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More thoughts on the protests in London at the weekend

I used to hold fairly high hopes about Nick Cohen, who had the courage to tell his leftist friends a few home truths about the sheer madness of their consorting – in the case of the hard left – with radical Islamists. He does not adopt the default “Blame America First” line on issues such as, say, Iraq, or for that matter, events in the Balkans. In the very big scheme of things, he’s one of the good guys, in my opinion. The trouble is that he is still a big government leftie; for him, the reductions in spending by this government, which are not that much more than envisaged by former UK (Labour) Chancellor Alisdair Darling, are wicked. Oh well.

He attended the protests against the UK government’s supposed “cuts” on Saturday (the sneer quotes are there because it is not clear that government spending as a share of GDP will actually shrink). Before I return to his comments against the “cuts”, here is what he said about the kind of folk causing a tear-up in the West End:

The folly of ignoring or indulging the far left becomes apparent as soon as you realise that the similarities between the SWP and the BNP are more important than the differences. Both are hysterical totalitarian organisations that love vicious rhetoric and promote anti-Semites. The left wing press and the BBC will never acknowledge the overlap between fascism and communism, because they fear accusations of “betrayal,” and have a mental block that prevents them accepting that evil resides on the left as well as the right of British politics. As a point of contrast, imagine how they would react if the BNP hijacked a Countryside Alliance march. The Today programme would have had a nervous breakdown on live radio.

Quite so. All we have to do now is get Mr Cohen to give up on the nonsense of this Keynesian idea that cutting public spending – and hence debt – somehow reduces “demand” in the economy. Given that a large chunk of tax revenues are gobbled up on debt interest payments alone, it seems fairly good public finance to make an adjustment. Cohen and others would do well to realise that Britain’s public finances were on their way to ruin long before anyone had heard of sub-prime mortgages, collateralised debt obligations, or for that matter, Ben Bernanke.

As an aside, I was in Piccadilly on my way to a meeting yesterday, and could see some fairly extensive damage to shops, banks, etc. Well done guys.

10 comments to More thoughts on the protests in London at the weekend

  • The Pedant-General

    “As an aside, I was in Piccadilly on my way to a meeting yesterday, and could see some fairly extensive damage to shops, banks, etc. Well done guys.”

    Hey guys – cut them some slack: they’re just experimental economists testing the broken window fallacy.

  • PeterB

    It’s worth pointing out that even Keynes himself might have advocated cuts in the current situation. It was always his idea to run surpluses in the boom times and deficits in the busts. I’m not saying I agree, but we can’t exactly dip into the vast reserves the last Labour government built up to find out can we?

  • John B

    “”As a point of contrast, imagine how they would react if the BNP hijacked a Countryside Alliance march. The Today programme would have had a nervous breakdown on live radio.”"
    No, the Today programme would love it. They would say it was a combined ops.

    If the BNP is fascist then both it and the SWP are socialist organisations and both are then left wing by current understandings?

  • John B

    I have the suspicion that “cuts” is all about more control.
    If financial matters were allowed to find their own level I think it would not take too long for reality and prosperity to re-assert themselves.
    Cut stupid jobs and activities rather than cutting funding for stupid jobs and activities?

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    The BNP could not have hi-jacked the Countryside Alliance March, we would not have allowed them to do so and there were too many of us – four or five times that of this last weekend’s little imbroglio – for them to dare trying it on.

  • Steve P

    I’m no fan of the BNP but to the best of my knowledge they don’t tend to go around smashing windows and vandalising other people’s property.

  • Ok, here’s something I’ve been mulling around: does anyone suppose that the window-smashers may have actually been proper anarchists, attempting to discredit the hard left? Not expecting to be outed by the papers…

  • Ian F4

    If the BNP is fascist then both it and the SWP are socialist organisations and both are then left wing by current understandings?

    Quite so. Examine the economic policies of the BNP and you’ll find they are far from “politically right”.

    On the classic two scale Nolan chart, the SWP and BNP are both firmly in the corner of limited personal and economic freedom, “right wing” is economically free which the BNP are definitely not.

  • Related to your other point about not being able to control the types of people that turn up at your protests: they might include unemployable illiterate idiots: http://twitpic.com/4em5bw

  • Paul Marks

    J.P. Even the BBC Radio Four mathematics show (whose presenter is a Economist magazine employee) admitted, eventually, that Fraser Nelson (of the Spectator) central point is correct.

    The central point being that government spending will be much the same this year as last year.

    Indeed my guess is that total government spending (counding the areas where it is going down and the areas where it is going UP) will end up HIGHER this year (2011) than it was in 2010.

    So the entire basis of the left’s attack (including on most BBC shows) is false.

    And, of course, the entire basis of the government (“we are taking tough action to save the financial position”) is false as well.

    Both the govenrment and the left are actually backing each other up – both telling a story about vast cuts in government spending.

    But it is just that – a story, it is not true.

    If the bond markets really are fooled by this “confidence game” then the traders are idiots.