Why Corbyn Should Address Foreign Aid Now, And Turn a Huge Disadvantage into an Advantage

Sometimes, but not always, the far right move in predictable ways and patterns that we can address. They tend to lack subtlety in a great many ways. There are many signs, as such, that the far right are gearing up for an assault on Foreign Aid in the near future; the newspapers have been digging at Oxfam [1], around Brendan Cox’s charity work [2], and the head of Save the Children [3]. The groups have been acting in an inexcusable manner and should be held to account, of course. However, this pattern suggests that media attacks on Foreign Aid may be about to reach a crescendo; a climactic peak that they have been approaching for years [4].

Foreign aid plans for 2019

If Jeremy Corbyn does not address this imminent surge, he will find himself being forced to defend an increasingly high aid budget that has many critics from across the political spectrum, leaving himself open to another anti-EU style surge from the nationalist right. Like the EU, Foreign aid is poorly understood by the general public, and has a great many issues which need addressing. This makes Foreign Aid the perfect target for the far right in the coming years, as they can blame their monetary issues on increasing foreign aid, while moving for it to be scrapped.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

If done correctly, however, Corbyn could make the modern Labour Party the great reformers of Foreign Aid, taking away the far right’s ammunition, and simultaneously appealing to voters from all sides of the political spectrum.

Corbyn has five primary advantages:

#1 The Far Right Understanding of Foreign Aid is actually very Poor
#2 British Aid is already Transparent, has Positive effects, and a Good Reputation
#3 Britain Could be a World Leader on this
#4 Soft Power Potential
#5 Reform has appeal to the left wing and the right wing

#1 The Far Right Understanding of Foreign Aid is Actually Very Poor

The Far Right tend not to understand much about how Foreign Aid actually works, or why so many of the legitimate criticisms of Foreign Aid are laid out as they are.
Typically, Right Wing criticism tends to focus on China and India, and ask why we are giving so much aid to these massive growing economies. A legitimate concern, you might think, until you realise that the UK doesn’t actually send any aid to China at present; the Department for International Development (DFID) has no active projects with China at all, contrary to popular opinion [5].

Where India is concerned, it is one of the lowest recipients of DFID aid, accounting for a mere 0.39% of the budget, but even that tiny amount has done a great amount for many Indians. The DFID has been able to show that it has helped 1.74 million Indian Children into education they would otherwise not have had access to, and helped 2.5 million Indians gain access to clean water and sanitation in their vastly overpopulated and underdeveloped areas [6]. This is something for Britain to be proud of, and the Right Wing are forced to ignore it. As soon as they do, they lose the moral argument, because 2.5 million Indian lives is not a matter of indifference.

In fact, Somalia, Nepal, and Haiti are probably where UK foreign aid has had the largest problems and been most ineffective [7].

Even more than this, however, the Right Wing fail to understand that Academic and State criticism of foreign aid centres around how foreign aid is spent, not how much is spent on foreign aid. The House of Lords Committee in 2012 criticised Cameron because he emphasised foreign aid spending and declared himself victorious because of the amount he spent, when in fact he should have based his targets around how many people could be helped, and for how long [8].

By taking the road of a reformist, Corbyn can take on board the academic criticism, and lay out his own criticisms, but repudiate the Far Right’s call for Foreign Aid to be reduced or scrapped entirely. Most importantly, however, he could really help people in developing countries that the Tory administration has failed.

#2 British Aid is Already Transparent, has Positive Effects, and a Good Reputation

The Far Right have quite a challenge ahead of them if they want to argue for the cutting of foreign aid against an organised opponent. British Foreign Aid is ranked as the 4th most transparent in the world according to the Aid Transparency Index [9], and has a very good reputation on the international stage.

The DFID has stated that it has recently [10]:
-Helped 6.71 Million Children be vaccinated against curable diseases.
-Given 64.5 Million People access to Clean Water and Sanitation they would otherwise not have had.
-Aided 30 Million Children and Mothers through Emergency Nutrition Programmes.
-Given 11.3 Million more children access to education that they would have been deprived of.

This is a very good reputation, and something that we can be proud of, despite the flaws, as they may be in our aid projects.

The transparency also gives us a large advantage in budget considerations, in that the general public can see exactly how our aid budget is allocated. The pie chart I created below shows the division of the DFID’s budget based on the figures from their website:

How DFID spends Foreign aid budget

(Bear in mind that the largest portion of this has yet to be allocated for the financial year.) The transparency alone makes it very difficult for the Right Wing to argue for cuts and reductions, and I would urge Labour supporters and officials to learn which areas take up most of our foreign aid.

You can ask the Right Wing: “so would you take that money out of disaster relief projects or healthcare projects?”
However that question is answered, it will be unappealing to the general morality of the public.

A further consideration is that the aid budget is actually a very small part of government spending, compared to say pensions or defence, so the argument for scrapping it is very weak, while reforming it will be very appealing.

Foreign aid pie chart

#3 Britain Could be a World Leader on this

Bearing in mind Britain’s good reputation with regards to aid, it is worth saying that Britain has a chance to be a real world leader. The refugee crisis and global conflict over the past few years have left many in desperate need of aid. Multilateral Aid projects in the UN have “a crying need for leadership.” [11]

The stage has already been set perfectly for Corbyn’s arrival; America is increasingly isolationist, China has a poor moral reputation, and the Social Democracies of the World (Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Norway [12]) are the only countries other than Britain fulfilling their 0.7% target set by the UN since the Pearson report of 1969. They are the perfect allies for Corbyn.

The UN already has a plan which needs reviewing and updating, but the laborious committee work has already mostly been done and concluded in the “Delivery as One” report on multilateral aid from 2006 [13].

It simply requires a reformist leader. Corbyn is perfect for that role.

#4 Soft Power Potential

It is an unfortunate thing that so many people believe that Britain still has the hard power it had back in its imperial navy days. It leads us to self-aggrandise and overstate our potential enormously.

Image result for Foreign aid newspaper headlines

In reality, moral soft power (cultural, social, and moral influence) is actually where the true strength of Britain lies in the modern world. The right wing really do not understand this subtle power, and it could be a crippling disadvantage to them, if utilized properly by Corbyn and his team. The US has used its aid projects in the past to increase its influence in the Middle East and Africa without relying on military projects, hoping that big companies (like oil companies) will have a positive effect, or trading arms with those regimes [14].

By 2050, China’s GDP will be twice the size of the GDP of the USA. The rise of China and India means that the UK cannot compete in hard power terms. They will out-produce us quite easily. In some ways, they already are.

However, China cannot compete with the Soft power of the West, so the need to emphasise that is more vital than ever, particularly after the 2003 Iraq war, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Protectionism and Isolationism right now would damage our international standing irreversibly, and would actually form a barrier to aid money being spent effectively [15].

Corbyn has a real chance here to improve British Foreign aid, in line with evidence from academics and critics, in a way that the isolationist far right both here and in America are simply incapable of doing.

#5 Reform has Appeal to the Left Wing and the Right Wing

British Foreign aid does need to change, and it could be absolutely devastating, a waste of resources, or a success. Only Corbyn’s politics can reasonably deliver the latter- if he takes the reformist approach.

The far right politicians want to cut foreign aid and (in many cases) scrap it entirely, which would do irreparable damage to our international standing and to millions of people who rely on us around the world. It would be devastating.

The centre right politicians want nothing more than to parade around a large figure and say how much they have spent on foreign aid, without any real consideration for how many people are actually helped, and in turn, how open this leaves them to criticism from the far right. It is a waste of resources that could be better handled to make foreign aid more effective.

Corbyn, however, can address the concerns of the far right’s followers about how foreign aid is spent, by moving the focus from the amount that is spent to its actual effectiveness in the field.

A coordinated multi-lateral effort led by Britain could reduce the amount that we have to spend on foreign aid overall, as each pound of investment is spent more effectively and in correlation with the rest of the international community.

In the post-Brexit world, this could be a huge boost for Britain, so has huge appeal from a nationalist perspective; Britain could be a moral world leader, and nationalists could really take pride in this. Some 50,000 Syrians currently need the UK for medical aid, and 9000 Syrian families need it for shelter [16]; anyone who is concerned about the refugee crisis cannot fail to see how this directly correlates with the number of refugees we have to deal with. Better aid, spent more effectively, could help the whole world address the refugee crisis, and the future issues we are likely to face with climate change refugees.

Britain can lead this movement as a moral leader. Nationalists could and should take pride in such an action. Too often, Nationalism has to focus on what Britain has done to make them proud. This way, Nationalists can say what Britain is doing to make them proud. And if they vote for it, they have every right to be proud.

It might even redeem some of the UK’s military standing, as some critics believe that foreign aid is most efficient when distributed and organised by the military [18]. Corbyn should be open to allocating DFID aid funds to the military, but only for use on aid and disaster response equipment, to be distributed to civilians. It has appeal to the military obsessed typical Far Right voter, and moral appeal to the left wing voter, with appeal to academic criticism by efficiency and the potential for transparency.

The UK military needs to regain its reputation as a force for good in the international community after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. We need to show the UK is there to help, not hinder.


Jeremy Corbyn already receives huge support from the left, but he might well gain from the feminist vote, as foreign aid has a massive impact for women around the world, and the Global Development Goals (GDGs) set out by the UN strongly encourage spending on the promotion of women’s rights [17]. The more effectively it is done, the more women will be helped.

Even the anti-feminist who so often says “I could understand if you were campaigning for women in Somalia or Saudi Arabia!” will find themselves tied up and forced to say that they support Corbyn’s aid reforms. It is the natural moral conclusion, and the only way that the international community can move forward sustainably.

Jeremy Corbyn is the perfect leader to deliver a truly effective Foreign Aid policy, and if he takes the initiative now, he could own the debate before it has even begun.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/16/oxfam-boss-baffled-ferocious-criticism-claiming-critics-gunning/
[2] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/save-the-children-did-not-report-sexual-misconduct-claims-against-brendan-cox-0vbgffg8n
[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/20/save-children-boss-quit-admitting-sending-inappropriate-texts/
[4] https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/01/rights-next-target-foreign-aid
[5] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/location/country
[6] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/IN
[7] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), pp.42-44
[8] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), p.61
[9] http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/donor/ukdfid/
[10] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/
[11] Anstee, M.J. Millennium Development Goals: Milestones on a Long Road -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.29
[12] http://www2.compareyourcountry.org/oda?cr=20001&cr1=oecd&lg=en&page=0
[13] Anstee, M.J. Millennium Development Goals: Milestones on a Long Road -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.29
[14] Browne, S.  Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder? (Earthscan 2006), p.115
[15] Browne, S.  Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder? (Earthscan 2006), p.11
[16] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/SY
[17] Harman, S, Women and the MDGs: Too Little, Too Late, Too Gendered -in- The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (eds. Hulme, D. Wilkinson, R.) (Routledge 2012), p.98
[18] Foreman, J. Foreign Aid Failures and the 0.7% Deception (Civitas 2012), p.201


“National Capitalists”: A Thought Experiment

It is often stated that the National Socialist (Nazi) party of the 1930s, were socialists because their name contains the word “socialist”, and their policies were centred on wealth distribution.

This is categorically false. Naziism has never been a socialist movement, nor leant towards the left wing in any real way. It was a far right movement.

Not only were the Nazis the allies of most of the non-socialist parties, but the Freikorps militia (which would become the Sturmabteilung or SA, whom Hitler would purge and replace with the notorious SS) were targeting left wing groups, murdering figures like Rosa Luxembourg in 1919. [1] Socialist groups were their main opposition, so the Nazis adopted the name to make potential socialists warm to them.

Image result for Hitlers Germany

If you can imagine this in reverse, it is like having a left wing group here in the UK which calls itself the “Union Capitalists” who ally themselves withal the left wing political parties, and violent communist militias. They declare that they oppose the free market except in the cases of efficiency (to keep some of the middle class on side), and support total trade union control of the markets.

You would struggle, I think, to declare that these “Union Capitalists” were any kind of Capitalists, and it would be nonsensical to call them right wing.

Suppose they went further, then, and outlawed Capitalism, Libertarianism, Neo-Liberalism, and Liberalism once they had assumed power. This would reflect the way that the Nazis outlawed socialism and communism after assuming power in 1934. [2] Would you still call these people “Capitalists”?

Image result for nazi anti communist propaganda

Even during their rise, “anti-socialism and especially anti-communism played a large role in Nazi success.”[3] If then, we apply the same standards to our National Capitalists; let’s say that being anti-free market played a large role in the success of the National Capitalists, would we be justified in still referring to them as Right Wing Capitalists?

Suppose then, that these National Capitalists murdered three times as many right wingers, to ‘protect’ themselves from Right Wing Violence, taking three times as many lives as the Right Wing took in the process, just as the Nazis took three times as many lives in Hungary, as communist militias did after the First World War. [4]

85 years later, imagine that the supporters of National Capitalism in Germany had allied themselves with German Communist Extremists, just as supporters of National Socialism in Britain (the British union of fascists) became the modern day BNP with consistent values. [5]

At what point would you have to admit that National Capitalism was not Capitalist at all?

When anti-free market religious allies helped to bring them to power, just as anti-socialist religious groups did “the most to bring Hitler to power”? [6]

Even if the National Capitalists used business centric language and supported investment projects in the military industrial sector, no one in their right mind would call these people right wing. Why then, do so many on the Right insist on calling Nazis left wing, just because they have “socialist” in their name and provided some welfare to the Aryans, who they were encouraging to breed in the hopes of creating “racial purity”, not out of some sense of duty to the working classes or hopes of a worldwide communist revolution. The Nazis hated communism.

Even parts of the German industry that were nationalized were done so under a corporate flag, reversed a few years later, and mostly nationalized with the express aim of making the Reich State more efficient in preparation for war and a speedy command structure. [7]

Suppose then, as one final proof, that no modern Historians agreed with you that the National Capitalists were Right Wing Capitalists, and some of the best had given opinions to the contrary. Renowned Historian Richard J Evans, for example, has stated that “it would be wrong to see Nazism as a form of, or an outgrowth of Socialism.” [8]

To argue that these National Capitalists were Capitalists would be as futile as trying to argue that Nazis are socialists today.

[1] Hood, S. Jansz, L. Introducing Fascism (Icon Books 2013), p.37
[2] Hood, S. Jansz, L. Introducing Fascism (Icon Books 2013), p.42
[3] Grand, A.J.D. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: The Fascist Style of Rule (Routledge 1995), p.12
[4] Kershaw, I. To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 (Penguin 2016), p.107
[5] Reeves, S. Seward, E. From BUF to BNP: Chronology of Racist Extremism and of Opposition to it (Racial Equality West Midlands 2006), p.19
[6] Stone, N. Europe Transformed 1878-1919 (Fontana 1983), p.126
[7] Bel, G. Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatisation in 1930s Germany –in- Economic History Review (Vol. 63, No.1 2010)
[8] Evans, R.J. The Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin 2005), p.173

Is Corbyn Right for Britain?: Why I’m Tired of Being Called “Naive” as a Young Corbyn Voter

It’s probably the most tired line in British politics of late outside of the Brexit debate. It’s a line which has many different forms, but usually manifests itself as something like “oh, young people just vote for Corbyn because they are gullible and he promises them lots of sweets.”

It really does make me laugh when these views are expressed by people who believe that their regurgitated Express and Mail headlines count as educated political opinion. Especially as the current millennial generation is the most educated generation there has ever been [1]. Actually young people have a much greater chance of being well informed on these issues than older generations.


To clarify: I am not digging at Older generations here, but rather stating that dismissing the opinions of young people on the grounds that they are young is extremely foolish. Assuming that we voted for Corbyn because he promised the impossible goals of free education, affordable housing, and job creation through central investment does ignore the problematic paradox that this is asking no more than previous generations had.

James O’Brien put it very well [2]: why should my generation support a capitalist system which gives us no hope of ever accruing any capital?

We put forward an alternative, and we would like that view to be respected. With that said, this is the fully referenced version of my article written for my University Newspaper on Why Corbyn is Right for Britain. Please note that, unlike any Express articles you will find, the following views are backed up and grounded in a few reliable academic sources.

Is Jeremy Corbyn Right for Britain?

It seems to be a rule of British politics today that people will underestimate Jeremy Corbyn. I will admit that he appears unimpressive, as I discovered meeting him last year, yet here is a man who defied all odds to be elected Labour Party leader on a vote share larger than that of Tony Blair in 1994 [3] be re-elected the following year on an even larger share [4], and then provide Labour’s largest increase in popular vote share since 1945 [5]. The textbook mistake is to underestimate him.

Despite undergoing obtuse character assassination by the media[6], which has led to a division in popularity between Corbyn and his policies, it would only be right to say that Corbyn’s politics are right for Britain. Britain needs delicate and subtle negotiators as it deals with Brexit, which the Conservatives seem unable to provide. It is far easier to picture Barnier working with Corbyn than May, because Corbyn is simply much more mainstream on the continent.

Media rep of JC from LSE Source

Figures showing main stream newspaper’s average antagonism towards Corbyn’s politics demonstrate why the public are so opposed to Corbyn despite agreeing with most of his policies on average [Source: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.pdf]

Far from being Venezuelan, Corbyn’s politics are far more European and a touch Scandinavian in their design. The Keynesian approach is hardly a Bolshevik revolution.

And this mainstream left is exactly what we need; the best of Britain is built on a Keynesian economic model, not a free market one. Economically speaking, there is sound reason behind Corbyn’s policies, and the role of the state in markets. Neo-Keynesian economists have pointed out that the state has the ability to be flexible in creating market opportunities with tools not available to private enterprise [7], and invest based on what Britain needs, which is often different from what businesses can gain from in the short term.

For example, a company cannot invest in cancer research without state aid (or the whimsical backing of Charity, which is both unreliable and dependent upon the generosity of the rich) if the breakthrough they are seeking could take a decade- they need profits to sustain themselves.

Often it is not appreciated how much state investment went into producing companies like Apple[8], and how state investment banks (which Corbyn supports) like the German KfW managed to generate a $3billion profit in 2012 while most other banks were still “in the red zone.”[9] Remarkably efficient.

Austerity will fail because you don’t run an economy like a household budget- you have to invest to grow, and when even Cameron’s director of strategy begins criticising May’s cuts [10] you have to question a policy strategy which, by contrast to Corbyn’s, is heavily unpopular. Support for an increase in minimum wage (80% support), rent caps (74%), and nationalising railways (60%) and Royal Mail (65%) are hugely popular with British voters [11] and attainable, if only they can get past this “he’s a bloody commie” mentality, and realise that Corbyn is right for Britain. Right for our future.

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/19/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/ft_millennials-education_031715/

[2] http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/james-obrien/james-obrien-absolutely-nails-the-reason-for-jerem/

[3] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.112

[4] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.122

[5] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.130

[6] http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report.pdf

[7] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.195

[8] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.94

[9] Mazzucato, M. The Entrepreneurial State (Anthem Press 2014), p.190

[10] Cawthorne, N. Jeremy Corbyn: Leading From the Left (Endeavour Press 2017), p.127

[11] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/19/nationalisation-vs-privatisation-public-view/

This is the Detail Which Everyone Misses about Propaganda

On why we need to change the way we read absolutely everything.


It’s astonishing, is it not?

How easily people seem to fall for plain lies in the post-truth era. Even the most ardent Brexiteer, has had to disassociate themselves from the promises of their campaign like the £350m per week for the NHS that we were supposed to be getting after Brexit [1], and admit that Brexit will be a net loss to the UK regardless of how it is conducted [2].

And what about Trump’s wall? Theresa May’s entire manifesto; from fox hunting to free school meals for children, appears to have vanished into thin air as soon as she had the votes she needed. No questions asked.

That is usually how I define ‘post-truth’ to other people in political discussion; where something only needs to be ‘true’ for as long as you need it to get the public to swing your way. The Daily Mail do it all the time- publish lies on their front page and then do microscopic corrections weeks later, when the damage has already been done [3].


But how did we get to this state of affairs? Where people believed the monotonously repeated Tory slogan about Theresa May being “strong and stable”?

Theresa May is fast becoming famous for her U turns [4] and seems to have an understanding of trade negotiations that is mediocre at best, and yet still people bought her “strong and stable” mantra. Hook, line, and sinker.

So why does it work so well? And in almost every instance in history. If you just repeat something enough, people start to believe it. It worked in Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, the US, Stalin’s Russia, the UK, North Korea… anywhere you go, it works.

How? Well, actually, the answer is that “how?” was your next question.

Everyone reacts that same way: How? I could never be that stupid!

And that’s why it works. No one thinks they are vulnerable to it, so everyone is, without exception. Everyone falls for propaganda because frankly we think we are completely invulnerable to it.

If you try to warn people about this, they assume that you are calling them stupid- saying that they won’t know their own mind, and aren’t intelligent enough to see tricks which are actually fairly simple. Their ego gets in the way. My ego does it too, and I’ve no doubt that yours does it.

Propaganda doesn’t care how intelligent you are- it will get you regardless of your age, experience, IQ, gender, cultural identifications, or anything else.

Take the example of David Irving- a man whose work on Goebbel’s diaries is universally acclaimed for its brilliance and Historical analysis [5], but also harbours doubts about the holocaust which I and other Historians find issue with. He is wrong about the holocaust being faked, and many Historians have heavily criticised him for it. So how did such a brilliant mind fall for such gutter propaganda?

Well, he believed himself invulnerable, but also likely viewed ‘bias’ as an addition of false information, rather than an omission of true information. This is a problem which ensnares many people, but to take a simple example, if I say “don’t worry, there are no cars coming” and you step out into the road and get hit by a bus, you can see how one can omit details without having to lie in a far more effective bias than attempting to construct a web of lies.

The misconception that bias means lying, combined with our egos on propaganda is why we fall for it so easily as a society. Simply rephrasing the question as “how vulnerable am I to propaganda?” makes us realise that it is not a matter of intelligence, but a matter of general education, research, and to some degree chance, whether or not we fall for propaganda.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/10/brexit-camp-abandons-350-million-pound-nhs-pledge
[2] http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/post-brexit-leaving-customs-union-no-brainer/
[3] https://infacts.org/front-page-corrections-needed-to-stop-press-errors/
[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/10-most-astonishing-u-turns-10475812
[5] http://www.fpp.co.uk/reviews/JG_Richard_Cohen.html


Dogma Driven Policy Making: The Big Myth Surrounding Corporation Tax

Since the 1930s when the idea of a “tax haven” (as we would understand them today) first came into being, taxation policy has broadly been adjusted under the assumption that lower corporation tax rates are how to attract investment into your country.

But do these policies actually have an evidential basis behind them? It would appear not. The broad consensus that corporation tax rates have a correlation with the level of investment (commonly phrased as “the rich people will take their money elsewhere”) appears to be built on utter fallacy. Bogus logic.


Nor are tax havens an inevitability, it must be said, since the two are always brought up in partnership.

Right wing commentators often like to play down the significance of the “shadow economy” that moves through offshore funds and tax havens, but with the IFS estimating in 1994 that half of cross-border lending is conducted through offshore accounts [1], it is clear that the amount of tax evasion conducted through these accounts makes it a considerable sum of money to ignore.

Although we can’t know the exact amount of assets stored in offshore accounts worldwide, because the definition of a “tax haven” is contested, it is broadly agreed that this figure is in the trillions of pounds [2]. The economist Richard Murphy estimates the figure lost through tax avoidance in the UK at about £25,000,000,000 per annum, and the amount the UK loses to tax evasion at £75,000,000,000 per annum [3]. Although this is hotly contested by HMRC figures, which put it much lower [4] it is almost universally estimated to cost the UK billions of pounds per year.

Between 2000 and 2006, Murphy conducted a study into the top 50 largest UK companies for the British Trade Union Congress, and found that they paid an average of 5% less of their profits in tax than they actually declared [5]. A small amount in percentage figures, but an absolutely staggering sum of money in real terms.

Why should we care though?

Well, to put it quite simply, the fact that companies are getting away with this is nothing short of criminal. That is money which should be going toward infrastructure projects and developing our country so that we can run our public services. Educating the next generation. It should be being invested to keep people fed and to keep our economy growing. Money put in tax havens is not flowing through the British economy, and so is wasted in every sense of its growth potential.

So why did David Cameron water down our Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules [6] which allowed us to tax profits which MNCs moved outside our jurisdiction as though they were still on British soil? This is encouraging tax evasion, far from being concerned about it.

And tax evasion has many other consequences beyond just being a theft from the duty which should be paid for access to our society (the taxes pay for the education and wellbeing of the workforce that these companies use, and investment in the markets that they will operate in); NT Naylor has expressed concerns that terrorist groups could be using anonymous offshore accounts and tax havens to protect their funding [7] in the same manner that the CIA have done in covert operations. It is a security concern, in every sense of the word.
An OECD report in 1998 on the harmful nature of tax competition also found that tax havens are eroding the tax basis of other (and importantly, developing) countries, distorting trade and investment patterns, eroding the fairness of the tax system, and diminishing global welfare [8]. The current trajectory of our tax system has to be stopped before it crumbles in on itself. It is not just a matter of justice for the country, but justice and security for the world. We have a duty to tackle this issue, I would argue.


So again, why do Cameron and others seem to be encouraging tax evasion, and bending over backwards to please the world’s corporations demands for low taxation?
Is it perhaps, because we have little power over the most common tax havens? How can this be, when 7 of the world’s most notorious tax havens (Bermuda, The Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, and Montserrat [9]) are old colonies which we retain a great deal of control and influence over?

The answer lies in the common fallacy that companies invest in low taxation areas. Actually, the rate of taxation and the level of greenfield investment (genuine investment as opposed to mere dummy mergers for tax purposes, which actually bear little economic benefit to the host country) have little correlation. The truth is that they simply do not affect each other.

Investigations be Reuters, for example, found that only 13 businesses could be found to have relocated to the UK for tax purposes over the period 2010-2015, despite the corporation tax rate in the UK being relentlessly cut by the conservatives from 28% to 20% in the same period [10]. The correlation between low tax rates and the level of investment simply isn’t there.

Similarly, the faux exodus claimed by the right wing media surrounding France’s tax hikes in 2013, (which right wing ideologues have been perpetuating as though France has lost billions in potential investment [11]) have equally been found to be bogus claims [12]. The correlation is not there once again.

But what about Ireland? They have some of the lowest tax rates in Europe, and as a consequence have grown faster than most other OEDC countries, haven’t they? It is a popular myth amongst the right wingers, but once again, completely wrong. A simple look at the figures in this growth show that the investment in Ireland, and the growth it has seen, is much more to do with its language and the access it gives to European markets than its level of corporation tax [13].

It works the same way across all countries, and even in the case of tax havens, it is not necessarily those havens with the lowest regulation which receive the most interest: Sharman and Rawlings (2006) found that some of the least regulated tax havens, the Pacific atolls, were some of the least successful at attracting money to their shores, because banks, companies, and hedge funds did not want to risk attracting attention by having their names associated with disreputable, poorly managed tax havens [14]. Exploiting reputation, with this information in mind, could be a potential solution to tax evasion in years to come, and the ‘Publish what you Pay’ campaign is one way which has been suggested for us to go about the task of cracking down on tax havens [15].

Far from investment being driven by low corporation tax and deregulation, the OECD has actually stated that average income and market size, as well as skill levels, infrastructural investment levels, and macroeconomic stability are what drives businesses to invest in a country [16]. Despite the ludicrous arrogance of Boeing threatening to refuse to carry out safety checks on their aircraft if they didn’t receive adequate tax breaks [17], the threats of corporations like this, in real terms, are nothing more than lobbyist hot air. The reality is that they go where the markets are and this is unlikely to be affected by tax rates.

A 50 year study into US tax incentives which concluded in 2013, found that “there is no conclusive evidence from research studies conducted since the mid-1950s to show that business tax incentives have an impact on net economic gains… nor is there conclusive evidence from the research that taxes, in general, have an impact on business location” [18].

It can therefore be concluded with certainty that scaremongering about “rich people leaving the country due to corporation tax” is an utterly ridiculous line of argument for right wing ideologues to use, without even getting into the fact that (even if it were the case that there was a correlation between low corporate taxation and investment) the UK has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe [19].

There is no truth to the bogus line of argument whatsoever.

[1] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.50
[2] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), pp.61-63
[3] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.66
[4] https://fullfact.org/economy/tax-avoidance-evasion-uk/
[5] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.66
[6] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.276
[7] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.208
[8] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.212
[9] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.124
[10] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.274
[11] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2292189/Two-MORE-executives-join-French-exodus-including-Moet-champagne-empire-boss.html
[12] http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2013/03/-huge-flight-of-rich-after-french-tax-hikes-nope.html
[13] http://foolsgold.international/did-irelands-12-5-percent-corporate-tax-rate-cause-the-celtic-tiger/
[14] Chavagneux, C. Murphy, R. & Palan, R. Tax Havens: How Globalisation Really Works (Cornell University Press 2010), p.160
[15] http://www.publishwhatyoupay.org/about/
[16] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.281
[17] Christensen, J. Shaxson, N. Tax Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession -in- Global Tax Fairness (eds. Pogge, T. Mehta, K.) (Oxford University Press 2016), p.267
[18] http://origin-states.politico.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/files/131115__Incentive_Study_Final_0.pdf
[19] https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/corporate-tax-rate

Unelectable Terrorist Sympathizer: The Rapid Fall of Theresa May in the General Election 2017

Much to the irritation of Isobel Oakshott and other Daily Mail commenters (who are generously referred to by some as “journalists”), the Conservatives only ‘won’ the general election in the most basic and rudimentary two-dimensional sense.

Many of my left leaning friends are disappointed that Theresa May will be leading the Conservative party into government once again, but I must disagree with them. I am completely elated by the result of this election; Theresa May is finished, and every second she clings to power by the skin of her teeth only helps the conservatives to haemorrhage support.

What can I say? Two-dimensional strength will get you a two-dimensional victory. Until recently, Theresa May was polling extremely high amongst the general public [1] …until she had to face the one thing she apparently can’t deal with: scrutiny.


It seemed to me that, for a very long time, she was able to hide how terribly feeble she was. There had always been an unsavoury authoritarian undertone to her way of doing politics, which is regarded by many international spectators as a little unsettling [2], but the calling the general election to take advantage of an apparent poll lead was seen as a particularly thuggish and authoritarian move; forcing other leaders to take part or be branded a coward and denouncing any opposition to her position as mere political agitation. The satire website NewsThump declared it was a “Snap Annihilation of the Labour Party” [3], and it was difficult for most people to view it many other ways at the time. A consolidation of power.

In particular, Theresa May wanted to take advantage of Brexit populism, by taking a hard right stance on the issue, and hoping that the vote would flow to her. For months she has been declaring that she has a mandate for this form of Brexit (despite no such mandate existing), and showed a remarkably poor understanding of democracy.

What she invoked was majoritarianism- which is often confused with being the definition of democracy, but is actually only a single (and rather basic) interpretation [4]. The majoritarian move to ignore the concerns and wishes of the 48% entirely, not only shows a poor understanding of democracy for a Prime Minister, but also puts the very unity of the United Kingdom at risk, in the hopes of claiming Brexit populism for her own gain.

It is fair to say, I think, that her poor understanding backfired.

Despite her feeble understanding, she is also overly brazen and extremely lacking in subtlety. The declarations of “strength and stability” simply had no weight to them within a few weeks of her campaign launch. On Europe, in particular, she has taken the stance of a hardline Brexiteer and tried to bulldoze a hard Brexit through the country, against the advice of the overwhelming majority of expert opinion [5] [6] [14].

And she wonders why she was met with resistance?

But more than that, her understanding of negotiating is so incredibly poor. As a student who is required to study international politics, I was stunned by how blatantly she must be ignoring the expert advice around her. Beginning Brexit negotiations by threatening to walk away with nothing [7] is a shallow understanding of these negotiation at absolute best. The EU are not stupid- they know that we need a trade deal, and they will know that it is ridiculous to suggest that we walk away without one, but Theresa May still feels the need to threaten Europe with a bluff that will be viewed as ignorant and impolite.

In many ways, I have to wonder if she began to believe her own monotonous rhetoric? Did she honestly think that she was half as strong and stable as the papers were declaring she was? I think there is a good chance she got swept up in her own propaganda.

The reality is that May was robotic and shallow at every single turn [8]. I had been uncertain on my views on her in the past- I thought I was perhaps being overly critical- but now I can say with certainty that she always was a terrible leader with a media screen to protect her. Conservative friends of mine called for her resignation and thought she would resign on the night, but predictably, she was her old authoritarian self. To my delight, she clung onto power like a cement block clinging to the leg of the conservative party.

This election was also dubbed “The Brexit Election” and Theresa May declared that the objective was to “put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide” [9].
It appears that the people decided; they chose to reject Theresa May’s hard Brexit, and her mandate for pursuing it has effectively been destroyed. However, if you believe this will stop her pursuing a hard Brexit, I would gently suggest that you don’t understand Theresa May’s nature.

Many far right Brexiteers will declare that Brexit was only mentioned in passing, and this cannot be taken as a rejection of a far right hard Brexit, but humour me:- can you imagine what Brexiteers would be saying if Theresa May had won a larger majority?
They would claim it as an utterly indisputable mandate.
Why should the same standards not apply?
The shaky basis upon which May declared she had a mandate just sunk like a rock in the ocean of reality.

But perhaps best of all, the world underestimated Jeremy Corbyn once again. Less than two months ago, even his allies were declaring that the party was ‘doomed’ under Corbyn, and that his leadership would spell the end of the party itself [10] [11] [12] [13]. And I have no intention of letting his critics forget this.

The criticism of Jeremy Corbyn went much too far, and was propped up by the considerable efforts which the media have (now undeniably) gone to in order to project this image of Corbyn as “unelectable” [15], which is of course nonsense: no politician is inherently ‘unelectable’ due to their position. If it were so, we would be hearing how ‘unelectable’ Nigel Farage was due to his extreme right wing views, but we simply do not.

Politics is about persuasion, not adjusting your morals to suit the public mood, even if your views are considered radical, which, despite the constant “comrade Corbyn” rhetoric [16] is not true of Corbyn; his policies are both popular here in the UK [17] and considered mainstream elsewhere in the world [18].


However, it is now even better that all of the “Corbyn is a terrorist sympathizer” rhetoric has fallen flat on its face. I have always attempted to ridicule this logic- negotiating with a group does not imply sympathy. No one has yet declared Neville Chamberlain to be a Nazi sympathizer for negotiating with Hitler in 1938. It is a ridiculous leap in logic to use- a leap in logic which has come back to eat its now hypocritical proponents since 8th June.

Unlike others, I do not actually believe that the DUP are terrorist sympathizers, but I do recognise that by the standards set by Corbyn’s critics in condemning him as a “terrorist sympathizer”, they are terrorist sympathizers. It is simply undeniable. The right wing have laid a logical pitfall trap and fallen right inside it in the course of their election campaign.

You see, just as much of Sinn Fein had been imprisoned prior to August 1994 for their involvement with the IRA [19], so the DUP was heavily involved with groups such as the Ulster Resistance during the 1980s, and has led to the DUP being regarded as extreme even by other unionist groups such as the UUP [20].

In particular, it’s longstanding ‘official’ rejection of, but continued association with, the paramilitary Ulster defence association (UDA) has landed it in difficulty, particularly given that the UDA was known for randomly targeting catholic civilians in campaigns of brutal murder in “retaliation” for IRA killings [21] which those civilians had no part in. The UDA’s Tommy Herron had also declared war on the British Army (despite supposedly being on the same side in the conflict) a number of times [24] during the troubles.

Just last month, DUP leader Arlene Foster met with UDA leader Jackie McDonald, despite the murder of Colin Horner in front of his 3 year old son just days before, which has been attributed to the activities of the UDA [22]. The DUP are opposed to gay marriage, family, planning, and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland; when it was proposed, the DUP refused to participate and declared they would not “negotiate with terrorists” [23] (despite the fact that there were sectarian paramilitary groups such as the UVF and UDA on their side too).

Forming a government with the DUP may well put the Good Friday Agreement at risk, and I suspect that Theresa May knows this, but she will do it anyway. She will cling on to power.

Make no mistake; the DUP are extremists, and by the same standards that Jeremy Corbyn is a “terrorist sympathizer”, they would also be considered terrorist associates.
Theresa May was so desperate for a mandate that she has gone into coalition with those people.
Many conservatives will have to do logical acrobatics in order to justify this to themselves, and my generation should take heart- because of us, and the allies we have from all age groups who I am immensely proud of, Theresa May is struggling to cling onto power, and has been caught in a snare of her own making.
An unelectable terrorist sympathizer.

[1] www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/06/daily-chart-3
[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/19/opinions/theresa-may-authoritarian-maltby-opinion/index.html
[3] http://newsthump.com/2017/04/18/theresa-may-announces-snap-annihilation-of-the-labour-party/
[4] www.bu.edu/law/journals-archives/bulr/documents/macedo.pdf
[5] http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit01.pdf
[6] http://www.open-britain.co.uk/the_brexit_cliff_edge_by_ian_dunt
[7] http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/06/08/unpicking-the-no-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal-mantra-what-would-a-bad-deal-look-like/
[8] www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2017/06/road-disaster
[9] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39630009
[10]  http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2017/04/20/corbyn-has-doomed-labour-time-to-vote-tactically-for-the-strongest-opposition-to-brexit/
[11] www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4121088/Corbyn-doomed-electoral-failure-doesn-t-watch-Mrs-Brown-s-Boys-says-Labour-MP-Stella-Creasy.html
[12] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-miliband-savages-jeremy-corbyn-and-his-own-brother-too-a7321531.html
[13] https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-launches-withering-attack-unelectable-jeremy-corbyn/
[14] https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/exiting-the-european-union-committee/news-parliament-2015/brexit-white-paper-report-published-16-17/
[15] www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Corbyn-Report-FINAL.pdf
[16] www.express.co.uk/news/politics/593968/Corbyn-admits-Karl-Marx-my-communist-hero/
[17] www.indpendent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-policy-blitz-poll-supported-by-majority-of-british-public-a7685016.html
[18] www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/7-radical-policies-draft-labour-10401191
[19] McKearney, T. The Provsional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press 2011), p.175, p.187
[20] Cox, M. Guelke, A. & Stephen, F. A Farewell to Arms? Beyond the Good Friday Agreement (Manchester University Press 2006), p.78
[21] Fay, MT. Morrissey, M. & Smyth, M. Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The Human Costs (Pluto Press 1999), p.60
[22] www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2017/DUP-chief-arlene-foster-met-UDA-boss-days-after-loyalist-murder-in-bangor-35776873.html
[23] Fay, MT. Morrissey, M. & Smyth, M. Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The Human Costs (Pluto Press 1999), pp.64-65
[24] Dillon, M. Lehane, D. Political Murder in Northern Ireland (Penguin Books 1973), p.265

Hard Truths About Immigration:How Brexit Voters were Duped.

So often now, you hear politicians utter those infuriating words, “addressing people’s concerns about immigration” without any thought as to their actual effect. It seems to me that so rarely are these “genuine concerns” backed up by educated opinion, that it is tantamount to an excuse for xenophobia.

When, in History, has popular public opinion ever been “concerned” about immigration in times of economic success? Do the public ever go out of their way in “boom years” to demand that politicians address their “genuine concerns” about immigration?

Of course not, because it is a reflex reaction of the most rudimentary kind to blame immigrants for a problem at any point in History. It makes not a shred of difference to this knee jerk reaction that UCL found in 2014 that EU migrants contribute an annual average of £20 billion per year more into the UK tax system than they take out of it.

My official position on immigration in recent years has been this: that the present day is the wrong time to discuss the issue of immigration because economic disparity places us at an approximately equal logical disparity- we are too emotionally involved. But now, with the far right being so stringent that they can influence government to demand that companies draw up lists of foreign workers, I feel I have to step forward and oppose this ultimate stupidity.

Pandering to the far right has never been in our interests and- so far from mitigating damage, often increases the impact and reach of people who can only be described as fanatical. Look at our current situation: Donald Trump with his hand on the nuclear button, and members of the new American government describing Michelle Obama as an “ape”! An 89% increase in hate crimes in the US. And the British public is fast heading that way.

I do not believe for a moment that the average person who considers him/herself “concerned about immigration” is actually a racist or even terribly xenophobic, but very slowly, the media is pushing the British public in that direction.

A certain newspaper named the Daily Mail is particularly responsible for the rise in nationalistic fervour which borders on the xenophobic in this post-Brexit climate. The newspaper in question almost satirized itself a few weeks ago by stating as a headline “ANARCHISTS FLY MIGRANT IN ON RYANAIR”, as though stating that anyone who lets a foreigner into the UK (just the one, as well) desires that Britain should descend into anarchy: that the very government of the United Kingdom would fall, if Pedro the European migrant were to make it past border controls.

It’s all too easy to mock these bizarre beliefs, but they must also be countered and exposed for the lies that they are. A rational truth which still not everyone believes about the Brexit issue is that it never had anything to do with immigration.

Here is a brutal truth for the Anti-immigration Brexiteer lobby among you: you’ve been tricked. Reducing the number of immigrants coming into the UK was simply never an option in the European referendum.

Inside the European Union, as you know, we would have had free movement of peoples- not to be confused with being borderless, as the Schengen countries are. Outside the EU, however, there remains three basic options open to us: the EFTA model (Switzerland model), the EEA model (the Icelandic and Norwegian model), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) model.
The EFTA and EEA models work on the principle of abiding by European Union regulations in their majority- essentially, free movement is almost a given if we want to adopt either of these two models.

But, I hear the leave campaigners triumphantly blurt, the WTO model means that we can control our own borders, and Theresa May has chosen a hard Brexit that will allow us to do this!

And this is true- to a limited degree. Theresa May has given the go ahead for a Hard Brexit.

But Hard Brexit may not give off quite the result you were hoping for: the most popular alternative system among people who know almost nothing about immigration beyond the fact that they are opposed to it, is the Australian points based style system.

The PBS has always been seen as the most popular, and indeed, the only other popular alternative to free movement- probably because of its supposedly meritocratic nature. It seems to float the far right boat (or rather, sink the refugee’s dingy, which seems to be an even more arousing concept to the far right) to bring up the PBS system in every single debate on this issue.

However, quell your excitement at the thought of stopping those anarchists bringing their foreign friend Fernando into the UK: it is not about to reduce the numbers of people coming into the UK.

Conservative peer Lord Green did a study in 2011 looking into the nature of the Points Based System in Australia and it’s applicability to modern day Britain, and concluded that the PBS would actually make immigration three times higher than it would be in a system of free movement.

A likely explanation for this is that the Australian system, from a teleological point of view, is remarkably different from our own: to state that this is a system that can be applied to British immigration is simply failing to appreciate how different the two systems are. They are as different in their goals as Boris Johnson’s faces before and after the referendum.

The basic point, however, remains: even if you felt that immigration was undesirable for the UK, the move for Brexit has done nothing to help your situation. Far from reducing the number of people migrating into the UK, you may well have just unwittingly voted to increase it. The leave campaigners sold you a Styrofoam woggle made of reinforced steel, and you jumped into the water without question, and carried your misguided views right to the bottom of the water with you.

Immigration is a fact of the modern world- an occurrence as natural as the weather. The only sensible response is to reinforce our system to manage it: just as one would reinforce a building against Tornadoes and Earthquakes depending upon their region of residency. The tax system should always be adaptable: in theory, the more people the tax system gets in, the more it grows with each contribution, and so it is expanded to accommodate more and more people. It should, in other words, be self-sustaining.

People who insist that we cannot take anymore immigrants- or indeed, refugees- and ask us to address their “genuine concerns” about immigration, are the madmen lurching towards the tornado and endeavouring to drive it away from their house by sucking it up with a cordless hoover.