Tag Archives: economics & budget

  • Textiles and Brexit: No Silver Lining

    I recently visited the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield. Speaking with Managing Director Bill Macbeth gave a fascinating insight into the history of textiles in the region. But it also came with some worrying warnings about Brexit.

  • Courtesy Photo-Rave / Creative Commons

    LOSING control of our money, borders, laws and trade

    Brexit supporters are organised and disciplined in their constantly repeated sound-bites. Almost every day you can hear the mantra “Take back control of our money, borders, laws and trade”. Constant repetition of this line is aimed at it becoming a commonplace, something that is accepted without discussion. Yet the assertion is false.

  • Courtesy Leo Wilkinson

    Should Labour fear single market rules?

    Are there specific aspects of single market rules that would be problematic for a Labour government? Several are cited from time to time. Writing for Labour List, I point out that none in fact would cause insurmountable problems to delivering our manifesto,

  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    No Deal? Nonsense

    The idea that, in order to strengthen its position in the Brexit negotiations, Britain must show that it is prepared to walk away without a deal, is a load of nonsense.

  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    Dispelling Roger Bootle’s Euromyths

    Last week, economist Roger Bootle wrote a piece for The Telegraph entitled ‘We cannot be fooled by the myth of EU economic success’. I have taken the liberty of reproducing it here and correcting and commenting upon many of the inaccuracies that the piece contained.

  • courtesy Andrew Bossi via Wikimedia Commons

    “Market access”: don’t leave home without it?

    I’ve recently noticed a subtle tactic that effectively allows pro-Brexit politicians to dodge inconvenient truths about their views. The basic Brexit dilemma is one that I’ve discussed several times on this blog. In a nutshell, it’s this. Those who voted Leave were promised both continued membership of the EU single market (which is vital to […]

  • Construction workers

    Does migration trigger wage compression or unemployment?

    The economic case for Britain’s EU membership always seemed obvious, even before it had been confirmed with evidence from virtually every major economist, independent study and international body, plus data from the Bank of England, UK Statistics Authority, and HM Treasury. For a while, Vote Leave’s only available response was to throw mud at this […]

  • courtesy Ken Teegardin (seniorliving.org) via Flickr

    A clean bill of health

    An exchange of letters in the Times brought up the old myth that the EU accounts had not been signed off by the auditors. I wrote the following reply, which was not printed. Sir, When it comes to the EU accounts, Alan Sked (letters, May 25) should go back to primary sources rather than trusting […]

  • courtesy Graham Richardson via Flickr

    A healthy respect for the facts

    It’s World Health Day. This annual event, organised by the United Nations World Health Organisation, is designed to shine the spotlight on health-related issues. And healthcare has been in the spotlight in recent days here in the UK too — this time linked to our ongoing debate about EU membership. I suppose, as one of […]

  • Stronger In

    Behind the headlines of Stronger In

    This week, the Stronger In campaign sent a newsletter called Europe & You to households across Britain. It does a good job of presenting the hard-headed economic case for our continuing EU membership. Earlier this week, a group of journalists got together to launch an excellent new initiative called InFacts, dedicated to fact-checking EU campaign […]

  • EU value for money

    Value for money

    If you earn the UK average salary in 2015, then Britain’s EU membership cost you 11.8p a day. This graphic shows how UK public spending breaks down.

  • European Commission building

    Are these really EU failures?

    I sent this letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph today. Dear Editor, You list “a democratic deficit, economic stagnation and chronic failure over mass migration” as the failures of the EU (Telegraph View, 10 Dec). But are they? “Democratic deficit” trips nicely off the tongue. But it would beggar belief that 28 democracies […]

  • courtesy Stephen Richards via geograph.org.uk

    Widening the north-south divide

    One of the most striking changes in Britain over the last half-century has been the ever greater tilt in economic activity towards London and the south-east. Attempts to counter it through regional aid, regional development agencies and now the so-called ‘northern powerhouse‘ have failed to stem the tide. On the contrary, the trend has accelerated. […]

  • courtesy Altogetherfool via Flickr

    How to oppose austerity without looking like deficit-deniers

    LabourList have published an extended essay of mine about the current economic situation. Across Europe – from Spain to Scotland, from the Labour leadership contest to the situation in Greece – this is turning into a central political question. No party of the left can support savage cuts to essential benefits, nor to vital investments […]

  • Greece: a deal, but…

    I’m relieved that a deal has at last been reached – but it comes after weeks of considerable damage to the Greek economy. I have every sympathy with the Greek people, but no sympathy with the Greek government. The successive u-turns of the Syriza/far-right coalition have been hugely damaging: they seemingly agreed a package three […]

  • courtesy Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons

    Austerity, Keynes and debt

    The term ‘austerity’ features prominently in recent debates, whether we’re discussing Greece, Osborne’s spending cuts, or the Labour leadership election. But the term itself is rarely defined. Yet what we mean by ‘austerity’, and the circumstances in which various forms of it apply, are both crucial. For some, austerity has the precise meaning of ‘public […]

  • Syriza

    Greece: don’t take things at face value

    My blog on Greece (originally on this website) has been republished as an article by Left Foot Forward: At first sight, the natural sympathies of many people, especially on the left, will be with Greece. Is this not a plucky little country, standing up to the IMF and the richer eurozone countries to oppose austerity […]

  • courtesy Philly boy92 via Wikimedia Commons

    Greece: don’t take it at face value!

    It seems that there are just hours left to avoid a drastic situation in Greece. At first sight, the natural sympathies of many people, especially on the left, will be with Greece. Is this not a plucky little country, standing up to the IMF and the richer eurozone countries to oppose austerity politics? And there […]

  • Courtesy jeffowenphotos via Wikimedia

    We didn’t vote against transparency

    The Times ran a story yesterday on the vote in the European Parliament to discharge the annual budget, and specifically on a vote we took on transparency of MEPs’ expenses. (Read the original story here — not free.) The Times alleged that MEPs across the political spectrum — including Labour, Tories and UKIP — voted […]

  • via Pixabay

    Our economic sword of Damocles

    A sword of Damocles is hanging over the British economy. It arises from the unique combination of our accumulated debt levels and our massive trade deficit. This leaves us more vulnerable to the consequences of an external shock, even one far smaller than the 2008 financial crisis. And if anything nearing that scale were to […]

  • The plight of Greece: beware facile comparisons

    Greece’s patience with austerity has snapped is the verdict of the Guardian. But has patience with Greece from its creditors also snapped? There is much sympathy for the plight of ordinary Greek citizens after one of the biggest drops in the standard of living in modern times, mass unemployment and cuts to even basic public […]

  • Photo from Wikimedia Commons

    A trillion euros of free money – but for whom?

    The European Central Bank today announced a €1 trillion quantitative easing programme. Quantitative easing — printing money to stimulate the economy — is conducted by means of the central bank purchasing assets. This raises the price of assets. Now, assets tend to be owned disproportionately by the well-off. So, in general, boosting the supply of […]

  • courtesy Epizentrum via Wikimedia Commons

    ECB stress tests — accounting standards

    Question In a comprehensive assessment of 130 banks, consisting of an asset review (AQR) and a stress test, it was found that some banks had been ‘explicitly non-compliant’ with accounting practices, with some 8% of the total provision increase reported as deriving from a misalignment with accounting standards. Have any sanctions been applied to those […]

  • Courtesy of Wikimedia

    Osborne’s smoke and mirrors

    The line coming from Tory party headquarters this afternoon is that Osborne has emerged from a finance ministers’ meeting with a great victory for Britain. The UK’s additional contribution to the EU budget has, he says, been not only delayed but also halved. Well, time to set a few things straight: The supposed ‘reduction’ that […]

  • image from Wikipedia, creative commons licence

    EU budget row: why the delayed reaction?

    The more you dig into the EU budget surcharge question, the more the conduct of the British government and David Cameron becomes questionable — as it becomes clear that they actually knew about it months ago. Remember the song and dance when the government announced to great fanfare that the UK economy was bigger than […]

  • Barroso’s application of EU budget rules politically inept

    The European Commission’s announcement of adjustments to the contributions to the EU budget may well be a simple matter of applying the rules agreed by all the member countries, but the way it’s been handled (by the outgoing Barroso Commission) was politically inept. The agreed rules are that each country pays into the EU budget […]

  • Lord Hill in parliamentary hearing (photo courtesy of European Parliament)

    Hill hearing: initial reflections

    The highly anticipated cross-examinations of the British nominee for the Commission, Lord Hill, took place this afternoon. Earlier in the day I set the scene with my preview of the hearing, so now it’s time to share my initial reflections on his performance. Hill went out of his way to charm MEPs. He started his address […]

  • Me in Commissioner-designate Vella's hearing

    Hill hearings: a preview

    One of the most highly anticipated Commissioner cross-examinations kicks off today in the European Parliament at 12:30 (UK time): that of the British nominee, Lord Hill. By way of setting the scene, I’ve been asked many times in the last few days whether Parliament is ‘gunning for’ Lord Hill, or indeed any of the other […]

  • Shared under CC licence by Conservatives on Flickr

    Credit where credit’s due?

    I’m always amused by the way people give credit for Britain’s economic fortunes exclusively to British governments, as if Britain were an economic as well as a geographical island, totally unconnected to the rest of the world. Opprobrium was heaped on the Labour government for the recession starting in 2009 — even though it was […]

  • courtesy BBC

    →A pro-European Tory in the City of London

    Mark Field, Conservative MP, sticks his head above the parapet to talk sense: ‘Britain must lead in Europe to remain a financial powerhouse‘: The temporary peace David Cameron brokered within the Conservative Party may yet unravel if UKIP make the gains they are expected to on 22 May. Many colleagues will misinterpret a robust electoral showing […]

  • British Bankers’ Association

    I was invited to speak to the British Bankers’ Association this morning on the future of the EU, along with the distinguished journalist Simon Nixon of the Wall Street Journal. He and I actually agreed on many of the issues and concerns raised: that there is no great danger of the Eurozone ‘caucussing’ on other […]

  • Amsterdam

    Those who say Labour doesn’t engage enough with our sister parties on the continent and beyond would have been pleasantly surprised by the numbers of high-profile Labour figures who paticipated in the Progressive Governance Conference in Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday. From Chuka Umunna to Stella Creasy, John McTernan, Stewart Wood, Alison McGovern, Roger Liddle, […]

  • Brexit prizewinner highlights massive dangers

    The right-wing think-tank Institute for Economic Affairs has recently awarded what it’s calling the Brexit prize to a member of the UK’s consulate staff in the Philippines for his essay describing how the UK might try to handle itself in the event of quitting the EU. This is an attempt to make the case for […]

  • EU funding for Leeds communities

    Having been involved in Brussels in the negotiations on the EU’s new seven-year budget framework, it was fascinating to get an insight into a local community’s plans about how to make good use of it here in Yorkshire, when I attended a consultation workshop held in New Wortley Community Centre earlier this week. Part of […]