What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the tag “Cuts”

Labour Uncut Post – In Defence Of The BBC…

The previous post, about working conditions, was pretty well received, however my next effort gained me my first ever  cyber insult. Yes readers, if you defend the BBC, you must want sex with young girls (sigh)…

 

labour-uncut.co.uk/2012/10/26/governments-of-every-stripe-want-to-tear-down-the-bbc-don’t-let-them/

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Boris Pleases His Paymasters

Fans of Boris “bollocks”* Johnson must have been very pleased with his nonsense for The Sunday Telegraph decrying the TUC March and Ed Miliband.

Britains Berlusconi, the only Englishman currently involved in a love rectangle± (according to the Daily Mail), wrote a lengthy if predictable rant against opponents of The Coalition, bizarrely claiming that Ed would be “satisfied” with the results of the sit-ins and vandalism in the west end.

One of the victims of this, A famous Hotel, which is also owned by  tax-avoiders who officially live on a small Island off the coast of Sark. Who funnily enough, pay a certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson £250,000 a year to write this sort of trash. Johnson’s Mayoral salary is £144,000 – more than enough for a mortal, yet Boris describes his quarter of a million from the Telegraph Group as “Chickenfeed”.

One is reminded of Bill Hicks describing a pop star – “if money had a dick, this guy would be a flaming faggot…”, yet one blanches to use such homophobic language oneself, after all, thats what Boris is for…

No doubt his legions of fan will be happy to see him Jew-bashing in print, after all, we can’t leave this sort of thing to Ken can we?

Recently, our Ruling Joke has been involved in silencing peaceful (if scruffy) protests on College Green, backed Westminsters Tories in their attempts to close down Soup kitchens for the homeless, and has been castigated by the National Statistics Watchdog for his “misleading” (possibly “lying”?) use of  figures for his own ends.

So, how does the Boris fan feel? Over the moon and head over heels presumably…

* Bollocks – meaning “unworthy priest”

±What next? A Love Rhomboid?

A BUDGET FOR WHO???

This weeks’ Budget, courtesy of the 14th Earl of Whyborne, has been lauded to the skies by the hard of understanding…

…Or as I like to think of them, Monetarists. The lack of imagination, and of any long-term goals other than dismantling the NHS, do not give me any confidence in Gideons’ old Maths Tutor. Then again, what should we expect from a man who dodges £1.6 million in tax whilst telling the rest of us to “pull together”?

Lets just examine a few measures here, for the sake of general interest…

  1. “The Sun Says Yippee! – 1p off fuel duty!” Yes, and there will be a rise of 5p in 2012.
  2. Tobacco duty up by 2% above inflation. Giving a welcome shot in the arm to the smuggling industry.
  3. An increase in Premiums Tax means that the cost of insurance rises – just as the Government wants us to take out private health insurance.
  4. A three year freeze in Child Benefit – so thats a decrease in light of inflation.
  5. The tax on Beer now exceeds £1.00 per pint. Britain’s vibrant Pub and Brewing industries salute you – not.
  6. National Insurance up 1% for us, but not for Employers.
  7. Personal Tax allowance up by £50 per month in April 2012. With the rises in the cost of living over the last twelve months, let alone the next year, this will at best give you £5 extra a month in your pocket.
  8. Council Tax frozen or reduced in EVERY English Council – regardless of the real needs of those communities.
  9. A return of the Enterprise Zone. Thatchers great sticking-plaster of the 1980s, that made little long-term difference to the areas blighted by her recession of the early 1980s. Anyone off to see Liverpool Garden Festival?

For this budget to work, the UK economy has to grow by around three percent each year until at least 2015. This is quite a lot, if we look at our history over he last forty years. It could happen, as the worldwide economy is tenuously starting to revive. Yet massive public spending cuts and redundancies will cost the exchequer dear, and reduce income from taxation – it could lead us into another recession, rather than digging us out of one.

And there is another point. Gideon and his gofer Danny Alexander have done precious little to curb the outrageous levels of  speculation in The City, nor have they come up with the kind of regulation needed to prevent, or at least limit the kind of crash we saw in 2008.

Long term, our economy is seriously unbalanced – with finance far too prevalent, and industry seen as a poor relation. Yet if we look at Germany, a country that actually still makes things and sells them, their recession is ending rather quicker than ours. This Budget does nothing to address this imbalance, nor do the Coalition partners seek to do so. Unsurprising really, when you think of all the ex-City men in the Cabinet…

 

So thats why I urge you all to march on Saturday for an alternative to this ill-considered schoolboy essay masquerading as a Budget.

Big Society for who???

Ham Face, in  todays Observer defends his wonderful “Big Society” thingy ( as its known at Conservative Central Office), and it would be no surprise that I, in line with the majority of Her Majesties’ subjects, am pretty cynical about this. All new Governments come out with some kind of big idea, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Anyone remember “The Third Way”?

It is important to understand and refute just what this means, and just how much of this is cover for massive cuts.

First of all, lets look at the supposed bedrock of this idea, voluntary organisations. As an ex Sea Scout who grew up in the wonderful county of Suffolk, I am more than happy for the voluntary sector to do what it does well. All around this nation, every day of the week, hundreds of thousands of us spend our time serving our communities – providing support for the vulnerable, raising funds,running youth organisations, and conserving our common heritage. These people should be saluted and cherished for all they do, and no doubt many of us could do more. They do this for any number of reasons, some moral, or religious, or just because they believe in helping their fellows. I very much doubt however, that there will be any charity that will volunteer to run the 17 public toilets to be closed in Manchester City Centre, nor to clean up the filth consequently left behind.

In the present situation, combined with the Coalitions massive cuts in public services, the idea that the voluntary sector, already hard-pressed in hard times, can step in and fill the yawning gaps left by 500,000 workers made redundant is nothing short of criminal. Those of us in work have less time to spare, those of us without have time, but no resources. We should also look at the nature of some of these charities, and the way they are run, and by whom. We have seen in recent years a plethora of faith-based charities and self-help groups – often fundamentalist in nature. I am not talking about The Salvation Army and Christian Aid here, groups with a long history, who spend more time serving than preaching, rather churches such as United Christian Kingdom of God, implicated in Victoria Climbies death, or those of Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish origin that seek to further different agendas rather than simply a helping hand. A number of these groups have been implicated in extremism and religious intolerance of one kind or another, and, under the policies of successive Governments, have been given cover as “faith and community” groups.

A major plank of The big society, Goveys’ “free” Schools, has already led to the setting-up of Britains’ first creationist school. Do any of us really believe that this is a step forward? Public money given to an organisation that holds The Book of Genesis to be literal truth???

An already fractured education system hardly needs further atomisation along lines of religion, or in the case of Boris Johnsons ex-“Youth Deputy”, race…

True to his corporate roots, Ham Face, the scion of apparently hereditary Stockbrokers, also makes much of the vogue for “Corporate Responsibility” within the private sector, and how this can be harnessed for social good. At best, this means that people already inclined to volunteer have another opportunity to do so on projects that give a friendly face to BAE Systems, City firms, and multinationals. (Even Tobacco companies include this guff in their annual reports these days…)

Would it be too much to ask these “socially responsible” companies to pay their taxes in the UK, rather than Grand Cayman??? Has Gideon Whyborn settled HIS £1.6 million debt to the revenue??? After all, he is the Chancellor…

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to Health, Social Services and Education, it will not be the host of small local charities that will “pick up the slack”, rather it will be a mix of larger religious groups (Catholic Hospitals anyone? Will you miss the Right to Choose?) and inevitably the private sector – so yet again, you and I lose out, whilst Capita and Group Four increase their profits, whilst cutting services and working conditions, all funded from our taxes.

Having tapped into the strong vein of public voluntarism, this Government runs the risk of further destroying our common heritage and social solidarity. An interesting fact reproduced in a number of international survey ranging from Academic to the OECD, is that there is a correlation between the participation on voluntary work and the “Big State” that Cameron, Clegg and their followers routinely deride. It seems that in western nations with higher taxation, and more social democratic economies, more people volunteer for longer periods of time, not less. In more free market economies, the reverse is true.

To this end, I suggest that we all volunteer to go on a march, on 26th of March, organised by that huge voluntary organisation, The TUC, to oppose this Governments cuts package.

Think on, Cameroons.


An Open Letter To Honest Opponents.

In the past few months I have met many Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters in the blogosphere, and in the main, I have found them to be courteous and respectful of other opinons. Obviously I avoid blowhards like the plague, and with Lady P at my side I know better than to simply be rude for the hell of it (however much fun it would be).

I have also noticed that supporters and members of both parties are disgruntled to say the least with certain aspects of the Coalitions policies. In politics, it never does to attribute uniform beliefs to your enemies. In this spirit I ask my Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Yes To Fairer Votes Campaign, and Conservatives of a truly One Nation frame of mind to read on and ponder…

Is it honestly true to your principles to restrict the British people’s access to their land? To sell off ancient forests held in common, for the benefit of all?

Is it wise to fillet our Defences, as this administration is doing?

Is it just to erode the living standards of agricultural workers by abolishing their independent wages council?

Is it wise to allow one multinational company unheard of control over the media?

What patriotic Government allows such levels of tax evasion by the wealthy and large British corporations?

Is it good Conservatism, or Liberalism to erode our access to, and connection with Parliament, by destroying long cherished geographical boundaries and regional loyalties?

Is it fair play to instigate campaigning by smear and inference, as in the London Mayoral campaign?

Do you really believe that the upheaval this Government is instigating is in the true benefit of the NHS?

Does it really make sense to further atomise our national Education system, potentially excluding the talented poor for a generation?

Is it not simply politically motivated spite to add further needless anti-Trades Union legislation to the toughest Trades Union laws in Europe? Is this not something Disraeli would have baulked at?

How wise and patriotic can it be to seriously harm Britain’s universally respected voice to the World – The BBC World Service? Is it responsible? Is it truly what you want?

Are you entirely comfortable with a Government that is enacting legislation that was in neither of your parties’ manifestos, nor written into The Coalition Agreement?

I realise that we will not agree on everything, that is the nature of politics. But I also see that many of you oppose some, if not all of the measures listed above. I hope that we can all work together to help ameliorate the flood of ill-written, ill thought out legislation we see coming out of westminster and Whitehall.

For our nations’ sake I know that we will be able to work together at times…

SAVE OUR FORESTS!!!

The online petition against the Coalition Governments plans to sell off our forests has already reached 250,000 signatures!

I urge all readers to follow this link and do their bit…

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-forests

Back to the future? Back to the Past?

Ham – Face Cameron set out his NHS “reforms” yesterday, talking in his best statesmanese, and employing all those tricks he learnt as a PR for Carlton TV…

…Little Nicky hid under a rock, and no doubt Simon Hughes shed a little (possibly sincere) tear for the death of the dream of a true radical Liberal aim – universal Healthcare ( copyright Wm. Beveridge).

As I understand it, these changes, that nobody voted for last May, will put control in the hands of your GP. Thus shifting the beaurocracy still further down the line. And of course, GPs have the time to do this, don’t they? Just ask them, oh, hang on, nobody did…

This seems to be a wilful return to the (pre 1947) days of “Dr Finlays Casebook” – a further extension of the postcode lottery in healthcare, and the atomisation of our National Health service. A cynic would say that this will make it easier for private companies to take over.

A cynic would be right.

“We will cut waste, not the NHS” Shrieked the Tory posters last May. “Rubbish” cried both Labour and the Lib Dems. We were both right then, yet the poor, place-seeking Lib Dems are now going to be voting for a change that will lead to the end of universal healthcare, free for all, payed by taxation. Hope they can pay the insurance…


“Duchess of Cornwall poked with a stick”

Surely the most bizarre story that I have ever seen…

And whilst not in any way condoning a physical attack on the Royals, I just couldn’t suppress a giggle – thought every paper had become Private Eye for a moment. Or edited by Chris Morris.

Behind the headlines, the aftermath of last weeks’ disorder raised much more interesting long-term issues however:

The NUS leadership has been all but sidelined by the London Assembly of Students. For decades now, NUS politics has been dominated by young ambitious hacks carving out a career for themselves – in some ways it is the Oxford Union for the less posh. Students however have changed – with a massive increase in their numbers, traditional political methods seem remote .

Those protesting are from an age group least likely to vote. and since 2009, a group outnumbered by those reaching pensionable age by 2 to 1.

In the first six months of this administration, this group have seen their pensionable age  rise, unemployment increase and fees to Education treble.

The protests were organised in a very loose way, using new social media – interesting to note that our press support this in Iran, but over here are starting to call for online censorship to rival China. Aaron Porter needs to get with the programme.

The Police are using tactics honed over the last 15 years on Anti Globalisation/Climate Change protesters. Reminds me of how they Policed the Miners Strike, using methods copied from Northern Ireland.

Compare these to the methods used against, say, The Countryside Alliance, or the big Anti War Demos, where huge numbers and people from all ages/classes came out to play.

The only effective leadership on the ground was leading The Met. NUS stewards had no authority to stop large groups of protesters doing what they liked.

The unofficial Student Leaders, unlike previous Student Protests, posed no alternative to the Fees rise and cuts, simply a big “NO!”.

This is a heady mix, and no doubt the Trots and Anarchists (a very loose term) will be competing to provide leadership as I write, but much more importantly, the NUS and Labour need to pose a viable, reasonable alternative. Fair enough, Ed is wary of being caught with a policy he cannot deliver come 2015, but Labour Students at least need to have a plan and a policy that can attract all those so pissed off that duking it out with the coppers seems a good idea.

At the Further and Higher Levels, our Education system is a mess – reforms during John Majors government have left us with no real Polytechnical ( or indeed vocational) system for the over 18s.  The youngest Universities are often no more than self-serving factories, churning out meaningless qualifications of doubtful value, and serve the students very ill indeed.

The fees rise was an arbitrary measure, and need not have happened. Alternative methods of funding, such as more targeted higher tax bands (up to, say 50% for the very highest earners) would be more equitable, as would closing the loopholes that allow Sir Philip Green and his ilk to trouser huge amounts of cash for no tax.

University and College accounts should be publicly published and open to all – the pay that some Chancellors and Chief Execs receive would shame  Croesus. the Russell Group is in this respect an adjunct to the IOD.

Altogether, there is much more to these protests than meets the eye…

Panic on the streets of London…

Dundee, Dublin, Humberside to follow?

Not since The Poll Tax riots has central London seen such violent disorder – so the media tell us…

But what really happened yesterday? Were those scuffles, baton and horse charges, smashed windows etc all caused by the lunatic fringe of the British left? Were the Police entirely proportionate in their use of force and the charming tactic of kettling? Why were people so angry?

Other questions are being raised, notably about David Camerons’ performance at PMQs, and on the splits in Little Nicks’  little party between the Social Democrats and the Orange(book)men.

The Daily Mail is predictably in full flight, Sky News and the rest of the Murdoch empire following suit. the Cenotaph defaced by urine, a statue of Winston Churchill (not his grave) “desecrated” says BBC London – all in all, not a good day to defend our democratic right to protest, but  I think we need to look at the reasons behind both the clashes in particular and the protests in general.

URINE AND DESECRATION:

Firstly, let me just say that as someone who has worked in the West End for a decade, and getting the night bus from Trafalgar Square, on almost any given night Whitehall is covered in streams of urine, more so in December, as the party season takes hold.

The Police tactic of holding fairly large groups in one place for a long period & only letting a few out does mean that on a practical level, protesters have nowhere to go to pee. It will also lead to greater frustration within a group of protesters – fuelled with the righteousness of their cause, and faced with a hostile Police force, tensions will inevitably boil over. People were surrounded in one area with no chance to leave for many hours. From what I can gather from the media, protesters were refused medical aid, and repeatedly baton and horse charged throughout the afternoon.

Faced with nowhere to go, with tension and anger still at a high point, chaos reigned in small groups, with a few people attempting to rip up the flags on the Cenotaph. Note that I find this indefensible, and had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I think that a few extremists were able to egg on a larger (though still small) number of protesters. Faced with an impenetrable barrier of riot Police, those few took out their anger on buildings – The Treasury being a close at hand target, and one that may have caused a few smiles amongst some current and ex-ministers.

As to dear old Winnie, well it looks like no damage done, and I wonder why there has been no outrage at the vandalism in Stepney that has led to Clement Attlees statue being moved – a double standard????

AGITATORS – INSIDE AND OUTSIDE:

Of course the usual suspects were there in abundance; Socialist Worker, the myriad of grouplets that survive in London, Anarchists, and perhaps a few less politically motivated. of course these groups were set on confrontation with the Police, who they see as the enemy in all situations. however, these protests have been notable for the level of organisation that has come through non-traditional methods – social media playing a large part, and many of the organisers have had little or no experience of protest before. Over the course of the past four weeks, a new generation of students have been introduced not only to protests, but to Policing methods that have been used against anti Globalisation activists, Trades unionists, and many others. It changed attitudes on both sides radically.The Leadership of the NUS has been bypassed by many on each march, and sadly, The Labour Party has been absent at a National level, yes we voted against the Bill, but Ed refused to be drawn on reversing it.

Also bear in mind the argument that over 1 million peacefully marched against the Iraq war, and were ignored. (I was on that one, although I changed my mind.) This doesn’t make rioting right, but for some it would be a justification. Our politics is still broken and seen as disconnected from the majority of our people.

The Metropolitan Police leadership have been quick to put their spin on events, but i think we can all remember the briefings that claimed Jean Charles de Menenzes was a terrorist, that the Policeman who killed Mr Tomlinson is still  suspended on full pay, and not facing jail time. We residents of London also see the Police day after day signally not getting involved in basic issues of public order – to many in the force it is not “real” Policing anymore. Now a large demo on the other and, well thats “action”.

After the past few weeks, where the Police have been caught off guard ( how would the Tory HQ in an iconic building NOT be a target???), it seems that a fair few officers may have been looking forward to a showdown, which is what they got.

HRH, A BIT OF ROYAL VARIETY:

As the demonstrators were let out in dribs and drabs, some made their way along Oxford Street, many dispersing to go home. Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, riding in a stately Rolls Royce became a target for a tiny number of by now very angry young people. From film witnessed, one young man shouted “Off with their heads” – NOT the “baying crowd” depicted in The Daily Mail. The car was attacked by this small group, and once again the Metropolitan Police had to run to keep up with one of its basic functions – keeping The Queens Peace.

The couple were unharmed, and Camilla managed a light quip on the way home. They had become, for a small group, a symbol of this Governments policy of making the poor pay for the recession.

Nick Robinson seemed almost jubilant as his former Uni chums pulled off a slim majority for this Bill – could the BBC have a word about impartiality? Others seem to manage it, why not him?

No doubt Boris will say something hyperbolic in the hours to come, that rather seems to be his job – light relief and cuts.

Ham – Face Cameron will put on his “serious” face, and promise to root out the troublemakers – may I suggest he look no further than his Bullingdon Club chums, who like nothing better than breaking restaurant windows and harassing low-paid staff.

Poor Little Nicky will look anguished, pained even. He will use that quiet voice to once again state that his utter capitulation of the one principled policy that most people in Britain agreed with him on has really been the right choice. The “New politics” will use the unelected House of Lords to nod this shabby Bill through. Poor old Vince, his face looking even more sad…

Is it any wonder people got angry? Who is to blame? My money would not be those living in bedsits…

A proposal for imaginative protests – How to upset Nick and Dave…

The idea is simple. Every bit of junk mail you get, re-address to the Headquarters of the Liberal Democrats or The Conservative Party. Fill in every application form you receive in your papers and magazines with their address details…

Better still, pick your nearest Coalition MP and redirect your spam/junk mail to his/her constituency office.

Amongst the piles of guff will be the one letter they really need…

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