Blog Archives

Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to “drive big money out of democracy”

In Bolton on Sunday (18.8.19) Mr Corbyn announced a new policy to ban donations or loans to parties from non-doms and those not registered for tax in Britain. He said:

“People are right to feel that politics doesn’t work for them. It doesn’t. Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party are captured by big donors, who are corrupting democracy. If you have the money you can get access to ministers. Look at the fracking industry. But if you wish to protest against the frackers because it will damage the environment, you can’t get a hearing”.

Lamiat Sabin (right) reports that Cabinet Office shadow minister Jon Trickett is working on a comprehensive plan to stop big money “buying up our democracy” before outlining further plans in the autumn and that Mr Corbyn revealed details of donations to PM Boris Johnson – nearly a million pounds – from hedge funds and bankers.

In all: £953,056.47 came from hedge funds and bankers in donations and income over the last 15 years, (Labour’s analysis of Electoral Commission data and register of members’ interests entries) and contributions of up £730,000 to him or Conservative Associations in his Henley and Uxbridge seats. Some detail:

  • speeches to banks in Europe and the US: £233,056;
  • £100,000 received in June from Ipex Capital chairman Jonathan Moynihan, who also chaired the Vote Leave finance committee;
  • £10,000 in June from hedge fund manager Robin Crispin Odey, who is short-selling the sterling in expectation of a slide in the value of the pound in the event of Mr Johnson’s no-deal Brexit — according to Labour;
  • Johnson flown to New York and paid £94,507.85 for a two-hour speech at the multibillion-dollar hedge fund company Golden Tree Asset Management and
  • £88,000 from hedge fund boss Johan Christofferson from direct donations or contributions to Uxbridge Conservative Association.

He said: “We have to stop the influx of big money into politics. Politics should work for the millions, not the millionaires. Labour is the party of the many, not the few and we do things very differently. We are funded by workers through their trade unions and small donations, averaging just £22 in the last general election. That’s why we will be able to drive big money out of our democracy.”

 

 

 

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Media 79: mainstream media are not reporting Barclay’s announcement on Third Energy fracking project

Fracking: Five pages were searched and all witnessed to publicity from campaigning groups – a snapshot of the first page may be seen below.

Not ‘commercially viable’? Fracking: environmentally, socially and financially a bad investment

Third Energy, a Barclays subsidiary, which had a licence to frack just south of the North York Moors national park has “not become a profitable investment”. This is due to local opposition, which delays companies’ progress, according to Barclay’s chairman John McFarlane, speaking at the bank’s annual general meeting.

Barclays’ has now announced that it will sell its stake in fracking company Third Energy “in due course”.

Steve Mason of local campaign group Frack Free Ryedale said in a press release: “Clearly fracking is a bad investment environmentally, socially and financially. Where is the long term future of this industry? Why would you put money into an industry that is increasingly rejected by communities and could get banned at anytime?”

 

 

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Secret State 15: Why did BBC helicopter footage of flooding fail to show the threatened Cumbrian nuclear installations?

Secret State 1 drew attention to a 2011 report in the Guardian showing how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with multinationals EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse, to try to ensure that the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK.

Three years ago DEFRA reported on the nuclear sites which are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion – see Rob Edwards in the Guardian – but politicians are not facing the risks. Today’s Drigg flood alert:

env header nuclear 3 drigg flood notice

Last year, the Guardian reported that in internal Environment Agency document, suggests that it was a mistake to position the Drigg radioactive waste site close to the Cumbrian coast because of the risk of flooding. In 2013 Drigg Railway station was closed due to the flooding and the area was also affected in 2014.

Ian Parker, the Environment Agency’s group manager in Cumbria said, after detailed technical examinations: ‘It’s highly probable the coast will erode and the waste (at Drigg) will be disrupted.’

nuclear marianne kirkbyMarianne Birkby who lives in the area, has been questioning the Environment Agency and the Department of Energy and Climate Change via the Freedom of Information facility about the condition of nuclear installations in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Earlier this month, she reports that the BBC helicopter relaying images of the devastation avoided showing areas in which nuclear installations are located: Sellafield, Drigg, Lillyhall and the proposed new nuclear plant on the river Ehen floodplain, Moorside.

In her blog she asks:” Why the journalistic omission?  Why are there no questions being asked about the breaching of Cumbria’s growing number of uncontainable nuclear installations which already leach “a controlled release of radioactivity” into groundwaters, marine holding tanks and such like?”

Answer: most mainstream media, including the BBC, depend on corporate or political favour for survival and become, to varying degrees, servants of the state.

nuclear Drigg beach main

Drigg Coast (above) is a special marine protected area of conservation – ideal for housing radioactive waste?

Government websites record that it has extensive sand dunes, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflats and sandflats and estuaries. The dune wetlands support other SSSI notified features including an amphibian assemblage with great crested newt, natterjack toad and dragonfly assemblage. They also provide an important environment for reptiles, breeding birds and invertebrates. Its politically-backed corporate neighbour – Drigg radioactive waste disposal site – may be seen below:

nuclear 2 drigg repository

Successive governments have also promoted risky and polluting nuclear and waste disposal industries, encouraging mass medication of the water supply. The current administration has permitted the latest abuse, fracking, and looks on supportively as the corporate drive to use the green belt for unnecessary ‘aspirational’ housing is underway. Approval for GM crops, though constrained by EU legislation, is another item on their agenda.

In 2016, will the public continue to tolerate politically backed corporate pollution – a threat to human and environmental health?

Gordon Brown: the Labour Party needs a leader who is radical, credible and electable, someone who gives hope – Jeremy Corbyn

Under Corbyn the haves will have a little less and the have nots will have a little hope writes author Steve Beauchampé, in the Birmingham Press article summarised below.

He voices the thoughts of so many: “I did not vote for Labour in the 2015 General Election. I have not voted for the party since before Tony Blair and his New Labour ideologues ascended to power in the mid-1990s. But should Jeremy Corbyn win the current leadership contest and lead the party into the 2020 General Election, it is quite possible that I will give Labour my vote”.

This is not because Corbyn is a conviction politician (rather than a politician who should be convicted, a description applicable to several of his critics)

Again, voicing the reasoning of so many, Steve will ‘quite possibly’ give his vote because he is “in broad agreement with many of his policies and am sympathetic to the kind of society that he aims to create”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s overarching vision involves the creation of a form of social democracy that appears not dissimilar to that championed by the SNP:

“The society Corbyn envisages differs vastly to that produced by the ultra free market economy so loved by George Osborne and many luminaries of the New Labour era, an always and ever open for business society where everything has its price, but nothing is valued, money is power and the vulnerable are scorned”.

But to portray Corbyn as anti-business is incorrect

“Although he is committed to policies designed to narrow Britain’s increasing wealth gap, and to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are not scapegoated for the results of a banking crisis and subsequent recession for which they were not responsible, he is supportive of those businesses who behave responsibly to their employees, customers and the environment whilst also being cognisant of their impact upon wider society”.

Steve comments that in most western democracies (Ed: especially Scandinavian) most proposals in Corbyn’s programme would be regarded as routine social democracy. Only in the context of a political centre ground that has travelled inexorably to the right for much of the last 35 years, and particularly since 2010, are they viewed as extreme.

He adds several paragraphs about Corbyn proposals, listed here:

  • a high tax economy for the wealthy,
  • a low tax economy for the poor,
  • increased public spending,
  • re-nationalisation of the railways (by not renewing private sector franchises),
  • nationalisation of private utilities in the energy sector,
  • removal of all elements of privatisation from the NHS,
  • bringing free schools and academies under effective local authority control
  • re-introducing rent controls to reduce the amount the state pays to private landlords,
  • strengthening those democratically accountable local institutions laid waste, first by New Labour, and then by Osborne’s austerity mantra,
  • improved and more sympathetic working conditions and practices,
  • rebalancing the economy away from a reliance on financial services to the manufacturing sector,
  • tightening banking regulations (Osborne intends relaxing them further),
  • re-introducing a 50% rate of income tax,
  • raising corporation tax (currently at a historically low level) by 0.5%, as a means of paying for the abolition of tuition fees
  • and creating an investment bank to stimulate investment and growth.

There’s much more – the scrapping of Trident, Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, a substantial increase in the number of ‘affordable’ homes being built (at the expense of ones property speculators can afford), including those by local authorities, opposition to fracking and the creation of an elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords.

Corbyn’s agenda for devolution includes a loosening of Treasury controls over Local Enterprise Partnerships, a re-balancing of transport policy away from the South East and opposition to the imposition of metro-Mayors without approval via a local referendum.

A raft of measures designed to reverse the Conservative’s unrelenting discrimination against the economic and social rights of under-25s

Corbyn has stated that apprentices would be paid the minimum wage, young people would no longer be denied housing benefit simply because they are young and would no longer need fear the debt laden future after graduation. He continues:

“This broad sweep of policies gives lie to the myth that a Jeremy Corbyn-led administration offers nothing more than a return to the politics of the 1980s, that he would make Labour the party of protest, permanently in opposition. On the contrary, many of his ideas offer forward thinking answers to contemporary issues. For sure he proposes to finally right certain ideologically driven decisions that were taken under Thatcher and Blair, but so he should, these were wrong then and are still wrong today”.

Moving away from the New Labour era, an always and ever open for business society where everything has its price, but nothing is valued, money is power and the vulnerable are scorned: “As former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said, the Labour Party needs a leader who is radical, credible and electable, someone who gives hope. That would be Jeremy Corbyn then”.

Read the whole article here: http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/08/anyone-but-the-other-three/

Stressed workers call for a rebalanced economy in a ‘People’s Prosperity Manifesto’

FFA co-ordinator William Taylor pictured above with Belfast shoppers

FFA co-ordinator William Taylor pictured above with Belfast shoppers

The Farmers Journal reports that, at the end of April, Farmers For Action (FFA) were seeking public support for their ‘People’s Prosperity Manifesto’, launched in front of Belfast City Hall, which calls on the public to vote for candidates who support farm gate pricing legislation, less red tape within the public sector and reform of education, health care and the EU.

William Taylor, Farmers for Action (NI) sent a copy of the People’s Prosperity Manifesto and writes:

“It has become clear that farmers at the coal face who are not getting properly paid for their produce have a lot in common with the stresses of teachers, health workers etc. In short, it’s time for a re-balancing the economy and a sort-out of top civil servants. We see the People’s Prosperity Manifesto as the missing link in democracy.

“We launched the manifesto in Belfast on Tuesday in front of the City Hall and found a huge thirst from people for something like this to turn on the politicians and say here’s what we actually want!”

Highlights follow:

 

UK ELECTION 7TH MAY 2015

ffa manifesto

The People’s Prosperity

Manifesto

Voters Check List 2015

This is your chance to

Vote traditional or Vote for Countrywide Prosperity

The people of the UK’s Manifesto is your blueprint to securing a guaranteed prosperous UK and re-balancing of the economy by tactically voting, using a tick box exercise to choose your local Westminster MP, who must be capable of following and delivering your agenda below and guarantee to influence Westminster and commit their Party / Independent position as follows [highlights only]

Food Security (UK barely 60%) delivered as follows: legislation on farm gate prices giving farming families an income safety net of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked with flexible supply control across the staples, thereby, creating UK prosperity the President Roosevelt New Deal way. This will create 250,000 quality jobs overnight and then 1million + quality jobs across the UK soon after from John O’Groats to Lands End, town and country alike, thus helping to secure food security and exports. A firm commitment is needed from your would-be MP that their Party/Independent will immediately introduce legislation on farm gate prices as UK prosperity depends on it and the new government must insist that all government procurement of food must be regional, national or nearest supply and put an end to the vast majority of the unnecessary money-grabbing wasteful quangos!

National Security to be maintained at a minimum of 2% GDP as is our NATO obligation – we live in dangerous times and therefore must ensure food security and national security.

Health Service: the new government must deliver a Health Service free of expensive red tape properly staffed and financed with Doctors, Matrons, Sisters, Nurses, paramedics, midwifery and auxiliary health workers, sufficient beds and equipment with rural hospitals kept open, alongside a root and branch majority cull of self-promoting over-paid non-technical top and middle management. Your MP to be selected must commit themselves and their Party/Independent to the above in Westminster and UK wide and return the Health Service to commonsense technically qualified management that listens to the people at the coal face. Finally hospital car park charges to be removed immediately after the election!

Education: the new Government must deliver a modern education system with adequate teachers/lecturers free of expensive red tape with healthy cookery skills, apprenticeships and University entrants catered for, to prepare young people properly for a working life and family life ahead, plus an end to school closures unless replaced by new, followed by a root and branch majority cull of self-promoting over paid, non-technical top and middle management. Your MP to be selected must commit themselves and their Party/Independent to the above in Westminster and UK wide and return education to commonsense technically qualified management that listens to the people at the coalface!

Environment: the new government must deliver an environmental policy of clean air, clean water, water is the UK’s strength and most precious resource, with only 2% of the world’s water fresh water and only 1% of that available; countryside and towns free of pollution pursuing the new and multiple sources of the very successful renewable energy now available and improving daily. 100% recycling at every opportunity. Your selected MP must commit themselves and their UK Party/Independent if elected to immediately block a proposed 20 year UK pillage of fossil fuels through unconventional oil and gas development, including fracking in Northern Ireland and across GB as the consequences would be irreversible for our beautiful green and pleasant land including water quality.

Business – many of the world’s large corporate businesses are already here in the UK and are trading, more will come due to the forthcoming reduction in corporation tax in Northern Ireland, however, the majority of corporates operating across the UK currently ignore their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligation as follows, CSR in short means they must not abuse financially any sole trader or small corporate businesses smaller than themselves. The new Government must legislate on certain parts of CSR to become involuntary across the UK to achieve fairness in rural UK and fairness in towns and cities. Furthermore, a law must be passed insisting that if these corporates are going to trade across the UK then they must have local telephone numbers answered by local people and no answering machines permitted. Your MP to be selected must commit to promoting the above in Westminster and commit to implementing the above legislation for the UK including banks.

Government: Successive Westminster Governments over the last two decades have progressively and still are capitulating to the greed of banks, large corporates and a top layer of management civil servants in agriculture, health, education etc totally ignoring the people at the coalface. Government sectors are run by an out of control, out of touch top and middle layer of self promoting civil servants, the majority now with no technical ability and many of them paid more than the Prime Minister. These people are living high off the hog and making everyone’s life a misery by creating self-promoting costly red tape and thus leaving services short of money and staff. The MP of your choice must insist that they and their Party/Independent if elected will see to it that these top civil servants are rooted out, trimmed and replaced with people with technical ability and commonsense as required. During the recent 4 years of civil servants pay freeze it was no accident that the cost of civil servants pay rose year on year by the top UK civil servant layer self-promoting themselves, in many cases under the guise of, e.g. closing a local school and merging it with an already larger one, to allow them to claim a higher pay scale due to an ‘increased work load’.

European Union: 50% of what goes on at the EU HQ in Brussels is very commendable e.g. Human Rights across all EU28 member states; peace kept since WWII across the member states, borders coming down to both trade across the EU and relatively free movement of people. The bad 50% – we have the once a month pilgrimage to Strasbourg by virtually everyone working in the EU Brussels offices moving to Strasbourg to complete their week’s work, wasting €200 million annually. We have the out of control top civil servants in Brussels creating expensive red tape to strangle all member states in order to justify their promotion-oriented existence. Again these top civil servants need culled and replaced with people with technical ability and commonsense. Remove all lowland and arable area subsidies to EU farmers, saving well over €100 billion in the life of the current CAP alone; instead give EU farmers legislation on farm gate prices stating that they have to be paid a minimum of the cost of production plus a margin inflation linked alongside flexible supply control across the staples to provide them with a financial safety net, and forcing the large corporates to lower their profits, returning your countryside to the well tried and tested family farming success story as opposed to aiding and abetting factory farming. The EU must implement an original Isle of Man policy of using all the produce available in any region first and foremost before imports are considered and those imports should be the nearest source, hugely against the corporates financial wishes.

Using the People’s Manifesto will give you the power of selection – have your say, tell your friends about the Voters Checklist and your vote will count!

 

Readers who want the full manifesto with the checklists, to present to potential MPs, click on https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/documents-with-no-hyperlink/the-peoples-prosperity-manifesto

 

England’s far less green and pleasant land

oil gas discovery 4.15

Proposed fracking, mobile nuclear reactors and now drilling in the South: read more about the latter here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32229203

“There could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil onshore beneath the South of England, says exploration firm UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG)”.

Combine opposition to such developments?

“Jihadis belong to an elite that feels as secure in its status as Eton”

jenni russellSo wrote journalist Jenni Russell, a former BBC World Tonight editor.

Her website notes a Spectator view that she has been a key figure in the New Establishment, due to her friendship with Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former director of strategy, and Ed Miliband. She believes that:

If pupils in the Muslim community, neglected black council-estate children, white working class in sink comprehensives, and Roma in Sheffield or Glasgow aren’t to be held back by the barriers of discomfort, distaste and prejudice: they must be taught the principles, beliefs and manners of the employing classes”.

Competing for power over the underprivileged young: her strategy, British values . . .

But are the values, principles, beliefs and manners of most of the ‘employing classesso admirable?

They permit collusion with the profitable spread of tawdry ‘aspirational’ housing but neglect of heritage buildings, the establishment of incinerators, fracking plants, GM technology, HS2 and nuclear power stations polluting the countryside, the sale of British-made weapons to oppressive regimes and terrorists – and the execution of civilians by drone strike.

 

Will shale gas undermine progress on tackling climate change?

SGR

In 2011, mechanical engineer Martin Quick wrote an article reviewing one aspect of the shale gas issue – fugitive gas emissions from fracking. It was published in the SGR journal and its findings are consistent with later studies.

He critically examined the rapidly expanding shale gas industry, in particular its claimed role in helping to reduce carbon emissions, noting that that shale gas has its downside, not least the significant levels of methane leakage that occur during extraction. This could critically undermine the claim that it is a low-carbon fuel.

While the problem of local water pollution has received a lot of attention, Quick focusses on methane leakage into the atmosphere. The nature of the extraction process means that it is difficult to prevent such leakage, so there could be serious implications for climate change:

“Methane has a global warming potential (GWP) of about 25 times that of CO2, assessed on the basis of the cumulative effect on the climate system over a 100-year timeframe.1 CO2 stays in the atmosphere 2 throughout this timescale, but methane has a much shorter ‘life’ – thus its warming effect is much greater in the short term than that of CO2.

“Methane also leaks from conventional gas and coal extraction and there is considerable uncertainly associated with estimates of all methane leakages. Robert Howarth and colleagues at Cornell University2 have compiled ranges for the percentage of gas leaking into the atmosphere through extraction, transport and distribution. These are 3.6%—7.9% for shale gas and 1.7%— 6% for conventional gas.

“Assuming that, in the longer term, best practice measures minimise gas escapes, and taking Howarth’s lower values in assessing climate change implications, methane leakage from shale gas production is about twice that from conventional gas. We can use these figures to compare the total greenhouse gas emissions (adjusting for different GWPs) for shale gas, conventional gas and coal.3 This calculation reveals that the total greenhouse gas emissions of shale gas are about 70% of that of coal, compared with the figure of 50% generally claimed for conventional gas.4 ”

An interesting passage on the role of carbon capture and storage follows – go to the article here: http://www.sgr.org.uk/sites/sgr.org.uk/files/SGRNL40_shalegas.pdf

Implications for future energy policy

“The indications are that huge quantities of shale gas could be available globally. However, analysis suggests that methane leakage from shale gas between extraction and combustion is significant enough almost to negate the claimed advantages of shale gas using Carbon Capture and Storage and could even make the climate change impact of shale gas comparable with that of coal.

“The oil and gas industry is currently lobbying heavily to greatly expand the exploitation of shale gas in many places around the world, including the UK. While using relatively small amounts of gas could assist in (for example) improving energy security, major reliance on shale gas would be counterproductive, especially as it could squeeze out further development of renewable energy technologies”.

References

1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Fourth Assessment Report (Working Group I). http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html

2. Howarth R, Santoro R, Ingraffea A (2011). Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. Climatic Change, vol. 106 (4), pp.679-690.

3. Ideally we would take account of the energy used in gas transport operations, but for simplicity we assume a relatively local gas source. For coal, an average of the emissions values for deep and surface mined coal is taken.

4. Derived using figures from Howarth et al (2011) – see note 2.

5. As note 4.

SGR Newsletter • Autumn 2011 • Issue 40

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A clear conflict of interest? Cuadrilla chairman, Riverstone’s managing partner and senior government advisor are one and the same person

lord browneBaron Browne of Madingley, chairman of Cuadrilla & managing partner at Riverstone Holdings, the venture capital firm that backs Cuadrilla, is also acting as a senior government advisor.

The government has now issued 176 exploratory drilling licences nationwide and Michael Fallon, the energy minister, has hailed shale gas as “an exciting new potential energy resource”.

british geological survey logo

A report last month by the British Geological Survey estimated that northern England has deposits totalling 1,300 trillion cubic feet.

Voices of sanity? One from New York which has banned fracking:

NY conservationist

and one from Balcombe,where exploratory drilling is to take place:

Frances Leader, a local resident, said the government should be encouraging investment in renewable sources of energy:

“This isn’t about one place, it’s about the whole country, and the future of the planet. We have the technology now to use renewable energy. We shouldn’t be developing new industries to pollute the planet. We should be developing new industries to unpollute the planet.”

For more news from Balcombe see http://gasdrillinginbalcombe.wordpress.com/

 

 

Seumas Milne gives a comprehensive overview: “Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state”

seumas milne

As MP Tim Yeo faces filmed evidence that – as chair of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee – he helped a private company to influence Parliament, and as we are due to reflect on Peter Lilley’s support for fracking, Seumas Milne‘s article summarises the position:

Westminster lobbying is the least of it. Revolving-door colonisation of public life is a corrosive threat to democracy.”
EXTRACTS

But the real corruption that has eaten into the heart of British public life is the tightening corporate grip on government and public institutions – not just by lobbyists, but by the politicians, civil servants, bankers and corporate advisers who increasingly swap jobs, favours and insider information, and inevitably come to see their interests as mutual and interchangeable. The doors are no longer just revolving but spinning, and the people charged with protecting the public interest are bought and sold with barely a fig leaf of regulation.

Privatisation has extended the web of lubricated relationships, as a mushrooming £80bn business uses jobs and cash to foist a policy that is less accountable, lowers standards and is routinely more expensive on the public realm. When 142 peers linked to companies involved in private healthcare were able to vote on last year’s health bill that opened the way to sweeping outsourcing – and the City consultancy McKinsey helped draw it up – it’s not hard to see why.

CONCLUSION

Britain is now an increasingly corrupt country at its highest levels – not in the sense of directly bribing officials, of course, and it’s almost entirely legal. But our public life and democracy is now profoundly compromised by its colonisation. Corporate and financial power have merged into the state.

That vice can be broken, but it demands radical change: closure of the revolving doors; a ban on ministers and civil servants working for regulated private companies; a halt to the corrosive tide of privatisation; and a downward squeeze on boardroom pay to reduce the corporate allure. It’s going to need a democratic backlash.

 

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Read his tour de force: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/04/corporate-britain-corrupt-lobbying-revolving-door