Anyone who keeps their finger on the economic pulse will no doubt be aware of Detroit’s tragic decline over the last few decades, which has finally culminated in its recent application for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the broken corporate/capitalist model (which all Western governments tell us there is no alternative to) means Detroit – far from being an unfortunate “one off” – will in fact be the template for many more municipal, region/state, and national defaults the world over.
But how did Detroit fall so far? “Motor City” successfully rode the roller coaster of corporate capitalism for many years and became one of America’s wealthiest cities in the 1950’s & 1960’s – a microcosm of America itself – but like any fairground ride, once you’ve had your turn it’s time to get off and let somebody else on. Over-reliance on the car industry when America turned its back on its own cars, means Detroit is now a ghost town, unable to pay its bills or its public employees. The Right are quick to blame trade unions for destroying its once thriving car industry – but equally at fault are the U.S. car makers themselves, their tiny T-Rex brains unable to process the effects of the 1973 oil crisis, when suddenly Americans wanted more fuel efficient cars which were readily available from Europe and the Far East.
Are there parallels to be drawn with Detroit on this side of the Atlantic? Sadly, yes. The various parts of England and Britain which powered the Industrial Revolution also tended to specialise in particular fields, such as coal mining or steel working. This wasn’t a problem initially, as their goods were in high demand, but over-reliance on one industry as foreign competition gradually ate into their market share has caused deep recession, from which recovery is now almost impossible. Impoverished former industrial regions are now propped up by British government borrowing – and at some point, the British government's credit will dry up, just as Detroit's has.........
As a government, morally you have two choices if an area under your administration has an over-reliance on one main industry, whether it be car making in Detroit or ship building in Birkenhead – you either support the home industry by buying the products from that area rather than from overseas, and/or you meet with representatives from that area to plan an alternative, long term future that reduces reliance on that industry. Or, you could do as short sighted British governments have done since the 1960's - simply buy foreign coal or ships and pull the rug from under the area, make no effort to put any work in its place, squander North Sea oil profits on unemployment benefit for these areas rather than invest in them, and simply “let the markets decide”.
The football match between corporate capitalism and socialist trade unionism effectively ended, when corporations sussed that it was less effort to pick up their ball and find another pitch to play on, where the opposition was weaker. Admittedly, exploiting third world workers gave them a goal advantage at half time – but by closing factories in the developed economies where their main markets were, they pauperised them – and in doing so, lost their biggest customers, and the game.
Commerce cannot thrive when the two sides that make it happen – the capital and the labour – are constantly at war with each other. And who bears the brunt of this war? Not the “Generals” of corporate management, or their opposite numbers in the union leadership, but the poor bloody infantry on the shop floor, the workers. It’s time for a new economic model to replace this tired old adversarial system.
Stakeholder capitalism – where the workers are also part owners or managers of the business that employs them - seems the only alternative. We frequently turn to the John Lewis stakeholder model as an example of how a business could and should be run, and we make no apology for this. Some criticise their hard-headed trading practices, but they're running a business, not a fluffy job creation scheme. This same approach is shared by other successful business – the difference being, the workers are seeing the profits in big annual bonuses, and not some wealthy corporate shareholder raking in unearned dividends from thousands of miles away.
As banks stop lending to businesses and instead simply hoard the extra money that governments are printing via Quantitive Easing to balance their overcooked books, social and crowd funding is already starting to replace their once pivotal role in financing industry – meaning that perhaps within a decade or two, even the banks themselves could face a Detroit-style collapse, as small investors increasingly look elsewhere for a decent return on their savings – the equivalent of an oil crisis forcing motorists to buy more economical cars? If mighty Detroit can fall, nothing is out of the question!
An end to the corporate/socialist economic war and an ushering in of more localised, stakeholder capitalism would bring with it a “peace dividend” of increased prosperity. And isn't that what matters, at the end of the day? For England – and the world, for that matter – to start seeing any kind of sustainable economic recovery, two things must now happen:
Stakeholder capitalism needs to gradually replace corporate, shareholder capitalism:
Mixed economies (including agriculture) need to replace specialised economies.
We have, in the developed world, entered an age where the old models no longer work for us, and new ideas must be tried if we are to maintain any kind of decent living standard. Otherwise, the fate of Detroit – kicked off the fairground ride and left to rot by the corporations – awaits us all.
Ask any British politician from whichever LibLabCon party you care to choose - if questioned about conflict in any middle eastern country ruled by a tinpot dictatorship (this week it’s Syria) - they insist “we” should be doing more to help the rebels. Ask an ordinary English man or woman in the street what “we” should do, and they’ll reply: “What this “we”, mate? What’s it got to do with us? They started fighting without us, let them finish it without us!”
But the fluffy Left “chatterati” who comment about such things on TV and in the media, also support the British government stance on forced regime change in the middle east, as it strokes their ego’s to be seen calling for the overthrow of right wing dictators by popular uprisings. Only trouble is, these popular uprisings are led and steered by the same people who blow up buses in London, and churches in Nigeria. And we all know how well regime change worked in Libya, don’t we? The American ambassador and his staff were hacked to death in Benghazi by the same “freedom fighters” who overthrew Gadhaffi. Who saw that coming? (We did, actually.)
Well, here's an idea for those on the Left who feel that “more should be done” to help popular uprisings in these far off lands. Do what your great grandfathers did – go to these far off lands and form an International Brigade, as the Left did in Spain to fight Franco’s fascists and Hitler’s mercenaries. A fighting force made up of pasty liberal volunteers would surely turn the tide in these conflicts – unless of course, Assad’s men “kettle” you in the desert for a few hours, but then at least you can return to barracks with your “Assad Out!” banners flying proudly, feeling warm and fuzzy about yourselves in the knowledge that you’ve shown solidarity with the masses.
There’s a pub in Liverpool where the walls are adorned with Spanish Civil War memorabilia – photographs, maps, documents, lists of men who died fighting, and the battles in which they lost their lives. It’s a very humbling experience to study this stuff. They didn’t sit in coffee shops sipping latte, agreeing with each other about how awful Franco was, and that dreadful little man Hitler who was supporting him: instead, they packed their bags, made their own way to Spain, trained as soldiers and went into battle.
So, the next time you hear a fluffy leftist calling for English service personnel to be thrown into the meat grinder of someone else’s civil war, remind them of the Old Left’s direct approach in these matters, and suggest they follow suit. The British government is about to make 5,000 soldiers redundant, now the Olympics is safely out of the way: I’m sure some of these people would be only too happy to train up a new International Brigade, if it meant their former regiments didn’t have to go.
I’ve heard Syria’s lovely at this time of year……..!
English Radical is a research group and Think Tank that promotes the study and publication of political ideas of Localism, Mutualism and Distributism. We also support the idea of English Independence from the United Kingdom and from the European Union. This website is the main vehicle for these ideas but English Radical will also host seminars and publish papers promoting its core values to the public. To become a member of English Radical is free, send us your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org , and we will contact you when we hold public events.
English Radical is a forum set up to challenge the Con-Dem/New Labour shamocracy that stifles popular sentiment and radical policies that would change our society for the better. Consequently, we are forced to live with corrupt politicians, greedy bankers and profit-driven businessmen who all live the high life, whilst many hard working families try to survive on poverty-level wages and are driven to use Food Banks to stave off hunger, whilst the unemployed and disabled are penalised with the ‘Bedroom Tax’ which is, at heart, a tax on the poor to line the pockets of the wealthy. English Radical supports local campaigns to resist these attacks on the poor and calls on the wider population to oppose their implementation.
English Radical is not affiliated to any political parties but we support those parties that promote policies of Localism, Mutualism and Distributism and those electoral candidates who stand up for these values at local and General elections and will list their websites in our links so that you the public can make your own judgement.
English Radical is proud to uphold the radical traditions of the Levellers, Diggers, Chartists and early Labour party and we call for united opposition to the Coalition Government’s war on the poor and the New Labour betrayal of the working class. The people of England have a proud history of standing up to tyrants at home and abroad and we now call on them to rally in support of traditional English values of fairness, hard work and social justice.
English Radical welcomes articles and news cuttings on subjects connected to its core values as we would like to involve as many people as possible in the publication of political ideas and move away from the domination of the ‘political classes’.
David Owens BA (Hons), MA
DIRECTOR, English Radical
The outrage from all quarters that has been aimed at the Church of England (CoE) - because they voted not to allow women to be ordained bishops - can be heard reverberating all around the world, with politicians in Britain lining up to voice their support for women bishops, calling for the CoE to be ordered to change its mind, and NOW.
Prime Minister David Cameron has made it known that he is “very sad” at the result of the vote, that people had to “respect individual institutions and how they work”, but also added “it is very clear that the time is right for women bishops, and the CoE needs to get with the programme”. Labour’s Ben Bradshaw asked the PM in the commons what parliament can do “to ensure the overwhelming will of CoE members is respected”. He added this is “a very dangerous time for the church, and if the synod can’t sort it out we need to help them, we cannot allow this to drag on for another ten years”. On the BBC radio four programme “Any Questions” (23/11/12), Lib-Dem MP Steve Webb - whose wife is an Anglican minister - threw in his penny’s worth, coming out in support in the ordination of women bishops .
The outrage shown by Britain’s politicians is surely real, and only a cynic would say otherwise(!), but let's hypothetically insert “the people of England” in place of "women bishops". Just as women are grudgingly allowed to be members of the laity and the general synod, but cannot break through the “stained glass ceiling” to become bishops, and therefore lack any real clout within the CoE - the English are also grudgingly allowed to be councillors, MP’s, even Lords, but are not allowed by the political priesthood within the British Establishment to have their own parliament. In fact, England is the only country in western Europe without its own national representative body.
The general election of 1997 gave Britain a Labour government who allowed Scotland a referendum to decide whether or not they wanted their own parliament, and there were no surprises as to the reply - a resounding YES. Since then Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have had a number of referenda to strengthen their self-determination powers, supported with reports that suggested they be given tax raising powers: and in that time, what have the British allowed the English? One referendum, for Regional Assemblies, which for the British we gave the wrong result! But in true EU style the result was ignored, and the English got Regional Assemblies - not asked for, not wanted, unelected and unaccountable to the people of England.
In March 2010 the PM Gordon Brown abolished them: Were the English then asked what they wanted, our own parliament/assembly perhaps? Alas no, we had “Local Leader boards” imposed on us, then “Local Enterprise partnerships”, and add to them “City Regions” – again, something the English neither asked for nor wanted, as what we really wanted we are not allowed to have. The fact is, MP’s from all sides of the UK welcomed the denial of England’s right to self-determination. Ian Paisley Jr on his blog, stated the English should not be allowed to have their own parliament, yet when he was on Sky morning news reviewing the newspapers, he stated that “It is important to know that everyone in the UK matters” - everyone that is, except the English.
The outrage expressed by the political elite is as shallow as their principles. Where was their outrage when Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were given self-determination powers, but England given none? Where was their outrage when England had Regional Assemblies/City Regions imposed upon them? Where is their outrage when the Lib-Dems refuse to even say “England”, insisting instead on referring to us as “the regions”? Where is their outrage when the present PM states that he doesn’t want to be the Prime Minister of England? (a wish we must try our best to grant). Where is their outrage when Labour leader Ed Miliband states that he believes the English should not have their own parliament? Sadly, their outrage is nowhere to be seen or heard, when it concerns the people of England.
In a week where one's faith in God is miraculously restored (Lib-Dems losing their deposit in Corby, “Jabber/Jabba” John Prescott losing out on the cushy Police Commissioner job in the North East), several interesting aspects have emerged from the various elections. Dealing with the Corby by-election first - the poor Lib-Dem result seems to confirm the English Radical analysis that their brand is now so toxic, they will virtually cease to exist politically after the next General Election in 2015. Expect to see various Lib-Dem MP's “crossing the House” (scurrying like rats) in both directions very soon. Also interesting was UKIP's strong showing, suggesting that Cameron may be forced to do a deal with the “real” Tory party, led by Nigel Farage, to have any hope of forming a government after that date.
Moving on to the Police Commissioner elections – Theresa May, our favourite “token” cabinet minister, is being crucified for the poor turnout and handling of these elections in the same week that Abu Qatada had his extradition to Jordan quashed – but again, something very encouraging happened: due to the incredibly poor turnout, a surprisingly large number of Independent candidates either won, or placed strongly. The English Radicals feel that the post of Police Commissioner should not be held by a member of a political party, but by someone with policing experience, or proven managerial/accounting skills – and ideally, all three! This view would seem to be shared by the (non) voting public, who stayed away in their thousands, and those who did vote, did so largely for non-party candidates.
The English Radicals would like to ask a question: under the Coalition government, we have been offered the chance to vote for elected Lord Mayors, and Police Commissioners – all stuff we haven't even asked for! When can we have a vote on the one thing we do want – an In/Out referendum on the EU? That should be UKIP's price for an electoral deal – and it needs to happen before 2015, not after, otherwise “Cast Iron Guarantee” Cameron will slither out of it. Can we have it on the same day that the Scots vote on the Independence issue in 2014, please? It would be nice if the English could be given a say on something important, for a change!
A former advisor to Tony Blair, professor Paul Corrigan - is advising that dozens of failing NHS hospitals need to be taken over, and not simply merged with other failing hospitals and trusts, otherwise you just get a bigger failing trust. But, cynics that we are, the English Radicals wonder whether this “takeover” brainwave of Corrigan’s wasn't simply the plan all along? The reason NHS Trusts and hospitals are failing today, is due to unsustainable debt caused by PFI funding- brought in by Blair’s “Blue Labour” government, whom he used to advise! Now he advocates simply giving away these public assets to private health care companies for a song, after untold millions of taxpayer money have been pumped into them. The party he advised - Labour – systematically ruined the NHS, and are even more to blame than the Tories in this respect.
To Labour, the NHS was a socialist “wet dream” - nationalised, centrally planned and run, popular with taxpayers who didn’t ask awkward questions as long as it worked, an institution so well loved that it replaced religion in the eyes of the public. But they couldn't resist buggering about with this flagship department, and over the years steadily increased its size, until it morphed from being a trim, value for money health care provider, into a lardy job creation scheme, and bloated it out of all recognition. The Tories have rightly seized on this bloat, but insist that the only answer is to privatise it (the Tory “wet dream”, one of the last State assets to be stripped, now ripe for the plucking) - and sit on the board of directors afterwards.
It’s obvious that the British NHS, third largest single employer in the world after the Chinese army and the Indian railways, is simply too big and unaccountable in its present form to manage efficiently, but it must not be allowed to die. Both national parties use the NHS as a political football: the English Radicals say take the ball off both of them, by taking the NHS out of central government hands, and let each English county fund and run their own health service.
This is a logical expression of ERA philosophy, where decision making and day to day running of any enterprise should be devolved down to the lowest level possible. We would want to see local government taking responsibility for local health services - once our other idea for local tax collection replacing national tax collection is implemented. Counties could pool resources when necessary, for example specialist units such as the BHOC in Bristol, or Christie's in Manchester, could be funded by contributions from all the surrounding county health authorities.
"Bloody Nice Bloke, That Mr. Letterman....."
The fact that David Cameron struggled to answer some random historical questions from an American chat show host about the country he governs didn’t come as any great surprise to us – although a polished public speaker, he seems very lightweight otherwise. It simply confirms that not only do the Lib Dems face meltdown at the next election, the Tory party faces a similar fate unless it ditches “heir to Blair” Cameron very soon. Just as Gordon Brown cost Labour the 2010 general election, plummy-voiced patrician Cameron is perceived as a purveyor of bullshit, lacks integrity and a common touch, and cannot possibly be considered re-election material.
This seems borne out by his recent, and frankly unfathomable, appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Minister for Health (tenuous link to story above!) - an MP whose reputation has been seriously called into question recently by his alleged closeness and involvement with a certain media empire – but has nonetheless secured promotion to one of the most important ministerial positions in the British government. The message this sends is that Cameron is so woefully out of touch that he is unaware of the damage that this appointment does to his credibility as Prime Minister: or worse, gives the impression that the decision was made for him by someone else - and he is simply the mouthpiece that delivered The News.
Empty Suit, Empty Apology
Looks like this headline could be a regular feature! Not to be left out in the “crocodile tears” stakes, Nick Clegg has apologised for reneging on his pre-election pledge not to raise university tuition fees for students. In erm, England. Politicians apologies are like their promises – worthless. He'd say and do the same again in a heartbeat, if he thought he could get away with it.
Well, the problem is easily fixed, Nick. Have a word with the organ grinder, and get him to divert the annual foreign aid budget of £9 Billion away from Third World despots and warlords who laugh at us as we hand over the (borrowed) money, and provide free scholarships for 1 million bright English youngsters from poor backgrounds, who would be your future doctors, dentists, and engineers – eliminating most of England's skills shortages, and thus the need to import skilled workers, to do the jobs we could and should be doing. Amazing to think what good this amount of money could do if we invested in our own people instead of wasting it on ungrateful foreign villains, isn't it?
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Some Really Angry Clerics, Yesterday
Just wondering how many of the protesters in far off lands, protesting about the Film That We Dare Not Name, have actually watched it? Would this anger not be better directed at the factory owners who lock their wives and children into death trap sweatshops? Says it all, really.
Local Currency Launched in Bristol
ERA wish the best of luck to Bristol, who have launched their own currency, the Bristol Pound, this week. Any measure which encourages revenue to stay in the area rather than leak outwards, is to be applauded in our view. It has been criticised, but how can it possibly be worse than the British Pound, based as it is on an unsustainable economic model of high unemployment, high taxation for those still working, massive public borrowing, and fractional reserve banking? Bristol is virtually the capital of the West Country, and our hope is that the £B will take root all over it.
It's been a busy and interesting week for news, from an English Radical perspective.
EMPTY SUIT, EMPTY APOLOGY
We had David Cameron's phoney apology for the Hillsborough disaster – something that happened before he even entered politics – when there are a hundred things he could apologise for that have happened on his watch, but won't. False apologising for predecessor’s mistakes seems endemic in British political life, sounds pathetic, and solves nothing. Considering his chumminess with Rupert Murdoch, we half expected Cameron to apologise on behalf of the Sun newspaper as well, whose reporting of that tragic event plumbed depths not seen since the British press portrayed German soldiers as baby killers in France and Belgium during WW1!
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, IN CASE YOU GET IT
Talking of things Cameron could apologise for - ERA questioned the wisdom of the British government siding with the anti-Gaddhafi rebels eighteen months ago (Fools Rush In, More Questions Than Answers – March 2011) which was bound to destabilise Libya – and now the American ambassador and three of his staff lie dead in a morgue, murdered in their embassy by fundamentalist hotheads seeking revenge for a film made about the prophet Mohammed. With similar attacks on American embassies happening in Egypt and the Yemen – and the Muslim Brotherhood calling for a million man protest march in Cairo - they probably won't be the last.
BANKSY NAILED IT
From time to time we remind our readers about the short sighted, “shareholder profit at all costs” practice of outsourcing English jobs to Asian sweatshops, who undercut our workers thanks to their near-slave wages and terrible working conditions – Banksy’s picture of a small child making Union flags in a sweatshop (above) captured it superbly. On Wednesday came the awful news of two separate garment factory fires in Pakistan, with an estimated 300 dead, who were virtually imprisoned in their workplaces and unable to escape. We also wonder how many of these workers were the same age as the boy in Banksy's picture?
JOHN LEWIS THRIVING, EVEN IN THE RECESSION
On a more cheerful note, we'd like to once again congratulate employee-owned John Lewis and its sister company Waitrose, for recording an incredible 60% jump in profits over the first half of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011 – much of which will find its way back to the employees, in the form of cash bonuses. If anyone knows of a better system than this Mutualist model of enterprise - where stakeholder employee’s hard work and efficiency sees them benefit financially, rather than fickle shareholders raking in fat dividends and a rising share price off their labours - we'd like to hear about it.
ERA will be holding its annual AGM shortly, the date pencilled in is Saturday 8th September. For those members who may be interested in attending, please contact: email@example.com , so we can gauge numbers and discuss venue. Thank you.
This country is currently experiencing the worst economic depression since the Second World War and it is at times of austerity that we tend to notice more the actions of those who have been gifted economic power over our lives. The actions of Barclays in fixing bank rates, HSBC in laundering drug money, G4S in fouling up the Olympics showpiece because they were too tight to employ people for any decent length of time (and barely long enough for anyone to sign-off the dole, as it happens), the big supermarkets trying to screw the dairy farmers out of business, all demonstrate that corporate greed is the enemy of a stable and growing economy. Big business draws its profits by paying low wages and charging higher prices and the money is sucked not just out of the economy but, in most cases, out of the country.
The banks, in particular, have been given a blank cheque (pardon the pun) by successive governments to screw the customer and the local community by closing down branches and transferring jobs abroad, as well as denying funds to local businesses, and then, when they threw away all of their money on bad gambling debts they were bailed out by the very taxpayer who now finds his job and services under threat as a result. Just how does George Osborne expect this economy to grow, when he and his government allow greedy capitalists to suck billions out of the economy to fund their lavish lifestyles? Mr Buckles, the G4S boss, used the money he got from the Olympics deal to buy a second, I repeat, a second £2 million pound home. Virtually all of his security guards are being paid minimum wage - which means that they will need second jobs in order to pay their rent/mortgage and buy food. Where is the justice in this and, more to the point, how much damage does this do to the economy when millions are unable to spend and few are able to afford luxuries?
If the G4S workers were earning a living wage then they would be spending money in their local economy and thus helping sustain, or even create, jobs. Better still, if the Olympics security contract had been awarded to several smaller companies, locally based, then there would have been less trouble and more people given employment opportunities. The problem is that there is nobody challenging the myth that capitalism, and therefore ‘big business’ is the only way forward. How often in the past thirty or so years have we been told that capitalism is good for us? Indeed, so good that the major political parties in nearly every western nation merged so that voters could see no difference between so-called left wing and right wing candidates.
This meant that a blind eye was turned as our manufacturing industry was wiped out and all our economic eggs were put in the financial services basket. Once our manufacturing companies had gone there was nothing to stop the corporations moving jobs abroad to find cheaper wage-earners, leaving this country with a hard core of long term unemployed, particularly among those aged 18-24. Strangely, even left wing parties sold their soul to the corporate devil. In this country the Labour government that held power between 1997 and 2010 urged working class people not to demand wage rises ‘as this would cause inflation’, consequently after Labour’s demise and ConDem cuts the gap between rich and poor has grown massively, and those in work at the lowest levels of the pay scale are now seeking help with food and needing to borrow from their elderly relatives just to survive. And hey, we got inflation anyway. Thanks to the Labour mantra of ‘no pay demands’ people have built up high levels of debt and virtually no savings, worse still people were unable to put any money aside for their pensions. Unmistakeably, capitalism has been bad for this country.
Presiding over all of this mess central government emulates its corporate buddies by playing its part in sucking money out of the economy. It forces local government to make billions in cuts to local services, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, whilst wasting £31 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money on faulty NHS computer systems and other nowhere projects. Just to put that in perspective that is over a third of the money that this government is trying to recover with its cuts programme. It also sits back whilst its friends in big business evade billions in taxes; combine the two and the cuts are unnecessary. But whilst central government dictates the tax collection business they are free to waste our money and pick and choose who to chase up for taxes. That’s why we’ve had a government minister who worked as an advisor on how business can avoid paying tax, telling ordinary people not to pay their plumber in cash in case he’s avoiding tax. You really couldn’t make it up.
Whether it’s the banks, retail business, or the utility companies the story is the same, they suck money out of the local economy, destroy jobs and services, and are totally unaccountable to anyone. What we need is for a massive decentralisation of the economy so that each of these businesses are locally-run and therefore a positive part of local economic growth. The same goes for government and taxation, we need to reduce the power of the centre and give more power to the local. Only ERA offer the right alternative to corporate greed by calling for protection for English jobs and workers, the redistribution of wealth and property amongst the wider population and the decentralisation of wealth and power so that ordinary people can take control of their future.