Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

The Economic Falsehoods Behind ‘Expansionary Austerity’

January 23, 2023

Expansionary Austerity is one of the discredited and utterly falsified economic theories the Australian economist John Quiggin attacks in his book Zombie Economics (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010). It’s the idea that savagely cutting government expenditure will somehow restore economic growth. It was the policy adopted by governments across the world, including Dave Cameron’s Conservative administration in Britain, to save the global economy after it had been comprehensively trashed by the banksters in 2008. It was based on the theories of Albert Alesina and a number of co-authors, most notably Sylvia Ardagna and their study of how austerity had supposedly benefited various countries, Tales of Fiscal Adjustment: Can Austerity Be Expansionary. One of the countries examined in their study was Quiggin’s own, Australia. He went back and looked at what they said about it, and found that it was riddled with inaccuracies and errors. He gives the following examples to show how seriously, seriously flawed their study was:

*Alexina and Ardagna attribute the policy of austerity to “a leftwing government elected in 1985.” In fact, the government was elected in early 1983 at the depths of a severe recession. It implemented an expansionary fiscal policy. The recovery was well under way when the government took measures, beginning in 1984, to wind back the budget deficit.

  • Alesina and Ardagna assert that the main budget savings came from “cuts in transfer programmes …. mainly concentrated on unemployment insurance.” Spending on unemployment benefits fell but not because of cuts. The unemployment rate was falling, and expenditure on benefits declined as a result. This is the standard Keynesian “automatic stabilizers” at work.
  • Most strikingly of all they write, “Australia is a clear case of an ‘expansionary fiscal contraction.’ GDP grew faster during and in the aftermath of the adjustment, both in absolute terms and relative to the G7 countries. A private investment boom was associated with profits and easier access to credit following the financial deregulation process that took place in 1985-6. ‘ This is like the story of the man who jumps off a tall buiilding and says, as he passes the 25th floor, “All good so far.” Writing a decade later, in 1998, Alesina and Ardagna must surely have been aware that, almost immediately after their story ends, Australia entered the worst recession in postwar history.’ (pp.225-6).

Quiggin continues

‘Australia’s recession was triggered by contractionary monetary policy, but its severity resulted primarily from the collapse of the investment boom mentioned by Alesina and Ardagna. The boom was dominated by speculative investment projects undertaken by so-called entrepreneurs who took advantage of financial deregulation to build conglomerate empires that failed in the crisis, almost taking down the banking system with them. The Australian experience of the 1980s was a preview of what would happen in the United States and Europe in the 2000s.

To sum up, the tale told by Alesina and Ardagna bears no relation to the actual history of Australia in the 1980s. The most revealing point about their account is their eagerness to shift the burden of adjustment to a crisis onto its most vulnerable victims-the unemployed. In this respect, the literature on expansionary austerity of which this paper was a part might have served as a warning of the brutal policies that were to be adopted in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.’ (p. 226).

Quiggin then goes on to discuss the global financial crisis and the austerity programmes that followed, showing how they were failures. These policies were nevertheless pushed because they allowed the 1 per cent elite to expand their wealth and power against everyone else. The chapter concludes by showing how the crisis could have been solved using Keynesian economics.

Despite the Tories’ pronouncements that austerity has ended, I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. They continued to cut public expending catastrophically until forced to do the reverse by the Covid pandemic. And now that the world is going back to some semblance of normality, they’re going to return to it.

The working people of Britain and the west have been forced into poverty and starvation through nonsensical policies based on bad, massively inaccurate and biased research. It’s time austerity was discarded and Keynsianism, with a proper welfare state, was restored.

Australian News Report on Premature Baby Incubated in ‘Artificial Womb’

December 22, 2022

This is further to the video I put up earlier about the possibility of artificial wombs and EctoLife’s wretched proof of concept video promoting their plans for a hatchery. This is another video that came up for me on YouTube. It’s a news report from Sydney’s 7 News posted by the Women and Infants Research Foundation about a very premature baby, who was kept alive and brought to term through being incubated in an artificial womb. In fact the womb is a plastic bag filled with oxygen to help the baby’s lungs develop naturally. It’s clearly related to the biobags developed at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, although those were filled with amniotic fluid. The video looks forward to further experiments on baby lambs where the bags would be filled with amniotic fluid. As it is, although the bag used was described as an artificial womb, it’s not that far from a conventional incubator.

While I’m obviously pleased that this technique was able to save the baby’s life, and hopefully other babies like him, I have very strong moral reservations about the development of true artificial wombs and the type of hatcheries that EctoLife are keen to develop. The fact that this technique has not become mainstream suggests that it either doesn’t work as effectively as predicted or else medical authorities are extremely worried about the ethical implications of this research.

More Sketches of Geniuses of British Comedy: Bob Monkhouse, Rod Hull, Emu, and their Victim Michael Parkinson

November 25, 2022

Bob Monkhouse is, in my opinion, one of the very great figures of late 20th century and early 21st century British comedy. He was not just a comedian, but also game show compering some of the nation’s favourite shows. I can remember him from the early or mid ’70s compering The Golden Shot, for those that can remember that far back. The contestants had to give instructions to blindfolded marksman, Bernie the Bolt to get him to aim a crossbow at a target. If he got it, they won the prize money. I can still hear the words, ‘Up a bit, left a bit…’ and so on. I don’t know if Monkhouse took over from someone else, but there are clips of it on YouTube with a Black presenter with a broad Yorkshire accent. Later on, in the 1980s he presented Family Fortunes. He was asked in one interview what the worse moment from the show was. He replied that it was when one contestant kept replying to each question, ‘Christmas turkey?’ This led to exchanges like ‘What item would you take to the beach on holiday?’ ‘A Christmas turkey’. ‘Interesting answer. We’ll see. Our survey said. -‘ and then the buzzer to indicate that the people surveyed definitely had not replied that they would take a Christmas turkey to the beach’. Monkhouse asked the poor fellow afterwards what happened. He said that he didn’t know, his mind just went blank. In the ’90s or early years of this century he started to come back after a period when he was off camera. I think this followed an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he displayed his wit. Actually, I think he had scriptwriters with him handing him gags, or perhaps I’m confusing him with another comedian and entertainer whose career was revived by the show.

Monkhouse began his career away from the camera, writing jokes for other comedians and children’s comics. In an interview with the popular science magazine, Focus, he recalled how he nearly created Star Trek. He had been a science fiction fan, and so had an idea about a spaceship, called ‘Enterprise’, whose captain was a Scotsman called Kirk. Ah, that would have been interesting. He also gave praise to the other comedians he believed deserved it for their skill. One on series about various TV comedians, he described Jimmy Carr as ‘the comedians’ comedian’. But that phrase could also easily describe him. He was acutely interested in other comedians and the craft of comedy itself. In the 1980s he had his own show at about 7.30 in the evening, in which he interviewed comedians he admired from Britain and America. One of them, if I recall rightly, was our own Les Dawson. His house was also full of old film and clips of past comedians. He died of prostate cancer a few years. After his death one of the TV channels broadcast his farewell show, with commenters from other comedians. They said they didn’t realise how terribly ill Monkhouse was at the time, and that he was saying ‘goodbye’ to them. Another great comedian lost to us.

Rod Hull and Emu – another brilliant comedy act taken from us by the Grim Reaper. Hull said he was inspired to create Emu while watching a nature programme in New Zealand. This may have shown the country’s national bird, the Kiwi, another flightless bird rooting around on the forest floor. Or it may have shown Australia’s great flightless bird, the emu. Either way, the bird inspired Hull to create this avian monster of children’s television. It was the most terrifying puppet not to come out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, though some cruel individuals may detect a certain resemblance to the villainous Skeksis in the film The Dark Crystal. Whatever its inspiration, Emus temperament was more like the 12-foot carnivorous Terror Birds that lived after the demise of the dinosaurs. Hull and Emu had a variety of children’s programmes. I remember him from E.B.C. 1 – ‘Emu’s Broadcasting Company’ with Billy Dainty on BBC 1, and then he moved over to ITV and Emu’s World. On E.B.C., Hull and Emu attempt to perform pieces from the Bard, complete with Emu wearing an Elizabeth cap. I also remember a recurring segment where Dainty, another great performer in his own right, dressed in Edward strongman long johns, tried to give advice on getting fit. This was introduced by the 20th Jazz song, ‘Keep fit, take exercise, get fit, and you’ll be wise, whatever you do, keep fit’. The music that introduced the Shakespeare segment, I later found out, was the 16th century German Mohrentanz, played on shawms and crumhorns. Emus also did weather forecasts, which were introduced by the jingle, ‘Weather, weather, all together, what’s it going to do? We don’t know, and so let’s ask, weatherman Emu.’ In addition to his own programmes, he also appeared as a guest on others, most notorious on Parkinson.

Emu’s style of comedy was pure, anarchic slapstick, whether he was on his own programmes or a guest on a chat show. These performances usually started off calmly, with Hull talking quietly and the puppet behaving itself on his arm. If they were being interviewed, Emu would act docile, snuggling up to the interviewer to be stroked. ‘There, he likes that’, Hull would say approvingly. Then it would start to go wrong, the beak would curl up in a snarl and before long Hull, his guest star or the interviewer would be savagely attacked by the thing’s beak, all with Hull screaming, ‘No, Emu! No!’ This would often end up with the three struggling on the floor while the set collapsed around them in a heap of overturned furniture. Emu was a force of pure chaos, bringing down televisual order. And hilariously funny. But it wasn’t all laughs. I can remember my grandmother telling me I was not to get like him with the sock puppets I made, as Hull had admitted he couldn’t control it. I don’t know if that was true, or another reworking of the old fear about ventriloquists and their dummies. I think Emu was also like Sherlock Holmes as the artist’s creation its creator would like to kill off and move away from but couldn’t because of the characters’ immense popularity. Hull himself was sadly taken from us in a domestic accident. He fell off his roof trying to fix his TV aerial.

I couldn’t sketch Rod Hull and the monstrous bird without also including his most famous victim, the chat show host Michael Parkinson. Parkinson’s show, simply called Parkinson, was one of the mainstays of British television. Parkinson interviewed a number of great and famous stars, like Oliver Reed and Mohammed Ali. And then he had the misfortune to interview, and get assaulted, by Emu. This incident has gone down as a piece of broadcasting history. It became so notorious that it was included in a skit in Private Eye commemorating Parkinson being given an honorary degree or doctorate from one of the universities. Whenever a celebrity, actor, sportsman or whoever, is awarded one of these honorary qualifications, the Eye prints a piece celebrating it in Latin, with the title ‘The …. Laudation In Full’. The Latin is easily understood, recognisable from the Latin vocabular in English. The Parkinson laudatio mentioned his interview with pugilist Mohammed Ali, before adding ‘assaultam cum Emu, avis horribilis. Ave, Emu, salutamus Emu, laudamus Emu’. Or words to that effect. Parkinson had his revenge a few years later when he appeared on Room 101. Parkinson naturally wanted Emu to be consigned to the room containing everything rubbish and terrible in the world. He was obliged when Emu was brought on in a miniature guillotine. Parkinson naturally threw the switch or pulled out the block, and one of children’s television’s most comically terrifying puppets was beheaded, with Parkinson shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite work out whether this was appropriate or not.

Sketches of Another Three British Comedy Heroes

November 22, 2022

Here are three more pictures of British comedy legends of a certain era for your enjoyment: Ken Dodd, Tony Hancock and Michael Bentine.

Ken Dodd is also remembered for the Diddymen from Knotty Ash, which I think was the suburb of Liverpool where he came from. I can remember him being on television with them when I was very young. They were originally puppets, but I can remember a later programme in which they were played by children in a musical number. Dodd was a real trouper, carrying on performing right to the end of his life. He was also notorious for running well over time. I heard at one performance in Weston-Super-Mare, a seaside town just south of Bristol, he carried on performing so long after he was supposed to have ended that the janitor threw the keys onto the stage. As well as the Diddymen his act also involved his notorious Tickling Stick. It was years before I realised it was an ordinary duster and you could get them in Woolworths.

He ran afoul of the taxman in the late 80s/ 90s, and I’ve heard two versions of that story. One is that he really was dodging taxes and had all the money he owed the Inland Revenue hidden in boxes in his attic. This was supposed to be because he had a very poor childhood and that had made him reluctant to part with money. The other version I heard was that he sent it all to the taxman, as demanded, but didn’t say which department and so it just got lost. His problems with the taxman was at just about the same time the jockey Lester Pigott also got caught not paying it. This resulted in a postcard I found in Forever People in Bristol showing Ken Dodd and Pigott on stage in pantomime. Pigott was riding a pantomime horse, while down from the sky was a giant hand pointng at them, saying ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell undeclared income!’

Although he’s been off the TV for years now, there are still DVDs of his performances, particularly the Audience he did on ITV. And way back in the 90s I also found a tape of him telling jokes. Since his heyday in the ’70s, comedy has become far more observational, but his jokes were still funny. One I remember went, ‘What a day, what a day, missus, for going to Trafalgar Square and throwing white paint over the pigeons shouting, ‘Hah! See how you like it!’

Tony Hancock – what can you say? He truly is a British comedy legend. He’s been called a genius, though one critic said that his genius really consisted in performing the scripts written by Galton and Simpson. Even so, they were absolute classics of British comedy and a couple of them, The Radio Ham and The Blood Donor, really are comedy classics. On the radio he was supported by a cast of brilliant actors – Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Bill Kerr and Hattie Jacques. This was cut down to Sid James when the series was transferred to TV, and then even further until Hancock became the sole regular character. His series were on record – I used to listen to them when I was at school and are also on DVD. He also made a series, not written by Galton and Simpson, when he was in Australia. That’s also available, I think, though I deliberately avoided watching it. It may just be prejudice, but I didn’t think it could ever be a patch on Galton and Simpson’s scripts.

Paul Merton, who seems to have given up performing comedy for appearing on panel shows, is a massive Hancock fan. A few years ago, he performed as Hancock in a series of remakes of classic Hancock episodes. I deliberately didn’t watch them, because with remakes I find that it doesn’t matter how good the actors are, you’re always comparing them with the original stars, and they just can’t compete. One of the cable/ satellite channels a few years back tried to remake Yes, Minister with a different cast. This flopped. I think it may have been that the audience it was aimed simply far preferred to see repeats of the original series with Paul Eddington and co. As well as TV, he also appeared in a number of films, such as Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and starred in two: The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man. The Punch and Judy Man, in which he plays that character in a seaside resort, is supposed to be the better film, but I prefer The Rebel. In this movie he plays an office clerk, who gives it up to become a painter in Paris. He’s a failure but becomes a celebrity artist after passing off a friend’s paintings as his own. It all comes crashing down when he’s invited aboard a millionaire’s yacht and the man’s wife wants to run off with him, just as he’s run out of the other fellow’s paintings to sell. Again, he has an excellent supporting cast, including John Le Mesurier as his exasperated boss and Irene Handl as his landlady, outraged at the nudity of his sculpture ‘Aphrodite at the Waterhole’. It’s also on DVD, and I think it’s brilliant.

Michael Bentine – another great actor and writer. He was, as I’m sure many people reading this well know, a member of the Goons, whom he left quite early on. He also had a number of his own series, including Square World and the one I remember, Michael Bentine’s Potty Time. This featured small ‘Potty’ puppets acting out various historical events, like the Battle of Waterloo. He had a similar puppet series, the Bumblies, which got MI5 interested in him. The Bumblies were puppets, but they were supposed to be operated by remote control. This would have been quite an advance at the time, as radio control was impossible because it interfered with the cameras and other equipment. According to Bentine, he left his house and got on the bus to go to work as usual one morning when he was met by someone from the security services, who asked him to follow him upstairs for a little chat. He wanted to know how the Bumblies worked. Bentine explained that they were puppets and not radio controlled at all. ‘Oh thank God!’ said the Man from the Ministry, ‘we thought you were going to defect!’ That gave Bentine the vision of Bumby Six hurtling towards Russia on a missile.

He was also very much into the paranormal, following his father, an engineer who was keenly interested in psychical research. Like the other Goons, he also fought in the Second World War, though he was a member of a bomber crew in the RAF. He was deeply anti-Fascist, and strongly believed that the Nazis had come to power through real black magic. In the 90s he toured the country with his one-man show, From the Sublime to the Paranormal. I and a few friends went to see him when it came to Bristol. He was a hilarious raconteur, especially when describing how the army chased him round Britain to get him to join up when he was touring in repertory theatre. Wherever they were playing, his name was naturally on the cast list. When he asked the army, why they had ignored the posters for the theatre company when they finally caught up with him, they replied that they thought it was a ruse! During the performance he also demonstrated the power of the Nazis use of light and sound to mesmerise their audience. He described the Nuremberg rallies and the way it would start with the great searchlights blazing up into the sky as a ‘temple of light’. Then the drumbeats would start up, performed by the Hitler Youth, the twisted version of the boy scouts, and the soldiers and Nazis would start chanting ‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Fuhrer!’ He repeated this, getting louder each time, and the lighting in the theatre dropped. The atmosphere immediately changed, became far more sinister. Then he snapped out of it, and said, ‘Sorry to scare the sh*t out of you.’ A friend of mine told me later that wasn’t the reason he cut that bit short. He reckoned it was because some people were responding to it in the way the Nazis intended. He asked me if I hadn’t noticed the pair in one of the boxes who were nearly out of their seats giving the salute. He was very critical of the power of television and the way it could be used for propaganda and mass brainwashing and urged people to complain if they saw anything they found offensive.

I think he was also very scientifically interested and literate. He appeared a long time ago on the Beeb’s popular science programme, Tomorrow’s World, presenting his own scheme for turning the Amazon jungle into productive farmland. And then there was the flea circus. This was entirely mechanical but was supposed to be worked by fleas performing high dives and so on. He was interviewed by Wogan when the dulcet-toned Irishman took over from Parkinson back in the 1980s. He told the broadcasting legend that he’d been stopped by customs when he tried to take it into America. The customs officer thought that he was bringing real fleas into the country. And so Bentine had to show him the entire act in order to convince him that it was, indeed, mechanical.

From the Sublime to the Paranormal was broadcast on the radio back in the ’90s. I don’t know whether it’s available on CD or on YouTube. He also wrote his autobiography and two books on spiritualism and the paranormal, The Door Marked Summer and Doors of the Mind. He was truly another great titan of British comedy.

American Stamp against Sickle Cell Anaemia

October 17, 2022

This piccie below is for the stamp the American postal service put out in 2004 to get more Black Americans to test for sickle cell anaemia, a type of blood cancer. I understood that sickle cell anaemia, or thalassaemia, was the result of something going wrong with a natural adaptation people of African origin have in their blood, which gives it better protection than White blood against malaria. I don’t know if sickle cell anaemia is unique to Black people, or if it’s simply that Blacks are far more vulnerable to it. Either way, there have been calls for more Black people to give blood in order to help combat the disease. I found the picture in the art book Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist, by James Gurney (Kansas City: Andrew McMeel Publishing 2009). This is a ‘how to’ book for budding artists of the fantastic. Gurney’s the author of the Dinotopia books, in which humans and dinosaurs live side by side, with people using them for transport, as fire engines, complete with their long necks used as ladders, and so on. Thus, many of the pictures in the book, serving as illustrations of various techniques, are of dinosaurs. The book also teaches lessons in composition, lighting, painting techniques, as well as inspiration for cyborgs, architecture, alternative history, science fiction and so on. There are also sections on possible careers in movie concept art, book covers and museum design. The picture of the Black woman and her beautiful baby are in the pages on using live models.

I was prompted to put the picture up after Simon Webb posted a video about scientists discovering genetic differences in Black blood, which made it better for Black people to receive donated by other Blacks. For Webb, this supported his view that there are distinct races and refuted the doctrine that race is merely a social construct. Now I think he’s right that there are differences between people of different races. East Asians, for example, have a far lower tolerance for alcohol. The explanation for this is that while westerners developed brewing, the Chinese, Japanese and other peoples developed tea. Although it has to be acknowledged that they also had alcohol in the form of rice wine. Aboriginal Australians have something like 25 per cent more neurons in the part of the brain that processes visual information. This is believed to be an adaptation that allows them to be better in remember their way around the trackless wastes of the Australian desert. Also, southern Europeans and Africans are worse at handling the cold than northern Europeans. This was all explored in a documentary on Channel 4 a few years ago. In the case of the indigenous Australians, the programme explained that this was a particularly sensitive topic as previous experiments had been done exploring their cognitive abilities with the intention of proving that they were less intelligent than Whites. But these genetic differences aren’t so great so that the various races of humanity are as distinct from each other as animal subspecies, or at least that’s what I’ve read. As for the differences between Black and White blood, while it might be better for Blacks to receive blood from people like them, it certainly doesn’t mean that blood from the two races is mutually incompatible. Whites have successfully received blood from Blacks, despite some of the stupid fears at the time that somehow it would also turn them Black. Of course, what I think Simon Webb really wants is conclusive genetic proof that Blacks are thicker than White people, as per the Bell Curve. But Sowell in his book, Intellectuals & Race, that Asians aren’t more intelligent than Whites according to IQ tests done properly. He’s more ambivalent about racial differences in intelligence between Blacks and Whites but provides evidence that refutes the old argument that Blacks are intellectually inferior. He also makes the point that those psychologists who did believe in it, nevertheless thought their academic performance could be improved by better teaching methods.

These arguments aside, this is a great picture with a great message, especially during Black History Month.

Tories Losing Support Through Lack of Action on Immigration and Wokeness

September 4, 2022

This is very interesting. One of the great commenters on this blog remarked a few days ago that he doubted the Tories would honour their pledge to cut immigration, and that the Labour party had a better policy towards it. I agree. From what I remember, Labour’s policy would remove the barriers that encourage aspiring migrants to cross the channel in flimsy inflatables and put them in with the rest of the asylum-seekers. They would also negotiate and try to find solutions to the problem of migration with the countries of origin. This is undoubtedly much more sensible and humane, in that it makes the crossing safer for the migrants and seeks to end some of the push factors that force them to risk their lives coming to Europe and Britain in the first place. But it’s not as exciting as having illegal immigrants exiled to Rwanda.

I have real doubts that the Tories have the will or the wish to find proper solutions to the migrant crisis. The Rwanda policy looks very much as if Johnson and Patel cooked it up just to take the pressure of Johnson, partygate and his general massive ineptitude. I also wonder if the Tories actually want to keep channel migration going, as it whips up nationalistic anger against immigration, anger that they exploit with promises that they and only they will tackle it while making sure that they don’t, or just tinker with it through malicious policies like Patel’s. The Tories used fears over immigration to boost support by Brexit by deliberately giving the impression that Black and Asian immigration was being assisted by the EU constitution. It wasn’t. In fact EU law stated that migrants, once in Europe, should remain in the countries in which they landed. And the Schengen agreement, which the Tories also claimed were enabling non-White immigration through the EU, actually only affected those countries which signed up to it. And we weren’t one of them. In fact the real legislation enabling asylum seekers to reach this country was the 1950s UN agreement on the rights of the refugee. Mike pointed this out on one of his articles. But the Tories kept very quiet about that, is their lies about immigration and Europe were too useful for pushing Brexit.

And now we’ve got Brexit, and illegal immigration hasn’t stopped. Indeed, it is claimed that there have been 100,000 such migrants this past year. There are signs that parts of the right are talking about scrapping the 1950s UN agreement, and that part of the hard-right Tory base are ready to desert the party over its inaction on immigration. Yesterday I caught the thumbnail for a video by the Lotus Eaters, which castigated the Tories for the lack of will to tackle immigration. I can’t remember the title’s wording, but the thumbnail featured a photo of one of the prominent Tory politicos with a speech bubble saying that the issue would wait until after the election.

This morning there’s been a video from the New Culture Forum featuring its main man, Peter Whittle, stating that the Tories have to act against the wokeness destroying British society. Critical Race and Queer Theory should be banned in schools, and woke quangos should be cut. This was the subject of a previous video from them, entitled ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’. And I’ve seen the odd video from Farage on GB News stating that it is now the time to act on the UN agreement on refugees.

But I wonder how far the Tories can tackle immigration. Britain needs a certain amount of immigration to get technicians, medical staff and skilled workers. The Tories are also keen to give British citizenship to rich foreigners. But I also wonder if there are diplomatic constraints. For example, the Indian prime minister Modi gave a speech the other year stating that Indian would still provide science graduates to other countries. When Boris announced that he was going to cut immigration from the sub-continent, he got a sharp rebuke from India’s premier. I’ve got the distinct impression that there’s a lack of domestic jobs in India, and so the country and its economy depends to a certain extent on exporting workers, who then send their remittances home. I have absolutely no doubt that other developing countries are in the same boat. I did see somewhere that the country most dependent on remittances is Somalia, where they’re more or less keeping the economy afloat. All this makes the pledge to cut down on non-White immigration – which is essentially what is being meant here – extremely difficult. It isn’t just going to be opposed by domestic anti-racism protesters, but also by the non-White commonwealth countries. I can remember a period a few years ago where tensions between Britain and these nations were so great that some of the newspapers speculated about Britain being thrown out of the Commonwealth as Pakistan and South Africa had been previously. No government would want such a diplomatic catastrophe.

Although, I don’t know though. The Tory right are pushing the idea of an Anglosphere, essentially an international federation of White majority, English-speaking countries – Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Would the fanatics desiring such as union as a bulwark against Black and Asian immigration go so far as to see the Commonwealth destroyed to set it up? Well, the fanatics of the Tory Brexiteers have shown themselves more than willing to sacrifice the Union just to leave the EU, all the while blaming Nicola Sturgeon and the Scots Nats.

I can therefore quite see various papers like the Heil and Depress pushing for an end Britain’s membership of the Commonwealth, if they thought they could spin it that it’s the Commonwealth’s fault and it would stop non-White immigration.

New Advert for British Rail Nationalisation Shows Europeans Laughing at Britain for Allowing Them to Buy It Up

August 19, 2022

The Mirror has published a very incisive piece about an advert calling for the renationalisation of the railways, in which Europeans laughs at us for allowing their state owned railways to buy up ours. The article by Mike Boyd, ‘Europe mercilessly mocks UK government for allowing British rail to fund their rail systems’ begins

‘The British rail system has been mocked by Europeans appearing in an advert pushing for the network to be made public.

In the viral video produced by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) – whose members are striking across the UK today – the franchised structure of the UK’s rail network is mercilessly ridiculed.

In the clip representatives of “the people” of France, Netherlands and Germany “thank the British people” allowing their “publicly owned rail networks” to “buy up your rail network”.

In one brutal moment the cast explain: “So when you buy a ticket on Thameslink, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Chiltern Railways, Merseyside Rail, Scotrail, Greater Anglia, London Midland, DLR, Northern Rail, London Overground, Cross Country, Southern and South Eastern, the profits go to making our railways cheaper.”

They add: “In 2012 we got £3million just from Greater Anglia. Not only that, the British taxpayers pay our franchises massive subsidies, without which we could never make a profit.

“So even if you never catch a train, you’re still sending us money. But before you say, ‘ah, we’ve left the EU’, that doesn’t make a difference.

“In fact, the Tory government want to privatise even more, which means we can take over even more.

“So to the British people we want to say, thank you.”‘

The advert, the article says, was first made in 2017, and has resurfaced as the rail workers launch industrial action.

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/europe-mercilessly-mocks-uk-government-for-allowing-british-rail-to-fund-their-rail-systems/ar-AA10Nk81?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=9fa61476fe6f474a9295c590d336f5f1

This is precisely correct, and there was criticism a few years ago of the Dutch railway company’s management of one of the rail franchises a few years ago, though the company responded with a statement that they were actually investing millions into it. But this problem isn’t just confined to the railway networks – it’s also in the electricity and water companies. I’ve got a feeling that the local water company for Bristol is owned by the Indonesians, and at least one of the electricity companies owned by the French. This is all a product of Thatcher’s privatisation. These companies have no interest in giving the privatised utilities the investment they need, only in using the profits to give dividends to their shareholders and bonuses to their chief executives. There are state owned electricity companies in the US, and I understand that those that aren’t owned by the state are protected by law from foreign companies owning a controlling stake in them. The same is true of the press, which is why Dirty Rupe Murdoch abandoned Australia to become an American citizen.

The railways, electricity and water need to be renationalised now. However much the Heil, Torygraph, Financial Times and GB News may scream against it.

Academic Historian Pauline Gregg on the Nationalization of the Electricity and Gas Industries

August 11, 2022

With the energy crisis threatening even greater numbers of working people with grinding poverty, while the bosses of these industries record obscene profits and pocket millions in bonuses, I looked up the nationalisation of the electricity and gas industries in Pauline Gregg’s The Welfare State (London: George G. Harrap, 1967). She writes of their nationalisation

‘The Electricity Bill came up for its second reading on February 3, 1947. The history of electricity supply was another example of haphazard growth and piecemeal legislation. At one time there had been no less than 635 Electricity Undertakings over the country; in London there were still 75 in 1947. The industry was governed by 243 Provisional and Special Orders and Acts of Parliament; tariffs and voltages differed from area to area, and often in adjoining districts; municipal ande company undertakings had never come to terms. Whichever Government had been returned in 1945 would have had to impose some degree of order and rationalization upon the industry. Scotland alone showed some ordered development. In 1941 Thomas Johnstone, the devoted Secretary of State for Scotland in the Coalition Government, had appointed a committee to consider the practicability of developing the water-power resources of Scotland for the generation of electricity. It was a scheme which would make work for areas which were losing their population besides bringing the great boon of electricity to small townships and scattered homesteads. It was a great tribute to a country at war that in February 1943 it had passed the Hydro-electric Development (Scotland) Act which established a Hydro-electric Board for the North of Scotland.

The Bill before the House in 1947 proposed to establish a British Electricity Authority with full responsibility for generating electricity and selling it in bulk. Local distribution would be in the hands of fourteen area boards, Scotland would still be served by the Scottish Hydro-electric Board, who jurisdiction was extended to include some 22,000 square miles north and west of a line from the Firth of Tay to the Firth of Clyde-about three-quarters of the total area of Scotland. Again the measure raised only a token opposition and took 165 Conservatives into the lobby against it on February 4, 1947, rather as a gesture against the Labour Government than from real opposition to the Bill.

A similar pattern was proposed for the reorganisation of the Gas Industry. On January 21, 1948, the Bill “to provide for the establishment of Area Gas Boards and a Gas Council” was presented by Hugh Gaitskell, who had succeeded Shinwell as Minister of Fuel and Power. It was given its second reading on February 11 by 354 votes to 179. Gas supply, like Electricity was complicated, disintegrated, inefficient and controlled by a legislative framework that was a major obstacle to improvement. All Reports agreed on the desirability for larger areas of administration and for great integration, and Gaitskell claimed that the most suitable structure for the industry would be found under public ownership.’ (pp. 73-4).

And on pages 76-77 Gregg explains why these measures were needed and that they didn’t constitute a political and economic revolution.

‘Nationalization, it has been said, was a political and economic revolution, forced through after a generation of waiting. There had been a generation-and more-of waiting, but both the election results of 1945 and the debates in the House of Commons overrode any suggestion that they were ‘forced through’. The myth that they involved “a political and economic revolution” is disposed of on several grounds: the industries concerned (with the exception of iron and steel) were either semi-derelict or in urgent need of such reorganisation as could come only from a central authority with large resources to back it; they were all natural monopolies amenable to the advantages of large-scale operation; they were either public services or approximating to such; their public control was in step with a world-wide movement and one which, in Britain itself, was already well established. Banking and insurance all over the world, big power projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority in the U.S.A., the Volta River scheme in Ghana, the Panama Canal Company, the Aswan Dam on the Nile, the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi, afforestation schemes, flood-control, navigation improvement, agricultural development, railways in Europe, America, Canada, Australia-schemes which started before or after and continued at the same time as the British nationalization undertakings – put Britain in the main flood of development, not in any revolutionary situation. For the Labour Party and for their opponents this was paradox that changed the political scene. Who had stolen whose thunder was difficult to determine, but, with the exception of iron and steel, it was unlikely that much party political capital could ever again be made out of the issue of nationalization’.

This last sentence was disproved when Thatcher and the Tories went on their rampage of privatisation in the 1980s and ’90s. But even then, support for privatisation never went above 50 per cent. The nationalisation of the utilities was common sense and the majority of the Tory party at the time understood this. Privatisation was supposed to open up further sources of investment, and competition would lower prices.

This has not happened.

Energy prices are going up, while bosses are pocketing massive pay rises. Thatcherism, as I have said in a few previous posts, has failed.

The only solution is to renationalise the utilities.

Did Barbados and Jamaica Really Appeal to Us to Take their Workers to Prevent a Political Crisis?

August 8, 2022

Here’s another unusual claim from Simon Webb of History Debunked about the origins of the first wave of Caribbean immigration here in the 1940s and 50s, if some of the great readers of this blog will indulge me talking about him once again. I know how he and his very right-wing views really annoy some people. This morning Webb put up a video repeating the claim once again that the Windrush migrants hadn’t been invited by the British government, but instead took advantage of the cheap cabins available on the Empire Windrush to come to Britain to seek work. He then moved from this claim to discuss the advertisements London Transport had placed in the Caribbean for men willing to work as bus drivers over here. Citing the Runnymede Commission and something they say on their website, to which he provides a link, Webb claimed that this had been done, not because Britain needed the Labour but for the benefit of the Barbadian and Jamaican authorities. At this period in the 1950s, there had been high unemployment and civil unrest in those colonies, and the British government had made the appeal for workers their to relieve the political pressure by taking the hotheads to Britain. He also stated that the West Indian nurses that came over here were intended simply to study, then go back to their own countries taking their skills with them.

I’m not an expert on immigration or immigration policy, and this occurred well before I was born. But history matters, even when some of the claims about it come from people like Simon Webb. I always understood that there was a labour shortage, and that some sort of appeal for commonwealth workers had been made. Though this wasn’t necessarily for Black workers. I therefore left this comment on the video:

‘I’ve seen several stories in the press about the appeal for West Indian workers to come to Britain. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent a decade or so ago claimed that the British government had put out such a call, but that five Labour MPs had joined the opposition in voting against it. Another version I’ve heard is that the British government had put out a call for commonwealth workers, but were expecting them to come from the White colonies like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They weren’t expecting the mass influx of Black and Asian migrants. Is there any way to get to the bottom of these stories and see whether they’re truth or myth?’

Webb claims that the story that Caribbean immigrants were invited here is a myth created by Blacks a little while ago, and uncritically adopted by Whites because it made them feel ‘warm and fuzzy’. But from pieces like Alibhai-Brown’s in the press, it seems to me that some kind of appeal had been made. I suspect that you would have to read through a lot of books and documents looking for the truth of these claims. However, I do wonder if any of the readers or commenters here know anything about this issue and so may be able to correct or refute it.

Some of the comments to Webb’s video are interesting as personal reminiscences of meeting Caribbean immigrants and hearing from them why they came here, as well as seeing films in the Caribbean advertising for workers.

53supermojo said:

‘n 1964/5 I went to Football Matches and stood generally in the same place and by same people at every game. Amongst them were a group of Bus Drivers and Conductors from Barbados. Sometimes they came to the Match in their work Clothing , having worked the Morning Shift. They were all friendly and well mannered. They told my older Cousin and his Workmates, that they came here because they were unemployed , they saw advert in local newspaper for people to come and work here. So someone must have known about that in Home Office ? They said they had been here for 3 to 4 years at time and moved from London Area up to West Midlands , they lived in ‘ Digs ‘ and had Girlfriends. If they are still here , they would be in their late 80s or 90s now !’

Gary Dennis commented

‘My parents and many of her friends and associates from Jamaica recalled seeing what that called ‘propaganda’ films encouraging them to come to Britain. It painted a romantic and quant image of Britain, which did exists but not for most people. If you know any elderly Caribbean people ask them about these films and adverts. When Jamaicans came they actually had not intent of staying beyond five year, they wanted to make a bit of money then go back. Life was not as they expected and most were unable to leave and therefore settled in and made the best of it. My suspicion was that my parents generation had been ‘invited’ – or more perhaps more accurately ‘an opening made’ – to undercut the cost of local labour. I believe this was the origin of racial tension but I have no evidence. I remember reading an article in Lobster Magazine where Harold MacMillan was heard to have said in conversation that he didn’t expect so many to come. I began to question the need for immigrants from the Caribbean when I began to take an interest in basic economics and started to question the premise that there was not enough labour available after the second world war. Obviously many people died but I understand that women had already taken up much of the slack in the workforce. I don’t claim to know the truth but there are some of us descendants of immigrants that also question the official narratives about immigration. We need to remember that some of these countries were British territories and these policies and actions would have been arrangements between Parliament and the Governor Generals of the countries and I suspect that the trigger for the movement of immigrants originates from these parties with Barbados only having got it’s independence in 1966 and Jamaica in 1962; well after Windrush. Jamaica had turned violent because of militant unionism during the 1930s and 40s escalating significantly in the 60s so I suspect the worry expressed by the governments was less to do with the welfare of the locals but the stability of the territory. The European Coal Community also took advantage of massive movements of cheap labour after the second world war. Is cheap labour the common theme here?’

I’ve heard that many migrants from what is now Pakistan and India also originally came here to work for a very limited time before going back to their home countries. It was chain migration, in which one set of migrants would move in after the last set had returned. According to this view, the great surge in Black and Asian immigration came after Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and the imposition of limits on immigration by Ted Heath, as there was a rush of people to come to this country before the gates were closed. So many migrants from south Asia came here with the intention of making enough money to go back to Pakistan or India again that one ethnographic study of the British Asian community I’ve come across was called The Myth of Return.

As for women taking on male jobs during the War, I understood that there was the expectation that after the War women would return to their domestic role, just as they did after World War II, and that this is largely what happened until the rise of second wave feminism in the 1960s.

Also interesting is this comment from david c:

‘Back in the 60’s, I worked at a well known clothing company, who were praised for their charitable efforts to give employment, to about 300 people from Mauritius, with an agreement from their government, so they could work in the basement of the shop, making clothes. Nobody mentioned that they were being paid about 50% less than the the rest of us.’

This looks like a nasty bit of exploitation under the cover of humanitarianism, which makes you wonder what else was going on.

Thomas Sowell on How Migration Can Create Jobs, Not Take Them Away

July 6, 2022

Thomas Sowell is a Black American conservative. I’ve started reading his Race and Culture, whose title suggests it should be some wretched Nazi screed, but which isn’t. Sowell believes that peoples are shaped by their history and the environments in which they were formed, and thus different people can develop different skills and attitudes to education, commerce and so on. These may be retained by those peoples when they immigrate to a new country. In the chapter on ‘Race and Migration’, he describes how various immigrant groups came to dominate particular areas of the economy in places like Latin America, Africa, and Australia. For example, European immigrants came to dominate trade and industry in many South American countries because the indigenous landowning elites looked down on those sectors. Their preferred occupations were in the profession, such as law or medicine, or in government. He discusses how the Lebanese similarly became important in trade and industry in West Africa, and the Indians, particularly Gujaratis in East Africa. He notes that immigrant success in these areas is often resented, as if the industries the immigrants create somehow happened naturally and the immigrants somehow seized control of them over the indigenous peoples. This was the mentality of the Ugandans when they expelled their Asian population in 1972.

Sowell doesn’t believe in ‘political correctness’ or multiculturalism, and states that often the association between an immigrant group and higher crime rates or poor sanitation really isn’t one of perception and stereotype. He is also critical of multiculturalism as it can seal ethnic minority groups off from the skills, education and values of the mainstream society, skills and attitudes that would allow them to successfully integrate and compete. But he also makes the point that immigration does not necessarily mean that immigrant groups take jobs away from the indigenous or host society. Indeed, the may actually create them. He writes

‘In addition to real costs entailed by immigrants, there are often also false charges that they are a burden to the native-born population, in situations where they are not. However, sometimes there are hidden costs which may be different from what is charged, but significant nonetheless. A common charge against immigrants, for example, is that they take jobs from native-born workers. But there is no fixed number of jobs, from which those going to immigrants can be subtracted. More producers coming into an economy mean more output and more demand, which in turn creates more jobs.

It is an empirical question whether the additional jobs created as a result of the immigrants economic activities equals or exceeds the number of jobs the immigrants themselves take. It is by no means out of the question that native workers may have more jobs available after immigrants arrive. Studies of the large influx of Mexican immigrants into southern California, for example, showed no adverse impact on either the unemployment rate or the labour force participation rate of Blacks in that region, who might be competing for similar jobs. In fact, job trends for Blacks were more favourable in this area heavily impacted by Mexican immigrants than in the nation at large. But while there has apparently been an increase in the total number of jobs, there has been a correspondingly lower pay scale, as the large influx of immigrants has lessened the need for employers to raise wages in order to attract sufficient workers.’ (p,.43).

Which is all very interesting. You often hear the claim that immigrants are taking jobs, and the right are claiming that wages are lower because of foreign immigration. But you don’t hear that immigration can create jobs, and that’s an important omission.

Perhaps it should be made more often in response to the anti-immigration brigade.