Author Archives: Geoff Crocker

Congratulations Brexit, but Scotland holds the key

It would be churlish not to congratulate the Brexit campaign, especially its leaders Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage on their stunning success, which amongst other things has led to

  • The ousting of Boris and Michael’s friend Dave from the office of Prime Minister. Chimes of Perfidious Albion. ‘Et tu, Brute?’ With friend like this Cameron needs no enemies. The rest of us should watch Johnson and Gove, and beware.
  • The wiping of many £billions value from UK shares
  • The wiping of $trillions value from global shares
  • The fall of about 10% in the value of the £
  • The lowering of the UK’s credit rating to negative
  • The very possible introduction of tariffs against UK imports into the EU, specifically on cars made at UK Japanese implants, leading to loss of jobs and future investment – ouch!
  • The very likely secession of Scotland from the UK
  • The less likely but possible secession of Northern Ireland if Sinn Fein saw its chance and managed to call a referendum for re-unification of Ireland which were then to succeed based on the Catholic majority in the population and the general desire to stay in the EU
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

The mess we are in

The EU referendum delivers an unmanageable mess. The UK will lose its membership of the EU, and more immediately has lost its elected Prime Minister. Like many Lib Dems, I have never voted Conservative, but I do recognise the dignity and decency of David Cameron. The referendum outcome creates space instead for Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and the reactionary Nigel Farage.

Democracy itself is in an impossible contradiction. The UK norm is representative democracy expressed in Parliamentary sovereignty. The policy of the majority of Members of Parliament is to remain in the EU. But the referendum decides to leave. Paradoxically, those wanting to leave the EU favour Parliamentary sovereignty, but reject this principle on the question of EU membership. This is an irresoluble conflict.

There is therefore a greater decision UK society has to make – whether government is to be by representative democracy or by popular referenda. We cannot have both. This is the first question of principle. The second is the criteria which should apply to either representative democracy or referenda. The last general election showed how unrepresentative first-past-the-post constituency voting is. The referendum highlights the huge problem of maintaining social cohesion when half the population wants exactly the opposite of what the other half wants. Reconciling this is nigh impossible.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 22 Comments

What’s wrong with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?

There are three huge defects in the Chancellor’s autumn statement

1 Technical

The Chancellor fundamentally believes that the government budget can and should be balanced, or even run in surplus. This basic accounting assumption drives his whole thinking. But facts prove him, and the traditional thinking of the whole financial establishment, wrong on this. He has been unable to eliminate the deficit. He will not be able to eliminate it. In modern high technology, high productivity economies, deficit is inevitable, and manageable.

There’s a huge problem in thinking here. The Chancellor approaches economic policy like an accountant, rather than as an economist. Books should balance. He talks about what we can afford, purely in financial terms. But it’s not money which gives value to the real economy, but rather it’s real economic activity which gives money its value. Economic activity creates financial value, and not the other way round. What we can afford has to be measured in real resources of people, skills, natural resources, technology and capital assets. A thought experiment demonstrates this. If it were possible to plug a machine into the earth to produce the whole GDP without labour and therefore without wages, then the money vouchers the government would have to allocate would all be a total financial deficit each year. Money does not have to be backed either by gold, or by the sale of government bonds, but only by output GDP. Deficits are here to stay. Facts support this hypothesis.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 21 Comments

Book Review: Money for Everyone

A Citizen’s Income Convincingly Argued

In ‘Money for Everyone’, Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, and is articulate and readable. His main argument is that, given widespread acceptance of a benefits scheme of some sort, then a Citizen’s Income is by far the best option. Specifically it avoids the disincentives of very high marginal deduction rates of current benefits which create the familiar unemployment and poverty traps. According to Torry, a Citizen’s Income would incentivise employment, training, new business formation, women’s …

Posted in Books | Tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: Clinical Commissioning Groups – don’t hold your breath

nhs sign lrgWe are now 6 months into the much touted reorganisation of the health service, with the advent in April this year of Clinical Commissioning Groups to replace Primary Care Trusts, the only real difference being that GPs run the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The reorganisation did ensure a reduction in cost by the simple expedient of setting Clinical Commissioning Group administrative budgets one third below historic  Primary Care Trust administrative cost, yielding a Clinical Commissioning Group admin cost of £25/head of population. There are 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups. The adjusted population figure is 53.8m, and so total Clinical Commissioning Group admin spend is £1.345bn. Clinical Commissioning Groups are administering a total health budget of £60bn, averaging £284m per Group. Clinical Commissioning Group admin costs are therefore 2.24% of total health service expenditure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Book Review: Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea

Mark Blyth delivers a masterful, blistering, devastating, and totally convincing critique of austerity in his book Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea. It’s impossible to read this book and still believe that austerity is the right policy. Blyth writes engaging, powerful economic history of economies applying austerity, including the US, UK, Sweden, Germany, Japan and France in the 1920s and 1930s, Denmark and Ireland in the 1980s, and the Baltic states in 2008, demonstrating in each case that austerity does not work. It does not generate growth or reduce debt. He shows that the current hot spot crises …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 45 Comments

Opinion: Should the Queen speak out on the Belfast flag issue?

Queen Elizabeth IIThe pictures of the Queen joining the Cabinet meeting were charming. They conveyed a reassuring image of a stable democracy with a historic back-stop. Almost always we want the democratic element to prevail, but there are perhaps very limited issues and occasions when the monarchy can make a difference. The Queen inviting Harold Macmillan to form a government rather than Rab Butler in 1957 is the occasion often quoted. It did actually make a political difference, since Harold Wilson was later reported as having feared that Rab Butler may well have won the 1964 election.

Northern Ireland may be another occasion when the monarchy could make a

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 27th Jun - 2:22am
    Looks like there isn't. I suppose I should set one up....if nobody else will bother.
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 27th Jun - 2:18am
    I agree with Mary that this petition is a nonsense (and it would be pointless to debate nonsense in the House of Commons, albeit that...
  • User AvatarBelinda Brooks-Gordo 27th Jun - 1:51am
    Stop this love-in right now and give our pooches a mention. Yes newbies, there is a nascent libdem soppy dog owner tribe who post daft...
  • User Avatarmatt 27th Jun - 1:00am
    well what is the purpose of saying you think 4% of people changed their mind since they cast that vote. even if those 4% had...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Jun - 12:32am
    @matt "Where is the evidence to support such a claim??" I don't need evidence and I'm not make a claim. I'm saying what I think....
  • User AvatarChristopher Tanner 27th Jun - 12:28am
    Regarding the lessons from the 1979 Scottish Devolution vote, it is a pity we did not insist on similar conditions being placed on this one....