Ríos de Sangre

Ríos de sangre

Todos somos provisionales
en este mundo
y en estas tierras.

Incluso aquellos que aún viven
en el mismísimo paritorio
del hospital en que nacieron,
agarrados al potro de la cama
donde aterrizaron al salir
del viente de sus madres.
Aquellos que aún no han limpiado
su propio líquido amniótico.

Todos somos provisionales
en estas tierras
y en este mundo.
Incluso aquellos que alardean
como si fuera mérito suyo
de haber nacido en tal o cual sitio
como la patata que presume
de haber elegido el bancal donde creció.

Incluso aquellos que planifican
dónde irse a vivir
usando hojas de cálculo
para determinar el lugar
que mejores exenciones fiscales
y retribuciones profesionales ofrece.

Incluso aquellos que llegaron
por accidente, como yo,
a un paisaje verde y amable
y nunca vieron el día
de comprar billete de vuelta.

Incluso aquellos que se ven
forzados a abandonar
sus pueblos y ciudades
asediados por el caos capitalista
del hambre y de las guerras,
aquellos que huyen de la muerte o de la miseria.

Incluso aquellos que sueñan con caras distintas,
con horizontes nuevos, con aires inéditos.

Todos somos provisionales
en este mundo
y en estas tierras,
porque somos los Ríos de Sangre
que alimentan los Océanos de Esperanza.

“Ríos de Sangre”: Título que se le ha dado al tristemente famoso discurso anti-inmigración pronunciado en 1968 por Enoch Powell en el que evocó la sangre en el Río Tíber de la Eneida de Virgilio (Siglo I a.C.)

Traducido del poema original en inglés, Rivers of Blood, por el autor
Poema publicado por primera vez en ‘Contra: poesía ante la represión’. Coordinadora Anti Represión de la Región de Murcia. 2016.

Brexit and Migration


I truly dislike talking about human beings solely as resources for the economy. We are not just pieces of business machinery. Each one of us has a heart full of aspirations, emotions and memories. We are loving neighbours, mothers, brothers, sons and friends to other people who love us too. We have talent, culture and spirituality, whether it is religious or not. We share humanity with everyone. We are the Rivers of Life feeding the Oceans of Hope.

However, since the debate about migration in this EU referendum has focused mainly on how migrants contribute (or not) to the economy and on how to “control numbers”, often with demeaning language, I feel the need to share with the readers a reflection, primarily in economic terms, about migration. Sadly, these are the parameters of the debate and responses on these grounds are also needed. Unfortunately, the urgency of the situation requires it. The stakes are high.

The referendum campaign has been tarnished by very sad episodes of political abuse and even violence, including the tragic death of Jo Cox, a brave woman who defended noble ideas and values and served her community and the country with diligence and enthusiasm. Leaving the EU, as we may be about to do, led by a right-wing movement that rides high on the back of the beast of media xenophobia, fanatic patriotism, dubious democratic claims and self-interest (a movement whose messages have surprisingly captured the imagination of millions of decent Britons!), will be catastrophic for our country.

The debate about the effects of EU migration on the UK economy is simply misguided. Many Brexiters do not acknowledge that EU migrants fill in positions that the local workforce cannot. Migrants are also consumers, pumping up Britain’s GDP figures. Crucially, reputable studies have demonstrated that the value of taxes paid by EU migrants in Britain outweighs the value of the public services that they receive. It is true that different methodologies to calculate the net contributions throw out different figures. Quantifying this is not easy, as shown in this study of the University of Oxford. However, nobody  challenges the fact that EU migration into the UK has been, in fiscal terms, beneficial.

Nevertheless, one of the important points I want to make about migrants’ contribution is that there is a big elephant in the room that nobody talks about in any of the studies cited during this campaign by any of the camps. I call it the “Migrant Premium”, as there is not an easy straight forward term to define it in econometrics, but the premium falls under the well-known category of “human capital gains”. This concept extends beyond any comparison between migrants’ tax receipts and migrant’s use of public services, as it refers to the impact on the wider economy, not just on the public purse (1).

What is the “Migrant Premium”?

If we look at the figures, the cost of bringing up a child in the UK from birth to adulthood is at least £40,000 at 2016 prices. This figure only covers education and health. The cost of state schooling comes to more than £22,000 (2), whilst health costs are in the region of £1,000 a year for younger age groups (3). If we add health and university fees costs for the 19 to 22 year-old group, we have an extra £30,000 on top.

When a young non-university educated migrant comes to Britain, ready to work and pay taxes, he is saving at least £40,000 to UK Plc. If it is a graduate, just with a 3-year degree, that figure goes up to £70,000. This is the replacement cost of that influx of human capital per person.

There are many different ways to calculate the Migrant Premium and I look forward to old and new studies on this matter, but the above estimate is, if anything, on the low side. Bear in mind that we are not including here any other costs, such as maintenance, housing or any other private or public spending that the young person benefited from directly or indirectly in his or her country of origin.

The Migrant Premium surely plays a role in sustaining the U.K. Economy. Our country has been able to increase, on demand, its working and tax paying population without having to invest huge amounts of money. Migrants land in Britain and start paying taxes as they begin consuming and working.

Conversely, the Migrant Premium is a “migrant loss” for the countries whose public services have subsidised the health and education. Basically, the U.K. and other Western economies “import” ready-to-work human capital for free. Germany, when it comes to EU migration, and the United States are our main competitors in attracting human capital. Regrettably, this important asset migrants bring with them to the UK’s economy is not taken into account in any of the calculations disseminated in the media about the benefits of migration. If you find one, please share it in the comments.

Brexiters with an understanding of economics know, in broad terms, about the Migrant Premium, but they don’t want to acknowledge it because it gives breathing space to the opposite camp.

In my discussions with people who intend to vote Leave, whenever I have been successful to demonstrate the immense benefits of migration to the UK, I have then been confronted with other migration-related arguments that would justify leaving the EU. Here they are:

The all-time favourite Brexit icon: an “Australian point-based system” 

This system does not stop or reduce migration. It just provides a sense of control and allegedly filters migrants according to their “quality”. This is a very classist and perverse idea, as it could create a two tier workforce: the low-paid workers, made up primarily of UK nationals and some pre-Brexit settled down migrants, (the points system would stop people without high professional qualifications to come to the UK) and the better or well-paid workers, which, as the proposers of the points system acknowledge, will be, proportionally, made up of more and more highly educated workers from abroad. The points system would allow to fish for skills in a wider sea and perpetuate the situation of underinvestment in training and education for professions such as doctors, nurses or teachers. If their governments in their respective countries train them for us for free, why bother? I am afraid, business principles dominate Conservative-UKIP political practice.

What is the other problem with the Boris’ and Nigel’s “Australian system”?

In an economy like ours, or Australia’s, younger workforce is essential. Businesses need it desperately. That is the reason why people come here. Make no mistakes, U.K. Welfare is not available for newcomers and is not good enough in itself to justify coming here, anyway. The freedom of movement provided by membership of the EU enables changes in supply and demand for labour in any country to be self-regulated, without State intervention. Additionally, the EU is a massive space of 500 million people where to find the right professional profiles when needed.

I am not a believer of free markets as the best solution for many human needs in our society, but I have to say that I very much value the freedom of taking up whomever one thinks is best for a job, or choosing for whom one works. If I ever set up a business again and need someone to work for me, the last thing I want is to fill in immigration forms, ask prospective candidates to fill in even more forms and expect Boris Johnson’s army of Whitehall Bureaucrats to make a decision about who I should take on for a job based on the points system they have designed. There is not anything as illiberal and centralising as that. Employers know who they need and why, employees know who they would want to work for. It is their decision. The EU enshrines precisely that principle through the free movement of workers in our common space.

Some people argue in favour of this points-based system by defending that non-EU citizens should not be discriminated against EU citizens, despite the fact that non-EU migration in the UK remains stronger than EU migration according to Migration Watch. Fair enough. Let us create a system that gives non-EU citizens easier access to jobs if needed. But leaving the EU and imposing restrictions on everybody is a massive step backwards that do not really benefit anyone at all.

Undercutting and discrimination of UK nationals

The other argument used by many to defend a vote for Leave is the very legitimate concern about  local workers being undercut.

I do believe we should work harder to eradicate any business practice that effectively discriminates local workers. David Cameron stated in PM Questions this week that his Government was taking action against agencies that only recruit foreign workers. This was in response to a question by Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has shown that working conditions and rights are again at the heart of Labour’s agenda. The enforcement of a (higher) decent minimum wage should also be pursued. Finally, as a through study by CERIC Leeds shows (4)  “The Brexit scenario would have even more detrimental effects on the employment and bargaining rights of both UK nationals and migrants.”

Population growth and public services provision

This is of course an understandable concern. In my view, however, the biggest issue about the UK’s alleged overpopulation is that there are areas in the South of England that are real magnets for UK migrants (internal) and non-UK migrants. Their economic growth out-paces everyone else’s in the country. Other areas, particularly in the North, have registered very slow growth in population recently. Blackpool and Sunderland even lost population between 2007 and 2012 (5). The density of population of the U.K. is not that high at all. We are not even in the 50 most densely populated countries in the world (6).

Obviously, the unbalanced distribution of wealth, opportunities and population in the UK has nothing to do with the EU and is a serious problem that will not be solved by leaving the EU. If anything, the poorer areas of the UK will lose out even more by leaving the EU, as the dependency on manufacturing jobs is much greater there than in the South East and this is one of the sectors who would suffer the most. Successive UK governments in the last 40 years have not done enough to redress or alleviate this imbalance. It is their (our) call.

Insofar as the provision of services, the “Migrant Impact Fund”, which was introduced by labour and withdrawn by the Tories, is back on the cards and should be used as a policy tool to ensure that a higher amount of the taxes generated by new local and foreign arrivals in any given area are dedicated to the public services of that area.

Thank you!

All in all, we should be thankful to our migrants for choosing the UK as a destination for their Migrant Premium. We all know they are also grateful and happy to be welcome amongst us. They could have chosen Germany, Holland or Finland, where in-work benefits, public services and wages are better than here, but in instead they joined us. We must be doing something right as a nation. Let us be proud of it.

Let us remain in the EU.



(1) Methodology: The purpose of this part of the article is to highlight the indisputable existance of a substantial Migrant Premium of at least £40,000 at the time of the arrival of the working migrant in the UK. Therefore, the valuation of that premium has been kept on the low side and “replacement costs”, as suggested by Bowman (below), have been used. This is not a longitudinal study of the actual returns of the human capital brought into the economy by each migrant over time and it assumes that the migrant is ready to take a job. There are longitudinal (over the time) studies about the benefits of migration in terms of human capital, but as I suggest when I discuss the question of tax receipt vs public expenditure (Oxford University study cited), the problem is that there are so many different methodologies used to quantify the flows of capital that we run the risk of not acknowledging the existance of obvious magnitudes such as the Migrant Premium for not having found total agreement amongst economists and statisticians on how precisely to measure it. Two recommended readings for those with a professional interest on this question:

Bowman, M.J. “Principles in the Valuation of Human capital”. Review of Income and Wealth. Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 217-246, September 1968

Schaeffer, P. “Human Capital, Migration and Brain Drain”. Journal of International Trade and Development. Volume 14, No 3, 319-335, September 2005

(2) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/10169865/Costs-for-state-school-hits-22500-per-child.html

(3) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/01/ageing-britain-two-fifths-nhs-budget-spent-over-65s .

(4) https://cericleeds.wordpress.com/

(5) http://www.centreforcities.org/blog/population-growth-and-migration-in-uk-cities/

(6) https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density

Picture credits: http://www.weforum.org https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/how-immigration-has-changed-the-world-for-the-better/


Brexit Titanic Now Boarding

This is a response to the article published in the Telegraph on 24 February 2016 by Gerard Lyons, economic advisor of Boris Johnson, entitled “The EU is like the Titanic, and we need to jump off before it sinks“. The extracts of the text of Dr Lyons are in italics.

The European Union is like the Titanic. Imagine being in Southampton harbour the day the Titanic set sail. Its size gave the impression of invincibility: safe and secure. It wasn’t. Despite receiving warnings of impending danger it didn’t change course, hit trouble and sank.

Because it is huge, some in the UK feel we would be safer and economically stronger in the EU. This is wrong. We now have the opportunity to jump ship to safety. An opportunity we are never likely to have again. Not a leap into the dark, but for those able to look ahead, a move to safety.

It is true that the EU is complex and needs deep reforms for it to be more democratic and effective, but let us ask ourselves this question: who are about to board on a very proud and apparently seaworthy vessel, full of enthusiasm and self-belief, in search for better seas away from the European mainland? The Brexiters.

I love metaphors, but only when they are used with care and wisdom. The Titanic was a British RMS ship.

In so far as the substance of these claims by Lyons, I would say that the EU is home to countries like Germany or Finland where the standards of living are higher than in the UK and whose enterprises in a number of key sectors are better equipped, technologically and financially, than their UK’s counterparts. They have to work under the same EU regulations than us, but they know how to deal with them.

These include returning sovereignty and having a meaningful immigration target that can be met.

On EU matters, sovereignty is shared. By being part of the EU we extend our sovereign powers to the rest of the Union. It is called influence and co-responsibility. EU Treaties are approved by national governments and parliaments, including ours. There is not a single piece of legislation in the EU that does not stem, originally, from a British-backed rule.

Immigration is the result from British firms not being able to find sufficient workers to fill in positions. Immigration is fuelled by the stupidity of our establishment, the functioning of the markets and the inability of successive UK Governments to get things right on a number of policy areas. Here are three sectors, not the only ones, where immigration is a necessity for the UK:

1) Health: The lack of Government investment in training doctors and nurses is the direct result of Britain being a “low tax” country for invisible entities of all types.

2) Services: The wages of UK working classes in relation to the cost of living are very low. A waitressing job in London is only suitable for people who don´t have a family to look after and are “happy” to survive in shared low quality accommodation.

3) Education: The stress of school teachers, widely reported by Unions, and the failure of our system, is motivated by a managerial approach to Education, by an excessive workload and by a plethora of rules and protocols that do not allow the professionals to get on with the jobs of educating young people. These rules do not come from the EU, but from the department that Mr Gove, another Brexiter, was running until not so long, and from previous governments, to be fair on him. Regulatory diarrhea (from the Spanish “diarrea legislativa”, used by the Spanish liberals to mock over-regulation) is also a UK home grown disease.  Teachers from abroad are in high demand as UK teachers are increasingly dismayed and not many young people pursue a career in education.

So, will there be an army of UK public servants telling UK employers how many people from abroad they can hire in each case, in each type of business, in each city? Is this the idea of a free-enterprise Britain? How many regulations, quotas and forms will this generate? Will they be second class workers, with less rights for similar positions?

We can focus attention on what is needed for small firms and for ordinary workers across the whole country. Outside the EU we can position the UK to be outward looking.

No way. You cannot trust the Tories on this. Ordinary workers in the Northern and Central countries in the EU are better off than their UK counterparts. If it was not for the European regulations, UK workers would be even worse than now in terms of social rights.

Leaving the EU will come with transition costs. While the UK public may want quick wins, the most important thing will be stability, a road map for the future and a clear strategic vision. Just as a new government may require one or two full terms to implement its manifesto […]

Brexit will be an economic shock. We encounter such events throughout our own lives, when we move house or change jobs. Unless planned for they can be disruptive. That doesn’t mean growth will contract or jobs will be lost, but investment plans may temporarily be put on hold.

Well, at least the author of the article is honest on this, but does he have a figure for the transaction costs? Are we going to pay it pro-rata, or would there be job losses resulting from these costs? Is he offering himself to give up his job as economic advisor of Boris Johnson so that we can cover them?

One way to picture this growth is the letter “V”, or better still, a tick – a short fall in growth followed by a much larger rise. Pre- and post-referendum would resemble the downward stroke of the V. A rebound would follow later.

A Churchillian slip there with the “V”. Perhaps it is a V of another kind what we would get. This is all speculation. Hot wheels on thin ice.

The first stage will be an agreement on our terms of exit. We could invoke Article 50 that triggers a two-year process. Or, depending upon the politics, engage in a major renegotiation. As we are the EU’s biggest export market, economic incentives suggest they will negotiate sensibly and agree a deal on goods and new guidelines on movement of people. However, the EU has not acted sensibly in recent years and they might not do so in any exit negotiations. This fear of a tough negotiation should not be a reason to vote to remain in the EU, but highlights the difficult near-term path ahead. But many countries outside the EU trade with it, we would be another, and one with a very competitive service sector. This renegotiation period also allows time to put in place other necessary Brexit measures. One is a timetable to repatriate powers.

Well, on paper it looks great. It is like one of these rehearsed moves in football. Or like the famous run of the minies out of the Italian vaults with the gold, with the “self-preservation society” song in the background”. Now, the politics of these negotiations are not so cinematographic. This article by Dr Lyons in the Telegraph is being read by thousands of people abroad, including negotiators from other EU countries, so this is no slick cunning secret plan any more, I am afraid.

Also, after so much disrespect shown to EU governments, after so much British supremacist claims about democracy and self-reliance from people like Janet Daley, or so many unfortunate statements like the one by Boris Johnson, who said in his Brexit article of 22 February in the Telegraph that “We have spent 500 years trying to stop continental European powers uniting against us”, does anyone think we can have a normal friendly negotiation on Brexit? It will be harsh. The outrage in the continent about the arrogance of Brexiters is growing. Try to see it from their point of view: Cameron goes to Brussels to meet 27 heads of government. He shows a half-baked shopping list of reforms aimed at appeasing the right-wing media, rather than improving the working of the Union. His vision of the EU membership is purely economicist. He insists on slashing workers rights. Then, on his return to London, half of the country, full of pride, wants to leave, ignoring what the EU means in terms of cooperation, inter-cultural understanding, solidarity and friendship and belittling the efforts that those other governments of those countries have made to allow the UK to get some of its demands, in the way of a especial status, in a complex scenario.

Between 2013-14, Whitehall produced 32 detailed reports on the competences that the UK has transferred to Brussels in different areas. This provides a basis from which to work.

Whitehall? They love regulations as much as the EU Commission. 32 reports! The transferral of powers will be simply a change on the header of the documents from the EU. Rules are necessary, unfortunately. Any exports to the EU, even if we are totally out of the EU, will have to comply with the consumer protection standards and safety rules of the EU. Repatriation of powers is a copy and paste job of EU law.

Another is to how better spend our EU contribution. This should go towards funding our public services properly. We also need to identify areas where EU funding may be withdrawn, such as scientific research, on students and the arts, and ensure this is covered fully with some of our previous EU contribution earmarked for these.

One of the beauties of the EU research funding schemes for universities is that they emphasise cross-border collaboration between different institutions. That type of research is highly valuable because a diverse pool of expertise can be shared at European level. Synergies. Economies of scale. By having UK only research funding, we would be killing another hen of golden eggs. We would end up cooking ourselves in our gravy, freshly prepared in the kitchens of the Titanic, of course (we shall have no stock cubes).

We have a great opportunity to make trade deals that boost exports, but first we would need to rebuild the skill set to do so. Inside the EU our demands are only one of 28 when it comes to trade. Outside, we would have to replicate existing deals, and learn from the likes of South Korea and Singapore, and make trade deals that play to our strengths, that are iterative and are with the fast-growing regions of the world.

Again, this is hot air. It sounds very good, but we have to understand that the success of any trade deals between the UK and other countries is also determined by the deals that those countries have already with our competitors. Brexit means that the list of our rivals will include the EU itself, and everyone else, for that matter. What we need is more influence in the EU to ensure our interests are respected there. But for that to happen, we need to be a serious partner.

With Brexit we have the opportunity to safeguard workers’ rights, ultimately determined by Parliament and by UK voters, not bureaucrats in Brussels. It is not possible to protect workers’ rights with mass migration.

This is the most cynical claim one can imagine. The tendency of the UK Governments since the 1980 has been to stop employment laws from the EU, depriving British workers of rights. Blaming mass migration for the lack of willingness by UK Governments to protect UK workers’ rights is tantamount to racism. It is like saying, “we would give you better rights if we did not have to give those same rights to the foreigner workers in the UK too”.

But low migration does not mean no migration. An excellent Civitas report last December by Cambridge Professor Bob Rowthorn showed mass migration suppresses low-skilled workers’ wages, and adds to pressure on housing and public services. The gains go to the migrants and to the employers. We need to control the scale and ensure we let in only the skilled migrants we need.

As I said before, workers with all types of skill-sets come here insofar as they are actually needed. If there were no jobs, they would not come. Are you going to force employers not to take the best person for the job?

We should not kid ourselves that the City of London is somehow safe in the EU when we did not achieve a veto to protect it from greater control by the eurozone and from decisions of the European Court of Justice. Leaving creates initial challenges over passporting of financial services, and possible loss of euro clearing, but I am optimistic. London is so much more competitive than any other financial centre in Europe, with its concentration of skills, knowledge and expertise. Also, more regulation is being set at an international level, which is important as London’s competition is global.

Well, parts of the City are starting to brexit Brexit. The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is again negotiating a merge with the main German Stock exchange to become one single entity. With the Germanisation of the LSE, as the German partner would have 52% of the shares of the new company, an important British institution will protect itself from Brexit. They are clever. I am sure they have great economic advisors. Will there be other companies, or institutions or people allowed to opt-out Brexit without having to physically leave? I don’t think so.

The vision is to be a globally competitive economy, based on low taxes for firms to succeed, leveraging off our universities and talent, and founded on rising productivity through increased investment, infrastructure and innovation.

Low taxes? For whom? I can see no chance for working people to prosper in a low-tax Brexit. How will investment in education, in infrastructure or in research and innovation be paid for? Those are essential ingredients for increased productivity. Ask the Germans.

Brexit is a neo-victorian, romantic, unrealistic, ill-informed, overconfident outburst of the wrong type of patriotism that has been brewed for a number of years by irresponsible media. Call it off. Let us concentrate our energy and our patriotism in building together a better Britain as part of a better Europe where working people do not see themselves forced to migrate or rely on tax credits to meet ends, a Europe with fruitful and responsible trade focused on innovation, sustainability and quality of life, more democratic European institutions accountable to the European people. This would deliver long-term stability for Britain and the continent. I would be happy to join that romantic, yet safe enterprise. No life jackets required.

Boris’ Brexit

Boris Johnson joins Brexit. Most commentators attribute his decision to the need to assert himself in the race for the leadership of the Tory party against the Chancellor George Osborne, but nobody has reflected yet upon the true economic and political significance of Boris Johnson’s move. As the major of the city that harbours the biggest financial centre in the world, and a declared supporter of its financial industry, it would be have been inconceivable for him, and irresponsible, not to have, at least, gauged the mood amongst the leaders of the City’s institutions before making his mind up. Can anybody imagine a conservative major of London standing against the City of London?

In my view, Johnson’s support for Brexit needs to be interpreted in the light of one of the deals achieved last weekend by David Cameron in Brussels: The British Government will be able to object, and delay, the implementation of measures by Eurozone Governments on Monetary Union matters that affect the rest of members of the Union, but will have no right to veto them.

The ability to block Eurozone integration is something that the financial industry had defended for years and the British Government has tried its best to achieve. The Eurozone, as it has become evident following the Great Recession, requires a revamping of its institutional architecture and a more effective, and far more democratic, governance. There are a number of ideas, more or less developed as specific proposals, that could help the Eurozone to address the political and functional shortcomings of the Monetary Union, bringing prosperity and jobs to the Euro countries and, by extension, to the EU as a whole, including Britain. However, some of these ideas might reduce the ability of many London financial institutions to continue working in the way they have done since the European Monetary Union started. Additionally, the City could be affected by any agreement within the Eurozone that touches, directly or indirectly, upon the question of debt (our public and private debt, which is immense. Remember that in our new world order, money is just debt and debt is a powerful political tool. If you need proof of it, watch 4 Horsemen, Boom, Bust, Boom or read the latest work of any alternative economist).

So, in what way could many operators of the City of London benefit from Brexit? Britain’s departure would make the European Union far more unstable and force everybody to rethink their priorities; the question of regulating the activities of the institutions who brought about financial chaos in 2008 will be left in the back burner. Brexit would certainly bring monetary instability for the euro, and the pound, that many will be already betting for and benefiting from. The turmoil caused by the shock of a victory of the No Campaign would prevent the still immature Monetary Union to advance in the direction it needs.

One may argue that Brexit may be detrimental for the city (no capital) of London, but that would not be so much the case for its financial operators. Severing the links with the EU will no doubt force London-based institutions to redeploy parts of their operations in the continent before Brexit is consummated legally, but with state of art technology and the best paid lawyers, it would be easy to minimise the cost of any relocation. At the end of the day, money, as opposed to people, does not have any national feelings.

Meanwhile, it appears that the big industrial corporations of the U.K. are showing their desire for Britain to remain in the EU. Up to 80 of the FTSE100 companies are reported to support Britain’s membership of the EU. For them, the benefits of sharing a common market and being part of a greater economic entity in today’s world are indisputable. For them, migration has brought about the labour they needed to and migrants are seen as an asset, as they are net contributors to the economy who generate more taxation and more consumption. For them, there is no evidence whatsoever that Brexit would generate more investment and more trade to the country. It is a big gamble. The EU “regulations” that so many people complain about would have to be complied with anyway if these corporations want to continue selling good and services to the continent. And, personally, I think Britain, as much as I love it, is one of the most regulating societies in the world. Leaving the EU would not liberate us from suffocating rules, nor make the rules better, believe me. Look at any other aspect of our life and society (Education is a good example) and tell me hand in heart if we don’t have too many rules, protocols, reports, procedures and measurements of our own creation that have nothing to do with the EU.

I am sure plenty of noble ideological and political reasons will be provided by Johnson justifying his stance in no time (today at 10.00 am in the Telegraph, apparently). Well-known anti-EU conservative discourse is widely available in the shelves of Tesco and other major suppliers in all colours and sizes. It is not that Boris does not have the capacity to elaborate his own narrative, but why bothering reinventing the wheel if the pre-packed patriotic democratic neo-romantic stuff is as good as any? Besides, loads of effort has been put in producing the arguments for Brexit by many politicians and commentators, including himself, over the years. Embracing the collective work, using the words and emotions that best resound in our hearts would bring Boris closer to the common man and woman and facilitate his harmonious contribution to the campaign.

However, no matter how appealing his arguments may appear to be, the decision of Boris Johnson to support Brexit reveals the widening gap between the real economy, the one that produces goods and services, which supports overwhelmingly EU membership, and the financial elites, who have decided to rock the boat, using the British people and sectors of the media as a proxy, in order to maintain and improve their position of dominance over States, industries and people across Europe.

Brexit: La división de la derecha

Hoy se ha anunciado la fecha del referéndum en el que los británicos deben decidir si Gran Bretaña abandona la UE o si permanece en ella, bajo las nuevas condiciones que el Primer Ministro conservador David Cameron ha conseguido extraerles al resto de Estados miembros. Será el 23 de junio de 2016.

Destacados miembros del Partido Conservador se han alineado en las dos campañas antagonistas, la del Sí y la del No, las cuales están a su vez divididas en diversas facciones.

Por un lado, dos pesos pesados del Partido Conservador, Michael Gove e Ian Duncan Smith, están desde ayer galvanizando a los numerosísimos militantes y cargos conservadores que reclaman la Brexit (Salida de Gran Bretaña de la UE). El poderoso grupo mediático de Rupert Murdoch y periódicos como el Daily Telegraph no sólo apoyan la Brexit, sino que han contribuido durante años a crear y difundir toda suerte de mitos sobre la UE que han calado profundamente en una gran parte de la sociedad. Los rebeldes conservadores compartirán campaña con el otro partido de la derecha, UKIP, que fue creado precisamente como respuesta anti-europea y anti-inmigración a la tibieza de los conservadores euro-pragmáticos.

Mientras tanto, David Cameron y su Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, defienden el Sí huyendo instintivamente de aventuras geopolíticas arriesgadas. Recuérdese que hasta Obama va a apoyar la permanencia del país en la UE y que una parte importante de las grandes empresas británicas, hasta un 80% según el Financial Times, va a hacer lo mismo.

El alcalde de Londres, el conservador Boris Johnson, se ha decantado públicamente esta tarde por la Brexit. Su decisión es tremendamente importante no sólo por el gran respeto del que goza en todo su partido y entre parte del público. El pronunciamiento de Johnson nos da una idea de la brecha abierta en la clase empresarial británica en torno a la cuestión europea. Como alcalde de la City of London, mayor centro financiero del mundo, es indudable que Johnson cuenta con el visto bueno de las “instituciones financieras” privadas. La escisión de la clase financiera con respecto a la élite industrial se hace cada vez más patente.

¿Y por qué a los poderes financieros les interesa apoyar la Brexit en estos momentos? David Cameron no ha conseguido en sus negociaciones del fin de semana pasado el derecho a veto de los países de fuera de la Eurozona a las decisiones que se tomen en el núcleo duro de la Unión Monetaria. Eso tiene implicaciones para el sector financiero británico. Tarde o temprano el Euro necesitará una arquitectura política e institucional más firme. Inevitablemente se ejercerán competencias en materias que afectarán a la primacía de Londres como centro financiero en la UE (y que le darían a Frankfurt, su rival continental, el señoreaje que demanda). Además, los intereses de los operadores londinenses, que en realidad carecen de nacionalidad, estarían también en juego si hubiera algún tipo de acuerdo en torno a la deuda entre los países de la Eurozona, lo cual sería posible también sin contar con Gran Bretaña. Por eso, una parte de la City of London, después de muchos años de ambigüedad silente, confirma ahora su órdago secesionista. La reformulación de la gobernanza del Euro aún no ha madurado, la salida de Gran Bretaña provocaría un gran choque que paralizaría la Unión y generaría incertidumbre en torno al euro y a la libra. Debilitar a los Estados es la estrategia de una deudocracia cuyos intereses se alejan cada vez más de los de la economía real.

La única conclusión esperanzadora de todo esto es la constatación, una vez más, de que el “Establishment” o clase dominante de un país no es un bloque homogéneo que actúa siempre con un propósito común. La izquierda en Europa debe aprender a entender y usar estas divisiones.

Por un Gobierno de los Sueños


Me siento muy decepcionado con Pablo Iglesias, Iñigo Errejón y su equipo. Seguramente se deba a que soy una de esas miles de personas que contribuimos a su ascenso político y que en tan solo unos meses dejamos de ser inocentes útiles para convertimos primero en corriente crítica, que suena muy guay y respetable, y finalmente en amargos mochileros, en capital humano desaprovechado por Podemos.


En mi caso, este tránsito emocional y político tuvo un dimensión humorística y literaria. En el poema “Activismo“, que escribí en otoño de 2012 para criticar a la Izquierda de salón, terminé cambiando esta estrofa


“En el nombre de Marx / y de El País / y de Iñaki Gabilondo, / Amén”


por esta otra


“En el nombre de Laclau / y de Errejón / y de Juan Carlos Monedero / Amén”


La primera reescritura de este poema, que aparece ahora en “Los viajes de Diosa” y que ha pasado a llamarse “Activismo 2.0“, se produjo en el invierno de 2014-15, pero luego durante el verano de 2015 fui añadiéndole algunos ingredientes nuevos. Sin embargo, el punto de inflexión personal se había producido ya en el otoño de 2014. Mis compañeros de Podemos Leeds recordarán cuando resumí la cordial visita que recibimos del ahora diputado Eduardo Maura en octubre de 2104 con la frase “Bienvenido Míster Maura”.


No obstante, aún conservo esperanzas. Por eso he decidido compartir mi “Manifiesto por un Gobierno de los Sueños”, ahora que lo padres y apóstoles San Pedro S. y San Pablo I. se afanan por poner el primer huevo pétreo de esta Iglesia de la Izquierda:


Sueño con que Pedro Sánchez sepa diferenciar entre la substancia y la escenificación de la misma y que se pongan de acuerdo pronto con Podemos (Solo desde un Gobierno con Podemos podrá renovar y salvar su partido).


Sueño con que esa llamada a los medios que Iglesias hizo ( ¡A mí la Televisión! ) para que retransmitan las negociaciones con PSOE e IU para formar gobierno se repita muy a menudo y que podamos ser los demás los que les enviemos las cámaras a otras de sus muchas reuniones.


Sueño con que desde el nuevo gobierno no se empiecen a repartir puestos de todo tipo con criterios de afinidad pablista-sanchezista. Por ejemplo, ya sabemos que cualquier persona de la calle podría ser mejor embajador de España en el Reino Unido que el pepero Federico Trillo, acosado por el Caso Bárcenas, pero, por favor, que el nuevo gobierno ponga un embajador o embajadora en Londres que entienda, con perspectiva propia y lealtad a nuestro gobierno y su pueblo, cuáles son los retos de las relaciones entre Gran Bretaña, banco de pruebas del capitalismo salvaje, y una España que debe liderar el cambio en Europa.


Sueño con que Iglesias y Errejón sean tan despiadados y astutos con la Casta Española (que en realidad es solo un burdo y sórdido apéndice de la europea) y con la Casta Global como lo fueron con sus inocentes opositores internos y con IU. (Y sueño con que el hecho de que ya apenas usen ese término “casta” se deba solamente a algún tipo de razonamiento electoralista).


Sueño con que en realidad Iglesias y Errejón estén en contacto directo y permanente con Varoufakis y que el hecho de que sus nombres no aparezcan en la lista de primeras firmas de la reunión en España del Plan B por Europa (febrero 2016) se deba simplemente a cuestiones de estrategia o imagen, como por ejemplo quedar bien con “Los Mercados”, con Prisa o con Ana Botín.


Sueño con que Ada Colau (la gran figura de la política catalana y española del Siglo XXI) les haya impuesto a Iglesias y Errejón como condición, en secreto, a cambio de su apoyo el 20D, que la confluencia estatal de la Izquierda se consume sin humillación, cainismo o fagotización.


Sueño con que se creen pronto muchos empleos de calidad en España. Pero como eso no puede suceder con el actual programa de Podemos (ni con el de ninguno de los 4 principales partidos), sueño con que tras un año en el Gobierno se decidan a poner en marcha un Plan de Trabajo Garantizado con el dinero que, para entonces, habrán conseguido que la UE y Draghi (a cambio Dios sabe de qué).


Sueño con que Anticapitalistas sigan dentro en Podemos.


Sueño con que muchos amigos abandonen en su discurso el “rupturismo” (La Izquierda no ha venido a romper nada. Es la Casta la que ya ha destrozado el Estado Social y su propio modelo).


Sueño con que tengamos un gobierno fuerte, democratizado, competente y muy socialista el día en que una nueva e inevitable quiebra del sistema financiero se produzca. No se sabe exactamente cuándo, pero se acerca ya y hay muy poco que los gobiernos puedan hacer para prevenirla con el abanico de políticas que se manejan en la actualidad.


Comparto en definitiva muchos sueños con mis compañeras y compañeros de Izquierda Unida, Podemos, Unidad Popular, de las Confluencias y con todas las personas de bien en Europa que luchamos por una sociedad verdaderamente democrática y justa donde las personas, con nuestra dignidad y nuestra libertad (y no las corporaciones anónimas de responsabilidad limitada) seamos las protagonistas.



Rectificar es de sabios

El nuevo portavoz parlamentario de economía del Partido Laborista, John McDonell, un economista brillante comprometido con la justicia social, anunció el 25 de septiembre que su grupo parlamentario apoyaría el compromiso fiscal del gobierno conservador, parte de su Budget Charter, o Carta Presupuestaria, y anunció que votarían a favor.

El “compromiso” consistía en obligar al Estado legalmente a no incurrir en déficit en ciclos económicos “normales”. La decisión de qué es “normal” quedaría en manos de la llamada Oficina de Responsabilidad Presupuestaria que, a día de hoy, establece que si la economía crece por encima del 1% anual, hay “normalidad”. (Sobre el tema del crecimiento económico escribí algo interesante hace poco: “Crecimiento sin Empleo”).

El apoyo de los laboristas a la Carta Presupuestaria desconcertó a mucha gente en la izquierda real. La mayoría de comentaristas lo interpretaron como un gesto conciliador de los laboristas de cara al público y al establishment: los laboristas son gente responsable que nunca gastará por encima de las posibilidades del Estado. Yo mismo lo defendí (“Living within our means?”) como algo que no era necesariamente malo porque pienso que el compromiso de no gastar más de lo que se tiene también obliga a recaudar mucho más, no sólo a contener el déficit. Y aquí en Gran Bretaña hay tantísimo por recaudar… Somos la oficina central de los paraísos fiscales.

Sin embargo, y para sorpresa de todos, el portavoz de Economía Laborista anunció el lunes 12 de octubre que su grupo parlamentario iba a votar en contra de ese compromiso, que habían cambiado de opinión. John McDonell explicó muy bien por qué habían tomado esa decisión y creo que tiene mucha razón tal y como lo presenta. Hay coherencia.

Este U-turn (“giro de 180 grados” en inglés) ha sido criticadísimo por los medios británicos que están, unánimente, en contra del nuevo líder laborista, Jeremy Corbyn, que fue quien nombró a McDonell arropado por un masivo apoyo de las bases de izquierda. Por cierto, La postura de los medios, que dependen de los bancos, de las empresas anunciadoras y, en el caso de la BBC, de un Partido Conservador que ha amenazado con recortarle su autonomía, no es de extrañar. Corbyn es un socialista real, no como Tony Blair y su panda. (Ojalá en Inglaterra tuviéramos algún medio de comunicación que decidiera destetarse del capitalismo financiero, como en España ha sucedido con algún periódico en línea. Otro gallo nos cantaría, aquí y en Europa).

Pero es que además en nuestra sociedad británica cambiar de opinión está muy mal visto. Los británicos son unos fanáticos de la previsibilidad. Por eso les gusta la puntualidad, la planificación detallada, la prevención de riesgos, los seguros, las estadísticas, todo tipo de anuncios y avisos… La indignación de mucha gente por el viraje de los Laboristas se debe sobre todo a que rompe con esa convención social y cultural que a veces explica esa amable cabezonería de los europeos del norte. Las palabras que se usaron para valorar el viraje laborista eran muy fuertes. Incluso los más refinados, en una sociedad donde la mesura expresiva es un atributo de las clases medias y altas, usaban términos como “shambolic” (caótico, incompetente, desastroso).

Pues bien, yo le doy la bienvenida a esta nueva forma de hacer política sabía, valiente y sin prejuicios: los errores más estúpidos que cometemos son los que no rectificamos.

Espero que en España, donde somos campeones mundiales de la genial improvisación (la coherente), la gente no se avergüence de rectificar en las elecciones del 20-D.

Tony Martin-Woods 2015



Living within our means?

John McDonnell, the new Labour Shadow Chancellor, is right in backing the idea of “living within our means”. Delivering a surplus in current (not investment) expenditure is for a majority of people in this country a sensible thing to do nowadays.

However, committing to a policy of no-deficit should not mean an acceptance of the current ideological and cognitive framework of “Austerity“, which presents us with a political path in which reduction of public expenditure and poverty are the default options.

In order to challenge Austerity, the idea of “Living within our means” should be used to turn the focus on what those means are, where they are and whose they are, shifting the public debate to the revenue side of the fiscal equation. The evasiveness of wealth, which often implies that we do not know who the real owners of the moneys are or whether the moneys are legitimate, has to be blamed for the cutbacks, the struggles with the public debt and the rampant deficit.

McDonnell should commission a team of advisors dedicated exclusively to explore the archives of Private Eye and beef up the public debate, in Parliament, the Media etc, about tax evasion and corporate-government corruption.

Britain cannot continue to be nurturing and protecting her parasitical network of fiscal and financial pirates. The links between government, the state, its territories and the dodgy wealth need to be exposed on a daily basis and linked to specific policy proposals by Labour. The trickle down theory and the corporate / wealth relocation myth must be challenged actively. This is the territory where Labour can deliver the necessary punches to bring down the Tory regime, dignify our economy and make the real scroungers pay their share.

Picture from mydavidcameron.com

Crecimiento sin empleo

El capitalismo se caracteriza por sus crisis cíclicas: crecimiento del PIB, recesión y vuelta a crecer.

Sin embargo, en la versión contemporánea del capitalismo se produce un fenómeno muy preocupante: las mal llamadas “recuperaciones” del crecimiento no vienen acompañadas de una recuperación de los niveles de empleo (jobless recovery).

Clayton Christensen, prestigioso catedrático de Administración de Empresas de la Escuela de Negocios Universidad de Harvard, nos explica por qué en este video (está en inglés pero es muy claro y didáctico). Yo os ofrezco, debajo del vídeo, un resumen del principal argumento de Christensen con una interpretación y conclusión propias.



Las “inversiones empoderadoras” (en innovaciones que llevan a nuevos productos y a crecimiento), y las “inversiones sostenedoras”, las que simplemente mejoran los productos existentes y que también generan algo de empleo, están últimamente en retroceso en nuestra economía global.

¿Por qué?

El capital inversor en los últimos 10 años se está dirigiendo, salvo en unos pocos sectores, mayoritariamente a las innovaciones para la eficiencia. Estas “inversiones para la eficiencia” no crean nuevos productos ni los mejoran para el consumidor, sino que persiguen al abaratamiento de procesos y otros costes, lo cual conlleva una reducción del empleo.

Aunque estas “inversiones para la eficiencia” liberan capital que bien podría redirigirse a “inversiones empoderadoras”, esto no sucede así en la práctica hoy día. Ello se debe a otro fenómeno llamado la “financiarización” del capitalismo, es decir, la exigencia de que la obtención de rendimiento financiero seguro sea el principal criterio rector de toda la actividad empresarial en la producción de bienes y servicios.

Nos puede parecer lógico y obvio que la maximización del rendimiento sea importante, no lo dudo, pero no puede continuar siendo el principio máximo ordenador de la actividad empresarial. De hecho, las etapas de esplendor económico del Siglo XX se caracterizaron por “inversiones empoderadoras” e “inversiones sostenedoras”.

Entonces, ¿Cómo conseguir que las empresas cambien de forma de actuar?

¿Montamos cursillos de formación gratis para contables y directores de empresa? ¿Exigimos más regulaciones prohibiendo cosas? ¿Damos incentivos fiscales a las “inversiones empoderadoras”, lo cual tiene un coste para el contribuyente y supone una forma de subsidio? ¿Obligamos a las empresas a repartir el trabajo y que trabajemos menos por el mismo dinero?

Para llevar a cabo un intento mínimamente serio de controlar a las empresas sin coartar la libertad individual, que es sagrada, harían falta campañas educativas y de concienciación, toneladas de regulaciones, millones de funcionarios, billones de horas de reuniones para legislar y aplicar esa legislación, y es dudoso que funcionara. Como dicen en mi tierra, “mucho follón, pa ná”.

Entonces, amigo ¿Quién le pone el cascabel al gato?

Es imposible hacerlo. El capitalismo, que de joven fue rebelde, es un viejo ciego y sordo, pero muy listo y exigente. Por eso continúa perfeccionándose mientras camina victorioso hacia su propio desastre.

Realmente, la única forma de superar sin más dolor la crisis global del capitalismo es montar nuestras propias empresas, en forma de cooperativa o de propiedad común pública, y recuperar, sin acritud y de forma democrática, la soberanía sobre los bancos centrales, para así poder hacer las cosas como pensamos que se deben hacer, por el futuro de nuestras familias y el bien de nuestros pueblos. Pero de eso hablaremos otro día.