the economic link conditions to ensure all vessels “produce genuine economic benefits for UK coastal communities dependent on fisheries and fisheries related industries.”</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Percy is not convinced. “They've been reviewing the economic link for more years than I care to remember. It seems more to be a get out of jail free card,” he says. “They also say they’re reviewing it in conversation with the industry. Well they haven't talked to us about that.”</p> <h2><strong>A bit fishy – so much for the fishing white paper</strong></h2> <p class="LO-Normal">In July, the UK government <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fisheries-white-paper-sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations/sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations-consultation-document">published a White Paper</a> on its future fisheries policy as a precursor to an upcoming Fisheries Bill, setting out plans to “promote a more competitive, profitable and sustainable fishing industry.” Could this offer hope to the small scale fleet if Brexit can’t?</p> <p class="LO-Normal">The government has said it does not intend to change the method for allocating existing quota, but that it is considering other options, including a scheme to be set up to tender or auction English quota, for any additional fishing opportunities negotiated on leaving the European Union.</p><p class="LO-Normal"><span>Both Griffin&nbsp;Carpenter, an environmental&nbsp;economist at NEF,</span><span>&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;and Percy, say that the supposed ‘windfall’ of quota that seems to be anticipated by the government is unlikely to help small scale fishers unless other things change.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">“Guess who that is going to go to. It sure as hell isn't going to be poor under 10 metre boats that are struggling to survive at the moment,” says Percy. “It is disingenuous to purport that the management allocation of quotas is in any way fair or equitable in the UK.”</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Carpenter describes the white paper as taking a “light touch approach” in terms of quota and reallocation of fishing opportunity. “The exiting quota shares and how they’re divided among UK fishers needs to be addressed,” he says.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">McCallum hopes that the Fisheries Bill could be an opportunity for the government to “come good on their promise of how Brexit is going to deliver for these coastal communities,” by reallocating quota to the small scale fleet. It would only need relatively small changes, he argues. </p> <p>“Fractions of a percent can be the difference between someone keeping their job or not. If you talk to fishermen down in Hastings, a lot of them are actually living on about £140 a week so tiny amounts of money and tiny amounts of extra quota can have a massive impact on their livelihoods.”</p> <h2><strong>Plenty more fish in the sea? – worsening overfishing</strong></h2> <p>“These local fishers are very often the ones using more sustainable techniques – things like passive gear. They're not towing things through the water, they're just setting the nets. They're not going so far out to sea, so the climate impact is often less – a whole range of things on top of providing local employment back in their home port.”</p> <p class="LO-Normal"><a href="https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Not-in-the-Same-Boat-PDF.pdf">According to NEF, it’s a </a>“very real possibility” that Brexit could lead to an increase in overfishing as politicians and industry leaders in the UK promise more fishing access and their counterparts elsewhere in the EU promise their fishers that there won’t be any less. </p> <p class="LO-Normal">Bean says that although they have many flaws, the EU rules have meant that many <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/griffin-carpenter/eu-common-fisheries-policy-has-helped-not-harmed-uk-fisheries-0">fish stocks are now at a healthier level</a>. “Most people say there is more fish now than we’ve had for 10 years – certain species no – but on average, fish stocks are very buoyant now. You can go out and catch the same weight of fish now with the same gear that you could 10 years ago. That's been due to these really quite strong environmental laws.”</p> <h2><strong>A sea of disaster – losing our export market</strong></h2> <p class="LO-Normal">Like in many industries, there are fishers with serious concerns about how their ability to export may be impacted after Brexit. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fisheries-white-paper-sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations/sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations-consultation-document">According to government figures</a>, in 2016 the UK exported £1.17 billion of seafood to the EU, and imported £1.04 billion from the EU.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Trade barriers are a concern for those relying on exports. A large percentage of the under 10 metre fleet is reliant upon export markets for shellfish, crab, lobster and similar seafood.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Carpenter says that the competitive advantage of the small scale fleet is that they just go out for the day, can catch live seafood and send it straight off to be sold – including in Europe. If things go badly for UK trade deals and Brexit, he fears they might lose their edge. “They [the under 10s] don’t see the benefits of Brexit in terms of increase quota share, but they are exposed to the risks because fresh, live lobster and crab goes straight to the EU market – they love that stuff.”</p> <p>“There are vast numbers of UK fishermen who are reliant on the export of live shellfish for their living. Brexit is potentially anything but a sea of opportunity for them, and could be termed a sea of potential disaster,” says Percy. </p> <p>Bean agrees: “If it’s a no deal Brexit and we take back our seas as they call it, control of our seas, inheriting by default all the local fish, it doesn't take rocket science to work out what will happen. The European partners who now fish up to our coast, so within 6 miles of our coast… they will get the hump on for sure. The French are notorious for burning lorries, they will just blockade all the fish coming from Britain into the French markets. We’ll be in the situation where we have plenty of fish, thanks to Brexit, but it will be dumped on the home market because they can’t export it and the home market will collapse completely.</p> <p>“The price of fish now is high because we’re exporting our sole, our hake, our monk, haddock, it’s going overseas and there's a competitive market overseas… if that door closes, or even half closes... it will upset the balance and prices will tumble.</p> <h2><strong>Why those who voted Leave to support fishing are likely to be disappointed</strong></h2> <p class="LO-Normal">NEF’s <a href="https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Not-in-the-Same-Boat-PDF.pdf">Not In The Same Boat report,</a> which explores the potential impact of Brexit across UK fishing fleets, suggests that Brexit will probably create more losers than winners, with the small scale fleet, many of which have little or no quota, likely among the worst off.</p> <p class="LO-Normal">It says: “This increase in UK fishing quota raises fishing revenues, profits, and wages in turn for fishers who currently hold significant fishing quotas. The larger the quota holder, the less likely they are to land their catches into UK coastal communities or to employ a UK crew.”</p> <p>There is no need to wait for Brexit to make things better for small scale UK fishers says McCallum – the government should start now. “In a way, all the hopes are still being pinned on this myth that we're going to be able to take back all of our fishing rights form Europe, which isn't going to happen. There is so much the government can do right now.”</p> <p>He does have some hope though, that Brexit could deliver something for small scale fishers. “I’m very fearful about all of the risks of Brexit but I can’t help but think that if it was done right – and it’s a huge if there – if it is done right there could be a better deal... Brexit provides that momentum,” he says. “The referendum comes and fishing becomes at the centre of it again. It does provide that hope that there is one last chance at sorting this broken system out.”</p> <p class="LO-Normal">Bean thinks that people who voted Leave in support of the fishing industry are likely to be disappointed. He’s not at all optimistic about Theresa May’s chances of getting a good deal – or any deal at all. “Those who voted to leave and expect to see a lot of fishing opportunities happening next March or April are going to be bitterly disappointed,” he says.</p> <p>Is he worried about his business? “We’ll just play it by ear. Hopefully we’ll not lose any of our good customers because we rely on quality,” he says. “If we have this windfall and get more fish, as they talk about it, it certainly won’t improve the quality… the quality could even go down on what it is now.”</p> <p>Percy is frustrated with how little he feels the under 10m fleet has been listened to in the national Brexit debate. “The problem we have is that, as we speak. nobody can give us a clear idea of the outcome,” he says. “All we're getting is double speak and lies and half-truths and nonsense from those in power who clearly have their political agendas, which everybody – the public and fishermen – are likely to suffer from.”</p> <p>“The evidence is beginning to more strongly suggest that perhaps people weren't telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I think the fishing concerns reflect the wider concerns of the general public that, perhaps, all that glitters is not gold.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/rule-britannia-britannia-rules-waves-from-fishing-patriotism-to-pragmatism">‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves’: From fishing patriotism to pragmatism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/griffin-carpenter/brexit-so-long-and-thanks-for-all-fish">Will Brexit spell the end of fishing quotas?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/griffin-carpenter/eu-common-fisheries-policy-has-helped-not-harmed-uk-fisheries-0">The EU Common Fisheries Policy has helped, not harmed, UK fisheries</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/liza-griffin/privatising-common-fisheries-policy">Privatising the common fisheries policy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Cornwall </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Cornwall EU UK Economics trade trade food Brexit Brexit Inc. Amy Hall Wed, 31 Oct 2018 06:00:01 +0000 Amy Hall 120350 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How the precariat – and UBI – can stop neoliberalism from destroying the planet https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/guy-standing/how-precariat-and-ubi-can-stop-neoliberalism-from-destroying-world <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Taxes on exploiting the commons - both exhaustible and non-exhaustible resources - could be used to give people basic financial security.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/chisle.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/chisle.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Chislehurst Common. Rights: Marathon/Geograph, CC 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>Historically, every progressive surge has been propelled by the demands of the emerging mass class. Today’s progressive transformation must, therefore, be oriented to the precariat, driven by a strategy that appeals to enough of all its factions to garner adequate strength.&nbsp; </p> <p>Unlike the proletariat, which sought labor security, the progressives among the precariat want a future based on existential security, with a high priority placed on ecology – environmental protection, the “landscape,” and the commons. By contrast, when confronted by a policy choice between environmental degradation and “jobs,” the proletariat, labor unions, and their political representatives have given “jobs” priority. </p> <p>The precariat is a transformative class partly because, as it is not habituated to stable labor, it is less likely than the proletariat to suffer from false consciousness, a belief that the answer to insecurity is more labor, more jobs. In the twentieth century, mainstream commentators believed that putting more people into jobs and for longer was a progressive strategy—that doing so offered people the best route out of poverty. It was a trap into which many on the left fell. </p> <p>For hundreds of years, the idea of putting everybody in jobs would have been regarded as strange. The ancient Greeks saw labor as being unworthy of the citizen. Their society was hierarchical and sexist, but their distinctions between labor and work, and between leisure (<em>schole</em>) and recreation, are vital for defining the good life.</p> <p>Being in a job is to be in a position of subordination, answering to a boss. That is not a natural human condition nor an emancipatory one. In the nineteenth century, being “in employment” was a badge of shame, often referring to a woman reduced to being a domestic servant. In the early years of the United States, wage laborers were denied the vote on the grounds that they could not be independent if they were not property owners.</p> <p>A transformative politics should promote work that is not resource-depleting and encourage leisure in the ancient Greek sense of <em>schole</em>, the pursuit of knowledge and meaning, rather than endless consumption. That points to the need to reconceptualize work, to develop a new politics of time, and to decommodify education so that it revives its original purpose of preparing young adults for citizenship. Most fundamentally, such a politics must promote a new income distribution system because the reimagining of work depends on it. </p> <p>Such a system should recognize that wages will not rise much and that other sources of income will be needed to reduce inequalities and to create economic security for the precariat. The new system must recognize planetary limits and, accordingly, promote ecologically sustainable lifestyles. The distribution system must also offer the precariat a future that revives Enlightenment values. A Good Society would be one in which everybody, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, disability, and work status, has equal basic security. Basic security is a human need and a natural public good, since, unlike a typical commodity, one person’s having it does not deprive others of it.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">euthanasia of the rentier</p> <p>Given that wages cannot be expected to provide the precariat with security, the system must find alternative ways of doing so. The secret lies in capturing rental income for society. We should want what Keynes predicted but which has yet to pass – “euthanasia of the rentier.” One way of capturing rental income for society would be to bring the commons back into policy discourse. In the neoliberal era, the commons – natural, social, civil, cultural, and intellectual—have been plundered via enclosure, commodification, privatization, and colonization. </p> <p>The income from using commons resources should belong to every commoner <em>equally</em>. Accordingly, the tax system should shift from earned income and consumption to taxing commercial uses of the commons, thereby facilitating their preservation. Levies on income gained from using our commons should become major sources of public revenue. This means such measures as a land value tax, a wealth transfer tax, ecological taxes such as a carbon tax, a water use levy, levies on income from intellectual property and on use of our personal data, a “frequent flyer levy,” and levies on all income generated by use of natural resources that should belong to us as commoners. </p> <p>Fed by these levies, a Commons Fund could be set up as a democratic variant of the sovereign wealth funds that exist in over sixty countries. Then, the questions would become how to use the funds in a transformative way. The Fund should be operated on proper economic lines, adhering to investment rules geared to socially beneficial forms of capital, taking into account ecological principles and tax-paying propriety. </p> <p>The Fund’s governance must be democratic, and it must be separated from the government of the day to minimize the possibility of manipulation by politicians before elections. And every commoner should be an equal beneficiary, their stake in the Fund being an economic right, rather than dependent on contributions, as was the case with laborist welfare schemes. Everybody, regardless of taxpaying capacity, should gain, by virtue of being commoners.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">temporary custodians of our commonwealth</p> <p>The commons has been nurtured by many generations and exists for future generations. As Edmund Burke recognized, we are “temporary custodians of our commonwealth” and have the responsibility of passing on to the next generation our commons in at least as good a condition as we found it. Thus, levies on <em>exhaustible</em> commons resources should be preserved for future generations as well as serve existing generations. To respect this principle, only revenue generated by the Fund’s investments should be distributed to today’s commoners—you and me. This rule is applied in the world’s outstanding example, the <a href="http://www.nbim.no/en/the-fund/return-on-the-fund">Norwegian Pension Fund Global</a>, which, drawing from Norway’s share of North Sea oil, generates a net annual return of 4% that can be disbursed to the populace.</p> <p>What is proposed here is even more transformative. The levies would be placed on all forms of commons, including <em>non-exhaustible</em> commons resources. Land, water, air, wind, and ideas are among non-exhaustible resources, and part of our commons. Some commons resources are replenishable, such as forests. Including non-exhaustible commons resources in the financing of the Fund is key to the transformative strategy. The only equitable way of disbursing proceeds from the Commons Fund is to give equal amounts to everybody deemed to be a commoner, and the easiest way would be to distribute “social dividends” or “commons dividends.” </p> <p>Sharing the commons is one ethical rationale for basic incomes, which are justifiable for other ethical reasons as well, including ecological justice, freedom, and basic security. Granted, it is not a panacea; there would have to be supplements for those with special needs or extra costs of living, and there would still be a need for a rich array of public and social services, as well as new forms of collective agency and voice. </p> <p>Still, a basic income would enhance personal and “republican” freedom (the freedom from potential domination by spouses, bosses, bureaucrats, or others), provide the precariat with basic security, and strengthen social solidarity. Evidence and theory show it would increase work, not reduce it, and tilt time use towards reproductive, resource-conserving activity rather than resource-depleting activity. The basic income is a core feature of a Great Transition future. Getting there is up to us.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from Guy Standing’s new essay “The Precariat: Today's Transformative Class?” on the </em><a href="https://greattransition.org/">Great Transition Initiative website</a><em>. </em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/want-more-equal-society-universal-basic-income-might-not-be-policy-you-are-look">Want a more equal society? Universal Basic Income might not be the policy you are looking for</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/basic-income-progressive-road-out-of-austerity">Basic income: a progressive road out of austerity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/conrad-shaw/getting-to-heart-of-universal-basic-income">Getting to the heart of Universal Basic Income</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Economics Commons environment Universal Basic Income Guy Standing Wed, 31 Oct 2018 06:00:00 +0000 Guy Standing 120366 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The budget offers the NHS scraps – and fails to see off the privatisers https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/kane-shaw/budget-offers-nhs-scraps-and-fails-to-see-off-privatisers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> There was little on offer in yesterday’s budget to meaningfully help struggling hospitals, health and social care services. So it's up to us to organise. </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/ambulance_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/ambulance_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="207" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Yesterday’s budget was a government playing to the gallery, desperately hoping to distract from its role in creating what promises to be the worse winter crisis since records began. </p> <p>The Chancellor announced that mental health services would be getting £2bn a year by 2023-24. It’s not ‘extra’, though – it’s part of the £20.5bn already announced by the government in June. An amount that all independent experts agree fails to meet the needs of the health service. </p> <p>The Chancellor also announced that the government would be rolling out a new mental health service, providing crisis provision in every A&amp;E. Yet again, a laudable aim. But, also one with limited efficacy. Focusing solely on crisis care won’t reduce demand on those services, nor will it address the root causes of crises. Furthermore, the money has not been ringfenced. So, there is a strong possibility that no new services will materialise irrespective of the announcement. </p> <p>We were also informed that local councils will be receiving extra funding for social care – on top of the £240m announced earlier this month – of £650m. Of course, this hardly offsets the overall <a href="https://www.adass.org.uk/media/6434/adass-budget-survey-report-2018.pdf#page=8">£7bn cut</a> that social care has sustained since 2010. In short, the Chancellor was laying the terrain for an imminent exercise in blame avoidance. </p> <p>The National Health Action Party has consistently argued that austerity doesn’t work. It fails to secure sustainable long-term savings in the economy and public services and it fails to increase productivity. </p> <p>A report released last week by <a href="http://nhsproviders.org/">NHS Providers</a>, ‘<a href="https://nhsproviders.org/steeling-ourselves-for-winter-201819/1-how-is-the-nhs-performance-measuring-up">Steeling Ourselves for Winter 2018/19</a>’ highlights how NHS Trusts are in a worse position to cope with a forthcoming winter crisis than they were last year – due primarily to “financial savings”.</p> <p>The report sets out how Trusts are failing to reach the 95% target of attending to those admitted to A&amp;E within 4 hours of admission; that the waiting list for elective surgery is at its longest since records began; that the eight key standards for the treatment of cancer are not being met; and at a national level the 62-day target for admitting cancer patients for initial treatment has been missed since 2013/14. </p> <p>The report also notes that in terms of community care many NHS Trusts are being “<a href="https://nhsproviders.org/steeling-ourselves-for-winter-201819/1-how-is-the-nhs-performance-measuring-up">left marginalised, underfunded and short staffed”</a>. And the Chancellor’s announcement of an extra £650m won’t even fill the gap of current planned social care cuts of £700m. </p> <p>Nor will this budget ease the pressure that A&amp;Es will be facing this winter. Under the Conservatives there has been an increase of <a href="https://fullfact.org/health/emergency-admissions-care-homes/">62% in elderly people being rushed from care homes to A&amp;E</a>. </p> <p>Through underfunding, cuts, spending squeezes and austerity we are seeing patient safety imperilled. The Government will, as usual, seek to find scapegoats, ranging from blaming NHS staff for safety failings that are actually system failings, to blaming patients. They’ll probably end up blaming winter itself, too.</p> <p>These are long running government tactics. Only last week the government announced that <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/stopping-fraud-against-the-nhs-new-plans-announced">the NHS will be piloting a new initiative</a> to tackle fraud in the health service. The government and <a href="https://cfa.nhs.uk/fraud-prevention/what-is-nhs-fraud">NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA)</a> claim the health service lost an estimated £1.25bn to fraud in 2016/17. </p> <p>The initiative will begin with an attempt to halve prescription fraud which supposedly costs the health service £256m a year, by giving pharmacists access to digital records of prescription exemptions. It has also committed to dedicating 400 counter-fraud professionals to tackle fraud in the health service - with fraudulent dentists and pharmacists being particular targets. </p> <p>Of course, whilst it is right to tackle fraud, it is politically opportunistic to frame this issue as being one of the root causes of the crisis in the health service. Taking the <a href="https://cfa.nhs.uk/fraud-prevention/what-is-nhs-fraud">NHSCFA’s</a> figures at face-value – although it should be noted that calculating the costs of fraud is difficult by its very nature – the costs of fraud to the health service pale in comparison to the costs of PFI which <a href="https://fullfact.org/health/what-nhs-paying-private-finance-initiatives/">costs the NHS nearly twice as much per year, at £2bn</a>.</p> <p>Although he won headlines for “scrapping PFI”, the Chancellor pledged that he <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-10-29/debates/897F500F-64B1-4F68-A4BA-23008D9ED4C4/FinancialStatement#contribution-6C355417-FC19-4F50-BC75-826DB2B98F50">wouldn’t scrap existing PFI contracts</a>, which the health service is locked into paying for til 2050. And he said he remained “committed to the use of public-private partnership”.</p> <p>Scrapping anything that looks remotely like PFI should be at the top of the Conservatives agenda. Doing so would free up tax revenue, save money and increase productivity gains. But it would require the Conservatives to rethink their approach to economic and social policy. It would entail the rejection of a financialised economy which has outsourced public services to private creditors. </p> <p>This is something the Conservatives can’t and won’t do. Instead, they are continuing to rollout <a href="https://leftfootforward.org/2018/10/the-tories-are-trying-to-pull-a-fast-one-on-nhs-privatisation-heres-how/#disqus_thread">Integrated Care Providers</a> which, in terms of private sector involvement in the NHS, make PFI look like small beer. And, by continuing to push through further austerity measures, the government will continue to push the health service and social care to the limit. But it suits this Government to attempt to deflect responsibility for the state of the NHS by blaming a supposed fifth column of fraudulent dentists and pharmacists undermining it from within.</p> <p>Those who care about the NHS and wish to defend it, irrespective of party allegiances, now have to work together to protect the safety of patients and staff. </p> <p>Health Campaigns Together’s <a href="https://healthcampaignstogether.com/safetywatch.php">‘NHS Safe for All’</a> campaign is an attempt to do this. Backed by Health Campaigns Together’s affiliated organisations including UNISON, Unite the Union and the British Medical Association, the campaign will fight for policies that address staff shortages and unsafe systems which have been worsened by cuts and the fragmentation of services. </p> <p>The conference, ‘<a href="https://healthcampaignstogether.com/pdf/HCTNo12.pdf">Make Our NHS Safe for All</a>’, planned for the spring of 2019, will be an opportunity for all those who wish to oppose the government’s policies and fight for a safe, high quality, NHS for all.</p> <p>Now more than ever, we need to let the public know, that the Tories are a danger to their and our safety.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/eight-reasons-you-really-can%27t-trust-tories-with-nhs">Eight reasons you really can&#039;t trust the Tories with the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/what%27s-really-causing-ae-crisis-and-how-can-we-fix-it">What&#039;s really causing the A&amp;E crisis - and how can we fix it? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/joel-benjamin/seven-things-everyone-should-know-about-private-finance-initiative">Seven things everyone should know about the Private Finance Initiative</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk UK England Budget health Kane Shaw Tue, 30 Oct 2018 16:18:01 +0000 Kane Shaw 120364 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Opposing labour market Uberculosis https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ivan-manokha/opposing-labour-market-uber-culosis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Uber is appealing the ruling that its drivers deserve workers’ rights. Meanwhile its drivers show strike action is possible against ‘platform capitalism’.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/precarious.PNG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/precarious.PNG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: IWGB-organised Precarious Workers demo, 30/10/18. Credit: Anabel Bennett, rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>French philosopher Michel Foucault once observed that the liberty of men is never entirely assured by the institutions and laws that are intended to guarantee them, as all of them are quite capable of being turned around. Liberty, on this view, is a practice - a constant dialectic between the forces that may encroach on the existing laws and rights protecting individual freedom, and those social actors who mobilize to protect them.</p> <p>The current phase of ‘flexible capitalism’ sees production and employment arrangements being transformed, resulting in growing disruptions to secure and predictable career trajectories, the development of precarious employment, irregular scheduling, the extension of working hours and the erosion of worker rights and benefits. The recent emergence of connective platforms in different sectors - urban transport (Uber, Lyft), housekeeping (Helpling, TaskRabbit), childcare (Bambino, UrbanSitter) or food delivery (Deliveroo, UberEats) - pushes these ‘flexible’ employment arrangements to the extreme. The workers are no longer treated as employees but as ‘independent contractors’, ‘freelancers’ or ‘entrepreneurs’ that these platforms ‘simply connect’ with clients. Because of such categorization, platform workers have no rights and protections usually assigned to employees, such as benefits related to health care, pensions or parenting. Nor do they have any collective bargaining power. They are, to use Guy Standing’s term, members of the ‘<a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-precariat-9781849664561/">precariat</a>’ – a social class formed by people suffering from existence without predictability, security, labour rights or safety nets. Platforms take advantage of this large pool of precarious labourers ready to make themselves available to earn extra money even at the lowest possible wage rates. </p> <p>Digital platforms argue that they aren’t employers but simple intermediaries helping ‘service providers’ and customers find each other in the marketplace. In the employment tribunal case against Uber, brought by the GMB and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), Uber’s defence argued that the company acted as nothing more than a booking agent. Such arguments, however, are clearly unsustainable – and this view was confirmed by the Tribunal’s <a href="https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/aslam-and-farrar-v-uber-employment-judgment-20161028-2.pdf">ruling</a> to grant Uber’s drivers statutory workers’ rights. The Supreme Court later <a href="https://www.dlp.org.uk/uber-loses-appeal-landmark-drivers-rights-ruling/">rejected</a> Uber’s appeal observing that the idea that the company is a “mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous”. </p> <p>It is obvious that Uber is much more than a simple ‘connector’. It organizes and controls the ride-hailing market through the data that it continuously gathers and the algorithms that it uses to match supply and demand and to set the prices. When, for example, demand in that area surpasses supply by a certain magnitude, Uber’s algorithm increases prices (the phenomenon known as “surge pricing”). In 2017 Uber also introduced “route-based pricing” in some markets, which is calculated by algorithms based on an analysis of how much a passenger from a given neighborhood would be willing to pay for the ride in question. Uber also controls its drivers in a variety of ways. It sets default route for each journey, requires drivers to accept jobs, and excludes drivers from accessing passenger information.</p> <p>On October 9 Uber drivers organised a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45796409">24-hour strike</a> staging rallies outside the company’s offices in London, Birmingham and Nottingham. The demands? Higher rates per mile, reductions in the commission charged by Uber and an end to unfair deactivations of drivers from Uber platforms. They also called for the implementation of the Tribunal’s ruling which had granted them statutory workers' rights but which, two years after the ruling, have still not been implemented by Uber (as a result of Uber’s continued court <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/13/uber-lost-appeal-workers-employment-rights">appeals</a> of the Tribunal’s decision). &nbsp;</p> <p>Regardless of the results of this action, and the outcomes of the next stage of the legal process, the strike by Uber drivers should already be seen as a success. It demonstrates that workers who do not share a common workplace and for whom a joint mobilization is particularly hard to organize can still undertake a collective action and target a digital platform. Uber drivers’ action shows that it is possible to combat the ‘uberisation’ - the increasing platformization of the economy with the growth of precarious and non-unionized ‘individual contractors’. This destructive ‘labour market Uber-culosis’ has been spreading to a growing number of sectors. </p> <p>Platforms push the commodification of human labour to the extreme and reduce workers to subjects without substance: to aggregated scores and rankings, trajectories calculated on the basis of their reactivity, punctuality or speed of task execution and traceable histories of jobs performed, stored in a digital form and processed in ways that workers do not control and may not even be aware of. And crucially, workers continue to be able to work only so long as platforms continue to display their profiles online. If platforms decide to ban them from using the service (which usually happens when the score of the ‘independent contractors’ in question declines below a certain threshold), they will lose their jobs. Such asymmetry in power relations and the corresponding erosion of worker rights and social protections and safety nets is clearly untenable in the long run. </p> <p>To return to the argument of Foucault quoted earlier, liberty - as a guarantee of certain fundamental rights - is a practice; it is a constant dialectic between attempts to encroach upon it and actions to resist such attempts. This month’s Uber drivers’ strike has the potential of launching such practice to protect the rights of platform labour. But this, of course, would happen only if similar actions are consistently undertaken in all sectors affected by the process of platformization.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick/osborne-s-evening-standard-under-pressure-over-unbranded-uber-coverage">George Osborne’s Evening Standard under fire (again) over lucrative Uber deal </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/len-mccluskey/fast-food-strikes-show-young-workers-get-what-trade-unionism-is-about">Young workers know they&#039;re being ripped off - and that unions are the answer</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/what-kind-of-capitalism-is-it-possible-for-left-to-build">What kind of capitalism is it possible for the left to build?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Economics Internet Workers rights Uber Ivan Manokha Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:02:22 +0000 Ivan Manokha 120353 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The 'Big Four' and the UK government: too close for comfort https://www.opendemocracy.net/stephen-hornsby/big-four-accountancy-investigations-can-independent-regulators-really-bite-hand-on-w <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the 'Big Four' accountancy investigations, can independent regulators bite the hand on which central government feeds?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/559248/20431913459_08c0853d86_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/559248/20431913459_08c0853d86_k.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>KPMG, and the other big 4 accountancy firms are accused of contributing to the Carillion and BHS scandals. Image: KPMG London office. Håkan Dahlström Photography via Flikr. Some rights reserved/CC0.</span></span></span></p><p>The ‘Big Four’ accountants - an oligopoly if ever there was one as Bill Michael of KPMG has freely admitted - are charged with lowballing statutory audit services to major companies in the UK in order to gain much more lucrative advisory work. As a result (it is said) the audit work is done poorly and this has contributed to the series of scandals such as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/15/jobs-carillion-liquidation-construction-hs2">Carillion</a> and <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-36175250">BHS</a>. What is more, it is also said that the 'Big Four'&nbsp;have little incentive to give the sometimes necessary bad news to their client (and therefore the market) for fear of losing the tasty advisory work for which the statutory audit has provided such an unappetising entrée. &nbsp;</p> <p>So unattractive is it to be a player in the statutory audit market for FTSE 350 companies &nbsp;that a fringe competitor to &nbsp;the 'Big Four' (Grant Thornton) has actually pulled out of it recently citing the impossibility of making it pay. Unsurprisingly in these circumstances the government has now taken action and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will revisit this classic case of market failure for which it failed to come up with any effective remedies but five years ago. With the much criticised Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also carrying out a separate investigation on the regulatory side, it is fair to say the 'Big Four' are getting serious attention from regulatory authorities. </p> <p>Clearly, there is a genuine public interest in making sure that audit work is done well and results in good advice to shareholders (and the market). But lurking beneath the surface is the concern that the relationship between central government and the 'Big 4' is too close to be healthy as government spends millions on their non audit services annually. So what chance is there of any serious structural remedies emanating from the CMA? Can independent regulators really bite the hand on which the government feeds?</p> <p>At least the chances of serious remedies being proposed have increased because in its new consultation document, the CMA is going to look at the issues holistically by turning the spotlight on what they call “non audit services” – basically the advisory services that are the 'Big Four’s' main course. So far as it goes, this focus is well overdue. Lawyers, on the face of it have every interest in the non–audit services enquiry being searching. For many years the profession has watched whole areas of work disappear as a result (it is said) of accountants leveraging their monopoly in audit services to enter and dominate more lucrative advisory markets. For example, one would have thought that VAT advice - a highly technical legal area where EU law, badly draft Statutes, inaccurate HMRC Guidance and decisions of the Tribunals and courts interact uneasily - would be a fertile ground for lawyers. But one would be wrong; for it is a minefield which accountants - and particularly the 'Big Four' - dominate. &nbsp;The legal profession for one would be very happy if the playing field were to be levelled a bit. </p> <p>This might actually happen one day because the CMA is considering prohibiting audit firms offering non-audit services not only to their audit clients but also to any other large company. Even more radically, the CMA is (somewhat nervously) considering splitting the UK arms of major accounting firms into audit only and non-audit services practices. </p> <p>In identifying these remedies as potential cures for the conflict of interest arising from the provision of non-audit services to audit clients by the ‘Big 4’, there is an implicit recognition that the European Court of Justice’s bald pronouncement (in other contexts) that conflicts of interest are "<em>inherently anti competitive</em>” is correct. This is strong stuff. Unfortunately, the UK competition authorities have not really recovered from their rather unsuccessful re–structuring of the beer industry a couple of decades ago. They talk the talk about the need for structural remedies in their published material but action may prove difficult.</p> <p>For one thing, serious remedies can have unintended consequences and the CMA is alive to this and itemises a number of downsides to its proposals. One consequence that they do not mention is that unless and until restrained by new entry, audit costs charged by the 'Big Four' may rise as the cross subsidy from non-audit serve revenues are squeezed. Something comparable happened in banking where regulatory action to reduce extortionate overdraft fees is exerting pressure on banks to reduce 'free' banking. Rising audit costs will not be popular with FTSE 350 corporate customers – though they could always sponsor new entry or try to get Grant Thornton back. </p> <p>For the legal profession there may be other consequences. Any comfort that a level playing field might assist them to re-conquer advisory markets that they have lost to accountants is likely to be short lived. For the 'Big Four' are unlikely to take any loss of advisory service revenues lying down and may enter the legal market in a really serious and determined way.</p> <p>For the regulators, the consequences of appearing weak yet again will be worrying and for the FCA potentially catastrophic. PWC’s much criticised role in assisting OFWAT in its 5 year review of water industry pricing, whilst at the same time advising water companies, is of course not being replicated by the CMA and the FCA in their current enquiries but the unacceptable face of corporatism is on show for all to see whilst the government continues to spend so heavily with the 'Big Four'.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk UK Democracy and government Economics openJustice Stephen Hornsby Tue, 30 Oct 2018 10:24:46 +0000 Stephen Hornsby 120348 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mark Zuckerberg’s dilemma – what to do with the monster he has created? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/john-naughton/mark-zuckerberg-s-dilemma-what-to-do-with-monster-he-has-created <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Facebook seems surprised that its monopolistic platform has been weaponised by political actors. So who's going to tackle the perfect storm, asks John Naughton?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/zuke 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/zuke 2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Facebook boss and founder Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: NurPhoto/PA Images.</span></span></span></p><p>Ponder this: in 2004 a Harvard sophomore named Zuckerberg sits in his dorm room hammering away at a computer keyboard. He’s taking an idea he ‘borrowed’ from two nice-but-dim Harvard undergraduates and writing the computer code needed to turn it into a social-networking site. He borrows $1,000 from his friend Eduardo Saverin and puts the site onto an internet web-hosting service. He calls it ‘The Facebook’.</p> <p>Fourteen years later, that kid has metamorphosed into the 21st-century embodiment of John D Rockefeller and William Randolph Hearst rolled into one. In the early 20th century, Rockefeller controlled the flow of oil while Hearst controlled the flow of information. In the 21st century Zuckerberg controls the flow of the new oil (data) and the information (because people get much of their news from the platform that he controls). His empire spans more than 2.2bn people, and he exercises absolute control over it — as a passage in the company’s 10-K SEC filing makes clear. It reads, in part:</p> <p class="BlockQuote">”Mark Zuckerberg, our founder, Chairman, and CEO, is able to exercise voting rights with respect to a majority of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock and therefore has the ability to control the outcome of matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, including the election of directors and any merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. This concentrated control could delay, defer, or prevent a change of control, merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets that our other stockholders support, or conversely this concentrated control could result in the consummation of such a transaction that our other stockholders do not support… ”(1).</p> <p>Such concentration of corporate control is unusual in large public corporations (2) and raises questions about corporate governance and social responsibility. These problems are particularly acute in Zuckerberg’s empire because he wields not just the economic power of a monopolist (in the field of social networking, Facebook has no serious competitor) but also operates a business model that affects democratic processes and may perhaps even have influenced the outcomes of the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK and presidential elections in the US and elsewhere. </p> <p>This is not to assert that Zuckerberg himself pursues political objectives, at least at the moment. Rather, the claim is (a) that the computerised, targeted-advertising system Facebook has constructed can be (and has been) exploited by political actors seeking to target political or ideological messages at users whose data-profiles suggest that they may be receptive to those messages; and (b) that the outcomes of such ‘weaponisation’ of social media may be at best anti-social and at worst anti-democratic.</p> <p>The most striking thing about the discovery of political exploitation of social media in 2016-17 was the initial incredulity of Zuckerberg and his executives that such a thing could have happened. This suggests some or all of the following: a very high degree of political naiveté; a serious case of wilful blindness; and/or a cynical determination to avoid public discussion of the root cause of the trouble — the business model of the corporation and the responsibilities that accompany the power that it confers upon its owner.</p> <h2><strong>The business model: surveillance capitalism</strong></h2> <p>The five most valuable corporations in the Western world at present — Apple, Alphabet (owner of Google), Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook — are all digital enterprises. Three of them — Apple, Amazon and Microsoft — have relatively conventional business models: they produce goods and/or services for which customers pay. The other two — Google and Facebook — provide services that are free in return for the right to extract and monetise the personal information and data-trails of their users. The data thus extracted, refined and aggregated are then deployed to enable advertisers — the actual <em>customers</em> of the companies — to target advertisements at users. This is often summarised in the adage ‘if the service is free, then you are the product’.</p> <p>Google and Facebook operate what economists call two-sided markets: in their cases revenue from customers on one side (advertisers) subsidise users on the other side. In recent years, the term <em>surveillance capitalism (3)</em> has been coined to describe this business model. Although Google and Facebook portray themselves as tech companies, it’s sometimes more illuminating to regard them as extractive enterprises like oil or mining companies. The latter extract natural resources from the earth, which they then refine, process and sell to customers. Facebook and Google do something analogous, but the resources they extract, refine and monetise are purely digital — the data-trails generated by their users’ activities on their platforms. </p> <p>There is, however, one radical difference between the oil/mining enterprises and the two digital giants. Whereas reserves of natural resources are, ultimately, finite (4), reserves of the ‘resources’ extracted by Google and Facebook are, in principle, virtually infinite because they are created by what the industry calls user engagement — i.e. users’ online activity. The level and volume of this engagement is staggering; every 60 seconds on Facebook, for example, 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded (5). </p> <p>Since user engagement is what produces monetisable data-trails, the overriding imperative of the business model is to continually increase engagement. Accordingly, the companies deploy formidable technical and design resources to persuade users to spend more time on their platforms and to engage with them more intensively (6). </p> <p>Much of this supply-side design is informed by applied psychological research on human behaviour — the same kind of research that informs the design of slot machines (7). Some of the services are addictive by design (8) while others exploit known human fallibilities (9) (for example, by using default settings like autoplay on videos — which users can change but generally don’t (10)). And the companies continually conduct thousands of A/B experiments a day in real time to determine which presentational tweaks most effectively increase user engagement. In a metaphorical sense, therefore, users of social media are unwitting rats in Skinnerian mazes created for their delectation. This is what leads some commentators to speak of social media as a ‘dopamine economy’ (11).</p> <p>On the demand side, human psychology and sociality play important roles in keeping the machine humming. Humans are famously subject to a wide range of <em>cognitive biases</em> (12), which social media exploit. Well-known examples include <em>confirmation bias</em> (the tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions); and <em>hyperbolic discounting</em> (the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs). On the sociality side there is <em>homophily</em><em> </em>— the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. </p> <p>What the world has belatedly woken up to is the realisation that we are in a kind of perfect storm created by the confluence of a number of powerful forces: network effects which lead to the emergence of global monopolies; the business model of surveillance capitalism, with its insatiable demands for increased user engagement; astute deployment of applied psychology to design compulsive or addictive apps, devices and services; cognitive biases which are part of human psychology; powerful tendencies to cluster together (which are probably an inheritance of early human social groups) and which leads to digital echo chambers online; and weaponisation of social media by political actors.</p> <h2><strong>User-generated content: a double-edged sword</strong></h2> <p>When the internet first went mainstream in the mid-1990s it was hailed as a democratising technology that would liberate people’s innate creativity. Instead of being passive consumers of content created by corporations, ordinary people would be able to bypass the editorial gatekeepers of the analogue media ecosystem. These possibilities of the ‘internetworked’ future were memorably celebrated in <em>The Wealth of Networks</em>, a landmark book by the Harvard scholar Yochai Benkler published in 2006 (13). </p> <p>Although the technology did (and does) possess all the empowering, democratising potential celebrated by Benkler, in fact only a relatively small minority made use of it in creative ways. This changed with the arrival of Facebook and YouTube — services that made it easy for users to upload content. Much of the resulting content was unremarkable (and much of it infringed copyright), but from early on it was clear that social media platforms effectively provided a mirror to human nature and some of what appeared in that mirror was unpleasant and sometimes horrific (14). Furthermore, it transpired that some of this extreme or otherwise problematic content increased user-engagement — which meant that it generated more monetisable data for the platforms hosting it.</p> <p>Initially, Facebook’s response to this was relaxed: the onus was placed on users to flag unacceptable or problematic content for possible review by the platform’s owners. This casual attitude was reinforced by Section 230 of the US 1996 Communications Decency Act, which absolved internet services providers from legal liability for content hosted on their platforms (15). But in the wake of a series of developments, including the controversies about the weaponisation of social media by political actors in 2016 and 2017, revelations of the role that Facebook services had played in ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the company’s failure to remove hate-speech and conspiracy theories, and a raft of other scandals (16), this relaxed posture in 2018 had become untenable and the company was now struggling — with questionable efficacy — to contain the abuses that followed from running a platform that enabled anyone to publish whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.</p> <h2><strong>A window into people’s souls</strong></h2> <p>The surveillance capitalism companies have become very good at giving users what they want — which is one reason why some ruefully admit that they find them addictive. They are able to do this because they have garnered an astonishing amount of revealing data about those users and their likely interests, concerns and needs. </p> <p>As far as Facebook is concerned, the key insight was the discovery in 2013 of how revealing even a low level of user engagement can be. Cambridge University researchers demonstrated something that the company probably already knew, namely that Facebook likes could be used to “automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender” (17). </p> <p>Insights available from a user’s behaviour on the site were eventually supplemented by (a) information gleaned from tracking Facebook’s users as they traversed the wider Web and (b) data about users purchased from external sources (e.g. credit-rating agencies) to construct data-profiles which reportedly (18) ran to 98 data-points per user.</p> <p>In 2007, Facebook made a significant innovation that would later have major implications for both its evolution and for its role in democratic disruption. The company suddenly offered <em>itself</em><em> </em>as a platform on which third-party developers could run apps. “People should build an application on the Facebook platform because it provides a new kind of distribution on the internet,” said a senior company executive at the time. “Really, what has been lacking in all of the other operating systems and platforms that have ever been created is the ability to really access people (19).”</p> <p>But whereas the World Wide Web platform was open and uncontrolled, the Facebook platform was proprietary and controlled by the company. The strategic goal for the platform move was to expand Facebook’s global reach and penetration to the point where it — rather than the open web — would effectively become the internet as far as most people were concerned. From the point of developers, the attraction was that their apps could exploit the user data that Facebook had accumulated. It was the decision to allow third-party apps to run on its platform, coupled with a failure to adequately police what these apps were doing with user data that eventually led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal (20) in 2018.</p> <h2><strong>The targeting engine</strong></h2> <p>As we observed, Google’s and Facebook’s users are not their customers. That role is played by advertisers who use the automated engines developed by the companies to identify targets for their commercial messages. Consequently, the most revealing insights into how surveillance capitalism works are obtained not by being a user but by going in as a customer, i.e. an advertiser.</p> <p>Both companies have constructed automated engines for enabling advertisers to identify types of audiences they wish their messages to reach. In operation and design, these engines are impressive. The Facebook one is particularly user-friendly (21), gently nudging the customer through the various steps needed to identify what the company calls custom audiences and helpfully suggesting categories of user that one may not initially have thought about. As one critic put it:</p> <p class="BlockQuote">“If I want to reach women between the ages of 25 and 30 in zip code 37206 who like country music and drink bourbon, Facebook can do that. Moreover, Facebook can often get friends of these women to post a ‘sponsored story’ on a targeted consumer’s news feed, so it doesn’t feel like an ad.”</p> <p>But one doesn’t have to be a traditional firm doing commercial advertising to use the Facebook engine. The machine is at the disposal of anyone who wishes to direct almost any message at targeted audiences. What seems to have taken Facebook by surprise is that some of the entities that chose to use its system — including at least one foreign power — were in the business of sending not commercial but ideological or political messages to selected categories of users (23). </p><p>And it looks as though the use of social media is a highly cost-effective way of doing this. According to the <em>New York Times</em>, Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126m users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded more than 1,000 videos to YouTube (24).</p> <p>A striking demonstration of the effectiveness of the Facebook targeting engine was provided by an experiment conducted by the news website ProPublica in September 2017. The researchers paid the company $30 to place three promoted posts in the news feeds of Facebook users who — according to the service’s profiles of them — had expressed interest in the topics ‘Jew hater’, ‘How to burn jews’, or ‘History of why jews ruin the world’. The Facebook engine approved all three ads within 15 minutes (25).</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/jew hater facebook.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/jew hater facebook.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="546" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Zuckerberg’s monster</strong></h2> <p>Facebook is Zuckerberg’s monster. Unlike Frankenstein, he is still enamoured of his creation, which has made him richer than Croesus and the undisputed ruler of an empire of 2.2bn users. It has also given him a great deal of power, together with the concomitant responsibilities that go with it. But it's becoming increasingly clear that his creature is out of control, that he's uneasy about the power and has few good ideas about how to discharge his responsibilities.</p> <p>A good illustration of this was provided by a revealing interview (26) that the Facebook boss gave to the tech journalist Kara Swisher in the summer of 2018. The conversation covered a lot of ground but included a couple of exchanges which spoke volumes about Zuckerberg's inability to grasp the scale of the problems that his creature now poses for society.</p> <p>One of them – obviously – is misinformation or false news. “The approach that we’ve taken to false news", said Zuckerberg, “is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the internet. I think that that would be too extreme. Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”</p> <p>Swisher then asked him about the alt-right site Infowars – whose Facebook page had more than 900,000 followers and which regularly broadcast falsehoods and conspiracy theories, including a claim that the Sandy Hook mass shootings (27) never happened. But Infowars continued to thrive on Facebook, even though Zuckerberg agreed that the Sandy Hook story was false. Was this because “everyone gets things wrong”, or because of those 900,000 followers? Swisher didn't ask, but a Channel 4 undercover investigation (28) of the Irish firm to which Facebook had outsourced content moderation suggested that objectionable content on Facebook pages with large followings could not be deleted by the traumatised serfs in Dublin; instead such decisions had to be referred up the management chain.</p> <p>The most revealing part of the Swisher interview, however, concerned Holocaust denial – a topic that Zuckerberg himself brought up. “I’m Jewish,” he said, “and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think it’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.” </p> <p>If you think this is weird, then join the club. I can see only three explanations for it. One is that Zuckerberg is a sociopath, who wants to have as much content – objectionable or banal – available to maximise user engagement (and therefore revenues), regardless of the societal consequences. A second is that Facebook is now so large that he sees himself as a kind of governor with quasi-constitutional responsibilities for protecting free speech. This is delusional: Facebook is a company, not a democracy. Or thirdly, and most probably, he is scared of being accused of being biased in the polarised hysteria that now grips American (and indeed British) politics. </p> <p>It's as if he's suddenly become aware of the power that his monster has bestowed upon him. As the New York Times journalist, Kevin Roose, put it on The Daily podcast (29), Zuckerberg's increasingly erratic behaviour could be a symptom of something bigger. “He built a company that swallowed communication and media for much of the world,” observed Roose. “And now we're seeing him back away from that... The problem with ruling the world is that you then have to govern and that's not what it seems he wants to do.” In which case, who will?</p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>This is an edited version of a chapter from the new book&nbsp;Anti-Social Media: The Impact on Journalism and Society, edited by John Mair,&nbsp;Tor&nbsp;Clark, Neil Fowler, Raymond Snoddy and Richard Tait, available from Abramis priced £19.95. Email&nbsp;</span><span><a href="mailto:Richard@Abramis.co.uk" target="_blank">Richard@Abramis.co.uk</a>&nbsp;to order a copy.</span></em></p> <h2>Notes</h2> <ol><li><a href="https://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0001326801/80a179c9-2dea-49a7-a710-2f3e0f45663a.pdf">https://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0001326801/80a179c9-2dea-49a7-a710-2f3e0f45663a.pdf</a>. The relevant passage continues: “In addition, Mr. Zuckerberg has the ability to control the management and major strategic investments of our company as a result of his position as our CEO and his ability to control the election or replacement of our directors. … As a stockholder, even a controlling stockholder, Mr. Zuckerberg s entitled to vote his shares, and shares over which he has voting control as governed by a voting agreement, in his own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally.”</li><li>Though not unknown in Silicon Valley where charismatic founders use multi-tier shareholding arrangements to ensure that they retain overall control of their creations. This was the case with Google (now Alphabet), for example, and is motivated at least partly to insulate founders from the short-term pressures of Wall Street and enable them to take longer-term strategic views of their enterprises.</li><li>Shosana Zuboff, “The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism”, <em>Frankfurter All</em>gemeine Zeitung<em>, 5 March, 2016. <a href="http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-digital-debate/shoshana-zuboff-secrets-of-surveillance-capitalism-14103616.html ">http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-digital-debate/shoshana-zuboff-secrets-of-surveillance-capitalism-14103616.html&nbsp;</a></em></li><li>Pedantic point: the key word is ‘ultimately’. The level of available reserves of natural resources is a function of market-price, location and other factors. Thus the level of oil reserves depends on global oil prices. If the price is high, then it will be economically feasible to extract oil from fields which are relatively harder to work.</li><li><a href="https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/">https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/</a></li><li>Current estimates put the time the average Facebook user spends on the platform at 20 minutes per day. (<a href="https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/">https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/</a>) Some estimates are higher.</li><li>Natasha Dow Schüll, <em>Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas</em>, Princeton, 2012.</li><li>See Nir Yal, <em>Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products</em>, Penguin/Portfolio, 2014. Hilary Anderson, “Social media apps are 'deliberately' addictive to users”, BBC News, 4 July, 2018, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44640959">https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44640959</a></li><li>Mallory Locklear, “Sean Parker says Facebook ‘exploits’ human psychology”, <em>Engadget</em>, 11 September 2017. <a href="https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/09/sean-parker-facebook-exploits-human-psychology/">https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/09/sean-parker-facebook-exploits-human-psychology/</a></li><li>John Naughton, “More choice on privacy just means more chances to do what’s best for big tech”, <em>Observer</em>, 8 July, 2018. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/08/more-choice-privacy-gdpr-facebook-google-microsoft">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/08/more-choice-privacy-gdpr-facebook-google-microsoft</a></li><li><a href="https://eand.co/the-dopamine-economy-336b239272ef">https://eand.co/the-dopamine-economy-336b239272ef</a></li><li><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases</a></li><li><a href="http://benkler.org/Benkler_Wealth_Of_Networks.pdf">http://benkler.org/Benkler_Wealth_Of_Networks.pdf</a></li><li>John Naughton, “How Facebook became a home to psychopaths”, <em>Observer</em>, 23 April, 2017. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/23/how-facebook-became-home-to-psychopaths-facebook-live">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/23/how-facebook-became-home-to-psychopaths-facebook-live</a></li><li>John Naughton, “How two congressmen created the internet’s biggest names”, <em>Observer</em>, 8 January, 2017. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/08/how-two-congressmen-created-the-internets-biggest-names">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/08/how-two-congressmen-created-the-internets-biggest-names</a></li><li>For example the use of Facebook Live to stream horrific acts of violence, bullying and worse. See John Naughton, “How Facebook became a home to psychopaths”, <em>Observer</em>, 23 April, 2017. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/23/how-facebook-became-home-to-psychopaths-facebook-live">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/23/how-facebook-became-home-to-psychopaths-facebook-live</a></li><li>Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell, and Thore Graepel, “Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior”, <em>PNAS</em><em>,</em> April 9, 2013. 110 (15) 5802-5805; <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1218772110">https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1218772110</a></li><li><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/08/19/98-personal-data-points-that-facebook-uses-to-target-ads-to-you/?tid=sm_tw">https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/08/19/98-personal-data-points-that-facebook-uses-to-target-ads-to-you/?tid=sm_tw</a></li><li>https://betanews.com/2007/05/25/facebook-becomes-a-software-company-with-platform-rollout/</li><li><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/cambridge-analytica-files">https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/cambridge-analytica-files</a>. See also Kevin Roose, “How Facebook’s Data Sharing Went From Feature to Bug”, <em>New York Times</em>, 19 March, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/technology/facebook-data-sharing.html</li><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/business/a/custom-audiences">https://www.facebook.com/business/a/custom-audiences</a></li><li>Jonathan Taplin<em>, <em>Move fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Have Cornered Culture, and What it Means for All of Us</em>,</em> Macmillan, 2017, p.143.</li><li>Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott, “Russia's Election Interference Is Digital Marketing 101”, <em>The Atlantic</em>, 19 February, 2018, <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/02/russia-trump-election-facebook-twitter-advertising/553676/">https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/02/russia-trump-election-facebook-twitter-advertising/553676/</a></li><li>Mike Isaac and Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone”, <em>New York Times</em>, 30 October, 2017. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html">https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html</a></li><li>Julia Angwin, Madeleine Varner and Ariana Tobin, “Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Reach ‘Jew Haters’”, <em>ProPublica</em>, 14 September, 2017. <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-enabled-advertisers-to-reach-jew-haters">https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-enabled-advertisers-to-reach-jew-haters</a></li><li><a href="https://www.recode.net/2018/7/18/17575156/mark-zuckerberg-interview-facebook-recode-kara-swisher">https://www.recode.net/2018/7/18/17575156/mark-zuckerberg-interview-facebook-recode-kara-swisher</a></li><li><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting</a></li><li><a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/channel-4-finds-facebook-not-deleting-child-abuse-and-racism-2018-7">http://uk.businessinsider.com/channel-4-finds-facebook-not-deleting-child-abuse-and-racism-2018-7</a></li><li><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/podcasts/the-daily/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-misinformation.html">https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/podcasts/the-daily/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-misinformation.html</a></li></ol><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jennifer-cobbe/problem-isn-t-just-cambridge-analytica-or-even-facebook-it-s-surveillance-capitali">The problem isn’t just Cambridge Analytica or Facebook – it’s “surveillance capitalism”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/leighton-andrews/is-tide-turning-on-regulating-facebook-and-google">Is the tide turning on regulating Facebook and Google?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/agne-pix-bruce-schneier/surveillance-is-business-model-of-internet">&quot;Surveillance is the business model of the internet&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/jimmy-tidey/facebook-needs-to-face-up-to-new-political-reality">Facebook needs to face up to the new political reality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mary-fitzgerald-peter-york-carole-cadwalladr-james-patrick/dark-money-deep-data-voicing-dissent">Dark Money Deep Data</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/sam-jeffers/how-can-we-better-regulate-elections-in-digital-age">How can we better regulate elections in the digital age?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/moh-hamdi/facebook-and-journalism-part-two">Facebook and journalism. Part two</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk digitaLiberties uk UK Civil society Democracy and government Internet Facebook John Naughton Mon, 29 Oct 2018 14:03:52 +0000 John Naughton 120333 at https://www.opendemocracy.net England – the nation that is not to be named? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/john-denham-gareth-young/england-nation-that-is-not-to-be-named <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Standard">Where once politicians spoke of England when they meant Britain, they now speak of Britain when they mean England.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/may conference.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/may conference.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="350" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Theresa May addressing the 2018 Conservative Party Conference. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">When UK party leaders regale their conferences with promises on health, schools, social care and housing their actual writ runs no further than the English border. Outside England most domestic policy will be determined by other politicians, usually from different parties, and elected – with no English input - to their own parliaments. That has been the effect and the intention of 20 years of devolution.</p> <p class="Standard">While the leaders do address major UK-wide issues, of course- not least Brexit and the ‘end of austerity’ - for the larger part these are conferences in and about England. Yet, quite bizarrely, England, as England, plays almost no part in the language or vision of the party leaders. This year Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable managed to name England just once between them. Even the leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru named England four times between them (though not necessarily in the most complimentary context).</p> <p class="Standard">The leaders’ distain for England is mirrored by their juniors. James Brokenshire, whose responsibilities at Communities and Local Government are almost entirely English, spoke at his party conference for 19 minutes without naming England once. John Healey only makes Labour housing policy for England alone but also failed to name the nation. Vague formulations like ‘our country’, or even saying ‘Britain’ when the target audience is England is endemic across the body politic.</p> <p class="Standard">Where once politicians spoke of England when they meant Britain, motivating calls for devolution and separation in Scotland and Wales, they now speak of Britain when they mean England, leaving the English as the unspoken people. Four out of five residents identify strongly as English, but much of the liberal left insists that Englishness belongs to the far right. For both left and right, to acknowledging that England is a nation and a democratic political community raises uncomfortable questions about why England is governed by the UK Parliament and not by its own elected MPs. The Conservative Government depends on the DUP. The last Labour government used Celtic MPs to pass English laws.</p> <p class="Standard">There is not yet a significant <em>political </em>movement of English nationalism. But ignored by their politicians, many voters are developing a separate sense of English grievance. This grievance is forming a powerful and rather unbiddable force. It was England and the English who provided most of the votes that are taking the whole union out of the EU. This month the Future of England survey showed <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/10/brexit-reveals-how-far-some-english-voters-have-diverged-anglo-british">half the voters in England would rather have Brexit than keep Scotland in the union</a> or sustain the peace process in Northern Ireland. Theresa May can say the Tories are Conservative and Unionists, but these far-from-unionist views are shared by three-quarters of her English voters.</p> <p class="Standard">The Prime Minister’s tortuous European negotiations are constrained by voters (and MPs) who don’t value the union or the peace process as much as she. Jeremy Corbyn struggles to win working class English voters even when they support many Labour policies. Across Western Europe ignored and unrepresented communities have proved fertile ground for dangerous populist movements. Rather than ignore the English it might be better if our parties began to talk to them and work out how to give them a democratic voice.</p> <p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk England UK Civil society Democracy and government Gareth Young John Denham Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:35:36 +0000 John Denham and Gareth Young 120280 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Paging Mr Aaronovitch: The Radical Right doesn't need any more help from the mainstream https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/matthew-feldman/paging-mr-aaronovitch-radical-right-doesnt-need-any-more-help-from-mainstream <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In case anyone doesn't know it yet, the Radical Right is scarcely without a platform.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563411/diversity_0.PNG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563411/diversity_0.PNG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="177" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Twitter, fair use</span></span></span>For anyone paying attention, the radical right is on the march. Recent years have been more favourable to their fortunes than at any time since the end of World War Two. True, much of this is driven by demographic change in western Europe and the US, and elsewhere; by appalling acts of terrorism that rightly offend everyone’s sensibility; and by socio-economic shocks exemplified by the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe, and before that, the ‘great recession’ and accompanying austerity politics. </p><p dir="ltr">Yet none of these phenomena are new. What is different this time around?</p><p dir="ltr">For my money, the biggest change in recent years has been the erosion of the ‘cordon sanitaire’ – that invisible red line separating those hostile to, or outright rejecting, liberal democracy. To a large extent, this tradition owes much to what Dan Stone termed the ‘<a href="https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=45413">antifascist consensus</a>’ obtaining during the Cold War. On the Soviet side, expressions of radical nationalism were simply outlawed; while for liberal democracies, the searing memory of Axis terror – especially, but not only, in occupied central and western Europe – meant that any politics espousing ethnic nationalism and minority scapegoating were, with some exception, relegated to the fringes. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But that consensus is breaking down. A quarter of a century on from the mainstreaming that began at the fall of the Berlin Wall, radical right parties regularly secure 20% of the vote in European elections. Radical right terrorism is back with a vengeance. And rarely does a weekend pass without a demonstration or march that puts those at risk of suffering violence or abuse on edge.</p><p dir="ltr">Moreover, radical right parties are currently in coalition governments in Norway, Italy, Austria &nbsp;and Denmark. In several countries, such as Germany and Sweden, euphemistically-termed ‘national populists’ threaten to become the official opposition. Uncovering the radical right is no longer a task for specialists, and pointing out new instances of right-wing extremism these days is, quite frankly, beleaguering.</p><p dir="ltr">This is the longer-term backdrop to what my colleague at the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a>, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, calls the ‘<a href="https://press.princeton.edu/titles/11142.html">extreme gone mainstream</a>’. In Brazil, the radical right populist Jair Bolsonaro nearly won the Presidential election outright, with <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-45780176">46% of first round votes</a>. Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about migrants, his political opponents and the media may well have radicalised someone enough to send mail bombs to at least <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-45975447">12 targets</a> across the US. In the UK, anti-Muslim activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson) stepped out of court and straight into a House of Lords <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/tommy-robinson-spotted-dining-with-ukip-bosses-in-the-house-of-lords-after-latest-court-appearance-a3970326.html">luncheon</a> with UKIP leader Gerard Batten at the invitation of UKIP peer Lord Pearson. </p><p dir="ltr">Increasingly, it seems, the radical right has a seat at every table worth a damn.</p><p dir="ltr">The last two incidents this week provide the immediate context for David Aaronovitch’s mischievous column in yesterday’s Times, accusing me and others of trying to “<a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/illiberal-left-plays-into-hands-of-the-far-right-qwwcwvrmd">stop</a>” a legitimate debate about multiculturalism in Britain. Their original title was: ‘Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat to the West?’ Lose the question mark and advance ‘is’ forward three spaces and you have the lowest common denominator for every radical-right ideologue today: “Rising Ethnic Diversity is a Threat to the West”. </p><p dir="ltr">In objecting to this inflammatory title, 160 academics penned an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/academics-for-meaningful-debate/framing-ethnic-diversity-debate-as-about-threat-legitimises-hat-0">open letter</a> arguing that “this debate was framed within the terms of white supremacist discourse”. There was no request made for the participants to withdraw; no talk of ‘censoring’ this debate; and certainly no call to ban the event. Instead, the signatories merely asked the debaters to reflect carefully upon their responsibility as elites, and to think about whether they were fanning the flames of intolerance.</p><p dir="ltr">Let’s say, for a moment, the debate is carried, and ethnic diversity is indeed deemed a ‘threat to the west’. What then? Forced repatriation of non-whites? Outlawing Islam in Europe? Or some form of what alt-right ideologue Richard Spencer has called ‘<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/richard-spencer-charlottesville-protests-white-supremacist-press-conference-flat-hotels-refuse-a7894236.html">peaceful ethnic cleansing’</a>? The mind boggles. </p><p dir="ltr">This isn’t a case of an “illiberal left” playing “into the hands of the far right”. Quite the opposite, really. In any case, their hands are full enough. Some realities on the ground don’t need to be debated, especially when their consequences smack of the very radical right themes the panel astonishingly claims to be countering through fearless debate. That these issues are more sensitively analysed and discussed is made plain in some of the very <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2018/10/19/the-appeal-of-populist-nationalism-in-the-age-of-accelerated-change/">texts</a> Mr Aaronivitch’s piece cites – without further normalising radical talking points.</p><p dir="ltr">Unconvinced by these objections, the dismissive tone of Mr Aaronovitch’s comment piece shows that he is unwilling to listen. At the same time, he expects to convince others at the debate that multiculturalism in Britain is no existential threat. I’m sure that migrants, BAME people, and all those concerned with the mainstreaming of the radical right will hope his audience is more open to persuasion than he is.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/academics-for-meaningful-debate/framing-ethnic-diversity-debate-as-about-threat-legitimises-hat-0">Framing ethnic diversity as a &#039;threat&#039; will normalise far-right hate, say academics</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Democracy and government Matthew Feldman Fri, 26 Oct 2018 15:32:28 +0000 Matthew Feldman 120302 at https://www.opendemocracy.net George Osborne’s Evening Standard under fire (again) over lucrative Uber deal https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick/osborne-s-evening-standard-under-pressure-over-unbranded-uber-coverage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Exclusive: Politicians call on UK advertising watchdog to investigate paid-for content dressed up as news at London’s biggest paper, after glowing articles about the controversial taxi app firm appear – but with no mention of sponsorship in hundreds of thousands of copies of the newspaper</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/3542341781_2e07e18657_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/3542341781_2e07e18657_b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>George Osborne. Image, altogetherfool, Flickr, some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">There are widespread calls for the UK’s advertising regulator to mount a fast-track investigation into George Osborne’s Evening Standard following the publication this week of an effusive interview with Uber’s chief executive. The article, presented as news, failed to inform readers that Uber is one of the key partners in a £3 million commercial deal – called Future London – with the London paper for “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick/george-osborne-s-london-evening-standard-promises-positive-news-coverage-to-uber-goo">money-can’t-buy</a>” positive news and comment, as revealed by openDemocracy earlier this summer. </p><p dir="ltr">The Standard told openDemocracy that it was "made clear in the article that Uber supported the Future London Initiative." But hundreds of thousands of copies of the paper distributed throughout London on Tuesday made no mention of Future London, the paper’s rebranded commercial tie-in with Uber, Google and other companies. </p><p dir="ltr">Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon have both called on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate the Standard. Guardian columnist George Monbiot called the Uber coverage “a disgraceful blurring of the line between journalism and advertising”.</p><p dir="ltr">The current <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/the-uber-driver-the-boss-tasked-with-turning-around-the-reputation-of-one-of-the-world-s-most-a3969156.html">online version</a> of the Standard’s interview with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, however, does include a minor reference to Uber’s involvement in Future London in the text of the piece. The normal industry convention is use a company logo and clearly flag up any commercial partnership – this has not been done in either the print or online version.</p><p dir="ltr">The Standard initially claimed there was full “transparency” over Uber’s role in Future London, then a day later claimed “edition pressures” had led to the absence of any mention of the financial tie-up in over 400,000 copies. An executive spokesman said the sentence was added at the first “opportunity” and was present on more than half a million copies of the free paper and had not been added earlier. </p><p dir="ltr">One industry insider, with connections to advertising regulation, called the explanation, “A pathetic arse-covering exercise that will not fool anyone with knowledge of how a feature of this scale is produced in a newspaper, especially in a project where millions of pounds in needed revenue is at stake. This has all the hallmarks of a bullshit afterthought; throwing in a sentence that treats readers like idiots.”</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.asa.org.uk/type/non_broadcast/code_section/02.html">advertising regulator’s rules</a> stipulate that native advertising – essentially commercial content dressed up to look like independent reporting – must be identifiable to readers.</p><p dir="ltr">The political commentator, Peter Oborne, who has been <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph">highly critical</a> of commercial pressure overruling independent journalism, told openDemocracy: “If there is any point in being a journalist, it is to hold companies like Uber to account and ask them telling questions. So I hope the Evening Standard will explain fully what has happened here.”</p><h2><span>Spot the difference</span></h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/standard uber.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/standard uber.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/unnamed-11.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/unnamed-11.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="505" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>This week’s interview with Uber’s Khosrowshahi was presented over a two-page spread as “news in focus” with no mention in the paper of Uber’s commercial relationship with the Standard. The interview followed a one-sided news story on an earlier page which puffed Uber’s new “clean air levy” and downplayed a 12 per cent hike in Uber fares as a “fee” which would help “tackle air pollution in the capital and raise £200 million to help Uber drivers switch to electric power. The hike is almost five times the rate of inflation.</p><p dir="ltr">In May, an openDemocracy investigation <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mary-fitzgerald-adam-bychawski/george-osborne-s-evening-standard-launches-delayed-money-can-t-buy">revealed</a> that Uber was then one of six companies including tech giant Google, who were paying a minimum of £500,000 each to be partners in a commercial project directed by Osborne and run by ESI Media, the advertising division of the Standard. Each partner was promised positive news and comment coverage in the newspaper. The number of companies involved is now five. </p><p dir="ltr">The project, initially called London 2020, had its launch postponed after <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick/george-osborne-s-london-evening-standard-promises-positive-news-coverage-to-uber-goo">openDemocracy’s reporting</a> on the “money can’t buy” offer triggered a storm of outrage. The initiative was later rebranded as ‘Future London’.</p><p dir="ltr">Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, called it “cash for column inches” adding that Osborne’s role as a credible editor was in question. The former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, said if Osborne was allowed to remain as editor “it is the end of mainstream journalism.”</p><p dir="ltr">ESI Media have previously denied the editorial-advertising divide has been crossed or that “money-can’t-buy” news coverage has been promised. The company runs marketing for the Standard, the online Independent and the London Live local tv station, all owned by Evgeny and Alexander Lebedev, with recent substantial investment from Saudi Arabia.</p><h2>Calls for investigation</h2><p dir="ltr">When ESI launched Future London in July, readers were promised: “Where businesses have supported us, we’ll make that clear on the page.” Osborne said his paper would be “reporting the truth”. </p><p dir="ltr">However the Khosrowshahi interview, written by a high-profile staff journalist and accompanied by a specially commissioned portrait, was branded as “news in focus” without any openly clear reference to Uber’s commercial deal with the Standard.</p><p dir="ltr">Khosrowshahi, 49, was described as “gentle, unassuming, with a clerical calm and a clean-cut CV”.</p><p dir="ltr">Uber has previously had a testy relationship with the London mayor’s office, but the article claimed Khosrowshahi’s plans now chimed with mayor Sadiq Khan’s policy “to reduce pollution” in London by 2020.</p><p dir="ltr">The Uber boss said he wanted “nothing less than revolutionising the transport industry” , adding that in “an ideal world” Uber would “put all London transport – Tube, buses, Overground – on Uber’s platform”. The Standard piece also quoted the CEO saying, “I would love to have black cabs on Uber as well.”</p><p dir="ltr">Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is now asking the ASA to investigate the Standard’s interview with Khosrowshahi and the commercial contract behind Future London. </p><p dir="ltr">"This article is clearly Uber-sponsored greenwash. It's vital the Advertising Standards Authority investigates these unlabelled adverts and sends a signal that the media must make clear the difference between paid-for content and independent journalism,” Lucas said.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />"Newspapers have a crucial role to play in holding corporations and those in power to account. In an age of fake news, journalistic integrity is more important than ever, and deals like this only undermine the public's already wavering trust."</p><p dir="ltr">Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee, said the ASA should investigate the Uber articles and the wider breakdown of the editorial-advertising divide being overseen by Osborne at the paper. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />“Good journalism should mean that people know the source of funding that media outlets are receiving and the Evening Standard is clearly failing to do that,” Pidgeon told openDemocracy.</p><p dir="ltr">“The two-page puff piece on Uber that appeared this week is a clear example where the word ‘advertorial’ or some something similar, should appear.”</p><p dir="ltr">Jonathan Hardy, professor of journalism at the University of East London said “ This illustrates the significant gap in UK regulations. In television, the rule against undue prominence for brands in programmes allows ordinary people to use regulation to identify and challenge embedded advertising. We need the same across publishing.”</p><p dir="ltr">Other politicians and leading advertising executives told openDemocracy that they regard the Uber interview as “brazen”, “arrogant” and “a shameless dismissal of journalistic ethics”. Many, however, said the power of the Evening Standard (as London’s only freesheet distributed in the afternoon) and Osborne’s track record of attacking critics meant they were reluctant to go on-the-record with their concerns.</p><p dir="ltr">Guardian columnist George Monbiot called it “a disgraceful blurring of the line between journalism and advertising” adding: “The Evening Standard can no longer be trusted as a source of news.</p><p dir="ltr">“If advertising standards means anything then the Advertising Standards Authority should carry out an urgent and full investigation and determine if this article – as a picture of Uber’s business – has been labelled correctly.”</p><h2>Do you really think this is a good idea?</h2><p dir="ltr">One senior Standard staff journalist told openDemocracy: “I would have expected this interview to at least have stated somewhere ‘In Association With Uber’. Since openDemocracy published its story [on London 2020] many staff journalists pressured by the ad department have simply pointed to the fallout from that piece and told pushy ad execs ‘Do you really think this is a good idea?’ That has made a lot of them back off. Now we have this.” </p><p dir="ltr">Under the editorship of the former chancellor George Osborne, the Standard is not making a profit. It lost <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-44537728">£10 million</a> last year and is on course for further huge losses. The daily distribution figure of 900,000 – key to its advertising rates – is also privately questioned by some agencies who believe the pulping of unwanted copies is a growing operation. </p><p dir="ltr">There have also been eyebrows raised at Osborne’s other business relationships with Uber. The former chancellor is paid <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/sep/25/evening-standard-urged-to-declare-osbornes-job-with-uber-shareholder">£650,000 a year</a> for a four-days-a-month advisory role with fund managers Blackrock. Blackrock has a stake in Uber which has been estimated to be worth £500m.</p><p dir="ltr">Uber, which is forecast to become publicly listed over the next two years, has had legal difficulties in London. It was branded “not a fit and proper company” to operate private cars, with Transport for London giving notification that its London licence was being withdrawn. </p><p dir="ltr">There were damaging issues over payments to drivers below the minimum wage, passenger safety and unreported sexual assaults. A stay of execution this year gave Uber a probation period of 15 months.</p><p dir="ltr">The Standard interview this week, however, stated that Uber “was so woven into the fabric of Londoner’s lives that they had no idea how they would cope without it.”</p><p dir="ltr">During his time in the Treasury, Osborne was widely seen as one of Uber’s strongest supporters. When the then London mayor, Boris Johnson, launched a review of private hire regulations that would have directly impacted on Uber’s business model, both Osborne and prime minister David Cameron are understood to have ordered a <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4347676/David-Cameron-s-chum-ocracy-links-Uber-bosses.html">lobbying operation</a> to encourage Johnson to back off. Johnson eventually abandoned his plans.</p><p dir="ltr">At the time, Steve McNamara, head of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association, responsible for the capital’s black cabs, <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/03/28/david-cameron-uber-lobbying/">accused Downing Street</a> of behaving like “paid-up lobbyists for Uber”.</p><p dir="ltr">An initial statement from Evening Standard said the national media, including the BBC, had carried a news story about Uber announcing its introduction of a clean air fee. He added : “It made absolute journalistic sense [for the Evening Standard] to publish on the same day an exclusive interview with the CEO of Uber about the company’s plans to go fully electric.</p><p dir="ltr">“Neither the news story nor the interview were part of the Future London initiative. They were editorial stories which this newspaper was proud to publish and other publications followed. As such, the articles do not come under the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority.” The statement said there had been “transparency” about Uber’s role in the Future London initiative.</p><p>However a day later, after openDemocracy questioned the facts of the first description, another statement was issued. It said there was a “simple explanation”. A spokesman said “edition pressures” had meant that the sentence on Uber’s link to Future London failed to be included, but this had been “changed at the next opportunity on the presses.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Standard claims to have a daily distribution rate of 900,000. It said 564,716 copies of Tuesday’s edition carried the sentence on the commercial tie-up with Uber. The paper’s statement said “There was no legal obligation” for this to happen and this was done by “editorial executives for transparency.” </p><p>Uber has so far not responded to requests for comment.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick/george-osborne-london-evening-standard-delays-google-uber-deal">George Osborne’s Evening Standard delays controversial Uber, Google deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/mary-fitzgerald-adam-bychawski/george-osborne-s-evening-standard-launches-delayed-money-can-t-buy">George Osborne’s Evening Standard launches delayed ‘money-can’t-buy’ campaign – with more controversial partners</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick/george-osborne-s-london-evening-standard-promises-positive-news-coverage-to-uber-goo">George Osborne’s London Evening Standard sells its editorial independence to Uber, Google and others – for £3 million</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph">Why I have resigned from the Telegraph</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk London UK Civil society media freedom journalism Evening Standard Uber George Osborne investigations James Cusick Fri, 26 Oct 2018 08:42:37 +0000 James Cusick 120289 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why we should be wary of Brexiteers’ efforts to import more Australian meat https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brendan-montague/why-we-should-be-wary-of-brexiteers-efforts-to-import-more-australian-meat <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="BodyA">Behind the bucolic image of antipodean farming lies a darker tale.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/sheep.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/sheep.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Skitterphoto/CC0</span></span></span></p><p class="BodyA">Lobbyists who represented the Australian live sheep exporters at the centre of a national scandal over the deaths of thousands of animals in appalling conditions are now working to reduce welfare standards on meat imports to the UK after Brexit.</p> <p class="BodyA">Liam Fox, the secretary of state for International Trade, is keen to do a deal with Australia. He announced a bilateral trade working group with Australia two years ago (September 2016). <br /> The&nbsp;EU and UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce has been established by the Australian live export industry with the aim of “favourably positioning Australia for positive outcomes in the EU free trade negotiations...and ensuring <a href="https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/in-conversation-with-jason-strong/">industry has a strategy</a> for the UK Brexit process.”</p> <p class="BodyA">Jason Strong, the chairman of the taskforce, argues that Brexit is a “once in a generation” opportunity to undermine the “restrictive” EU market. He said industry wanted to export the “lowest potential value item in a&nbsp;burnt goat head” to Britain after it leaves the trading block.</p> <p class="BodyA">Mr Strong’s taskforce was set up by&nbsp;Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) which includes LiveCorp - a live exports industry association funded through statutory levies - among its most important “<a href="http://rmac.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/MISP-2020.pdf">service providers</a>”. LiveCorp in turn has loyally represented&nbsp;Emanuel Exports - which has been <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/livestock-exporters-emanuel-have-licence-cancelled/10149576">gripped by scandals</a> about the welfare of the animals for decades.</p> <p class="BodyA">Graham Daws, when managing director of Emanuel Exports, apologised after a video was released by an employee showing the suffering on board a huge shipment where more than 2,400 sheep died of heat stress while being exported to the Middle East in August 2017. He&nbsp;<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-export-debate-graham-daws-quits-emanuel-exports-board-amid-wa-sheep-export-row-ng-b88891595z">stepped down</a>&nbsp;as a director of Emanuel Exports just two months ago as his companies remained mired in controversy.</p> <p class="BodyA">The video footage - shot during a voyage in which 2,400 sheep died of heat stress - was filmed by the trainee navigator Faisal Ullah and released through the advocacy group Animals Australia. It was shown on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes programme.</p> <p class="BodyA">Nic Daws, a director, said at the time that the incident was “is simply devastating and Emanuel Exports apologises to farmers and the broader community for these absolutely unacceptable outcomes” and mass deaths “are heartbreaking for our company and the producers whose livestock we export.”</p> <p class="BodyA">Some months later, Narelle Clegg, the animal export lead at the Australian Agriculture Department, ruled there had been no breaches on the Awassi Express chartered by&nbsp;Emanuel Exports. Just last week, the Australian federal government gave the go ahead for Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading to transport live sheep to the middle east. The company is, according to <em>the Guardian</em>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/18/live-exports-licence-given-to-company-linked-to-emanuel-exports">linked to Emanual Exports</a>. </p> <p class="BodyA">Daws had been leading member of LiveCorp, which represents the live export industry in Australia, having been elevated to its “hall of fame” at a gala dinner in November 2017. Terry Enright,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.livecorp.com.au/about-us/directors-of-the-livecorp-board">chairman</a>&nbsp;of LiveCorp, had described Daws as “<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-sheep-exporter-from-west-perth-has-history-of-mass-killings-ng-b88805146z">a driving force</a>&nbsp;in the live sheep trade from Western Australia to the Middle East,” adding: “His place in the industry’s Hall of Fame is thoroughly deserved.”</p> <p class="BodyA">The company has a long and torrid history of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-sheep-exporter-from-west-perth-has-history-of-mass-killings-ng-b88805146z">mass mortality</a>&nbsp;shipments of sheep.&nbsp;Melissa Parke, the former federal member for Fremantle, told protesters at the height of the scandal:&nbsp;“This was not a one-off incident,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/animal-rights-protesters-take-to-perth-cbd-over-live-export/news-story/06df8b832adc23a8cccb3f21e5ba662b">this was routine</a>.”</p> <p class="BodyA">Graham Daws&nbsp;and then fellow director Michael Stanton were charged with animal cruelty after 1,000 sheep died on aboard the MV Al Kuwait headed to the Middle East in November 2003.&nbsp;The magistrate found “elements of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-sheep-exporter-from-west-perth-has-history-of-mass-killings-ng-b88805146z">offence of cruelty to sheep</a>, in the way of transport, were proven” but the case failed when the magistrate ruled that the WA Animal Welfare Act conflicted with Commonwealth law.</p> <p class="BodyA">Emanuel Exports, and related companies EMS Rural Exports and International Livestock Exports, has been responsible for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-sheep-exporter-from-west-perth-has-history-of-mass-killings-ng-b88805146z">37 shipments</a>&nbsp;during which more than 1,000 sheep have died since 2005, according to animal rights campaigners Animals Australia.</p> <p class="BodyA">Dr Tony Hill, who worked as a vet for International Livestock Exports, witnessed how damp manure had released ammonia creating a “gas chamber” on the&nbsp;<em>Al Khaleej</em>&nbsp;ship during a 2001 voyage. He said then: “We saw sheep leaning out of the ship and trying to throw themselves out through the bars and frothing at the mouth and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/animals/live-sheep-exporter-from-west-perth-has-history-of-mass-killings-ng-b88805146z">just expiring</a>.”</p> <p class="BodyA">Further, Strong is quoted on the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/in-conversation-with-jason-strong/">taskforce website</a>&nbsp;stating: “There are two components in any formal negotiations for Australia – one is volume and the other is the type of product and how we get it into market.</p> <p class="BodyA">The&nbsp;EU and UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce is also backed by Meat and Livestock Australia, which is keen to challenge EU quotas regulation of meat imported to the UK after Brexit.</p> <p class="BodyA">Andrew McCallum, representing the MLAT, has said: “Brexit provides an unprecedented opportunity for the Australian red meat industry to enhance its trading relationship with the UK…. a more liberalised UK import regime than is currently in place, would deliver substantial advantages...to the Australian red meat industry.</p> <p class="BodyA">“In essence, the opportunity that Brexit and a subsequent Australia-UK FTA now provide [is] one which must be pursued with vigour and accordingly allocated the highest priority.”</p> <p class="BodyA">The MLAT has also told its members: “The Australian red meat industry can ill afford to see any&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/market-access-hot-topic-of-mlas-summer-of-european-activities/">reduction to this access</a>&nbsp;to the EU as a result of Brexit...We are monitoring the UK’s position on this closely and urging the UK to establish a fair system.”</p> <p class="BodyA">The lobbyists for the Australian meat industry can celebrate some highly significant recent successes. Boris Johnson, in his Brexit broadside against Theresa May, argued that “regulatory divergence” is “one of the key attractions of Brexit”. He attacked the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposal on the basis that “we [would] abandon control of our regulatory framework for goods and agri-foods - especially important in trade negotiations.”</p> <p class="BodyA">Johnson in his article referenced <a href="https://iea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/PLAN-A-final-document.pdf">Shanker Singham</a>, the director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the free market Institute of Economic Affairs and made heavy use of the think tank’s Plan A+ report.</p> <p class="BodyA">This report amplified many of the concerns and complaints of the Australian livestock industry. Singham argued strongly in favour of a bilateral trade agreement with Australia and also for the UK to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans- Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trading block, which includes Australia. </p> <p class="BodyA">He added: “Many of the countries the UK would be seeking to negotiate free trade agreements with as it executes its independent trade policy (such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and others) are Commonwealth countries. These countries are like-minded in terms of <em>a shared commitment to trade liberalisation</em> and competitive markets, and have worked together in other contexts <em>to deepen liberalisation.”</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p class="BodyA">Singham favours more liberal trade deals and attacked European Union environmental regulations as “<a href="https://iea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/PLAN-A-final-document.pdf">disguised methods</a> of protectionism”. He said the US has complained bitterly about EU rules in goods and agri-food. “The same is true of other big agricultural exporters like Australia, New Zealand and many of the CPTPP countries.” He advised that the UK must not “remained tied to the EU regulatory system” but instead “meet CPTPP members’ approaches to good regulatory practice”.</p> <p class="BodyA">If the UK government were to follow Singham’s advice it would sign free trade agreements that would “allow companies from each party, in as many sectors as possible, to export according to their own country’s regulations and standards, which would then be recognised by the other country.” This would allow Australia to import meat to the UK treated with hormones. Indeed, Singham argued that the UK had violated WTO rules in relation to hormone treated meat from Canada and the US.</p> <p class="BodyA">Singham’s comments about reducing regulation for India includes the entire shopping list drawn up by the Australian sheep export industry. He said: “The UK will need to provide much greater market access to India’s agricultural produce. This means reducing tariffs, but critically means reducing the regulatory barriers derived from the SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] and TBT [technical barriers to trade] rules in the European <em>acquis</em>. </p> <p class="BodyA">“Thus the UK will need regulatory autonomy over these rules in order to do a deal with India. This will benefit Indian producers as well as British consumers through cheaper products…In particular, India will want to see a more open UK agricultural sector, both in terms of tariffs and in terms of regulatory barriers such as the EU’s environmental and other regulatory barriers in the agricultural sector.”</p> <p class="BodyA">A trustee and donor to the think tank, Michael Hintze, is “one of Australia’s biggest landholders and a major investor in Australian farming, including beef cattle”, according to <em>Private Eye</em><em>.</em> Hintze has also given £4 million to the Conservative Party, and £100,000 to the Leave campaign. He is also a close friend of Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, <em>Private Eye</em> reports.</p> <p class="BodyA">Kierra Box, Brexit campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told openDemocracy: “Ministers were queueing up at this year’s Conservative party conference to champion UK standards on animal welfare, food production and consumer goods, promising the public that we can rest assured none of the standards that support our environment will be bargained away in pursuit of these deals.</p> <p class="Default">“So it is mystifying that some members of the government continue to follow the destructive path advocated by backroom lobbyists rather than support the vision of a better environment for the next generation which will benefit. No one voted for Britain to leave Europe in order to become the dirty man of the world again.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/brendan-montague/brexit-is-taking-our-food-policy-in-wrong-direction">Brexit is taking our food policy in the wrong direction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/mapped-shanker-singhams-unparalleled-access-to-government-ministers-a">Mapped – hard Brexit guru Singham&#039;s &#039;unparalleled&#039; access to government </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/big-agriculture-s-brexiteers-are-pulling-wool-over-our-eyes">Big Agriculture’s Brexiteers are pulling the wool over our eyes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brendan Montague Fri, 26 Oct 2018 05:00:00 +0000 Brendan Montague 120268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Deal" or "Secret Deal" – the EU-UK trade deal looks even more secretive than TTIP https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/tamasin-cave-kenneth-haar/deal-or-secret-deal-eu-uk-trade-deal-looks-even-more-secretive-than-tti <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the media focus on the <em>withdrawal </em>deal, City lobbyists are working to set the agenda of the future EU-UK <em>trade </em>deal, whilst the public is kept in the dark.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/city-city-of-london-cross-280194.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/city-city-of-london-cross-280194.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Dragon at the boundary of the City of London. Credit: Pixabay</span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">Since the British voted to leave the EU, corporate lobbyists have been working to ensure any future EU-UK trade deal delivers maximum benefits and as little disruption to them as possible. Not least financial sector lobbyists, who have been lobbying hard to influence a future EU-UK trade deal that serves the sector, not just in London but across Europe as well.</p> <p class="Standard">Their proposals include plans that would lead to weakened regulations and specific threats to the public interest, such as ‘special courts’ that allow banks to sue governments if they adopt rules the financial sector finds unfair, such as attempts to introduce a small tax on financial transactions. </p> <p class="Standard">Ten years after the financial crisis, a major cause of which was the lack of robust regulations, any weakening of rules, or mechanisms that privilege corporations, would not be in the public interest. It is imperative, then, that negotiations between the EU and UK are open, so that the public can see who is influencing the talks and what is being proposed.</p> <p class="Standard">As our research shows, however, the early signs aren't promising. Financial sector lobbyists have been granted enormous access to key officials, but information on their discussions is being withheld by both the UK and EU. In part this mirrors the secrecy of previous trade negotiations, such as the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which were themselves the cause of much public concern. If anything, though, there is even less transparency today than with TTIP.</p> <h2><strong><span>Privileged access to negotiators</span></strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Politicians and officials in both Brussels and the UK have engaged heavily with financial services lobbyists since the June 2016 referendum.</p> <p class="Standard">UK Brexit ministers, for example, held nearly 20% of their meetings with finance lobbyists in the early stage of the discussions (56 meetings in total, between October 2016 and June 2017). To put this into context, <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2017/12/big-business-brexit-corporate-interests-still-dominate-brexit-and-trade">more meetings were held on finance with corporate lobbyists than with all of civil society, on any issue</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">The lobby group, TheCityUK, for example, which has coordinated the drafting of some of the City's proposals, has had over two dozen meetings in eighteen months with Ministers and senior officials in just the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) and the Treasury to discuss Brexit. This access is supplemented by over a dozen meetings, dinners and receptions attended by Ministers hosted by the City of London Corporation.</p> <p class="Standard">Individual financial sector firms have also enjoyed significant access to government. American investment bank Goldman Sachs, for instance, has had over a dozen solo meetings with ministers and officials, including two private dinners with Chancellor Phillip Hammond, our Freedom of Information requests have revealed.</p> <p class="Standard">A similar picture emerges in the EU. From the beginning of 2017 till March 2018, the EU Task Force leading the negotiations, headed by Michel Barnier, had nearly 70 meetings with financial corporations or lobby associations They include three meetings with Deutsche Bank, two with BNP Paribas and other big financial corporations on the continent, as well as many big names from the City of London such as Barclays and Lloyds, and US banks like Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. It also includes many powerful financial lobby groups, such as TheCityUK and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME).</p> <h2><strong>Less transparent than TTIP?</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Both sides of the negotiations have publicly promised that discussions on future trade deals will be transparent, so that any interested parties, not just corporate interests, can be involved and comment on proposals before decisions are taken.</p> <p class="Standard">As UK trade Secretary Liam Fox put it last year, negotiators do not want to get into the same position as they did with the TTIP deal between the US and EU “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/07/fox-says-public-wont-accept-lower-food-standards-in-chlorinated-chicken-row">where a huge amount of work is done only to find the public won’t accept it</a>.” People, he said, now take a 'much bigger interest in trade agreements' than previously. He promised that the public would be consulted.</p> <p class="Standard">The EU side, too, promised the Commission announced the negotiations would be conducted under “<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/brexit-negotiations/european-commissions-approach-transparency-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en">maximum transparency during the whole negotiation process</a>”.</p> <p class="Standard">However, our research shows that both Westminster and Brussels are resisting formal access-to-documents requests to disclose even the most straightforward information on lobbying by the financial sector.</p> <p class="Standard">The Brexit departments have the worst transparency records in government. According to research by Unearthed, <a href="https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2018/05/04/brexit-dexeu-transparency-freedom-of-information-foi/">DExEU responded fully to just 17% of freedom of information requests in 2017</a> and the Department for International Trade (DIT) answered in full just 21% of requests.</p> <p class="Standard">Behind these figures are decisions that go against not only the government's requirement to disclose and the public's right to know, but both sides' recent commitment to transparency. Without this, we lose our ability to understand the deals that are being done behind the scenes with financial sector lobbyists.</p> <h2><strong>Off the record discussions with UK government</strong></h2><p class="Standard">In late 2017 Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) filed a simple request for minutes of meetings between DExEU officials and corporations including HSBC, Rolls Royce, PWC, Barclays, CBI, BP, KPMG, Standard Life, GSK, Prudential, BT, Caterpillar and Mitsubishi. We wanted to know, and think the public has a right to know, basic details of what is being discussed in relation to Brexit.</p> <p class="Standard">DExEU considered this request a 'fishing expedition', decided that it had no purpose, and refused to disclose any information. Even after the request was narrowed, it refused to release any information on the grounds that it would take too long.</p> <p class="Standard">So, we asked for the basic records of just six meetings between DExEU and financial services companies. It turns out that in five of the six cases, no minutes were taken. And the notes from the only meeting recorded, with TheCityUK, we aren't allowed to see, because to make them public would 'set an unwanted precedent'. For 'optimal' policy development, discussions with corporations needed to be 'confidential', said DExEU. To release details of discussions with finance lobbyists 'prior to [Brexit policy] decisions being made' would damage the interests of the UK, it argued. The interests of the City, however, are quite different from wider public interests, and these can only be protected is there is public scrutiny of what is being discussed <em>before </em>decisions are taken.</p> <p class="Standard">Our work with other official UK bodies confirms the trend. The office of the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU has rejected a straightforward request for a list of organisations with whom it has met since the referendum. Even appearing on a list of meetings could scare them off, it is argued.</p> <h2><strong>EU keeping shtum</strong></h2><p class="Standard"><strong></strong>While the Brussels' team promised 'maximum transparency', it is no more open than UK authorities.</p> <p class="Standard">It released a list of meetings with the financial sector covering the first half of 2017, in response to a request for information, but is refusing to disclose details of what was discussed at these meetings, including any minutes, or details of what these banks, hedge funds, and other financial sector giants are lobbying for in relation to Brexit.</p> <p class="Standard">A cache of emails between financial sector lobbyists and the EU Taskforce, released by the latter in response to our request, shows the frequency and extent of their communication with the sector, but again, provides no meaningful information. The 186 pages of correspondence are heavily redacted, leaving only courtesies and administrative communications visible. The Taskforce has deemed that we can know <em>how </em>meetings are arranged, but not the substance of them.</p> <p class="Standard">The reason for secrecy? Besides some standard remarks on protection of ‘commercial secrets’, the core argument is that ‘public disclosure would …. risk upsetting the negotiations” and that the Commission <a href="https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/communication_between_the_financ#incoming-18600">“needs to preserve a ‘safe space’ for confidential preliminary exchanges.”</a></p> <h2><strong>Less transparent than TTIP</strong></h2><p class="Standard"><strong></strong>What is clear from this year-long research project is that there is no willingness on the part of either Brussels, or the UK to share the content of exchanges between decision-makers and the financial sector. On the EU side this represents a major setback on transparency. </p> <p class="Standard">While the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU were not known to be transparent, reports of minutes between negotiators and the EU were released on request, albeit always edited. Edits were in the main about negotiators keeping their cards close to their chest, not about what the positions lobbyists were pushing at meetings. This includes <a href="https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/1552/response/6372/attach/html/5/List%20of%20documents%20CANN%20Standard%20Chartered.pdf.html">meetings with the financial sector</a>. During the TTIP debate a single request could lead to the disclosure of not only dozens of minutes but meeting documents as well, <a href="https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/stakeholder_contacts_on_ttip_sin_3#incoming-8860">including position papers from different branches of industry</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">In these early stages of talks over a future EU/UK trading relationship, financial sector lobbyists will have been pushing their agendas with officials on both sides and helping to shape official positions. While transparency rules do allow for exemption of information that would undermine international relations, they do not provide for the kind of blanket rejections we see here.</p> <p class="Standard">The stakes are potentially very high. In recent years, the financial sector has lobbied for proposals that have met stiff public opposition, including the introduction of <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/supporting-europes-economies-and-citizens/">‘special private courts’&nbsp;to settle disagreements between a state and investors</a>. An Investment Dispute Settlement System (ISDS) could in future be used to prevent states from adopting rules on finance that are in the public interest, or lead to governments facing massive fines. Rules such as a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT), which the City has lobbied fiercely against for years. Proposals currently being put forward by lobby group UK Finance, for example, whose members <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/about-us/uk-finance-members/">include megabanks BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Lloyds</a>, if adopted, could lead to an FTT being fought in special courts and perhaps defeated. </p> <p class="Standard">Should a trade agreement be negotiated under the present conditions, it would help the two sides hide the fate of controversial proposals and perhaps present them only when a final deal has been reached. Such a scenario is undemocratic. Those fences must be torn down before trade negotiations take off for real.</p> <p class="Standard"><em>This article was written as part of an ongoing collaborative research on Brexit and lobbying involving CEO, SpinWatch, LobbyControl and Observatoire des multinationales, within the ENCO (European Network of Corporate Observatories) network. A longer report will be out in a few weeks.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/looking-at-lexit/molly-scott-cato-julian-sayarer/brexit-economic-strategy-from-left">Brexit: an economic strategy from the left?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/john-hilary/ttip-denial-in-face-of-defeat">TTIP - denial in face of defeat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/justus-von-daniels-marta-orosz/ttip-secret-document-reveals-in-detail-eu-offer-to-drop-97-percent">TTIP: Secret document reveals EU offer to drop 97 percent of tariffs</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Brexit TTIP International Trade Kenneth Haar Tamasin Cave Thu, 25 Oct 2018 11:27:32 +0000 Tamasin Cave and Kenneth Haar 120276 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Debates about poppies are nothing new, but the tone has changed in Brexit Britain https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/debates-about-poppies-are-nothing-new-but-tone-has-changed-in-brexit-britain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The poppy hasn't suddenly been co-opted. It's always been a little piece of propaganda.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Blood_Swept_Lands_and_Seas_of_Red_-_Roll_of_Honour_at_sunset.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Blood_Swept_Lands_and_Seas_of_Red_-_Roll_of_Honour_at_sunset.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Tower of London poppy instillation in 2014. Image, Oosoom.</span></span></span></p><p>For some, the key moment was when they painted a poppy on the side of an RAF Tornado. For others, it was the sense that the symbology was being used to silence criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It has” tweeted second world war RAF veteran&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Harryslaststand/status/528977651856605184" target="_blank">Harry Lesley Smith</a>&nbsp;in 2014 “been co-opted”.&nbsp;</p><p>For others, it’s a moved from a quiet sign of Remembrance to an icon of Brexit nationalism. The author Matt Haig&nbsp;<a href="http://I&#039;m%20not%20wearing%20a%20poppy%20this%20year.%20I%20think%20it%20is%20shifting%20from%20a%20symbol%20remembering%20war&#039;s%20horror,%20to%20a%20symbol%20of%20war-hungry%20nationalism." target="_blank">tweeted</a>&nbsp;“I'm not wearing a poppy this year. I think it is shifting from a symbol remembering war's horror, to a symbol of war-hungry nationalism.”</p><p>Poppies always draw out passions, and it’s important to acknowledge that meaning is in the mind of the wearer: that someone does or doesn’t pin a piece of paper to their lapel doesn’t indicate that they sign up to everything that’s said about it. But it seems to me that there are two fascinating things about the sorts of statements I’ve quoted above.&nbsp;</p><p>First, red poppies have always been contentious.&nbsp;</p><p>They were chosen by Lady Haig (wife of the famous Field Marshall) in 1921, in a moment of vital historical context. The preceding years had seen the Easter Rising, the Russian revolution and the ‘flu pandemic. The war itself had been rife with&nbsp;<a href="https://leftfootforward.org/2014/08/ww1-the-hidden-story-of-soliders-mutinies-strikes-and-riots/" target="_blank">soldier strikes</a>, mutinies and protests, and had been ended by working class German sailors leading&nbsp;<a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/by/paul-mason/blogs/world-war" target="_blank">a massive rebellion</a>&nbsp;against their aristocratic commanders.&nbsp;</p><p>In 1919, there had been an attempted revolution&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_George_Square" target="_blank">in Glasgow</a>, riots in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/23/soldiers-riot-luton-first-world-war-1919" target="_blank">England</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsom_Riot" target="_blank">and</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7923380.stm" target="_blank">Wales</a>. Strikes rippled through the country. Just as the USA had struggled through its “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Summer" target="_blank">Red Summer</a>”, Britain had seen its “year of revolution”.&nbsp;</p><p>When the government had organised a number of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.historyextra.com/remembrance" target="_blank">victory parades</a>, some of the soldiers refused to participate. When they instead held the first, more sombre Armistice Day, in 1919,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/z229kqt" target="_blank">a number of the veterans protested</a>&nbsp;against the conditions they were expected to live in.</p><p>The poppy was chosen as a symbol, by the wife of perhaps the most controversial military figure in British history, at a moment when Britain’s blundering ruling class was more terrified than perhaps it had ever been that it was going to be overthrown. In that context, it has to be understood for what it was: a propaganda tool, functioning to silence protest by demanding national unity: the ubiquitous strategy of threatened establishments. &nbsp;</p><p>She chose a poppy, specifically, because of a piece of rhyming propaganda for war, written by a Canadian military doctor called John Macrae,&nbsp;<em>In Flanders Field</em>, whose final verse is an explicit statement that refusing to continue to fight is an insult to those who have already died.</p><p class="m_-4723772025692197668gmail-poem"><em>Take up our quarrel with the foe:<br />To you from failing hands we throw<br />The torch; be yours to hold it high.<br />If ye break faith with us who die<br />We shall not sleep, though poppies grow<br />In Flanders fields.</em></p><p>Similarly, the poppy hasn’t just recently become a nationalist symbol. It always has been. Until last summer, there was a famous memorial on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, to the Anzac soldiers who fought against the Ottoman empire there. Supposedly quoting Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, it reads, “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours”.</p><p>The contrast with the British legion’s statement, under the banner “what we remember” on their website: “The Legion advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British Armed Forces, those who were killed, those who fought with them and alongside them.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/future-soldiers-300x199.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/future-soldiers-300x199.jpg" alt="" title="" width="300" height="199" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image, Royal British Legion website, (via Forces Watch), fair use.</span></span></span></p><p>The red poppy is – and always has been – explicitly about remembering ‘our’ military dead, not all the victims of war. Not those killed in bombing raids. And certainly not the German or Turkish or Japanese or Italian or Afghan or Iraqi people against whom British soldiers have fought.</p><p>It was because of all of these debates and disagreements that the Women’s Co-operative Guild finally settled on the white poppy as a new symbol of Remembrance – in 1933. Unlike the red poppy, it commemorates all victims of war.</p><p>So, if this debate is as old as Remembrance itself, why do so many&nbsp;<em>feel&nbsp;</em>that something has changed?</p><p>First, of course, something&nbsp;<em>has&nbsp;</em>changed. It’s certainly the case that poppies these days are more bling than they once were, more commercial in feel (as the Twitter account&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/giantpoppywatch" target="_blank">@giantpoppywatch</a>&nbsp;documents).&nbsp;</p><p>And it’s certainly the case, as Michael Gove&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532923/Michael-Gove-blasts-Blackadder-myths-First-World-War-spread-television-sit-coms-left-wing-academics.html" target="_blank">admitted in 2014</a>, that the government wants to use the centenary of the First World War to re-write our national story about it, to teach us that, no, this isn’t a warning against a blundering ruling class but in fact “a just war”. It’s a convenient moment to make such a case, just as the last generation which fought in it is no longer able to respond.</p><p>Similarly, there does seem to be a stronger tide of ‘poppy fascism’ – the sense that those who choose not to wear one in public will be slated, and&nbsp;attendance at Remembrance parades does seem to be growing: people in Shirebrook in the East Midlands last year told me that it's the&nbsp;<a href="https://civilsocietyfutures.org/brass-bands-brexit-culture-culture-war-case-shirebrook/">only community event</a>&nbsp;that's got bigger in recent years, and the Tower of London poppy installation of 2014 attracted an estimated five million people, meaning it is surely the biggest 'live' cultural event in modern British history.</p><p>It seems to me that much of this is really about is the same thing that the First World war was really about: Empire. The combination of the financial crisis, and losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (let’s be honest with ourselves), has forced much of Britain to realise that we no longer rule the waves. The cultural spasms and backlashes resulting from that realisation are playing out in a number of ways: including Brexit, British Empire kitsch and poppy fascism. It’s a century old argument, but it’s surfacing now for a reason.</p><p><em>A version of this piece first appeared in <a href="https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/why-we-musnt-forget-the-origins-of-the-rememberance-day-poppy">Prospect </a>last year.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/hiding-behind-cenotaph-cameron-will-seek-to-re-write-history">Hiding behind the Cenotaph, Cameron will seek to re-write history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/arms-bazaar-needing-wars-eating-lives">Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/vron-ware/no-place-like-home">No place like home</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/vron-ware-ben-wadham/ww1-and-battle-of-national-myth">WW1 and the battle of the national myth</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Conflict The Iraq War World War I empire Poppies Adam Ramsay Thu, 25 Oct 2018 10:20:25 +0000 Adam Ramsay 120267 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Twenty years on from devolution, the UK’s fiscal and economic model is still broken https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/eurfyl-ap-gwilym/twenty-years-on-from-devolution-uk-s-fiscal-and-economic-model-is-still-broken <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The ‘deficit’ is unevenly distributed, with investment in R&amp;D, transport and the arts still heavily skewed to the South East. Post-Brexit, is it time for a change?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/Canary_Wharf_Crossrail_Place.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/Canary_Wharf_Crossrail_Place.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: The Norman Foster-designed Crossrail garden, Canary Wharf, 2016. Credit: Jayflux/Wikimedia, CC 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>Anniversaries and major events often give us pause for thought: a time to reflect on the past and to look forward to the future. Next year sees the twentieth anniversary of the people of Scotland and Wales voting in favour of devolution. At the same time the UK is expected to leave the European Union. So, how have Scotland and Wales fared economically over the last twenty years? Have the fiscal arrangements worked? And could the repercussions of Brexit be a catalyst to deliver better economic and fiscal outcomes in the future, not only for the two devolved nations but also to many regions of England?</p> <p>Brexit is expected to have a major impact on the UK economy with the effect being markedly different in various parts of the UK (1). While there is much debate and disagreement regarding the medium to long term economic impact of Brexit a useful exercise is to look at the current state of the UK economy and how the picture differs across the nations and regions. Such an analysis offers a good starting point for consideration of the fiscal strategy that should be pursued by the UK Government post Brexit.</p> <h2>The UK’s fiscal deficit is unevenly distributed</h2> <p>The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published estimates of the fiscal balances for the nations and regions of the UK (2). Within the past few years at the UK level the deficit, the difference between public expenditure and revenue, declined from just over £90bn in 2014-15 to £46bn in 2016-17. The outlook for the current year (2018-19) is a deficit of roughly £30bn or under 2 per cent of GDP. Thus, after years of austerity progress continues to be made, albeit slowly, to achieving a ‘balanced budget’ where public expenditure and revenue are in balance. If it were not for the uncertainties associated with Brexit a balanced budget could well be achieved within the next few years - some twelve years or so after the onset of the financial crisis in 2007-08. These figures are for the UK as a whole and are the ones most often quoted in the media. What is the picture at a more localised level?</p> <p>The ONS analyses public expenditure by geography with the majority (~85 per cent of total expenditure) being identifiable (defined as expenditure that can be recognised as having been incurred for the benefit of individuals, enterprises or communities within a particular country or region) and the balance being central government expenditure which, being deemed as on behalf of and for the benefit of the UK as a whole (e.g. defence, international aid, debt interest), is allocated geographically on either a population or GDP basis. The ONS report also covers the income side of the public accounts and draws on detailed geographical analysis of tax and other revenues undertaken by HMRC (3). </p> <p>One of the most striking but not surprising elements of the ONS report is that of the twelve nations and regions of the UK only three are in budget surplus. These are London, South East England and East of England or, in other words, London and its hinterland, often tellingly referred to as the ‘Home Counties’. In 2016-17 these three regions had a surplus of £52bn while the remainder of the UK had a deficit of £98bn. England as a whole had a deficit of £8.5bn compared with deficits of almost £15bn for Scotland and just over £13bn for Wales.</p> <p>In Wales the key factor driving the deficit is not higher public expenditure but lower revenues. Total public expenditure per capita in Wales is almost 8 per cent higher than the UK average - but revenue per head is 25 per cent lower. Compared to the UK average, Wales is spending and extra £881 per head but taking £2,675 less in tax. Scotland, by comparison, is in the enviable position of having both higher tax revenue than Wales (only £508 less per head than the UK average) and higher public spending (spending £1,495 per person more). </p> <p>What are the reasons for revenue in Wales being so low? There is a close correlation between tax generated per head and GVA per head. So why is GVA so low? About 70 per cent of it comes from wages. Higher Welsh unemployment rates (4.3 per cent for Wales and 4.0 per cent for the UK) is a minor factor. Lower average earnings are more significant (median weekly earnings in 2016 of £498 in Wales versus £539 for the UK). But the main cause is the distribution of wage levels, particularly the low number of higher earners. According to estimates by the Wales Governance Centre the mean taxpayer income in Wales in 2014-15 (excluding dividends and interest) was £24,900 compared with £29,900 for the rest of the UK.</p> <p>Wales with 4.7 per cent of the UK’s population has only 1.4 per cent of additional-rate taxpayers. The sensitivity of income tax <em>yield</em> to income distribution has increased markedly since the policy, introduced in 2010, of raising much more quickly than inflation the threshold at which income tax becomes payable. Low incomes are, in turn, a reflection of low productivity. Productivity per hour in Wales is some 80 per cent of the UK average (4).</p> <p>The three principal sources of tax revenue are: income tax; national insurance contributions (NIC); and Value Added Tax (VAT). The weak performance of Wales in generating tax revenues is summarised in Table 1.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Table 1: Principal sources of tax revenue 2016-17 (5). Source: </strong>HMRC. October 2017.</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td width="132" valign="top"> <p><strong>Population share </strong></p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p><strong>Total Tax</strong></p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p><strong>Income tax.</strong></p> </td> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p><strong>&nbsp;NICs</strong></p> </td> <td width="66" valign="top"> <p><strong>&nbsp;VAT</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p><strong>Wales</strong></p> </td> <td width="132" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;4.7%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;3.4%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;2.9%</p> </td> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;3 .5%</p> </td> <td width="66" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;4.1%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p><strong>Scotland</strong></p> </td> <td width="132" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;8.2%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;7.6%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;7.3%</p> </td> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;8.3%</p> </td> <td width="66" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;8.3%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p><strong>England</strong></p> </td> <td width="132" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;84.3%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;87.0%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;88.3%</p> </td> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;86.2%</p> </td> <td width="66" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;84.9%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p><strong>N. Ireland.</strong></p> </td> <td width="132" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;2.8%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;2.0%</p> </td> <td width="94" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;1.6%</p> </td> <td width="85" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;2.1%</p> </td> <td width="66" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;2.7%</p> </td> </tr> </table> <h2>The centralised big country model</h2> <p>The geographic pattern of surpluses and deficits has persisted for decades and unless the UK economic model is radically changed there is no reason to believe that it will not continue. This pattern is, in large part, the result of economic policies pursued by successive UK governments over many years. To illustrate this point, consider the following: given that the fiscal strategy of the UK Government is to balance the budget and what will happen if and when the UK as a whole achieves fiscal balance? If the past is any guide to the future, then public spending will then be allowed to grow broadly in line with GDP (over the longer-term expenditure in the UK has been within a percentage point or two of 34 per cent of GDP) and total taxes may be cut a little although individual taxes may be changed more substantially. The Chancellor of the day will be guided by UK aggregate figures with little attention being paid to the regions and nations of the UK beyond London and the ‘Home Counties’ which currently account for 46 per cent of total public sector revenues in the UK and as noted are the source of large budget surpluses. The fact that the wider UK will continue to be in deficit and the recipient of fiscal transfers from the centre will be regarded as a ‘price worth paying’ to support the current economic model. Implicit in such a model is an acceptance that the level of economic wellbeing in most of the nations and regions of the UK will continue substantially to lag London and South East England and be below their potential. As has been noted elsewhere: “the centralised big country model which concentrates too much economic activity in London and the South East region is holding Scotland and the other regions and nations of the UK below their potential.” (5).</p> <p>It is a tribute to the power and persistence of the current economic model that the majority of people in the UK view such a geographical pattern of surpluses and deficits as the norm although there are the first signs of stirring of discontent beyond Wales and Scotland in parts of the north of England. Perhaps there is a dawning realisation that unlike the laws of physics economic outcomes are principally determined by human behaviour and policies formulated by governments. Modern, advanced economies such as Germany, the Netherlands and the USA have a much more geographically even spread of economic prosperity. </p> <p>In a modern economy factors which loomed large in earlier times such as quality of agricultural land and proximity to raw materials are of little importance and what counts are: levels of education; skills; R&amp;D led innovation; availability of capital for investment; modern infrastructure; together with legally-respected property rights. </p> <p>It is no coincidence that in many of the areas which involve public investment UK government policy has disproportionately favoured London and the Home Counties. Consider three areas of public spending: research and development; investment in transport; and the arts.</p> <h2>London gets 10 times more R&amp;D funding than Wales</h2> <p>As the world moves increasingly towards being a knowledge driven economy, expenditure on research and development is important both as a source of new ideas and inventions that can be commercialised to form the basis of the next generation of business and also as a means of equipping people with the requisite skills for the new economy. There are a number of sources for spending on R&amp;D: business; higher education; government and research councils; and private non-profit. Business is by far the biggest source of R&amp;D expenditure and this tends to be concentrated in certain sectors (defence and pharmaceuticals) and geographically. Of the £6.5bn spent on R&amp;D by the higher education sector 59 per cent, or £274 per person was spent in London and the Home Counties. This compares with £83 per person in the rest of England, £86 in Wales and £196 in Scotland. The differences are even more marked in the case of R&amp;D spending by the UK Government and the research councils: of the £2.2bn spent in 2016: £54 per person was spent in London and the Home Counties; £5 per person in Wales and £30 per person in Scotland. </p> <p>Recent analysis by Guto Ifan of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University (6) has shown how London has been the recipient of a disproportionate share of public investment in transport over decades. Cumulative spend per person in real terms since 1999-00 has been £7,500 in London compared with £4,100 in Scotland, a mere £3,000 in Wales and £3,700 across the UK as a whole. This distorted pattern of public expenditure in favour of London has persisted for many decades. Examples of the much higher spending in London over the past fifty years include: the Victoria and Jubilee underground lines; the M25 orbital motorway; HS1 which is soon to be followed by HS2 (a report by KPMG (7) shows that London will benefit far more than Birmingham and points north on the proposed HS2 route); the Docklands Light Railway; and Crossrail 1 which is due to open in 2019 and is expected to be followed by Crossrail 2. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>London gets 5 times more arts spending (per head) than Yorkshire</h2> <p>A common response to cold, financial analysis is to claim that other factors such as ‘quality of life’ are important and this is undoubtedly true. Indeed, it is increasingly recognised that a vibrant cultural life can be a powerful factor in attracting and retaining well educated and skilled people who are increasingly needed in the knowledge-based economy. However, despite the fact that private sponsorship of the arts is overwhelmingly concentrated in London here again public spending is heavily weighted in favour of London as well. Arts Council England spent £24 per person in London compared with £5 in Yorkshire and £6 in the North East of England in 2012-13 (8). The comparable figure in Wales is £9 per person.</p> <h2>The way the Treasury allocates funding is part of the problem</h2> <p>To a large extent the spending patterns across the countries of the UK are locked into the way the Treasury allocates funding. In the case of Scotland and Wales changes to approximately half of total public expenditure are linked arithmetically to changes to public expenditure in England (the Barnett formula). Little or no attempt is therefore made to respond to changing needs or to the need to ‘pump prime’ the economies of those countries by additional investment aimed at stimulating faster economic growth which in the longer term would not only result in healthier economies but would also reduce the need for fiscal transfers from the centre. Similar considerations apply to most of the regions of England where funding is distributed by Whitehall using a range of formulae.</p> <p>Table 2 sets out relative GVA per head and relative identifiable expenditure per head for some of the regions of England and the countries of the UK. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Table 2: Relative GVA per head and relative public spending 2016-17. Source:</strong> Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2018. HM Treasury. July 2018.</p> <table border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p><strong>Relative GVA </strong></p> <p><strong>per head</strong></p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>Relative Identifiable</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;Expenditure per head</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>UK</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;100%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;100%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>England</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;103%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;97%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;North East</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;73%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;106%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;North West</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;88%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;103%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;Yorkshire &amp; Humber </p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;79%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;96%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;East Midlands</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;80%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;90%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;West Midlands</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;83%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;97%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;South West</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;88%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;93%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;London</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;176%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;111%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;South East</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;109%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;89%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;East of England</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;91%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;89%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>Wales</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;73%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;110%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>Scotland</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;94%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;116%</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="151" valign="top"> <p>Northern Ireland</p> </td> <td width="95" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;76%</p> </td> <td width="123" valign="top"> <p>&nbsp;121%</p> </td> </tr> </table> <p>Clearly, there is little relationship between public spending levels and GVA per capita. London stands out like a sore thumb with much higher GVA per head allied to high public spending. The East Midlands and South West of England are at the other end of the spectrum with low GVA and low public spending. When reviewing how public funding is allocated attention is usually paid to relative need (see for example the reports of the Holtham Commission (10)) but little attention has been paid to the need for supplementary investment funding in order to raise the economic performance of poorer countries and regions of the UK over the medium to long term. </p> <p>It is noteworthy that in those regions where public expenditure per head is relatively high the most common reason is higher spending on ‘Social Protection’ which principally comprises spending on old age pensions and sickness and disability payments. In the case of Wales, of the £917 per person of above UK average public expenditure in 2016-17, £650 went on social protection. Welcome as such payments are they contribute little to preparing the next generation for a more prosperous future within their own nations or regions. </p> <h2>What can Welsh and other national governments do?</h2> <p>The principal economic levers that affect Wales are, to the extent that any level of government controls them, in the hands of the UK Government. Such levers include: target inflation rates (set by the UK Government and implemented by the Bank of England); the structure and levels of taxation; and public expenditure including capital investment. However, this is not to absolve the Welsh Government from its responsibilities in areas such as: education including university funding; skills development; public procurement; facilitating the provision of funding for Welsh business; and supplementing capital investment in infrastructure by means of fund raising in the capital markets although such spending is severely constrained by the UK Government.</p> <p>Another role for the Welsh Government is working in close collaboration with the Wales Office to ensure that Wales receives a proportionate share of spending in those areas <em>not devolved </em>to Wales but allocated to the countries and regions of the UK by the central UK Government. As has been shown the evidence suggests that both the Welsh Government and the Wales Office are falling short in this vital task. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Post Brexit: threats and opportunities</h2> <p>The lack of ‘pump priming’ funds may well become even more pronounced after Brexit given that in recent decades regional policy and funding has largely been ignored by the UK Government and left to the European Union. In theory repatriation to the UK of regional policy and funds (~£370 million a year in the case of Wales) could enable the UK Government to step into the breach. The repercussions of Brexit could be used as catalyst for change. If those favouring Brexit really believe that the UK will be better off as a free standing, united state free from the shackles of the European Union then the challenge to them is to demonstrate this by formulating and implementing an economic strategy that ensures much greater economic equity across the nations and regions of the UK. However, many of us fear that the repercussions of Brexit are likely to push regional policy even further down the list of priorities of the post-Brexit UK Government no matter which political party is in office. </p> <p>Without a fundamental change in the UK political and economic models we can expect little improvement in the relative performance of national and regional economies outside London and its immediate hinterland. While Brexiteers may proclaim their aim of stopping the UK becoming a ‘vassal state’ of the EU are they content for much of the UK, including Scotland and Wales, to remain in such a position within the UK? </p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Eurfyl ap Gwilym Thu, 25 Oct 2018 08:54:16 +0000 Eurfyl ap Gwilym 120241 at https://www.opendemocracy.net