This is a really interesting discussion. Kudos to both Grace and Aaron for that. 👍

But there are questions and doubts in my head. Aaron refers to the first one here: is there some limit we face in terms of debt, or isn't there?
There isn't if you control the world's reserve currency, like the US. There probably hasn't been while the UK economy was a safe haven from the euro, and one of the four or five strongest economies in the world.

But now? After the disaster of austerity and with No Deal Brexit?
Grace talks about power relations. Ratings agencies have absurd, unaccountable amounts of power... but won't the UK automatically face problems, big ones, if the agencies downgrade us?

At a much much lower level, Uruguay would be screwed without its investment grade rating.
Don't get me wrong. Austerity isn't just immoral; it doesn't work. It makes things infinitely worse, and counter-cyclical spending and investment is the only answer. But the UK is becoming weaker geopolitically and economically all the time. There must be a concern there.
Then we come to the Green New Deal. Regarding which, I'm suspicious.

That's partly because I'm a pessimist on climate change. I don't believe billions of human beings can act in unison to stop this; that's been apparent for half a century now.
When scientists first discovered what was going on way back in the 1960s (!), philsophers and psychologists interjected with:

"Human beings are too short-termist in their thinking and way too selfish to act on a threat which they can't see and is far away".

They were right.
Hence, well. why nothing was done.

In 2002, I went to see the late, great Zygmunt Bauman speak at the London School of Economics. In his talk, he implored the young generation to do something about this - it would be our responsibility, our great mission, he said.
So I asked him something pretty straightforward:

"Mr Bauman - we live in a democracy. How do you suppose a party proposing the kind of tax rises and changes in how we all live that are required will ever be elected?"

He couldn't answer. Yet it's key to the entire thing.
That, essentially, is why so little has been done. Because nothing like enough people will vote for an end to their ways of ease - and for being taxed more, let alone much more. It's even why Joe Biden is shying away from banning fracking - because he needs Pennsylvania.
Then, along came AOC and the Green New Deal: swiftly taken up by Jeremy Corbyn too. A breakthrough in the public discourse, certainly... but in politics and policy?

And here's why I'm suspicious. It just seems wayyyyy too easy to me.
After half a century of failing to persuade voters to vote for something which would make their lives harder in the short and medium term, suddenly, we came up with a grand plan which said:

"No no, your lives will be better than ever if you just vote for us!"
My instinctive response to that is "really? Is it REALLY that simple?"

You know what I think about the idea of 'sustainable development'? I think it's a misnomer. It allows us to *think* we're doing something good while the planet keeps warming due to too much energy consumption
You know what I think we needed to do to reverse climate change? Decades ago, we needed not only to deurbanise, but to start living in MUCH more modest, frugal, natural ways. Which practically no-one is actually prepared to do.
Because no matter how much we all demand change and all despair of climate change deniers and fossil fuel polluters, we're not even prepared *ourselves* to make remotely that kind of step. We're all much too far down the rabbit hole for that.
Then there's the so-called 'safe' target of 2C warming by the end of the century. Folks: 2C is NOT AT ALL SAFE.. and you know how much we're actually on course to warm by 2100? 4C. Four degrees Celsius; seven degrees Fahrenheit.

My source? Only the US government itself.…

That's the same US government which denies the science... yet buries this horrible reality deep in one of its own reports. And takes the attitude: "It's too late. We're screwed. So let's keep polluting and profiteering".
Then consider the reality of what the UK is. A small, declining, third rate power in the North Atlantic, which through No Deal Brexit, is removing the chances of anyone else ever listening to anything it says ever again. Nobody's going to copy us if we bring in the GND.
And then - and this is the key really - consider the following.

1. Relative to the rest of the world, the UK's record on climate change is actually... pretty good. It's ranked 7th in the Climate Change Performance Index here:…
Its emissions are down 29% over the last decade, 45% since 1990... and have fallen more quickly than any other major economy. Surprising, I know.…
2. The UK has a population of 67m. The world has a population of 7.8bn.

And mass polluters/emitters like China, India, Russia, Brazil and more recently, Trump's US are the key to anything substantial ever being done. We are literally a drop in the ocean.
So we head into the next election. And we tell people:

3. "Despite our record on cutting emissions being pretty good, and despite it not making a damn difference unless the big economies do the same (which they won't), vote for us to transform everything about the economy!"

People just aren't going to believe us, or vote for it. The same old problem, in other words.

Now: at least AOC, Greta Thunberg, Corbyn, Grace etc are trying to do *something*. Nobody else has any kind of plan at all.
It's the classic man/woman in the arena thing in that sense. So I'm not criticising any of them at all here. We DO need to do something, very urgently.

But the test of a good policy is: does it stand up to scrutiny, and to attack? How will we respond when it is attacked?
And we need to come up with those answers *now*. It's no good just telling people "it's the right thing to do, and that's the end of it". We've gotta do much much MUCH more to sell the whole idea - and overcome the doubts of pessimists like me.
One last thing. In the video, Grace also refers to reviving the Labour movement. What I don't get is: in a world of globalised, atomised labour, with more and more countries demanding a share of an ever-shrinking cake, how she proposes to achieve that.
It was fine when the West lived under Bretton Woods, and nobody was challenging us. Now, we all live in a world in which developing countries with massive populations are going to become the most powerful: they naturally want more, while the West slowly declines.
Returning to a world in which the labour movement is together, united, with secure jobs and great workers' rights seems... close to impossible on that basis.

To put it another way: this isn't about the UK doing this. It's about THE WHOLE WORLD doing this.

Which it just won't.

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More from @shaunjlawson

16 Oct
Here's what a credible media would be asking the Prime Minister:

- Why did you lie to the British people at the election? How was that election legitimate given you won it because of that lie?

- Why have you ignored your own scientific experts? How many will die as a result?
- Why are you imposing massive fines on ordinary people while your advisor gets away with it?

- Why did your advisor avoid council tax?

- Why have you spent billions of public money on a track and trace system that doesn't work and is run by your cronies in the private sector?
- The polls suggest Joe Biden is heading for a landslide victory. He's already said he won't give the UK a free trade deal if we have no deal with the EU. What are you going to do about that?

- Do you think a nation of 67m is more powerful than one of 330m and a bloc of 445m?
Read 4 tweets
16 Oct
From my book last year.

Where was the media? What the hell was it doing? ImageImage
Seriously. How can you spend an entire referendum campaign ignoring anything that actually matters and obsessing with everything that doesn't - and then spend the shambolic years afterwards doing the exact same thing, again?
In the campaign, there was:

- No mention of the impact on Northern Ireland
- Nonsense that we could be like 'Switzerland' or 'Norway'
- No mention of what a customs union even was
- No mention that we can't have tariff-free access AND leave the single market
Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
This is very very good.…
This resonated in particular:

Since 2008 the number of American men under 30 reporting no sex has nearly tripled... [in an] increasingly winner-takes-all sexual marketplace generated by the retreat of monogamous norms and an increasingly polygynous, app-dominated hookup culture"
"While it’s important not to slip into victim-blaming rhetoric that sees the problem as women’s sexual freedom, the challenges facing unattractive, low-status men seem hardly to register on Bates’s radar".

Indeed. And it's not just a challenge there either. It's emotional too.
Read 11 tweets
14 Oct
Christ, this is flawed. You see: I'd have done what Aaron would've done. But we're both wrong. VERY wrong.

What happens to children when you remove all daily structure and social contact from their lives?

What happens to children whose parents don't have internet access?
What happens to children when you spend THIS length of time making them feel afraid of everything?

What happens to children whose parents can't magically keep them homeschooled over this length of time?
What happens to parents who can't work because their children are never at school?

How can the left - THE LEFT! - be this oblivious to what would happen to poorer children if none of them went to school until a vaccine had been distributed?
Read 12 tweets
11 Oct
THREAD: The big picture.

This has been a dark year, at the end of the darkest four years many of us have ever known in Western politics.

It's not just been about right wingers enriching themselves and impoverishing everyone else - it's been the triumph of lies over reason.
Fake news. Dark money and even darker data use. Fears exploited; science and evidence ignored.

"Where?", we wondered, "is all this leading?" For huge chunks of that time, the answer has looked like: "Fascism. The end of democracy. The return of the nightmare years".
The post-mid-1990s liberal left had a lot to answer for that. Because when you abandon millions and millions of people - when you cosy up to big business and except neoliberalism with all its excesses - where do you expect them to go? What do you expect them to do?
Read 58 tweets
10 Oct
In Uruguay, which has one of the best records in the world in fighting Coronavirus, the salaries of all public workers - including the President, his ministers, all MPs, but excluding medical workers - earning over 80,000 pesos a month were CUT by between 5% and 20% from March.
In the UK, which has one of the worst records in the world in fighting Coronavirus, MPs are on the verge of receiving not one, but TWO inflation-busting pay rises during the course of the pandemic.

These things are not coincidental. To put it mildly.
Uruguay is a VERY expensive country and 80,000 pesos a month, especially before tax, is not a huge salary at all.

But the example of solidarity was set from the top down. "If we're going to ask you to make sacrifices, so will we".
Read 5 tweets

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