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Protectionism

Cooking the Books: Trumps – or Trumpery?

In his speech when installed as President in January, Donald Trump declared that ‘from this moment on it’s going to be America first’, promising ‘Every decision on trade, on taxes, on migration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.’

Theresa May had also promised to put the interests of those from for ‘an ordinary working class family’ before those of the ‘privileged few’ when she became Prime Minister last July. Only she couldn’t proclaim ‘Britain First’, as that’s the name of a fascist party here.

Unemployment - Cause and Cure

There are now upwards of 1 1/4 million workers registered as unemployed in Great Britain. How many there are not registered, and how many are working short time, it is impossible to say, but we may safely assume that there will be, before this winter is out, more than 1 1/2 million men and women, boys and girls, able and willing to work, but prevented from doing so. The present depression began at the end of 1920 and shows no sign of lifting, and it is no longer sufficient for Ministers to prophecy improvement; even the most credulous workers are now unwilling to believe in the early coming of the long deferred revival.

Cooking the Books: Back to the 1930s?

During the spat last December between Britain and France about which government most deserved to lose its triple-A credit rating (It was the French rating that was eventually lost.) Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, urged Europe’s leaders to solve the Eurozone crisis, commenting: “If that doesn’t happen the risk is that of retraction, rising protectionism, isolation. This is exactly what happened in the Thirties and what followed was not something we are all looking forward to (Times, 16 December).

Writing later in the Times (27 December) Stephan King, the HSBC’s group chief economists made a similar point: “The global economy has plenty of faults but increased isolationism will only make things worse. We don’t want to sleepwalk back to the 1930s.”

So, what did happen in the 1930s? Here are some quotes from “Background of the War 1939-1945”, a chapter taken from our 1950 pamphlet, The Socialist Party and War.

The bogey of the taxes

A great  cry is being raised at the present time by two sections of the capitalist class about the question of taxation in relation to Import Duties. Mr, Chamberlain and his Conservative friends have suddenly discovered that a large amount of poverty, misery, and want of employment exists around us among the working-class. This is due, says this section, to the foreigner “dumping” his goods on our markets, underselling the home producer, and thereby bringing about unemployment by preventing the home trader from disposing of his goods. The latter cannot retaliate upon the “foreigner’s” market owing to the tariff wall erected around it to keep him out. At once the remedy comes to the front: Tax the foreigner’s goods and keep them off our market, then the English manufacturer will be able to employ more “hands” and raise prices, to the benefit of the whole community.

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