Yesterday, Vicky Foxcroft, one of Brockley’s Labour Councillors won the support of the membership of Lewisham Deptford Constituency Labour Party to become Labour’s candidate for the Member of Parliament in the constituency. This is also reported on Labour List where one of the comments has published the full result. Vicky won on the first round of voting. Congratulations to Vicky, commiserations to the losers.
voting for Labour’s next prospective parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford
I have just posted my write up of last week’s Lewisham Deptford Labour Party General Meeting where we discussed “Anchors and Whips”.
So the European Referendum amendment to the Queen’s speech fell, the Tories will now be pursuing a Private Members bill. The Tory Party draft bill is published here….. It’s not very long, and it says that voters will be the same as for parliamentary elections plus peers, who can’t normally vote in parliamentary elections. (It’s a left over monarchy thing). This means that EU citizens living here can’t vote, except the Irish (it’s a left over Empire thing). Also many British citizens living abroad won’t be able to vote.
So, Queen’s Speech or Private Member’s bill? To express regret by voting against the Queen’s Speech because there is no referendum bill, or to enshrine Cameron’s (last) promise to Britain, to renegotiate and then vote into Law. The Tory’s are now trying to outflank UKIP by legislating for their promised 2017 referendum. No doubt they feel they deserve the UKIP votes because after all, they agree with them, it seems the electorate’s less sure.
It’ll be dramatic stuff, and it’s not a month since Cameron recalled Parliament to pay tribute to Thatcher, allowing the Tory Party to demonstrate its tribalism and cohesion at its most powerful.
However I think we should remember what they said in their manifesto. This is their contract with the voters.
We will be positive members of the European Union but we are clear that there should be no
further extension of the EU’s power over the Uk without the British people’s consent. We will
ensure that by law no future government can hand over areas of power to the EU or join the
Euro without a referendum of the British people. We will work to bring back key powers over
legal rights, criminal justice and social and employment legislation to the Uk.
Me thinks they’ve moved towards departure…a lot.
As others have said, Parliamentary Sovereignty means that a Parliament can’t bind its successors, so interesting to see how that works.
I dropped into Ivana Bartoletti’s campaign launch rally. She is a candidate in London Labour’s selection process to be a candidate for the European Parliament. I was pointed to her by a Deptford comrade, Joe Dromey, visited her web site and like her story. There were three speeches, thankfully short, and she wrapped up. The other speeches were by Seema Malhotra MP and Jeanette Arnold OBE AM, and her supporters page includes statements of support from Dianne Abbot MP and Mike Gapes MP; oddly, both of whom I have a lot of time for. There were a bunch of people, from as one is beginning to expect at Labour Party events, a variety of backgrounds at the event, mostly young, and from all over London. The Lewisham Parties are planning a joint hustings, so hopefully we’ll get to see more of her. You can follow her on Twitter as @ivanabartoletti and/or #ivana4mep.
The picture above is mine, it’s of the Brussels Chamber of the European Parliament, her photos are more grounded, about campaigning in London.
I had also put my name forward to be one of Labour’s euro-candidates, but was not chosen to go forward to this stage. Oddly, I and Ivana had consecutive interviews at the long listing day, and so had met, although we both had our minds on other things. (I know I did.)
Down to New Cross for the Deptford Labour Party May General Committee, now a members meeting. The business was as expected, you know, minutes, matters arising, reports etc; although we raised the excitement level by debating the Parliamentary Whip on the NHS S75 vote in the Lords; we think those, i.e. Lord Warner of Brockley that broke the Labour whip should have the whip withdrawn, and then we debated last month’s workfare vote and Labour’s abstention in the Commons, where we agreed that the whipping instruction was inappropriate and embarrassing.
There was even more excitement when I raised the issue of the Deptford High Street Anchor which has been moved from its home while some road works and redevelopment are being done. There is some fear that it might not return and the story has been covered by the Deptford Dame and Brockley Central. Jimi Adefiranye, one of Brockley’s Labour Councillors spoke passionately about how despite its recent provenance the Anchor belonged in the High Street and that he’d start to work with other members of the Labour Group to ensure that Deptford’s history and heritage remained available to the public and that the Anchor will return to the High Street.
I have hyperlinked to a Lewisham Council published picture of the anchor which they have kindly posted on Flickr but placed an “All Rights Reserved” copyright notice on. This is wrong, the Lewisham residents and taxpayers across the country have already paid for this “property”, we shouldn’t be restricted from using it. If they’re worried about revenue loss or commercial opportunity leakage, they should use a creative commons, attribution, no commerce, no derivatives license. If there are any litigious staff from the militant photographers brigade, or Lewisham council staff, hyperlinking is legal, and republishing an image to discuss the image itself is not a copyright breach.
The Right’s attempts to fetishise the level of the deficit both in the UK and the US has led to one interesting response. While discussing this with friends, I was pointed at the group of economic theories called Modern Monetarist Theory.
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They argue that in fiat currency economy, governments do not need to tax or borrow to fund government expenditure. They argue that in an economy functioning at under full employment, printing money will increase demand, and thus spur growth, and that otherwise inflation will erode the value of the debt. They further argue that debt and deficit management should not be the goal of public policy. The man most associated with the label of MMT, Bill Mitchell, is interviewed at the Harvard International Review and has a blog called billy blog, with a sub domain of bilbo, wonder if the Tolkien estate will hunt him down; the blog sub title is “Modern Monetary Theory … macroeconomic reality”. I also found this article, “Modern Monetary Theory – An Overview” by someone signing themselves as Bolo, a useful simplification, although on reading more, I find that my difficulties in following Professor Mitchell are based on problems I have with the model’s assumptions and boundaries. Bolo points us at Mitchell’s article called “A simple business card economy” which to me, while explaining the model, illustrates the weakness of modelling a two player economy, in which there are thus no intra private sector transactions, and one with no international trade, where other actors require the use of alternative currencies. Another of the problems, I have in the explanations, it maybe that MMT has answers, lies in the centre of post classical monetarism. The value of the economy, equals the amount of Money multiplied by the number of times money is used, otherwise expressed as the velocity of money. While governments can impact the amount of money in the economy, although it’s not as easy as that, there is allegedly no government policy instrument to impact velocity. Actually, there is, it’s about income distribution. By taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor, we will increase the velocity of money because the poor save less than the rich; they have pent up demand, which due to lack of cash, is not effective.
I found some parts of MMT hard to get. It wasn’t that I found it hard to to understand, but it didn’t seem to tell the whole story. So with help from Google, I found “A critique of Modern Monetary Theory” by Thomas Palley. In the abstract, he says,
“MMT over-simplifies the challenges of attaining non-inflationary full employment by ignoring the dilemmas posed by Phillips curve analysis; the dilemmas associated with maintaining real and financial sector stability; and the dilemmas confronting open economies. Its policy recommendations also rest on over-simplistic analysis that takes little account of political economy difficulties, and its interest rate policy recommendation would likely generate instability. At this time of high unemployment, when too many policymakers are being drawn toward mistaken fiscal austerity, MMT’s polemic on behalf of expansionary fiscal policy is useful. However, that does not justify turning a blind eye to MMT’s oversimplifications of macroeconomic theory and policy”
This is a detailed critique of the model and policy prescriptions of the Modern Monetarist Theory; some elements of the essay criticise the theory and some the policy prescription. In my words, what this means is that,
- they have no macro economic theory so they find it hard to describe fiscal policy implications i.e. they cannot describe the impact of government expenditure nor of taxation. Taxation and expenditure both have multiplier effects.
- they have a simplistic inflation model based on a two player economy i.e. public and private sectors and an on/off inflation model.
- they have no international trade dimension which has a growth and inflation impact and crucially from an MMT perspective allows actors i.e. the private sector to avoid the currency monopoly and thus the fiat! International Trade also creates constraints on macro-economic policy, importers can’t pay with the fiat currency, they need to buy or borrow the foreign exchange. (It can’t be printed by the importers’ government, and in some weaker and smaller economies, the private sector will accept foreign exchange as a legal tender. )
- MMT-ers argue for money financed deficits, while the UK is a long way from so, the idea that UK or US Gilts will cease to exist is a bit far fetched; Gilts have other purposes than to act as government debt instruments. Banks need them as safe assets, Government’s can and should schedule payments over time for public capital assets, and bonds are an important tool to allow governments to influence the cost of capital.
- In addition, MMT has nothing to say on income distribution and its effect on growth.
- For good measure, Palley also attacks them for proposing that the Public Scetor act as the employer of last resort, quoting the Tories Workfare shambles as an example of how and why not to do it.
I suppose, it’s as I say on my bookmark/micro-blog. MMT ain’t the General Theory, but as Palley says, it’s a useful polemic tool for winding up the US Tea Party. Probaly Less helpful over here.
Ratholes I have avoided, or things you might like to read discovered while writing and reading for this article.
- Richard Murphy on Quantitive Easing, I paraphrase, “Yes it is a con trick, but it wouldn’t work if they gave it to us”.
- Naked Keynesianism, articles tagged MMT
- Thomas Palley’s Paper on income distribution based on Kalecki and Godwin’s models, “A neo-Kaleckian – Goodwin model of capitalist economic growth: Monopoly power, managerial pay, labor market conflict, and endogenous technical progress.
I went to see “This House” earlier today. It’s the story of the Labour Whips who kept the Wilson and Callaghan government in power for 4½ years, without a majority for much of the time, from 1974 to 1979. It brought back many memories as I had joined the Labour Party in 74 and of course much of my politics was learned and established in the next 10 years.
It’s not actually very political, although it rehearses the Stonehouse affair, the Nationalisation of Shipbuilding and Aircraft Manufacture, when Heseltine waved the Mace and got his nickname of Tarzan. It also mentions the Rooker/Wise rebellion which led to the indexation of income tax allowances and Audry Wise’s arrest at the Grunwick picket line. Reg Prentice and the Militant get a small piece as Prentice crossed the floor to obscurity, reducing Labour’s Majority by two.
It reminded me of the importance and divisiveness of Scottish and Welsh devolution on British and Labour politics over the decade. Ultimately, it didn’t have time to deal well with Gerry Fitt & Frank MacGuire, two Nationalist and in the case of Fitt, Socialist MPs representing Northern Irish seats; while the drama around Alf Broughton’s condition, made a better story, it was the failure (over the previous 5 years) to address Northern Ireland that led to the Nationalists failing to support the Labour Government in the Vote of Confidence that ended the Government. Macguire was a rare attendee at the House of Commons, who flew over to abstain.
The scenes in Parliament around the furore caused by the passage of the Nationalisations further reminded me of the Wilson speech to Labour’s Conference in 1975 broadcast by the BBC in it’s Harold Wilson retrospective earlier this year. I only heard the first 10 minutes or so, but he cataloged the achievements of the first year and half in Government, which even today are substantial. They changed people’s lives, for the better, and weren’t reduced to resolutionary impotence. I meant to capture the speech so I could revisit it and share with people but despite being a big IT consultant, my personal IT isn’t good enough to rip iplayer streams. It’s a disgrace that as a tax payer; I paid for it to be made, I paid for it to be broadcast, but I can’t use it when I want because the BBC won’t put their owned content online for us all. They say it’s to protect foreign revenue but the real reason is that Murdoch & Sky can’t compete with free and forever.
It’s our history, we shouldn’t put up with it.