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July 22, 2021

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Blissex

«There’s a trade-off between truth and electability»

And here it is perfectly illustrated:

https://arikdondi.com/2019/08/01/what-does-studying-classics-at-oxford-teach-you-about-running-a-country/

“In 1986, [Johnson] ran for the presidency of the [Oxford] Union. [...] the Union was ufficiently left-wing for it to be inconceivable for a Tory to be elected as president. Boris concealed his Conservative affiliation and let it be widely understood that he was a Social Democrat. [...] Boris got himself elected as president of the Oxford Union in Trinity Term.”

Blissex

As to Keir Starmer's recent doings that' just a vintage (35 years old...) Mandelson Tendency stuff:

Tony Benn, diary, 24 March 1986: “The Party's Campaign Strategy committee, where four men and a woman from something called the Shadow Agency made a presentation.
They flashed onto a screen quotes which were supposed to be typical of Labour voters, for example: “IT'S NICE TO HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE BUT IT'S YOUR FAMILY THAT COUNTS.”
What we were being told, quite frankly, was what you can read every day in the Sun, the Mail, the Daily Express, and the Telegraph. It was an absolute waste of money.
Labour was associated with the poor, the unemployed, the old, the sick, the disabled, pacifists, immigrants, minorities and the unions, and this was deeply worrying.
The Tories were seen to have the interests of everyone at heart including the rich. Labour was seen as yesterday's party. I came out feeling physically sick.”

https://books.google.de/books?id=MMCMDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA93
“Value free campaigning? The repackaging of Labour
The SCA and their ‘client’ representative Peter Mandelson provided the impetus behind the re-launch of Labour in 1986. In contrast to previous initiatives, the campaigns that followed were highly disciplined exercises. As Mandelson admitted: ‘Communications means throwing your net much wider than publicity. It means deciding what we say, how we say it, and which spokesmen and women we choose to say it’. [...] Input from the party faithful was limited to purchasing mugs and other merchandise from the revamped Sales and Marketing department. [...] It also identified significant voter antipathy towards so-called ‘scroungers’ and, by implication, Labour policies devoted to helping these `undeserving poor´. The promotion of such language was a marked feature of New Right Strategy had been popularised through the Tory press during the late 1970s. Lamentably it now began to inform opposition thinking.
In his first major qualitative-based study for the party, Philip Gould argued the party’s ‘minority agenda’ was a major electoral handicap. [...] This strategy was outlined to CSC members at a SCA presentation on the topic of ‘Society and Self’.”

NOTE: "Shadow Agency" and "SCA" are the same entity, Shadow Communication Agency.

Blissex

«Truth: migrants have very little effect upon the wages of native workers.»

Warning: this as written is not worded cleverly enough and there is a vast empirical literature that proves the contrary, as a particular case of a growth in the workforce.

Our blogger slipped here and is usually careful to use the wording that *in some circumstances* the *average* wage is not *reduced* by immigration, which has a rather different meaning from the far more general "Truth" that "migrants have very little effect upon the wages of native workers".

Guano

«Truth: migrants have very little effect upon the wages of native workers.»


To this should be added - "ending European FoM would almost certainly mean leaving the Single Market and thus erecting trade barriers with our nearest neighbours and this would have a negative economic effect".


Labour drove itself into a trap before 2015 because it nodded along to increasing anti-immigration and anti-FoM propaganda from the press and UKIP, and did nothing to push back against it. Many Labour MPs wanted Labour's line to be at the referendum that the UK should stay in the EU but opt out of FoM. They were furious that Jeremy Corbyn was in favour of FoM. But it was unrealistic to campaign for staying in the EU (and Single Market) while being against FoM - FoM is a central pillar of the SM (chief architect Margaret Thatcher).


Brexit happened because a range of myths were pushed by Euro-skeptics and got little push-back from those nominally supportive of the EU. The rules of the EU were not imposed on the UK - often the UK had devised them, for example.


In a world of liars like Johnson, telling the truth is imperative before it all gets out of hand.


Guano

Blissex

«Brexit happened because a range of myths were pushed by Euro-skeptics and got little push-back from those nominally supportive of the EU.»

That is quite incorrect because people like Jeremy Corbyn campaigned vigorously in favour of the EU, giving it a high rating of advantages.

It was the thatcherite campaign by David Cameron and Alan Johnson that depicted the EU as a necessary evil, with message that staying in the socialist EUSSR was not good, but getting out would be a catastrophe.

«In a world of liars like Johnson,»

But look at it from the point of view of the brexiters: he promised to "get brexit done" and it got delivered despite years of dithering and posturing, and there was no post-exit catastrophe, so from their point of view the liars turned out to be Cameron, Johnson, Blair, etc.

Also the electoral popularity of Johnson and the Conservatives is not related to their telling the truth on "details", most voters think that all politicians (except Corbyn) are carnies, but on "vote-moving" issues, and that means property and shares for tory voters, and those are booming.

Jim

For the last 50 years or so it made little or no difference whether Labour or Tory ran the show. The system had its own momentum. Even now cans are kicked down the road and establishment boondoggles are kept going. I doubt most people care who runs the country, so long as they don't make too big a ballsup of it.

But, the days of easy reassurances and economic growth look to be behind us for a while. I am pretty sure electric cars and hydrogen and Green are not really going to work out. That Brexit cannot bring any Sunny Uplands and the Chinese will eat our lunch. Not a cheerful message - so don't tell it - keep up the illusion - the illusion has kept us going until now. A bit more lying won't matter - there are no useable truths that will help anyone - so lie lie lie. The truth is too horrible to contemplate.

This depressing prospect applies equally to Tory and to Labour. Indeed an advantage for Labour is to let Boris stew in his own juice. All the ordure can be tipped on him. The good news is that a select few can trade on property, the City, finance and services. There might even be a bit of manufacturing - but strictly rationed because everyone else is in the same boat. Sooner or later Labour will get in, if only faux de mieux and it will make almost no difference at all.

Blissex

«For the last 50 years or so it made little or no difference whether Labour or Tory ran the show. The system had its own momentum.»

Indeed there is little difference between Conservatives and (New) New Labour, both ideologically and in practice, as even "The Guardian" editorial opinion has acknowledged.

Indeed for a plurality of families, those who have pretty much secure jobs and own their properties, "politics" does not matter much, they are and will be "alright Jack".

But whether the government is run by thatcherites (Conservatives, New New Labour, ...) or non-thatcherites (Labour wing of New Labour) makes a big difference to the majority as to how miserable they are with their insecure jobs, high rents, bleak pension prospects, crapification of the NHS, etc. etc. etc.

«That Brexit cannot bring any Sunny Uplands»

But it did not bring any catastrophe either. So for brexiters the "Remainers" lied as much or more as the "Remainers" think the brexiters lied.

«and the Chinese will eat our lunch»

That is old news, as demonstrated by electricity consumption statistics that started to happen in 2003-2004, soon after WTO membership in 2001.

https://blissex.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/dataelectrukfallbyregion2005to2015.png
https://blissex.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/dataelectreuothersconsperhead1960to2015.png
https://blissex.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/dataenergyeuuschjpperhead1960to2015.png

MJW

Firstly, Starmer's point that there are some people who don't want to work isn't flase; there are some people who fall into this category. People with very low skills who don't want to do the low skilled jobs that are open to them. The salience of this is likely to be higher if you live in certain areas, where more people fall into this category.

Secondly, the theoretical arguments that immigrants don't hold down wages is at this moment struggling to survive contact with reality as low wage/low productivity model employers find they cannot fill lower paid roles due to immigrants returning home.

Blissex

«Starmer's point that there are some people who don't want to work isn't flase; there are some people who fall into this category.y

As long as there is a single example. in formal logic his statement is true.

But this politics not formal logic, and in politics many voters think that benefit scroungers are 30% of the total, while the Conservative government reports it is 0.6%.
That is the political fact that he should have addressed instead of pandering to baseless prejudice like Lord Hutton did a number of year ago:

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/crackdown-on-benefits-scroungers-1-2412296
«He said that benefit claimants needed to compete for jobs with migrant workers, many from Eastern Europe. He went on: “We cannot reasonably ask hard-working families to pay for the unwillingness of some to take responsibility to engage in the labour market.”»

I personally as a taxpayer support the idea of claimants who just prefer decent but low benefits to working, because they want a break or any other reason, as long as they don't actually work too on the side, because it both reduces direct or indirect competition for jobs for me, and is an option that I would like to exercise myself in some circumstances, and the cost has proven to be quite low.

Guano

Blissex's comment at 8.43 pm on 22nd July suggests that I explained my point poorly.

What emerges from Rafael Behr's account of the Remain campaign in the 2016 referundum
(https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/05/how-remain-failed-inside-story-doomed-campaign)

is that Remain was still trying to decide its line on Freedom of Movement after the campaigning had started. There was an official "Stronger In" policy that was stressed the benefits of FoM but this was weakly promoted because it contradicted the line of the two main political parties. In practice the only person who promoted the offical Remain line was Jeremy Corbyn. There is a surreal moment where Ed Balls and Tom Watson go on TV on 14th June to suggest ending FoM, in effect sabotaging the Remain campaign.

The problem came about because the two main political parties over the previous 5 - 10 years had prioritised electability over honesty. As the tabloid press promoted a panic about FoM, they had prioritised talking points about "legitimate concerns" rather than being honest that ending FoM would require erecting trade barriers with the rest of Europe and that FoM did not have the effects on people's income that the tabloid press claimed. They looked at the results from focus groups, where people were repeating tabloid myths about FoM, and then made statements that suggested that they were listening to those concerns rather than trying to dispel them; this just embedded more deeply the myths. Eventually it caught up with them.

Prioritising "electability" is a form of populism - telling people what they want to hear. Politicians denounce populism but they all practice it and often get praised for their political acumen. The continued reliance of the Labour Party on focus groups, and on making statements that resonate with these low-information voters, is deeply worrying.

Guano

D

I fear your taxpayers' money truth is nothing more than a technicality. Regardless of who's property the money is, it's paid by/taken from people who pay tax and spent by the government.

Making the argument that it's the government's property is pure counter advocacy.

Similarly, to anyone not super left, saying that unemployed benefit claimants are taxpayers too because the pay vat, is just silly and will get you nowhere - sure, technically they're paying tax but they're paying it with money that ultimately comes from someone else that earned it...

Things like these give people a reason to dismiss other very important arguments, especially those about the country's credit card, government finances as house hold finances etc.

Paulc156

@D "I fear your taxpayers' money truth is nothing more than a technicality. Regardless of who's property the money is, it's paid by/taken from people who pay tax and spent by the government."

But 'paid' or 'taken' makes a huge difference. The latter sounds like expropriation the former an acceptance that services demanded have to be paid for. I would argue that the former is closer to the truth

rsm

Isn't the real dishonesty the idea that prices are real signals rather than arbitrarily determined by emotional traders in options markets?

Doesn't the gas price you pay at the pump have far more to do with buying and selling of futures contracts based on noise, than physical production capacity?

Don't central banks step in with whatever it takes to stabilize asset prices in panics, because the real economy is a consequence of finance?

Isn't a generous, fully inflation-proofed basic income, funded from the same accounting trick that funds quantitative easing, the elegant solution to all your problems?

Jim

My apologies for expressing old ideas.

What I was trying to get at was the question - are there limits to growth? - for our highly mature democracy. Can any government of whatever persuasion deliver growth beyond some EU average? Will, instead, sensible organisations go to less mature, less ossified regions.

As to honesty. Surely the reality is that we have to build houses in places people want to live - not some abandoned (cheap) land in the boondocks. Golf courses in nice areas would be ideal building plots. That smart motorways are merely a way to avoid paying for land. That we don't have any credible way to deliver electric cars or hydrogen gas supplies. In short an honest government would have to declare 'we are in a tight corner and we have no idea what to do'.

This problem points up a problem with democracy - competition. In a competitive market with no effective regulation the suppliers will lie. They must lie or they will go out of business - if their market has a very slow and information-free feedback to the punters. One way out might be a supra government Market Authority - think public humiliation and dismissal from politics. Or perhaps an honest and sceptical press.

We might manage to fix these defects - but will be left with being a highly mature democracy. Possibly over priced for any but the most abstruse marketplaces.

rsm

Hasn't every government lied about being in a tight hole ever since I can remember? Isn't McConnell saying this right now as he declares the debt ceiling cannot be increased?

What is the opportunity cost of lying about debt limits in the 1980s even while running up unprecedented deficits?

And if any of you want to ask someone why they don't want to participate in the workforce, why not just ask me instead of telling just-so stories?

Blissex

«Surely the reality is that we have to build houses in places people want to live - not some abandoned (cheap) land in the boondocks.»

That is a ridiculous conceit for most people, that applies only to the independently wealthy "investor" masters class, and they do already buy wherever they want to live; Cotswolds, Bahamas, Chelsea, Cornwall, Provence, Kent. ...).

People in the servant classes have to live where the jobs and services are, and where the jobs and services are used to be largely determined by geography and accident of history, but has been largely determined by government policy and technology for a while.

Since Thatcher the english governments have largely pumped up investment and credit availability in the southeast and London to attract large streams of new tenants and buyers looking for jobs and thus housing in those areas. The result is servants living 2 to 8 per room in many places, victorian style.

ltr

Since Thatcher the english governments have largely pumped up investment and credit availability in the southeast and London to attract large streams of new tenants and buyers looking for jobs and thus housing in those areas. The result is servants living 2 to 8 per room in many places, victorian style.

[ Please document this when possible. ]

Jim

Down here in Kent we are still a 'drive through dormitory' county. A truck stop to Calais. Houses are built - somewhere near railway lines. The reason, only by taking a London job can a mortgage be paid and houses sold. Kent has very little industry or office work that pays more than a pittance.

Houses are now built in large blocks otherwise local infrastructure costs and a profit cannot be paid. The usual game is to get permission for 800 and then discover some (well known) problem that requires an extra 400 houses to make the project viable.

Our MPs declare they are against more housing - but also declare they have no influence over planning decisions. Whilst government puts quotas on local government to build houses. Speaking out of both sides of their mouths. But housing is necessary, I just wish there were less hypocrisy about it.

Meanwhile little patches of land left over from 18th century farming methods separate oldish houses. These little patches are uneconomic for modern farming and not allowed for housing. A good number get bought by the traveller community and grow a crop of ponies, chalets and caravans. Some are quite attractive, others not so. This in turn feeds the protest and enquiry/planning inspector industry. Oh what a tangled web we weave in very safe Tory seats.

D

@paulc156

I used both as some people think it's paid and some think it's taken. I don't think which you choose affects my point.

An aside: I mostly disagree with the people who say it's taken about most things. I think they're kinda right about thi,though, as if you don't pay the government will take it and you have little choice about the services you get in return. I'm still all for tax...

Blissex

«kinda right about thi,though, as if you don't pay the government will take it and you have little choice about the services you get in return»

That is the socialist/collectivist point of view. The libertarian/conservative view is that paying UK taxes is entirely voluntary, indeed over 7 billion people refuse to pay them, and anybody can TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and choose the services and taxes deal that best suits them, just by leaving the UK and paying the residence costs of some other country. Just like nobody forces you to shop at TESCO, you can always leave and shop at Harrods.

ltr

Since Thatcher the english governments have largely pumped up investment and credit availability in the southeast and London to attract large streams of new tenants and buyers looking for jobs and thus housing in those areas. The result is servants living 2 to 8 per room in many places, victorian style.

[ There needs to be documentation here or I will assume the assertion is incorrect. Where is a proper reference? ]

ltr

Keir Starmer has a prime purpose of turning Labour to Tory-lite. Starmer is undoing the heritage of Labour, and the result will be indefinite Tory governance. Media of course reflects just how Tory governance has become.

Blissex

«documentation here or I will assume the assertion is incorrect. Where is a proper reference?»

Argh. Documentation of what? That man in the servant classes live 2 to 8 to a room in London and the Home Counties has been documented widely by the press in articles on overcrowding and ridiculously small flats and houseshares, and living in rented garden sheds does it really bear repeating?

Blissex

To help people with fingers so crippled that they can't type web searches:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/28/london-the-city-that-ate-itself-rowan-moore
“Meanwhile, if you fly in a helicopter over suburban boroughs such as Hounslow or Newham, as council enforcers sometimes do, you will see ramshackle structures in back gardens, some of which will be housing uncounted numbers of migrants. Whereas iceberg houses are permitted by loopholes in the planning system (which some local authorities are now trying to close), these are unauthorised and try to evade detection. A Brazilian architect once asked me why there were no favelas in London. They are coming now – sheds in back gardens, small flats and houses appallingly overcrowded.”

B. Judah's book "This is London" reports that bed places in some doss houses still rent beds in shifts, e.g. day beds to cleaners etc. who work at night, and night beds for those who work during the day.

Other links:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/25/overcrowding-housing-raid-26-living-three-bedroom-east-london#img-1

http://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/dagenham-dawn-raid-crackdown-on-overcrowded-immigrant-housing-1-4148091

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/03/man-found-living-in-coffin-like-cupboard-in-east-london

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/25/london-property-squeeze-affordable-housing

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/excage-fighter-rogue-landlord-crammed-up-to-40-tenants-in-fivebedroom-house-10190980.html

If the property boom continues we will soon (if not already) be back to:

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-42781377

https://www.google.com/search?q=doss+house+victorian+london

https://www.familytree.com/blog/sleeping-over-strung-out-rope/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_penny_coffin
https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Two-Penny-Hangover/

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/MH-12_7489_1847-Poor-mans-Guardian.jpg

ltr

To help people with fingers so crippled that they can't type web searches...

[ Thank you so much. I had no idea of what to search, but such an assertion needs to be documented in the beginning.

I am quite startled on reading, and had no idea there was such a housing market about London.

I am grateful and will think this through carefully and welcome any comments you may have.

Good grief... ]

ltr

To help people with fingers so crippled that they can't type web searches...

[ Again, thank you. I read all you write carefully and try to understand and confirm the assertions which I often find valuable. ]

Blissex

«such an assertion needs to be documented in the beginning»

Not every assertion needs to, those that are common knowledge, like "perpetual motion machines cannot work", or "many people live in victorian style doss houses in the M25 area", don't need to because they are of the "dog bites man" type; it is "man bites dog" claims that need documenting :-).

«I am quite startled on reading»

That indicates a very sheltered life :-). Maybe not a lot of contact with young people from the lower classes or with lower class immigrants.

Yet renter horror porn is also a minor genre on national newspapers, as the links above show. It has even percolated into popular media and not just in the UK: https://imgur.com/delNpkJ

I wish that I had your same fortunate innocence before you saw those links...

BTW I really recommend "This is London" by B. Judah, it is also well written and entertaining.

«and had no idea there was such a housing market about London»

Not just London, there are "Osborneville" tent villages in underpasses, rubbish dumps, condemned areas, etc. in many northern towns too, especially around Amazon and other warehouses.

As another illustration as to victorian conditions that will return in the near future, here is a quote from a novel author:

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/10/a-cultural-experiment.html#comment-214405
«the deprivation of the Victorian poor-houses, or the piles of emaciated corpses in the parks of London every winter during major economic recessions.»

Major cities worldwide, for example New York and Delhi, have groups in their rubbish collection departments for collecting corpses of nobodies from streets and dump them in boxes in mass graves, IIRC around 3,000 a year in New York and New Delhi:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-happens-when-a-homeless-new-yorker-dies-808498/

As to New Delhi they have several business innovations that will probably come soon with an app to London:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/world/asia/delhi-sleep-economy.html
«But shelter, given Delhi’s extremes of heat and cold, is often a matter of survival. The police report collecting more than 3,000 unidentifiable bodies from the streets every year, typically men whose health broke down after years living outdoors. Winter presents especially brutal choices to homeless laborers, who have no place to protect blankets from thieves in the daytime hours. Some try to hide them in the tops of trees.»

Our upper-middle classes yearn very much for a return to the golden days of the 1930s or of the 1850s:

"The Macmillan Diaries, Vol II": «As a kind of tranquiliser I am taking a course of Henry James! What a world – how quiet and peaceful and happy it was for the “upper and upper-middle classes”. Now it’s a nightmare. Happily, it’s a much better world for the masses, as has been brought home to me most forcibly in writing the history of the inter-war years.»

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/nicholas-parsons-1923-2020/
«The son of a doctor and a nurse, Nicholas Parsons was raised in a ‘well-to-do, professional, middle-class family’. His parents weren’t rich, but before the war a GP’s wage went a lot further than it does today. His father could afford a butler, a cook, a maid and a nanny.»

Blissex

«but before the war»

Much of the same topics about homelessness were reported by Gorge Orwell in "Down and out" and "Wigan pier" and other works, here is:

"Beggars in London", in Le Progrès Civique (12 January 1929): «Spending the night out of doors has nothing attractive about it in London, especially for a poor, ragged, undernourished wretch. Moreover sleeping in the open is only allowed in one thoroughfare in London. If the policeman on his beat finds you asleep, it is his duty to wake you up. That is because it has been found that a sleeping man succumbs to the cold more easily than a man who is awake, and England could not let one of her sons die in the street. So you are at liberty to spend the night in the street, providing it is a sleepless night.
But there is one road where the homeless are allowed to sleep. Strangely, it is the Thames Embankment, not far from the Houses of Parliament. We advise all those visitors to England who would like to see the reverse side of our apparent prosperity to go and look at those who habitually sleep on the Embankment, with their filthy tattered clothes, their bodies wasted by disease, a living reprimand to the Parliament in whose shadow they lie.»

Forward to the past!

ltr

Still again, thank you so much. I will in turn, gradually, follow every suggestion. These matters were unknown to me.

rsm

Isn't "perpetual motion machines cannot work" subject to the problem of induction?

If a dog bites a man, doesn't that say more about the man than the dog?

If i want to sleep out in a friend's back yard, why is it anyone else's business?

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