Tag Archives: Mainly Macro

Brexit myths debunked: there has never been any need to threaten a ‘no deal’ Brexit

“Duper’s delight”: Boris Johnson helped undermine attempts to get a Brexit deal through Parliament. Now he is accusing Parliament of sabotaging attempts to get a deal. What hypocrisy! What duplicity! What a [insert description here]!

Having established that there will not be rioting in the streets if Brexit doesn’t happen on October 31, shall we consider the silly claim that the UK should threaten the EU with the possibility of a “no deal” departure?

Here’s Simon Wren-Lewis in Mainly Macro again:

The myth of the need to threaten No Deal as part of the negotiations soon became another piece of the entrenched narrative.

I am sure some Brexiters believed it, because they never bothered to understand how the Single Market worked. It was forced upon other Brexiters when the cavalry in the form of the German auto-manufacturers who were going to force the German government into concessions never turned up.

But it soon began to have a much more sinister purpose.

It was not long before many in the ERG realised the only form of Brexit they would be happy with was No Deal, and from then on their aim was to try and achieve No Deal by default.

What better ruse was there for this group than to spread the idea that we could not rule out No Deal for negotiation reasons.

So you see, “no deal” is the kind of Brexit that the swivel-eyed screamers of the far-right Conservative party-within-a-party, the European Research Group, want – not in the interests of the UK, but to serve their own selfishness.

This serves Boris Johnson very well as, if headlines are to be believed, he is in hock to a shadowy group of hedge fund bosses who have bet heavily on a “no deal” Brexit crashing the economy and causing misery to millions of us, and stand to make billions of pounds from it.

The reason a deal has not been done is because of the actions of our current Prime Minister, his predecessor, and those in the ERG who are pushing this narrative.

Parliament has failed to agree a deal because the ERG do not want a deal.

Also ludicrous is the idea that a No Deal Brexit fulfills the wishes of the 52% who voted in the referendum, when those campaigning to leave in the referendum said a deal was certain to be done.

This ties in with the false claim that we should leave on October 31 because Parliament has had three years to get a deal and has failed, of course.

A deal could have happened long ago, under Theresa May. It would not have been a good deal, but it had been agreed with the EU.

It failed because the ERG – led by Boris Johnson’s leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg and supported by Johnson himself – made it fail.

So we can see that Boris Johnson and his friends have deliberately sabotaged attempts to forge a Brexit deal – and are working to ruin the UK economy – apparently in order to cash in on the chaos afterwards.

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Mainly Macro: This is the most dangerous UK government we have seen in our lifetimes

Boris Johnson – giving his opinion of anyone who might try to stop him.

If you think the headline – by economist Professor Simon Wren-Lewis – is a bit strong, you haven’t been paying attention.

His thesis is simple:

Boris Johnson is dangerous because he will ignore the UK’s constitution whenever he feels like it. He will use its power for his own ends, knowing that by the time the courts overturn his decisions, he’ll already have had his way.

So, for example, his false prorogation of Parliament was overturned – but not until after MPs had lost 10 days of debating time.

He is merrily saying two different things about Brexit – that he’ll abide by the Benn Act and seek to delay the UK’s departure from the EU and that the UK will drop out on October 31 if no agreement is reached.

We may conclude that he intends not to send the letter calling for a delay, and to crash out with no deal, knowing that the damage will be done by the time the courts are able to prove his behaviour unlawful.

The lesson we cannot avoid drawing is that this government has become dangerously rogue, and the party from which it comes is no better. People are no longer safe with it in charge. In the past, at least the press would have held the government to account, but now it eggs it on. A BBC that also might have told inconvenient facts has been threatened into submission.

All Johnson’s actions and provocations have one aim. He aims to pretend at the forthcoming general election that he alone is fighting for the people against an establishment of parliament, the judges and the EU that are combining to block the people’s will.

This rings true. If he manages to arrange his “no deal” Brexit, he can say it was in the face of establishment opposition; if forced to delay, he can say it was because of the establishment.

(We must bear in mind that he is not referring to the Establishment as we understand it, of course – he simply means anybody who opposes his desires and is in a position of power, enough to stop him.)

The real threat lies in far right thugs and a government that wants to destroy our pluralist democracy. The only way we have to stop a Prime Minister whose over the top language is used in death threats to MPs, and who describes those who ask him to be careful as talking humbug, is to remove him from power.

It is essential for those who want to protect our pluralist democracy to ensure they vote tactically to remove the Prime Minister who threatens that democracy.

Read more here: mainly macro: This is the most dangerous UK government we have seen in our lifetimes

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Boris Johnson is pushing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit that has no popular mandate at all

Thousands upon thousands of people have protested against Brexit since the 2016 EU referendum.

In what topsy turvy world is a public vote to confirm a previous public vote undemocratic? That is the question posed by former Oxford economics professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro blog.

Answering his own question, he states: “It is a world where Brexiters have control of most of the media, and where Brexiters and some of the people who voted for Brexit are desperate for some democratic justification for what has become an assault on pluralist democracy and evidence based policy.”

Clearly, Prof Wren-Lewis is a supporter of Labour’s plan for a confirmatory vote on any form of Brexit – which includes the possibility of remaining in the EU after all. People in Brecon and Radnorshire who have the chance to base their vote on that issue should seriously consider voting Labour if they haven’t already done so.

Prof Wren-Lewis continues [all boldings mine]: “If no one contradicts you when you say we must leave with no deal because of a narrow referendum win where no one on the winning side talked about leaving with no deal, you can convince yourself to enact the biggest act of self-harm in modern UK history on an unwilling majority.”

And there is no reason to leave at all: “What many Leavers would like you to believe is that this referendum requires the UK to leave the EU in some way or another. This is false. The referendum did not say that we must Leave the EU whatever the circumstances and whatever the cost or whatever leaving meant. None of those words were on the ballot paper, and they were not implicit either.

“The question was whether to Leave or Remain. As a result, not surprisingly people voted on the basis of what they thought Leave or Remain meant. So to see what people voted for, you need to look at what was discussed. In particular, the Leave vote will have been influenced by what the Leave side said. And almost without exception, no one on the Leave side mentioned Leaving without any deal at all. (Of course some Brexiters are now pretending they talked about it all the time – lying is second nature for these people.)

“Normally when someone says that a government has a mandate for a policy, it is because that policy was in the manifesto presented at the election. The Leave side did not have a manifesto, and that was a fatal flaw in Cameron’s referendum. In the absence of a manifesto we have to base any assessment of what any mandate was on what the Leave side said Brexit would entail. And almost without exception the Leave side said it would involve a trade deal with the EU of some sort.”

Ah, but Parliament failed to agree on a deal. Prof Wren-Lewis says such an outcome was implicit in the 2016 result: “Because the referendum did not specify what type of Brexit should be attempted, we have no a priori reason to believe that any particular option would command a majority. Indeed with such a close victory the presumption must be otherwise, and the polls show this to be the case. Parliament’s failure to agree a deal simply reflects the fact that there is no majority for any particular deal.

“It is true that the Remain side talked about No Deal as an extreme case in the list of possible forms of leaving the EU. But when looking at mandates, we look at what the winning side said, not the losing side. The Leave side spent a great deal of time ridiculing Remain predictions as Project Fear, and that included ridiculing the idea that we would not get a deal with the EU. Some on the Leave side said it would be the easiest deal in history.

The reason why No Deal is the only Brexit option left standing is that militant Brexiters have done everything they can to get us there. They voted down alternative options their government proposed. It is militant Brexiters, not a majority of the public, that think No Deal is the only true form of Brexit. When Brexiters claim that voters were really voting for No Deal they should be laughed at.”

And he states: “The idea that we must go through with Brexit even though there is no majority for any form of Brexit is nonsensical. It is an illusion created by a flawed advisory referendum narrowly won which politicians foolishly said at the time that they would implement. Luckily no politician is bound by the foolish promises that other politicians made.”

Remember that, next time Boris Johnson tries to suggest otherwise.

Source: mainly macro: There is no mandate for No Deal

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No, Robert Peston, Osborne was WRONG to impose austerity. Stop distorting the facts!

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The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.

He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.

He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.

“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.

“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.

“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”

One of that school of Keynesian economists has hit back – hard. According to Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Mr Peston’s argument is “just nonsense: complete and utter nonsense.”

He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”

This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.

As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.

“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.

In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?

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The Corbyn Phenomenon – Mainly Macro

Jeremy Corbyn's detractors need to start accepting that they are on the wrong side of the argument; Labour's membership wants a party of conviction - not one that goes any way they wind blows.

Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors need to start accepting that they are on the wrong side of the argument; Labour’s membership wants a party of conviction – not one that goes any way they wind blows.

Detractors of Jeremy Corbyn are pushing hard to discredit him any way they can – see yesterday’s article on Alastair Campbell for an example. But the arguments put forward by these critics lack depth.

In his latest article, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has been exploring whether the Corbyn phenomenon also lacks depth or if there is indeed something to it. It is perceptive in that it examines the issues rather than the personalities, and exposes weaknesses that we all knew existed in Labour policy – but that some of us choose not to acknowledge.

Well, it’s time to acknowledge them! This is only an excerpt from the article and you are heartily advised to visit Mainly Macro for the rest of it.

Whether Corbyn wins or loses, Labour MPs and associated politicos have to recognise that his popularity is not the result of entryism, or some strange flight of fancy by Labour’s quarter of a million plus members, but a consequence of the political strategy and style that lost the 2015 election. They should reflect that if they are so sure they know what will win elections, how come they failed to predict the Corbyn phenomenon. A large proportion of the membership believe that Labour will not win again by accepting the current political narrative on austerity or immigration or welfare or inequality and offering only marginal changes to current government policy. On economic policy in particular they need to offer reasons for voters to believe that there are alternatives to the current status quo of poor quality jobs, deteriorating public services and infrastructure, and growing poverty alongside gross inequality at the top. That means, whether he wins or loses, working with the Corbyn phenomenon rather than dismissing it.

It is nonsense to suggest that the Labour party membership has suddenly become markedly more left wing than it used to be. Corbyn’s popularity has much more to do with how the party in parliament has responded to both election defeats.

The reaction of most of the parliamentary party to the 2015 defeat seems to be that the pre-2015 strategy was right in principle but had just not focused enough in placating the marginal English voter, which they believe means more appeasement and shifting further to the right. The party membership seems to have reacted very differently to the 2015 defeat. The membership appears to believe that the pre-2015 strategy has clearly failed, and it is time to start talking with conviction about the issues you believe in. This is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn does: he is a conviction politician, who is not prepared to try and be someone else to win votes.

If Labour is to have any hope in 2020 it has to start attacking Osborne’s unnecessary and obsessive austerity, as well as getting the past history straight. There are also reasons for thinking that the power of deficit fetishism for voters will steadily decline. In that sense, on this issue and perhaps others, Corbyn seems to have an advantage.

Source: mainly macro: The Corbyn Phenomenon

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Deficit fetishism and political bulls**t – the reason you don’t hear the facts on the news?

This is not a new phenomenon: Noam Chomsky discussed it with Andrew Marr in 1996.

This is not a new phenomenon: Noam Chomsky discussed it with Andrew Marr in 1996.

If you are easily offended, then look away now because there is a new buzz-phrase in economic circles: “political bullshit”.

This will play havoc with Vox Political‘s anti-profanity standards!

The gist is that “political bullshit” tells false stories that have nothing to do with the truth but appeal to what Tyler Cowen calls “common sense morality”. According to Mainly Macro‘s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, the term was coined by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt.

Prof Wren-Lewis continues:

The implication… is that because bullshit does not reside in the “court of truth”, trying to combat it with facts, knowledge or expertise may have limited effectiveness. But what makes their discussion even more interesting for me is that they use what they call ‘deficit fetishism’, and in particular the stories that the UK government told before the last election, as their subject matter.
In the case of fiscal policy, deficit fetishism as bullshit involves appeals to ‘common sense’ by invoking simple analogies with households, often coupled with an element of morality – it is responsible to pay down debts. The point in calling it bullshit … is that attempts to counter it by appeals to facts or knowledge (e.g. the government is not like a household, as every economist knows) may have limited effectiveness.
Instead it might be better to fight bullshit with bullshit, by talking about the need to borrow to invest, or even that it is best to ‘grow your way out of debt’. (If you think the latter is nonsense, you are still in the wrong court: the court of truth rather than bullshit. As long as the phrase contains what I have sometimes called a ‘half-truth’, it has the potential to be effective bullshit.)
At first sight deficit fetishism seems to be innate, because it appeals to the basic intuition of the household and the morality of good housekeeping. However households also borrow to invest (such as in a house), and most people understand that this is what firms also do. The reason why the bullshit involving paying back borrowing may have been particularly powerful over the last five years is that this is exactly what many households have also been doing.
However that process now appears to have come to an end. As individuals start to borrow again (or at least stop running down their debt), perhaps they will become more tolerant of governments doing the same.
To this we could add an obvious external factor. In 2010 and the following two years, deficit fetishism seemed to be validated by a superficial view of external events. The difficulties that some countries were getting into because their governments had ‘borrowed too much’ was top of the news night after night. In that context, is it any wonder that most people believed the bullshit?

The agenda of the news media was the subject of a comment on This Blog yesterday. Ian wrote: “There’s an interview of Noam Chomsky … by Andrew Marr … and the subject of reporting comes up in which Chomsky points out how truth often doesn’t see the light of day and how journalists are chosen for employment, i.e. ones that upset the applecart and speak truth to power never make it in the mainstream.

“Chomsky elaborated, ‘If you didn’t believe what you believe, you wouldn’t be where you are.’ That is, if Marr was in any way radical … he wouldn’t have a nice job at the BBC.”

He continued: “When one former Sun editor claimed Rupert Murdoch doesn’t decide on any particular editorial line, he doesn’t need to, the editor knows what line to take or he wouldn’t be in the job.”

And he concluded: “Imagine if [you] worked for BBC News and knew about the privatisation of the NHS and all the benefit ‘reforms’ related deaths? You try to broadcast that these days and you’d be sent to cover the quarter finals of the Penrith Cumberland wrestling championships on a rainy Wednesday night for BBC Radio Cumbria.”

So, “political bullshit” gains credibility with strong support from complicit news media. What chance do the facts have, in the face of that?

Source: mainly macro: Is deficit fetishism innate or contextual?

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When is Chuka going to stop backstabbing Labour?

Blue is the colour (of this man's politics): Chuka Umunna should be in the Conservative Party.

Blue is the colour (of this man’s politics): Chuka Umunna should be in the Conservative Party.

It seems Mr Umunna is even ready to sink his own credibility in order to undermine the party he still claims to represent.

He has written an article in The Independent which Oxford University macroeconomist Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has rubbished in his Mainly Macro blog.

This Writer’s only criticism is that Prof Wren-Lewis headlines his article with a claim that it is a sign of “Labour’s growing macroeconomic illiteracy” – when it is far more likely to be a sign that Chuka should cross the floor and join the Conservatives he most closely resembles.

Chuka wrote: “To be running a deficit in 2007, after 15 years of economic growth, was still a mistake. My party’s failure to acknowledge that mistake compromised our ability to rebuild trust in 2010 and in 2015. If a government can’t run a surplus in the 15th year of an economic expansion, when can it run one?”

This is the Tory line in a nutshell – and nonsense. Mainly Macro‘s response: “What Umunna is saying here is much the same as George Osborne’s proposed rule: in normal times when the economy is growing run surpluses. But Osborne is saying that in the context of the current debt to GDP ratio of 80% of GDP. Umunna is implying that policy still made sense back in 2007 when the debt to GDP ratio was below 40%, the output gap was thought to be small and no one was expecting a global financial crisis.

“I cannot remember anyone before 2008 suggesting Labour’s debt limit should fall over time. Yet Umunna says the mistake was so serious it helped lose Labour two elections.”

In other words: What a load of rubbish.

“I would love to know who the economists are that gave Umunna the advice that led to this article,” writes Prof Wren Lewis. Who says anybody did?

To prevent claims that he is over-exaggerating a couple of sentences from a larger article, the Professor again quotes Chuka: “Reducing the deficit is a progressive endeavour – we seek to balance the books because it is the right thing to do.” This claim – that it is “the right thing to do” is straight out of the Tory phrasebook.

The response: “Would he give the same advice to UK businesses: refrain from borrowing and focus on paying back your debt? Somehow I think not. The Conservatives have a kind of excuse for deficit fetishism – it is a useful device for shrinking the state. That excuse should not apply to senior Labour figures.”

This Blog can see little future for Labour if a politician with so much sympathy for Conservative policies – and so little understanding of economics – remains on Labour’s front bench. Chuka has had his day.

It’s time he chucked it in.

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mainly macro: An interview that will never happen

Here’s a good send-up of George Osborne’s policy positions by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis. I’ve quoted just part of it so please visit Mainly Macro for the rest.

Interviewer. Going back to the proposed legislation to outlaw deficits, you have also made election commitments to cut some taxes, and intend to legislate to outlaw raising others. That means that public spending will have to be cut to achieve these surpluses. Some people have suggested these laws are just a backdoor means to achieve an ideological objective of a smaller state.

Osborne. That is nonsense. I just think it is important not to place any further burden on this country’s hard working families. These families also know that you cannot go on borrowing forever.
Interviewer. Many people borrow for years to buy a house, and many successful companies continue to borrow to grow. These companies also know that it is best to borrow when interest rates are low, and interest rates on UK government debt are currently very low.
Osborne. And I will never stop trying to take credit for that. But as a prudent Chancellor, I need to ensure we have room to run deficits safely in abnormal times.
Interviewer. Is that to enable the government to undertake fiscal stimulus to support the economy during a major recession?
Osborne. No, that would not be appropriate, as I said in 2009. But as I have also said many times, it is important to allow the automatic stabilisers to operate.
Interviewer. The automatic stabilisers operate even during mild economic downturns, because low growth reduces tax revenues for example. So does your definition of abnormal simply mean when growth would be below average?
Osborne. No, I am talking about more serious events than that, but I will leave the experts at the OBR to decide precisely what is abnormal.
Interviewer. I am sure they would welcome your guidance. But if abnormal does not include mild downturns, and you want to make it a legal requirement to run surpluses during those times as well, that will require either switching the automatic stabilisers off during these mild downturns, or running pretty large surpluses when the economy is on track so as to avoid going into deficit if a negative shock of the normal kind hits.
Osborne. As I said, I think it is important to allow the automatic stabilisers to operate.

Source: mainly macro: An interview that will never happen

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Why SHOULD the government suck money OUT of the economy?

George Osborne: Mouth open, mind shut.

George Osborne: Mouth open, mind shut.

Economists are probably lining up right now to demonstrate that George Osborne is a fool.

The Chancellor is trying to persuade us that aiming for an immediate budget surplus is good policy. Experts disagree.

Very quick off the mark is Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his Mainly Macro blog. He has already pointed out that fiscal tightening is a terrible idea when interest rates are at their zero lower bound (ZLB), as they are at the moment – if economic growth falters, then monetary policy cannot come to the rescue because interest rates are already as low as they can be.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reckons that there’s no reason for the government to reduce debt from its current level of 80 per cent of GDP, as long as the market is happy to keep buying it up. This Writer has issues with that, because it is not advisable for the UK or any other country to become a debt-servicing economy. However, the principle that there is no need for drastic action is sound.

Professor Wren-Lewis also examined a few of the current arguments in support of Osborne and rubbished them in his usual amiable way:

Osborne’s plan may provide scope for dealing with further ‘Great Recessions’ without running out of what the IMF calls “fiscal space” (the amount of extra debt into which the UK could fall before there was any need for serious concern) – but this would demand that ‘Great Recessions’ take place much more often in the future than the past.

The claim that we should reduce the debt burden for future generations is dismissed as perverse, as it means “the costs of reducing debt would largely fall on the same generation that suffered as a result of the Great Recession”.

Leading on from this, he points out that any claim that an individual would want to pay their debts down quickly is not accurate, for the very good reason that nations are not like individuals; they are more like corporations. Firms live with permanent debt because that debt has paid for the capital purchases they have made: “The state has plenty of productive capital…. If we paid back most government debt within a generation, we would be giving that capital to later generations without them making any contribution towards it.”

From here it is fairly easy to see that selling off national assets (like the Royal Mail or Eurostar – or any of the profit-making utility firms, back in the 1980s) is a bad idea, because the national corporation (the UK) then fails to benefit from the proceeds of all its investment. The railways are an even worse case, because the country is subsidising them with more money than when they were a nationalised industry, but receives none of the profits.

Narrow down your definition of what is happening even further and we see that George Osborne is making the poor pay – with squeezes on benefits – in order to allow the rich to benefit; they will own the assets that the government is selling off while paying nothing towards the capital costs discussed above.

So – unless you are one of the very few people rich enough to profit from Osborne’s policy, do you really want to support him now?

This blog would be particularly interested in hearing from working people who voted Conservative last month:

Did you realise that Osborne would be penalising you and your descendants?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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A fact-check for silly Cameron apologists

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Here’s a piece in the New Statesman that is worth debunking straight away. Entitled 10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for, it makes assertions that suggest to This Writer that it is author Ian Leslie who’s been having dodgy visions.

Let’s focus on three:

“1. THE MEDIA DID IT

“No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

“3. CLEVER TORIES

“It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

“5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY

“It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.”

Firstly, nobody is blaming the media entirely for voters’ insistence on self-destructively supporting the Tories. The media helped hammer the Tory messages home, by amplifying Cameron’s statements and ignoring or vilifying Miliband’s. After a while – and in accordance with Goebbels’ (Cameron is a big fan of Goebbels) claims about The Big Lie – people start believing the claims they see most often.

This is why Conservative claims must be challenged at every opportunity from now on. Whenever a Tory puts forward a policy in the papers, on the Internet and social media or wherever, let’s try to put the questions in front of them that deflate their claims. It has been said that a lie can go around the world before the truth gets out of bed; let’s kill The Big Lie before it can get its shoes on.

Secondly, nobody This Writer knows is saying anything at all about “ruthlessly efficient” Tories. This lot are about as stupid as they come. It’s just a shame – and this was a constant problem for bloggers like Yr Obdt Srvt – that nobody in the Labour leadership saw fit to counter the silly Tory claims with a few ounces of fact. Therefore we must conclude that, not only are the Tories monumental imbeciles; most of Labour were, as well.

This is why the Conservative Party as a whole should be undermined at every opportunity. Whenever they make bold claims about their record – especially against that of the last Labour government – let’s put up a few embarrassing facts to pull the wool out from under them.

Finally, nobody but the SNP and its supporters is making any claim that the SNP’s “tidal wave” – alone – stopped Labour. As This Writer has already mentioned (and the election result was only known yesterday), the Conservative Party used the threat of an SNP surge to put fear into Middle England that “loonie-left” Labour would ally with these crazed Caledonians, to the detriment of the nation. Amazingly, people were gullible enough to believe it.

But you don’t have to take This Writer’s word for it. Here’s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, from his latest Mainly Macro article [italics mine]:

“Why do I say Cameron is lucky? First, largely by chance (but also because other countries had been undertaking fiscal austerity), UK growth in 2014 was the highest among major economies. This statistic was played for all it was worth. Second, although (in reality) modest growth was not enough to raise real incomes, just in the nick of time oil prices fell, so real wages have now begun to rise. Third, playing the game of shutting down part of the economy so that you can boast when it starts up again is a dangerous game, and you need a bit of fortune to get it right. (Of course if there really was no plan, and the recovery was delayed through incompetence, then he is luckier still.)

“The Scottish independence referendum in September last year was close. 45% of Scots voted in September to leave the UK. One of the major push factors was the Conservative-led government. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014, it would have been a disaster for Cameron: after all, the full title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That was his first piece of Scottish fortune. The second was that the referendum dealt a huge blow to Labour in Scotland. Labour are far from blameless here, and their support had been gradually declining, but there can be no doubt that the aftermath of the referendum lost them many Scottish seats, and therefore reduced their seat total in the UK.

“Yet that led to a third piece of luck. The SNP tidal wave in Scotland gave him one additional card he could play to his advantage: English nationalism. The wall of sound coming from the right wing press about how the SNP would hold Miliband to ransom was enough to get potential UKIP supporters to vote Conservative in sufficient numbers for him to win the election.”

While I’m not convinced about the UKIP claim (UKIP’s vote share enjoyed the largest increase of any of the parties in Thursday’s election) the rest rings true.

You have already heard an awful lot of hogwash about the reasons for the Conservative Party’s slim win. Don’t believe everything you hear.

It’s long past time that facts and evidence were reintroduced to politics.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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