In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Remain: an open door for Corbyn

Posted by seumasach on July 25, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

25th July, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn is on safe ground in making a U-turn over Brexit. He had originally insisted that Article 50 should be triggered immediately but now seems to have backed down on this and is talking about the possibility of a second referendum after negotiations have been completed. Of course, there will be no negotiations until Article 50 is triggered but let’s not get bogged down in technicalities.

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After Brexit: Obama back on track

Posted by seumasach on July 15, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

15th July, 2016

It looks like Brexit was Obama’s preferred option all along. In any case, both sides of the Atlantic have been suspiciously quick to catch on to the idea of a TTIP between the US and the UK  after Britain has jumped from the back to the front of the cue. Obama has a new global role for us now that US-EU TTIP is dead in the water. It’s not exactly independence day but it’s not entirely bad news either.

Of course, a trade deal with the USA, between two de-industrialised debtor nations,  offers little in itself. But there has to be more to it. Hopefully, it’s one step back in order to take several steps forward.

First of all, it’s about what we’re no longer doing. We are no longer America’s poodle in Europe pushing through a neo-liberal agenda, TTIP, a new cold war, NATO expansionism and aggression and acting as wrecker and saboteur of last resort in the process of European construction. Brexit is independence day for Europe. Rather than a domino effect as hoped by the neocons, now marginalized by Theresa May, we are seeing a wave of Euro- enthusiasm across Europe following Brexit and to follow there will be a swathe of Eurozone measures aimed at banking and fiscal union, control of borders and European security. We can also expect friendly overtures towards Russia, China and Iran.

Anglo-American diplomacy will also go into high gear with detente with Russia. The appearance of  a sell-out will be countered by sabre-rattling in the South China Sea.

Ironically, Brexit, conceived by Little Englanders  of the UKIP or IngSoc milieu, is the catalyst for global transformation. It pertains more to the wider world than to Britain itself.

Nevertheless, there must be something in it for us unless, amidst all the theatricality, we are to be given the role of real life proles in an Orwellian Oceania. One of most striking features of the new government is the ommission of Osborne not because he jumped the gun in his negotiations of a deal in Washington the other week, but because of his association with austerity. The government’s disavowal of austerity and declared intention of investing heavily in UK economy and infrastructure seems incompatible with the pound’s very vulnerable status. It only makes sense if some kind of global currency reset is imminent along with Chinese style real economy QE on a global scale. That appears to be a long shot but Brexit may have triggered a global transformation which astonish us all.

As for Britain’s relationship to all this: look for Brexit to be the mother of all mudge and fudge. At some point we can reintegrate ourselves into a Europe, or Eurasia, which will, in any case, no longer be the one we left.

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The new Mrs T and the City

Posted by seumasach on July 5, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

5th July, 2016

It seems that Theresa May’s victory is not so certain after all. Andrea Leadsom, the self-proclaimed successor to Mrs Thatcher, is all the rage amongst the rank file Tories. Her victory would certainly have repercussions. In Scotland the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister would certainly constitute that”material change of circumstances” that would trigger a new referendum on independence. In fact, a referendum would be unnecessary: a unilateral declaration of independence would go unopposed.

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All quiet on the Brexit front

Posted by seumasach on July 4, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

4th July, 2016

Suddenly an eerie silence descends on Britain’s tumultuous political scene.

One or two shots are still going off: Gove has a drink problem according to the Johnson camp; Leadsom may have been stashing money offshore it is suggested and has been outed as a Remain supporter until only recently. Any remaining obstacles to Theresa May as prime minister are being removed. That’s all.

On the other side of the house the anti-Corbyn forces are going quiet. It looks like Corbyn will be staying.

The coup has failed. Neocon forces, those who gave us the Iraq War, have not seized control over both sides of the House.

Having “taken our country back” we now await events elsewhere to give us direction. Specifically, the US presidential elections. If our relationship with the EU is now in question the “special relationship” is no less so. Under Obama it appeared to come to an end and even now Kerry is talking up reversing Brexit. Trump may applaud British isolationism but intends the same for his own country. Clinton, if the FBI don’t take her out, remains the great hope of the Atlanticists and neocons. She promises the renewal of the Anglo-American partnership and hegemony.

We can expect May’s cabinet to reflects Britain’s suspension between Europe and America: on the one hand Gove or Fox, who would seek to trigger article 50 and commence hostilities against Europe and on the other Osborne, who still wants another special relationship. that with China, and , therefore, implicitly, to reverse Brexit.

Last Thursday vote has resolved nothing. The people have decided without, on either side, having the remotest clue what the stakes were. We are now undergoing a crash course in the geopolitical forces that are to shape the century.

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Globalists v. globalists

Posted by seumasach on July 2, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

2nd July, 2016

Pundits of every hue, seduced by the image of true -born Englishmen wielding pitchforks in the face of the dark forces of Mammomisn, are interpreting the Brexit vote as a victory over “the globalists”. As if the likes of Rupert Murdoch are not globalists.

Rather than elite versus people the contest is very much within elites and both sides are globalists.

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“Brexit means brexit’?

Posted by seumasach on June 30, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

30th June, 2016

This is all becoming quite surreal. The fall of Boris Johnson seems to be a result of his attempt to present the Brexit vote as a mandate to renegotiate our membership of the EU. The theory must have been that the Europeans heartbroken to lose us, would do anything to ingratiate themselves to us.

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The Brexit Fraud

Posted by seumasach on June 30, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

30th June, 2016

The British people have just voted to leave the EU but the prime minister has refused to leave. His heart just isn’t in it. Nor does he want to step down now. Surely, as prime minster he is obliged to accept the result of the referendum which he called and duly invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, specially crafted to the needs of a country which has been on the way out for some time.

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Brexit: a neoconservative coup

Posted by seumasach on June 26, 2016

Cailean Bochanan

26th June, 2016

Now that we have voted for Brexit we will not know what exactly the program of the Remain camp was.

However, the program of the Brexit leadership was blurted out by an emotional Nigel Farrage in the early hours of Friday morning:

“For the whole of Europe.  I hope this victory brings down this failed project and leads us to a Europe of sovereign nations, trading together, being friends together, co-operating together.  And let’s get rid of the flag, the [EU] anthem, Brussels and all that has gone wrong.”

It may come as a surprise to little englander Brexit voters that they weren’t voting to leave Europe but to destroy it. It wasn’t a vote against globalisation but for Anglo-American globalisation. Neo-conservatism, the infection that just won’t go away, is back in the form of a new unelected junta about to take control of Britain. It’s chief ideologue is Michael Gove of the neocon Henry Jackson society. According to Gove:

“For Europe, Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting — the democratic liberation of a whole continent”

So we are to leave Europe in order, subsequently, to meddle in it.

This is Gove’s permanent revolution agenda to borrow a term from one of the neocons great inspirational figures, Leon Trotsky.

In my last article on the EU question I noted that that Cameron had failed to negotiate the opt-outs that City of London interests would require whilst at the same time Brexit would leave British banks excluded from the EU. That depended on the assumption, of course, that the EU still existed. If it could be subverted then the dilemma could be resolved.

As a Brexit campaigner from Chatham House told me it was a question of stepping back from Europe and watching it disintegrate. This implies passivity on behalf of these Brexit interests but I would suggest that in reality they would be proactive. Just as the State Department and the CIA have been proactive in destabilizing Europe’s periphery with a view to destabilizing Europe itself.

The fact that Brexit is only a trigger for “more exciting” perspectives explains many of the peculiarities of the Brexit campaign. They have done nothing to elaborate a clear alternative to EU membership, they don’t want to leave any time soon and many of their promises over the NHS and immigration have already been shown to be worthless.These things are beside the point and there will be no attempt to negotiate in good faith It also explains why 250 billion has already been “made available” to the British economy i.e. the City of London: while the revolution is awaited in Europe an interim bailout of the zombie banks is inevitable. All the talk of freeing up funds for social spending, the Brexit turn to the working class, is simply hot air. It’s the banks, silly!

Of course, Brexit brings in its stead enormous costs. We have ,at one fell swoop, thrown away all our geopolitical trump cards- cards which would have enabled us to negotiate a way out of the troubled waters of end of empire. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China was of enormous potential benefit to us but was entirely dependent on our being a bridge into Europe. A deal with our largest creditor and, therefore, holder of sterling denominated assets was crucial if we were to achieve , at least, an orderly decline in our currency. It also brought with it the possibility of a new role for the City as an offshore trading hub for the Yuan and the extension of the finance necessary for national reconstruction. That is all effectively over- powerful financial interests did not want the deal and they have won out.

And yet, man does not live by bread alone. The English people have expressed a wish to regain control of their own destiny. They have every right to do so. The regional integration process which is everywhere evident, from Mercosur and ALBA, to the African Union, Asean and the Eurasian Union concerns the voluntary ceding of sovereignty not the submission to a Bonaparte or a Bolivar. It is true that the UK, in as far as it still exists, can negotiate deals with whoever it wishes without belonging to the EU’s formal structures. Were it a question, that is, simply of Brexit rather than of turning Britain into a base for a neocolonial project, for the next episode in the extension of the Empire of Chaos.

Here is the rub. Here is why the British people made a catastrophic error on Thursday, one which they will live to bitterly regret. Britain will pay a terrible price for hosting a neocon junta which is set to continue Britain’s long and dishonorable tradition of interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries. Until we remove it “the markets” will be ruthless. China who intimated back in 2010 that they were no longer buying UK government bonds, no longer have a motive to hold them or to invest them in Britain. Several hundred billion could be dumped for gold, for example, leaving sterling reeling and subjecting Britain to an apocalyptic inflationary crisis.

In the meantime events are moving a breakneck speed.

All the signs are that the Junta has already lost it’s nerve following the massive, unprecedented falls in sterling on Friday. Following Cameron’s resignation Johnson and Gove appeared at one of the most lackluster press conferences ever given. It was positively funereal. Johnson appeared to be in state of bewilderment  whilst Gove with his langue de bois makes Van Rompuy look like d’Artagnan. Significantly, Johnson blurted out some incoherences seemingly addressed to Britain’s youth implying that there would still be free movement. He knows and fears that while the brexiteers hold the cabbage patches, the youth may hold the streets.

At the same time the European leadership have shown that they are not completely inept and have seen through the game. That’s why they put out the blunt message: get out now! They know that Gove wants to string things out, a bit like Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk, scoring propaganda points whilst awaiting for Clinton and the neocon cavalry to help put the European “establishment”to the sword.

On the home front, Salmond and McGuinness, two of the sharpest cards in British politics reacted promptly and appositely. The union is now dead in the water: Scotland will begin negotiations to remain in Europe and will only be able to do so as an independent country. We will inevitably choose that option especially as the true enormity of Thursday’s aberration become evident. At the same time, there can be no repartition of Ireland now that the existing border has de facto ceased to exist.

Unsurprisingly, the Brexit vote has triggered a conspiracy to remove Corbyn from the Labour leadership.

Britain now enters into a prolonged economic and constitutional crisis. Its resolution depends most of all on the recognition of the sovereign wishes of all the nations which make up the UK and the exposure of the false position of the Brexit Junta and its neoconservative, neocolonial agenda.

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Cameron spins the City’s demise

Posted by seumasach on February 21, 2016

 

Cailean Bochanan

21st February, 2016

It is unusual for the British establishment to risk a consultation with the people unless major changes are underway- changes which are sufficient to provoke divisions in the establishment itself. It goes without saying that the negotiations with the EU are not essentially about child benefit for Polish families living in the UK. They are about “sovereignty” although in a very limited sense: the “sovereignty” of the City of London. The deal struck triumphantly by Cameron is revelatory. It shows that conflict within the establishment  concerns the least bad option for the City: whether to face exclusion from the EU market and displacement by Paris or Frankfurt as Europe’s leading financial centre or to remain inside Europe and to take up arms against a sea of Eurozone banking regulations and by opposing end them. That is the question!

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Britain in its bubble

Posted by seumasach on December 5, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

5th December, 2015

When Bassar-al Assad is re-elected as president of Syria in about 18 months time it is unlikely that David Cameron will still be in office. He is no doubt delighted to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Wednesday in the House of Commons but it may turn out to be a pyhrric, pig in a poke.

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If you can’t beat them join them!

Posted by seumasach on October 20, 2015

Or WW3 “to stop the bloodshed”

Cailean Bochanan

20th October, 2015
Russia’s bold move to finally bring effective military force to bear against ISIL has given rise to some strange political activity in the West and heightened, collective, cognitive dissonance.
Casually turning on the TV to watch the Scottish National Party’s conference in Aberdeen I couldn’t believe my eyes when a Syrian “refugee” was given the platform and proceeded to deliver a rant against Syria’s President Assad which would be worthy of John MacCain. According to this gentleman extremism in Syria is caused by Assad and we need to establish “No bomb zones” to protect civilians. Readers may notice a similarity between “No bomb zones” and the famous “No fly zones” which also never happened.

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Cameron fends off Robertson on Libya

Posted by seumasach on October 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

18th October, 2015

Once again Cameron’s nemesis, the spectre of the disastrous Libya intervention, has raised its head. This time SNP foreign policy spokesman, Angus Robertson, speaking during Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons, has referred to the “total anarchy and civil unrest: in Libya” as one of the “unintended consequences” of that war. He went on to ask, in reference to the military intervention in Libya as well as those in Iraq and Afghanistan: “What assurances can you give that you have learnt lessons from past mistakes and you will not repeat them?” As it transpired, Cameron fended off the attack with some ease, quipping: “Would you be happier with Gaddafi running Libya?”

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The anti-Corbyn coup is stillborn

Posted by seumasach on October 12, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

12th October, 2015

The long awaited coup against Jeremy Corbyn has finally materialized. Up to fifty Labour MPs are reported to be prepared to vote for military action in Syria were it to be put to a vote. What possessed them to put forward this woefully mistimed move is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they had been reading Socialist Worker and been inflamed by its reports of “some 10,000” barrel boms “dropped in the first six months of this year” and how Russia “wants to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is crumbling, so it is attacking all forms of opposition.” In any case, they have decided that the time has come for another UK intervention to protect civilians by creating safe havens for them. That would involve, as Labour MP John Woodcock put it, “greater involvement from air forces to sustain a no-fly zone and will certainly require an end to the hand-wringing over President Putin’s disgraceful deceit in bombing anti-Assad rebels rather than Daesh [Isis].”

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The left on the horns of a Chinese dilemma

Posted by seumasach on October 4, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

4th October, 2015

I had the impression that Osborne’s recent and startling announcement of various deals with China, including the integration of our financial markets, no less, had been met by a stunned silence. But John McDonnell, the new Shadow Chancellor made this reference to them in his speech to the Labour Party Conference:

“I found the Conservatives’ rant against Jeremy’s proposal to bring rail back into public ownership ironic when George Osborne was touring China selling off to the Chinese state bank any British asset he could lay his hands on.”

“Ironic” is putting it mildly: The Chancellor has essentially admitted the failure of the Thatcher revolution and called in the state to rescue Britain. Only it’s not the British state, which no longer knows how to run anything unless it’s into the ground. You might have thought the left would be enjoying this “irony” a bit more than they appear to be. More, for example, than William Keegan writing in the Guardian who is dismayed that Osborne is “kowtowing to a communist Chinese government” and denounces his “cloying approach to a regime notorious for its abuse of human rights”. Keegan is something of a soft left neo-keynesian and , therefore, those criticisms could be largely expected. What about the hard left?
In an article in Socialist Worker Alex Callinicos gives us the line. He is, of course, scrupulously politically correct:

“The problem here isn’t that the companies are foreign-owned.”

Why shouldn’t foreign companies take the place over? Don’t they have rights too? The problem lies elsewhere. Callinicos points out that Chinese companies are “still subject to considerable state control” and that capital “is still not allowed to flow freely in and out of the country” However, Callinicos insinuates this is changing and China is embracing the free movement of capital.
So we have two major threads in this leftist discourse: on the one hand, dealing with China is wrong because China is communist and , on the other , it is wrong because China is no longer communist.
Callinicos goes on to denounce the fact that Chinese investment will be centered on the the City of London at the expense of the “national base of companies operating in Britain.” Callinicos’ thinking in all this is particularly fuzzy. Capital exported from China can still be and is controlled by the Chinese leadership for all their rhetoric about free markets. This is particularly true of the banks. As Dend Xaoping himself used to say:”Whatever you do keep control of the financial system!” In addition, I don’t believe the behavior of Chinese banks will merely replicate that of our own: riding high on bubbles and carry trades, manipulating rates and prices and laundering funds of dubious origin. If they did China certainly wouldn’t be in the position it is today. Anyway, as Osborne announced, there is already large scale Chinese investment in the real economy, largely in infrastructure and housing. There is every reason to believe that this would increase with funding available from Chinese banks operating in the City. The principles of Chinese finance contradict completely those the City of London. We are, therefore, looking at systemic change in the British financial system.
The British left desperately need to get to grips with this issue and quickly. This is because they have essentially abandoned their neo-Keynesian perspectives and accepted the need to balance budgets. But how can they reconcile this with their claim to be anti-austerity. Balanced budgets imply genocidal austerity unless there is some countervailing tendency. That tendency is incoming investment something which, seemingly unbeknown to the left, we have been beneficiaries of for decades. All that is happening,as Osborne’s policy shows, is that the form this investment takes is changing.
For a long time China was obliged to accept fiat pounds to cover its massive trade surplus with Britain and reinvest these pounds in UK government bonds. This was win/win for Britain and largely explains the surprising prosperity of post-Thatcherite Britain. The bankruptcy of the City and its subsequent bailout changed all that. China ceased to buy new UK government bonds (note that, in addition to its massive trade deficit, Britain no longer has a current account surplus not including trade) although they agreed not to divest from existing bonds, sinking sterling. Instead, they wanted to reinvest the surplus funds in the UK. So, on the one hand, we can no longer fund our deficit with Chinese bond purchases and on the other we have the prospect of hundreds of billions worth of inward investment. So balanced budgets and Osborne’s policy are two sides of the same coin. It would be truly reckless to embrace balanced budgets without wholeheartedly welcoming the incoming investment which will render the outcome far less austere. The left are caught in a dilemma which they must resolve if they don’t want to be outflanked by the Tories.

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There will be no Third World War

Posted by seumasach on September 28, 2015

Thierry Meyssan

Voltairenet

28th September, 2015

The liberal hawks and the neo-conservatives have been unable to provoke the confrontation with Russia for which they were trained during the Cold War. Finally, the voice of reason has prevailed. While discrete negotiations are under way to seek an end to the crisis in Ukraine, Russia and China are preparing to convince the United States and their allies to participate in a global alliance against Islamic terrorism. After 5 years of tension, both the project for the seizure of power by the Muslim Brotherhood – the « Arab Spring » – and the proclamation of a Caliphate have failed. Peace is saved.

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Osborne blazes the Deng Xiaoping trail

Posted by seumasach on September 28, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

28th September, 2015

Once again I have been proved to be wrong. I had interpreted the decentralization of the British state as the key development linked to inward, especially Chinese, investment and predicted that a Tory/SNP duopoly would dominate Britain in the coming years. But Osborne’s barnstorming performance in China, following on from Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, opens up completely different perspectives. His idea of integrating our financial markets with those of China suggests nothing less than a Chinese takeover of the City of London rather than piecemeal investment in Britain’s devolved regions/nations. This chimes in too with Corbyn’s plan for a National Development Bank which is tantamount to central planning, hitherto an absolute taboo. It is not difficult to see that the kind of infrastructure overhaul that Britain requires cannot be done merely through devolved assemblies and combined councils but must be Britain wide and centrally planned. It also makes much more sense for China to finance the whole thing through the banks which can issue credits for projects as required just as they would do in China. And so we go from the Panarin-type post-imperial scenario of fragmentation to one of systemic transformation of Britain as a whole.

Such a radical revolution is inconceivable without opposition. It is striking that as Osborne blazes the trail down China way, the knives are out for Cameron back home. Cameron has been until recently vociferous in his claim that Assad must go. He obviously had an intuition that someone must go: but it has turned out to be himself. He has called it a stab in the back but the blows are coming from all sides, decisively from Michael Ancram, et tu Ancram, who has raised the specter of Libya, hitherto the politically correct war, ominously drawing the parallel between Cameron and Libya and Blair and Iraq. This is deadly and given the reality of what was done to that once thriving country and its catastrophic consequences for Africa and Europe this just won’t go away. Of course, just about all of us were implicated, but all the more need for a scapegoat.

An excellent analysis of recent events in Australia by WSWS focuses on a conflict between the ardently pro-Chinese Malcolm Turnbull and “powerful sections of the Australian military and intelligence apparatus as well as the media and political establishment, not least within the Liberal-National Coalition”This presumably parallels tensions here and it looks like Cameron has found himself on the wrong side of this argument. In other words, the proposed financial merger with China will go ahead over the dead bodies of assorted dead-enders, security state and MIC interests and neocons. In these historic September days the Blairites and the Cameronites have commenced their exit from the British political scene.

Is this another Glorious Revolution? In 1688 certain Dutch financial interests were invited to take over Britain to establish a financial system orientated towards war and empire. This time we have invited a foreign power in the to rebuild an economy gutted by a failed hegemonic project. We have come a full circle since this marks decisively the end of empire and a new historical époque in which war will no longer be the normal state of affairs

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George Osborne: We should embrace China, not fear its rise

Posted by seumasach on September 20, 2015

“The Chinese Communist Party, the biggest communist party in the world and , in my opinion, one of the best.”

Father Ted Crilly

“Recent volatility should not and will not put us off. It should drive us forward, so that we integrate China’s new financial markets with our own so they are deeper and better able to absorb shocks.”

George Osborne

This must be the most neglected and most surprising aspect of this Tory government’s policy. Not only have they signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China, begun to issue UK government bonds in Yuan and broken ranks with the USA in becoming the first Western country to sign up for the AIIB: they are now also about to “integrate our financial markets” with those of China (completely mind-boggling!). Since the nature of China’s financial system, with its orientation to productive imvestment, is the complete opposite of our own this can only be seen as a totally revolutionary step: something which chimes in with Corbyn’s proposal for a National Investment Bank. But while Corbyn comes across as an unreconstructed Bennite, Osborne is more a born again follower of Deng Xaoping. The left are now taking control of both major parties in Britain! Watch out for a wave of interest in things Chinese and a politically-correct campaign against Chinaphobes.

Guardian

19th September, 2015

The United Kingdom must strive to become China’s “best partner in the west” by forging ever closer economic ties that will bring benefits to all parts of the country, George Osborne has said.

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Jeremy Corbyn and the new political centre

Posted by seumasach on August 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

15th August, 2015

The Blairites may be right in claiming that a Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn won’t win the 2020 general election. But they are missing the point : by that time we can expect the most pressing issues in British politics to have been resolved. The next five years are crucial in setting the direction for a new, post-imperial Britain and Corbyn as Labour leader buoyed up by the mass movement that will put him there will play a crucial role. The Blairites have misread this badly denouncing Corbyn as throwback to the past when, in fact, it is they who hold that position.

British politics is in a state of flux and it will be become more and more evident that things cannot be understood within the framework of the old left/right divide. The significance of the recent developments in Greece has been missed : pragmatism prevailed over ideology. The contradiction is that ideological rigidity and sectarianism  seems more entrenched than ever, at least, in certain quarters.

Last night’s Corbyn  rally in Glasgow bore out that point : it was very much a rally of the faithful in an atmosphere of revivalist enthusiasm. All the leftist shibboleths new and old were itemized: global warming, identity politics, even the old warhorse “class”, nationalization, socialism and so on. Of course, Corbyn has to press all the right buttons but I maintain despite that that he will prove to be a pragmatist. Otherwise, what was someone like myself who has long dissociated himself from the left doing there?

I was there because I anticipate Corbyn playing a strong hand concerning the most pressing issues we face and because I don’t expect these issues to be resolved by the victory of either the left or the right. I expect them to define a new center ground in British politics which can draw support from left or right or neither.

The first of these is the renewal of Trident. Corbyn will oppose it vehemently and hopefully the British people will take tp the streets in their millions to the same end. The left have always opposed it on moral grounds and have claimed, to counter the right, that it is not effective as a deterrent. Actually, it is very effective as a deterrent : would Russia still exist as a unitary state without it? The left’s longstanding opposition is, however, no longer the point. What clinches the argument is that the Cold War is over and Jeremy Corbyn seeks constructive cooperative relations with Russia. He does this as a pragmatist despite his ideological difficulty with what he chooses to see as a homophobic government. The simple fact is that Russia has no aggressive intent towards Britain, quite the contrary, and since there is no other nuclear threat in sight there is no need to cough up 100 billion for Trident. Apparently, many in leading military circles also hold this view and not many of them will be Corbyn supporters.

The cost of Trident is anyway prohibitive for a country in the kind of financial state we’re in. The left has developed a complacent view on the debt since there has been no run on UK bonds or on sterling despite QE. They fail to see that this because the Chinese have agreed not to ditch sterling assets. The Chinese have instead sought a deal with the UK government evidence for which can be found in the rarely noted Comprehensive Geostategic Partnership we have signed with China and the fact that we are issuing UK government bonds in RMB. To Corbyn’s credit he does not share the prevailing left view that the debt doesn’t matter and that we can simply go on for ever borrowing money from people who don’t want to lend to us or simply go on devaluing the currency to monetize the debt and then force feed it to China and others in exchange for their exports. Without actually explaining this he admits that the budget has to be balanced. Actually, the principle is also a problem since interest payments are only manageable due to negligible interest rates. Anyway, Corbyn shares with the SNP and the Tories the new consensus view that the debt is a problem and, given that, the ridiculous costs of Trident are also a problem – to be overcome simply by canceling it.

Corbyn’s realism about Britain’s financial plight also extend to the realization that simply cutting the budget won’t work. Whether we like it or not the survival of millions of people and Britain’s social cohesion depends on welfare spending and that isn’t likely to change soon. We need to look at the other side of the equation; income. There isn’t any: we lose massive amounts every month running up our monster trade deficit. Almost everything we consume we import and our exports are limited by a depleted industrial base. We must therefore, reinvest in that base both to boost exports and to substitute for imports. Corby proposes a financial system orientated to this end, some form of national investment bank. How can anyone disagree with this even if the modalities remain to be determined?

Whatever form it takes it is clear that foreign investment will play a major role in the recapitalization of Britain. The deal with China probably concerns this and ,in fact, it’s already happening. However, were Britain to withdraw from Europe this investment would be threatened. The recent Greek crisis saw a surge of anti-European and anti-German feeling and, most notably, a shift on the radical left towards a eurosceptic position. Corbyn has already come out for the EU in principle and has thus provided something of a corrective to left’s Little Englander drift. The fact that born-again eurosceptic Owen Jones is sharing his platforms illustrates this. The anti-European left and right will then hopefully be marginalized by the time of the referendum and they will have been by a new pragmatic consensus.

Corbyn’s promise to renationalize the railways looks highly ideological but he certainly knows what he;s talking about on this question. Privatization has been a disaster which has seen a natural monopoly milked and undermined by private interests. Adam Smith wouldn’t have any problem with nationalization in this case. In the end it may just come down to a form of words : the mess has to be sorted out by the state in the interests of the nation. Is that or isn’t it nationalization? How many London commuters find the remedy just as sweet by any other name. One could say the same regarding the disarray in the utilities or the education system. Does any state simply leave these things to hobble along anyhow or assume that the market will for some obscure reason sort everything out? Only, Britain it would seem. The utilities only work at all because they’re being run by people like EDF, a state run company – although the state ,of course, isn’t Britain. But maybe the British state can have at least some say. After all, we’re British!

The simple reality is that the required program for Britain is fairly obvious and we can expect to find it insinuating its way into the manifestos or discourse of the most unlikely bedfellows. We’ve understood that we don’t want any more wars and must now turn our attention to the mess on the home front.(Does that mean it has to be like Dad’s Army?) Ideology, however, still reigns and it’s only right and fair that the most passionate adherents of the various secular faiths should have one last chance to insult each other in a frenzy of self-righteous indignation before going quiet in the face, hopefully,  of the  concurrence of the mainstream on simple pragmatism.

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New Cold War or War onTerror?

Posted by seumasach on June 15, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

15th June, 2014

The betrayal of the Iraq army leadership facilitating last week’s capture of Mosul by the so-called ISIL may become a watershed in US foreign policy in providing a significant diversion from the Ukrainian fiasco and turning attention from quasi-cold war tensions towards the new Obama doctrine already outlined in his West Point speech, anticipated by Blair’s 23rd April speech and ratified by an intervention by Kofi Annan last week on BBC Newsnight.
What is this new doctrine? It is called, with great originality, the War on Terror. Thus, we return to 2001 and the post-9/11 doctrine but in a geo-political environment which has become completely transformed. In 2003 , on the eve of the Iraq War, the USA was still regarded as the undisputed global superpower, even though a resurgent Russia and China were already disputing that status. Today it has suffered a series of military reverses and the catastrophic state of its economy and society can longer be hidden. After the dismissal of Rumsfeld in 2006 in a palace coup the stage was set for Obama to turn around US foreign policy in the aftermath of the failed Iraq and Afghan wars. He is generally regarded as having failed in this respect and that judgement has seemed to have been confirmed by the dramatic events of the last week. We appear to be condemned to relive the historical cycle of US military intervention.
But, as I say, the context is completely different. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan post-9/11 were the beginning of a global war for hegemony. This war failed and no such perspectives are in sight for a severely weakened USA. Rather than being the opening shot in an attempted roll-back of Russian and Chinese power War on Terror II could lead to a re-engagement of these two emerging superpowers by Washington. Tony Blair’s above-mentioned speech already prefigures this development:

“In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China.”
This was followed up by Kofi Anna’s call for a de facto alliance with Russia , China and Iran:
“Mr Annan – the UN’s former envoy to Syria – said he did not believe that there was the “stomach” for “boots on the ground”, but that a group made up of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and possibly Egypt could agree a common approach.”
Already, the ISIL surge has raised a prospect that was previously unthinkable: joint US-Iranian military co-operation.
I have, for some time, been talking up a strategic alliance between Washington and Moscow as the great paradigm shift in global geo-politics. It was, admittedly, difficult to see how such a shift could come about. Indeed, the failure of Obama’s reset was just another amongst a litany of seeming failures. But if that remains a strategic goal of Obama, and I believe that it must, then War on TerrorII would be the key to its realization.

The roller-coaster unleashed by the Arab spring continues. The events in Iraq last week serve as a cover for the surreal Ukraine fiasco, which in turn obscured defeat in the Syrian war which in turn diverted the world’s attention from the chaos engendered in Libya by NATO intervention. Since the hand of the NATO and Western intelligence assets is clearly present in all these scenarios you might think Obama’s strategy is merely to cover failure with even more failure. But their may be a different logic at play,a convoluted logic of end of empire. If so, the cycle may be broken in Iraq and by the time the ISIL has been checked we may see the clear outlines of a new international order.

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It came in with the bond markets and it will go out with the bond markets

Posted by seumasach on July 1, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

1st July, 2011

We have a sense that capitalism is coming to an end. If by capitalism we mean that system which was introduced into England subsequent to the Dutch invasion of 1688 then that is true.

With the setting up in 1694 of the Bank of England, a consortium of private financiers came to the fore or rather came to exercise their power from behind the scenes of Britain’s political facade. In this original public-private partnership, they lent to the government at interest and used the bonds issued as the basis for leveraged banking. Swift defined concisely this new interest:

“that set of people, who are called the Monied Men; such as had raised vast Sums by Trading with Stocks and Bonds, and lending upon great interest and Premiums; whose perpetual Harvest is War, and whose beneficial way of Traffick must very much decline by a Peace”

Elsewhere he talks of “a new estate” to whom every house and foot of land in England paid a rent-charge, free of all taxes and defalcations” and where “the gentlemen of estates were, in effect, but tenants to these new landlords”

A whole class, “these new landlords” on behalf of whom the entire nation is taxed. Does this not ring a bell in post-bailout Britain?: the whole nation is mortgaged to the banker elite, which for all that their methods have evolved since the early seventeen hundreds, are essentially the same “interest” as Swift was describing and warning us about. At least, in Swift’s day the consortium’s original loan was from their own funds, however ill-gotten: today the banks are lending back to the government the funds they received from the government to bail them out, basic usury as conceived then has become the fraudulent shenanigans of the notorious “carry trade”. Now that there is no longer even the pretence that banking is about investing in business, understood as legitimate business, and now that the various bubbles from the dot.com through the housing market to commodities have exploded in our faces the monied men limit themselves to milking the state for all its worth and the ultimate bankruptcy of the system is the bankruptcy of the state itself. Curiously, the flow of funds into government bonds is being characterised as a “flight to safety”, yet the returns provided fall well short of inflation generated by endless treasury money issuance. Where then is the profit in the profit system? Wealth creation is over and the financiers are limiting their ambition to, instead of creating new wealth, monopolising all that already exists. It’s not at all clear where, if anywhere, the rest of us fit into the picture. We’ll soon find out: the peril of the “flight to safety” is becoming evident and nothing will glitter which is not gold. The burst of the bond bubble and the collapse of the dollar/pound will be dramatic events indeed, the cue for our long awaited awakening or our plunge into the abyss.

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Brexit: Theresa May to bypass European Commission

Posted by seumasach on July 29, 2016

Every day we plunge deeper into the Brexit fiasco. We are now to negotiate with the EU by refusing to recognize it. Oh, yes! That will secure us a good deal! Already May’s facade of gravitas has cracked.

Independent

28th July, 2016

Theresa May will appeal over the head of the European Commission to the leaders of the 27 EU nations in an attempt to secure a good exit deal for the UK.

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Putin to receive Erdogan in hometown

Posted by seumasach on July 27, 2016

M.K.Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline

27th July, 2016

The developments in Turkey are taking a dramatic turn. All Indications are that the Turkish government is in possession of definite information that the attempted military coup was orchestrated by the United States. (Anadolu)

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Let’s be clear, nationalisation is not against EU law

Posted by seumasach on July 27, 2016

At the same time as attacking takeovers of British utilities by state controlled European companies, Brexiteers on the left are very fond of claiming that EU directives prevent nationalisation. Sam Fowles provides some insights into this contradiction.

Sam Fowles

Another Europe (Source: Huffington Post)

2nd October, 2015

 

Nigel Farage thinks EU law prevents nationalisation. Ironically he seems to have got this from a recent post on Left Futures by Westminster University’s Danny Nicol. Professor Nicol argues that the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and EU liberalisation directives prohibit renationalisation of energy utilities, as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

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Liam Fox slapped down by No 10 on post-Brexit trade deal

Posted by seumasach on July 27, 2016

The implosion of the Leave camp which began on the day of their pyrrhic victory will be a sight to behold. As Farage goes on his roving commission to bring down the EU, Fox is off to sell out the country to the USA. Meanwhile Redwood and the others look down their noses at a purely imaginary scenario concocted by the British press about membership of the single market accompanied by a seven year emergency brake on immigration. They truly are no-hopers. No matter how many people support you if you have no practicable policy you are doomed.

Politics Home

27th July, 2016

New International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was slapped down by No 10 last night over comments he made about Britain’s post-Brexit trade with the EU.

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China shows rancour at Russian doublespeak

Posted by seumasach on July 26, 2016

Whilst it is clear that Putin seeks, above all, a Moscow-Washington partnership, it is not clear that this is incompatible with an equally strong partnership with China. Indeed, such a partnership would be the basis of Eurasian integration. Still, one would expect Washington try to drive a wedge between Russia and China. A  Trump presidency would likely engage more closely with Moscow, perhaps finally bringing to an the Cold War. Hence, his seeming indifference to NATO. But he would at rhetorically challenge China even as the Chinese buy up broad swathes of the US economy. This triangular, US-Russia-China interplay may throw some light on the mystery of Brexit: the one clear consequence of Brexit, apart from destroying the British economy and the power of the City of London, seems to be a realignment of UK foreign policy with that of Washington after tensions had arisen over British membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the lately departed George Osborne’s wooing of China as well as the accompanying Russophobia.

M.K.Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline

25th July, 2016

The scathing attack on Russian foreign policies in the Global Times newspaper on Sunday has no precedents. It goes way beyond the occasional sparring in a spirit of ‘glasnost’. Indeed, China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination (as it is officially described) is not at all like what it appears. (Read my article in Asia Times Russia-China entente – Lofty rhetoric, shifty discourse.)

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‘No good opportunities flowing from Brexit’

Posted by seumasach on July 25, 2016

UTV

25th July, 2016

Northern Ireland’s First Minister and Martin McGuinness held separate press conferences after the meeting, with Sinn Féin’s Mr McGuinness stating his party’s assessment of the referendum results “is that there is absolutely no good news whatsoever about Brexit.”

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LSE-Deutsche Börse dealmakers were wrong to ignore Brexit risk

Posted by seumasach on July 25, 2016

With the failure of this deal looking likely and the removal of Osborne, champion of yuan-trading in the City and defender of HSBC from US regulators, from government, you really have to ask if City of London interests haven’t been sacrificed to US interests by way of the Brexit vote. Is Wall Street then about to bypass London, its traditional point of entry into Europe, in favour of Paris or Frankfurt? Is this also a result of the obvious failure of TTIP? If there is a deal, what, if anything, does the UK get by way of compensation?

FT

29th June, 2016

Anyone who believes that the merger between Germany’s Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange is going ahead must have their head buried in the sand. Just like the people who designed the deal.

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NI group to bring Brexit challenge

Posted by seumasach on July 25, 2016

ITV

25th July, 2016

A cross-community group comprising politicians, including former Justice Minister David Ford and human rights activists is to bring a legal challenge to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

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Sterling falls as surveys point to big Brexit hit

Posted by seumasach on July 23, 2016

Cutting interest rates will only further weaken the pound, fueling inflation and further undermining consumer spending. And so, we enter a vicious circle and a downward spiral. Brexit hasn’t caused this underlying economic weakness: it has merely prevented us from using our geopolitical clout to counter it as we could have done, for example, through the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China which was based on our role as gateway to Europe and, consequently, our membership of the EU.

Irish Examiner

23rd July, 2016

Sterling fell as reports suggesting that the UK’s manufacturing and services industries contracted in July heightened speculation that the Bank of England will cut interest rates as soon as next month.

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UK’s financial services sector will retain its passporting rights despite Brexit, Boris Johnson says

Posted by seumasach on July 23, 2016

Johnson’s “everything will remain the same despite Brexit” argument reflects either that he is completely delusional or that he is strongly hinting that Brexit is not going to happen at all. Regarding passporting rights, that will be in the hands of the Europeans and it is no secret that Paris and Frankfurt are vying to succeed London as Europe’s financial sector. His assurances lack all credibility and reflect the bizarre post-Brexit limbo into which we have been cast. Meanwhile, as the incoming capital flows on which we are dependent dry up, the perspectives for the UK economy and living standards are dire in the extreme.

IBTimes

23rd July, 2016

London will remain a global financial centre, according to Boris Johnson, the UK’s newly appointed foreign secretary. Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Johnson dismissed fears over the country’s financial services sectors losing its passporting rights amid the Brexit vote.

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