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<div style="float: left;">''[[Deutsche Bank crisis]]''</div>
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<div style="float: left;">''[[Featured article(s)]]''</div>
''[[EU Referendum comment-catch-up]]''
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''[[Boris Johnson]]''
 
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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [http://www.monbiot.com/2016/06/15/moneys-reach/ Money’s Reach]</center> ===
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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [https://www.monbiot.com/2019/01/06/the-mind-hackers/// Owned]</center> ===
<center><span style="color:grey">The European Union looks thoroughly rotten – until you compare it to the alternatives</span></center>
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<center><span style="color:grey">As I’ve found to my cost, the billionaire press seeks to kill change before it happens.</span></center>
  
15th June 2016
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8th July 2019
 
   
 
   
What it’s about is not what it’s about. The referendum is a proxy question. Underlying it is the fundamental political question, one that is seldom asked precisely because it cuts to the heart: how do we best keep money out of politics?
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All billionaires want the same thing – a world that works for them. For most, this means a world in which they are scarcely taxed and scarcely regulated, where labour is cheap and the planet can be used as a dustbin, where they can flit between tax havens and secrecy regimes, using the earth’s surface as a speculative gaming board, extracting profits and dumping costs. The world that works for them works against us.
  
Without sufficient public scrutiny, all political systems degenerate into the service of wealth. All end up controlled by the few with the cash, not the many with the votes. The primary democratic task is to break the nexus of money and power. So the question we face next week is this: “In which political unit can money best be resisted?”. We are not embarrassed by choice. This is a contest of plutocracies.
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So how, in nominal democracies, do they get it? They fund political parties and lobby groups, set up astroturf (fake grassroots) campaigns and finance social media ads. But above all, they buy newspapers and television stations. The widespread hope and expectation, a few years ago, was that news controlled by billionaires would be replaced by news controlled by the people: social media would break their grip. But social media is instead dominated by stories the billionaire press generates. As their crucial role in promoting Nigel Farage, Brexit and Boris Johnson suggests, the newspapers are as powerful as ever.
  
The European Union is a festering cesspool of undue influence and opaque lobbying. Prompted at first [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/11/tobacco-eu-delay by the tobacco industry], [http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2016/06/better-regulation-corporate-friendly-deregulation-disguise the European Commission is slowly dismantling], through what it calls its [http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/index_en.htm “better regulation agenda”], many of the hard-won laws that protect our health, working conditions and wildlife. Once they are torn down, corporate power will be locked in place through the [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy transatlantic trade and investment partnership] it is negotiating with the United States.
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They use this power not only to promote the billionaires’ favoured people and ideas, but also to shut down change before it happens. They deploy their attack dogs to take down anyone who challenges the programme.
  
TTIP has two main strands. One is [http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/resources/regulatory-cooperation-ttip-blueprint-corporate-domination regulatory cooperation], which means standardising the laws on either side of the Atlantic: almost certainly downwards. The other is [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/10/obscure-legal-system-lets-corportations-sue-states-ttip-icsid investor-state dispute settlement]: allowing companies to sue governments through an offshore tribunal if a law threatens their profits. Democracy means being able to change those aspects of governance we do not like. TTIP, if it goes ahead, will ensure that this is not an option.
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It is one thing to know this. It is another to experience it. A month ago, seven of us published a report to the Labour Party called [https://landforthemany.uk Land for the Many.] It proposed [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/04/tackle-inequality-land-ownership-laws a set of policies] that would be of immense benefit to the great majority of Britain’s people: ensuring that everyone has a good, affordable home, improving public amenities, shifting tax from ordinary people towards the immensely rich, protecting the living world and enhancing public control over the decisions that affect our lives. We showed how the billionaires and other oligarchs could be put back in their boxes. The result has been four extraordinary weeks of attacks in the Mail, Express, Sun, Times and Telegraph. Our contention that oligarchic power is rooted in the ownership and control of land has been amply vindicated by the response of oligarchic power.
  
And if TTIP fails? Well, there are other means. [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/30/ttip-trade-deal-agreements-ceta-eu-canada The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] between Europe and Canada, imposing much the same package, quietly transacted, now remains only to be ratified. A turbocharged version, involving 51 countries, the proposed [https://newrepublic.com/article/121967/whats-really-going-trade-services-agreement Trade in Services Agreement] between North America, the EU and 19 other nations, has been negotiated behind closed doors for the past three years.
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Some of these reports peddle flat-out falsehoods. [https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7171049/Report-lays-Corbyns-proposal-grab-inheritances-tax-profits-family-house-sales.html A week ago], the Mail on Sunday claimed that our report recommends a capital gains tax on people’s main homes. This “spiteful raid that will horrify millions” ensures “we will soon be joining the likes of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam in becoming one of the world’s few Marxist-Leninist states.” This claim was picked up, and often embellished, by all the other right-wing papers. The policy proved, [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2019/06/23/labours-wealth-grab-would-iniquitous-country/ the Telegraph explained], that “keeping a hard-Left Labour Party out of office is not an academic ideological ambition but a deadly serious matter for millions of voters.” Boris Johnson, Phillip Hammond and several other senior Tories weighed in, attacking our “mad” proposal.
  
The [http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/intellectual-property/trade-secrets/index_en.htm trade secrets directive], approved by the European Council last month, [http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2016/03/trade-secrets-protection threatens to treat as commercial property] any information that a corporation hopes to keep out of the public domain. Whistleblowers and campaigners trying to expose corporate malfeasance – tax evasion, falsifying emissions tests, polluting rivers – could be subject, depending on how it is interpreted by the courts, to massive fines and compensation claims. If the European Union sometimes looks like a matchmaker for wealth and power, that’s because it is.
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But we made no such recommendation. We considered the idea, listed its possible advantages and drawbacks, then specifically rejected it. As they say in these papers, you couldn’t make it up. But they have.
  
By comparison to the British system, however, this noxious sewer is a crystal spring. Every stream of corporate effluent with which the EU poisons political life has a more malodorous counterpart in the United Kingdom. The new [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/contents/enacted Deregulation Act], a [http://www.lowimpact.org/how-ttip-fits-perfectly-with-the-deregulation-act-which-can-overrule-all-other-laws-if-they-affect-growth-or-corporate-interests/ meta-law of astonishing scope], scarcely known and scarcely debated, insists that [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/section/108/enacted all regulators must now] “have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth”. Rare wildlife, wheelchair ramps, speed limits, children’s lungs: all must establish their contribution to GDP. What else, after all, are they for?
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There were dozens of other falsehoods: apparently we have proposed a “garden tax”; we intend to add [https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7105601/James-Brokenshire-blasts-Labours-planned-tax-raid.html “an extra £374 a year] on top of what the typical household pays in council tax” (no such figure is mentioned in our report); and inspectors will be sent to people’s homes to investigate their bedrooms. Dozens of reports claim that our proposals are “plans” hatched by Jeremy Corbyn: “Jeremy Corbyn’s garden tax bombshell”; “Jeremy Corbyn is planning a huge tax raid”; “Corbyn’s war on homeowners”. Though Corbyn is aware of our report, he has played no role in it. What it contains are not his plans but our independent policy suggestions, none of which has yet been adopted by Labour. The press response gives me an inkling of what it must be to walk in his shoes, as I see my name (and his) attached to lurid schemes I’ve never heard of, and linked to Mugabe, Maduro and the Soviet Union. Not one of the many journalists who wrote these articles has contacted any of the authors of the report. Yet they harvested lengthy quotes denouncing us from senior Conservatives.
  
Britain has become a powerbase for [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/08/britain-civilised-mafia-state a legalised financial mafia], which strips the assets of healthy companies, turns the nation’s housing into a roulette table, [https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/media/hsbc-exposed-us-finacial-system-to-money-laundering-drug-terrorist-financing-risks launders money for drug cartels and terrorists], then stashes its gains [http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers beyond the reach] of police and tax inspectors. Through privatisation, outsourcing and the private finance initiative, the public sector has been repurposed as a get-rich-quick scheme for friends in the City, licensed to erect tollbooths in front of essential services. The media, largely owned by members of the same class, directs our attention elsewhere: blaming immigrants for the ills it has inflicted.
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The common factor in all these articles is their conflation of the interests of the ultra-rich with the interests of the middle classes. While our proposals take aim at the oligarchs, and would improve the prospects of the great majority, they are presented as an attack on ordinary people. Progressive taxation, the protection of public space and good homes for all should strike terror into your heart.
  
It was British lobbying that sank Europe’s [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2014/jun/05/the-farming-lobby-has-wrecked-efforts-to-defend-our-soil soil framework directive] and the financial transactions tax. Without a mandate from either Parliament or people, the British trade minister [https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/jurgen-maier/trade-ministers-beg-brussels-to-remove-more-national-sovereignty wrote secretly] to the European Commission, insisting that investor-state dispute settlement should remain in the TTIP. Wherever barriers to the power of money are being kicked over, there you will find Mr Cameron’s bootprint.
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We’ve a lodged a complaint to the press regulator, IPSO, about one of the worst examples, and we might make others. But to pursue them all would be a full-time job (we wrote the report unpaid, in our own time). The simple truth is that we are being outgunned by the brute power of billionaires. And the same can be said for democracy.
  
Since the first states were established, they have sought power by making alliances. The splendid autonomy we are told a Britain out of Europe would enjoy is an illusion: we would swap one transnational system for another. The demand to leave Europe in the name of independence has long been accompanied by a desire to surrender our sovereignty to the United States. If judged by their own standards, the Brexit campaigners who foresee a stronger alliance with the US are traitors, ceding the national interest to a foreign hegemon.
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It is easy to see why political parties have become so cautious and why, as a result, the UK is stuck with outmoded institutions and policies, and succumbs to ever more extreme and regressive forms of taxation and control. Labour has so far held its nerve – and this makes its current leadership remarkable. It has not allowed itself to be bullied by the billionaire press.
  
Sixteen years ago, the Conservative party published a draft manifesto [http://www.monbiot.com/2000/09/07/vote-conservative-for-a-federal-superstate/ in which it proposed] that we should join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This remains a plausible outcome of leaving the EU: it is hard to imagine the business class permitting the UK to stand outside a formal trading bloc. What this means is swapping a treaty over which we have had some influence for one in which we have had none.
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The old threat has not abated – it has intensified. If a newspaper is owned by a billionaire, be suspicious of every word you read in it. Check its sources, question its claims. Withhold your support from any party that allows itself to be bullied or – worse – guided by their agenda. Stand in solidarity with those who resist it.
 
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How do we know that TTIP would tear down public protections? Because the same clauses in NAFTA [http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/01/06/3736750/transcanada-sues-using-nafta/ have already started doing so], across Canada, the US and Mexico. A closer alliance with the United States means surrendering to a system which has been signed, sealed and delivered to the power of money. The US campaign finance system, a Congress bound and gagged with dollars, a police and military machine pressed into the service of plutocracy; a media that scarcely bothers to disguise its own corruption: the political power of money there is naked, unashamed, even proud.
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I suspect that Trump, or at least Trumpery of some kind, represents the future of US politics, especially if the Democrats fail to connect with those who are catastrophically alienated from politics. Exciting as it will be to have a woman in the White House, Hillary Clinton is [http://www.thenation.com/article/the-problem-with-hillary-clinton-isnt-just-her-corporate-cash-its-her-corporate-worldview/ embedded in corporate power and corporate dollars], strategically unable to connect.
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We do not release ourselves from the power of money by leaving the EU. We just exchange one version for another: another that is even worse. This is not an inspiring position from which to vote Remain. But it is a coherent one.
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[http://www.monbiot.com/ &copy;www.monbiot.com]
 
[http://www.monbiot.com/ &copy;www.monbiot.com]
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|[[David Aaronovitch]] · [[Accountancy Column]] · [[Guy Adams]] · [[Kamal Ahmed]] · [[Decca Aitkenhead]] · [[Yasmin Alibhai-Brown]] · [[Arne Alsin]] · [[Chris Ames]] · [[Nigel Andrews]] · [[Anjana Ahuja]] · [[Andrew Alexander]] · [[James Altucher]] · [[Matthew d'Ancona]] · [[Bruce Anderson]] · [[Andrew Anthony]] · [[Louise Armitstead]] · [[Sue Arnold]] · [[Rob Arnott]] · [[Charles Arthur]] · [[Neal Ascherson]] · [[Jackie Ashley]] · [[Tim Ashley]] · [[Anne Ashworth]] · [[Peter Aspden]] · [[Mike Atherton]] · [[Dan Atkinson]] · [[Mark Austin]] · [[John Authers]] · [[Chris Ayres]] · [[Lisa Bachelor]] · [[The Backbencher]] · [[Julian Baggini]] · [[Gerard Baker]] · [[Martin Baker]] · [[Joan Bakewell]] · [[Martin Baker]] · [[Baz Bamigboye]] · [[Annalisa Barbieri]] · [[Patrick Barclay]] · [[Patrick Barkham]] · [[Simon Barnes]] · [[James Bartholomew]] · [[Sandra Barwick]] · [[Claire Beale]] · [[Mary Beard]] · [[Rosemary Behan]] · [[Emily Bell]] · [[Steve Bell]] · [[Catherine Bennett]] · [[Oliver Bennett]] · [[Vanora Bennett]] · [[Marcus Berkmann]] · [[Marcel Berlins]] · [[Peter Bill]] · [[Michael Billington]] · [[Peter Bills]] · [[Ian Birrell]] · [[Patrick Bishop]] · [[Bizarre]] · [[Ian Black]] · [[Black Dog]] · [[Virginia Blackburn]] · [[Terence Blacker]] · [[Blackfriar]] · [[David Blackwell]] · [[James Blitz]] · [[Phillip Blond]] · [[David Blunkett]] · [[David Bolchover]] · [[Anthony Bolton]] · [[Christopher Booker]] · [[Roger Bootle]] · [[Julian Borger]] · [[Mark Borkowski]] · [[Mihir Bose]] · [[David Bowen]] · [[Geoffrey Boycott]] · [[Rosie Boycott]] · [[Susie Boyt]] · [[Pierre Briançon]] · [[Simon Briscoe]] · [[Samuel Brittan]] · [[Benedict Brogan]] · [[Charlie Brooker]] · [[Libby Brooks]] · [[Andy Brough]] · [[Andrew Brown]] · [[Cooper Brown]] · [[Craig Brown]] · [[Maggie Brown]] · [[Michael Brown]] · [[Tyler Brûlé]] · [[Alex Brummer]] · [[Kirsty Buchanan]] · [[Willem Buiter]] · [[Andrew Buncombe]] · [[Madeleine Bunting]] · [[Julie Burchill]] · [[Oliver Burkeman]] · [[Bill Burrows]] · [[Katherine Butler]] · [[Siobhain Butterworth]] · [[Vince Cable]] · [[Carole Cadwalladr]] · [[Christopher Caldwell]] · [[Sue Cameron]] · [[Georgia Cameron-Clarke]] · [[Beatrix Campbell]] · [[Duncan Campbell]] · [[Ian Campbell]] · [[Paul Carr]] · [[Simon Carr]] · [[Rory Carroll]] · [[Sue Carroll]] · [[Simon Caulkin]] · [[Camilla Cavendish]] · [[Alexander Chancellor]] · [[Shami Chakrabarti]] · [[Edward Chancellor]] · [[Peter Chapman]] · [[Angelique Chrisafis]] · [[Rupert Christiansen]] · [[Ben Chu]] · [[Ross Clark]] · [[Tom Clark]] · [[Jane Clarke]] · [[Mickey Clarke]] · [[Peter Clarke]] · [[Jeremy Clarkson]] · [[Charles Clover]] · [[Alan Cochrane]] · [[Patrick Cockburn]] · [[Philip Coggan]] · [[Nick Cohen]] · [[Robert Cole]] · [[Neil Collins]] · [[Patrick Collinson]] · [[Robert Colvile]] · [[Heather Connon]] · [[Steve Connor]] · [[Edmund Conway]] · [[Jonathan Cook]] · [[Nicola Copping]] · [[Alan Coren]] · [[Giles Coren]] · [[Victoria Coren]] · [[Rupert Cornwell]] · [[Tracy Corrigan]] · [[Ros Coward]] · [[Ian Cowie]] · [[Con Coughlin]] · [[David Cox]] · [[Robert Crampton]] · [[Agnes T. 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Featured article(s)

Boris Johnson

George Monbiot: Owned

As I’ve found to my cost, the billionaire press seeks to kill change before it happens.

8th July 2019

All billionaires want the same thing – a world that works for them. For most, this means a world in which they are scarcely taxed and scarcely regulated, where labour is cheap and the planet can be used as a dustbin, where they can flit between tax havens and secrecy regimes, using the earth’s surface as a speculative gaming board, extracting profits and dumping costs. The world that works for them works against us.

So how, in nominal democracies, do they get it? They fund political parties and lobby groups, set up astroturf (fake grassroots) campaigns and finance social media ads. But above all, they buy newspapers and television stations. The widespread hope and expectation, a few years ago, was that news controlled by billionaires would be replaced by news controlled by the people: social media would break their grip. But social media is instead dominated by stories the billionaire press generates. As their crucial role in promoting Nigel Farage, Brexit and Boris Johnson suggests, the newspapers are as powerful as ever.

They use this power not only to promote the billionaires’ favoured people and ideas, but also to shut down change before it happens. They deploy their attack dogs to take down anyone who challenges the programme.

It is one thing to know this. It is another to experience it. A month ago, seven of us published a report to the Labour Party called Land for the Many. It proposed a set of policies that would be of immense benefit to the great majority of Britain’s people: ensuring that everyone has a good, affordable home, improving public amenities, shifting tax from ordinary people towards the immensely rich, protecting the living world and enhancing public control over the decisions that affect our lives. We showed how the billionaires and other oligarchs could be put back in their boxes. The result has been four extraordinary weeks of attacks in the Mail, Express, Sun, Times and Telegraph. Our contention that oligarchic power is rooted in the ownership and control of land has been amply vindicated by the response of oligarchic power.

Some of these reports peddle flat-out falsehoods. A week ago, the Mail on Sunday claimed that our report recommends a capital gains tax on people’s main homes. This “spiteful raid that will horrify millions” ensures “we will soon be joining the likes of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam in becoming one of the world’s few Marxist-Leninist states.” This claim was picked up, and often embellished, by all the other right-wing papers. The policy proved, the Telegraph explained, that “keeping a hard-Left Labour Party out of office is not an academic ideological ambition but a deadly serious matter for millions of voters.” Boris Johnson, Phillip Hammond and several other senior Tories weighed in, attacking our “mad” proposal.

But we made no such recommendation. We considered the idea, listed its possible advantages and drawbacks, then specifically rejected it. As they say in these papers, you couldn’t make it up. But they have.

There were dozens of other falsehoods: apparently we have proposed a “garden tax”; we intend to add “an extra £374 a year on top of what the typical household pays in council tax” (no such figure is mentioned in our report); and inspectors will be sent to people’s homes to investigate their bedrooms. Dozens of reports claim that our proposals are “plans” hatched by Jeremy Corbyn: “Jeremy Corbyn’s garden tax bombshell”; “Jeremy Corbyn is planning a huge tax raid”; “Corbyn’s war on homeowners”. Though Corbyn is aware of our report, he has played no role in it. What it contains are not his plans but our independent policy suggestions, none of which has yet been adopted by Labour. The press response gives me an inkling of what it must be to walk in his shoes, as I see my name (and his) attached to lurid schemes I’ve never heard of, and linked to Mugabe, Maduro and the Soviet Union. Not one of the many journalists who wrote these articles has contacted any of the authors of the report. Yet they harvested lengthy quotes denouncing us from senior Conservatives.

The common factor in all these articles is their conflation of the interests of the ultra-rich with the interests of the middle classes. While our proposals take aim at the oligarchs, and would improve the prospects of the great majority, they are presented as an attack on ordinary people. Progressive taxation, the protection of public space and good homes for all should strike terror into your heart.

We’ve a lodged a complaint to the press regulator, IPSO, about one of the worst examples, and we might make others. But to pursue them all would be a full-time job (we wrote the report unpaid, in our own time). The simple truth is that we are being outgunned by the brute power of billionaires. And the same can be said for democracy.

It is easy to see why political parties have become so cautious and why, as a result, the UK is stuck with outmoded institutions and policies, and succumbs to ever more extreme and regressive forms of taxation and control. Labour has so far held its nerve – and this makes its current leadership remarkable. It has not allowed itself to be bullied by the billionaire press.

The old threat has not abated – it has intensified. If a newspaper is owned by a billionaire, be suspicious of every word you read in it. Check its sources, question its claims. Withhold your support from any party that allows itself to be bullied or – worse – guided by their agenda. Stand in solidarity with those who resist it.

©www.monbiot.com

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