Monday online meeting: campaign for a ‘National Care, Support and Independent Living Service

 

 

 

 

 

End Social Care Disgrace’ online meeting this Monday 5 December 18:00 – 19:30

The group, ‘End Social Care Disgrace’ which has campaigning tirelessly for a ‘National Care, Support and Independent Living Service’, has also called a meeting this Monday 5 December 18:00 – 19:30

Register below to hear from Labour politicians, service users, sector workers, and family carers on the front line. Discuss how we can build a massive head of steam to radically transform Adult Social Care.

Speakers include: 

§  Margaret Greenwood – Labour MP for Wirral West

§  Lord Prem Sikka – Labour peer, Emeritus Professor, Sheffield Uni.

§  Rachael Tomlinson – Disability activist, DPAC and Unite Community

§  Don O’Neal – Author of ‘The lack of Care Act 2014’

§  Jo Walton – Full time family carer, Labour Carers Group

§  Alison Treacher – (tbc) Unite and Care and Support Workers Organise

§  Gordon Peters – Ex Director of Social Services, local campaigner

 

Register here: https://birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/2022/12/02/end-social-care-disgrace-online-meeting-this-monday-5-december-1800-1930/

 

 

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Does any reader disagree with Monbiot that ‘powerful governments have no intention of preventing climate breakdown’?

George Monbiot’s latest article asserts that heads of government have chosen to do nothing that has a realistic chance, in this contest of probabilities, of changing our trajectory. He continues (extracts; photographs and some links added):

They had a choice at the Cop27 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh of defending the habitable planet or appeasing their sponsors. They went with the sponsors . . .

“We know that the easiest way for a politician to secure power is to appease those who already possess it, those whose power transcends elections: the oil barons, the media barons, the corporations and financial markets. We know that this power appoints the worst possible people at the worst possible time . . .

“The first international summit that claimed to address the environmental crisis took place in 1972. A handful of powerful nations, including the UK and US, convened what their secret minutes called an “informal and confidential” body at that summit, whose purpose, the notes show, was to ensure poorer countries did not get what they wanted, and that no international standards would be agreed on pollution or environmental quality.

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

“They learned an important lesson there. You make the threats to your sponsors go away by nodding and smiling, saying the right things in public, then blocking effective measures behind closed doors.

“When they arrived at Cop27 this year, they had no intention even of paying the money they had promised to poorer nations to help them adapt – if such a thing is possible – to climate breakdown, let alone seeking to prevent that breakdown from happening.

“So here we are, after 50 years of engineered failure, with not one of the 40 markers of climate action on track to meet the targets governments have agreed. In the first nine months of this year, the seven biggest private sector oil companies made around $150bn in profits, yet governments continue to supplement this loot by granting oil and gas companies $64bn a year in public subsidies.

“There are no longer any feasible means of preventing more than 1.5C of global heating if new oil and gas fields are developed. Yet fossil-fuel companies, with the encouragement of the governments that either own or license them, are planning a major investment surge between 2023 and 2025. The biggest planned expansions, by a long way, are in the US.

“The soft facts – the vague and unsecured promises at Sharm el-Sheikh about curbing consumption – count for nothing against the hard facts of extending production.

“We no longer need to speculate about where this path might lead: we have stepped through the gates. The floods in Pakistan that displaced 33 million people and washed away 3 million acres of soil followed a crop-shrivelling heatwave. This is the whipsaw effect predicted in scientific papers: of moderate weather giving way to a violent cycle of extremes. It’s hard to see how the country will ever recover from the economic shocks of these disasters: as it starts to pick itself up, it’s likely to be knocked down by another one.

“China this year, though this was sparsely reported in the western media, suffered not only the greatest heatwave in its instrumental record, but the greatest heat anomaly ever recorded anywhere (‘affecting energy, water supplies and food production‘).

The bed of the Jialing river exposed in Chongqing, China

The Jialing river before the drought- joining the Yangtse river

“The devastating drought in the Horn of Africa, now in its fifth year, offers a glimpse of what “uninhabitable” may look like.”

We also remember the wildfires in the USA and Australia.

He ends: “The rich world’s governments arrived at the conference in Egypt saying “it’s now or never”. They left saying “how about never?”. We sail through every target and objective, red line and promised restraint towards a future in which the possibility of anyone’s existence starts to dwindle towards zero,” Then asks:  

“For how much longer will we sit and watch while our governments throw it all away?”

Article published in the Guardian 18th November 2022 and posied in CLIMATE BREAKDOWN

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Professor Sikka’s statistics show the grip of big money tightening over our government – how can it be weakened?

Professor of Accountancy, Prem Sikka. sees the government ‘dutifully rewriting the budget to appease financial elites’, commenting ‘None of this has brought prosperity or happiness to the masses’. The evidence of a broken economy and democracy all around us is presented. Here are just four of the seventeen statistics taken from his well-sourced article:

  • With underfunding of the National Health Service (NHS), some 7.1 million people are awaiting appointment for hospital treatment compared to 2.5 million in 2010 and 4.5 million in February 2020, just before the pandemic. Some 2.5 million are unable to work regularly because of chronic illness and mental health issues, with the largest increase amongst younger people aged 25-34.
  • Some 500,000 workers have dropped out of the labour market altogether due to poor health since the pandemic. The sick are expected to survive on Statutory Sick Pay of £99.35 per week. The average life expectancy is falling.
  • The naked alignment of the state with capital and moneyed interests has turned it into a killing machine. During the period 2012-2019, nearly 335,000 people died from government imposed austerity policies which eroded incomes and welfare services. Women have been disproportionately affected.
  • In 2021, some 117,000 people died while waiting for hospital appointments in England.  With chronic lack of NHS capacity, the death-toll will rise. The British Heart Foundation estimates that due to severe ambulance delays, inaccessible care and ever-growing waiting lists some 30,000 have died prematurely from heart diseases.

Sikka stresses that ‘the country is sinking’ – an opinion shared by many 

He describes these institutionalised inequalities, misery and state-sponsored deaths as being incompatible with any notion of democracy and humanity and ends by saying that ‘Who governs’ is a major question of our times.: “We can have democracy and public accountability or rampant corporate power concentrated in the hands of a few business executives, but not both”.

What can bring about change for the better? Each reader may have different answers – and we need to hear them all. This writer can only see three beneficial ways forward:

The first is localism: local/regional provision of local needs for food, housing and energy (local grids) instead of relying on multinational companies.

The second is local/regional government (see Devolution and the Constitution after Coronavirus: George Morran). It will be subject to the same ‘big money’ temptations as national government but the signs will be more visible and those who succumb will be more easily taken to task by those living around them.

The third is proportional representation, which, by replacing the current first-past-the post system, will more closely reflect the wishes of all the electors. Of the 43 countries most often considered to be within Europe, 40 use some form of proportional representation to elect their MPs.

England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland already used it) benefitted by the use of this system in EU elections, returning MEPs who reflected a wider range of beliefs and aspirations than have been admitted to its national parliament.

‘Business as usual’ is an option the 90% are finding less bearable day after day.

Prem Sikka is Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex and the University of Sheffield, a Labour member of the House of Lords, and Contributing Editor at Left Foot Forward.

 

 

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The Chagos scandal: small steps forward

Aerial view of the US military base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean

Three years before Mauritius gained independence from the UK in 1968, London severed the Chagos Islands from the rest of the country to lease the island of Diego Garcia to the US for a military base. Read on here. The UK then deported 2,000 Chagossians, who have waged a long legal battle to return. International legal judgments disobeyed by Britain are recorded here. Several steps have been taken to discourage the islanders’ return to their homeland – two are mentioned below.

In 2011, the New Scientist reported on the claim that the coral islands would be uninhabitable within decades because of rising sea levels due to climate change, commenting:

Several scientists have produced evidence that the islands are protected by one of the healthiest coral reef systems: “This has been a relatively stable physical environment, and that these low-lying coral islands should continue to be able to support human habitation, as they have done for much of the last 200 years.” [Global and Planetary Change].

A Marine Protected Area around Chagos was declared

On 1st April 2010, David Miliband MP, then foreign secretary, banned all fishing, the main source of sustenance and economic activity for the population if Chagos islanders were permitted to return. This decision was found to be incompatible with international law and in conflict with the potential resettlement of the Chagossian community and their potential rights. (See report published by a London University Human Rights Centre.

Recent developments

The government of the independent island nation of Mauritius chartered a boat to enable Chagossians to travel to the archipelago on February 2022. They were the first people to step foot on their isolated archipelago without a British military escort, and without seeking British authorisation (BBC News).

To BBC via satellite, Mauritius’s Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth confirmed that he had no intention of “embarrassing” the UK, but stated that Britain “has no rights or claim over the Chagos archipelago”.

The prime minister said the way Chagossians had been treated by the UK over decades and currently, “is clearly a crime against humanity”. “We’re on the side of justice, on the right side of the law, and it is the UK who is violating the law”.

India, said to be ‘playing hardball’ on a UK trade deal, has been closely involved in backroom negotiations.

Mauritius has been in close consultations with India at every stage and the UK and US unsuccessfully pressured New Delhi to help to dilute the 2019 UNGA resolution. Indian officials pointed out that Mauritius backing off from the resolution was out of the question, given the political reality in the island nation. Human Rights Watch adds, “The statement made no explicit guarantees about the participation of Chagossians in the negotiations or their rights to reparations, including whether their right to return would be ensured”.

A softening up process?

Following international pressure the Home Office announced in September that descendants of Chagos Islanders will soon be able to apply to become British citizens. The application process for the new British nationality route for people of Chagossian descent opens on 23 November 2022.

Ministers ‘intent on a tilt to the Indo-Pacific’ felt the British resistance to a handover was hampering the UK’s ability to build alliances in the region. Following October 2022 talks between then prime minister Liz Truss and Mauritian officials in New York in October, Mauritius-Hindi news reported that Ms Truss had opened negotiations with Mauritius over a handover of the Chagos Islands next year.

The foreign secretary James Cleverly said, in a November written ministerial statement, that the aim was to reach a settlement with Mauritius early next year, but the government’s determination to support the US military presence there makes it unlikely that the Chagossians’ right to return to their homeland will be honoured by this British government.

 

 

 

 

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England & Wales please note: cities across the United States are switching to fairer voting systems

Photograph by Adam Blank of Unsplash’.

Article by Peter Smart summarised below.

On the 11th November, Peter Smart, Lakeman Fellow. (below left) posted the news that cities across the United States have accepted proposals to introduce fairer voting systems.

In 2016 only 10 cities in America used the Alternative Vote, now over 50 American cities use AV and that number is growing. In the past two years, Congress and more than half of American states have considered legislation to introduce fairer voting.

The United States is one of the few countries that still use Westminster-style First Past the Post (FPTP) voting. Truer democracies use some form of proportional representation.

The Alternative Vote (or Ranked Choice Voting as it is known in the United States) has proved popular when judged on its own merits in America. AV, like FPTP, is still a ‘winner takes all system’ and is not proportional.

However, it does mean that voters aren’t punished for picking candidates who aren’t from the big two parties – something important when independent candidates are standing.

At the mid-term elections on the 8th of November Multnomah County (the largest county in the state of Oregon)Evanston (Illinois), Fort Collins (Colorado), Ojai (California) all voted yes to propositions to ditch the antiquated FPTP system and towards the fairer AV. The results of the Seattle proposition on AV are awaited; it can take quite some time to count up results in American elections. Additionally, voters in three cities: Corvallis (Oregon)Albany (California) and Palm Desert (California) all used AV for the first time in this November’s elections.

Not only have all these cities abandoned FPTP but the entire state of Nevada voted to flip to AV. As this is a constitutional amendment, it will have to be confirmed again in 2024 to take effect, but the momentum is clearly with AV and this vote is definitely a step in the right direction. Nevada will be joining Maine and Alaska as states that use the Alternative Vote for state and federal general elections.

Better still, the cities of Portland (Oregon) and Portland (Maine) have voted to introduce the Single Transferable Vote (or as the Americans call it, Proportional RCV). The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a proportional voting system which aims to produce a city council that reflects the way the electorate voted.

Most countries saddled with First Past the Post have groups of activists trying to scrap the system. In the US, Fairvote, the leading proportional representation organisation, is working to build momentum nationwide.

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is used in the UK to elect Scottish and Northern Irish local councils, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly. As the problems posed by First Past the Post are leading to the adoption of fairer voting systems across the US, the failing British political system could be rescued by STV.

Natalie Bennett (House of Lords) writes (FT) that we need “inspiration, leadership and practical proposals to change this broken, failed system — the undemocratic, dysfunctional constitution that has been arrived at by centuries of historical accident, the economic system built around servicing the tenth of the economy that is the London-focused financial sector while milking the remaining 90% of the real economy. Business-as-usual with less chaotic administration will not solve any of our myriad problems”.

 

 

 

 

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Economic growth, in the current political vision, is not a promise. It’s a threat: George Monbiot

George Monbiot (below right) said that as a wide range of academic studies, including a study of 10 European nations published last month and national statistics show, the connection between economic growth and general prosperity in rich nations broke down years ago.

  • Is our prosperity enhanced by increasing the volume of shit in our rivers and on our beaches? No. It may boost the profits of the water companies and the remuneration of their directors, very little of which – unlike the effluent they release – will trickle down into our lives.
  • Will a new roadbuilding programme enhance our lives? Not if, as new roads always do, it pushes congestion to the next bottleneck, while increasing noise, pollution and the destruction of landscapes.
  • One of the constraints on housebuilding which may be removed is the requirement that some homes are affordable.
  • Will we be happier if the regulations protecting workers and consumers are stripped away? No. We will find that our health, wealth and wellbeing decline, even as the companies exploiting us become richer. 

The term ‘growth’ is used to crush our aspirations for a better life. You want higher wages? Sorry, that means discouraging foreign investment and therefore restraining growth.

The “pro-growth” agenda is a transfer of power to the wealthiest people, among whom are the bosses of corporations headquartered abroad, ruthless foreign oligarchs and British plutocrats who channel their money through tax havens.

The economic anthropologist Jason Hickel points out that many countries with a much lower GDP per capita have longer life expectancies and better education than the United States. Because, rather than allowing the rich to capture the great majority of economic growth, countries such as South Korea, Portugal and Finland invest sensibly in public services. That’s not to say they spend more, but that their investments are aimed at general prosperity, rather than prosperity for a few.

https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/145989/economics/environmental-impact-of-economic-growth/

As Tejvan Pettinger points out in his blog, however, not all forms of economic growth cause damage to the environment. With rising real incomes, individuals have a greater ability to devote resources to protecting the environment and mitigate the harmful effects of pollution. Also, economic growth caused by improved technology can enable higher output with less pollution

 

 

 

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Media watch 123: Financial Times gives due credit to President Lula da Silva

Though the media focus has been on Jair Bolsonaro’s reluctance to concede and on Lula’s prison term, The Financial Times (FT) has not only reported on the good Lula did in office but also recorded that the charges were annulled by the Supreme Court. It cited The Intercept’s evidence (in leaked documents) of the conspiracy against Lula, bolstered by US government agencies.

Brazil’s poor and those who care about peace and the environment rejoice as Lula da Silva embarks on his third term as president

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won 50.9% of the vote versus 49.1 for Bolsonaro after a three-hour count. His victory was welcomed by several heads of state and US President Joe Biden said: “I send my congratulations to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election to be the next president of Brazil following free, fair, and credible elections.”

A former shoeshine boy and metalworker, born to tenant farmers in the north-east of Brazil, he spent his early years in a two-room shack with no electricity or running water before embarking with his mother and six siblings on a two-week journey south by truck in search of a better life.

When Lula ended his second term in 2010, with an approval rating of 87% and the economy growing more than 7% a year, then-US president Barack Obama described him as “the most popular politician on earth”.

The following account is based on FT extracts (links below)

An assistance network made Bolsa Família an efficient program, awarded, praised and recognized by several countries, including by institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF as an example of social inclusion.

During his two terms as president between 2003 and 2010, Brazil sharply reduced poverty through social welfare programmes such as Bolsa Familia — a cash transfer programme for the poorest – channelling the windfall profits from a commodity boom into social programmes during his 2003-10 presidencies, transforming the lives of millions of Brazilians.

In a July during an interview with the Financial Times at his campaign’s media hub he said was aware that if he reached the presidency of Brazil and his government didn’t work out, a worker would never again be able to think about becoming president.

During the pandemic, half an hour away from his campaign office, local activists launched a social enterprise hub that provides everything from vegetable growing classes in an allotment for women facing domestic violence to microcredit.

The Financial Times records that Brazil benefited from an economic boom during his presidency and he left office in 2010 with an approval rating above 80$.

His greatest strength as a candidate has been the memory of the rising prosperity during his time in office. “The poor were seen,” says Gilson Rodrigues, a community leader. “The Brazilian elite has a slave-owning mentality,” he says, referring to the criticism he received when his party formalised the employment of domestic workers. “You know what they said here in Brazil when the traffic was bad? That it’s a disgrace that Lula allowed poor people to buy cars.”

France 24 reports Brazil’s Supreme Court ruling that (now former) Judge Moro – who stood for the presidency in 2022 – was biased in Lula corruption trial (link leads to video) and collaborated with the prosecution.

Lula served almost two years in prison before his graft charges, in connection with a corruption scandal that rocked Brazil’s business and political establishment, were annulled by the Supreme Court.

He has always maintained that the investigations were a political witch-hunt and The Intercept received leaked documents providing startling evidence of the US government’s underhand interventions in the process.

Under Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, the economy plunged into a two-year recession. Extreme poverty jumped by more than a third last year to 14% according to FGV Social. The research centre said 36% of the population did not have enough money for food, based on a Gallup poll, in a country that is one of the world’s biggest agricultural exporters (but note largely soy, much on cleared rainforest, exported for cattle feed).

He intends to do away with a constitutional cap on public expenditure and insists that social spending is an investment, not a cost: “When poor people stop being very poor and become consumers of health, education and goods, the whole economy grows,”

Dismissing doubts about his commitment to fiscal responsibility he explains: “I learnt very young from my illiterate mother that I couldn’t spend more than I earned.”

At least 42,000 hectares (over 100,000 acres) of “direct” soy deforestation cleared with fire in Mato Grosso since 2020

Aides say Lula wants Brazil to take centre stage in the fight against global warming, with fresh commitments to preserving the Amazon rainforest and exporting renewable fuels (the latter is a questionable move). He has pledged to end illegal deforestation of the Amazon, following a surge in destruction of the earth’s largest rainforest under Bolsonaro. Read more here.

The Financial Times thinks that his foreign policy thinking will be more controversial in the west

Lula has suggested that Ukraine and NATO are partly responsible for the war with Russia, has defended Cuba’s one-party regime and wants good relations with China. Above all, he favours negotiation over confrontation:

“This may be unfashionable in today’s highly polarised world, but Lula remains one of the few global politicians to command respect from nations as diverse as the US, Russia, China and Germany. ‘If I win the elections and this war is still going on, you can be certain that I am going to talk to the Europeans, the Americans, the Chinese and the Russians,’ he told the FT. “Someone has to start talking about peace in this world.”

Yesterday’s FT editorial
sees major opportunities for Brazil in today’s fraught geoeconomic climate: “The country is rich in food, fuel and metals and has a flourishing renewable energy sector. It is located far from global conflict spots and has traditionally sought good relations with the US, China, Europe and Russia”.

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Rewards for failure 37:  government awards contracts to company whose software caused a miscarriage of justice, broken lives and financial ruin

As pressure mounts on Fujitsu to pay up for Horizon failures (Times), as management have apologised and ministers promised compensation, the contractor responsible is tight-lipped . . . and has had a bonus:  

From Hansard, the parliamentary record (October 24th):

Baroness Ludford (LD)

My Lords, the Government have awarded contracts to Fujitsu of over £3.5 billion since 2013, including nearly £500 million this year, of which £48 million was on the police national computer.

Considering that Fujitsu’s Horizon software was at the heart of the Post Office sub-postmaster scandal, why do the Government believe that Fujitsu software has the necessary integrity for the critical data in the PNC?

How is a business-as-usual approach on the award of contracts before the official Post Office inquiry concludes prudent?

Lastly, how does this government largesse give Fujitsu any incentive to contribute to the massive compensation cost for sub-postmasters, which is set to fall on the taxpayer?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)

I thank the noble Baroness for her questions. The police national computer has been hosted on Fujitsu mainframe technology for over 30 years, and existing Fujitsu-leased hardware technology would not have been viable to use beyond March 2022. It required urgent replacement, which is why Fujitsu was selected.

The market engagement exercise held in 2020 to review options to replace the Fujitsu hardware and support found no viable alternative solutions, and that is why Fujitsu received this contract—which, I should also stress, is making up the difference between now and when the new police national computer comes into operation.

I could go on, but there was basically no alternative.

Lord Polak (Con)

My Lords, to return to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, about Horizon, the words that come to my mind are: “scandalous”, “miscarriage of justice”, “broken lives”, “families financially ruined”—and yet Fujitsu has paid nothing. Talking has gone on long enough. I know there are legal cases, but should not the Government stop any contracts to Fujitsu? It is just morally wrong.

 

 

 

 

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‘Friend-shoring’: a new approach in which values, rather than just “everyday low prices” are more important – Canada’s deputy prime minister

Points made in an FT report by Rana Faroohar (right), author of Homecoming: The Path to Prosperity in a Post Global World, published this week, are summarised below.

She highlighted points made in a speech last week at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, by Canada’s deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland, who called for an end to the assumptions that free trade necessarily make countries free.

She called for a more clear-headed approach to global capitalism and diplomacy in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s support for Russia:

“Workers in our democracies have long understood that global trade without values-based rules to govern it made our people poorer and our countries more vulnerable. They have long known that it enriched the plutocrats, but not the people.”

Our system of neoliberal globalisation has created more wealth at a global scale over the past half-century than ever before. But there has also been huge growth in inequality within many countries. UNCTAD’s research study (cover left) shows that those who have benefited most from the past several decades of globalisation have been multinational companies and the Chinese state — or more particularly, the people running them.

Autocrats have successfully used trade and commerce as weapons in geopolitical conflicts

  • “With hindsight,” said Freeland, “it is clear that appointing Gerhard Schroeder to the Rosneft board was as essential an element in Putin’s war planning as any military exercise.”
  • Likewise, China restricted Norwegian exports of fish when the Nobel Prize was given to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.
  • Canadian exports of pork and canola were banned when Canada honoured an extradition treaty with the US and detained the CFO of Huawei.

She added, “And the west is certainly guilty of its own historical mercantilism and transactionalism”.

Ms Freeland (right) believes that we are heading towards a new approach in which values, rather than just “everyday low prices” become a more important consideration in economic policy decisions, asserting that “if you asked people on low incomes whether they’d rather have more cheap goods from Amazon or a job that would cover the costs of education, healthcare and housing (all of which have been rising at multiples of the core inflation rate for some time now), they’d pick the latter.

Creating those jobs is the opportunity of the new era”.

This should be open to countries that will play by the rules. It should also be green: the transition to clean technology is the classic example of a “productive bubble,” in which public support for a transformative technology that is then privatised by companies of all sizes (not just big entrenched monopolies) creates sustainable, shared growth.

Chrysia Freeland ended by laying out the possibilities for “friend-shoring”

Rana Faroohar commented,

“Friend-shoring will have its challenges. But I doubt they’ll be harder or riskier than counting on autocrats for energy and a single geopolitical contentious island, Taiwan, for most of the world’s semiconductors.

“Let the new era begin”.

 

 

 

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Authentic Labour records a coup that began in the late 1970s: Prem Sikka

Sarah Ditum reported in 2020 that when YouGov polled Labour members on their attitudes to party leaders of the last hundred years, the first and second places went to Corbyn and Miliband, third to the late John Smith.

After Keir Starmer failed to honour his undertaking to carry out the 2019 Labour manifesto and purged members who did not fall in line, many party members decided to resign. Since then there has been no evidence of a real concern within the remnants of the party for the 90% in lower income brackets.

Honourable exceptions – whether inside or outside the party – include Labour Lord Prem Sikka (below right)

He has just recorded the latest stage of the right-wing coup that began fifty-odd years ago with the Conservative governments of 1979-1997, when the Thatcher government introduced numerous anti-trade union laws to weaken workers’ rights.

In April this year he noted that – since the Second World War – military coups in the western world have been rare, but right-wing coups have attempted – with varying degrees of success – to restructure the post-war institutions that enabled the working classes to secure higher economic returns, social welfare and rights.

 Measures included:

  • the state’s take in the form of taxes, which has averaged around 32%-33% of the GDP since the 1970s,
  • a huge transfer of wealth from labour to capital,
  • real wage cuts,
  • the sale of publicly owned industries at knockdown prices,
  • erosion of worker rights
  • and of democracy and the dismantling of the welfare state – all secured by decades of social struggles.

Sikka presented other evidence

P&O Ferries sacked 800 employees without any warning or consultation and replaced them with cheaper staff. Its directors openly admit that they violated employment law, but face no retribution.

Video – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/03/24/po-boss-admits-mass-sackings-broke-law/

The poorest 10% pay 47.6% of their income in direct and indirect taxes, compared with 33.5% of the richest 10%.

The sick and disabled are confined to the margins of society with low sick pay and derisory benefits. Millions of pensioners live in poverty on a state pension that is around 50% of the minimum wage, and the lowest (as a fraction of the average wage) in the industrialised world.

  • The coup disdains political institutions. In 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson illegally prorogued parliament.
  • The coup engineered Brexit which failed to deliver the promised benefits. It mobilised people with promises of £350m of new funding in the NHS each week, and giving people the control of new politics.
  • Under the Health and Care Act 2022, the NHS’s main function will be to dole out contracts to private corporations.
  • The government portrays asylum seekers as the cause of low wages and housing crises and rescuing drowning refugees has been made a criminal offence under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which empowers the Home secretary to remove people’s citizenship, make them stateless and subject to permanent detention.
  • The Elections Bill brings the independent Electoral Commission under government control.
  • The government is clamping down on dissent. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill criminalises protests on the grounds that they are ‘too noisy’ and inconvenience others.

Sikka’s verdict: “The UK now has a government which funnels wealth to a select few, impoverishes the masses and attaches little weight to democracy or public accountability. It has neither delivered economic resilience, nor prosperity or happiness”.

 

 

 

 

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