Bored with economic ills? Let's use the Samoan solution

Simply scrap 2012 and move to 2013 where things can only get better.

As both Labour and the Tories squabble over the way ahead for Britain in 2012, neither seems to have considered the Samoan solution. This is a once in a lifetime panacea for all economic ills, available, like those sale bargains, for one day only.

Because it straddles the International Date Line, Samoa has the option of looking either east or west for its time. Concerned that it was out of kilter with its main market, Australia, the tiny Pacific island has come up with a unique solution.

To align its time with its main trading partners, Samoa, along with neighbouring Tokelau, has scrapped today -- December 30. When the citizens of Samoa went to bed yesterday it was Thursday, and when they woke up it was Saturday. Geordie drinkers of Newcastle Brown Ale will know the feeling, but this time there is no headache or embarrassing memories (unless of course you are a Geordie in Samoa). But we digress.

The Samoan solution, once applied to world economics, releases us from the pro- and anti-Keynsian debate of now into a new world of simple solutions to present problems.

Ed Miliband and his alter Ed --- the other one -- are ending this year as they began it: in the doo-doo. It is said that apart from leading the nation into a chorus of "Always Look On The Brightside", they have nothing to offer.

But if they seize the Samoan solution, then they have. Simply scrap 2012 and move to 2013 where things can only get better.

Some might argue this is a nonsense approach to economics -- but then, have you read the alternatives?

 

Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions.

 

Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.