It is often stated by politicians that freedom, democracy and the rule of law are the cornerstones of our society and culture. However, the facts point to the gradual attrition of the constitution by political parties so that laws are becoming cornerstones for the support of groups of constituents and, in particular, political parties in power and their benefactors. As a result, we have witnessed in our lifetime the Conservative party an erstwhile "one nation" party exercising moderate policies becoming a source of innovation which is destructive to any notions of a unified nation.
The recent experience with the growth in financialization and the post-2008 financial crisis are useful indicators of just how this change has already progressed since the destructive outcomes are self-evident.
Macroeconomic policies including Bank of England monetary policies have overseen falling real investment, declining real incomes, declining productivity and large sections of the community heading for food banks. The balance sheet national accounts approach to national economic management completely ignores the strategic nature of productivity-oriented investments and as a result governments have substituted this imperative by flaccid "infrastructural initiatives to create employment" as a political expediency with absolutely no objective or evidence-based justifications for such investments in terms of the ability of the country to support reasonable real incomes in the future. HS2 is a case in point destined to constantly over-run its latest proposed adjusted budget...but it employs people. This is not the sort of thing that is installed as policy of a government that believes in freedom and enterprise but rather one that is keeping the "people" quiet by employing them to build pyramids in line with the follies created by Keynesian economics.
It is worth reminding ourselves of rational policies of the past that worked more effectively. Richard (Rab) Butler's Education Act of 1944 was a rational step in the right direction when a tripartite system of Grammar, Technical and Modern schools were introduced. The most important element was the technical school component where children received instruction in practical applied capabilities as well as academic. Broadly-speaking, the view of technical schools was that they were vocational in nature as opposed to being the model for all education. As a result they were seriously under-funded and the Grammar schools gained the image of being the example of what education should be as a totally academic educational environment where the sense of academic is lack of application. Let us just indicate that Rab Butler went in the right direction but not far enough.
Although, the years 1945 through 1965 were considered to be the "Golden Years of Keynesianism" it turns out that Keynesian policies were not applied during this period. Harold Macmillan was quite at home with economic planning and tripartite negotiations between industry, the unions and government since all concerned know that the "free market" entails unacceptable risks as witnessed with the 1929 New York crash and the Great Depression.
Robin Matthews completed a research study to enquire as to why the United Kingdom underwent unprecedented growth in the period 1945 to 1965. The economy maintained a low level of unemployment, raised real wages in a more or less equitable fashion and the standards of living rose while a National Health Service was introduced and developed. Matthews found that Keynesian policies were not in fact applied and the government ran a positive current account throughout the period and policy was highly deflationary. Therefore, something other than macroeconomic policy was the reason for this relative economic success. One has to conclude that this period marks a period when “we got things right” by not allowing macroeconomic policies to interfere in the activities of constituents and companies going about their business and who, left to their own devices, got things right on their own accord. The positive current account message tells us that the government was not indulging in the application of exogenous money as a policy instrument which, of course, Keynes’ General Theory recommended for situations of rising unemployment and sluggish growth, but in this period the low unemployment rates and sound growth did not require any such action. Harold Macmillan annoyed a lot of people by stating in 1957, that "Britons' have never had it so good", but his statement reflected a reality, no matter how imperfect, that Labour did not like to hear.
We then enter a strange period between 1965 and 1975 through Wilson and Heath governments. Anthony Crosland, the Labour government Secretary of State for Education in pursuit of greater "upward mobility" introduced comprehensive education in 1965. This was of course the wrong decision for three reasons:
After 1975, the most dramatic changes took place during the economic crisis generated by the steep rises in international petroleum prices and the ensuing state of slumpflation. The drama surrounded the incapacity of main contending macroeconomic theories including monetarism and Keynesianism to create policy instruments capable handling the rising inflation and unemployment to guide the economy back to a steady growth path and income distribution. It is in this confusion largely caused by economists having followed a wholly academic training and therefore not being able to identify effective solutions. As a result, major political party patrons including large corporations and banks effectively imposed policy solutions on an inept Thatcher regime. Financial regulations were loosened, privatization of many public activities was promoted including land sales held by government agencies. This initiated a major transfer of wealth towards political party patrons and away from the majority of the national constituency. Gordon Brown, fearful of the association of interest rate policy induced disasters such as house repossessions ended up taking the disastrous decision of making the Bank of England "independent" in 1997. This removed any control over monetary policy from Parliamentary oversight let alone subject to voter approval in elections.
The period 1997 through 2010 saw the introduction of PPP and expensive financial schemes creating a debt treadmill for the NHS, the Iraq war fiasco and the 2008 financial crisis where Gordon brown, for some reason has been praised for organizing a "solution" which turned out to be quantitative easing (QE).
It is worth noting that during the slumpflation crisis (1975-1990) two new economic policy propositions appeared:
However, technological adjustments and innovation do feature as an important aspect of the other new economic policy development in the form of Price Performance Policy as a proposition of the Real Incomes Approach to Economics. This was, and remains, the only supply side theory and policy. It has however, never been applied. In 1981, Richard Wainright, the Liberal Party Economics Spokesman, was one of the few politicians to acknowledge the potential value of this approach.
Recent output by the Real Incomes School has explained why QE failed. QE arose largely through bullying and threats from banks and financial intermediation services including hedge funds, insurance and real estate interests. This was a repeat of the circustances surrounding slumpflation in 1979. Conventional economists, schooled at the "best" universities could not offer, on the basis of their existing knowledge of economic theory any alternative. Most economists' theory was and remains honed by peer-reviewed publications by the very same economists occupying chairs or working for think tanks whose benefactors are mainly financial institutions or large corporations. So the breadth of knowledge and employment interests of many economists circulated within that domain dominated by the political party policy and financial services sector interests. The same nexus that controls a good part of the media. As a result they based their decision-making on the Quantity Theory of Money (QTM), an identity that has been around for since the 16th Century which "explains" the relationship between money volumes and inflation. The document "Real Money Theory" explains why the QTM is completely out of date and flawed and also why it could not predict what would happen under QE. This is why QE failed to generate recovery and why under the current government it will continue to fail. The principal outcomes of QE over the last decade, prior to Covid-19, were falling real investment, real incomes and productivity and a massive inflation in assets (real estate, land, precious metals, and corporate shares largely based on corporate buy backs using cheap money) favouring party benefactors very much at the expense of the majority of the voters in the United Kingdom. The Bank of England whose main constituency is private financial institutions and their decisions remain beyond the reach of Parliament and any negotiation on policy only takes place within a club made up of the Chancellor, who is a major asset holder in his own right, the Treasury, overloaded with personnel closely connected to investment banking and the City, and the Bank of England.
As is self evident, a major shift has occurred where the constitutional provisions that operated under Harold Macmillan have largely disappeared and the concept of any negotiations between industry, unions and the government has been replaced by the "free market" which has not served us well.
Matters are not helped when there is a group of people who take governmental decisions who believe that economic success is directly related to people's IQ and therefore those who are successful, by any means, are citizens worthy of support, through such things as government handouts. If such people are political party benefactors, or as a result of over-generous donations from the Treasury or Bank of England, promise to become party benefactors, then as can be observed in the wake of QE a tiny increasingly wealthy group become less and less interested in any constitutional principles which see constitution as a stable framework that protects the interests of the state, the constituents and the individual. No, the constituency is there to be meddled with to the advantage of the benefactors not to help those who are struggling as a result of having passed through a largely useless academic educational system that produces output that enters a higher education system that operates on the basis of debt only to find there are insufficient employment opportunities on qualifying.
When governments see prosperity and success as being linked directly to finance and asset holdings they no longer consider the individual or the real incomes of those employed by the "employment creators" who happen to be the benefactors and who have also benefited from QE support. This slide to a Soviet-type government arbitrary intervention to the benefit of party aperatiks, members and supporters is a shocking development. It is self-evident that the "management companies" selected to carry out a range of government-inspired initiatives from track and trace to HS2 suffer from top officials who are not particularly practical because they are not of the domain of technologies and techniques they are attempting to manage. Those of these domains have enough tacit knowledge to understand what is required instinctively and do not having to learn on the job creating the havoc, over-spends and chaos witnessed. Very highly paid incompetents in charge is an affront to the many who could have done a better job at perhaps less than half the salary. This is not a class-based commentary but rather a statement of facts that, on a daily basis, become more apparent to the majority of the people in this country.
That the NHS is on the table to support party benefactors, existing or potential, is, under our system, self-evident, this is always in the ambiguous "subject to interpretation" small print. To prevent the High Court becoming involved in any future disputes around such issues the government is moving towards curtailing the role of the Supreme Court in taking decisions over constitutional questions that affect the ability of government to transgress what are obvious requirements to most. With the drift in constitutional abuse at the hands of British political parties and politicians, our foreign policy has often supported the USA's policies of "Humanitarian interventions" and "regime change" aiming to create the foundations of a democracy "on behalf of the people" of the countries who sunsequently face so much violent destruction that they end up living in failed states. Politicians plead that this wanton destruction of so many lives, is what "keeps us safe". But our politicians have supported such foreign ventures of destruction and at the last count, since 1945, US foreign ventures have resulted in the deaths of over 20 million people worldwide, most of them civilians. Our governments and our embarassingly obsequious politicians keep referring to "freedom, democracy and the rule of law" as some sort of value and yet were, in general, supportive of these immoral murderous campaigns.
These revolutionary constitutional propositions and acts emamanting from clear sighted people in England were an effort to clear this land of the sort of cruelty, aggression and the disastrous excesses that led to and were experienced in a Civil War. This created an international revolutionary movement, little recognised, leading to the development of equating constitution and the role of law with higher achievable ideals and therefore a basis for an operational civilized society of equals based on the exercis of mutual respect and normal expectations of behaviour shaping a community conscience. Arbitrary rule over the people was to be banished. This is why it is unacceptable that the current government treats these values as play things of no consequence or to be used only if and when it pleases them in a grotesque and irresponsible parody of governance. What is worse is that we, as citizens, who consider ourselves to be free, live in a country which is called a democracy and where the law and ineffective politicians and political system turns us into helpless onlookers on an atrocity in our midst as well as atrocities carried out under the instruction of "our" government on "our behalf" in other countries. The evolution of society, under the manipulation of politial parties, is towards an imposed subserviance to all to governments, government agencies and party benefactors. This is an attempt to reverse over four centuries of enlightned constitutional advances that have benefited people in all countries, if not in practice, at least in terms of aspiration.
The USA position in the Assange case is without merit and only follows an arrogant and blind vindictive intent directed at someone who has caused embarrassment to US agencies whose sole purpose is to uphold their image while ruining it, at the same time, in their unashamed brazen acts of gross intimidation of journalists and UK judiciary affairs. The operational logic of the US side is to force people to endure an outrage for fear of becoming conspiculous by rebelling against it since it is now established that instead of seeking the truth the US government will hurt those who point out or report truths. This stench of a ridiclulous outsized hypocracy needs to be cleared up.
Such governments and our own in the UK fear the truth and for this reason are attempting to close down avenues for people to seek and gain access to facts under the freedom for information provisions.
The British governments have cultivated, at various points, a class differentiation qualified by many different metrics and now disguised in the form of identity politics and dog whistle signals to gain popularity. This demagogic New Marxist idea was initially the foundation of Neil Kinnock's new approach to Labour with the notion of staying in power regardless. However, he turned out to be unelectable. So, this was taken up by Blair following Brown's courting of the City of London and Blair's "Clause IV moment" which was no more than switching the unions by asking, "Do you want 10 more years of Thatcherism?".
The Blair government, on 19% of the popular vote, therefore endured under our ridiculous first-past-the-post electoral system and dog whistle identify politics, surviving on the basis of declarations of intent to satisfy all needs while delivery, over the long term, became unsatisfactory to the degree of being destructive.
Under the current circumstance an unassailable Parliamentary majority by a party with just 150,000 members in the country, sees an out-of-control administration intent on freeing their destructive and arbitrary decision making from any constraints imposed by constutional provisions.
This country faces a constitutional crisis which is undermining the rule of law, democracy and our freedom as a result of a pursuit of the maintenance of an unassailable arbitrary power of a factional minority.