PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS

PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS


The subjects covered in this blog include Slavoj Žižek, IQ tests, Chomsky, Tony Blair, Baudrillard, global warming, sociobiology, Islam, Islamism, Marx, Foucault, National/International Socialism, economics, the Frankfurt School, philosophy, anti-racism, etc... I've had articles published in The Conservative Online, American Thinker, Intellectual Conservative, Human Events, Faith Freedom, Brenner Brief (Broadside News), New English Review, etc... (Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy can be found here


This blog used to be called EDL Extra. I was a supporter (neither a member nor a leader) of the EDL until 2012. This blog has retained the old web address.

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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Corbyn & Communist Spies: Facts & Theories





First things first.

Jeremy Corbyn himself has admitted to meeting the Czechoslovakian "diplomat" Jan Sarkocy. Corbyn has stated that he had one meeting with Mr Sarkocy on November 25th, 1986.

The plot thickens somewhat because Corbyn was introduced to this Czech spy by two Marxist/leftwing activists: Tony Gilbert (then the general secretary of the anti-colonial civil rights group Liberation) and Sandra Hodgson. It was these two people who set up the meeting in the House of Commons. Indeed they also attended that meeting.

Now forget what Jan Sarkocy has said about Live Aid; or whether or not Corbyn knew that Sarkocy was a spy. We must still ask this question:

Why did Corbyn meet Jan Sarkocy?

(Despite the hilarity produced by Sarkocy's Live Aid claims, there's not much evidence either way that he did or did not have a part to play in organising that event.)

Louise Haigh MP has also said that Corbyn was “interested in foreign affairs”. That's meant to mean that it's course the case that Corbyn would have met diplomats. Okay. So did Corbyn meet any other diplomats - say from Chile, South Africa, etc? Or did Corbyn only meet diplomats from countries he ideologically and politically supported; such as communist countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany?

In any case, if Corbyn has nothing to hide, then perhaps he should tell the British public exactly what he discussed at these meetings. Despite saying that, there may still be no official documentation of these conversations. This may mean that there's nothing to stop Corbyn from being “economical with the truth” about them. Corbyn may also argue that he has no reason at all to discuss private conversations he had some 30 years ago.

Jan Sarkocy

Jeremy Corbyn's supporters/defenders have made much of the words and character of Jan Sarkocy. Nonetheless, these meetings are said to be documented on various files – that is, regardless of the words and deeds of Mr Sarkocy himself. (There's written and photographic evidence of this.) These files show that Corbyn met Sarkocy three times between 1986 and 1987 – that's three times in one year.

As for Jan Sarkocy himself. He was known as Jan Dymic at the time. Sarkocy was a spy for Czechoslovakia's secret (political) police force, Státní bezpečnost (the StB).

As stated earlier, Corbyn has said that he didn't know that Sarkocy was a spy. Yet many experts doubt Corbyn's claim. They say that most Eastern European diplomats (at that time) were known to be spies. Indeed Barry Gardiner (a Labour Party MP) has admitted that “MPs met spies all the time” in the 1980s and often met embassy staff whom they believed to be spies.

Thus if it's possible - or even probable - that Corbyn knew that Jan Sarkocy was a spy, then why didn't he pass on information about his conversations to British intelligence? Indeed, according to Corbyn's file in the archives, Corbyn did the exact opposite of this. That is, Corbyn gave Mr Sarkocy information on MI5's crackdown on communist spies and their spying activities. More concretely, it is said that Corbyn gave a copy of a British newspaper article to Sarkocy on a failed probe into a Stasi agent. Corbyn is said to have even warned Sarkocy that the British security services were likely to increase operations against communist spies.

Corbyn hasn't denied passing on information about that crackdown. So why did Corbyn pass on this information in the first place?

Even if Corbyn didn't feel the need to pass on information to the British security services at the time he met this spy, why didn't he do so later – in May 1989 - when Prime Minister Thatcher kicked Jan Sarkocy out of Britain? Indeed Sarkocy was one of four spies (from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia) who were ordered to leave the United Kingdom.

If Corbyn didn't know that Sarkocy was a spy in 1986 or 1987, then he certainly must have done in 1989 when he was kicked out of the UK for spying.

As already stated, Corbyn's supporters/defenders have focused on Sarkocy and his claims about Live Aid. So what about Corbyn's relations with East Germany and its secret police - the Stasi?

In this case, officials from the German archives had already said that the Stasi had compiled a file on Jeremy Corbyn. Obviously it didn't do this because they deemed Corbyn to be an “enemy of communism”. So why did they do so?

Despite saying that, it's of course the case that Corbyn himself can't be blamed for the simple fact that East German intelligence compiled a file on him. In addition, some have now said that this file doesn't exist.

Thus it must also be said here that post-communist countries (including Poland and East Germany) are not always open/honest about their communist histories. They may not even still have any relevant information about the Corbyn case. In addition to that, even if these countries used the words and information given to them by Corbyn, it's not necessarily the case that this information (as well as Corbyn's activities) would have been officially registered (or documented) by these communist states.

Defences of Corbyn's Actions

Take these words from a spokesman for Mr Corbyn:

"Jeremy neither had nor offered any privileged information to this or any other diplomat. The Cold War Czechoslovak spy Jan Sarkocy is a fantasist...”

This is very vague stuff.

Firstly, what's meant by the words “privileged information” here? Corbyn and the Labour Party may not now see it as privileged information; though many others may see it that way. And even if Corbyn wasn't giving away “top secret documents”, he may still have been supplying these communist spies with much-needed political and ideological information.

The other question (which has already been asked) is this:

Regardless of any “ privileged information”, why was Corbyn meeting these communists in the first place?

Corbyn wasn't in the Labour Party's Shadow Cabinet in the late 1980s; and he had no official position when it came to that Party's “foreign affairs” either.

Note also the word “fantasist”, as used about Jan Sarkocy. Does that word also apply to the files and documents on Corbyn? This meme-word (“fantasist”) has spread like wildfire around social media and elsewhere. Is it even the case that Sarkocy is a fantasist? And do Corbyn's defenders also believe that Sarkocy was a fantasist when he actually met Corbyn in 1986 and 1987?

Corbyn's spokesman went on to say the following:

This man, who claims to have organised Live Aid and seems to believe Jeremy was in a position to pass on information about Margaret Thatcher's dietary and clothing habits, has no credibility whatsoever.”

As with the word “fantasist”, Sarkocy's claims about Live Aid has also become a vital meme for Corbyn's supporters/defenders.

The other point that's been spread is that Corbyn (a lowly backbench MP at the time) wouldn't have had any “privileged information” on Margaret Thatcher or on the British government generally. However, that's obviously false! Spy agencies have used all sorts of lowly people to do their work for them.

For example, spies have used cleaners in security buildings and secretaries in government offices to do their dirty work. And since Corbyn would indeed have had many contacts with all sorts of bigwigs, he might indeed have had vital information on the British government. Corbyn might not have been high-ranking himself. Nonetheless, he would certainly have had access to high-ranking people and therefore (possibly) access to sensitive information.

Despite all that (as stated earlier), it was Corbyn's political and ideological positions which would have primarily appealed to communist spies and communist governments, not his ability to pass on secret (or sensitive) information to them. In that sense, Corbyn would/might have been far more important to spies and communist states than the average embedded spy.

The spokesman for Corbyn finished off by stating the following:

Svetlana Ptacnikova, Director of the Czech Security Forces Archive, has said the records show Jeremy was neither an agent, asset, informer nor collaborator with Czechoslovak intelligence.”

Corbyn might never have been officially classed (or registered) as an “agent, asset, informer nor collaborator with Czechoslovak intelligence” - even if he was one! And, as stated earlier, not all post-communist countries are open about their communist histories or still have any relevant information about Corbyn. And even if these countries did use the words and information given to them by Corbyn, none of this would have automatically been officially registered or documented.

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Why Meet Foreign Communists?

It's probably wise not to believe that Jeremy Corbyn actually “sold secrets to communist spies”. It's very likely that Corbyn wouldn't have done this simply for financial gain. And he wouldn't necessarily have had any “secret information” to give them anyway. Instead, because Corbyn politically and ideologically sympathised with communism and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, his “information” would have been purely political and ideological in nature. Nonetheless, such information would still have been just as valuable to these communist states as any “secret James Bond” stuff.

Mr Sarkocy himself backs up this position because he said that he and Corbyn talked about “human rights” and Corbyn's “anti-American beliefs”. That is, they talked about the human rights situation in the United States and other capitalist countries, not the terrible human rights situation in communist countries.

Despite all the above, it's certainly possible that Corbyn did have dealings with communist spies.

So let's get more up-to-date on Corbyn.

Corbyn's Campaign (Election) Chief during the last election was Andrew Murray. Murray was a member of the Communist Party of Britain until he joined the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership. (He's also became Chair of the Stop the War Coalition after Corbyn himself stepped down.) From 1986 to 1987, Murray also worked for the Soviet Novosti news agency. He has also expressed “solidarity” with North Korea.

Murray only joined the British Labour Party at the end of 2016. Some four months after leaving the Communist Party of Britain, Murray became the Labour Party's Campaign Chief.

What about the “Stalinist” Seumas Milne?

Mr Milne was the Executive Director of Strategy and Communications for Corbyn and the Labour Party during the last election. His “communist tendencies” are well-known in the United Kingdom.

In terms of politics, Milne has been a systematic fan of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Milne once claimed that “history has been unkind to” Joseph Stalin. He also gave the lowest number I've ever seen for the number of people murdered by the Soviet socialist regime.

And Jeremy Corbyn himself?

Take Corbyn's own words; as expressed in the House of Commons in the 1980s:

... I had an interesting meeting with an environmental campaigning group from the Soviet Union.... those people felt that they had the power to change the policies to stop the destruction of their own environment. The policies of free-market economies... have led to the pollution of the North sea and the Irish sea...”

In 1988, Corbyn also took his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. It was then that Corbyn decided to call for a “complete rehabilitation” of Leon Trotsky.

A Labour Party source, in response, said:

"Jeremy Corbyn has clearly been fixated by the political ideology and tactics of Leon Trotsky for some time, but perhaps he could now focus on the rehabilitation of the Labour Party, which has been performing very poorly in the polls since he became leader. Trotsky didn't have to worry about the troublesome business of winning elections, but the Labour Party does."

Finally, what matters in this affair is that Corbyn was/is ideologically and politically sympathetic to communism; as well as to the Soviet Union, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, etc. So all that would indeed have given him very good reasons to liaise with communist spies (as well as communists generally); just as it gave him very good reasons to liaise with the the “anti-imperialist” and largely Marxist IRA in the 1980s.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Why Jeremy Corbyn might have met communist spies




The British leader of the Opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) has been embroiled in what's been called a “spy scandal”. This scandal involves Jeremy Corbyn's alleged meetings with Czech “spies” in the 1980s.

In terms of today's news and in response to a tweet from British Conservative MP (a Ben Bradley), Jeremy Corbyn MP instructed his solicitors to tell Mr Bradley to take down his “libelous” tweet otherwise he'd be the victim of legal action.

So what exactly did the tweet say? (The tweet has since been deleted.)This:

Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies… get some perspective mate!! Your priorities are a bit awry!”

This tweet was perhaps written in haste by Ben Bradley. It was posted in an exchange with the fantastically named group, Far Right Watch. (Are Tory MPs also “Far Right” now? Is Far Right Watch itself Far Left?)

A spokesman for Corbyn said:

Jeremy has instructed solicitors to contact Ben Bradley to delete his libelous tweet or face legal action.”

As it is, Jeremy Corbyn's “office” has admitted that he met a “Czech diplomat” in the House of Commons. However, according to that source, the claim that Corbyn was

an agent, asset or informer for any intelligence agency is entirely false and a ridiculous smear”.

Okay. So why was a fairly insignificant British MP (a known Marxist socialist) meeting a “Czech diplomat” in the 1980s? Corbyn didn't even have a position in the Labour Party's Shadow Cabinet at the time. Indeed outside of “radical socialist” groups and activities (as well as meetings with “anti-imperialist” groups such as the IRA and Sinn Féin), Corbyn had little importance in the British parliamentary system. Thus surely this meeting was both a little odd. And it must also have been a little... well, unofficial. Unless, of course, small-time MPs often met senior diplomats in the House of Commons and elsewhere.

So did Corbyn also met diplomats from South Africa, Chile, etc. at the same time (i.e., the 1980s)? Or was he very choosy about which kind of diplomats he met?

It's very hard to know what's going with the Corbyn “spy scandal”. There are members of the Corbyn Cult who'll defend him no matter what. And there are enemies of Corbyn who'll attack him “by any means necessary”.

It's also hard to say whether or not all - or indeed any - of the details are true in this latest case against Corbyn.

For example, even if Corbyn did have dealings with communist spies, I doubt that he'd have “sold British secrets to ‘Communist spies’”; as Ben Bradley claimed in his tweet. Any positive dealings Corbyn would have had with communists (as with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA, etc.) would have been for ideological and political reasons, not for financial gain.

In any case, supporters of Corbyn have boiled most of this story down to the shady details of a single former Czech spy (or “intelligence officer”). However, British newspapers have claimed that it is documents contained in the archives of Czech intelligence which show that Corbyn met Czech spies on three occasions in the 1980s.

Now it's of course possible that Corbyn didn't know that they were spies. And even if he did, he might not have “fed them confidential and important information”. What he might have done is simply ideologically and politically sympathise with the Czech communist state; which these spies - or diplomats - worked for.

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Nonetheless, it's certainly possible that Corbyn did have dealings with communist spies.

Why?

The answer to that is very simple.

Corbyn was (or is) ideologically and politically sympathetic to communism; as well as to the Soviet Union, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, etc. So all that would have given him very good reasons to liaise with communist spies (as well as communists generally); just as it gave him a very good reason to liaise with the the “anti-imperialist” and largely Marxist IRA in the 1980s. And just as Corbyn didn't plant or make bombs for the IRA, so he probably didn't “sell secrets” to communist spies. Corbyn's relationships with “Britain's enemies” would have been entirely political and ideological in nature.

Let me offer more evidence for my position.

Many people say “a man is known by the company he keeps”. Of course that's not always true. However, it becomes truer when the person you're discussing appoints one of his friends the Executive Director of Strategy and Communications for the Labour Party and another friend the Campaign Chief for the same party; as Jeremy Corbyn did in early 2016. Both these friends are self-described “communists” and fans of the Soviet Union.

His Campaign (Election) Chief during the last election was Andrew Murray. Murray was a member of the Communist Party of Britain until he joined the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership. (He's also became Chair of the Stop the War Coalition after Corbyn himself stepped down.) From 1986 to 1987, Murray also worked for the Soviet Novosti news agency. He has also expressed “solidarity” with North Korea.

Murray only joined the British Labour Party at the end of 2016. Three months after leaving the Communist Party of Britain, Murray became the Labour Party's Campaign Chief.

What about Seumas Milne?

Mr Milne was/is now Executive Director of Strategy and Communications for Corbyn and the Labour Party. His “communist tendencies” are well-known in the United Kingdom.

In terms of politics, Milne has been a systematic fan of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Milne once claimed that “history has been unkind to” Joseph Stalin. He also gave the lowest number I've ever seen for the number of people murdered by the Soviet socialist regime.

So what about Jeremy Corbyn himself?

Take Corbyn's own words; as expressed in the House of Commons in the 1980s:

... I had an interesting meeting with an environmental campaigning group from the Soviet Union.... those people felt that they had the power to change the policies to stop the destruction of their own environment. The policies of free-market economies... have led to the pollution of the North sea and the Irish sea...”

So Corbyn believed that environmental activists had more political power in the Soviet Union than their equivalents did in the Western democracies. What's more, Corbyn seems to have thought this simply because of what was said to him during a single meeting.

In retrospect, it's ironic that Corbyn said the above just two years before the fall of the Soviet Union. This isn't a surprise, however. Corbyn, at that time, had a more favourable opinion of the Soviet Union than he had of the United Kingdom - at least under Margaret Thatcher.

In 1988 Corbyn also took his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. It was then that Corbyn decided to call for a “complete rehabilitation” of Leon Trotsky.

A Labour Party source, in response, said:

"Jeremy Corbyn has clearly been fixated by the political ideology and tactics of Leon Trotsky for some time, but perhaps he could now focus on the rehabilitation of the Labour Party, which has been performing very poorly in the polls since he became leader. Trotsky didn't have to worry about the troublesome business of winning elections, but the Labour Party does."

So, to sum up.

If Joe Bloggs (or John Doe) had met communist spies (or “Czech diplomats”) in the 1980s, then none of this would matter that much. However, it's possible that the “radical socialist” leader of the British Labour Party (i.e., Jeremy Corbyn) did so. Now that's an entirely different story...


Saturday, 3 February 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Victim of Bristol University's Red Guards




The British Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has just been caught up in the middle of a violent scuffle while giving a talk at a British university. This is the very same Mr Rees-Mogg who's been tipped to be the next leader of the British Conservative Party.

He'd been speaking at the University of Bristol's Politics and International Relations Society when it was stormed by leftwing Red Guards.

One Bristol University student, a William Brown, said:

"These people in balaclavas and sunglasses started shouting, things like 'Tory fascist'.

"They were quite intimidating actually.

"They were waving their hands around, shouting very loudly."

This student also stated that a few punches were thrown.

The same student added:

"Jacob went to calm them down, I think he came out of it very well.

"He was encouraging them to speak, without shouting, saying something like 'I'm happy to talk if you want'."

One other student, a Sebastian Salton, said:

"It was interrupted by antifascists, I don't think it was assault, I think people were trying to get him out.

"There was some negotiating.

"He went over to them and said 'lets not shout them down,' but they weren't having any of it.

"They were shouting 'racist, misogynist, homophobe, sexist'. They were talking about austerity."

Will Smith, another student, said:

"There were people in balaclavas shouting 'fascist scum' and 'sexist'.

"He was the first to approach them."

Rees-Moog was stuck bang in the middle of all this. However, he said that he wasn't “shaken or stirred” by the event. Rees-Moog also said that “they were just rather shouty"; though “all is well”. Despite that, some students described Rees-Moog as "looking shaken up" after the event.

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So guess what. These typical students yelled “Tory fascist”, “fascist scum”, “sexist, “homophobe” and “Nazi” at an elected British MP. Now isn't that highly original? Not really. You'd think that these students would become a little self-conscious about using these leftwing cliches or soundbites. Though since the the leftwing politics of student life is effectively a middle-class Rite of Passage, and because all rites of passage must take the same form, then these actions are hardly surprising.

Most leftwing students dress the same; act the same; and, more importantly, think the same.

As ever, the Marxist Left isn't concerned with debate. It's concerned with obliterating alternative political views. It often does that with violence or, sometimes, with the “no platform” policy which has often been in force in British universities. (It has only been applied to the Far Right - never to the Far Left.) This policy was established by the National Union of Students in the early 1970s; under the strong influence of the International Marxist Group (IMG) and the International Socialists (IS). It's been used to ban a whole host of speakers, groups and even academics.

What happened to Jacob Rees-Mogg has happened countless times in our universities since the 1960s. It's been happening since the Left has been attempting to create (sometimes it's been very successful) a “hegemony” in all these “Gramscian institutions”. All sorts of people have been the victim of leftwing violence, intolerance and political conformity: academics, MPs, politicians, political parties, political and social groups, individuals, etc.

One example of all this which always stuck in mind dates back to 1978 and concerned the biologist, researcher and naturalist, E.O. Wilson (who, politically, is a liberal). His case parallels, very strongly, the leftwing intolerance of Steven Pinker (also a liberal who's apparently donated money to the Democratic Party), the Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson, etc. today.

E.O. Wilson's book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, was published in 1975. It rekindled the ancient nature-vs.-nurture debate. Predictably, Wilson was accused of racism, misogyny, and even sympathy for eugenics.

Not surprisingly, this led to one incident in November 1978 in which E.O. Wilson was physically attacked (during one of his lectures) by members of the International Committee Against Racism, a front group for the Marxist Progressive Labor Party. Ironically, Wilson said:

"I believe...I was the only scientist in modern times to be physically attacked for an idea."

What Wilson said is false; as the example of scientists in the Soviet Union, for one, shows. In the 1960s, other American scientists and academics were also victims of leftwing violence and intolerance. (As can be seen in the 'Political Scientists' chapter of Steven Pinker's book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.) However, Wilson later said that he was very politically naïve at the time and had no idea that he'd be attacked by the virulent and intolerant Marxist Left.

So, bearing all that in mind, I wonder if professors, academics and other leftwing supporters (whether passive or active) of all this believe that it's a good thing that so many students are politically conformist, intolerant and violent?

Is it a good thing that being leftwing or a revolutionary socialist is a middle-class Rite of Passage for so many students between the ages of 18 and 22?

Is it a good thing that so many right-wing academics, groups and individuals have their talks and seminars banned and have also even been the victims of physical violence?

Do they think it's a good think that many university departments are effectively Gramscian institutions and that this has been the case going back to the 1960s – for some 60 or so years?

All this is nothing new. It has a history.

In the Germany of the 1930s, Hitler Youth and other young Nazis ruled the roost in German universities. Indeed all academics were Nazis; although some were only nominally so.

In the 1940s in the Soviet Union, all academics were Marxists/communists. And, again, young students often victimised all political dissidents – even the ones who weren't political dissidents.

Under Chairman Mao (in the 1960s) we had the young Red Guards who terrorised the university campuses and enforced their political will on all students and indeed even on professors and academics.

And today (in the UK) we have Momentum, Social Justice Warriors, the Socialist Workers Party, etc. who, in their fight for tolerance, peace and open-mindedness, indulge in extreme intolerance, violence and closed-mindedness.

Yes, it all sounds terribly familiar. Yet to those deeply embedded in university environments (in which being leftwing - or at least liberal left - is de rigour), it will all seem so terribly normal and acceptable. Of course it will!


Friday, 2 February 2018

The Politicised Economics of Brexit




[This piece can be found at The Conservative Online.]

As most readers will know, we've had many nightmare scenarios about Brexit. Indeed we've had some very-rosy scenarios for the post-Brexit period too. Therefore the main question in this piece is as follows:

Do these economic nightmare scenarios primarily express the prior political views, values and positions of people on Brexit?

In most cases (though not, of course, all), the answer to that question is 'yes'...

Thus the following isn't a piece of economics. It's about economics. Specifically, it's about some (or even many) of the economic statements on Brexit.

So there aren't any forecasts in what follows. (Bar one forecast about post-Brexit winners and losers.) There are, however, a few comments on other people's forecasts. This means that there aren't any claims to know what will happen after Brexit. However, there are comments on those economists and politicians who do claim to know exactly what will happen after Brexit.

Economics is, of course, a highly complex business. There are an indefinite amount of variables to consider when discussing any single economic issue. And when it comes to forecasting about Brexit and post-Brexit...

Not only is economics hugely complicated, economists are well-known for getting things wrong. Their biggest mistakes come when economists indulge in futurology (or prophesy). This is especially the case when strong political and ideological views undergird their economic forecasts.

Economic Narratives

One way around this economic complexity is to have what political hipsters call a “narrative”. That narrative will enable people to make sense of the mass of data involved in economic arguments or claims. In other words, people's narratives (or, more simply, their ideological and political positions) will help simplify things. Their narratives will also be loaded with values, theories and political causes. That too will help in the process of simplification.

In any case, after Brexit there'll surely be winners and losers.

That's not a surprise because after every economic change – both big and small – there'll be winners and losers. Indeed sometimes the winners change places with the losers and vice versa.

As for economics and economists.

Depending on the economists concerned and their political affiliations or biases, there have been many mutually-contradictory “studies” and "surveys” on Brexit. That's not a surprise. Again, it's largely because economics is so damn complex that one can find an academic study to back up one's prior political position on Brexit (or on the European Union itself). What's more, one can even construct an academic (or economic) study to back-up one's prior political position.

Take Brexit and immigration.

Immigration & Economics

If an economist has a strong political and/or ideological position on immigration, then that's almost bound to have an effect on his economic positions (as well as on his academic research generally).

For example, say that an economist is

a believer in “open borders”;
deeply distrustful of the nation state;
against nationalism, and also has a problem with patriotism;
an internationalist;
a believer that all those who're against (mass) immigration are racist.

Isn't all this bound to have an impact on his economic positions on immigration?

Similarly, take an economist who's

against open borders;
strongly in favour of the nation state;
a patriot;
against mass immigration for social – not just economic – reasons.

Isn't all this also bound to have an effect on this economist's positions on immigration?

Consequently, it can be said that (at least in some cases) economic arguments about immigration can simply be masks for hiding the underlying ideological/political positions economists (as well as others) have on Brexit.

Now for some fairly random pieces of economic nitty-gritty.

The Politicised Economics of Brexit


"the research literature displays a broad consensus that in the long run Brexit will make the United Kingdom poorer because it will create new barriers to trade, foreign direct investment, and immigration”.

(Let's forget here that the European Union is a big funder of British universities and that many university departments are largely - or at least partly - “Gramscian institutions” of the Left - or, in some cases, of the Liberal Left.)

In theory at least, there needn't be any “barriers to trade” with Europe after Brexit. However, if there were to be any barriers, then the EU would be at least partly responsible for them. And that would tell us much about the EU's post-Brexit petulance and arrogance.

The “survey” also mentions “foreign direct investment”. Again, why can't we continue to invest in Europe? Moreover, what about the rest of the world? For example, what about the United States and the Commonwealth?

Another example comes from a 2016 piece in The Economist. It stated the following:

"It is plausible that Brexit could have a modest negative impact on growth and job creation. However it is slightly more plausible that the net impact would be modestly positive."

We can of course question both the sources and the data here. Then again, we can do exactly the same if it came to a report which stated the exact opposite. So that wouldn't get us very far either.... That's unless we were economists who had a hell of a lot of time on our hands. And even then, we'd still have prior political biases and prejudices which could very well influence our pronouncements, studies or surveys.

It's also said that the EU facilitates intra-European financial services.

For example, we have EU “passporting” for financial services.

The Financial Times said that this accounts for up to 71,000 jobs and £10 billion of tax each year. It's also true that some banks have warned that they may move elsewhere after Brexit. Though even here the obvious point has to be stated. Namely: not many Brexiteers have ever denied that there'll be losses/cons after Brexit. However, for every con, there may also be pros – or more gains. Perhaps the pros will far outweigh the cons. Perhaps the gains will far outweigh the losses. This can't be known beforehand; though that's also true of the economic arguments for remaining in the EU.

Specifically, that possible £10 billion tax loss may quickly be made up by savings (or gains) resulting from our no longer sending money to the EU; reducing/ending benefits payments for unemployed (or low-paid) immigrants; cutting down on EU red tape for businesses; and so on.

As for the 71,000 jobs in the EU-wide financial services (besides that being a guesstimate): surely most of these people would immediately find jobs anyway. Indeed they may not even loose them in the first place. Isn't it the case that very few people in the financial services end up as long-term (or even short-term) unemployed? Wouldn't these people simply change their own employment arrangements?

In terms of detail, a study from 2017 also found that

"Brexit-induced reductions in migration are likely to have a significant negative impact on UK GDP per capita (and GDP), with marginal positive impacts on wages in the low-skill service sector”.

So even this negative scenario about lower immigration has a positive outcome; though, in this example at least, only for workers in the “low-skill service sector”.

Note the word “likely” too; as in the phrase “likely to have a significant negative impact”. Economics isn't a “hard science”; and its record when it comes to prophesy (or futurology) has often been woeful; especially when those economic prophesies are driven by political positions or values.

As stated earlier, economics is complex. It's often rendered gross and simple simply in order to further political goals or causes – as in both the Brexit and Remain positions.

So although there are economic pros to large-scale immigration into the UK, there may be far more cons. What's more, these cons may be mainly social in nature.

On the Leave side.

The former Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, once said (in December 2016) that the warnings of economic doom and gloom after leaving the EU were over-the-top. He still believes that the UK should leave the single market; as well as “probably” leave the customs union. Doing these two things, according to Mr King, would bring about more opportunities for the UK; and, in the process, improve the UK's overall economic performance.

Other benefits of Brexit have also been noted.

For example, we may well be able to bring about more free-trade deals when unencumbered by the rules and laws of the EU. A radically different immigration policy may also financially benefit the UK. That is, the state may need to pay less benefits to unemployed (or low-wage) immigrants – even if we bear in mind, for example, the immigrants who work for the NHS. (That number is often both over-exaggerated and overstressed.) There would also be reduced regulations on businesses and reductions in public spending generally. More relevantly, the UK would save a hell of a lot simply because it would no longer be contributing so much money to the EU budget.

Economic Futurology

As stated in the introduction, economics is complex. And because of that, economists often get things wrong – sometimes massively wrong. This is the case at least partly because of the political values, causes or ideologies which often drive the economic arguments and studies of economists.

Take this example.

In January 2017, the Chief Economist and the Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, commented upon the bank's own bit of futurology about Brexit. The BoE claimed that there would be an economic downturn. However, that claim wasn't about the post-Brexit era. It was about the period before, during and immediately after the Brexit referendum itself. As for Andy Haldane, he said that the BoE's forecast was very inaccurate. That market downturn (after the Brexit referendum) turned out to be an upturn.

Interestingly enough, Haldane did accept that economics was “to some degree in crisis”. The thing is, that crisis had nothing to do with the referendum or even (directly) to do with the EU. It was due to economists and politicians failing to predict the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. Nonetheless, Haldane did say that in the future Brexit would harm economic growth. Despite that, Haldane had already said that the near-term forecasts were wrong. So can't we now say that his longer-term forecasts are even more likely to be inaccurate (or plain false)?

David Miles (at Imperial College London) agrees with this scepticism towards economists. (Though he's an economist himself!) He responded to Haldane by saying that that there's no “crisis in economics”. Why is that? It's because (according to Miles) economists never claim to to forecast what will happen (at least in precise terms) in the future. David Miles went on to say that that most people know (or at least most economists know) that short-term forecasts (like that of the BoE) are unreliable. And if that's the case with short-term forecasts, then surely that's even truer of long-term ones - such as Brexit.

Thomas Sampson (of the London School of Economics) also agrees with this. He said that it's difficult to know what will happen during the transitional process to Brexit. Indeed he turns my own statement on its head by saying that that long-term Brexit forecasts are (or will be!) more reliable than the short-term ones.

In any case, David Miles's earlier statement must actually be normative (or prescriptive) in nature. That is, he must surely be saying that economists should be more modest when it comes to their forecasts. As it is, however, that's not usually the case. Economists can often be far from modest; especially when political causes, values and ideology are driving their economic forecasts.