Showing posts with label #climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #climate change. Show all posts

Friday, 23 August 2019

It is the EU, not Brexit, that is the Right Wing Plot OR Combating Climate Change & other Left Wing reasons for Brexit

It is called "The Big Lie". If you repeat a lie often enough, society will eventually, despite all the evidence to the contrary, regard it as the Truth. Or as a certain German dictator put it, no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

The Big Lie that the main stream media, New Labour, the Yellow Tories and the Establishment would have you believe is that Brexit is somehow a Right wing Coup.

These siren voices of the Establishment want you to forget that we had a "once in a lifetime" (Prime Minister David Cameron) referendum that produced a clear result. The biggest single vote for anything in UK electoral history. The UK voted to Leave the European Union (EU), including most of the constituencies represented in Parliament by Remain MPs who got elected in 2017 by promising to honour the referendum result, but who are now breaking that promise. Another Big Lie.

These siren voices want you to forget that there are many left wing reasons for leaving the EU and that many of the giants of British socialism like Barbara Castle, Tony Benn, Bob Crow and Peter Shore campaigned for the UK to leave the EU. Indeed as Union Leader Bob Crow, said in 2013:
"The EU is largely a Tory neoliberal project. Not only did the Conservative prime minister Edward Heath take Britain into the common market in 1973, but Margaret Thatcher campaigned to stay in it in the 1975 referendum, and was one of the architects of the Single European Act – which gave us the single market, EU militarisation and eventually the struggling Euro.
After the Tories dumped the born-again Eurosceptic Thatcher, John Major rammed through the Maastricht treaty and embarked on the disastrous privatisation of our railways using EU directives – a model now set to be rolled out across the continent."

Supporters of Extinction Rebellion should note that it is the EU neo-liberal economics that makes it impossible to make the required changes to combat climate change in the UK. As was noted as early as the 2013 climate change conference in Warsaw (COP19):
"If the world wishes to avoid exceeding the two degrees rise in global temperatures that will trigger non-reversible climate change, then the wealthiest countries, including the UK, have to adopt a de-growth strategy."
Also at the Climate Change conference in Warsaw in 2013 we were told that: "continuing with economic growth over the coming two decades is incompatible with meeting our international obligations on climate change".

But the UK cannot change this as the EU dictates UK economic policy. The EU is a neoliberal economy committed to economic growth; designed to make the rich richer and the rest of us to pay for it. It shows it's true form when you see the EU put austerity into action; in Greece, in Ireland, in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy and even in relatively rich countries like Denmark. In Greece for instance, EU diktat has meant a 42 year plan of austerity, which the Greeks cannot get out of until the year 2060.

Measures taken by the EU in Greece include:
1. Right to evict families from their home.
2. Privatisation of all saleable state assets and a ban on re-nationalisation in the future.
3. Reductions in pensions and pension funds.
4. Curtail rights to trade union representation.
5. Further cuts to wages.
6. Right to overrule Greek court decisions.
7. EU control of Greek central bank and economics ministry.

As Green Baroness Jenny Jones once said, before she was seduced by the dark side: "the EU has become a dictatorial imposer of austerity and deregulation, uncaring about its impacts on the wellbeing of people and planet, and determined to derail any elected government that dares to dissent from its neoliberal ideology."

The four pillars of the EU, ironically called its "freedoms" actually mean the freedom of multi-national corporations to move people, capital, goods and services to wherever makes them the most money. Invest your capital in sweat shops where the labour is cheapest to make the goods, move people to ensure wages are kept low and ensure contracts are kept short and temporary to avoid giving labour rights. Provide your services from tax havens and allow profits (as capital) to freely flow back to those tax havens, whilst paying as little tax as possible.

The European Commission currently dictates Britain’s trade policy with the world.
Despite the internationalist rhetoric of the EU’s proponents, its trade agreements with some of the poorest nations on earth have a modernist colonialism at heart, imposing free market dogma (i.e. "Free Trade") to extract natural resources in the 21st century from the same countries colonised with military force up until the 20th.
After the UK leaves the EU, we could help the developing world to develop their own economies with bilateral fair trade, thereby reducing in part the push factor that is forcing so many developing world citizens to swell the migrant crisis.

Achieving this is unlikely whilst we follow the European Commission in imposing programmes such as the Raw Materials Initiative, which prevents developing nations such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo from raising investment through export taxes or regulating conditions in their dangerous raw minerals sectors.
This is yet another humanist left wing policy that will become available to the UK after we leave the imperialist EU. It would create a new model of fair trading that could then be followed by other countries in Europe and other developed economies, without the need for "Free Trade" agreements.
(See article by Fraser Watt "Left Wing Reasons for Brexit").

Because here is the crux of the matter. Brexit is simply a means to an end, not the end in itself.

After Brexit we don't have to have a Boris Johnson led Tory Government.

After Brexit, the British people will be free to choose an alternative Government that puts forward left wing priorities like re-nationalisation of utilities and transport, currently illegal under EU's competition rules.

Be free to reverse the privatisation of the NHS introduced by New Labour using EU competition rules and developed by the Tories and their yellow running dogs, the Lib Dems.

Be free to favour local producers and not have to put everything out to tender under EU procurement rules.

Be free to support and encourage UK manufacturing in exciting new industries like electric vehicles and put tariffs on gas guzzling automobiles from Germany.

Be free to develop a more highly skilled labour force, by investing in training for UK citizens, not poaching talent from abroad.

Or to put it another way, like another left wing hero of mine (Martin Luther King), "Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we will be free at last."

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Not just the UK the Brexit Betrayal of Europe

It is now clear that Theresa May and the metropolitan elite have betrayed the British people in a grand conspiracy undreamt of in modern times.

The Brexit deal that she and her allies have signed up to could not have been worse, if the EU bureaucracy itself had sat down and written it for her. The likelihood is that that is exactly what they have been doing.

The plan seems to have worked beautifully. For over two years, the people of the United Kingdom have been strung along, been made to believe that May was negotiating a Brexit trade deal. But at the end of it there is no trade deal, just a Gordian knot designed, if accepted, to give the UK no legal route out of a permanent vassalage, unless the EU agree to free us from it, which of course they will never do.

At the same time her allies in all political parties, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, Scottish Nationalists and Greens have all been carefully manipulated and orchestrated in a well paid for campaign (paid for by people who got very rich in the EU controlled market) to seek a second referendum to reverse the popular vote.

The future ploy of this minority Prime Minister is now clear. Unless the House of Commons has lost its wits entirely, they will reject this ridiculous deal. The conspirators will then say, as May has now said, the alternative to this bad deal in not, as was promised, no deal, but no Brexit. The Government will bow to the orchestrated campaign for a second referendum. Huge resources will then pour in to persuade the British people that they were wrong to choose independence and that they must, to save their very lives, vote to stay in the EU.

At the same time as this has been going on, supporters of Brexit, both big and small, have been and continue to be bombarded by legal challenges. The fact that more than twice as much money, money from the Government and shady foreign-backed characters was spent on the Remain campaign is ignored. The money spent by the EU itself, by the IMF, by numerous overseas interests, including the then President of the USA, has been and will be ignored in the grand push for the UK to remain under the yoke of Brussels.

Every critical referendum in EU history has been reversed, either by a second referendum or Government capitulation. Ireland, Greece, Netherlands, Denmark France, the EU has always managed to coerce and cajole a reversal of the anti-EU vote.

They knew, however, that the UK would be harder, the 2016 referendum having been the biggest popular vote in the UK's history. But the EU is used to playing a long game. Just look at Greece, locked into ant-austerity measures by the neo-liberal dictatorship of the EU for the next 42 years. Or Italy, where Governments have been rejected and brought down by the EU.

I myself would not have dreamt of such a conspiracy until I read Yanis Varoufakis' book "Adults in the Room" which showed the lengths that the EU deep establishment would go to bend the will of a sovereign nation towards its own agenda. As Varoufakis said in that book, it is the death of democracy in the EU.

No sovereign nation in Europe is now free to choose its own path. There are sufficient traitors, used to living off the EU's shilling, who are willing to continue to conspire to keep the tyranny of the unelected elite who control and run the EU forever in control. The fourth Reich is here, a reality that, unless a decisive revolt happens now, this time WILL govern the enslaved peoples of Europe for a thousand years.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Leslie Rowe's Response to the Fudge issued from Chequers on Brexit

The BINO (Brexit In Name Only) Chequers statement from May's Tory Government is a joke worthy of a comic book.

By suggesting that "The UK and the EU would maintain a common rulebook for all goods including agri-food," the Tory Fudgeteers have committed the UK to remain in an ever destructive economic growth regime in perpetuity, with an international treaty to bind the hands of any future Green Government.

It would lock in the ever growing UK trade deficit with the EU27 for the foreseeable future. Rising UK debt makes this totally unsustainable and will lead to the EU forcing more austerity, fire sales of public property and restrictions on organised labour on the UK, as they have already done in Greece.

My message to Green Party members is that we must, to avoid exceeding the 2°C rise in global temperatures that will trigger non-reversible climate change, plan for a de-growth economy as has been recommended by successive climate change conferences.

But this Tory BINO would make that illegal, as it would be against the common rulebook set by the EU, making the UK perpetually subservient to the neo-liberal economics set by the unelected and secretive Eurogroup (the committee that control EU economic policy).

The Green Party (when in Government) is committed to assisting the development of UK sustainable industries, like new tidal barrages, community wind and solar farms and a state owned viable public transport infrastructure.

However, the Tory BINO commits the UK to "apply a common rulebook on state aid and establish cooperative arrangements between regulators on competition".

In other words, subservience by the UK to all EU regulations on competition, including a ban on re-nationalising the railways and adherence to EU Directives such as 2012/34/EU establishing mandatory competition.

This is contrary to both Green Party and Labour Party manifesto commitments. I call on all Green and Labour MPs to reject this comic book policy and pursue a "de-growth" strategy to have any chance of saving our planet.

Promoted and Produced by Leslie Rowe as part of their campaign for election to the post of Leader. This is not an official communication from the Green Party of England and Wales

Leslie Rowe Video

My home made but heartfelt video to accompany my campaign to be leader of the Green Party in England & Wales is here:

The transcript, if you need it, is set out below.

"Hello. Today I want to talk about the weather. Is climate change a problem to be addressed? NOW? If not now, when?

In eight years time? Forty years time? Can we REALLY wait THAT long?

We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the two degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures that will trigger non-reversible climate change, then the wealthiest countries, including the UK, have to adopt a de-growth strategy.

Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows-Larkin presented compelling research on this at the Climate Change negotiations in Warsaw in 2013 which stated that: "continuing with economic growth over the coming two decades is incompatible with meeting our international obligations on climate change".

That was five years ago, and what has the Green Party's focus been on since? Curbing consumerism? Climate Change? Or our continued membership of an organisation wedded to economic growth for the next forty years?

In the Green Party policy statement, EU100 we state "In our Green vision for Europe we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self reliance and resource conservation."

THIS is the goal the Green Party should be pursuing.

But, this is at odds with the declared aim of the EU. In his opening statement laying out his vision for the single market, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker put economic growth as the main goal of the single market.

There is no evidence that this policy will change in the foreseeable future.

In fact, economic policy in the EU is controlled by the unelected and secretive Eurogroup.

May I quote the Irish Examiner as an impartial observer of the Greek tragedy?

"Until 75% of Greece’s public debt is repaid — in 2060 at the earliest — the country will be subject to ‘enhanced surveillance’.
This means 42 years of quarterly reviews, during which the European Commission and the ECB, “in collaboration with the IMF”, may impose new measures on Greece, such as austerity, fire sales of public property and restrictions on organised labour."

The neo-liberal, pro-growth economic policy of the EU has been locked in for the next 42 years. What chance of de-growth in that period?

Unless, WE, we in the Green Party of England and Wales, provide an attractive and unique alternative paradigm of promoting De-Growth and the championing of conservation over consumption. A beacon of hope for other nations to follow.

And we can start by accepting the result of the EU referendum so that we can offer a unique and attractive sustainable future for Britain.

I am offering you a chance to vote for a new direction, a path that means we manage our own economy.
As was said in Molly Scott Cato's trade report:
"Greens have always argued for greater self-reliance and stronger local economies. It now looks like such a path will be the best future on offer for the UK outside the EU."

Or as was said in her farming report:
"Brexit could be a unique opportunity to move towards an ecologically sustainable farming system."

We could promote widespread re-nationalisation.

We could support sustainable industries and start tackling the enormous public and private debt by ensuring all companies that trade in the UK pay tax in the UK.

And yes, we could fund the NHS.

My name is Leslie Rowe and I am standing for the leadership of the Green Party.

If you want the Green Party to focus on climate change, on localism, democracy and economic de-growth and not on the EU, indeed to have its own unique appeal to the electorate then please vote for me. I believe in a new Green revolution that would transform our country. If you share that dream, then vote Leslie Rowe for leader.

Promoted and Produced by Leslie Rowe as part of their campaign for election to the post of Leader. This is not an official communication from the Green Party of England and Wales

Friday, 29 June 2018

Looking Forward, not Back, the campaign by Leslie Rowe to be the new leader of the Green Party

Leslie Rowe has submitted his nomination to be leader of the Green Party in England and Wales. Here is the statement accompanying that application.

Have you looked out of the window lately? You know as well as I do that climate change is not a campaign for the future, its effects are being felt here and now.

That is why I am standing for leader of the Green Party. I want the Green Party to focus on climate change, on localism, democracy and economic de-growth and not on the EU. Prior to the 2016 EU referendum we, in the interests of democracy, faithfully promised to accept the result. We should do that now and move on.

Our basic message has long been of replacing a pro-growth consumer society with a society wedded to conserving our environment. We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the 2°C rise in global temperatures that will trigger non-reversible climate change, then the wealthiest countries, including the UK, have to adopt a de-growth strategy for a limited period.

"Having even a 50/50 chance of keeping the planet under a 2-degree level of warming is incompatible with economic growth," author Naomi Klein said at the 2014 Leipzig De-growth conference.

We should return to our roots and actively campaign for a UK de-growth economic policy, a beacon for the rest of the world to follow.

In the Green Party policy statement, EU100 we state "In our Green vision for Europe we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self reliance and resource conservation, within a context of wider diversity."

This is totally at odds with the declared aim of the EU for continuing Economic Growth. In his opening statement laying out his vision for the single market, the President of the European commission, Jean Claude Juncker put economic growth as the main goal of the single market.
There is no evidence that this policy will change in the foreseeable future.

In fact, economic policy in the EU is controlled by the unelected and secretive Eurogroup. As Yanis Varoufakis said in his book "Adults in the Room" ..."democracy had indeed died the moment the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty" (page 237). It is the Eurogroup who continue to force privatisation on Greece and other EU states.

So it is time for the Green Party to campaign not for the EU and continued growth, but for a sustainable future based on de-growth and meeting the societal needs of the British people.

We can carve out a unique position by opposing ALL UK free trade agreements (including the EU single market) and focus on reducing the out of control UK trade deficit by supporting sustainable UK manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries. This may lead to the UK leaving the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but it would re-balance the UK economy and give us a unique position in UK politics.

Campaign to embrace localism in our procurement policies for schools, hospitals and other public institutions, making it a virtue of buying local, preferably organic, food and other supplies.

Step up our opposition to the creeping privatisation of the NHS, especially now that the Tories would no longer have the excuse of EU neo-liberal policies on procurement. Campaign to use the extra money for the NHS in tripling the number of training places for doctors and nurses, reintroducing bursaries and abolishing student fees.

Point out that leaving the EU does not mean that we have to leave the European Court of Human Rights, which is a separate and older institution. Indeed we can champion the Court in our opposition to Tory attempts to water down our rights.

Campaign for a progressive UK Government, supporting universal basic income and Positive Money; to reverse the neo-liberal economic policies favoured by all successor governments since Thatcher, both Labour and Tory.

Campaign to re-nationalise the UK railways and utility companies unhindered by EU Directives such as 2012/34/EU establishing mandatory competition in a Single European Railway Area.

Solve the Northern Ireland border issue by actively campaigning for a referendum for a United Ireland.

Renew our campaign for the abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of a new elected senate of the regions.

Actively campaign for more local democracy with proportional representation, a new independence referendum in Scotland and greater autonomy for Wales.

In this way we can renew and invigorate the Green Party by following a more radical agenda. If you agree, please vote for Leslie Rowe as GPEW leader.

Leslie Rowe is a retired accountant who stood for election for the Green Party in Richmond (Yorks) in the general elections of 2005, 2010 and 2015, the European Election of 2009, along with many other local council elections. He has been a Green Party member since 2003 and is a former treasurer of Yorkshire and Humber Greens and Richmond (Yorks) Green Party.

Promoted and Produced by Leslie Rowe as part of their campaign for election to the post of Leader. This is not an official communication from the Green Party of England and Wales.
Voting is open to all paid up members of the Green Party in England & Wales as at the 29th July 2018.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A History Lesson: Did the UK join the EEC for the wrong reasons?

Giving all the fuss about Brexit, you may have wondered why did the UK join the EEC in 1973 and did the UK achieve the goals it set itself?

The reasons can be traced back to a study made by the Macmillan Government in 1959. The "Future Policy Study" was a long range study of UK overseas policy during the decade to come (1960 to 1970). It revealed amongst other things that the then French President, General De Gaulle, regarded the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community in 1957 (the EEC, the forerunner of the EU) as a purely commercial treaty, which De Gaulle admitted he would not have signed, if he had been French president at the time.

The Britsh prime minister Harold Macmillan still wanted the UK to be a world player. However, the summit meeting in May 1959 between the four "great" powers of the time (USA, USSR, UK and France) had failed to achieve any positive outcome, because of the shooting down of an American U2 spy plane over Russia earlier that month. It was at a time when the UK was losing its Empire and Macmillan realised that on its own, the UK could no longer be the "World player" that it had been. The study suggested that the UK had two possible routes, either to help develop the emerging economies of the Commonwealth or to throw in its lot with the EEC.

As historian Peter Hennessy wrote in his book "Having it so good: Britain in the Fifties" , "EUROPE, for the British was not a shining collective goal in itself, but a means of sustaining BRITISH power." As the French philosopher Raymond Aron put it in 1962, "those for whom Europe is to be a fatherland cannot avoid recognising that in British eyes (except for a small minority) it will never be anything but a means for something else".

The main reason for joining the EEC then, was to sustain Britain's powers in international affairs. Indeed the reports suggested that the UK expected to become the lead player in the EEC, if it joined. Hennessy described UK "wishful thinking" in not believing what the Treaty of Rome said about ever closer union in its opening paragraphs on the grounds that only French "mystics" could subscribe to it.

However the report acknowledged that joining the EEC might be unpopular. " It is to be expected that , if we were to join the Six (the original six countries of the EEC) there would be considerable opposition from some sections of public opinion.."

In a conclusion that Hennessy describes as "chilling", the 1959 report declared " This opposition would require careful handling; intensive RE-EDUCATION would be needed..."

This re-education started before 1973, when the UK joined the EEC and continues to this day. However, the UK never did achieve the dominance over the EEC that was its original goal. That honour now clearly lies with Germany. Indeed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, then the Amsterdam, Nice and then Lisbon treaties increasingly took power away from Westminster and gave it to Brussels. The UK went from being a net exporter to the EEC to having a massive trade deficit with the EU (£82bn in 2016).

Notes to the 1959 report also concluded that the UK " should consider full membership, but seek special terms to meet our fundamental interests and those of the Commonwealth." Edward Heath, who took the UK into the EEC, failed to achieve any special terms and the UK has continued to fail to negotiate any meaningful "special terms" even when the EU was faced with Brexit (as David Cameron discovered).

The time has come to recognise that the UK failed in its original objectives and that the EU juggernaut will continue towards its goal of "ever closer" union until a United States of Europe is achieved or the EU implodes as its nation states collapse.

It may or may not be too late for plan B, to develop economic ties with Commonwealth countries. But it is time to recognise that the massive private and public debt (more than doubled since 2010 under Tory "austerity" to over £2 trillion) that the UK has amassed by being part of the EU must be addressed. As the 1959 report predicted:

"Whether we join the Six or not, we shall have to reduce the proportion of our output devoted to consumption and increase the proportion which is invested or exported."

We have ignored this advice in the forty five years since we joined the EEC, which has left the UK in massive debt. Now is the time to reverse that situation, exacerbated by the urgent need to reduce consumption in order to reduce the risk of global warming. We need to stop pretending we are a global power and instead put the needs of the British people and the country first.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018


The so-called agreement announced yesterday (19/3/18) proves just one thing. The Tory government has yet again kicked the can down the road on the Brexit negotiations. They should be dealing with the difficult issues first, not last, to avoid wasting time making agreements that can never be implemented. Many people realised months ago that this Tory Government is incapable of negotiating a fair Brexit deal and are spinning it out just to remain in power for a few months more. They know that admission of failure is likely to trigger an immediate general election, especially as they will lose the support of the DUP over the Irish border.

The big issues the Tories are not able to deal with and have therefore postponed:

1. The Irish border: there is no way that you can have a soft border with the Irish Republic unless Northern Ireland effectively remains part of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Green Leaves recognised this from the start and have been calling for an Irish re-unification referendum since before the 2016 EU referendum. The only other alternative is to move the customs border to between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a situation totally unacceptable to the DUP and Ulster Unionists. A referendum vote to re-unite with the republic is the only way that that Unionist veto can be over-ruled.

2. Fishing: under Article 125 of the agreement, the UK will not be taking back control of our fisheries when we leave the EU – something which the Government had previously promised. I predict every MP representing fishing communities will agree that we must have absolute control of our waters and fish from the end of March 2019 and anything less is totally unacceptable. As this must be put to a vote, there is no way that this will pass in the House of Commons.

3. The EU is suggesting that the EU Court of Justice should decide on any impasse between the UK and the EU. For instance if there was no agreement on Northern Ireland, the EU’s draft protocol for a ‘fallback’ option to resolve the Irish border would take precedence, which would see Northern Ireland remain in the EU Customs Union and aligned with much of the Single Market after Brexit. Again unacceptable to the DUP.

4. But the big issue: not even mentioned by the UK Tory negotiating team, is the massive trade deficit that the UK has with the EU and the unsustainability of this ever expanding trade to the world's environment. The UK must develop self sufficiency after Brexit; learn to live within its means if it is not to become bankrupt, both financially and environmentally. Financially its trade is in a worse situation than the likes of Greece, which has been crippled by austerity. Environmentally, we are still learning just what a horrific disaster 100 years of plastics have been and we know that drastic action to vastly reduce our consumption is needed now. Not in three years, ten years or fifty years. We should be campaigning for Brexit be the catalyst for action on the environment NOW!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Green and Economically Successful Solution to the UK Trade Deficit

It is one of the great ironies of this world that the most successful capitalist country of recent times is the communist controlled Peoples' Republic of China. The reason for this is not difficult to see. As Irwin Stelzer said in the Sunday Times (19/11/17), "subsidised Chinese Companies have an immense competitive advantage".

As Jeremy Clarkson was so fond of telling us, China has been making knock off copies of European cars for years. How many people realise that the new MG cars now being sold are made by a Chinese company in China? If a foreign company wants to sell cars in China, they must manufacture them there with a Chinese partner, or pay a 25% duty on imported cars.

And yet China has been a member of the World Trade Organisation since 2001, so presumably what it does is within WTO rules?

It is one of the great mysteries to me that the UK does not do the same thing. A 25% import duty on cars would reduce the number of imports and encourage manufacturers to make the cars in the UK. With all parties committed to facilitate the switch from petrol and diesel to electric cars, now seems an ideal time to introduce the measure and ensure the new factories are built in the UK to service our 60 million+ consumers.

Of course, such a tariff is contrary to EU rules, which are designed to help the multi-national companies to source their goods from low wage economies. With 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels, the multi-nationals have ensured that their economic growth is enshrined in EU law. But the UK has voted to leave the EU, which brings forth a multitude of opportunities to have much greener policies. And there is nothing greener than reducing the number of vehicles and the miles they have to travel to get to the customer.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Green Alternative after Brexit

It was after viewing Paul Mason's "Why it's kicking off everywhere" (Young Vic production broadcast on BBC 2), that I realised why I have become so disillusioned by Green Party and other so-called left wing leaders in recent years.

I remember well the pride I felt as a member of the Green Party, at its support for the newly elected Syriza government in Greece in 2015 and Syriza's fight with the EU over austerity. The shenanigans of Goldman Sachs had been exposed, including its masking of Greece's debt by cross currency swaps, facilitated that country's ill fated adoption of the Euro in 2001.
(Although the EU have never punished Goldman Sachs for this deception, indeed many Eurocrats go on to careers at GS, including the former president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barosso).
But, as Paul Mason shows in his excellent play, the EU beat the Greeks into submission by closing their banks and threatening them with starvation. Which is why I find the current Green Party leadership's uncritical attitude towards the EU and its "statist oligarchy" (Simon Jenkins) a complete mystery. The Greens exist to promote localism and the devolution of power, yet they refuse to challenge an EU that is about the centralising of power.

A left wing environmentalist and anti-capitalist political movement would surely welcome the UK leaving the EU and striking out on its own? Not to follow the Tory line and negotiate ridiculous trade deals, the dangers of which were laid bare in the debate over TTIP, only then to be meekly accepted by the EU in their Canadian Free Trade deal, CETA. Dangers which would undermine environmental standards (such as imports of chlorinated chickens from the USA) and leave democratically elected governments open to be sued by corporate interests in kangaroo courts (CETA rebranded the politically untenable investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS) as an “Investment Court System” (ICS)).

Our oldest trade deal, the EU Single market was established in 1992, but has singularly failed to improve our economic position in the world. UK goods exports to the 11 fellow founding members of the Single Market grew over the years 1993-2015 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 1.0 per cent. This compares unfavourably with the mean growth rate of the goods exports of Canada, Japan, Singapore and the US and 10 other non-member countries trading with the same 11 founding members under WTO rules, who had a CAGR of 1.93 per cent, which is almost twice as high. It also compares unfavourably with UK goods exports to the 111 countries with which it trades under WTO rules. These have grown over the same 23 years nearly three times faster, at a CAGR of 2.88 per cent. (Source: Michael Burrage, Senior Research Fellow at Civitas).

No, what is needed is a form of the ‘Progressive Protectionism’ proposed by environmentalist Colin Hines in his e-book, ‘Progressive Protectionism – taking back control’. This would involve the UK introducing a set of interrelated and self-reinforcing policy priorities:
. Replacing international trade competition and export dependence with protective safeguards to ensure revitalised local and national economies. These will include the reintroduction of tariffs, quotas, capital controls and the ability to strengthen constraints on the numbers and pace of immigration. Hines describes this as the fundamental "mind wrench" that will do most to curb the present power of big business to play countries off against each other and to threaten to relocate unless countries bow the knee to open borders and global competition.
. Introduce a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally;
. Control and localise finance such that the majority stays within the UK;
. Control the numbers, rate and ability of new immigrants to stay and work temporarily or permanently;
. Reinforce a minimum wage and outlaw zero hours contracts to stop undermining living standards;
. Introduce fairer and socially positive taxes and resource and pollution taxes and tackle aggressive tax dodging nationally and globally in order to fund social and environmental improvements and help pay for the transition to permanent, sustainable and flourishing local economies. For instance, all businesses that traded in the UK would have to pay corporate taxes in the UK and not be allowed to export profits by imports of over-priced services and goods;
. Increase democratic involvement both politically and economically to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies;
. Implement a local competition policy to eliminate monopolies, or if inevitable, like in the water industry, to bring them back into Government control, by nationalisation.
. Indeed to renationalise industries, such as the railways, where privatisation has singularly failed.

Although Hines argues this approach on an EU wide basis, the neo-liberal consensus in the EU (directed as usual by Goldman Sachs and other lobbyists) would never allow it. Indeed the strategic plan for the EU, as described in the ‘Five Presidents’ Report’, talked about 'a deepening of the Single Market'.
On 22 June 2015, the Commission described what new powers it wants when it published a key report: ‘Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union’. Dubbed the ‘Five Presidents’ Report’, this document commits the EU to the creation of a ‘genuine Economic Union’, a ‘Financial Union’, a ‘Fiscal Union’ and a ‘Political Union’ by 2025.

However, it could work at a UK level after Brexit, if we were willing to reign in the power of the multi-national corporations and take back our own economy. The UK's massive trade deficit (£70 billion p.a. on average with the EU alone), is not sustainable, even in the short term, as the UK economy goes further and further into debt to fund our massive net import bill. These figures also do not take into account the money sent back by the millions of EU citizens working in the UK. Often a source of cheap labour to undermine wage levels in the UK and negate the UK's need to train its own citizens. Don't believe the lies being told about full employment in the UK. In reality, about 21.5% of British workers are either officially unemployed, inactive, or employed part-time even though they really want full-time work (see
We would need to shift economic policy away from "open markets". In place of that discredited system of global economic governance, the UK would take back control of the scale of capital, goods, services and people entering and leaving our country.

More importantly, it would allow the UK to take the drastic action needed to control pollution and lead the fight against climate change, by being an example for the rest of the world to follow.
One of the greatest criticisms of the position of the Green Party leadership over Europe is that they seem to have forgotten our basic message of replacing a pro-growth consumer society with a society wedded to conserving our environment. We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the 2°C, then the wealthiest countries have to adopt a de-growth strategy for a limited period. This involves a move away from consumerism and towards social awareness. Replacing fast food and German cars with investment in the NHS, social care and local production.

The goal, as described by Hines, is to allow an economy to rediversify and prosper by maximising local economic activity. Domestic businesses and funding sources would then meet the needs of the majority in society. For instance by Government supported local investment schemes, perhaps by switching Quantitative Easing away from bonds (which just makes the rich richer) and into medium term infrastructure investment.

Or the Green Housing scheme that the then Green Party leader Natalie Bennett singularly managed to fail to explain during the 2015 election campaign. This involves spending seed corn money to build and rent out social housing, then using the rent revenues to facilitate further house building. This and other social investments would help to reduce inequalities and power imbalances, improve social welfare and job security and protect the environment. We could take back power generation by local investment in solar and wind electricity generators, which would also avoid the waste of transmitting power over hundreds of miles (50% of electricity is lost in transmitting it over power lines). It would also bury forever the arguments for allowing foreign interests to build new and ridiculously expensive nuclear power stations.

Across the world people are fighting to be more independent, not less so. They crave democracy and accountability; want to see their identities and cultures live on. The European Union is not new and it is not progressive, "its trail winding back to the Roman Empire" (John King). Britain needs to look to a radically alternative future, in the interests of its citizens and as an example of an alternative economic system for the rest of the world to follow.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Proposals for Tax Reform after Brexit: VAT

This is the first of a series of proposals from me, to enhance the UK after Brexit. It is NOT Green Party policy, but I would like it to be!
Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK is a tax on spending with numerous exceptions, which makes it a complicated system.
There is a strong argument for reform of VAT after Brexit, in particular in relation to imports. Currently VAT is charged on some, but by no means on all, imports. However, the VAT charged on imports can be set off against VAT charged on subsequent sales, i.e. it is fully recoverable if you are VAT registered.
After leaving the single market, the UK will be free from EU VAT regulations. My proposal consists of three stages:
1. Reduce the VAT rate to 15% from the current high level of 20%, which would reduce the cost of all purchases, both imported AND UK produced, by about 4%.
2. Put VAT on all imports, most importantly on overseas service and management charges, which are used by offshore companies to avoid UK corporate taxes. VAT would also be imposed on all food imports, including the over-pricing of commodities by multi-nationals, which is also used to avoid taxation, and on meat. This would be a disincentive to the long distance transfer of foodstuffs (and animals)and encourage more local production, upon which VAT would not be charged. It is also likely to reduce meat consumption, in favour of locally produced vegetables.
3. Stop VAT on imports being recoverable. This would undoubtedly increase the cost of imports, but it is likely that:
(a) it would be an incentive to produce more goods and services locally in the UK and reduce the record levels of imports, now running at £582bn a year;
(b) it would be allowable as a business expense, thus being partially mitigated for importers by a reduced corporation tax bill (if they pay their taxes);
(c) competition would encourage importers not to pass on all of the extra costs to their customers, to avoid being priced out of the market;
(d) the extra cost to consumers for imports would encourage people to prefer locally sourced goods and services;
(e) the extra cost to consumers would be more than mitigated by the overall reduction in VAT on ALL their purchases, both imports and locally sourced;
(f) be a major disincentive for tax avoidance using charging for "fictitious" overseas services, such as management costs or over-priced commodities.
(g) it would, at current rates, bring in an additional £80bn+ in revenue to the UK treasury, which could be used to improve the NHS and social care;
(h) it is likely to reduce consumption overall, as part of a "de-growth" economic strategy, which was recommended for economically developed countries,after the 2013 climate change talks in Warsaw.
Such a change would challenge EU rules and would probably flout World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as well. But it would be in line with the Green Leaves proposal to shun all free trade agreements, like TTIP and CETA.
However, it is also likely that retaliatory action might be taken by other countries, in the form of tariffs on UK exports, but as imports to the UK outweigh exports from the UK, this is something that can be negotiated favourably on a bilateral basis with each country or trading bloc, particularly the EU, whose exports to the UK are already £70bn more than the imports from the UK.