Posts Tagged ‘Michael Stewart’

James O’Brien’s Reaction to Tweezer Prancing at Tory Conference

October 4, 2018

Yesterday Tweezer took it upon herself to enter the stage at the Tory party dancing, coming in shaking her booty to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’. I think this was supposed to maker her appear upbeat and confident, showing how little she was worried about Brexit, challenges from BoJo and other rivals and Jeremy Corbyn’s revitalized Labour party. And presumably her, or her advisers, thought the choice of the Abba song would stress how regal she was.

The opposite has been the case. With a few notable exceptions, the prevalent mood across the country seems to have been a mixture of mirth and acute, vicarious embarrassment. The left-wing, disabled issues vlogger, Gordon Dimmack, put up a video yesterday about it, describing her as ‘dad-dancing’. Which is quite accurate. She did come across very much as that middle-aged relative, very often someone’s father, who proceeds to embarrass their offspring by dancing at family parties. Mike has put up a very good piece about Tweezer’s cringe-inducing display over at his blog, where he quotes the good folks on Twitter on this weird spectacle.

They’re all worth reading, but my favourites are the Tweet from Wandering Aeonghus, who said “Abba have condemned the use of their music by extreme right wing political groups. Do keep up!” and James Melville, who suggested new, more appropriates for the Abba song to fit with the Tory conference. They were

“You are the Brexit queen
Two left feet, dance like Mr Bean
Brexit queen
Feel the heat from the EU team, oh yeah
Plead with France, you don’t stand a chance
Having the worst time of your life
Ooh, see no deal, watch us scream
Digging the Brexit queen”.

Wirral In It Together, on the other hand, made a serious point about Tweezer and her racism and victimization of the poor and disabled:

“Theresa May dancing?! Are there graves of poor, homeless, abused, disabled, black, Asian, Hispanic people under the #CPC18 stage?”

Some people in the media, amazingly, appear to have been impressed. The I has glowing headlines today about her performance. And Laura Kuenssberg tweeted “That was one of best speech entrances ever from the person the public might least expect it from”.

This got angry replies pointing out how poor her assessment of it was and how out of touch Kuenssberg herself was from Michael Stewart and Fiona Nouri. While Matt Thomas tweeted that “Presumably Fred West could’ve come out doing Gangnam Style and Laura would’ve put a positive twist on it.”

LBC’s James O’Brien spoke for so many in this video showing his reaction to it all on YouTube.

‘Oh no! This is awful!’ he cries, before he facepalms.

You can hear the spirit of the late comedy legend, Frankie Howerd, saying ‘Titter ye not! Ooooooh noooo! It’s rude to mock the afflicted’.

But there’s a serious aspect to May’s weird cavortings. She’s dancing ’cause she’s trying to stay in power, and she’s proud that her party has reduced the working people of this country to abject poverty. Proud that they’re deporting people of colour, who have every right to be here. Proud that they’re privatizing the NHS and introducing charges for services that should be free. Proud that sanctions and the work capability tests means that the unemployed and disabled are dying of starvation. Proud that there are nearly a quarter of a million people using food banks. And the poverty for ordinary people will get worse, thanks to their partisan and utterly inept handling of Brexit.

The last word should really go to Mrs Gee, who said

“Young people – take a long hard look. Then register to vote and #voteLabour like your fucking lives depend on it. Because actually they do.”

Mike concludes his article with this

Every word of that is true. The lives of the young – their quality, everything that makes a life worth living – are in danger every moment the Conservatives are in power because the Conservatives want to take everything that makes life worth living away from working people.

And yes, that will probably extend to the right to reproduce, at some point in the future. Which is odd, because if there’s one thing Mrs May’s performance showed, it’s that it is the Tories who really shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/10/03/theresa-mays-dancing-queen-routine-plumbs-new-depths-of-tory-self-parody/

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Further Keynsian Arguments against Cutting Wages to Lower Unemployment

March 10, 2014

Keynes Book Cover

On Saturday I presented some of the arguments from Keynsian economics in Michael Stewart’s book Keynes and After (London; Penguin 1986) against the Conservative policy, based on Monetarist and Neoliberal economics, that cutting wages will automatically create more jobs as labour becomes more economical to employ. In addition to those I blogged about on Saturday, Stewart makes a number of other arguments against the policy. One of these concerns economies of scale, which state that if unemployment falls, then real wages will actually rise. He states

Thirdly, there is the troublesome fact that in many industries there are increasing, not decreasing, returns to scale: in other words, as output and employment increase, labour productivity rises and unit costs fall. This fact has some awkward implications for much conventional economic theory; in particular it means that as the economy expands and unemployment falls from, say, 10 per cent to 5 per cent, real wages must rise, not fall. (As we noted in Chapter 5, Keynes did not incorporate this insight into the General Theory, but highlighted it in an article in the Economic Journal in 1939) If it is true that real wages will rise as unemployment falls, to postulate, as the monetarists do, that it is necessary to reduce real wages in order to reduce unemployment would seem to be startlingly perverse.

Which again suggests that the Tory policy of cutting wages may be creating unemployment. Not that they have any motivation to see unemployment fall. The Angry Yorkshireman has stated several times that Neoliberal theory after von Hayek and von Mises states that there should be a constant pool of the unemployed at 6 per cent.

Stewart also discusses the way the massive growth in unemployment during the early 1980s actually affected different groups of workers. Some workers actually saw their wages rise, while at the same time suffering unemployment, while the unskilled workers at the bottom of the pile suffered a drop in wages as well as being hit the most by unemployment. Stewart states

Finally, there is some evidence about what actually happened when unemployment in Britain started its big rise early in 1980, and in particular what happened to different groups of workers. Between 1979 and 1983 the real earnings of non-manual workers rose by 10 per cent, while the employment of these manual workers fell by 8 per cent. The real earnings of non-manual workers, on the other hand, rose by 19 per cent – but unemployment of these workers rose by 12 per cent. Even more striking is what happened at the top and bottom of the earnings scale. The real hourly earnings of the top 10 10 per cent of adult male earners (among whom unemployment is very low) rose by 19 per cent between 1979 and 1984. The real hourly earnings of the bottom 10 per cent, which suffered heavily from the rise in unemployment during these five years, actually fell slightly over the period. Thus it is very hard to believe that what happens to real wages determines what happens to employment. The correct inference is surely that the demand for labour determines employment and real wages. Over the four or five years after 1979, groups of workers whose services were in demand suffered little unemployment, and enjoyed rising real wages. Groups of workers whose services were not in demand suffered heavy unemployment, and found it difficult to maintain, let alone increase, their real wage.

He then suggests some methods by which unemployment could be reduced.

The moral of these figures, then, is that if unemployment is to be reduced among low-paid manual workers, the demand for their labour must be increased. One way of doing this (a crucially important ‘supply-side’ measure’) is to train or retrain them in skills that are in demand. Another, more controversial, measure is to reduce or eliminate employers’ social security contributions for the low paid, thus making them more attractive to employ without reducing the take-home payoff the workers themselves. But the basic answer is the Keynsian one: to increase effective demand. This will raise employment and reduce unemployment. It may or may not lead to a fall in real wages, depending on the shape of the average wage curve. But any such fall in the real wage will be the effect, not the cause, of the rise in employment. As Keynes himself put it,

The propensity to consume and the rate of new investment determine between them the volume of employment, and the volume of employment is uniquely related to a given level of real wages – not the other way round.

Blair’s government did have a policy of retraining the unemployed through the establishment of computer literacy courses, which were free to those without jobs. This has, however, been subverted by Osborne and co. into various courses, which are simply chiefly designed to teach the unemployed how to look for work and be a good employee, in order to be successful at job interviews. These have been constructed as a way of psychologically reinforcing the attitude that the unemployed are to be blame for their condition, rather than the economy or the government’s own employment policies.

Osborne is also trying to make the employment of the young unemployed more attractive by cutting employers’ NI contributions. It’s a policy which will also mean that these same workers will thus lack government social security coverage – another policy designed to punish the working class in favour of the employers.

The government has not, however, done anything to create demand, following the dictates of Neoliberal economic policy that this would be bad, quite apart from the employers’ class interests, which bitterly resent government interference, except, of course, when it is being subsidised. But until that happens, any policies the government launches ostensibly to tackle unemployment will fail. Not that this worries them, as the Neoliberal economics they have adopted demands that labour should be cheap and so their should be a constant pool of unemployed. They thus have absolutely no desire to see a fall in unemployment, merely its continuing disguise in order to win elections.