Cameron is following a morally vacuous and financially reckless foreign policy

‘Security’ has been a term often thrown about during political discussion. Let’s not forget the Conservative declaration that Labour party is now a ‘threat to national security, our economic security and your family’s security’. Of course, that is far from the truth as the Prime Minister disregards human rights as a factor in international trade and instead flagrantly sells our nuclear energy industry to Chinese state investment for the colossal sum of £24 billion. The investment in Hinkley Point makes for the most expensive nuclear energy project in the world, simultaneously subsidies to renewable energy were slashed by 87% and nuclear subsidies set to last until 2060. Our foreign policy is characterised by economic incoherence and hypocrisy. For all Cameron’s talk of privatisations benefiting consumers, he is nationalising our industries via foreign state-controlled companies.

Even moral rectitude has been cast aside by the Conservative government. The theatrics of British commitment to liberal democracy have been proved vacuous by governmental collaboration with China and Saudi Arabia; the former having forced a 7 month pregnant woman to have an abortion for defying one-child policy and the latter regularly beheading and stoning ‘adulterers’ to death.

This is undeniably shameful and certainly hypocritical.

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And when will the Left learn that Money Talks?

Economic coherence has long been a weakness and criticism of the left. Why? It’s mainly because we are unwilling to present and sustain our economic arguments for the case against austerity, inequality and neoliberal capitalism. And that there is more than simply criticising the status quo, we can also put forward our own powerful economic arguments in favour of ‘immigration’, investment, tax justice and banker-bashing (not literally of course). The left can fight for progressive, radical and sustainable economics that deliver growth equitably. For too long, we have made the same abstract, intellectual arguments trying to appeal to the hearts of the people, but instead we may find more favour appealing to their pockets.

The narrative that ‘fiscal responsibility’, ‘deficit reduction’ and ‘economic pragmatism’ is the sole territory of the Right, has been proven by 5 years of failed fiscal austerity to be lunacy. It’s under the Tories that Britain has financially stagnated, the evidence is all around us manifested in the housing crisis, the doubling of the national debt to £1.5 trillion under Osborne and an unsustainable regional, environmental and socio-economic policy on inequality. The Rotten Right are far more of a threat to the economy than any Loony Lefties.

The refugee crisis is no longer making headlines but remains just as tragic as ever. Thankfully, a surge of donations, community organisation and support for refugees across Europe has come to the fore but even this welcome has worn thin. The refugee crisis has tested our humanity; when children are washing up on Turkish beaches, we have a profound moral dilemma. Though Europe itself had a crucial role in causing regional instability through aggressive, militaristic involvement and the emergence of fundamentalist groups like I.S, Shiite militias and the various belligerents of the Syrian/Iraqi war zone; the actual practical response beyond sympathetic statements is disunited and disappointing. Britain is still only committed to taking 20,000 over the next 5 years. Various European governments have expressed a xenophobic resistance to very idea of taking victims of oppression, decrying the infiltration of Muslims into ‘Christian Europe’. It’s a disgusting thing that the ‘free world’, home to economic opportunity, democracy and tolerance, is refusing to offer a hand.

However, even through the discord of Europe, it is testament to Merkel’s political sagacity that Germany has committed to accepting up to 1.5 million refugees in the next year. Few northern European nations could escape the political ramifications of such an action and indeed 66% of Germans now oppose more refugees, she has taken a temporary blow of suspending the Schengen zone to impose border controls but has benefited so much more from the influx of young, mass labour to boost German productivity. Cameron should take tips in economic competence and needs to realise the stupidity of hostility to both the economic migrants and refugees who contribute so much to the economy through entrepreneurship, taxation and staffing our great institutions. One must question the logic of desperately encouraging foreign students in British world-class universities, then denying these skilled young people visas to settle.

The false narrative of ‘public bad, private good’ has been suspended by Cameron himself fostering heightened economic relations with China in our nuclear industry. Bearing aside the hypocrisy of the Conservative party working with the Chinese Communist Party (it is undeniable that Corbyn would have been crucified for similar actions) and the obvious national security implications; it is inept for Cameron to invest £24bn in the most expensive plant in the world. And it is grotesque for the tax-payer to pay for it with gigantic subsidies lasting until 2060. Endless subsidies to unaffordable nuclear energy contrast with the 87% cut in subsidies to wind and solar businesses. Ridiculously, the Right is using Chinese investment as a ‘magic money tree’ when it is widely acknowledged that genuine economic growth and energy needs could be satisfied with strategic deficit spending at this most opportune of times with low interest rates.

Any chance of economic sanity emerging from the Conservative party is unlikely at best, having crippled their claim to fiscal responsibility with a ‘fiscal charter’ disparaged by economists across the board. A perpetual budget surplus is not only committing to over-taxation, it is also committing to financial suicide for the state investment in the productive sector, infrastructure projects and any hope of Britain being a vanguard in research and technology. It is this reason that our prime minister has allowed our remaining steel manufacturing base to collapse with Redcar as the prime example. The talk of a Northern Powerhouse is rhetorical fantasy while the government stifles domestic industrial development with a carbon tax; simply encourages the importation of raw materials with the obvious consequence of further pollution. In addition to ridiculous energy and housing prices, government action, or rather, inaction is driving business over the edge. It seems incomprehensible that any government would reject the pragmatism of borrowing to invest strategically to stimulate economic growth in the long-term and it is very important that the left maintains credibility on this matter.

The left must not oppose austerity for austerity’s sake, it must not be anti capitalist/business/markets/civilisation/humanity’. A left platform can be so much more. We must campaign for a co-operative, sharing economy with investment in high-skilled, renewable, technological advancement. This means a rejection of the same-old socialist dogma of tax and spend, continual borrowing and centrally controlled economics. We must dream bigger, and take inspiration for the modern economic thinkers of Paul Mason, Marianna Mazzucato and Paul Krugman; utilising a ‘strategic state’ to invest and deliver high-wage jobs in the industries of tomorrow, through a decentralised socialisation of the economy to trusts, co-operatives and local authorities and through a universal basic income, freeing individuals to be creative, inventive and entrepreneurial.

The future is post-capitalist, that is undeniable. The seeds of collaborative, digital, productive economics are in the left, and definitely not within the arbitrary and financially destructive limits of fiscal austerity. To truly engage with the 21st century, we need a political economic narrative, one that rejects traditional socialist and right-wing arguments and embraces futurism for sustainable and powerful economic growth.

 

Marginalised and Under Attack: The Youth of Today

I was fortunate enough to be invited for a week-long parliamentary placement with Paul Flynn MP. The eccentric and ever witty, labour member shows a remarkable passion for his work, earnestly endeavouring to satisfy constituency concerns. Indeed, whilst shadowing I was quite shocked when it became apparent that hundreds and hundreds of calls, letters and emails poured in regularly for his engagement.

One constituent or rather local institution is the University of South Wales; specifically the student union. The concerns of the Student Union President were pronounced and relatable. Yet another embittering tale of how Tory educational policy has complicated the lives of students without so much as consultation before dropping the hammer. The lack of consultation before the ‘effects of removing maintenance grants?’ was brought up. The USWSU student union president confidently pressed for a question to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills.

The unaccountable whimsical shifts in policy on education and business have been not only absurd, but also stupid. For whose benefit have maintenance grants been removed and shoddily replaced with maintenance loans? I would say we are witnessing yet another ploy to commercialise higher education for commercial gain and immerse students in even more debt of up to an extra £8000. At this rate, with the plans to uncap tuition fees loans from the current £9000 to rise with inflation, I have more or less completely forgiven Nick Clegg for his valuable efforts as a bulwark against Tory malice. If only he had the sense to mention Conservative plans to cut furiously without economic nor social competence, then perhaps the Liberal Democrats would not have been spurned as Tory stooges.

Back to my main point, what good are students anyway, it’s not like graduates contribute heavily to economic growth through entrepreneurship and high skilled labour, indeed, we are nothing but idle scroungers. Which is why ensuring that under-25s still get less than the national living wage makes complete sense. Reducing disposable income for young people through a multi-pronged attack on graduate jobs (of which there is a severe disparity between supply and demand meaning half of all graduates are in low skilled work), on home ownership, through the absence of sustainable and affordable housing and youth services, which have been chainsawed to non-existence should definitely make my generation more productive.

I would hope that the sarcasm is obvious, young people are the future of this country whether you like it or not. Policies that directly contribute to our impoverishment and marginalisation represent not only an attack on the Tory principles of an inter-generational social bond but also on common sense. Another such absurdity is the newly welcomed individual voter registration method. I hope you will join me in indignant exasperation with Tory hypocrisy on youth apathy. Simultaneously, we are derided for not voting or participating in politics, while 16-17 year olds haven’t even been enfranchised, IVR means that 4 million of us shall drop off the electoral roll and when we do vote, 52% of votes are wasted in safe seats. It is for this reason, that the dramatic voter registration drive spurred by Momentum (labour activist group) is a necessity to prevent the catastrophic collapse in our democracy.

Is it possible for a government to be more antagonistic to the young? Attacking our education, attacking our democracy and attacking our economic opportunity, the Tories are not only ideologically wicked but irrational and incompetent. When the youth harness and engage politics, then we can be the radical political visionaries that define Britain. First we take the election, then we take parliament.