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Discussing political ideas, economic theories and how it relates to the real world. All in short yet informative articles.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Latest

The CANZUK Proposal

Post Brexit Britain has some decisions to make, will it stand independent and face it's risks alone or band together with nations and form a new union?
25/7/2020

Revolutions don't work.

We delve into the work of Edmund Burke's work as a philosopher and politician in the 18th Century and look at why revolutions don't work and how to fix them.
10/6/2020

The UK could boost it's Space Agency and achieve great things.

Inspire Millions. Grow Industries. Explore Science.
"Open your eyes, look up to the skies."
30/05/2020

Can the UK rid itself of debt?

The Govt has had to borrow huge amounts of money throughout this COVID-19 crisis, but perhaps we can solve the issue of debt as well as budget deficits through simple tweaks of our taxation system.
22/05/2020

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We're a small news outlet here to discuss political ideas, economic theories and how it relates to the real world. All in short yet informative articles.

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The CANZUK Proposal

Post Brexit Britain has some decisions to make, will it stand independent and face it's risks alone or band together with nations and form a new union?

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Aliquam erat volutpat. Morbi tellus ex, pulvinar vel maximus et, maximus et neque. Integer viverra nibh sit amet maximus accumsan. Suspendisse finibus porta quam ut lobortis. Donec diam libero, porttitor tincidunt volutpat id, tempus interdum erat. Quisque id nunc ut felis facilisis ultrices et id ex. Aliquam convallis tincidunt elit, sed semper sem hendrerit id. Nulla volutpat porttitor facilisis. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae porta lectus.

Aliquam erat volutpat. Morbi tellus ex, pulvinar vel maximus et, maximus et neque. Integer viverra nibh sit amet maximus accumsan. Suspendisse finibus porta quam ut lobortis. Donec diam libero, porttitor tincidunt volutpat id, tempus interdum erat. Quisque id nunc ut felis facilisis ultrices et id ex. Aliquam convallis tincidunt elit, sed semper sem hendrerit id. Nulla volutpat porttitor facilisis. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae porta lectus.

Rapid and Radical Revolutions don’t work.
Looking into the work of Edmund Burke.

Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman, philosopher and an MP between 1766-1794 as a Liberal, or then “Whig”, party member. His work includes a number of theories, thoughts and reflections on a range of different topics, but one of the most well known is his work on the “Reflections on the Revolution in France.” which is what this article will be primarily focused on.

First of all, we will have to delve deeper into the Revolution in France itself. This unstable moment in european history was a period of political upheaval in France and its colonies where the revolutionists wanted to overthrow the absolute and autocratic monarchy, and fought for the values of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. And whilst Louis XVI was executed and a republic had in one sense or another formed, France entered it’s Reign of Terror where those who were elected into power began numerous public executions on anyone who in one shape or the other disagreed with the opinions of the Republic, it’s goals, or purpose. Political enemies were executed for treason and ‘in the name of freedom’ thousands died at the hand of the Republic, with nearly 17,000 dying under the guillotine and as many as 40,000 prisoners are thought to have been executed without trial. In short, the fight for liberty, equality and fraternity turned into an era of mass execution, and a ”reign of Terror”. Ultimately, this instability simply put Napoleon on the French Throne as Emperor and France was once again ruled by an Autocrat, the revolution had achieved nothing.

Burke's Teachings.

Burke believed he could explain why the revolution failed, which we can summarise in two main points. Firstly, that a revolution based on abstract principles such as freedom or equality will only lead to chaos. And Secondly, that change should be gentle, as if you were to prune a plant; that is how one should change society. The first point is not that freedom or equality should not occur, but that fighting for terms such as freedom or equality is far too vague to lead to change, which is what he means by abstract. Whilst the labels of freedom or equality may be helpful in gathering a large crowd, when asked for detail, it’s rarely there. The argument is made that one should protest in favour of certain legislation, or specific change; otherwise it will either simply be ignored or difficult to implement.

The second point is possibly even more important, and is the argument that change should be gentle, gradual and organic - otherwise a period of chaos and turmoil will occur. Think of society as a plant; if you upheave it by its roots the plant dies, and weeds grow in its place but if you prune the plant over time, you can shape and allow it to grow in a way that works and suits the area or situation it’s in. In France, the revolutionists tried to rapidly reform and upturn society; it led to turmoil, terror and uncertainty until an identical plant, i.e Napoleon, took the place of the Monarchy and everything returned to as it was, without any change or progress.

In the end, the lessons we can take from Edmund Burke’s work on his Reflections on the Revolution in France is that change must be specific and implementable, as well as slow, gradual and organic. One could also take into account one of Burke’s most famous quotes from his publication, being that "People will not look forward to prosperity who never look backward to their ancestors." or as we more commonly use today; Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

The UK can lose it’s debt - here’s how.

In April alone the UK has had to borrow £62.1bn to deal with COVID-19, that’s about six times the amount we borrowed this time last year and borrowing for 2020 could reach close to £300 billion - that’s more than five times than was planned in the Chancellor's budget back in March.

This is obviously going to leave a gaping hole in the Government’s bank account but how do we recover from this? The Treasury is sure to be mulling over a plethora of ideas and they’ll have some tough decisions to make, but it’s believed that by simply stitching up some loopholes in the taxation system we could be back on track, and even get rid of our usual budget deficit.

For years now the UK has had a budget deficit and has had to borrow and pay back interest on huge amounts of spending. Take a look at the chart above showing Govt. Spending for 2018, we had to spend £43 billion simply to pay back the interest on our borrowing and the commons library shows that 2018’s deficit was an additional £41 billion. This demonstrates that the way we currently manage our economy, and the way our taxation system works simply isn’t sustainable for the long-term.

Can corporation tax be the magic bullet?

Corporation tax has always been a contentious issue, with the revenue generated by it almost always seeming to be lower than the average you and I would have expected. But by fixing current loopholes in the system it’s possible the UK would no longer have a budget deficit. Corporation tax currently sits at 19%, and is a direct tax on the income a corporation makes but some firms like Facebook or Amazon enter hot water when it comes to the amount they pay.

For example, FACEBOOK UK paid £28.5m tax in 2018 but revenues hit a record of £1.65bn - that’s only 1.7% when they should have paid 19%. If Facebook had paid the full amount, the treasury would have an additional £285m to spend on infrastructure, healthcare, social services etc. But truth is there are multiple legal loopholes that firms like these can use, and they have accounting and financial teams dedicated to saving them millions in tax. Additionally, they argue that the money they may not pay in tax is used to reinvest into their business and therefore helps grow local supply chains and provides jobs.

To understand the impact Corporation tax could have let’s take a look at where the UK govt’s revenue came from in 2018;

The largest contributors are VAT and Income Tax where the average amount paid in both categories is 20% (on either the value of the product or the income an individual makes). Some economists argue that the amount of revenue corporation tax could generate if the loopholes were closed would be of similar proportion to VAT and Income Tax. By taking a figure in between the two one could estimate that if there were no loopholes in the Corporation Tax system it may have been possible for the government to earn an additional £115bn which would not only cover debt interest payments and remove the budget deficit we had, but also have left us with an additional £31bn to spend in 2018.

Solving our budget deficit issue would allow successive governments to reinvest into infrastructure, healthcare and defence, reinvest into the economy and allow the UK to thrive and grow continuously in the long-term. This is why we ought to lobby the executive (government) to close said loopholes and ensure that large corporations pay a fair amount of tax - with some legislation to tackle this issue already beginning to make its way through France, it can be done here too.

Launching the UK into Space.

Just today, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the US’ Space Agency NASA have successfully launched two astronauts from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade. Sat aboard the Falcon 9, Rob Behnken and Doug Hurley set off for the ISS, and launching this reusable rocket costs only $62 million. SpaceX will inevitably launch the USA into the next stage of space travel, but who’s rooting for Team UK?

It’s difficult to think of any UK-based space companies, whether private or publicly funded. We can all think of SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Virgin Galactic - But these are all US based firms, with hardly any of them operating in the UK, other than Virgin Orbit working at Spaceport Cornwall. Whilst we have some of the most well known universities and scientists working on Space-Related projects, entering the Space Exploration industry can have benefits for the UK as a whole.

It’s human nature to explore, so launching Rockets into Space can be a huge national morale booster and bring communities together. Not only that, but inspiring future generations is surely something we should strive for too. The Economic multiplier funding can have is also great, and investing in left behind regions can boost industry and create jobs. Take Cornwall for example, historically one of the poorer regions of the UK, investing in SpacePort Cornwall and engineering/tech plants brings jobs, can boost education and improves the overall economic environment in the southwest as a whole. Being an area with a lot of seasonal unemployment - full-time, high-paying jobs can really help shift Cornwall’s reliance on the hospitality industry, and mean that in times of said industry’s struggle, such as during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we will not see as large of an economic downturn in the region.

But why haven’t we been investing in UKSA?

FUNDING AND GROWING THE SPACE INDUSTRY:

In the 2016/17 budget, which are the latest figures we could find, the UKSA received only £371m of funding which was 0.04% of the budget’s expenditure - Compared to NASA receiving $19.3 billion in funding for 2016; that’s close to 0.5% of the US’ budget’s expenditure. Now whilst those may both seem like small, decimal figures, 0.5% is more than tenfold 0.04%. Which would explain why NASA is doing so well compared to UKSA. Not only that, the US offers multiple tax incentives to tech, science and space firms too.

Previously our hands had been tied by the EU when it comes to tax incentives and state aid but Brexit could present a huge opportunity for our Space Sector. With the government able to make investment into the industry more attractive, implement preferential visas for tech and mechanical based engineers as well as, ultimately, giving tax incentives and aid to said science and tech firms the UKSA could establish itself amongst the likes of NASA of being global contributors to Space Exploration.

Post-Brexit Britain - The CANZUK Proposal

As the UK begins to look towards a new normal and the Coronavirus Crisis is beginning to fall behind the rear view mirror the Brexit discussion may well return to the foreground of politics very soon; with the date by which we were able to ask the EU for an extension to the transition period now the past and Johnson’s government expecting a firm decision by October on whether a deal is likely or if they should pursue an exit from the EU without an FTA. Let’s delve into what the future could look like.

CANZUK - What is it?

The term CANZUK was first coined by the author William David McIntrye in 1967, in which he explained the context of a commonwealth based union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The topic itself has been in discussion for a while, but had died down in relevance once the UK joined the EU, or then EEC, in 1973. Today however, as the UK has left the EU and is looking to establish a new “global Britain”, organisations such as CanzukInternational (founded in 2015 as “The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation”) are advocating for “facilitated migration, free trade and foreign policy coordination between the CANZUK countries.

The Arguments For CANZUK

Free Trade
A CANZUK Trade Union where customs duties and other barriers to commerce are removed would give its constituent members more collective bargaining power in dealing with large partners such as the USA, China, India and the EU. It would also allow us to grow our economy and trade between CANZUK nations, such as Australia, where we used to be one of Australia's largest trading partners before the UK joined the EU, or a UK-NZ FTA could increase our exports to NZ by up to £100 million.

Foreign Policy
Where each of the CANZUK nations already cooperate in security such as Five-Eyes Intelligence, support each other in organisations such as the United Nations and have similar Foreign Policy objectives it would only make sense to deepen this bond further.. An association comprising Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom would enjoy a more balanced relationship with the United States, lowering the possibility of the US “bullying” smaller nations into foreign policy decisions. Collectively, these countries could be global rather than merely regional players in the geopolitical arena.

In addition, a coordinated foreign policy for the CANZUK group would facilitate humanitarian support for the developing Commonwealth realms in the Caribbean and Pacific. Such projects could extend to educational schemes, modelled on Rhodes Scholarships and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Constitutional Affairs
The constitutions of most CANZUK nations are at the very least loosely based off of the Westminster system, and are very compatible with eachother, CANZUKInternational says “The shared Sovereign would be an essential aspect of any CANZUK group association. The monarch, who represents a global institution, has played an important role as a symbol of a common heritage and parliamentary tradition. Furthermore, the Crown has been the cornerstone of democratic government and the rule of law over a long history of peaceful constitutional development. It is instructive to note that the English speaking countries which have retained the monarchy have been far more successful in avoiding civil unrest than their republican counterparts.”

and that “In concrete terms, the existing dialogue between viceregal representatives and the judiciary of the CANZUK group should be encouraged. This initiative could build upon meetings that already occur between the Governors-General of the various Commonwealth realms every two years”.

The end Result?

The reality is that a global union CANZUK union could be formed, increasing and bettering security, trade, travel and mutual relations between its nations and their peoples. A union with the second largest landmass in the world, and with a combined economy large enough to rival those of the US, EU and China; a truly global vision. One where common language, common laws, common constitutions and even heads of state would make the transition into such a Union in the near future rather easy and seamless; yet with all of the added benefits it brings.

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An Article written for NPN by Jacob H