It’s the Economy, Stupid!

The US Elections

farageetrumpFor obvious reasons, US elections matter to all the nations of the free world since the US President is the leader of the free world.  The US election is now but three weeks away and a matter of real concern has been whether Nigel Farage’s friend, Donald Trump, might succeed in his campaign for the presidency.  Trump is quite plainly unfit to hold office.

Fortunately, the two best sites for the interpretation of polling results think that that the loutish Trump is unlikely to succeed in his bid.  Fingers crossed everybody.

270 electoral votes in the electoral college secure the presidency.  The Five Thirty Eight Web Site gives Hilary Clinton an 81.5% chance of winning with 320 electoral votes and the  Real Clear Politics has its “No Tossup’s Map ” at 340 electoral votes for Clinton and just 198 for Trump.   Sighs of relief in the Chanceries of Europe.

However, responsible opinion is expressing  its concern for the impact of defeat on the Republican Party – see this in the Chicago Tribune: “The Republican Party after Donald Trump“.

Nativism in the USA and in the UK

While perusing the RCP site,  a link to an article appeared published by “The Daily Beast”.  Clive Irving has often written for the Daily Beast – see the list here .  Many of them are what one can describe as “a good read” – particularly this:  “The Pie that Won World War II” which brought back childhood memories.

But  the article the RCP site linked to was this:  “Rude Britannia – The Rise of Hateful Little England – After the Brexit, hate crimes have exploded and Britain’s new government fuels an economic disaster by purging universities and businesses of foreigners.

This city feels like the capital of a country that has been hijacked by a tribe for whom London represents everything that they hate: they hate its prosperity, its cosmopolitanism, its social diversity, its cultural exoticism, its bawdiness and most of all its un-Englishness.  The hijackers are the Little Englanders, a noisome and virulent strain of nativism that has taken power in Westminster. For several generations they had been successfully marginalized. Now they are mainstream, put there by the vote to leave the European Union, Brexit. They dominate the ruling Conservative party and came to power, narrowly, as unexpected winners, gloating.  But the nation has suddenly woken up to a calamity. The Brexiteers had no plan for how to proceed. The new government is clueless.

fall-in-pound
The Collapse of Sterling

Indeed, Brexit is proving to be the greatest single destruction of economic value ever carried out deliberately as an act of policy by a British government. In the last two weeks the pound sterling has hit a 60-year low against the dollar (a dive greater than that of the Argentine peso) and economists are warning that by the end of 2017 it could sink to a one-to-one parity with the dollar.”

There is an obvious relevance to the US election:  The “Little Englanders” (ie UKIP and Brexit  Conservatives)  have much in common with the odious Donald Trump’s core supporters who are essentially part of the same tribe  – see this in Fortune :- “How Donald Trump’s Nativism Ruined the GOP“.    Not for nothing did Nigel Farage speak at a Trump rally – remember this Guardian article:  “Nigel Farage: from Brexit hero to Trump’s little helper. That’s some career path“.

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UKIP Poster

Nativism and the way it is used by politicians on the right is nothing new and it has been the subject of academic study.

See:  “The Relationship Between Immigration and Nativism in Europe and North America“.  UKIP made very good use of nativism to break into UK politics at all and its reliance on nativism during the referendum campaign is beyond question.

BreakFar
UKIP Referendum Poster

UKIP was not the first UK party to misuse the fear of immigration as part of an election campaign. But the Conservatives are far from “holier than thou” in this regard.   Many readers will be old enough to remember the Smethwick by-election and “If you want a nigger neighbour, vote Labour“.  So we have to be honest and recognise that in the referendum,  UKIP was only preaching a new variant on a theme previously used by Conservatives.

Now Nativism lies behind the moves to achieve “Hard” Brexit rather than the the kind of Brexit arrangement which would protect the UK economy.

The Telegraph has this:  “Britain may end up with the most ‘extreme’ version of Brexit because there may not be enough time to negotiate with Brussels, say ministers“.   There is every reason to suspect that this is an accurate assessment of the position.

But that is no bad thing.  If anything, it is the very best of reasons for the government to concede the point that Article 50 should only be triggered with the advice and consent of the House of Commons.    There has been no previous attempt by any country to leave the EU by way of Article 50.

As the moment,  the institutions of the EU (and to a lesser extent the governments of the EU nation states) are refusing to negotiate. But the UK remains a Member State meanwhile with all the powers of a member state in the Council of Ministers.   So there is every good reason for the UK not to trigger Article 50 until it has clear commitments from the other Member States as to the future. It is worth remembering that the UK is one of the larger UK Member States and this has importance in relation to qualified majority voting.

Take a pinch of Salt

The Telegraph has this: “MPs plotting to delay Brexit with Commons votes are ‘subverting will of the people’, warns Priti Patel“.  She said much of the same on the Andrew Marr Show.  The Guardian has this: “Brexit debate in parliament would give game away to Brussels, says minister“.

priti-patel
Secretary of State Priti Patel MP

The Minister in question is, of course, Priti Patel, a hard Brexiteer.   “Patel” is the 3rd most common name in London, ranking after “Brown” and “Smith”,  but before “Jones”, “Williams” and “Johnson”.   Patels are to be found all around throughout the world and they are notoriously able in financial affairs.  The Minister is the daughter of a Ugandan Asian shopkeeper who, very understandably,  fled to the UK from Uganda in the time of Idi Amin.   Her father was at one time a member of UKIP and she herself was a Referendum Party member and a lobbyist for the tobacco and alcohol giants British and American Tobacco and Diageo.

Patel left the Referendum Party and joined the Conservatives under William Hague and was promoted to office under David Cameron.  That appointment was itself controversial:  see this in the Independent in July 2014:- “Priti Patel MP: Who is the new Treasury minister who supports death penalty and rejects plain packaging for cigarettes?“.

Patel was a Vote Leave campaigner. Her stance was clear from this article in the Telegraph: “Priti Patel interview: It’s not ‘racist’ to worry about immigration“.   Writing in the International Business Times, Jasmin Alibhai-Brown portrayed her thus:  “EU referendum: Priti Patel typifies immigrants who become Little Englanders as they prosper“.  More simply:  Fewer EU migrants = good for the Patel community members who wish to come to the UK.

Of course it is sad to see the May government at work appeasing Brexiteers.  When she became Prime Minister, the Spectator had this: “Joseph Chamberlain, Theresa May’s new lodestar – Joseph Chamberlain brought working-class radicalism to the Conservatives“.  To follow the approach of Joseph Chamberlain in domestic policy is no bad idea.  But appeasement was not his policy but that of his son.

It’s the Economy Stupid!

The Financial Times has this: “Germany warns hard Brexit will damage UK car industry- German industry chief Matthias Wissmann says single market exit would see output shift east“.  The Japanese firms who manufacture cars in the UK have said the same.  See also this FT article about the way EU vehicle manufacturing is organised: “UK car industry fears effects of Brexit tariffs on supply chain – Suppliers say uncertainty over trade agreements may force them to relocate overseas“.

See also this FT article on the overall situation: “Sterling’s slump signals a warning, not a boon – Investors are marking down the economic future of Brexit Britain“.

After 40 years in the EU, our economy is so closely linked with the rest of the European Union that it is well nigh impossible to untangle.  Pipe dreams of a new era in international trade outside the EU are just that:  dreams.  It was James Carville, then a lead strategist in the successful 1992 election campaign of Bill Clinton against George H.W. Bush,  who posted a sign in the war room to remind everyone of the importance of the economy in any election campaign.  As the Brexit negotiations proceed – that warning is something we should all remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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