Author Archives: alexrantwell

Trickle Down versus a Pig

Alex Rantwell

The term “trickle down” economics is now almost a pejorative in itself. The idea that promoting growth and allowing people to be wealthy is a benefit to all is as fashionable as a mullet and a neon Swatch. Guardian economics editor Larry Elliot wrote recently that the theory has been disproven since 2008 by the growing gap between the super rich and the rest, citing Chistine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF presenting a report showing rising inequality, and the need to boost the incomes of the poor to achieve overall economic growth.

However the term “trickle down” economics is not a piece of right wing dogma from the 1980s. The term was first used by Democratic Presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan in his 1896 campaign for the White House. Then as now the term was a straw man. Bryan believed that the state needed to intervene to raise the incomes of the poorest to drive economic growth. The term has occasionally been adopted by those in favour of the free market, but more generally through it’s history has been used by those arguing for state intervention.

As so often with the psuedo-science of economics it pays to Read more


A Grand Coalition of Folly

Alex Rantwell

On the one hand it seems unthinkable that the two parties often seen as the opposing poles of British politics could form a coalition government. On the other hand it seems to make perfect sense. There is precious little difference in terms of policy, ideology or integrity. Both parties seem to govern with the notion that everything would be fine if not for the public. Both have hemorrhaged membership in recent decades as they have ceased to be organs of democratic governance and become essentially vote brokers offering a veneer of legitimacy to a sort of disorganised corporatism.

The very idea of it seems the stuff of nightmares – the two parties who have presided over a century of often farcical decline teaming up to accelerate their programme of ruin. From the Tories’ misadventure in Suez to Labour’s humiliating panhandling to the IMF, by way of botched nationlisations, botched privatisations, a mountain of debt and and an ill judged foray into continental politics which has been an expensive disaster, to the near break up of the United Kingdom. The two main parties have little to recommend them besides keeping the other lot out. And indeed when you speak to people intending to vote for either of the two main parties, that’s the reason that seems to come up most often.

And you can see their point – a Labour government, spending and borrowing it’s way to bankruptcy, would be a disaster. Even as a more natural conservative voter I have no interest in seeing Cameron win an outright majority either, which he would use to fudge and fiddle a referendum, setting the cause back decades.

Why then, would I be quietly hoping that these two parties, unable to form a government alone, form a grand coalition and share government for the next parliament?

Firstly they wouldn’t be able to get anything done. Unless they were going to engage in a radical programme of spending cuts and rolling back of the state, and neither is even talking about it, then this is a Read more

The Moment of Truce


Several Christmas messages and articles this year have chosen to focus on the unofficial truce between British and German troops, where soldiers put down their weapons and played football instead,  sharing food, cigarettes and general festive cheer.

Despite being commonly over romanticised it’s a heart warming story of people on the ground seeing a folly that those in positions of power do not. Read more

Cuba – The Nice Dictatorship

Cuba is a curious topic of conversation, and one that has come up again as Obama seeks to “normalise” relationships with the communist island state after nearly nearly 6 decades of a trade embargo.

The country has cultivated an image of being a sort of nice, slightly eccentric left wing enclave, run by Fidel Castro for decades who was a funny bloke with a beard – could have been an art teacher or some sort of liberal journalist, and now has now been handed over to his brother, who was also part of the revolution along with the dashing Che Guevara. This mythical land is well run with world class healthcare and is only poor because of the wicked Americans and their sanctions, according to this view, but they stand their ground and stick to their principles, and earn the admiration of middle class western liberals throughout the western world for it. Read more

More Laws on the Way

There is an unusually detailed profile of this so called terrorist Man Haron Monis on the BBC site here. As I write Monis and two hostages have been killed following a 16 hour siege at the Lindt Coffee Shop in Martin’s Place, Sydney. An upmarket area of Sydney’s central business district.I expect the profile will be pulled down at some point so read it while you can. It will be worth Australians remembering these details when the inevitable calls arise for more snooping, spying and general erosion of liberty and privacy in the wake of this.

A quick run down of relevant points: Read more

British Jihadists and “Citizenship”

David Cameron is off in Australia, surfing with the dudes first then addressing the G20 and outlining another crackpot idea which, like his EU reform plans, might sound good on the face of it, but is ill conceived and impractical on closer examination.

His big idea is to exclude British citizens who have been involved in the Syrian civil war from returning to the UK for a period of 2 years. It ticks all the Cameronian boxes of sounding dynamic, radical and sensible, while being unachievable and ill thought out. Read more

UKIP – Don’t Screw it Up

UKIP – Don’t Screw It Up

It’s a rare thing to have a proper headshot at the establishment, but after 20 years, various splits and schisms within the party, slurs of racism from the main parties, and a mainstream media that went from ignoring them completely to often open hostility, UKIP are finally in a position to not only threaten the main parties at Westminster but to play a decisive role in the next general election, and perhaps even in forming the next government. Read more

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