The flood of compassionate conservatism flowing from the lips of the new PM – seemingly oblivious of her punitive past – is checked by Professor Danny Dorling, social geographer (Oxford), whose relevant experience is documented here.
After hearing Theresa May’s torrent of lavish promises of research into inequality, with the emphasis on race, he pointed out that the data has already been collected. Many political promises have then been made but not kept. He failed to mention his own role in collecting such data – see his stellar record here.
In 2013, when he became the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography (Oxford), he spoke about the increasing disparity between Britain’s richest 1% and the rest in his inaugural lecture:
“Income inequality has now reached a new maximum and, for the first time in a century, even those just below the richest 1% are beginning to suffer, to see their disposable income drop.”
Those who are being swayed by the PM’s rhetoric should just look at her actions in office which belied this humanitarian stance, published earlier on this site. Her record as Home Secretary has been well-documented but more relevant here is her parallel term as Minister for Women and Equality, when her edicts downgraded the provision for carers, children in need and vulnerable people. Her finest year? 2010, when she:
- suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.
- scrapped the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home.
- closed the previous Government’s “ContactPoint” database of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbiéchild abuse scandal and
- removed a clause from the Equality Act which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services.
Has her attitude on ‘socio-economic inequalities’ really been transformed? Is she now a truthful and humane person?
A quadruple ’whammy’? The 99% finance pomp and ceremony, underwrite nuclear pollution, bear the cuts and lose some ‘human rights’
Today a reader sent a copy of the Patients’ Association Weekly news which points out the current ‘crippling’ lack of community care. This means that patients who are ready to leave hospital, cannot be discharged. This is leading hospitals to cancel thousands of operations.
Evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) indicates that the UK now has the lowest number of beds per capita in Europe, with 11,000 attendances per consultant – the highest of any developed country.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) records a total of £4.6billion social care cuts in 2015, 31% of the social care budget. This has led to 466,000 fewer adults receiving social care than they did in 2009, during the height of the financial crisis. In 2016, funding was increased by £170m, though research suggests that maintaining 2015 levels of service would have required £1bn in additional funding.
NHS England’s Chief Executive, in July, requested that any extra health expenditure should be earmarked not for the NHS but for the social care budget.
Former justice minister Ken Clarke and former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC, warn the move to remove some human rights could undermine the rule of law and risks putting the UK into conflict with the European court.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to oppose the plans, something which could lead to a “complete standoff” between Westminster and Holyrood.
The plans are said to contravene various national agreements. The Sewel convention dictates that parliament cannot legislate for devolved matters without the consent of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘We’re all in this together’ – ‘in the best of all possible worlds’: ‘None so blind as those who won’t see’:
Meanwhile money can be found to finance pomp and ceremony, to underwrite the arms industry, to give financial support to nuclear pollution and to condone illegal emission levels in major cities causing hundreds of thousands to enter the country’s underfunded hospitals and then block beds because of its underfunded social care.
The Times yet again used a headline not substantiated by the article’s content, “Rail company accuses Corbyn of dishonesty” – they wish!
The actual words: “We have to take issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn’t able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn’t the case,” a Virgin spokesman said. The company has released CCTV stills showing Mr Corbyn finding a seat on the train, saying that it “clearly wasn’t the case” he could not find somewhere to sit. Though Mr Corbyn did not claim that there were no seats on the train, he said it was “ram-packed”.
The Labour leader’s spokesman responded: “When Jeremy boarded the train he was unable to find unreserved seats so he sat with other passengers in the corridor. Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.”
Other people on the train have come forward to say it was in fact very busy, at least at the start of the journey – see news here: https://twitter.com/jeremyforlabour
One passenger, Keren Harrison, posted a picture of herself on the train with Mr Corbyn and gave an account of events that contradicted the company’s version: “I was on said train and it was very busy!” He got a seat about 45 mins in when staff started shuffling people around!” She added in another tweet that the train was “chock-a”.
Private companies and the mainstream media in which they place expensive advertisements – and their political confederates seeking donations to party funds and non-exec appointments for family and friends – have a vested interest in discrediting Jeremy Corbyn, as many realise.
The Times, not heeding the words on the shield of its masthead (above), the Sun, and sundry rightwing sites including Guido Fawkes and Politics House asserted that Labour rebels are planning to set up a “party within a party” if Corbyn is confirmed as leader next month.
A spokesperson for the Co-operative Party issued a statement responding to these allegations about the Co-operative Party’s relationship with the Labour Party:
- “The Co-operative Party was created 99 years ago to champion the co-operative movement and that remains our mission today.
- We are not a vehicle to be used by one political faction or another to advance their own agenda.
- The Co-operative Party has worked with Labour under each of its leaders since 1927 and remains neutral on the current leadership contest within the Labour Party.
- The Co-operative Party NEC has had no discussions about changing the way the Party operates based on the outcome of the Labour Leadership contest.”
In so doing, the Co-operative Party – which has 25 Labour MPs currently serving on a joint ticket with the Co-op – distanced itself from rumours that it could be used as a “vehicle” for frustrated Labour centrists to provide a rival opposition in the aftermath of another Jeremy Corbyn victory in the leadership contest.
Media 64: ‘Railgate’
To read the whole text by Harry Tennison, 1st year Drama and Theatre Arts Student. Theatre critic. Librarian. Centre-Left. (@Harry_Tennison) go to http://www.redbrick.me/comment/politics/owen-smith-chance-next-labour-leader/
This thoughtful appraisal appeared in the Brummie aggregator, which gives busy people a rapid overview of city news and opinion with the option of following up articles in depth by using the links. Harry writes (emphasis added):
I wonder whether Smith would be preaching the same economic message as Corbyn if it were not for the clear rejection of business-as-usual from Labour members when electing Corbyn in the first instance. In the twenty policies Smith announced, at least five of them appear in Corbyn’s list of policies. Both men want to repeal the Trade Union Act. Both men want to ban zero hour contracts. Both men want enormous scales of public investment – £200 billion from Smith, £500 billion from Corbyn. The argument is that these policies are popular with Corbyn supporters, who make up the majority of Labour members. Smith believes that by shifting himself further left, he can try to out-Corbyn Corbyn. But when this section of the membership does not find fault with the current leadership, this tactic will fail at deposing Corbyn.
This is a criticism of Smith, but it would be a criticism of whoever put themselves forward as the challenger. Corbyn remains popular and is buoyed by his supporters within the membership, as well as his beliefs. It is only a year since his election, and he can argue that this has been a successful year in which Labour have won every by-election, and numerous mayoral contests.
These have, however, come in largely metropolitan areas which tend to have a large portion of Labour voters and Labour controlled councils. Equally, the wins in by-elections have come in areas where either Labour have possessed large majorities, or the incumbent Labour MP has died. A Labour loss – given the circumstances – would have been very untoward in each of these seats.
Smith and others can argue this shows no real victory for Labour; however, Corbyn’s supporters can argue that they did not suffer as badly as the Conservatives in the council elections – losing 18 seats to the Tories’ 48 – but is not losing as badly as the opposition really any sign of victory?
Whilst Corbyn clearly cannot currently lead the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the latest YouGov poll (4th August) places Labour 14 points behind the Conservatives, he has strictly speaking not failed yet. This is what causes his opponents problems. This is all – at least for the time being – conjecture, and given how unreliable pollsters have been of late, conjecture that many Labour members do not view with much importance.
Equally, the conflict arises between the desire to establish a true socialist party, and a party that can win an election. Owen Smith believes that the current plans under Corbyn’s leadership will lead Labour not to election success, but to substantial defeat. Supporters of the leadership claim that the social movement that Labour is undertaking is more important than winning an election.
As no supporter of Corbyn myself, I view this as one of the biggest questions of this argument, and the most defining in where my support lies. The Labour Party was created to ensure that the workers, the most vulnerable and those who needed support, had a voice in Parliament, to create social change via political means.
The current Labour leadership fails to address this: instead of targeting those whose minds need changing to ensure Labour can become strong again in parliament, they gather the converted and talk about how much they hate the Conservatives.
(Ed: If Harry opts to receive JC’s membership mailings he will see that this is very far from the truth)
This is no way for the Labour Party to function: whilst we are an ineffective opposition, we are abandoning those who need us.
We have left behind the families who have been brutally savaged by Tory cuts, the disabled who are being forced to work in jobs they cannot do, and the young people who are having their futures damaged.
This is unacceptable for any opposition, and so the Leader should resign since they are unable to hold the government to account.
(Ed: or the disloyal MPs who have placed the party in this position should respect the huge support for JC and his economic message and start to work together for the common good)
Unfortunately, Owen Smith cannot lead the Labour Party to this from this leadership election. Until the tumultuous polling comes to the very real consequence of large Labour losses, the pro-Corbyn camp will have the support of the membership. But if the hard left fails to succeed now, they will surely be forced to put their hands up and say ‘you know what, we can’t do it.’
The really interesting leadership election is not this one in 2016, but the one which will follow the next General Election, whenever that is called.
Harry says that supporters of the leadership claim the social movement being undertaken by Labour is more important than winning an election; so each person should ask, when listening to people on both sides of the Labour Party, if the common good or vested interest is paramount in their minds.
Media outlets with an eye to political and corporate patronage make no reference to our country’s role in helping our special friends to commit war crimes in Yemen, Libya and Syria.
Following news of death and destruction by airstrike in Yemen – the fourth killing, maiming and destruction in the country’s hospitals, the world media has presented this picture (below) Instead of making urgent demands for peace, they use it ruthlessly to place all blame on Assad and Putin.
Since March 2011, as part of the Middle East-destabilising Arab Spring, that infamous coalition-fomented drive for selective democracy and the weirdest form of freedom ever contemplated, Syria has been destabilised by an externally supported uprising against Assad. A government in exile was set up after the 2011 uprising and in 2013 it was invited to take up Syria’s seat at the Arab League. Its representatives then appealed – in vain – for NATO intervention.
Robert Neild, Emeritus Professor and Fellow, Trinity College Cambridge, describes Assad – previously a valued ally of Britain and USA – as an autocrat, like other Middle Eastern rulers, but one who did at least provide law and order, religious tolerance and considerable prosperity for his people before the revolt. This was also the verdict of many Iraqis on former leader Saddam Hussein.
Many worldwide now agree that interventions in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria have been disastrous for those countries, breeding a legacy of hatred because of the death and destruction visited on so many communities. Those in power truly shocked by the sight of the Alleppo survivor should insist all parties cease fire and cut support and supply lines to any who did not agree to work as long as it takes to find a diplomatic solution.
See the opinion of the President of Belarus – succinctly expressed and hard to counter – in a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45odEv_1DAY).
Those who remember resisting the poll tax distrust the rhetoric, belied as they look at past and present actions – a distrust shared by Prem Sikka and Holly Baxter who ironically opens:
“But it’s great news that Theresa May is our new Prime Minister, isn’t it? I for one felt really warm and fuzzy inside when she made her speech all about being the servant of working people, the protector of struggling young people, the defender of the employee against asset-stripping companies and big business meanies, and the champion of social mobility”.
Holly says that she completely forgot that, on 4 September 2013, Ms May voted against calling on the government to get more people into work, against introducing a compulsory jobs guarantee, against standing up for families in the private rental sector, against curbing payday lenders, and against banking reforms.
Evidence of the crippling unfairness of the post-recession world was wiped completely from her memory and of how Ms May has consistently voted to raise VAT since 2010 and voted against acting on soaring energy bills in 2013.
Tongue in cheek she adds that it must have been a mistake when this woman who expressed deep concern for young people’s housing plight voted:
- against building 100,000 affordable homes in 2013,
- and on 13 May 2014, not to allow estate agents to continue charging their fees to tenants instead of the person renting out the property.
And said, “You know what Theresa really believes in, though? “Doing something radical” about big business.
Cue Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting at Essex Business School’s Centre for Global Accountability, who points out that earlier this month, a report by the All Party Parliament Group on Tax accused the UK government of looking both ways on tax avoidance. However the action stops there and government takes little ‘effective taxation’. Read his article here.
Sikka points out that the resource-starved HMRC has the capacity to investigate only about 35 wealthy tax evaders a year. In February 2016, HMRC had 81 specialists for investigating transfer pricing arrangements, a key technique for shifting profits to offshore havens and avoiding UK taxes. An investigation into just one major company used up between 10 and 30 specialists, leaving little time for others.
Of course, some tax cases by HMRC and taxpayers are brought to the courts, but the UK lacks institutional structures for a swift conclusion. A complex tax case with possibility of appeals to the Supreme Court can drag on for a decade or more. By 2015, nearly 30,000 cases were awaiting to be heard. The lack of judicial capacity is unlikely to lead to any timely fines on peddlers of tax dodging schemes.
On occasions, courts have declared avoidance schemes marketed by big accounting firms to be unlawful. Despite these and other judgements no accountancy firm has ever been fined or disciplined by any professional body or government agency for providing unlawful schemes.
Professor Sikka ends by saying that the UK lacks political will and effective institutional structures; the world of tax enforcement is too close to big business; HMRC’s effectiveness is also compromised by its closeness to corporate interests its board is populated with individuals with links to big corporations, law and accountancy firms.
Calls for a progressive alliance are coming in. Today, a Green House alert included news that the case for cross-party working and why it could be a game-changer will be examined on 2-4 September at the University of Birmingham (Edgbaston campus) at the Green Party’s Autumn Conference, when Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, will be joined on the panel by Labour MP Lisa Nandy, former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Chris Bowers, Neil Lawson, Chair of Compass, and Rupert Read, Chair of the Green House think-tank.
Professor Paul Rogers has reflected on the shifting of the tectonic plates:
“Within the Labour Party, ward after ward is witnessing the impact of new membership but, more importantly, seeing a remarkable degree of anger at what the government has enacted since the election and the palpable lack of opposition by Labour in the midst of its protracted leadership campaign. Many Labour members (Ed: and many not in the party) are angry at:
- the intended review of NHS funding involving accelerated privatisation,
- the sell-off of housing-association stock,
- the constant blaming of the “feckless poor”
- and the renewed assault on labour rights.
At the same time, inheritance tax is reduced, bank bonuses are rising, tax avoidance is the order of the day, and the Financial Conduct Authority looks set to relax even its modest regulatory grip. Among these and many other indicators of a move to the right, no wonder the Tories’ claimed long-term aim of a “living wage” is treated with deep suspicion.
Journalist and documentary producer Peter Hitchens sees the need for a new approach as “both major parties have been taken over by the same cult, the Clinton-Blair fantasy that globalism, open borders and mass immigration will save the great nations of the West”.
He continues: “It hasn’t worked. In the USA it has failed so badly that the infuriated, scorned, impoverished voters of Middle America are on the point of electing a fake-conservative yahoo businessman as President”.
Many will agree with Hitchens’ reflection that – so far – we have been gentler with our complacent elite, perhaps too gentle. He sees the referendum majority for leaving the EU as a deep protest against many things and forecasts:
“If Mr Corbyn wins, our existing party system will begin to totter. The Labour Party must split between old-fashioned radicals like him, and complacent smoothies from the Blair age. And since (Blairite Labour MPs) have far more in common with Mrs May than with Mr Corbyn, there is only one direction they can take. They will have to snuggle up beside her absurdly misnamed Conservative Party.
“And so at last the British public will see clearly revealed the truth they have long avoided – that the two main parties are joined in an alliance against them. And they may grasp that their only response is to form an alliance against the two big parties. Impossible? Look how quickly this happened in Scotland”.
Armourers rejoice as a Times article today alleges that a leaked report by ‘the army’s warfare branch’ states Russian military can outgun British troops on the battlefield. This is thinly veiled bid to put money in the pockets of those manufacturing the items named: rocket launchers, air defence systems, heavily armoured army vehicles and electronic hacking systems – under the guise of levelling the playing field between Moscow and the West.
As Roger Boyes, the Berlin correspondent for The Times, wrote earlier: “One way of understanding war is to see it as capitalism with the gloves off: it may be hitting factories in Yemen but it’s securing jobs in the Midlands”.
He sees Whitehall proxy war underway, with charities and the parliamentary international development committee demanding that the government focus on the Yemeni victims of Saudi bombing as British munitions were crashing down on markets, mosques and medical centres.
More than £2.8 billion of British arms orders have been authorised for delivery to Saudi Arabia since bombing began 17 months ago
Saudi Arabia and 13 other wealthy Arab states have been bombarding one of their poorest neighbours to stop the Yemenis from becoming an ally of Iran. In doing so, Boyes points out, this Riyadh-led coalition is fuelling an arms bonanza in Britain; it may be hitting factories in Yemen but it’s securing jobs in the Midlands.
He thinks that the appointment of the ‘tin-hatted Realpolitiker Liam Fox as international trade supremo, the erstwhile co-founder of an outfit called Atlantic Bridge, which networked furiously with neo-conservatives in the United States’ bodes ill.
Counterterrorism and cyber-defence: a gilded business opportunity
Boyes anticipates that Britain’s ‘new global positioning’ will involve attempts to deepen co-ordination with the US, twinning trade talks with the US with a new transatlantic security pact.
Counterterrorism and cyber-defence are being talked up too, not just to shield western lives and interests but as a gilded business opportunity. The post-Brexit foreign policy taking shape is about projecting strength but also about merchandising it.
He reflects that the defence sector is by definition global; “it spots openings, it creates jobs at home. What’s not to like? It will be at the spearhead of the new May-ian civilisation. The place to see and be seen for political fast-laners? The Farnborough air show and its array of precision weaponry made in Britain”.
The (Cameron) government has been pressed for answers to British charities and parliamentary international development committees. The first written responses from the Foreign Office (FCO) suggested Britain was looking into whether the Saudis were violating humanitarian law but these responses had to be corrected: “We encourage the Saudis to conduct their own investigations to understand whether the equipment we sell has any participation in that and indeed whether the breaches are by the Houthis or by the Saudi Arabians.”
Saudi Arabia is the world’s third-largest defence spender, our largest purchaser of arms. Are we going to be the ones that say Saudi pilots are cross-eyed? Or that our precision weapons are fatally imprecise?
The report from the Saudi-led coalition is just in. Yes, World Food Programme trucks were hit — but that’s because they were not properly marked.
The hospital that was hit by shrapnel? That was down to the Houthi rebels who had positioned an arms dump 1,300 metres away.
Boyes continues: “Do we surrender all nuanced diplomacy in the name of a trade-first foreign policy? Are human rights issues now doomed if they risk interfering with major commercial relationships? I fear so. Our trading future hinges more than ever before on unpalatable governments: on the Egypt of President Sisi, say, or the Turkey of President Erdogan. Our public criticism of these countries, one can safely bet, will become muffled”. He ends:
Great is truth, says Aldous Huxley in Brave New World, but still greater is silence about truth.