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January 03, 2014


Ralph Musgrave

Not sure about Scargill having “truth on his side”. First, the losses at some pits were so extreme that the relevant miners were in effect producing nothing, or output was even negative. I.e. the country was better off letting them live a life of leisure at home. Work, after all is not the purpose of life (as Keynes and many others have pointed out).

Second, that regional employment policies failed to make good jobs lost in the pits is arguably the fault of regional policy: i.e. it doesn’t prove that there’s anything wrong with closing down clapped out firms or industries.

Neil Wilson

"When Jonathan Portes tried to introduce some facts into the immigration debate"

Jonathan Portes is well known for putting the 'facts' through his own ideological filter - aka curve fitting. It is very much his version of the truth.

And that is the point I suppose. Truth is what you can get others to believe, and if you get enough of them then you get power.


Chris, you're highly-skilled and don't have to compete with unskilled immigrants for low-level jobs, so it's no wonder you believe in the enrichment of diversity.

Your economic arguments in relation to immigration are sound. But you write as if the social unrest it causes and the cultural problems resulting from it don't matter at all - I suspect that's because the consequences are not on your doorstep.

Is economic growth really everything? Even if it means sacrificing our culture, our customs, our way of life? This is a question more complex than it appears.


Although if the suggestion is that "our culture, our customs, our way of life" are being sacrificed on the altar of immigration, I am very far from sure I see how that works.



The real issue is with Muslim immigration, or more specifically the religious, cultural and social values and behaviour that Muslim immigrants bring with them. A family from a tribal area of rural Pakistan are not going to arrive in Britain and suddenly turn into Guardian readers are they?

Now of course the vast majority of Muslims are perfectly sane and just want to get on with their lives, nobody of any intelligence can dispute that. And of course there are degrees of religious belief. But it is clear that how well Muslims integrate into Western society is inversely proportional to their religiosity.

Islam itself is the problem. '"Our culture, our customs, our way of life" are being sacrificed on the altar of immigration' insofar as a totalitarian belief-system fundamentally incompatible with Western Enlightenment values is flourishing here unchecked. And religiosity doesn't seem to lessening over time as second, third and fourth generations are born. We're just storing up problems for the future


Uh huh. I rather feared that was the idea.

Ralph Musgrave


You have to be as obtuse as a Guardian journalist if you can’t see how immigration changes, or even destroys an indigenous culture. Do you think European migration to Australia had no effect on Aborignee culture? European migration to North America had no effect on North American Indian culture? The Muslim invasion of the Indian sub-continent several centuries ago had no effect that continent’s culture? And the current swamping of Tibet by Chinese lowlanders has no effect on native Tibetan culture? Try telling that to Tibetans.

Churm Rincewind

Bob has it right, and conveniently saves me from yet another, possibly intemperate, post on the matter.

gastro george

Personally I've never got over being sacrificed at the altar of the Normans. Or was it the Saxons?


@Neil Wilson

"Jonathan Portes is well known for putting the 'facts' through his own ideological filter - aka curve fitting. It is very much his version of the truth."

May be right, may be wrong. What is startling is the complete failure to link to any evidence at all.

As an equivalent, how about " Neil Wilson is well known for eating raw gerbils, particularly when there is an "r" in the month."

I'm sure they taste good.

Brod Ross

Thar is no such thing as truth. Only opinion. Also that which happens is only perspective... And one must not let the truth get in the way of a good story.


It is perhaps worth observing that the Ralph Musgrave posting above appears to have stood for the British National Party in the last General Election. It is not, perhaps, worth observing more than that.


Strange that no one has mentioned the main motivating factor in the Thatcher policy; that of taking revenge on the miners in particular and applying a major to blow to the unions in general the better to pursue her reactionary employment policies. 3.5 million unemployed helped too.



Even a broken clock is right twice a day, what matters is the point being made. Please don't demean yourself by resorting to ad hominem attacks. Thank you.

Deviation From The Mean

I actually work with quite a few people of Pakistani descent and I can only assume that W (is the W for wanker I ask myself) has never actually worked or spent time with such people.

On the subject of letting people idle at home rather than go to work, which the fascist Ralph Musgrave raised, I like this way of thinking because it brings a subjective view to productive and unproductive work. So for Ralph we would be better off having miners doing nothing sat at home. Well, I can think of a few modern jobs where the same could apply. I will give one example, all those highly paid and very hard working people at places like KPMG and other accountancy firms who spend their hours thinking up ways for the already filthy rich to evade tax. It would be better for us all if these people were sat at home doing nothing other than watching the Jeremy Kyle show, literally we would be better off!

Bring on the debate about productive and unproductive work. I suspect we may come to the conclusion, that from a subjective point of view, most productive work that benefited us was being done by those pesky foreigners who are threatening Bob's culture.

I suspect if we ever met Bob we would be thankful if his culture and way of life went the way of the Dinosaurs!

On the subject of threatening the culture, support my campaign against those cultural imperialists par excellence, the good ol USA, from playing their version of football on these shores, and at the home of our football!


Deviation From The Mean,

Please see my comment immediately preceding yours.



I think that the publication of the Chilcot report will be an interesting case study of the meeting of politics and facts.

By the way: if the Thatcher government wanted to close 75 pits because their output was negative, why didn't they say that?


Worth noting that the recent set of posts on VoxEU cast a lot of doubt on the traditional (rightist) view of taxation incidence…

But hey, who said truth matters?

Anyway, we went on the "dash for gas", there was no Norwegian style investment fund.

And here we are.

Power is indeed the key. What's distressing is how bad the left have been (over the last 30 years) at narrative power.
(It's a surprise to no-one that they don't have economic or political power… the Establishment exists to protect those who already have power…)

Andrew King

‘To think that the truth should matter in politics is to commit a category error; politics is about power, not truth - and truth matters only to the questionable extent that it is a basis for a claim to power. Intellectuals' belief in the primacy of truth is an example of deformation professionelle - the tendency to believe that the values of one's own profession should apply more widely than they do.’

Call me naïve, but I doubt whether it’s only airy-fairy intellectuals who believe in the primacy of truth. I would have thought that mid-‘80s miners would have been intensely interested in the discrepancy between the official truth-claim (“business as usual, don’t believe the scaremongers and trouble-makers”) and the government’s actual agenda, had they only known.

In that sense, saying that ‘politics is about power, not truth’ is an over-simplification, since the ability to suppress, manipulate, or discredit the truth is a large constituent part of power. If truth doesn’t matter, why do those in authority often go to such lengths to intimidate, silence or discredit whistleblowers?

Truth, once out, does matter, at least sometimes. Take public health and smoking. Despite concerted action by the tobacco industry to suppress, manipulate or discredit information about the health risks associated with their product, the truth was, as they say, out there. And what good did the truth do? As recently as 1979, some 45% of the British population smoked, but this was down to 30% by the early 1990s and 21% by 2010.

This truth mattered, not just to the epidemiologists and other medical professionals who worked it out, but to the millions of ordinary people who chose to quit or not start using a product that killed half its users and left many of the survivors with a seriously reduced quality of life.

Of course, the information about health and smoking had been around for a long time and, thanks partly to well-funded disinformation campaign from the industry, it took a long time to gain traction, but if truth didn’t eventually inform public policy in the form of legislation and smoking awareness campaigns, not to mention individual decision-making, in the form of choosing to quit or not start in the first place, we’d still have millions more coughing themselves to an early grave.

Over shorter time periods, the truth gets devalued thanks to the Machiavellian realisation that you can often suppress the truth for long enough (e.g. over an electoral cycle) to stop it getting in the way of what you want to do. The truth about the Thatcher governments’ plans for the coal industry didn’t matter because it could be suppressed and denied until long after the information would have helped the miners or informed the debate. I’d say it’s a bit of a stretch from the truth not mattering in this narrow sense to asserting that it’s a category error to assume it matters in politics.

Socialism in One Bedroom

Andrew King - I guess this shows why freedom of information and democratic control over information are key and why the NSA mass spying is of such importance, despite the attempt to downplay or justify it for security reasons.

Of course, in a class ridden system this will not happen. The truth is a casuality of such a system. Yet another reason to work toward a classless society!

Igor Belanov

I loathe the Asian Muslim population of this country, forcing alien games like cricket on the local people, and making millions consume curry every week, entirely against their will.


Some UK Neo-Marxist said somewhere , I forget which book, "Thatcher-ism was a bourgeois counter-revolution" Looking at the history, sociology, politics and economics of her period in office this remains in a sentence the best summary of 1979- 1992. Moreover it remains part of her 'hegemonic' triumph that even after her exit the Tories won another 5 years after the press annihilation of Kinnock & Labour.

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