The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

UK’S Reform Party Is Poised To Destroy the Consersvatives, and Deserves To

The latest polls show Reform, led by Nigel Farage neck and neck, or slightly ahead of the Tories.

I took some time to read their manifesto and it’s pretty bloody awful.

BUT, and it’s a big but, there’s some stuff Reform is promising that no one else is offering. For example:

  • lower rents through reduced migration
  • free tuition for STEM degrees
  • lifting income tax allowance to £20,000

Farage talks about the housing crisis all the time, and these specific policies are laser-targeted at younger people.

Farage wants to stop all non-essential immigration. Britain is like Canada, there’s vastly more immigration than there is housing being created and rents and house prices have sky-rocketed. (A detailed post on that soon.) Tuition averages about $6,000 pounds a year and young adults tend to be poor and have little income.

He also wants to reduce estate taxes, go all-in on anti-trans policies, get rid of clean energy and so on. He’s still a conservative loon.

But he’s offering what neither Labour nor the Conservatives are, or can.

He has the best chance of breaking the Labour/Conservative duopoly that Britain has seen in generations for the same reason LaPen is surging, Brexit happened & Trump is viable: the status quo sucks for most people and they want radical change. Since radical change to the left was stopped with Corbyn’s defeat and the Starmer’s purge of the left from Labout, it’s now the right’s turn.

Like an animal in a leg-trap who chews its own leg off to escape, people in pain who see their lives getting worse and no hope of improvement will take a chance on something radical. Sometimes, as with Javier in Argentina, that something radical is extremely stupid, but at a certain point people will try anything.

For a lot of people in Britain, as in France and Argentina and America, the risk is worth it.

As with Corbyn, the press is now turning hard against Reform. Any change from the neoliberal status quo will be opposed with their full weight. It worked against Corbyn, but at some point it will stop working.

Reform won’t win the election, but they don’t need to. They need to replace the Tories as the second party, either in this election or the next. Once they are part of the duopoly, power is only a matter of time.

Let us hope the left learns from this and raises its own challenge to Labour, replacing it, because Reform’s policies, overall, are horrid.

Neoliberalism is dying in country after country, who and what replaces it matters.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 23 2024


What Xi Jingping Has Done Right to Preserve CCP Power and Effectiveness


  1. GlassHammer

    “free tuition for STEM degrees”

    STEM requires a substantial industrial base within one’s country to provide the benefits the field promises.

    I wonder which UK party will latch onto industrialization.

  2. Feral Finster

    I have long said that the reason that the Far (ZOMG!) Right is making inroads with voters is not so much because of their policies. Rather it is because they are the only political force that is even talking about the kinds of things that the average frustrated citizen cares about, or thinks that they should be a concern.

    The Responsible Respectable Credentialed Center openly disdain their own electorate, preferring to grovel before Empire and Capital.

    Those factions of the left that actually want power ape the Center. The rest of the left are preoccupied with issues of burning concern such as “how many LGTBQXYZPDQ+ can dance on the head of a pin?”, accumulating Wokemon points, and calling each other “literal Hitler” over P.C. violations, real or imaginary.

  3. StewartM

    get rid of clean energy and so on

    What is it about conservative loons that make them against clean energy? I mean, I can understand its origin in the US (fossil fuel industry protecting its profits). But the North Sea reserves are past peak.

    Or is this just more death-bet stuff?

  4. Ian Welsh

    If you ain’t seventy, and/or in bad health, you aren’t winning the death bet at this point.

  5. GlassHammer

    “What is it about conservative loons that make them against clean energy?”

    In the U.S. the disdain resonates wish their base because of jobs (the petrol industry is higly concentrated in deep red states) and an overall distrust of government planning (they think once an oil field, gas plant, or coal mine goes their way of life will go with it and no one will help them).

  6. bruce wilder

    I know why some conservatives oppose “clean energy” in a provocative and flamboyant style. It has to do with (class?) resentments against hypocrisy, false piety and virtue-signalling, especially by people they suspect of combining corruption with a pretense of superiority.

    I think if you are genuinely of the left, and you see an oil company sponsoring some weekend “serious” news and public affairs program or magazine article with pretty pictures and slogans about “clean energy”, you just feel world weary. A Farage isn’t interested in either you or the oil company’s deception.

    It is the soi disant “progressive” whose self-regard gets entangled and invested in performative personal gestures affirming “clean energy” concepts and redemptive potential that forms a ripe target for the stirrers of resentment like Farage. Obviously, Farage will not come at the corruption, hypocrisy and narcissistic self-deception involved from a point-of-view that acknowledges that the absence of effective effort to radically reduce energy use will condemn posterity to suffer. That makes him a “loon” I suppose. But for the precariat who doesn’t understand the arguments about climate change, but who sees their own fragile grip on a decent life threatened by higher gas prices, say, Farage lands welcome blows on the secure and self-satisfied.

  7. bruce wilder

    There is generally a deep resentment felt among right-wing populists for what they regard as a denial of reality seemingly built into the personal character of “leftists” or people they see as representative of the liberal-left generally. What they see as disdain for themselves as “deplorables” is part of it, but by no means all. The constant, repetitive refrain that the populist right is racist, fascist and stupid and, by extension, has no rights or interests any one is bound to respect, serves to reinforce those views. The billionaire-owned right-wing media is pretty good at compounding the sense the left has lost its mind by featuring crazy mini-outrages in their side’s news alongside conspiracy theories that rot the mind.

  8. Purple Library Guy

    Although it’s inherently a decent fit, conservative loons are against clean energy because the biggest funder of conservative loon politics is fossil fuel corporations.

  9. bruce wilder

    I think you would find plenty of the usual suspects financing greenwashing initiatives and centrist bull excretions by the metric ton. Look at Shell celebrating “clean energy”. And, still absolutely nothing is accomplished.

    That you see the victims of this performative nonsense revolt when their own welfare and livelihoods are treated as disposable, well, what do you expect?

    The clowns of the populist right are filling a vacuum created by the betrayal to soft neoliberalism of all progressive principle. They get a monopoly on a lot of truths that simply cannot be admitted among the delusions and gaslighting that go into pretending Clinton-Obama-Biden are not horrible.

  10. Jefferson Hamilton

    Fossil fuel companies were at one time in the but too distant past, if I recall, some of the biggest investors in renewable energy, but that has stopped because it’s not profitable.

  11. Jan Wiklund

    Sometimes I think that all that is needed for such parties to take hold is pure anger, programmes are unnecessary.

  12. marku52

    Why is the right against clean energy? A couple of possible reasons. One, the government lies about everything, Yes, everything. All the time. This is well esatblished at this point. So it’s a fair point, “sure they are lying about climate change too.”
    (This has even gotten to me. I know the change is real –I can see the glaciers near me disappearing, and the wineries are having to move north. The nights are not cool enough to set the Pinot Noir grapes. But is CO2 to blame? I’m open to skepticism at this point….)

    Also the finger wagging virtue signaling from the celebrity and Davos set is horrible. I forget what actor–very concerned about the climate–flying his helicopter from his giant yacht in the Aegean to Tuscany for a pizza lunch and back. Or Taylor Swift. Personally responsible for a huge amount of carbon.
    So let me get this straight. I’m supposed to ride a donkey, eat bugs and live in a cave to save carbon while some Davos a$$hat blows all my yearly savings taking his third assistant backup mistress on one more private jet trip to Gstaad?
    Well, F that. And rightly so.
    When the first billionaire sends his private jet to the crusher and bulldozes his beach, house, get back to me about my carbon foot print.

  13. Ian Welsh

    I learned the chemistry of climate change in grade 11. It’s stuck with me.

  14. marku52

    “Yes, I know, GHG effect” Surely it is a driver. Is it the most important one? Methane? And at least when I was in 11th grade, the fear was a new ice age. Science changes, when done right. Is it right now? Yeah probably but my point is that skepticism of all main stream positions is entirely rational. They lie all the time. Saturated fat causes heart disease, ammirite?
    And it doesn’t really matter, because whatever the cause (s) is/are, we won’t do a damn thing about it. Except virtue signal about MAGAs driving GMC Suburbans.

  15. Purple Library Guy

    @Jennifer Hamilton Oil companies have stopped investing because it’s not profitable ENOUGH, not because it’s not profitable. But oil companies are used to windfall profits. Lots of other people will settle for SOME profit. I think the “Won’t happen because it’s not profitable” idea is far overblown. Clearly it IS happening, for one thing.

    I do think capitalism is a lousy system both in general and in not being suited to this problem. But that doesn’t mean, as many believe, that it can’t get this job done, or at least more or less done. The wrong tool for the wrong job can work–I can use a chisel as a flat-head screwdriver if I have to.

    So, the idea seems to be that solar and wind, for instance, have become unprofitable BECAUSE they are cheap to produce. This is obviously not how it works, products don’t become unprofitable because they are cheap to make. Solar and wind have become unprofitable because there is, for the moment, actual capitalist competition in producing them. Of late years capitalist firms have become so successful in avoiding this over so many fields that it comes as a shock when what used to be billed as the essence of capitalism suddenly breaks out. But that’s what is happening–firms are competing on price, to the point that their profits become quite lean. But, while modern financiers are clearly quite taken aback by this phenomenon, it equally clearly is not stopping companies from producing the stuff. If it ever actually does, then some firms will drop out, competition will ease, profits will go up, and production will continue. Meanwhile, because the prices are low, there are plenty of customers.

    Although the real bottom line is, China wants this stuff to be produced, so it is being produced and will continue to be produced until China has outfitted the whole world except the US and anyone willing to follow them in putting up massive tariffs. Even if the EU, or some of it, does follow the US in putting up tariffs, they do make their own stuff and the renewable revolution has gotten too far there to stop. True, it is possible the US might actually stop renewables in their tracks within the US, at least for a while, but if everyone else makes the shift I’m not sure how long that will stay feasible.

  16. StewartM


    Why would you or anything else think that climate change is a plot by billionaires to dupe the plebes, when billionaires are the ones by and large spreading the disinformation about it and spending money to stop green energy?

  17. StewartM

    @Jennifer Hamilton What PLG said. With oil and fossil fuels, there’s little or no new infrastructure to build. Not so with green energy.

    Once again, it’s all about destroying the planet for short-term profit, the vast majority of which goes into a few (often very old) hands.

  18. bruce wilder

    “Clearly it IS happening, for one thing.” And, happening too little, too late and with absolutely no discernible effect on the atmospheric “bottom line” or accelerating ecological collapse. Because “clean energy” and “renewables” are concepts that embody excuses, ignoring the logical necessity of somehow constraining all energy use.

    Telling anyone that “we” have to constrain all energy use radically and aggressively is no one’s idea of an easy sales pitch. So, we pretend like we don’t have to do it to save the planet’s ecologies. Choosing to be persuasive (and, for some, rich) over being analytically correct and morally right is a luxury of being mortal, I suppose. I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone; immunity from logically entailed consequences.

  19. different clue

    @Stewart M,

    . . . ” get rid of clean energy and so on ” . . .

    Why? It may be society-cidal nihilism.

  20. Jefferson Hamilton

    “Clearly it IS happening, for one thing.”

    It is happening, but not as much as it’s made out to be and not nearly enough. Where it has happened it’s been in large part from sizable subsidies, which are paid for on the back of profitability.

  21. capelin

    Maybe the “conservative loons” can read Wikipedia, and then hear the braying of the press, and know somethings not correct. Or know there’s something there to be exploited for political gain.

    A little bit of a continued thread drift here, but this question (and the framing) really does get at the heart of why we’re talking about Donald and Nigel.

    Because everyone else is bullshitting circles around things like this;

    “sea level today is very near the lowest level ever attained”

    Couple excellent graphs at the link,

    “Sea level has changed over geologic time. As the graph shows, sea level today is very near the lowest level ever attained (the lowest level occurred at the Permian-Triassic boundary about 250 million years ago).

    During the most recent ice age (at its maximum about 20,000 years ago) the world’s sea level was about 130 m lower than today, due to the large amount of sea water that had evaporated and been deposited as snow and ice, mostly in the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Most of this had melted by about 10,000 years ago. “

  22. Ian Welsh

    Yeah, the climate we have right now is very unusual in geological time.

  23. Purple Library Guy

    Bruce Wilder and Jennifer Hamilton sound to me like people saying in March 2020 that since hardly anyone seems to have this COVID thing, it’s not going to be a big deal. Disease spreads exponentially; at the beginning only a few people have it, but if that exponent is a decent size, pretty soon many, many people will have it, and it’s the last few days where you see most of the really visible growth.

    The thing about renewables is that they have been growing exponentially for some time, and I have seen no evidence advanced that would suggest this will stop any time soon. And it’s not a small exponent; they’ve been growing at like 30%+/year for ages–starting from very, very low levels. Up to now, they’ve been small enough that general economic growth has swamped the impact of growth in renewables. But general economic growth is like 2-3%/year. Eventually, the 30%+/year catches up. Renewables (and EVs) are now finally reaching the point where the actual amount is big enough to make a dent. When you get to that point it only takes a few more 30% increases before they’re cannibalizing everything else. People who think linearly are assuming that every year of increase in renewable energy will be like the last year they paid close attention to, which may be a few years ago–but they won’t be.

    Even the link that Jennifer Hamilton posted says that “clean energy investment is now nearly double fossil fuels”. But the blogger does not ponder what a profound change that is from ten or even five years ago, or project that change into the future.

    Hamilton in a rejoinder to me says that “Where it has happened it’s been in large part from sizable subsidies, which are paid for on the back of profitability.” So, fossil fuels and, in spades, nuclear get MASSES of subsidies, so renewables need ’em just to come close to even, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. And of course the standard way to encourage ANY fledgling industry is subsidies. I’m not sure what “paid for on the back of profitability” is intended to mean here–I’m not being snarky, I actually don’t know what is meant. At the firm level, subsidies increase profitability, that’s why everyone wants ’em. But my main objection to this point is “so what?” If we end up turfing fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy because of government subsidies, then I guess those were good subsidies. If all the energy comes from solar and wind and stuff, I’m not going to be saying “Oh, need a do-over, that stuff wasn’t built with the pure free market! It’s not actually viable it’s all a fake, rebuild those oil refineries!” Getting built is getting built, doesn’t matter if it involved “cheating” from the perspective of a system I don’t even subscribe to.

    Capitalism IS inherently INCAPABLE of solving our overall problem of environmental destruction and ecosystem collapse. And frankly, its ability to solve the specific problem of climate change is a matter largely of luck–it so happens that there were some technologies available which, once encouraged with some subsidies so they developed and gained some economies of scale, turn out to both be capable of solving the problem and represent technology that can be disruptive (cheaper and more efficient) under capitalist conditions. If that hadn’t been the case, capitalism would have been unable to do anything about climate change. But it is, so it can, despite various contradictions and bottlenecks.

  24. different clue

    I also remember ” another Ice Age is coming” from my youth. I used to read The Mother Earth News magazine decades ago ( and bought a whole lotta buncha issues which I still have). Every issue had an interview with a green-minded or self-reliancy or New-Agey or interesting sciency leadership person, called the Ploughboy Interview.

    One such interview was with a University of Wisconsin Climatology Professor named Reid Bryson. I have always been able to find a link to this interview until just now today, so I promise that it exists. Since the search engines have suddenly decided to prevent successfully searching for it, I will offer two other links about Reid Bryson instead., to demonstrate that he really existed.

    I had remembered Bryson as attributing the upcoming global cooling which he predicted to the ongoing rolling-around of natural cycles, subcycles and epicycles. But the wiki entry notes that he attributed much of it to sun-blocking dust rising into the air from all over Asia.

    I remember reading another prediction of cooling on the way. It was in a publication I used to get called HortIdeas. I believe it was shortened down from an article in the publication Quarternary Paleoecology, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyway, it was based on palinological readings. That’s readings of ancient legacy annual pollen layers in thousands of years worth of season-logging skyfall dustfall layers in bogs, water bodies, ancient legacy water bodies, etc. Every species of pollinating plant has distinctive pollen grains. The assumption is that a set species of plant had the same climatic requirements in the past as it has today. The pollen findable in an annual skydust fallout layer came from all the plants growing within windrange of that forming layer. The plants who grew then tell you what the climate was in that year.

    So the authors studied many thousands of years of pollen layers, and noted all the kinds of pollen grains in each layers and worked out what climate had to exist that year to support or permit the plants who supplied the pollen for that year. And they looked for repeating cycles in types of pollen findable year to year, which would indicate what the climate was year to year around that deposition zone. And when they saw some cycles repeating enough times to be meaningful, they extrapolated forward how-when the cycles would repeat going forward if they followed the same repetition cycle. And based on that they said that as of the time of the writing of the article, we were due for a several decades long ” frosty chill-age” cooldown.

    So what happened? Was Bryson wrong? Were the palynologists wrong? I don’t think they were “wrong” on their science. I think their predictions were overtaken by events. What events? A massive enough increase in heat trapper-gas skyflooding every year for decades so as to produce enough greenhousing heat-buildup so as to flood out the predictable cooling in a rising flood of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse-gassing skydumping flood of heat-trapper gases.

    That’s what I think has happened and is happening even though ” the government” says it is happening. The shorthand rule that ” government lies about everything” and therefor we should be skeptical of anything the government says because the government says it is what is known as a heuristic in ordinary lay-people parlance. ( It may have a different technical meaning to certain specialists). As an ordinary lay-person , I have decided that if I decide to let a heuristic do my thinking for me, I will often take the train of heuristic to a wrong destination. So I have decided to do my own thinking about global warming or global cooling, why or why not. And not bother pre-straightjacketing my thinking with a heuristic.

  25. bruce wilder


    Just to clarify: I would readily acknowledge that “renewables” are increasing their share in primary energy generation. The numbers on that are what they are.

    What I am questioning is whether the increasing substitution of renewables for fossil fuel consumption has had to date or will have in the foreseeable future any practically significant effect in averting ecological collapse, general resource depletion or climate change or even, most narrowly, the annual addition humans make to the global carbon cycle and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

    OK, that is a long, complex sentence, but, more simply: is the annual addition of CO2 to the atmosphere decreasing? That increment is certainly not shrinking exponentially!

    To keep the thread on track: like Capelin, I think the b.s. piled up around these issues invites reactionaries like Farage to take pot shots.

  26. I think the b.s. piled up around these issues invites reactionaries like Farage to take pot shots.
    In France Macron raised the retirement age, cut taxes on the rich and then proposed to increase gas taxes. The gas tax increase failed after mass protests.
    The riches 10% account for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s revealing how none of the solutions to that pollution is to target the rich.
    For the current election Macron and his centrists are focusing most of their attacks on the left. It’s almost as if the purpose of “centrists” is to discredit the left, and aid the right.

  27. Bob

    On the “left” in the UK there is The Workers’ Party of Great Britain. They are led by Galloway and have a bunch of alright but dull people on board like Craig Murray. They seem to be offering the sorts of policies that should appeal to the working class . I would imagine that if it weren’t for the media enthusiastically ignoring them, they’d be a shoe in for the new second party. If anything, I think the British media is totally supporting Farage and has done since the early days of his media career by featuring him consistently and often on Have I Got News For You and Question Time. The puppeteers want him at the helm and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Tory slash Reform coalition.

    I don’t know why it’s taken for granted Starmer will be the PM next Friday.

  28. Jim

    When you say Farage goes “all-in on anti-trans policies,” you need to define what makes a policy proposal such as “single-sex spaces” somehow “anti-trans,” as opposed to “pro-woman.” Kicking gender-woo out of elementary and secondary education is not “anti-trans;” it’s protective of children, both girls and boys, and in accord with real, material biological reality. Implementing the recommendations of the Cass Report – the most thorough review of the “affirmation model” and the evidence-free underpinnings of it – to stop the use of puberty blockers and wrong-sex hormones on MINORS, is not “anti-trans.” It is protective of basic child safeguarding, and of the medical mandate to “first, do no harm.”

    The “left,” or what purports to be the left, is handing the actual Right a gift on a silver platter by aligning itself with batshit crazy “gender” policy, when these policies have precisely zero to do with improving the material conditions of the working classes, and threaten hard-fought rights won by women, gays and lesbians. When Sir Keir Starmer, titular head of the Labour Party following the coup against Jeremy Corbyn, protests against forthrightly declaring that only women have a cervix, how are voters to see him and his party as anything more than clowns?

  29. Ian Welsh

    Less than half a percent of Americans are trans. There are a 1,000 more important issues and anyone emphasizing and campaigning on it is a demagogue attempted to stir up hate against a minority.

    It’s a niche outrage issue.

    “Fewer than three in ten people support state laws that prohibit gender-affirming care for minors or that criminalize providers of that care. Among Republicans, 26 percent support bills that prohibit this medical care, while 70 percent are opposed. That’s on par with where Democrats landed on the issue, with 26 percent in favor of such bills and 69 percent opposed. ”

    “But despite Westminster’s fixation with such issues – alongside sections of the media and twitter – the public themselves are far less invested. Two thirds of Britons say they pay little attention (42%) or no attention (24%) to the debate in the media and politics about trans rights.”

    I prioritize economic issues, but I don’t turn my eyes from people who want to beat down minorities. Trans women, in particular, face astounding levels of violence.

    But keep kicking down.

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