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Why Does David Cameron Keep Banging on About a #GlobalRace?

17/09/2013 12:25 BST | Updated 16/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Soundbites and slogans are an essential part of politics - just ask the 99%, or the hardworking families who are all in this together, and I'm sure they have their place... but why does David Cameron keep beating a dead horse?

I'm not alleging that Cameron has been punching about poor, dead Raisa, who belonged to Rebekah Brooks (as far as I'm aware, he hasn't laid a finger on it) - but the one phrase he keeps banging on about - the so-called "Global Race". Which far from being ready for a trip to the glue factory along with Raisa, was dead on arrival as he seems to be the only person using it.

The phrase - one presumes - is designed to conjure up images of British industry becoming more competitive and beating the other countries in the... umm... industry Olympics? Whatever he's on about, apparently in order to win the global race, we have to sell arms to other countries:

Support cutting off welfare for the poor:

Encourage more exploitation of finite resources (and not worry about climate change):

And hang out with dictators (and still not worry about climate change):

So this is our nebulously defined "global race". And there's a whole lot of problems with it - but let's concentrate on the name. There's basically two massive flaws.

The first is that I'm not sure that David Cameron understands how capitalism works. The whole point of trade is that it is not zero-sum game. That is to say - you don't get one winner. If everyone freely exchanges goods and services with each other, then everyone wins. If one country becomes wealthy by producing stuff, it doesn't mean that the other countries will take the hit. When, say, South Korea became rapidly wealthy in the 1980s, everyone in Britain didn't become poorer because of it - in fact, it was better for us it meant there would be more people with more money wanting to buy British products - and more stuff from South Korea for us to buy. Obviously I'm over-simplifying, and you can make correct arguments about job losses because of globalisation and the like, but taken as a whole world, more trade means a higher global output. So really we don't want to be "winning" a race - we want to be peacefully participating in voluntary trade with other countries.

The second, slightly paradoxical point, is that "global race" evokes the similar phrase "race to the bottom". A phrase which was coined by globalisation theorists to describe how in order to compete in an open global market, countries are forced to cut workers rights, corporate taxes and environmental laws in order to appease huge multinational corporates, who otherwise would just move their operations to countries with even less worker protections and so on. So this creates a situation where countries will slash workers rights in order to be more competitive, relative to other countries.

So maybe it is a race after all - but is this really the sort of race a Prime Minister wants to boast about? Does he really want to be saying to everyone that he wants to reduce our rights and sell out to big business? If he keeps up with this #globalrace thing, soon we're going to have to stop assuming this is what he wants, as really he's just come out and said it.