Category Archives: employment

Brexit: moving away from globalisation towards self-reliance’  

Colin Hines draws attention to Green MEP Molly Scott Cato’s publication and launch of  a report by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read: Brexit and Trade Moving from Globalisation to Self-reliance’

Although it regrets our leaving the EU and wishes we wouldn’t, the report is written as an alternative approach assuming we are outside the EU.

Its Executive Summary states:This report puts on to the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution”.

Hines continues: “As I am aware it is the first time a report from a politician isn’t clamouring to retain membership of the open border Single Market”

It details the need for an environmentally sustainable future involving constraints to trade and the rebuilding of local economies. Indeed the report actually calls for ‘Progressive Protectionism’ rather than a race to the bottom relationship with the EU – see page14:

Reducing dependence on international trade implies reducing both imports and exports. It is therefore very different from the traditional protectionism of seeking to limit imports whilst expanding exports. It should therefore meet with less hostility from other countries, as it has a very different aim from simply improving the UK’s balance of payments. It could be described as ‘progressive protectionism’, or ‘green protectionism’. X1V reference adds: ‘For detailed proposals on how this could and should be done, see http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/

Also ground-breaking in Green Party literature of late is its discussion of the arguments for and against managed migration.

Its sensitive handling of this contentious issue for many in the Greens does mark an important step forward and hopefully will help to start an internal debate about whether or not the party should reconsider its open borders approach.

This recent Daily Telegraph article with Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Lawson frothing to get rid of key environmental regulations shows how impossible any green future will be under a hard Brexit.

Hines feels that we won’t leave the EU and central to that happening will be a realisation across Europe that to see off the extreme right they must manage internal migration and protect domestic jobs. At that point the reasons for supporting Brexit for most are no longer valid.

He ends: “This timely report makes a crucial input to this debate, one that will rage for the next two years”.

 

 

 

Population: edited extracts from Progressive Protectionism:

Following the post on migration and immigration, we turn to Colin Hines views on population – a subject which, he notes, green groups have ‘fastidiously’ ignored, in the face of developing countries’ activists and leaders saying it was a form of colonialism and others claiming that the root of environmental problems was the consumption patterns of the rich, not the growing numbers in poor countries.

Two noted environmentalists, Jonathon Porritt and David Attenborough, disagree with their Green companions about population growth

Porritt has pinpointed a weakness: “they have a very deep fear that addressing population issues will distract people from the real issue: over-consumption in the rich world rather than overpopulation in the poor world” but stresses that “It really is possible to pursue two big issues at the same time”.

One of Attenborough’s key insights was in answer to a question about overcoming the problems of an ageing population. It is often argued that we’ll need more young people to look after the old, hence we should encourage larger families or more immigration. Attenborough’s riposte was: “The notion of ever more old people needing ever more young people, who will in turn grow old and need even more young people, and so on ad infinitum, is an obvious ecological Ponzi scheme”.

A United Nations Population Division study by David Coleman demonstrated that for the UK to retain its 1995 support ratio of working-age people to older dependants (4.09), it would need to import 59.8 million immigrants between 1995 and 2050. This would involve inward net migration of more than a million people every year and nearly double UK population by 2050.

Over the years Colin Hines relates that his focus has moved from population to food to nuclear power and proliferation, to automation and jobs then finally to an anti globalisation and pro localisation approach.

He says ruefully, “Along the way I frankly fell asleep at the wheel on the population topic. This has changed however when I woke up to the fact that if net migration continues at around recent levels, the UK population is expected to rise by nearly 8 million people in 15 years, almost the equivalent of the population of Greater London (8.7 million). 75% of this increase would be from future migration and the children of those migrants.

The population growth would not stop there. Unless something is done about this growth it is projected to increase towards 80 million in 25 years and keep going upwards”. See the Office for National Statistics here.

Chapter Two of his book (above, left) looks at the reasons why global population numbers are projected to rise by over a billion more than was forecast a mere six years ago and debunks the idea that ageing populations in rich countries need more immigration. It explores the right to fertility control as well as the responsibility for choice of family size. The policies of Progressive Protectionism which will help to reduce and eventually stabilise population growth – a crucial goal for a densely populated country like the UK – are detailed. Surprising facts are published by Migration Watch:

Over 90% of international migrants to the UK go to England, which now has a population density of 410 people per square km, just lower than India and nearly twice that of Germany and 3.5 times that of France.

As Hines says, the enormous rise in world population annually takes place at a time of increasing food, water, energy and raw material constraints, of ever worsening environmental degradation and mounting difficulty of providing adequate social needs such as education, health and housing in an increasingly unequal world. Acknowledging that population growth is not the only cause of such problems, he maintains that rising numbers also makes them much harder to deal with.

As life expectancy increases and birth rates fall, populations are ageing and it is currently thought that the only way to cope with the reduced ratio of those working to those who have retired is to increase the number of children or young immigrants

But Hines points out that longer, healthier lives mean more people can work longer, unless they are in very physically demanding labouring work. With more flexible working arrangements, more jobs can be done by older workers, enabling them to top up their pensions by working as much or little as they choose.

In the absence of immigration, it is estimated that the potential support ratios could be maintained at current levels by increasing the upper limit of the working-age population to roughly 75 years of age.

There is a fascinating ‘chapter within a chapter’ on the Japanese culture concludingAll these factors result in another advantage, people don’t just live longer, they stay healthier longer. A World Health Organisation study in 2000 found that Japanese people enjoyed an average of 74.5 years of healthy life, compared with 71.7 in the UK and just 70 in the US”. A linked FT study is also of great interest.

Hines’ conclusions:

Reduce the rate of population growth

Hines sees the cornerstone for this as being for people, from now on, to consider having no more children once they have had two. The current Conservative government appears to agree; it has today brought into force new rules on Child Tax Credit – worth up to £2,780 per child per year – so that it will only be paid for the first two children in any family. Like all this government’s cuts and ‘austerity’ this will only be a problem for low-income families.

Train workers in the UK to care for the elderly frail

A valid contribution to strengthening local economies is developing a better resourced and more caring approach to looking after the growing number of elderly who need some assistance will generate huge business and job opportunities in the care sector. A massive education and skills programme will be needed to train workers in the UK for an adequately paid career in this sector.

During this transition Hines realises that it might be necessary – and also in the nursing and agricultural sectors – for some shortfalls to be filled by immigrants for as short a period as possible. He stresses that we should in general avoid taking skilled and much-needed people from their country of origin, but short term transitional arrangements might also improve the skills of those coming and increase the benefit to their host country on their return.

See: http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/

Colin Hines will be speaking on Progressive Protectionism in Birmingham on April 22nd.

 

 

Edited extracts from Progressive Protectionism: migration, immigration

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Colin Hines describes the open borders to movement of people within Europe as undemocratic and anti-internationalist, stealing the brightest and the best from poorer countries.

Britain is the world’s second largest importer of health workers after the US, including more than 48,000 doctors and 86,000 nurses in 2014, despite the fact that in 2010, along with all WHO members, the UK signed the ‘Global Code of Practise on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel’, which ‘encourages countries to improve their health workforce planning and respond to their future needs without relying unduly on the training efforts of other countries, particularly low-income countries suffering from acute shortages’.

Crucially the recipient countries must rapidly train enough doctors and nurses for example from their own population to prevent the shameful theft of such vital staff from the poorer counties which originally paid for their education.

Migration’s boost to population levels in the richer countries results in a larger ‘ecological footprint’ than would otherwise be the case. An ecological footprint is the measure of human impact on the Earths ecosystems. WWF defines it as ‘the impact of human activities measured in terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated.

The crucial thing is to tackle the root cause of why people leave their friends and culture in the first place. This is normally because their economic prospects or level of personal safety are bad enough to force them to emigrate. The replacement of the present system, code name international competitiveness, which pits nation states against nation states in economic warfare, and export led growth will both be drastically reduced as the emphasis shifts to protecting and rebuilding local economies.

Since 2004 there has been a rapid and uncontrollable rise in immigration as millions of workers from the new member states in Eastern Europe came to Western Europe. In the UK, a favourite destination, the number of East Europeans here has increased by nearly one million since 2004, when it stood at 167,000. This has led to increased pressure on local services and housing, and a downward pressure on the wages of the unskilled in particular.

In a dense, long and fully referenced chapter Hines points out that these large-scale migrations occurred at a time when on average, between 65-70% of households in 25 high-income economies experienced stagnant or falling real incomes between 2005 and 2014. The income of the bottom 90% of their populations has stagnated for over 30 years. This has unsurprisingly led to a political backlash.

Progressive Protectionism aims to reduce permanently the amount of international trade in goods, money and services and to enable nation states to decide the level of migration that their citizens desire. This would take our continent into a new more hopeful future by offering the majority a localist programme that the left, green and small ‘c’ conservatives could unite around, bringing a sense of economic security and controlled immigration, similar to that enjoyed in Western Europe during the fifties, sixties and early seventies.  

See: http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/

Colin Hines will be speaking on Progressive Protectionism in Birmingham on April 22nd.

 

 

 

New Economics question: is there a socially just, green, internationalist and small ‘c’ conservative form of protectionism?

trump-carrier

There was widespread media coverage of American president elect Donald Trump’s appearance at the Carrier furnace factory in Indianapolis, marking a deal to stop the company from moving hundreds of jobs to Mexico and threatening “consequences” for companies that relocate offshore. He also exerted pressure on Ford who backtracked on opening another small plant in Mexico.

Whilst understanding the welcome for more local jobs, Margaret – at a recent meeting of the West Midlands New Economics Group (WMNEG) – wondered if any deeper thinking would take place, “Or will Ford continue to make the ‘gas-guzzlers’ which are damaging the health of human beings and the planet?” Ann asked if there were different forms of protectionism and has decided to look further.

Colin Hines presents a detailed alternative – ‘progressive protectionism’ – which will be the focus of a future WMNEG meeting. As he wrote in the Guardian:

There is a left, green alternative that could effectively challenge the rise of the extreme right, while giving voters hope for a better future. In my new book ‘Progressive Protectionism: Taking Back Control’, I detail why progressives should endorse the controlling of borders to people, capital, goods and services, but not as occurred in the 1930s, when governments attempted to protect domestic jobs while still wanting to compete and export globally at the expense of others.

Progressive Protectionism, by contrast, aims to nurture and rebuild local economies in a way that permanently reduces the amount of international trade in goods, money and services and enables nation states to control the level of migration that their citizens desire . . . championing policies geared to achieving more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment worldwide.

corbyn-eu-socialist-leaders

Hines would urge Jeremy Corbyn to use his undoubted popularity with European socialist leaders, at next month’s London meeting of European socialist parties, to discuss how all EU member states can cooperate to reverse the present political, social and economic instability that haunts the whole continent.

He calls for a beneficial treaty replacing the outdated, discredited Treaty of Rome, which is increasing economic insecurity through austerity, relocation of businesses and the rapid migration of workers: “This should prioritise the protection and rebuilding of local economies and so provide a positive answer to voters’ concerns. To achieve this, a debate needs to be started about why Europe needs a progressive protectionism to replace the increasingly discredited Treaty of Rome with a Treaty of Home Europe-wide”. Cross-border issues such as responding to non-European migration, climate change, pollution, crime and military security would still of course require intra-European cooperation”.

He will be speaking on this theme at various events, including one meeting on 22nd April in Birmingham

 

Colin Hines is the convener of the Green New Deal group and for ten years, co-ordinator of Greenpeace International’s Economics Unit. His latest book, ‘Progressive Protectionism‘, was published in January 2017. It details why and how groups of regional nation states and their communities should join together to reintroduce border controls to protect and diversify their economies, provide a sense of security for their people and prevent further deterioration of the environment. He is also author of ‘Localization – A Global Manifesto‘. This may be bought in hard copy or read on computer/Kindle via the Amazon website. Those who avoid Amazon may like to read the assessment of corporate tax avoidance by lawyer Marc Wadsworth, here.

 

 

A realistic, grounded alternative politico-economic vision – 2

shaun-5Shaun Chamberlin, of the Fleming Policy Centre, Chelsea Green’s UK/Europe commissioning editor, responds to Hines: ‘Amen’. He continued: ‘This very much echoes my response to the interview question: What would David Fleming’s reaction to Brexit have been?” ‘

“I think David’s work articulates the far more positive, reasonable motives that many will have had for their vote—a desire for more accountable control, closer to home; recognition of the economic truth that unlimited movement of both people and capital does indeed drive down wages for the working class; and above all a desire to reclaim a clear identity—something that David describes as “the root condition for rational judgement”. If you don’t know who you are then how can you know what to do?

“A nation, after all, is a powerful root for identity, built through long association with a particular place and culture, which many generations have shaped and defended”.

As David writes, “if defeated, the nation often manages, eventually, to come back into being, with a sense of renewal and justice. It exists in the mind of its people.” And it gives an identifiable meaning to the sense of “we”, to a “national interest”. This, perhaps, is what the European Union was seen to be threatening—our sense of who we are—and why so many rejected it.

“But more than a route to understanding Brexit’s causes, I see Fleming’s work as a progressive, practical vision of what it could look like. If Brexit is the path we are taking, then we need to reclaim it from the xenophobes and racists who see the “Leave” vote as a vindication.

“Globalisation and neoliberalism are destroying our collective future, but they have also all-but-destroyed the present for many, as the neofeudalism termed ‘austerity’ continues to bite. The one common factor behind unexpected election results like Brexit, Trump and Corbyn may be desperate rejection of the establishment and the status quo—all the major parties supported “Remain” after all.

“It is important to remember that fascists like Mussolini and Hitler didn’t only consolidate power on the basis of lies and fear—they also raised wages, addressed unemployment and greatly improved working conditions. So if we are to avoid the slow drift into real fascism, we need to present an alternative politico-economic vision that can restore identity, pride and economic well-being. We need to tell a beautiful story of how we will make the future better for the desperate, rather than a fearful one. This is the story that Fleming’s books tell, and what inspired me to devote my past few years to bringing them to publication.

His seven-point protocol for an economics based in trust, loyalty and local diversity is, quite simply, the only realistic, grounded alternative I have seen to a future I have no desire to live through”.

 

 

Government needs to formulate intelligent rules and incentives to generate productive work

In 1989, John Gapper visited a Unilever factory in Grimsby, once run by Birds Eye Wall’s, which had just won an award for industrial harmony. He records that the workers had agreed to job cuts and to work in teams, retraining and raising productivity in return for higher wages. But eventually, the ‘overriding focus on shareholder value’ forced a management decision to outsource. Unilever declared the factory too small and inefficient, closing it in 2005. Alongside the destruction of hope and employment, two years later the abandoned building itself caught fire.

grimsby-factory-fire

When capital was freed to move abroad, it became all powerful. It had been harder for companies to impose changes on their workforce when many were union members and moving production to other places was difficult. Once capital controls had been lifted in 1979, managers’ demands on workers with limited or obsolescent skills increased, using the threat of work moving to a greenfield site, or to the other side of the world.

Contrast with this situation with the stand taken by a smaller, still prospering business*:

kirsty-story

The Grimsby experience has been repeated in many places since 1989 with the loosening of barriers to trade and migration, and the unleashing of globalisation. People not educated at business schools or trained to run global supply chains had a tougher time, losing jobs and having benefits stripped. Their losses have made communities receptive to the gospel of economic restoration.

To generate and to keep productive work, investing capital more effectively for those in abandoned places, government needs to formulate intelligent rules and incentives.

The goal for companies to create decent jobs for local citizens – ‘a founding purpose of business’ (Gapper) – is only to require for all what many in London or New York already enjoy.

*http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/firm-quits-chamber-over-sending-3965485

 

 

 

An analysis of the trends driving the Brexit vote

prof goodwinToday, Paul Gosling’s excellent Twitter feed led to news of research showing that trends relating to income, location and skills were important factors behind the public’s decision on whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union (EU).

Kent’s news article adds that the research was ‘co-conducted’ by Professor Matthew Goodwin (right), Professor of Politics in Kent’s School of Politics and International Relations, and Dr Oliver Heath at the Royal Holloway University.

It was commissioned by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and drew on data from the British Election Study (BES). Professor Goodwin said that it “sheds light on the deep divides that exist in our society”.

A further search led to the source document which may be read here: http://www.matthewjgoodwin.org/uploads/6/4/0/2/64026337/political_quarterly_version_1_9.pdf.

jrf logo

A JRF article about this research adds that people earning less than £20,000 a year with lower qualifications and living in low-skilled areas were the driving force behind the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. The researchers also found that public support for Leave closely mapped past support for Ukip but was more polarized along educational achievement lines than support for Ukip ever had been.

FROM THE JRF ‘SECTION’:

  • ‘Double whammy’ of low skills and lack of opportunity led to Brexit
  • Low earners, low skilled workers and left behind places drove Leave vote
  • Government must deliver a ‘Britain to work for all’ to heal divisions, says JRF

It said ensuring prosperity was more equally shared and that people could find thrive and find security in the modern economy was crucial to address the concerns. The research found three key trends behind the Brexit vote:

People living in the poorest households, which earn less than £20,000 per year, were much more likely to support leaving the EU than those in the wealthiest households, as were the unemployed, those looking for work, people in low-skilled and precarious manual occupations. In households with incomes of less than £20,000 per year the average support for leave was 58% but in households with incomes over £60,000 per year support for leaving the EU was only 35%. Unemployed people and those looking for work were also far more likely to support Brexit than those in full employment – support for leave among the former was 59% but only 45% among the latter. Other things being equal, support for Leave was 10 points higher among those on less than £20,000 per year than it was among those who earn more than £60,000.

Educational inequality was the standout trend behind the vote, showing that a lack of opportunity for low-skilled workers was a key driving force. Other things being equal, support for Leave was 30 percentage points higher among those with GCSE qualifications or below than it was for people with a degree. Over 70 percent of people with no qualification voted for Brexit, over 70 percent of people with a postgraduate degree voted to remain.

Where people lived: in low skill areas the proportion of A-level holders voting leave was closer to that of people with low skills, in high skill areas their vote was much more similar to graduates. Support for Brexit varied not only according to the type of individuals but the type of area. Those with all levels of qualifications were more likely to vote Leave in low skill areas than in high skill areas. The biggest difference across types of area was for those with A-levels or a degree. Whereas over 70 percent of people in low-skilled communities like Tendring (which covers Clacton) voted for Brexit, over 70 percent of people in very highly-skilled communities like Cambridge voted to remain in the EU.

Amongst the conclusions of Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation were that:

  • “The research shows how Britain cannot afford to return to business as usual following the vote for Brexit. The result was a wake-up call: for too long, many communities have been struggling as the country’s prosperity passed them by and missed out on opportunities to build a better life.
  • “With energy focussed on the process of leaving the EU, there’s a danger the concerns of people at home are ignored. This analysis should act as beacon for politicians who often talk about representing the concerns of ordinary people.
  • “The rapid pace of change in the economy has left too many people without the skills and opportunity to get on in life. We must act to ensure prosperity reaches all corners of the country, and provides everyone with the chance to earn a good wage in a secure job.

“Theresa May has made the right noises to overcome this and heal the divisions with a promise to make Britain work for all. The priority is making good on this promise.”