The Conservative Party’s Murder Problem

The Conservative party and their enablers have killed 120,000 of their own citizens in recent years, but it’s weird how we never hear every day about The Conservatives’ Systemic Murder Problem.

They meant to do it as well. With policy. I’m not talking about regretted tweets or de-contextualised comments. This is an organisation killing people in doctrine and deed.

Imagine the press doing what naive people imagine the media’s job to be: holding the powerful to account. Imagine the constant front page stories, the resignations, the cries of “too little, too late!” and the actual lives saved.

I guess whether or not something gets viewed as urgent comes from which stories we want to tell, and how we tell them.

If, say, a company has rules and a process for dealing with racism in the workplace, and if we see people within the company able to call out racism, and people who break the rules being disciplined and dismissed, and we see the number of incidents involving racism declining over time, you could say it’s evidence that the rules are working, that the organisation is functional.

Or you could say it’s evidence that the organisation has a permanent racism problem (like most of the world has a permanent racism problem) every day, depending on what you want to achieve.

For the Labour party and the Left, it feels to me like the bar has now been raised to having to prove that zero anti-Semitism resides in anybody aligned with them. Which of course is ideal, but hard to prove. Organisations can make rules and sanction people who break them, monitor and invite outsiders to measure what can be measured, but of course it’s going to be impossible to *prove* zero prejudice. And It feels to me like that’s the point, to make this the story forever.

I think if those of us on the left choose to accept this framing, the framing of our ideological opponents, anything we do or say on this issue will always be characterised as not taking this permanent (and rightly urgent) challenge seriously enough.

Our opponents can choose to tell our story this way. It’s a free discourse.

But let’s also remember there’s this other story of the Left. A story of anti-racist, anti-imperialist social movements that have spent their whole existence struggling (and succeeding) to devolve power away from a privileged few to the hands of the many. Let’s also remember that story, and be energised by it.

Because the body count being racked up by the Conservatives’ Institutional Murder Problem is also an urgent crisis, and it needs to end. Yesterday.


Noam Chomsky. Still Got It!

Rarely a day goes by when I‘m not grateful for the teachings of Noam Chomsky.

Just before I go into that, here’s a half-remembered half-joke…

A man from the USSR travels to the USA. He says: “This place is amazing. Everybody here thinks the same way. Where I’m from, to get the same result we have to pull fingernails, use secret police, The Gulag…” *

The thing that always springs to mind when I think about Noam Chomsky is that at political talks people often ask him: “This is all well and good, but what can we do?”, and he often says something like: “It’s interesting. I get this question a lot in privileged societies. When I travel to less privileged places they don’t ask me ‘what can we do?’ – they tell me what they’re doing. There’s a feeling of helplessness that goes along with being in relatively free societies. Truth is, we can do just about anything we want.” **

Then why don’t we?

In totalitarian states, it doesn’t matter what people think, they can hate the government all they want, they can think anything they want, all day long. Violence and the threat of violence is what keeps people in line.

In more free societies this is inverted.

Maybe, if you’re reading this, you might be lucky enough to be living in a society made a bit freer by the struggle and sacrifice of organised, disobedient, nameless, faceless people in mass movements. Abolitionists, suffragettes, freedom riders, unions… people who had a vision and maybe gave up life and limb. Yes, there’s a long way to go, but I think the thing about civilisation not living up to its name is not to get down-hearted, but to see how far the powerless have come and pick up where brave people left off.

Chomsky often underlines that in societies which are relatively free from state violence, it becomes more important to regiment what people think – that’s what replaces physical coercion.

So for me, the gift Noam Chomsky gave us, which I am constantly grateful for, is a very practical way to understand the mass media. I think it should be taught in primary school.

Here’s an overview of what I’m talking about, it takes five minutes to read, but if you’re in a rush, I’ll boil it down like this…

These days, when we’re using Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc and getting angry about them selling our personal data, I’m sure we’ve all got a clever friend who will remind us: “If you don’t pay for a product, *you’re* the product”.

Well, Noam (and Ed Herman) said that in 1988.

Another favourite Chomsky quote:

“Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.”

What can we do? Just about anything.


*this is a half-remembered joke. Apologies for almost certainly getting it wrong!

**this is a paraphrase. Couldn’t find an exact quote in print, but this is something like it.

Oh, and of course – happy (belated) 90th, Noam!


Universal Credit Coverage Is As Lethal As Universal Credit Itself

If you want to fight universal credit (and austerity), you need to know why the “taxpayers’ money” framing is factually flawed and dangerous.

Reducing benefits payments cannot ever, ever, ever “save taxpayers money”. It’s *literally* impossible, because the pounds you pay in tax don’t get piled up and subsequently spent anywhere. They get deleted from existence. The central government does not need your taxed pounds to spend. Going along with the fiction that it does is deadly for the most vulnerable people in society.

Reducing the government’s budget deficit, by whatever means, reduces the non-government sector’s budget surplus, as a matter of accounting identity. The non-government surplus is *our* money.

To be compassionate, effective participants in our democracy, we need to be working with macroeconomic fact, or we’re going to get more lethal policies, more right-wing demagoguery and further dismantling of our country’s most hard-won and precious assets.

The “taxpayers’ money” line of attack will never work.

Me and my friend Patricia made this podcast, because we think it’s vital to demystify economics. Hope you get time to have a listen!


South Park-ism & West Wing-ism

Sorry, I know nobody asked, just writing this in case anybody else feels the same way.

I think our political culture is in arrested development, somewhere between:

South Park-ism

(“Having an ideology is stupid and not cool. I transcend this by ridiculing all sides, ignoring any power imbalance.)


West Wing-ism

(“The problem with our political and media systems is that we fail to appoint good and special people to office. It’s our fault things are bad, because we’re stupid in this respect. Our problems are not systemic, so no need to change systems. Rather, let’s dream about what a magical president/news anchor/rugged individualist would do. If we‘re humble in our stupidity, maybe clever people will save us.”)

Just trying to diagnose the patient here.


An Open Letter To Non-Modern Monetary Theory Economists

Hi guys, this might not make much sense unless you’ve been following my adventures in economics (including my podcast), but hopefully, if you have the time, you might pick up the context as you read.


An open letter to non-Modern Monetary Theory economists.

Dear non-MMT economists,

I’m sorry that your feelings are getting hurt lately.

I know you think all MMT advocates act and speak as one, so here, let me treat you all as one entity and tell you on behalf of all of us, why sometimes we might come across a bit testy.

We study, we learn, the clock is ticking. We lose our jobs, our standard of living declines, our public services are deliberately underfunded to the point of collapse and those least able to fend for themselves in our communities suffer and die. Year on year. Because of some numbers on a spreadsheet at a central bank, and the way you talk about them.

No-one is paying us to learn. No one is paying us a nice salary to unquestioningly repeat orthodoxies, or we’d all be calm like you.

Some of us aren’t getting paid for anything anymore, no matter what we do. (And you know that’s a policy choice, right? There’s no unemployment in nature? Monetary systems create unemployment. Of course you know that. You guys are smart. You know everything.)

We study, we learn, we search for answers. While one group of politicians destroys our society, another group of politicians waits in opposition (armed with the same economic framework as our antagonists – the one you keep handing them) to do the same thing in a “kinder” way. They are ripping out the backbone of our civilisation. Because debt. Because insolvency. Because inflation. Because Phillips curve. Because “the government is like a household and has to balance its books”. When politicians do these destructive things, they do it because you gave them permission.

Then we discover the work of Warren Mosler, Bill Mitchell, L. Randall Wray, Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina Tcherneva, Steven Hail, Ellis Winningham… Economists who are actually bothered about changing public consciousness around economics.

Because it’s a matter of life and death.

We learn MMT. We learn that monetarily sovereign governments can never “run out of money” – the very fallacy that policies of austerity were founded on, which persist to this day.

We come to you and call you out on your complicity with orthodoxy. Your response to MMT: “Oh yeah, what you’re saying is nothing new, we knew this all along…”

Oh did you? Our response to you is:






Because we looked, and we found bullshit, and then we found MMT. You guys must’ve been writing your MMT columns so they looked like bullshit. Sorry for not picking up on that.

Our political systems are falling prey to right-wing demagogues who promise a new way forward, women and minorities suffer and die in this new political climate – in large part because all you have for the would-be progressive community is TINA.

Anyway, if you’re insulted, get used to it. Welcome to the world of people noticing what you do and the effect it has, and holding you accountable.

Thanks for everything, but if the accountability and emotion is getting to you, and you don’t feel like you can write another word ever again, never mind, I guarantee the world will do just fine.


All Of MMT xx


My podcast

Friend me up

Say hi on Twitter


“Every time you pay a pound in taxes, that pound is destroyed” MMT Podcast Episode 7

“Every time you pay a pound in taxes, then that pound is destroyed, it’s not part of the money supply anymore. Any time the government spends a pound, a pound is created, the money supply goes up – that’s absolutely true.” — Dr. Steven Hail

Hi, economics-curious friends, here’s episode 7 of The Modern Monetary Theory Podcast!

Me and my co-host Patricia Pino talk with economist and author of “Economics For Sustainable Prosperity” Dr. Steven Hail, about price shocks (which are often misunderstood as inflation) and the irrationality of orthodox economists. Hope you get time to listen!

All episodes of The MMT Podcast are on iTunes/Spotify/Overcast. If you want to demystify economics for yourself, subscribe and let us help. New episodes always on the way!


Institutionalised Racism

When I watch a film like “Mississippi Burning” or “12 Years A Slave”, sometimes, to my shame, I completely flatter myself, by identifying with the one or two white people in the film who are different to all the other white people in the film, that rare white person who is trying to help the oppressed person in the story achieve freedom and justice. I think, “yeah, if I was white in the segregated South, I’d be on the right side of that struggle.”

I don’t think these films are designed to make white people think, “I guess, statistically, it’s more likely I’d have been part of the vast majority of people upholding the racism of this time and place. It was culturally normal and common to be racist, after all.”

We look at how the racist characters in films behave – their rage, their brutality – and our consciences are pricked at how humans and their institutions could’ve ever been this barbaric. Slavery, for Christ’s sake! Separate but equal, for the love of God! We shake our heads. How was society ever like that?

But then you look at the racist settler colonial project that is taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

You see how it’s being justified by the most privileged people and institutions in the world. You see how the oppressed who non-violently fight back (and get killed doing it) are called terrorists, and the people who stand in solidarity with them are called terrorist sympathisers.

You see how this racist settler colonial project strictly limits the number of calories coming in through their blockade of the people it is deliberately malnourishing (largely children) – and calls it “putting the people of Gaza on a diet”.

You see how this settler colonial project, right in front of our so-called enlightened consciences, goes on killing sprees among the people it is occupying, and the army that conducts these massacres calls it “mowing the lawn” and gets referred to as “the most moral army in the world.”

You see how the oppressors and their enablers are even trying to curtail mere speech against their project.

When you take all that in, I think it’s possible to know exactly how institutionalised racism happens.


The left, the right, Israel and racism

I identify as a left-wing person and I have never seen (in the limited circles of people I know) an anti-Jewish comment that wasn’t immediately called out as such.

I think left-wing critics of Israel’s expansionist policies who, mistakenly or deliberately, conflate Israel with Jewish people and then go on to say anti-Jewish things stop being part of the left (on race issues) the moment they do it. Just as a Conservative voter who speaks in support of the NHS (socialised medicine) stops being part of the right (on that issue) when they do so.

Just about every human organisation, from friendship groups to workplaces need to be ever-vigilant against all forms of racism, and haven’t done enough to combat it – the evidence being that racism still exists – but I don’t see anti-Semitism (or other forms of racism) arising from any part of left-wing doctrine, as I understand it.

Here’s an exchange I saw on Twitter, to take the edge off.



If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might know about my fiancé Corry and her amazing and inspiring #LookUp campaign to help improve public transport for disabled people.

The dust has settled (for now!), so here’s Corry’s #LookUp story to date in FAQ form.

I think her story underlines the importance of having a defined goal in activism. Something measurable. Not: “We want people to be nicer”, but: “We want TfL to add ‘Look Up – does someone need your seat?’ to taped announcements on bus and tube services”.

I’m just bringing this up because it seems to me that quite often people have great ideas for change that don’t become effective movements because they don’t define when they get to declare “mission accomplished” and move on to the next thing.

Anyway, hope you get time to read and share and get inspired!


Corry writes:

I was going to write a blog piece about the #LookUp campaign but it was terribly long and rambling so I’ve decided to do an FAQ instead so you can easily find the bits that are of interest to you. These FAQ’s are all questions I’ve been asked throughout the campaign either from media, friends, twitter followers or trolls.


As a rule I don’t like sharing my medical history with strangers and this is a question I would ask you not to open a conversation with! But it seems to be of interest to people. I have a condition called Scheuermann’s Disease which is a developmental disorder of the spine. Secondary conditions which have arisen because of this are DDD, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendinopathy, nerve damage and pes planus (fallen arches). Alongside this delightful bunch I also have debilitating endometriosis. And unsurprisingly I have mental health conditions. I suffer from depression and anxiety which causes panic attacks. An unrelated mental health diagnosis is PTSD. I also unashamedly like the music of James Blunt which a lot of people would include in the ‘what’s wrong with you’ section.

My conditions mean I have mobility problems and chronic pain. I find it difficult to walk, to stand or even to sit or lie down for an extended period.


I work as a comedy producer for Impatient Productions and it is a job I love. I was bed bound for almost 2 years before I attended a Pain Management Programme at Salford Royal which helped me manage my pain to a level I could return to work part time. I’m incredibly lucky that my employers are understanding of my disability and give me the flexibility to work part time and work from home when my pain is too bad to travel. But I like to be in the office or at the shows. So I commute from South Ealing to Crouch End when I am able.

I find it incredibly hard to get a seat on public transport. I wear my ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ badge which TfL provide to anyone who has difficulty standing but I found that people don’t notice it, they don’t even notice my walking aids because they don’t look up.

I had a particularly bad journey on June 14th which ended with me sobbing in front of a packed carriage begging to sit with everyone simultaneously staring and pretending not to notice me. I had to get off the tube and wait for the next one. My pain physically and emotionally was unbearable. I was so, so embarrassed and I have never felt more ‘disabled’ than I did at that time.

I wrote to TfL. I heard nothing. So I wrote again, to them, Chris Grayling (who was minister for Transport at the time), Sadiq Khan and I CC’d every news outlet (except the Daily Mail and the Sun) and every charity I could find contact details for. I took to social media and posted the letter there. Someone asked where the petition was. I created one. And found that I had accidentally become an activist.


There are numerous reasons people can’t ask. Personally I find it very difficult to ask as in the past I’ve sometimes been ignored, refused or given abuse…it makes each subsequent time much, much more difficult. The MAIN reason I don’t like to ask is because lots of people have invisible impairments. Not every disability is visible. I never ask someone in a priority seat to move in case they are as in need of it as I am. This is why it is vital that non disabled people that can stand for their journey offer.

Also. Some people cannot ask. They may not have speech, English may not be their first language, they may have visual impairments so may not want to ask in case the person they are asking is also disabled, they may have autism and find social interaction difficult, they may have any one of a plethora of reasons why it is just not possible for them to ask.


This is a common one and makes me so sad.

If someone offers you a seat and you don’t want or need it please be polite when you decline because you are making it so, so much harder for people that do need a seat.

If you are unsure about offering in case you cause offence you don’t need to verbally offer, just stand and if the person needs the seat believe me they will jump right in it (or sort of wobble into it if it’s me) and if they don’t need it you can sit back down safe in the knowledge that someone isn’t suffering because you are in the seat.


Not true. There are tremendous acts of kindness every day, not just in this city but everywhere. YES some people are rude but I genuinely believe most people are good and want to do the right thing. London does have a reputation for being impersonal and avoiding eye contact on the tube is a real thing. But I don’t think that’s because people are rude. They are busy, they are tired, they want to complete a level on their game, they want to answer that email, they want to read the book, they want to read the news. This doesn’t make people bad or rude. I think a little reminder to look up, a glance at each station or stop isn’t asking the world and I know that some people are already doing it. It is already making a difference.


Ahhhh trolls, you gotta love them. If you don’t want to give up your seat. Don’t. See above. We only need a few people in each carriage to want to do the right thing…and I believe they outnumber the selfish people to a huge extent. Someone once said there are only two types of people. Disabled people and people who aren’t disabled yet. Lets hope that when you are disabled, when you break your leg, when you are elderly you find more people that are kind than people like you when you travel.


This isn’t just from trolls. It is AMAZING how many people think that disabled/pregnant people don’t work or don’t have a life to get on with. I don’t think anyone would choose to travel in rush hour if they didn’t have to.

Being disabled or being pregnant doesn’t mean you don’t work, it doesn’t mean you can pick and chose which hours you travel in. And if you think it does picture this. You break your leg. What happens? Do you get to just not bother working? Do they keep you on full pay until your leg is completely healed? Do you get to go into work 2 hours late and leave 2 hours early? No. Of course not. That would be silly. Don’t be silly.


Look Up is a phrase I have grown up with. When I was a kid my mum used to tell me to ‘look up, you’ll never know what you’ll miss if you don’t look up’. She was, and still is fascinated by nature, by architecture, by astronomy and by curiosity. She used to point up and show me all the things I’d miss if I didn’t raise my eyes. When I became ill and my mental health started to deteriorate ‘Look Up’ took on a whole new meaning. I have had crisis points which have been extremely challenging for myself and my family. Look Up became a mantra and a tool to help me.

For this campaign I thought what would help me, all I need is for people to see me. I have ‘Look Up’ tattooed on my wrist. It just made sense that this reminder would be the perfect message, the perfect announcement to make people more mindful when they are travelling. It’s so simple, and so direct that it amazed me it hadn’t already been implemented.


I didn’t get a response from the customer service department. So I went online looking for individual emails within TfL that I could write to. I found the address for the Press Office which came with the disclaimer ‘Please note, the Press Office is unable to help with general queries or complaints…for media enquiries only’. But I thought it was worth a shot. Especially at this stage where I was pretty much fuelled by anger that so far I’d been ignored. So I emailed them outlining what my problems had been, what my solution was, and also that I’d been invited on to LBC for an interview that night. The response was immediate.

One of my earliest allies in the campaign was press officer Siobrha Murphy, who, it turns out was 3 days in to her new job at TfL. She wrote back to me expressing sympathy for what had happened and letting me know she was going to look into the idea and get back to me. Within the day I had a meeting set up to go into their offices to discuss the campaign. I should note that they also offered to come to me, to save me travelling, an offer which I’m still not sure they understand the impact of. It showed me that they were people empathetic with my situation and prepared to go out of their way to ensure I was comfortable. But I wanted to get things done and I knew I’d get a faster appointment if I went to them.

I met with three incredible women who spent about an hour with me talking through my experiences, discussing the possible solutions and assuring me that they would be taking it further. I left that meeting feeling positive but knowing that TfL is huge and decisions like this would probably have to go through a million hoops and forms before they could be adopted.


I knew TfL were discussing the idea and I had faith in the three women I’d met but they were not the decision makers, so I decided to continue with the petition and the campaign and focus on my next target…City Hall. I was lucky that the State Of London Debate was coming up where Londoners can table questions to the mayor. I had booked my ticket and made the arduous journey to the O2. Mr Khan was named on the petition so I knew his office was getting updates from change dot Org. I had also emailed him and Heidi Alexander (the deputy mayor for transport). I had not had a response by the time of the debate. When I asked him at the debate if he wold support the campaign and use the full weight of his office to get TfL to implement the idea, he immediately answered ‘yes, absolutely’ and that his office would contact me soon.


I am delighted to say that both TfL and City Hall have stuck to their words. Look Up is already on posters and in announcements over the tube network and I will be continuing to work with TfL to ensure that the message endures and to work out ways to roll it out across the full network.


I have been invited to speak to the working group about the implementation of the campaign throughout the national rail network. Supporters of the campaign have also launched in their own cities with Edinburgh Trams currently looking at implementation.


If you are a Londoner please tweet me every time you see or hear an announcement with the #LookUp. My twitter is @CorryShawComedy.

If you are not in London and feel inspired please take the idea to your MP, to your council, to your local public transport provider and fight to have the same message applied where you are. Let’s try to get #LookUp national, on every bus, train, tram, tube we can!

And please, wherever you are, however you travel, please be mindful of those travelling alongside you. Please look up and offer your seat if you see someone more in need of it that you are.

And if you want to do something personally for me which has nothing to do with the campaign. Please find your local comedy club and support it, buy a ticket, go laugh. I love my job as a comedy producer, I love live comedy and the support that I have had from the comedy community has been vital to me throughout this campaign. Pay it forward, buy a ticket to a show.

Please offer me a seat badges can be found here:

If you wish to find out more about accessibility for disabled travellers or wish to donate to a charity fighting for equal access to transport please support Transport For All, who have been a huge help throughout the campaign and are doing really important work. @transportforall

Here’s what has happened. In date order.

Disabled woman fighting to make commuters ‘Look Up’ on London Underground SKIP FORWARD TO 4.30 minutes.