The General Election and the ‘British’ Consensus

Who knew that when Rishi Sunak insisted he ‘had a plan’ it was to conduct the most inept political campaign in British electoral history? Shortly after his disastrous first week he left the D-Day commemoration early (for no discernible reason) and was forced to engage in a grovelling (sort of) apology. Such is the state of the importance of this week’s celebrations – it’s likely to be the last for many surviving veterans – and in a country still locked into a state of Spitfire Nationalism hauntology for the Second World War – this was political suicide. The British press didn’t indulge in the sort of maniacal coverage meted out to Michael Foot or Jeremy Corbyn around the Cenotaph, but Sunak was skewered by his or his teams stupidity.

Sunak’s short-lived reign was about to result in electoral oblivion – but now his, and his parties demise will be even more egregious as they burn in the next few weeks. Polling now shows the clear possibility of the Conservative vote collapsing below 15% and beneath the Liberal Democrats.

Things are looking no less bleak for his colleague north of the border, Douglas Ross. As Neil Mackay writes in the Herald: “The moral vacuum that is Douglas Ross has fashioned his own political ruin with the sickbed sacking of a man he dares call a ‘friend’. His behaviour has always been deplorable, but now he’s without honour. God knows how he can look at himself in the mirror.”

Sunak is a man-child, a rich boy with no discernible hinterland and precious little karma in the bank. He is suffering the shock of hard work in the full public glare, and in that sense, his slow demise is a sweet public spectacle, but little else. He will be replaced by another from his background, dabbling in politics, he, like David Cameron will leave the stage with platitudes, humming away back to the circles of obscene wealth that they come from.

The Austerity Consensus

But despite the glee at the Conservatives demise, they are only to be replaced by a party wedded to many of their same obsessions. The reason the Tories re-hashed ‘tax bombshell’ trick didn’t work this week is that there is no tax bombshell. Labour are bombproof. On spending, defence, immigration, Brexit (and most foreign policy) Labour are in lockstep with the Conservatives.

As Stephen Flynn put it, in a rare occasion the wider parties are allowed on your tv screens last night “After fourteen years of Conservatism there is £18 billion pounds worth of cuts baked-in” to both the main parties plans:

This is a duopoly, cojoined twins of British politics presented to you by the media – in a complete distortion – as a presidential style race between Starmer and Sunak.

Look at this example of what George Osborne and David Cameron were saying in 2010, and what Labours Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury is saying now …

Flynn is also spot-on when he points to the elephant in the room that we are not allowed to speak about, the self-harm that England engaged in as it descended into a crisis of self-identity and dragged us down with it: Brexit. The audience seemed stunned when someone steps out of the charade and states that Brexit is a disaster, the economy is in far more trouble that anyone is letting on and immigration is a net good.

An example of how Labour’s Austerity plans are not far different from the Conservatives is exposed in this exchange with Rachel Reeves here:

I hate to say it, but Rory is right.

But pointing out the convergence of these two – or speaking out about the realities of immigration or Brexit – does not go down well with much of the British commentariat. Flynn’s contribution was denounced last night by the columnist Ian Dunn who said:

“And there’s Flynn’s bullshit right there, for all the decent talk on immigration and Brexit. When it comes to his government’s failure, he blames Westminster. The same message of grievance and pass-the-buck irresponsibility as the populists.”

In reality the parties outside the duopoly are allowed bit-parts on the carefully curated media show that is your election. They are the marginal, the periphery, allowed on briefly before being rubbished and attacked as holding a ‘message of grievance’. If at any time the true scale of grievance in society was unleashed then this whole charade would be washed-away in a moment.

This is an election with little choice, as elections in capitalist democracies are meant to be. The issues which fundamentally matter: who runs the economy, why can so few people afford to live in this society? are brushed aside. Issues like Continuity-Austerity, the Brexit Disaster or Foreign Policy are rarely allowed to be discussed, or if they are they are set in  such narrow and bizarre terms to follow the dominant narrative. That narrative is broadly that austerity is an unfortunate but necessary evil (sorry/not sorry), Brexit is just done and we don’t really want to talk about it anymore – ‘the people have spoken’ – no, not you, ‘Us’ – and in Foreign Policy, er, ‘Stop the Boats’ and ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’. That’s about it.

The Brexit Disaster

Ian Dunn’s tirade is indicative of the curtailing of debate and management of discourse. There are clearly marked acceptable tramlines of discussion points and areas which are now just out of bounds or you will be marked as having a ‘grievance’. Richard Haviland is a former civil servant. He writes (apologies for the long quote but its really useful):

“A close relative of ‘the politics of grievance’ is ‘Scexit is the same as Brexit’. Both are uttered routinely as truisms by otherwise thoughtful people. They come into the category of what I call ‘superficially profound but profoundly superficial’. Of course there are some similarities between Brexit and Scexit – not least in the massive disruption one has caused and the other would cause (the latter greater still). But there are also multiple differences – maybe the topic for another thread another day.

Suffice it to say for now that if you really believe Brexit and Scexit are identical you presumably also believe the nature of the UK’s relationship to Brussels when it was an EU member state was exactly analogous to the nature of Scotland’s relationship to Westminster today.

To take one small example, I can’t quite think of an instance where ‘Brussels’ took a decision above our heads which turned upside down the lives of millions of UK nationals, denying us our rights and decimating our economy. Actually, make that a whopping great big example.

I don’t say any of this as a lifelong or passionate independence supporter. As recently as 2014 my unquestioning sense of Britishness led to my unquestioning No vote in the Scottish referendum.

But at that stage Brexit hadn’t happened, I hadn’t yet lived in Scotland for long, and I still had a frankly naive view of the relative health of our democracy, underpinned by a Whitehall career.

I also hadn’t yet seen for myself the effect that progressive noises from the SNP – about refugees, about Brexit, about you name it – would make (some) Labour politicians spit with indignation at their ‘opportunism’ – as if no Nationalist could actually care about these things.

Especially when those noises were far more progressive and far more truthful than anything those Labour MPs were allowed to say by their own leadership.

To say all this doesn’t make me an uncritical SNP supporter. But when I read the transcripts of recent Westminster debates on refugees, it’s the SNP speeches not the Labour ones that remind me of the speeches Labour ministers would give 15 years ago when I worked for DfID.

There is a difference – as we are probably about to discover – between aspiring to independence and aspiring enough to it enough to want to overcome the multitude of barriers – as regards the politics, the process and the practicalities – of making it happen.

Swathes of Scottish voters will, I suspect, choose Labour at this election without losing the aspiration to independence.

In fact, anecdotally, talking to and hearing about the views of people far younger than me, it’s not even aspiration. It’s an assumption that independence is the natural order of things. Borne not out of anti-Englishness but out of a lack of affiliation to the UK.

Out of a sense that when your politics and your electoral system are as broken as this, there must be a better option. Especially if – unlike some of your elders – you’re unencumbered by long-held loyalty to the UK (and frankly, if you’re growing up now, why should you be?)

If all this makes me sound like a dyed-in-the-wool Nat, it can’t be helped. I’m not. I’m deeply conflicted, and I understand and empathize with both the cause of independence and the Union.

But what I am – and I know I speak for others – is someone who has lost my belief in the Union as a properly functioning entity, who fully gets what drives the aspiration for independence, and who sees through so much of the propaganda I probably used to believe myself.

And if I’m honest I find it hard to imagine myself in the voting booth at a future referendum – if that ever comes – and putting my cross against ‘No’ again.”

I quote Richard because he reveals several truths in this piece of writing. The first is that the profound sense of failure and disappointment with the Union is shared by some No voters too. I don’t know how widespread this is, but I’ve not seen it expressed as clearly as here. The second is the profound and deep generation sense that the Union is over and that ‘independence is the natural order’. But the third, and here’s the killer, is that “there is a difference – as we are probably about to discover – between aspiring to independence and aspiring enough to it enough to want to overcome the multitude of barriers – as regards the politics, the process and the practicalities – of making it happen.”

In this sense while it’s true that Stephen Flynn cuts-through the Westminster bubble, the careful framing and the strange political silo of mainstream English dialogue, what does it matter if, in reality, there is no way through? Having some kind of refreshing political intervention in a deeply dull, stagnant electoral process isn’t enough.

British Foreign Policy

While Stephen Flynn received a sort of stunned round of applause from the audience for making the positive case for immigration – “Migration is absolutely essential to our public services” – we are mired in a situation, pre-independence – where we have no control over any of this. Flynn can state the obvious, and Humza Yousaf can talk out a more principled position for Scotland on Gaza, but ultimately we are powerless.

Research from Declassified UK shows that one quarter of all British MPs have received funding from the Israel lobby. Declassified write: “Some 180 of Britain’s 650 MPs in the last parliament accepted funding from pro-Israel lobby groups or individuals during their political career, Declassified can reveal.

That includes 130 Conservative MPs, 41 Labour MPs and three Liberal Democrats. Three members of the DUP, two independents and Reform’s only MP complete the list.

The total value of the donations from pro-Israel groups, individuals, and Israeli state institutions amounts to over one million pounds. Between them, the politicians made over 240 paid-for trips to Israel, at a cost of over half a million pounds.”

This then is a political class, with few modifications between ‘parties’ which, as we have seen, have some moderate differences but are absolutely in tune with each other in all of the major issues of the day which affect you: the economic reality of your life, the wars and violence that are done in your name and that you pay for, and the propaganda that is foisted upon you to blame all this on foreigners and immigrants. For all its farce this general election is doing more than any I can remember to expose the failure of the Union and the uselessness of electoral democracy under capitalism.




Comments (36)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    I haven’t been watching the election debates this time. The collapse of British political governance from a post-WW2 1.5-party system to much closer to a bicolour 1-party system seems to have already occurred.

    Instead I watched a full-length production production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, which features a similar kind of election, and themes like Titus playing on his military service (presumably including a spot of genocide) to Rome.

    I also watched a couple of D-Day actor-lipsynched, remastered voice recording documentaries, with some historians providing context. If they accurately set the scene for D-Day, that the primary European theatre had been since summer 1941 had been to the East, I missed that. But at least we got some French civilian perspective and a strong hint that the British flattening of Caen was a war crime.

    What can we learn from how D-Day and WW2 are represented by the likes of the BBC? Perhaps among other things how desperately they are needed by the British Establishment, yet silencing and shadowing so much else about the British Empire’s militarised history becomes problematic. So many programmes and books and articles with ‘Forgotten’ in their titles. Such awkward writing about Allies, resistance/partisan/nationalist groups, colonial troops (and yes, slave soldiers for the British, and rearmed Japanese), and vicious mass murders of civilians to restore other nations’ colonial rule, rape and torture and endemic abuse and looting and drunkenness.

    We are only starting to see some of these horrors and atrocities being documented by international agencies in close to real time.
    UN adds Israel to list of states committing violations against children
    Meanwhile investigations and inquiries into behaviours of British military personnel are likely to provide a contrast to recent cherry-picked valorisations.

  2. John Learmonth says:

    The perennial complaint of the left, nobody votes for them so democracy is the problem.

    1. John – feel free to argue with the substance of the article.

      PS there is no left to vote for in this election!

      1. florian albert says:

        ‘there is no left to vote for in this election’

        I agree. The question then arises, why is there no left to vote for ? There was a left to vote for in the recent past. Six MSPs from the Scottish Socialist Party were elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2003. The problems which engage the left have not gone away; the parties of the left have. Why has this happened ?

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @florian albert, one set of answers would be around clientelism, corporate capture, the influence of dark money and powerful foreign interests corrupting (already-corrupt) British party politics.

          Although Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn proposed popular policies, the billionaire press concocted smears to cast enough electoral shade that Labour leftists were unable to bring that programme to office. And even if they had, would they have been left to put policy into practice? History suggest not.

          The First-Past-the-Post system encourages lesser-evil voting, not greatest-good, by design. There is a lot of understandable apathy and disillusionment with politics, quite a bit of gerrymandering and a low quality of political discourse in and around Westminster, which the corporate media are complicit in foregrounding to the point of saying “this is politics”. Also a lot of Socialist candidates appear to be as frothy as their right-wing counterparts.

          And of course, political parties are vulnerable to (or actively encourage) infiltration, bribery and blackmail by all sorts. Keir Starmer made some socialist commitments, then ripped them up and acted as cheerleader for Israeli genocide and business-as-usual.

          We have a deeply corrupt political system that has repeatedly been shown by peer-reviewed research not to reflect majority positions on policies, typically more socialist positions on nationalising key industries and infrastructure. And the British imperial polity is unusual in excluding large areas of public policy from electoral choice, under ancient royal prerogatives.

          Another set of answers revolves around behaviour modification, as subjects are conditioned to be self-centred, money-idolising consumers rather than socially-conscious citizens, which is perhaps why our political party leaders favour nuclear weapons rather than a mass-mobilised army.

          1. John Learmonth says:

            unfortunately for your argument the whole of Europe is rejecting the ‘left’ and turning ‘right’.
            Any ideas as to why?

          2. Niemand says:

            I agree with all of this but also the left itself has changed focussing much more on individual issues of social justice often characterised as identity politics. These are by default divisive and will turn some off who would normally vote for ‘traditional’ socialist oriented policies related to economics, class, nationalised provision etc

            I just listened to a voter in France who voted Le Pen saying that party was the only one that did not make her feel ashamed. Quite a telling comment – the left spends quite a bit of time these days hectoring people and making them feel not just that they have bad / wrong attitudes but some kind of original sin they are born with (being a white European, being Western, being from an (ex-)imperial power and so on). In the past it would have been about class solidarity and trying to right the economic and class-based injustice the target voters experience. Now that is heavily tempered by a constant stream of varying social injustice causes that actually implicate the core voter base as guilty of some kind of complicity (colonialism, trans rights, misogyny, xenophobia, racism etc).

            The last of those of course raises the elephant in the room – migration / immigration. It is an issue that will not go away no matter what ones’ view on it is. In the EU elections my feeling is that it is at the heart of the rise of the right and far right across Europe. And the bottom line is you don’t change people’s minds on that issue by simply saying ‘you are wrong’ and worse. Doing so will only make the left even more redundant and ignored.

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Niemand, I agree with you about the backlash regarding European imperial settler-colonial history, but my (overlong, probably) comments don’t appear to be submitting, and I had more points to make.

          4. SleepingDog says:

            @Niemand, continuing on, I also think there is a deep problem with European Christianity, which can manifest itself in various unhealthy ways, such as:
            * what’s-in-it-for-me Christianity (the Church of Affluence)
            * my soul will live forever so who cares if the world burns Christianity (looking down on materialism, and non-human life)
            * militarised Christianity (Crusader Zeal)
            * God/Church/Priest/Ruler/Teacher knows best Christianity (slavish obedience to Authoritarianism)
            * closing-ranks defending-evil Christianity (what’s wrong with racialised chattel slavery, institutional child sexual abuse, colonial settler imperialism and culturecide if Christians do it?)
            and so on, although it is important to recognise that there are currents of dissent against each of these within (but most significantly without) Christianity. Again, Christianity finally seems to be on the wane in parts of Europe, but new self-pleasing quasi-religious beliefs can bubble up and spread from many sources. I mean, people use to read horoscopes in print newspapers.

            But the big influx of new ideas (good, bad, indifferent or difficult to qualify) comes from globalisation, technology and immigration (which of course fuelled USAmerican Holywood to become such an engine of National Security Cinema asserting USAmerican hegemony, exceptionalism and soft power).

          5. SleepingDog says:

            Something very recent and relevant captures this zeitgeist of how the British Establishment want us to think (or not think) about our history:
            ‘It’s MILITARY COSPLAY’ – Ex-soldier Joe Glenton on how the royals EXPLOIT the military
            I agree with Glenton who says, towards the end, how interconnected Monarchy is with political questions (I call it the capstone of the Establishment). And when that is gone…? Become a grown-up normal country (well, surely we should aspire to be better than that judging by today’s standards, but not expect to be exceptional, true).

            The Empire fights back, of course. Which is why the BBC gives us Bridgerton instead of British history in Doctor Who these days. Probably a sneaky bit of Disney-approving product-placement, and a sign of how incestuous and slave-minded our Creative Arts sector can be.

          6. Niemand says:

            Quite a bit to unpack there SD!

            Been a long day but I agree with your summary about becoming ‘a grown-up normal country’. The real question is how to get there. The legacy of imperialism (and yes Christianity too perhaps) makes it quite hard as the evidence of it is all around us, is part of the fabric of where we live, and some of that is still celebrated and some of the attitudes still prevalent (especially when questioned).

            I was thinking the other day about going to a stately home that is architecturally magnificent, has wonderful gardens, is in a beautiful setting but was funded originally by slave trader owners. It is still owned by their descendants. There, in a nutshell is the dilemma. Only an extremist would say it should be pulled down and the gardens trashed but equally another kind of extremist would say where the wealth that built it came from is irrelevant now.

            British colonialism was always going to come back to haunt us (and this was predicted at the time), and here we are. The same applies across much of Europe.

            Personally I don’t think in general making people now feel guilty about it is justified or helpful (and will backfire badly) but serious recognition is long overdue.

      2. 240609 says:

        There are left-wing candidates in some constituencies. But, as such, they’re unlikely to attract much of the popular vote.

        1. I wonder which candidates you are thinking of? Yes Im sure there are the odd individual though I don’t think they will attract much support (however good they or their ideas are) unless they are rooted in a community and/or part of a far wider, deeper movement.

          1. 240610 says:

            It depends on what you classify as ‘left’.

            In Britain, we’re tend to define ‘the Left’ as a range of political ideologies that support and seek to achieve social equality and egalitarianism, in opposition to social hierarchy in general or certain social hierarchies in particular, in contrast to ‘the Right’, whose ideologies view certain social inequalities and hierarchies as inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable.

            If you accept this definition, then there are few constituencies in the UK in which there is no left-leaning candidate for whom the electorate can vote. In my constituency, for example, there are four left-leaning candidates and three right-leaning candidates for whom I could vote to represent me in the UK parliament.

  3. John says:

    Stephen Flynn can ask all the pertinent questions he wants he will be ignored unless he makes a gaffe.
    The media initially gave him a favourable report but he was soon being ignored as was everyone else apart from Rayner, Mordaunt and of course Farage (Mr middle England). This is what happens when your nation is a small minority in a country whose majority have different values and priorities.

    1. Larry says:

      well said John!

  4. Robert says:

    Once again, our Scottish politicians should acknowledge that the Scottish government is little more than a super local authority.

    1. 240609 says:

      If only, Robert… Wouldn’t it be something if, in a complete reversal of devolution, our national parliament was a subsidiary of our local councils and our supra-national (British) parliament a subsidiary of our national and (in the case of England) regional assemblies?

  5. Daniel Raphael says:

    Excellent as usual. Posted at BlueSky.

  6. John says:

    This article is absolutely spot on.
    I noticed that the story being peddled is that the plan for Sunak to leave after ‘British part of ceremony was made before election was called.
    This was a massive disrespect to all other countries leaders and soldiers that died. This attitude really typifies the insularity and small mildness of Sunak and other Brexit supporters.

    1. 240610 says:

      Maybe Rishi wanted to distance himself from the ‘Spitfire Nationalism hauntology for the Second World War’ that the commemoration represents.

      I can’t believe that the Left is jumping on the Tory bandwagon in castigating him for his disregard, whatever the reason for it. ‘Good on you, Rishi,’ I say; ‘I only wish Sir Keir could likewise have found it in himself to treat the whole patriotic charade with the indifference it deserves.’

      1. John says:

        I don’t think you read or understood the point I was making. I said that his supporters have been saying he stayed for ‘British part of ceremony’ but missed the part with allies which paid tribute to other nations whose servicemen were killed. That explanation sounds like not only ‘spitfire nationalism’ but also spiteful nationalism. It is also encapsulates the mindset of many Brexit supporters.

        1. 240610 says:

          Yep; he certainly doesn’t understand ‘our’ culture, isn’t really a true Brit.

          No wonder the knives are out for him in the Tory Party. Of course, he should have played the white man/done the decent thing and stayed till the bitter end.

    2. Niemand says:

      There is a not unreasonable view that there are some advising Sunak who actually want him to fail as this was such a blindingly obvious bad move politically.

  7. John Wood says:

    The SNP’s real problem is that they take the independence vote for granted. But they seem to have little real vision for Scotland beyond more private affluence and public squalor.
    If there’s a Labour revival in Scotland it will be a protest against a party that has become too complacent and also too fearful of corporate bullying, not because of any policy or vision on offer.

    I predict that any incoming Labour government will very quickly become very unpopular all over the UK. There is indeed a real risk of serious civil unrest.

    If we survive the fascist reaction to that, I hope a much bolder SNP – or a coalition – will then emerge. For all Flynn’s fine words, the present SNP looks to me and perhaps others as the ‘Scottish Cringe Party’ , or perhaps the Oliver Twist party, just accepting Westminster’s (and now the WHO’s) sovereignty over us. It’s not inspiring.

    But I could never vote for any of the genocide-enabling, frankly neofascist Westminster parties. Or the corporate friendly, centralising, ‘Freeport’ supporting, rural areas depopulating, SNP. And the less said about the Scottish Greenwash Party the better. Their betrayal of every genuinely green principle they once stood for hurts the most.

    As I have said before, I’m still looking at voting independent, or failing that, spoiling my ballot. Democracy in the UK, and especially in Scotland, is a sick joke.

    1. Niemand says:

      This is a seriously paranoid post: ‘Fascist reaction’ . . . Civil unrest within months of Starmer getting in. Seriously?

      ‘Genocide-enabling, frankly neofascist Westminster parties’; what, like Labour??

      Are you mad?

      I know Labour is not a popular party with nationalists but if this is the kind of analysis of them then it suggests a mindset and movement that has seriously lost the plot.

      The simple truth is you could do a lot worse than voting Labour in this particular GE.

      1. florian albert says:

        He is repeating tropes that the extreme left has comforted itself with for decades. Very, very few voters share this outlook. The result is that Scotland, which once had a history of serious left wing politics, has an intellectually barren left. It is possible that the left in Scotland might revive. At present, there is absolutely no sign of this happening.
        This is replicated across much of Europe. Even more significant is the turn to the right among young voters. For the first time since the 1930s, the right is enthusing and mobilizing young people. Macron, to give him his due, is intelligent enough to see the need to panic.

        1. What did you think of the Jason Hickel and Yanis Varoufakis film?

          1. 240610 says:

            It’s classic Marx. Our current civilisation (capitalism) is being driven by its own internal logic to global catastrophe. This catastrophe is historically inevitable and unstoppable; notwithstanding what the Greens say, it can’t be averted, our current civilisation can’t be saved. What matters is what will come next and how we can best prepare the way for it.

            Both Hickel and Varoufakis have the classic Marxian faith that the apocalypse will herald in a new age of social justice, that human productivity and wealth creation will henceforth be harnessed for the end of our common welfare rather than for private profit, and that, to this end, the means of production (land, labour, and capital) will be held in common rather than as private property.

            They also have the classic Marxian faith that the dispossessed or ‘proletariat’ wiĺl be the agents of this revolutionary disappropriation of their disappropriators, and that truth-sayers like themselves will be both the prophets and revolutionary vanguard of the new post-apocalyptic age.

          2. John Learmonth says:

            The only thing that Marx got right was ‘religion is the opium of the people’.
            Everything else total bollocks based as it was on Hegelian dialectics and Darwinism.
            Time to de-colonise our minds from outdated mid C19 theories produced by a heterosexual, middle class. rascist/anti semitic white man who (thanks to his friend Engels) never had to work a day in his life.

          3. 240610 says:

            Fair assessment, John. Though Marx wasn’t antisemitic. He was in fact a Jew, which is one of reasons our Steve hates Marxian-inspired Critical Theory; it’s a Jewish conspiracy, you know.

          4. Niemand says:

            Darwin was wrong in he theory of evolution?

            I only watched about 20 minutes of the talk (bit tired etc) but that bit resonated with me, i.e. the basic idea that democracy is superficial and it is the money men in charge, who are totally unaccountable and the system they head is destroying the very thing that creates their wealth in the first place – the earth’s natural and human resources. I find this inarguable.

            Oh, and they didn’t get a mention but The Luddites were right.

          5. 240611 says:

            Yep; there’s not much wrong with Darwin’s much misrepresented Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (to give it its full title). It’s explanation of how life changes over time is comprehensive, precise, parsimonious, useful in its practical applications, and effective as a guide to future discovery, research and learning. In fact, few theories better satisfy those six criteria of a theory’s viability than Darwin’s does. It used to be my go-to example of an exemplary scientific theory

  8. Satan says:

    I realise that hardly anyone really gives two hoots about them, but decisions made by EU civil servants and rubber-stamped by the EU parliament are responsible for shaping a lot of the UK’s farming industry, and by default shaping the landscape, the food we eat, and it’s cost. It is by far the main thing that the EU does, taking up at least half of it’s budget, and was the main principle for the organisation’s creation. A second impact has been on the minimum-wage labour market. But that is only of interest to people who have any interest in what the EU actually does rather than what they image it does.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Satan, the European Union has its origins in the European Coal and Steel Community that was created in the aftermath of WW2 as a peace project, so that European (largely colonial) powers would no longer fight each other, after devastating imperial wars.
      War was only good for imperial economies so far, after all, and the real winners of WW2 appeared to be emerging from outside Europe.

      The food surpluses created by the EU in the 1970s– (butter mountains, wine lakes) were often dumped as cheap rivals to local products in places like Africa, destroying local subsistence agriculture and food security, forcing such countries to switch to cash crops and increase resource extraction, exacerbating debt, and many other neocolonial evils.

      So, peace in Europe, economic warfare on Others, would be a reasonable if cartoonish sketch of the EU’s function. That doesn’t mean EU policies are set in stone, or anywhere near as one-dimensional, or slavishly neoliberal, or immune to democratic influence, or without some progressive social and environmental facets. But it surely needs radical reform. One could shine some light on the Council of the European Union, aka Council of Ministers, or the secretive trade agreement proposals like TTIP which were widely opposed.

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