Saturday, May 15, 2021
Capitalism and greed, as Boris Johnson is proud to say, go together. However, they are not the success he likes to pretend. In fact markets have failed abysmally to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It is actually the public sector and state intervention that has had the greatest success in combating the virus. Capitalist greed benefits no one but the capitalists. The rich world - the EU and countries like Britain and the United States - are battling it out to secure shares of vaccines while poorer countries are being left far behind. The EU has struggled with it's procurement programme which is a further blow to those who wish to centralise power even more within the bloc.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
British Gas engineers put themselves on the line during the pandemic, helping households maintain their power supplies through the winter. But Centrica which owns British Gas, has sought to use fire and rehire tactics to force engineers to accept worse conditions of employment. Centrica pleads poverty but is actually making healthy profits.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The Scottish National Party has again been returned to power in the Scottish Parliament, though failing to achieve an overall majority. Yet its record in government has been one of failure in delivering services to the people of Scotland. The Party itself, once highly disciplined, is now fraught with divisions. But independence is what dominates Scottish politics and it suits the SNP to divert attention onto the constitution and way from the many issues facing the Scottish people and the party's own problems. But there are divisions in the independence camp about how to proceed and the many difficult questions about borders, currency, debt and so on will not be easy for the SNP to answer.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is launching a constitutional Commission advised by Gordon Brown. it will consider further devolution of powers across the UK. On the left the idea Progressive Federalism has been developed which would seek to devolve power and enshrine socialist values in its structures. Partly these moves are a reaction to the success of nationalism in Scotland. But are these schemes practical? Would the ruling class sit back and allow the radical elements of Progressive Federalism to be put into practice? And, when previous devolved powers have failed to halt nationalism, why would these options be any more successful?
Monday, May 10, 2021
Agriculture is in crisis with the land becoming less productive and agribusiness marketing increasingly intensive chemical interventions to farmers. Farmers are also forced to sell at low prices to supermarket monopolies. Experiments have begun in rewilding the land, challenging the power of big business. But can this be a practical way forward for the future?
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Brexit will leave British capital weaker and marks another significant step in Britain’s decline relative to other imperial powers over the last 100 years. Britain always had an uneasy relationship with the EU, with different allegiances and ambitions from France and Germany. Having said that the dominant sectors of British capital, whose interests were tied up with the EU, were not in favour of Brexit. However it did happen due to the continued tensions within the British ruling-class about its world role, the incompetence of its political representatives and alienation in communities which had suffered neglect over decades. The full impact of Brexit remains to be seen, but there is bound to be a hit on the financial sector which dominates the economy. There is also the prospect of the break-up of the UK with majority support currently for Scottish independence and the reshaping of Northern Ireland’s relationship to the UK and Ireland by the Brexit process. All this is happening against the backdrop of a long term decline in British capital’s share of the world economy, an increasingly parasitic domestic economy and the disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic by the UK government and the devolved administrations.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Britain has left the European Union and exited from the year-long transition period on 31st December 2020. This is four and a half years after the vote to Leave and it is not over yet. The agreement between the UK and the EU leaves many issues unresolved and constructs a web of committees which will keep them in permanent negotiating mode. Although the UK has gained some formal autonomy from the EU in this agreement, nevertheless it is founded on neo-liberal assumptions and keeping both parties in alignment, precluding progressive intervention in the economy.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
The Brexit deal has exposed Boris Johnson’s false claim that Britain would gain total control of its fishing after Brexit. In fact, the deal has only given Britain an increased 25% share of the fish within its waters. It’s a far lower figure than the Tory promise of 80%. Over decades the UK government and the EU conspired to develop a market in fishing quotas which benefited big business at the expense of small fishermen. The Brexit agreement has done nothing to change that.