One of those rarest of things, a winter election, might be Britain’s only hope out of the never-ending ‘will-they, won’t-they’ break up story of Brexit. But you’ll still almost certainly hear all five of these ridiculous myths peddled over the coming month. Be ready…
“They are all as bad as each other…they’re all the same.”
During the 00’s and the days of Tony Blair’s centrist Labour party, opposed by the perpetually changing leadership of the centre-right Tories of the time, this seemed like a reasonably fair statement about Britain’s politicians.
However, to say that Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson are all the same would be a bizarre sentiment to have to defend. Boris Johnson is a free-market capitalism loving Tory, who has filled his cabinet with the types of figures you might see in Trump’s race-war baiting White House, himself having made a political career out of insulting persons of all races, genders and nationalities other than his own. Indeed his rhetoric is blamed for many of the attacks on female MPs.
Whilst Jo Swinson leads a party dedicated to opposing Johnson on Brexit, you could be forgiven for seeing little difference elsewhere. After all, she leads a party which enacted Tory policies in government during the parliament which started in 2010, and many fo the current Lib Dem MPs are either ex-Tories themselves, else ex-Labour MPs of the same political persuasion as Blair. The same status quo, the same austerity, the same homophobia. This is a party of more of the same, granted.
But to consider Jeremy Corbyn in anyway similar…you must have lived under a rock for the last 5 years. This is a life-long pacifist, life-long supporter of civilisation – ie, people over money – as well as someone who promises to make the media neutral again, and actually invest in society to help move us away from the ever-on-the-edge-of-recession economy which the 1970’s throwback economic model of the Tories as given us.
Whilst we all have concerns about whether Corbyn or Johnson are the kinds of people we want leading the country, you can’t pretend they are the same unless you’re seriously deluded.
“The Conservatives are the Party of the Economy.”
Perhaps it was true in the past, I won’t judge on that, but it certainly isn’t the case that the Tories are still the party of the economy. They’ve resided over 9 of the most stagnant economic years in British history, all the while ignoring the interests of business in favour of electoral populism.
They’ve maintained their image because of their ‘low-tax’ policies, which means big business donates to their campaigns. But the big business which champions Tories – think tax dodgers and poor employers like Mike Ashley – are not interested in the British economy, they are interested in paying lower tax. An economy which is struggling needs public investment to help get it moving, whereas taxing low and spending low is a way to maintain a poor economy. In turn – stay with me – opportunities for new business is limited, so old businesses can safely keep their position whilst not having to increase wages, etc, to keep talent.
The Conservatives are still the party of the big business, but any economics student who attends a lecture now and again will tell you why this is a million miles away from being the party of economic success.
As an economics nerd, I’ve been saying for years that I want to see a political party asking actual, current, renowned economists for ideas of how to improve our whole economic system rather than just continuing the same nonsense every 4 years. John McDonnel is the only chancellor in my adult life who I have seen actually do this; arranging an Economic Advisory Committee which does just that. Amazingly, not one of the tabloid media outlets covered how ground-breaking this was. Funny that.
Again, I have my misgivings about Corbyn – though not for the ridiculous tabloid smears like him being a terrorist or cooking up drugs on his allotment or whatever nonsense they are printing today – but on the economy I’d back Labour every time. This isn’t the 80’s anymore.
“Cancelling Brexit would be good for Britain.”
It wouldn’t, and I say that with a heavy heart as someone who voted for and argued aggressively for remain. I seem to be another of those rarest of things: someone who listened to and acknowledged the evidence that Brexit was always a terrible idea, yet now acknowledges that cancelling Brexit would be an even worse idea. Yes, even if that means Johnson’s awful deal. Because evidence and reason are more important than sticking your flag to a mast and then supporting it, like a football team, forever.
Leaving the EU was both economically and ethically a misjudged idea, and even having a referendum was a bad idea: evidence suggests that like 6% of people cared about EU membership before the referendum, but that merely making people choose a side on a single issue – and making it front and centre of all media – has made the entire population entrenched to one side or the other, and resistant to all evidence from the other side.
Listen to what that tells you. The vast, vast majority of the population that voted for Brexit (and probably a fair number of those who couldn’t be bothered voting, too, in honesty) still want it, and now see it as unreasonably important. If Brexit is cancelled without asking them, you then ensure that for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years… hell, maybe forever, that this is the primary issue of importance, and to vote for it no matter what else that politician will do. Until it one day will happen. Or probably much worse.
I realise that the media had lie after lie in the referendum campaign – like it does in every election campaign, by the way (I don’t see how Corbyn can both be ineffective, old and pacifist whilst also a dangerous, violent, terrorist for instance…) – but our chance to stop that was to vote for Ed Milliband or someone who previously had policies to fix the media with a proper watchdog. One with teeth which forced rational neutrality in media, rather than just being there for show, like at current, where journalists have to seriously break the countries criminal law to even get punished.
We can’t go back in time, and whilst it will be economically damaging to leave the EU, it won’t be the end of the world. It would be far more damaging to have government after government getting elected based on isolationist international policies, and systematically underfunding our entire countries’ infrastructure and public services, to the degree where our economy entirely collapses and we become solely a tax-haven. Leaving the EU is a bad idea, but forcing 17.4 million people to forever vote based on this one issue is a worse one. We live in an imperfect political system in dire need of reform, but until we do away with party politics, we sometimes have to opt for the least bad decisions.
“The Lib Dems are a centre-left, sensible choice.”
Following on…if the previous bit doesn’t convince you, you’re probably fairly ingrained in this sports-fan-esque version of politics where being remain is by far the most important thing in British politics right now. So this isn’t going to convince you either. But, as I said earlier, the Lib Dems are a party full of Blairites, Tories and a whole bunch of other unsavoury characters who are simply political opportunists looking to make a career out of remain in the same way Johnson has improved his personal prospects by choosing leave.
Lib Dems have always been opportunists rather than principled – these are the party who gained mass support in an election, primarily from students, based on a promise to eliminate tuition fees, and then went into government and immediately not only kept tuition fees but actually raised them, in return for a shit compromise on an even lesser policy (namely a public referendum on a poor version of proportional representation) which they knew their voters wouldn’t approve of. And, may I remind you, the same party who within the last ten years employed a homophobe to lead them on the basis that he was the most media-friendly option. If you think these are decent principles, I despair.
Since then, they have garnered Blairites who don’t like the principles of the Labour party and Tories who don’t like leaving the EU, and hence become even less principled. I’d doubt they are anywhere near ‘centre’ if Blairism is the most left they have in their party, but I’m even more quizzical that they are ‘sensible’. Sensible only, perhaps, if the choice were voting Lib Dem or sticking your foot in a woodchipper. Though, at least in the latter you’d know what you’re coming out with, I guess.
“Socialism is un-British”
Before I write this one, I want to point out what my misgivings with Corbyn are, in the interests of neutrality. I think he’s a better choice than Johnson, whose taking Britain in a dangerous direction, where facts and science are mistrusted and primitive instincts about foreigners are being used to win elections rather than being challenged in a developed education system (gradually returning Britain to the middle ages). And I think he’s a better choice than Swinson, who is offering nothing but division and a whole heap of old-fashioned Blair and Cameron agendas. But I think Corbyn lacks the sharpness and intelligence to be a great prime minister. His responses in debates are poor, his ability to see how he is being perceived is even worse, and whilst I think his principles might be his biggest selling point, but it means he struggles to compromise.
But, like it or not, he is offering an opportunity for Britain to reap the benefits of socialism, which the world is fast being geared toward. Many believe AI is removing the need for human workers, for instance, all the while capitalism is becoming smarter and creating entire multi-million pound companies – multi-billion pound companies, indeed – that need only a fraction of the human resource that they used to. Even democratic candidates in the US – who usually feel like Tories in the UK, given how far to the right the US usually is of the UK – are now suggesting things like ‘basic incomes’ for citizens, as the world is changing.
Socialism is a sensible compromise between full-on ideas like basic income, which isn’t necessary as yet in my opinion, and current free-market capitalism. It’s not a dirty word, indeed Britain has one the most extreme institutional versions of socialism in the world, and it’s one of our most beloved things: the NHS. The Tories might have tried to defund it to a state of wear in the hope that we vote to one day privatise it, but we aren’t showing any signs of doing that: we constantly poll in favour of the NHS, and we constantly tell politicians we want it to get more funding and to be a priority.
It’s difficult to explain to Brits just how socialist the NHS is, but in countries without public-funded healthcare for all, it’s seen as so far to the left it might as well be communism.
What Labour are proposing in their manifesto is socialism of this ilk: they want to renationalise things like the railways, bring education fully back, renationalise water (in England – as it is in Scotland), etc. And this is a good idea. The only benefit of privatisation, is when companies take over and then spend money on employees to run them, thus theoretically improving the economy (which is potentially another myth, for another very different article…), but in an age where companies are spending less and less on employees, and so much more on automation, we are looking at a world which only really functions in a socialist system. And it would be ridiculous to one day be spending more taxes on paying higher basic incomes to people, in order that they can pay for things like privately run trains and water, when we could simply have the government own them instead and thus be able to spend less taxes and pay them less basic income.
We have to realise that it’s 2019, not 1978 – or 1948, if you’re Jacob Rees Mogg – and thus socialism is not only a good idea, but is quickly becoming the only viable option for modern societies. In the following campaign, you will hear people called socialists as a smear. Think of these socialist-fearing journalists as relics from the 70s – or perhaps people bought up in caves – who don’t understand the modern world. Then lend them an economics book.