Blog Archives

Credit card charges: the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

The whole unspun truth is given briefly in the FT: “a ban on charges for paying via credit or debit card comes into force across the EU from Saturday, making it unlawful for retailers to charge customers additional fees for paying on plastic”.

Though the whole truth is too tall an order in matters of diplomacy, the government wold have been well advised to emulate the FT’s delivery.

No longer confined to the mainstream media, adventures with the truth are mercilessly mocked on social media and more radical media:

See Steve Walker’s shot of the official Conservative Twitter site:

The Independent’s gentler account quotes British MEPs who criticised the Government for claiming responsibility for the move, “which comes as part of a broad range of new payment regulations based on an EU–wide directive that was spearheaded by left-wing politicians in the European Parliament”.

We expect a jaded public response to this ‘business as usual’ spin. No longer has financial or political dishonesty the power to surprise.

May the British public one day routinely hear the truth – or would that be electoral suicide?

 

 

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A progressive alliance with progressive policies

Christine Parkinson has drawn attention to an article in the Guardian, in which MPs Clive Lewis and Caroline Lucas  express a profound sense of frustration and dismay about the Conservative victories won by narrow margins in places such as St Ives, Richmond Park and Hastings. They pointed out that if every progressive voter had placed their X tactically, Jeremy Corbyn would now be prime minister with a majority of over 100.

Highlights from their article

The regressive alliance we see forming before our eyes between the Conservatives and the DUP can only be fully countered by a progressive alliance on the opposition benches and if we work together there is nothing progressives can’t achieve. The limits of the old politics are there for everyone to see – the limitlessness of the new we are just starting to explore.

More than 40 electoral alliances, in which people across parties cooperated on tickets including support for proportional representation and the common goal of preventing Conservative candidates winning, were pulled together quickly for the snap election. People from different parties worked together to ‘do politics differently’ and there was a sense that politics has become hopeful and positive again.

We shouldn’t forget the challenges we face:

  • markets that are too free,
  • a state that can be too remote,
  • a democracy that still leaves so many voices unheard
  • and change on a scale our people and our planet can’t cope with.

It is going to take a politics that is social, liberal and green to overcome these challenges. No single party or movement has all the answers. We are going to have to learn to cooperate as well as compete to build the society of which we dream. And we are going to have to recognise that the future is not a two-party system but one in which smaller parties grow – both in influence and in their electoral representation.

Colin Hines adds detail: also advocating a progressive alliance of Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid and the Greens he says that they will need to get their ‘policy ducks in a row’ to win it. He continues:“Firstly, these must provide hope, not just for the young, but for every community in the country.

“To do this Jeremy Corbyn must revisit and vigorously shake his people’s QE “money tree”. This could pay for real economic activity on the ground via decentralised infrastructure projects to make the nation’s 30 million buildings energy efficient, ensure a shift to localised renewable energy, and the building of local transport systems.

“Secondly, the divide between young and old must be bridged by policies fostering intergenerational solidarity. Older people with significant saving should be offered “housing bonds”, paying, say, 3% interest to help fund a massive council and affordable homes programme.Tuition fees would be scrapped, but so too must be the threat of having to lose a home to pay for care, or having to scrabble for means-tested benefits such as heating allowances.

“Financed by progressive and fairer wealth and income taxes, and a clampdown on tax dodging, this should have an election-winning appeal to the majority of grandparents, parents and their young relatives”.

 

 

 

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Media 56: PR rampant in Wales: ‘Tories on the rise’ (BBC), UKIP set to surge (Times). Wrong-footed by latest by-election result?

Yesterday Boris Johnson said the Conservatives are “on the rise” in Wales ahead of May’s assembly election. The Mayor of London spent Tuesday campaigning in Wales, visiting Newport, Cardiff and Brecon, Powys.

boris wales

The Times (aka the Stirrer) reported that UKIP will surge to election success in Wales as Labour risks losing its control of the nation’s assembly, according to a YouGov poll. Neil Hamilton predicted that his party would beat Plaid Cymru and hold the balance of power in Wales, with a breakthrough in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where they expect their first representatives to be elected.

Were they aware of the recent Caerphilly (Moriah Ward) result?

Labour         464         [55.7%; +8.6%]
Independent 196         [23.5%; +23.5%]
Independent   89         [10.7%; +10.7%]
UKIP             77          [9.2%; +9.2%]
Conservative   7          [0.8%; +0.8%]

Though a Conservative spokesman claimed that the party had “established an important bridgehead” by standing in a ward it has previously not contested, David Harse held the seat for Labour with 464 votes — an 8.6% swing to the party and more than 250 votes clear of the second-placed candidate.

luke jamesTory candidate Nigel Godfrey polled only seven votes in council election – 0.8% of the 833 votes cast at the by-election in Caerphilly’s Moriah ward on Thursday. The Tories’ performance was highlighted on social media and may not bode well for the party ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections. Steve Beauchampé drew our attention to this news in an article by Luke James (above, left), who sees this result as ‘a humiliating setback’ to the Conservatives’ Welsh election campaign.

We shall see.

Was fear the key?

In the Birmingham Press , Steve Beauchampé, who correctly predicted that the Tories would be the largest party in terms of seats and vote, comments on the results of the General Election 2015. The writer has made a pedestrian (3) summary of points made:

  • although (Ed: because?) a decent and honest guy, Ed Miliband has never convinced voters that he was Prime Ministerial material, whilst Labour was not trusted on the economy.
  • The Conservatives had their relentlessly vaunted ‘Long Term Economic Plan’ whilst Labour gave us Liam Byrne’s ‘I’m afraid there is no money’ piece of paper, probably the shortest suicide note in political history.
  • No party wins a UK General Election when both their leader and their economic competence persistently polls second in the court of public opinion, something that Miliband and Labour did for almost five years.
  • the Conservatives, having finished second in a large majority of Liberal Democrat seats in 2010, were always the most likely beneficiaries of the expected Lib Dem vote collapse.
  • it was clear that Labour would suffer heavy losses to the Scottish Nationalists – in a geographical area where the Conservatives themselves, quite literally, had almost nothing to lose.

The fear factor

A hung parliament still seemed likely though, possibly allowing Labour to try to form a government by assembling a left-leaning alliance. But . . . cleverly knitting together the public’s two main worries, Cameron’s claim that: “One wants to bankrupt Britain, the other wants to break up Britain” might just have been the most effective line spoken during the entire campaign, whilst their poster showing Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket was crude but effective.

Labour’s incessant lambasting of the SNP merely reinforced this narrative and with the minor gains and losses between Labour and the Conservatives largely cancelling each other out, and with the First Past The Post electoral system taking care of any threat from smaller parties – such as the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Greens – the Conservatives were all but assured of retaining power.

The travesty of First Past The Post: surely the most effective lock for perpetuating the Labour/Conservative hegemony anyone could devise:

UKIP polled almost 3.9m votes (12.6%).

The Green Party over 1.1m (3.8%), but each won just a single seat.

The Lib Dems (2.4m votes and 7.9%) remain under-represented with just eight seats, Labour, the Conservatives and (probably for the first time) the SNP are significantly overrepresented.

There seems little prospect of either an elected Second Chamber or the devolution of powers to English regions involving democratically accountable structures.

When we can’t even offer every MP a seat and table in the Commons chamber and adequate office space in which to carry out their duties what hope is there for more fundamental reform?

Only around 66% of those registered to vote actually did so, whilst millions more people aren’t even on the electoral register (Individual Voter Registration saw over 900,000 drop off in the year to December 2014 and far more could join them at the end of 2015).

The Conservatives attained absolute power on 36.1% of the vote and despite having few, if any, elected representatives in many of the largest conurbations. Such unjustified concentrations of power are also to be found under Labour rule; for instance the party controls all 96 seats on Manchester city council.

Yet instead of addressing these seismic failings in our democratic system, Britain is likely to spend much of the next five years becoming more isolationist. It is all very depressing.

Read Beauchampé’s Press article in full here.

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Did pollsters ignore the rural vote?

Farmers For Action (NI) send a message  for the new government

 

The Conservatives Owe UK Farmers & their Families

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Statement by William Taylor, Farmers For Action:

The election results in England and Wales quite clearly indicate that the pollsters ignored the rural vote by and large.

Scotland’s SNP vote was obviously a protest against traditional Labour and its past mismanagement of the economy. Therefore, it is clear that the Conservatives owe UK farmers and their families.

This debt can be paid by the Conservatives backing the majority of Northern Ireland’s farm organisations in the push for legislation on farm gate prices in Northern Ireland which would return 30,000 jobs (on average one professional job per farm) immediately in Northern Ireland, with four times that soon after plus apprenticeships.

This would put the Conservatives in a position to roll this out across the UK returning 220,000 jobs plus four times that soon after plus apprenticeships.

Now that the Westminster elections are over and we are heading towards next year’s local elections, FFA UK NI and all the other farm organisations supporting legislation on farm gate prices have work to do.

Farming organisations will work to gain the support of local parties and independents in the run up to next year’s NI elections. where FFA will be making it clear to rural voters who deserves their support and who does not.”

FFA (NI) 56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU

Tel. 028 703 43416 / 07909744624 Email taylor.w@btconnect.com

 

 

 

Banks’ failure, assisted by New Labour and Conservative thinking

Useful tweets: Paul Gosling: http://www.paulgosling.net/

cameron bank regulation

https://twitter.com/paulgosling1

Chamber of Shame’s revolving door: the interests of the already rich are served and media further compromised

Clearly at the service of the multinationals, especially arms manufacturers and United States/Israel/Gulf states – and not those whom they were elected to serve – the Conservative cabinet goes full steam ahead to consolidate these links:

From Abu Dhabi Airports to the UK Ministry of Defence

tony douglasAs the electorate sees cuts to basic services, the coalition government has decided to appoint Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, with most useful Middle East contacts, as the new chief executive of Defence Equipment and Support (DE & S) on Tuesday. The FT reports: “The new chief of Britain’s armaments programme is to be rewarded with a £285,000 salary and £250,000 performance-related annual bonus, making him the highest earner in Whitehall and the latest in a new line of senior business figures lured into the public sector with the promise of private sector levels of pay”.

Now to the BBC Trust: Sir Roger Carr, arms manufacturer, representing your average license fee payer?

sir roger carrInvestigative journalist Felicity Arbuthnot adds another breathtaking example: Roger Carr, the chairman of Europe’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems and Visiting Fellow of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, has just been appointed as Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust, ludicrously, “to represent license fee payers views”. The BBC is established under a Royal Charter and – under an agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – is to serve the public, inform, educate and entertain.

BBC impartiality further compromised?

BBCarms88The BBC Trust is its governing body, mandated to ensure that the BBC delivers that mission – and ‘speak peace’ according to the charter coat of arms.

But truth?

On a range of issues, grossly skewed information has led to floods of public protest and the official 2004 Hutton Inquiry investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, a biological warfare expert and former UN weapons inspector in Iraq challenged the BBC’s journalistic standards and its impartiality.

CAAT protests that BAE Systems has armed dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. It has presented a petition asking the BBC to cut its ties with Carr and the arms trade.

The Guardian’s gross omission

Disturbingly, the Guardian, still read by many thoughtful people, does not mention this affiliation, listing only Carr’s former appointments.

99%-3If any of the 99% vote for Conservatives in May, they will deserve all the ill-treatment they get – but would Labour, with previous New Labour incumbents, do much better in office?