CRAZY JEZZA’S CLOSING DOWN SALE!!!

Believe it or not, The Escape Artist comes from a Labour family.

My earliest political memory was in May 1979 when I woke up one morning to an unusually grim atmosphere. I was told that something VERY BAD had happened and that someone called “Mrs Thatcher” was going to RUIN EVERYTHING.

This was a worry as I was only 9 years old at the time and I really needed society to keep functioning.

I never had a DNA test but you could say that I was one of Thatcher’s children. During the 1980s, I watched Mrs T slay a series of dragons: in her cabinet, in her party, in the Falklands, in the miners strike, in Brussels…until eventually she was brought down by a mixture of events, ego and overreach.

People find it hard to be objective about such a polarising figure. Otherwise sensible people used to lose their shit over Margaret Thatcher. Lefties used to say she didn’t count, wasn’t a proper woman, never did anything for feminism etc etc.

Margaret Thatcher’s crime was, I think, to compete successfully in an imperfect meritocracy. The grocer’s daughter played the hand she was dealt at a time when there was widespread snobbery, sexism and real barriers to social mobility.

Its hilarious how today The Left often portray women as helpless victims of the system.  Er…hello? Margaret Thatcher was kicking the shit out of what was left of The Patriarchy 40 YEARS AGO.

To be fair, The Escape Artist listens to both sides of an argument.  I majored in economics at university but also did a year studying politics. I read enough Karl Marx, William Morris and RH Tawney to know the political philosophies of the Left better than most people on The Left. I even went to hear Tony Benn (the leading left winger of his time) talk when he came to my campus.

And when Tony Blair was Labour Leader, I went to see him speak in 1997, just before the election that took him to power. Blair was impressive in person; speaking articulately without autocue or notes and without forewarning of questions from an audience of real people (not party stooges).

Back then, Blair hadn’t started any wars and was able to unite people around values like patriotism, fairness and aspiration. He was sane, intelligent and reasonable. Although I was never part of his tribe (I was neither Hampstead nor Hartlepool) he came across as a safe pair of hands.

Across the pond, I thought of Barack Obama the same way I thought of Blair. Both were from the educational and legal elite (Oxford, Harvard) but both seemed to have had enough contact with the working class (Sedgefield, Chicago) to have a grasp on reality. Both came across as decent people that you could have a beer with.

Had I been American, I would happily have voted for Barack Obama (a Democrat).  It’s funny how Obama seems to hold sainthood status amongst The Left in the UK and yet in office he presided over American capitalism whilst finding time to have #1 Bad Guy Osama Bin Laden executed and launch air strikes in the Middle East.

Now here’s a fun thought experiment. Let’s imagine that Barack Obama applied to join today’s Labour Party and his application was reviewed by Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbot, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Imagine them sat around the table in Islington drinking their fairtrade organic raspberry tea from Waitrose. They’d take one look at Obama’s record in office and cringe at his neo-colonialist foreign policy, failure to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Palestine, his blatant patriotism, his lack of focus on trans-gender issues and conclude that he was basically Hitler.

APPLICATION REJECTED!

Wherever possible on this blog I play the ball (the ideas) not the man (the person). But when the most senior people in Her Majesty’s Opposition start denying objective reality, I have to conclude they’re batshit crazy and fair game for ridicule.

I read 2 different biographies of Jeremy Corbyn before writing this post as I wanted to get a balanced picture. I’ve no doubt that Magic Grandpa meant well, bless him. But the more you read, the more you realise he’s thick as two short planks (he had a privileged upbringing, went to a posh private school and yet only managed 2 E’s at A Level).  As far as I can see, he’s been incompetent at everything he’s ever turned his hand to (including personal finance…apparently he can’t even manage his own money).

How lovely it would be to have a functioning 2 party system with an effective opposition. How lovely to be able to vote for the good guys in the “left wing” party whilst confident they won’t try to overthrow capitalism and bring in a Dictatorship of The Woke to enforce 5 year plans for the doubling of tractor production, making all women’s toilets gender neutral by 2025 and FREE BROADBAND!!!

Today’s Labour Party has completely detached from reality. The Student Kool Kidz and the Toytown Revolutionaries seem to believe that The World only started when they were born.  How else are we to explain their failure to learn anything from history?

I’m not just talking about the history of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and Cambodia…those communist workers paradises that murdered 100 million people between them. No…I’m talking about Britain in the 1980s.

We’ve seen this movie before. For the benefit of younger readers, I should explain that in 1981 Labour was led by a scruffy old bloke who ran on a left-wing manifesto which became known as The Longest Suicide Note in History. That didn’t work out so well [US Democratic Party, take note].

Labour was out of power for 18 years whilst the moderates battled what was then known as The Loony Left. Those 18 years in the wilderness were agonising for moderates on The Left who eventually prevailed in a fight for the heart and soul of the Labour party. How quickly those hard-won victories were reversed from 2015 onwards as Magic Grandpa put the Krazee Gang back together.

And then there was that election result in December 2019 which was a shock to errrr…absolutely no one sane. This was followed by a period of calm reflection which lasted for about 30 seconds before the Labour leadership contest kicked off like a fight breaking out in the high-security wing of a lunatic asylum.

Out of power for 9 years and counting, and fresh on the heels of their biggest election defeat for 80 years, recent polls show that Labour Party members still think that Magic Grandpa was the greatest ever leader of the Labour Party.

This reminds me of when I used to argue with my brother as a child. When he was saying something that I didn’t want to hear, I would put my hands over my ears and sing…LA-LA-LAH!…NOT LISTENING! NOT LISTENING!

Some will console themselves with the fact that Magic Grandpa will soon be replaced by a new leader. The bookies odds tell us this will be Keir Starmer (who, in fairness, does appear sane).

But the fundamental problem is that the majority of the Labour Party seem to have swallowed the ideology of identity politics hook, line and sinker.

It’s all very well to support The Oppressed…but what happens when the interests of different “Oppressed Groups” clash?

  • Do you side with female rape victims or with transgender people over shared access to women’s refuges?
  • Do you support Islam or women’s rights in Saudi Arabia?
  • Do you support higher wages for ordinary working people or higher immigration?

Sometimes you have to choose. You can’t support both groups when their interests clash.

The voters have already figured this out. That’s because most of them are grown-ups who live in the real world. Someone just needs to explain this to Labour party activists. Good luck with that.

I know that Labour voters are good people and they mean well. If you are a Labour supporter, I’m not having a go at you or making a tribal political point here.  I’m not promoting any particular political party.

What I am promoting are classical liberal ideas such as freedom of speech and free markets regulated by elected governments subject to checks and balances. I’m promoting liberal democracy, rationality and enlightenment values…you know, the stuff that Western Civilisation is built upon…the stuff that stops us going back to the Dark Ages.

Is it too much to ask for an opposition lead by people that are not batshit-fucking-crazy?

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21 comments

  1. Fantastic read.

    If you haven’t already I highly recommend the book ‘The Madness of Crowds’ by Douglas Murray – it goes into great, objective depth on some of the issues you brought up in this post.

  2. An interesting (and probably brave) post.

    You accurately describe the failings of the left but the alternative of voting for a PM who has such a vague relationship with the truth was not overly compelling either!

    The statistic I found most worrying after the election was the generational divide.
    It went something like:
    1) Only over 40s allowed to vote => Conservative majority of over 500 seats
    2) Only under 40s allowed to vote => Labour majority of over 550 seats.

    Perhaps that kind of split was ever thus but it does leave me worried for the outcome of the next election because, I think you are right, the Labour party membership has totally lost the plot and so will continue along the same track but without the toxicity that was Jeremy Corbyn. I fear they may actually win enough to form a Government.

    1. Can I throw in an interpretation of the generational divide?
      I think the Conservatives have generally moved further to the left over time – look at their big pledges to fight inequality, boost the NHS, improve schooling ALL via increased state spending. This is left wing, not right wing practice.

      What I’m saying is, the over 40’s haven’t changed their policies much, but the big 2 parties have shifted leftwards, towards a larger state with great intervention. Labour are far too socialist/Identity Politics driven for people over 40 (generally), and the Conservatives are essentially New Labour.

  3. Great article TEA. I suspect many of the under 40’s will transition to conservatism when they begin to pay taxes. I think there is a quote which goes: If your not a socialist by 20 you have no heart, if your not a conservative by 40, you have no brain. When I left University and joined the workforce and started to pay taxes my views completely changed.

  4. Daniel Julian · · Reply

    ‘Do you support higher wages for ordinary working people or higher immigration?’

    It’s not a zero-sum game. I’m sure you must know this. I’m quite surprised to see this lazy canard here.

    1. It’s not uniform because there are a myriad of factors that impact, exacerbate and attempt to counterbalance this, but mass immigration does impact wages:

      Here’s a balanced summary
      https://fullfact.org/immigration/immigration-and-jobs-labour-market-effects-immigration/

      Mass unskilled immigration helps bigger business by driving down wages because of increased competition for the work. When immigration dropped sharply following brexit (here’s even The Guardian acknowledging it- https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/aug/13/uk-wages-rise-at-fastest-rate-for-a-decade-despite-brexit-risks)

      It’s politically sensitive, but this is basic economics. Increased competition for jobs drives down wages.

      1. Daniel Julian · · Reply

        “It’s politically sensitive, but this is basic economics. Increased competition for jobs drives down wages.”

        An incredibly naive final take on immigration, which is contradicted in various places and numerous times by the first link you posted. Basic economics can’t be applied directly to such a complex system. As for the second link, there you have a basic correlation/causation error. What I said stands 100%. Immigration vs the wages of ordinary people is not a zero-sum game nor can a simple relationship between those two variable be drawn.

        1. You calling it incredibly naive is unnecessarily hostile and shows that it’s politically sensitive. You seem triggered by the obvious result of supply and demand. I said other factors are at play, but they don’t contradict the observed facts – Basic Economics IS part of the complex system and I think you may be ideologically driven in objecting to it. I think that’s why you lazily wrote off my second link as a correlation/causation error.

          I understand it’s complex – more people equals more customers, immigrants set up businesses too, etc etc. Those soften the blow of increased competition, but it’s still there and you’re denying it.
          You’re right that it’s not a zero-sum game BUT I am right that the impact of mass immigration on the wages and material conditions of the lowest paid members of society is demonstrated. I cited a collection of studies because I acknowledge that it’s a mixed bag, but I feel you’re overly invested in denying the link.

      2. Daniel Julian · · Reply

        Have you even read your first link? Even if you just read the first five bullet points carefully you should agree that the contents of the link that you gave as evidence for your point simply do not support the point you were trying to make.

        Claiming the link between immigration and wages is as simple as supply and demand *is* naive. There is no obvious result of supply and demand in this case. This claim is simply false.

        Can you show any evidence of the causal link implied by your second link? If so I’d be very keen to see it.

        1. Hi Daniel, you’re really committed to this aren’t you?

          Yes, I have read my first link, thanks for the insult. Let’s look at those first 5 bullet points, I probably managed to just about comprehend them, though I am clearly so very stupid.

          Point 1: “UK research suggests that immigration has a small impact on average wages of existing workers but more significant effects for certain groups: low-wage workers lose while medium and high-paid workers gain.”

          Hey, that’s what I said! Glory.

          Point… um 2? Is that after 1?: “The wage effects of immigration are likely to be greatest for resident workers who are immigrants themselves.”

          Yep, that’s still ‘immigration affects wages’. Hey, I’ve read that before – in my first reply and the point that you said my link didn’t demonstrate: “It’s not uniform because there are a myriad of factors that impact, exacerbate and attempt to counterbalance this, but mass immigration does impact wages.”

          Point 3: “Research does not find a significant impact of overall immigration on unemployment in the UK…” Oh, that’s about employment, which we weren’t discussing.

          Point 4: “The impacts of immigration on the labour market depend on the skills of migrants, the skills of existing workers, and the characteristics of the host economy. This means that research evidence on the labour market effects of immigration is always specific to time and place.”

          So… yeah, that does continue to support the point I made. Last chance!

          Point 5: “For both wages and employment, short run effects of immigration differ from long run effects: any declines in the wages and employment of UK-born workers in the short run can be offset by rising wages and employment in the long run.”

          So, that’s saying there is an effect, but it *can* be offset in the long run. It hasn’t been, but theoretically could be. How is that not what I said?

          I’m sure we’re both having fun being snarky on the internet, but there’s no need for it. We can discuss things without calling each other idiots and I think your investment in the stance is stopping you considering it clearly. You can look at the evidence and say ‘Ok, mass immigration negatively impacts wages for the lowest paid, but it’s still good for reasons X,Y,Z so I will support it’. That’s fine.

          You’re asking me to demonstrate that supply and demand applies, which is asking me to demonstrate an axiom. That’s ridiculous. I supplied a summary that shows what I said: the impact is not uniform, but it is there.

          As for the second article, I went with The Guardian to show wages rising as immigration dropped, I figured you’d like the Guardian. That also denies the obvious connection between the number of people wanting jobs and the amount you have to pay them.

          Neither of us are saying it’s a simple picture, but you are denying that axiomatic laws of economics apply.

  5. Damian Tow · · Reply

    Agreed on the state of the Labour leadership and the need for the party to refocus on the ‘third way’ (middle ground) which brought Blair and probably Obama to power. For me the real danger though is the bunch of sociopaths and liars who presently populate our Cabinet, and who are pursuing a Brexit ideology that was never articulated in the referendum and has long ago become disconnected from any logical ‘business case’ for leaving the EU.

  6. There’s a very good exploration and explanation of the thought process Labour is currently engaging in in Thomas Sowell’s ‘The Vision of the Anointed’ – the idea that they can take control and through increasing intervention make everything right.

  7. britinkiwi · · Reply

    Chloe – thanks replying sensibly to Daniel’s ad hominems and straw men. As for the leftwards shift I suspect you are correct – there are a lot of people left-ish on economics and welfare and right-ish on patriotism, immigration and social issues (not quite anywheres and somewheres but close) and a political party that can embody those aspirations is likely to benefit and – hey presto! The UK conservatives!

    Although even the terms left and right mean little these days – apparently leaving the EU is currently a right wing plot, despite EEC membership being opposed by most senior labour party MP’s back in the seventies (and Dennis Skinner to date) for exactly the reasons you mention – that joining the neo-liberal corporatist EEC was a threat to the working class…..

    1. Thanks, I like the cut of your jib 🙂 Rod Liddle has written a fair bit about that neglected segment and I’m guessing you’re a fan of David Goodhart’s ‘Somewheres/Anywheres’ analysis? I do find that very persuasive. On a personal level, I think Thomas Sowell’s ‘Tragic Vision’ and ‘Vision of the Annointed’ analysis is very accurate too.

      It’s also very valuable to point out that left/right analysis is very limited. I remember a good number of Green Party analyses in favour of Brexit, i.e. Localism is a very efficient means of reducing emissions, reducing wastage and decreasing house-building which has a huge environmental impact. I think Brexit was quite the Rorshach test really, a good way of seeing what someone’s priorities are. As an overopinionated, underwashed vegan I was always very upset by EU law preventing us enforcing our higher animal welfare standards – that never went down well 😉

    2. Daniel Julian · · Reply

      Do you know what ad hominem or straw-man arguments actually are, or are they just words you’ve seen on the internet that you think make you sound clever?

      1. Tell us how to sound clever on the internet Daniel, we need your help clearly. Can you write it out very clearly, in big letters and with few syllables? How many weak jibes should we throw out instead of providing evidence? What’s the best way to ignore evidence by just saying there’s a correlation/causation error?

  8. Chris B · · Reply

    Here in the U.S, our version of Jeremy Corbyn is Bernie Sanders, and his radical leftist platform is similar to the UK status quo regarding healthcare, guns, immigration, and the social safety net. So the Overton window applies to perceptions of looniness.

    1. Damian · · Reply

      And funnily enough lots of Corbyn’s policies would be seen as quite normal in Scandinavia, which coincidently rates regularly as the world’s happiest countries.

  9. britinkiwi · · Reply

    Chloe – thanks, but I’m not sure of Goodhart’s analysis – as a very clear Anywhere I have a disturbing appreciation/agreement with the Somewhere perspective – enough to perturb friends who expect me to share their view that the EU is just the best thing since sliced bread.

    I’m not familiar with Sowell but should obviously expand my mind!

    Keep writing the over-opinions! I enjoy your work (and TEA’s of course!)

    @TEA – it would be good for the UK to have a functioning and electable opposition but……

    Here in NZ we have the opposite – a competent and popular Labour PM leading a coalition government with the opposition National Party (read conservative) in disarray with an ineffective leader and an election in 6 months.

    @Chris B – I wonder if the Overton window for different cultures/nations is like a Venn diagram – overlaps in parts, but separate in others?

    1. Chris B · · Reply

      @britinkiwi I think so. The process of forming political opinions is sufficiently divorced from reality and sufficiently under the influence of local others/media that an international consensus on what constitutes optimal policy on dozens of issues seems unlikely. This always struck me as strange, because different parts of the world have such starkly different outcomes and in most cases we can tie these outcomes to policy.

      E.g. Country x spent 10% less on education than country y 50 years ago, and now their GDP have diverged z%. Or, country x enforced discrimination against its minorities and, oh look, now they have a guerilla insurgency that makes everyone poor.

  10. Chloe
    Thanks for the 2 book references – they were both 5 stars.
    B

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