An old friend of mine sent me a message a few days ago after reading ‘The Insidious Nature of Power‘, a piece I wrote for Renegade Inc. in September 2017 here.

“I would love it if you did some analysis from a UK standpoint. What do you think of where we are on Brexit? Do you think the UK is just not worth commenting on?”

These are good questions. Why does a Brit spend most of his time commenting upon the US, Russia and the Middle East…& how does the UK fit into all that?

To make any sense out of what’s happening in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, we need to look at the whole board, understand what the game is and how it’s played.

The game is ‘power’. The pursuit and maintenance of power has produced, overtime, a number of systemic issues which are now ‘critical’; factors that cause the most amount of pain to the largest number of people. These issues transcend national boundaries. I described them in a piece I wrote for Renegade in February 2018, ‘21st Century Plague’.

Here is the thesis, condensed into the 280 characters of my ‘pinned tweet’, designed to say to visitors: ‘This is what I write about”

Clearly, the United States is where most of the monetary power is vested; the Middle East is where most of the war is conducted, and where a great number of the natural resources are located. If you listen to the media, of course, it’s not about oil and gas; it’s about freedom, human rights and democracy. This, of course, is rubbish…but important rubbish: the media is the ‘glue’ that keeps the issues stuck.

In short, most of the mischief in this world is caused, exacerbated, supported, facilitated, and/or paid for…by or through Washington DC. That is why lobbyists from nations like Israel & Saudi Arabia, arms manufacturers like Lockheed & Raytheon, banks like JP Morgan & Goldman Sachs…spend an absolute fortune ‘buying’ Congressmen…so they can write their own laws, draft their own regulations and fund the war machine through massive state ‘hand-outs’ like the $730bn annual defence budget. The lobbyists are ably assisted by ‘think-tanks’ like ‘The Atlantic Council’, which are little more than a collection of mediocre intellectuals who flog war propaganda via corrupt politicians and a complicit media…to a gullible public. And abracadabra…that’s how you get endless wars in the Middle East.

So where does the UK fit into this?

For over a century, London had been the centre of the ‘western empire’…until the end of ww1, by which point the balance had shifted, irrevocably, to Washington.

I don’t think this needs much elaboration. The baton was passed, a point conceded by the British Propaganda of the time. After 178 years of “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves” the UK now portrayed itself arm-in-arm with the new kid on the block ‘Uncle Sam’:

Fast forward 27 years, and the world had been through the Great Depression and WW2, leaving every western nation up to its eyeballs in debt with the US; which had most of the gold, the atomic bomb, and a highly tuned economy that did not need to rebuild itself – the war had been fought in Europe, Africa and Asia. The world, with the sole exception of the Soviet Union (which had lost over 26 million people defeating the Nazis, and had sacrificed more than any other nation to ‘win the war’)…was at America’s feet.

It took the outgoing hegemon a long time to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’. The ability to throw your weight around with impunity disappeared faster than the hubris that went with it

The UK didn’t get the point until after Winston Churchill had retired in 1955, making way for a guy who had waited over ten years for the top job – his long-time Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden. In 1957 Eden invaded Egypt in response to Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal…just the sort of thing that Empires do…except this time President Eisenhower had other ideas. He threatened to sink the pound by selling UK sovereign debt…at which point the penny, rather than the pound, dropped for the humiliated Eden, who withdrew. This signalled to the world, but mainly to the UK, since everyone else already knew…that Britannia was NOT a world power any longer.

The old empire became the new handmaiden – the ‘special relationship’ became even more special, at least for the Brits…

The UK has had 11 different Prime Ministers since Eden. As someone born in 1955, these are the PMs of my lifetime so-to-speak: MacMillan (C), Douglas-Home (C), Wilson (L), Heath (C), Callaghan (L), Thatcher (C), Major (C), Blair (L), Brown (L), Cameron (C) and May (C).

They have all curried favour with, and/or supported the wars of, their 11 counterparts in the US: Presidents Kennedy (D), Johnson (D), Nixon (R), Ford (R), Carter (D), Reagan (R), Bush Senior (R), Clinton (D), Bush Junior (R), Obama (D), and Trump (R).

With the notable exception of Harold Wilson, who refused to commit the UK to the Vietnam War, Britain has followed the US obediently into battle & supported its ‘operations’. In the case of Thatcher, but particularly with Blair, sending our young people to kill, bleed and die in service to the ’empire’ agenda, was done with a passionate and ideological zeal.

Even Wilson was accused of being Johnson’s puppet. It should be noted, however, that Wilson is the only PM on that list to have been ‘hounded’ by our security services, but that’s another story…

In a triumph of fiction over reality, the only PM to resist ‘bending the knee’ to the President was Prime Minister Hugh Grant in the movie ‘Love Actually’, who finally ‘strapped on a pair’ when President Billy Bob Thornton, a toxic blend of Clinton sleaze with Bush swagger, tried to seduce his personal waitress and soon-to-be girlfriend, Martine McCutcheon.  Interestingly, Grant’s character immediately became a hero, on screen and for much of the British audience, who, contrary to the ‘special relationship’ garbage in the media…know that we are a US puppet…and are not very keen on the idea.

The movie was released in November 2003, just a few months after the invasion of Iraq. I think that one of the numerous things that Blair didn’t understand, and still doesn’t, is that the country wanted a ‘lion’ to stand up to Bush, not a ‘toad’ to kiss his backside. Blair confused the two, as do a lot of ambitious, self-obsessed & immature men, particularly those who think they are doing ‘God’s work’.

Here is the clip, with a nod to the writer, Richard Curtis; a guy who knows how to make people laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously:

If history is written by the victors, propaganda is the first draft

It’s important for me to acknowledge that none of this is history, it’s my story. Personally, I think it’s more accurate, and certainly far more honest than the version you will read in the Guardian, the Times or the FT…but then I would say that wouldn’t I? The point is that you and I have an active role to play in determining the story created for our grandchildren. We need to take that very seriously…the government does, and their story is awful…

So where are we now?

We are a nation governed by a spineless and duplicitous government, that in the space of the past few months has:

  1. Covered up the PM’s responsibility for threatening the deportation of thousands of Caribbean immigrants who’ve been here longer than many of us have been alive
  2. Blamed Russia for poisoning the Skripals with a nerve agent that: “…to fit into the official British story ‘novichok’ must be an instantly lethal, slow acting poison which dissipates quickly but lasts for months.”  See Patrick Armstrong’s piece at Strategic Culture Foundation:“Psychoanalysing NATO: Gaslighting” 
  3. Bombed Syria on the basis of ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Assad using chemical weapons in Douma, a claim now refuted by the OPCW:“The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties” 
  4. Continued to pander to Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman, despite the fact that the former leads an ‘apartheid’ government in all but name, and the latter is slaughtering, starving, & ‘diseasing’ the people of Yemen
  5. Completely ‘cocked-up’ the Brexit negotiations, in a ridiculous attempt to simultaneously pander to Brussels, Remainers, the Democratic Unionist Party and God knows who else, whilst keeping Brexiteers ‘onside’. Just as Cameron bombing Libya was not motivated by ‘human rights’, it seems clear, to me at least, that May’s Brexit deal is not about honouring the verdict of the referendum, it’s about her own political survival

Governments should put their principles first or stop talking about them. The clue is in the word: latin; princeps, princip; ‘first, chief’

What about Brexit?

You will have already made up your mind about Brexit, based upon your principles…or your ideology…or your personal situation…or because of what you read in the newspapers…or to go along with your crowd…or on the basis of a pragmatic assessment…etcetera…

Whatever…the truth is this: We do not all put the same ‘first things first’. The referendum, whether you like it or not, was a vehicle for allowing the people who turned up to vote, to decide: ‘in’ or ‘out’. I voted ‘out’. Here’s a condensed version of why I did that – a comment I made during a recent discussion on Twitter:

“I didn’t vote ‘leave’ because I’m a bigot, a moron, a sheep who listens to the bloke down the boozer who did O’ levels…or a stereotype. I voted ‘leave’ because large, centralised govt is ALWAYS anathema to democracy”

That’s it. That’s always been it, and that will always be it…for me. So long as the EU is a centralised, power-amassing organisation, dominated by federalists and globalist elites, who think they are qualified to govern hundreds of millions of people, from over 2 dozen diverse cultures…my answer will be the same – ‘no thanks’.

Centralisation of complex systems does not work, particularly when the constituent parts are human beings.

Speaking personally, it amazes me that so many people on the left – good, bright people – recognise the injustice and the dangers of an elitist political and economic system…but somehow don’t see that this is exactly what the EU is…at its core. The EU is one thing – posing as another. The following image could just as well be headed ‘The EU’ or ‘Federalism’:

One more thing before I get down from this horse…the euro is a flawed currency, operating in an unstable banking system, based on sovereign debt that will never be repaid, which for political reasons cannot be pooled, as it should have been BEFORE the euro was created. This will result in a European Sovereign Debt Crisis, at the point one or more of the following occurs:

  1. Draghi stops buying all the debt with QE, thus revealing ‘no bid’ at anything less than unmanageable interest rates
  2. The ‘market’ finally realises that he’s trapped in the Hotel California and can never stop printing money…leading to ‘goodbye euro, hello dollar & gold’
  3. One of the banks collapses and/or the sticking plaster of ‘pretence’ finally drops off…leading to an avalanche of algorithms arriving at the simultaneous conclusion that the Emperor is not only naked, he’s penniless
  4. Someone, most probably Italy, says ‘enough’…

Me?  I’d rather not be in the inner or the outer ‘club’ when that happens.

What of the UK’s future?

If the UK is to help bring about a peaceful & honest world (my preference), it needs to stop pandering to the vested interests that run Washington, Brussels, and Whitehall itself.

Hard? Yes. Impossible? Only if you say so. Personally, I think we need to open a new dialogue with ourselves:

What role do we want to play in the world?  And what do we want NO PART OF? 

One thing is for sure: All the recent talk from Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Labour Shadow Nia Griffith, about being a ‘Tier One Power’…is complete garbage. We are not a major power, and I believe that few of us “give a monkey’s” about that.

Finally, here’s what I am most clear about: There will be no peaceful and honest world until we resolve the issues I described above:

  1. A monetary system rigged for banks and corporations
  2. A military-industrial complex that requires endless war
  3. Politicians that are controlled by 1 & 2
  4. Media that is complicit with 1 to 3

Like I said: The rest is ‘symptoms’. If you want things to change, get used to repeating yourself.



MarkGB is a retired UK businessperson with 35 years experience of working with people from 30 countries and six continents. He is not a member of any political party and does not represent any vested interests. He offers an independent view on economic and political events as they unfold.

Mark’s blog is & you can find him on Twitter @MarkGBblog

11 thoughts on “The state of the UK

  1. I take issue with only one point. Following the realities recognised by MMT, the ECB can never run out of Euros, and never be beholden to the Markets. The real problem of the Euro lies with each member State being unable to use fiscal policy in a sovereign currency to revitalise their economies as their peoples desire.

    In all other respects, well said. The EU is a thoroughly undemocratic and economically entrenched neoliberal entity (even calling it an entity is a bit of a stretch).

    That notwithstanding, Britain still needs to rid itself of its own neoliberal parliamentarians (both Tory and New Labour). But then being a fairly decent democracy, there are straightforward opportunities to do this.

    1. Wilfred, whilst you are correct to point out the ECB will, technically, never run out of Euros…the ability to print your own currency is not without limits. Whilst the markets may not be able to stop the ECB, they will do their best to dole out the discipline via abandonment of the Euro and EU government assets. Beyond that, if the ECB take printing currency to the next level, they will likely lose control and end up with Weimar-esque levels of inflation, whereby, the population will put an end to it, probably via violence…and it won’t be pretty!

      As MarkGB says, best to get out of dodge before then! Great piece Mark, cuts through the bullsh!t as usual

    2. Thanks Wilfred

      Totally agree with your assessment of the EU!

      On the currency part, of course you’re absolutely right that Draghi can print euros to Kingdom Come, but what he can’t do is persuade people to buy Italian or any other sovereign debt at higher interest rates. He can step in and buy the debt himself but that will exacerbate the problem and shift a debt crisis into a currency crisis. Given $5 trillion a day goes through the currency markets, it really is the BIG ONE!

    3. Thanks Wilfred

      Totally agree with your assessment of the EU!

      On the currency part, of course you’re absolutely right that Draghi can print euros to Kingdom Come, but what he can’t do is persuade people to buy Italian or any other sovereign debt at higher interest rates. He can step in and buy the debt himself but that will exacerbate the problem and shift a debt crisis into a currency crisis. Given $5 trillion a day goes through the currency markets, it really is the BIG ONE!

  2. Problem is (one of a plethora) that the plan for the UK after Brexit amongst the one-trick-pony TINA Tories is doubling-down on the Hayek-style economic fundamentalist policies of the last 40 years – [further} deregulation of the finance sector (whose munificence will subsequently provide for us all via good ol’ trickle-down), wiping away of worker protections (described by small state propagandists as ‘red tape’), shrinkage of the welfare state (ref: USA, opioids, tent cities, enough said), lower taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations (more cash to pile into speculative vehicles such as housing) etc. etc. the same playbook that to which apparently – TINA.

    Guys like Rees-Mogg and Johnson long for a return to the times when people ‘of their class’ ruled the roost, and they had unlimited access to cheap, deferential, expendable labour (eg for colonial wars).

    They want more trickle-up. And if we’re not careful, they’ll achieve it, and we’ll end up like so many formerly powerful post-colonial nations – basically a third-world state.

    1. Thanks MD.

      The whole system is corrupt. Absent reform of the monetary system and the democratic process I fear we are moving the furniture around on the Titanic

  3. Mark, well said my man. I agree with your assessment but it does require a spine and demands people throw off deference and cronyism which is a disease throughout, business govt and society at large.

    I too voted leave, for similar reasons: EU has shown its true colours when it made an example of Greece and “knee-capped” it, almost as an example in the playground. As you ably describe the Euro is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I guess similarly to many regular folk I just wanted the UK Govt to take some ownership for potholes, inequality, un-balanced expenditure etc instead of saying Europe has tied their hands.

    I will admit, now in hindsight the vote to leave has exposed our leaders to be so truely incompetent that I fear we must scuttle back to the EU otherwise we too will be “knee-capped” like Greece was. I guess we will find out in due course.

  4. I think the author has a good point in saying large centralised governments are anathema to democracy but even national governments have been barely democratic in my long lifetime. We need to get back to Schumacher’s economics book “Small is Beautiful” and extend it from companies to everything.

    Have been extolling Richard Werner’s Southampton Municipal Bank to friends here and in Washington DC. They are infatuated with North Dakota but that would not work in California imo. It needs to be municipal banks with small enough note issues, loans and deposits to be properly regulated like the community banks in Germany (presently under administrative attack from ECB)

    Author does not mention Monnet’s original vision of bringing an end to eternal war in Europe. That’s one thing the EU has done so effectively that when Bosnia exploded we could not act.

  5. I believe in a united Europe through the auspices of the European Union as a basis for cooperation in a wide range of matters acting with transparency; not behind closed doors like Britain with no written constitution. The US has such stated protection. Unfortunately the EU identified as socialist and federalist in its operating mandate like the working-time directive which Britain rejected. Brussels bureaucracy seen as interference but the EU confronts regional problems like tax evasion in Europe by US corporations and some European corporations. The European Single Market acting as one market with standards is its greatest achievement; no borders for free trade zone. BREXIT shows the difficulty of leaving the EU which provides so much more than people realize. Interesting that Trump and Russia loathe the EU for its political power and influence because it has economic power due in part to Germany the industrial powerhouse. Germany considers Europe too important to be exposed to currency speculators and drift to war again with nationalism. The EU has failed to deliver in full on its promise; but don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water. Britain will soon crash out of Europe all because Britain wishes to avoid the 40 billion euro divorce bill. Big mistake.

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