We don’t think enough about local government, one of whose jobs it is to mend potholes. When in our own lives our nearside front tyre is shredded, the pothole, Parris believes, represents “a momentary twitching-back of one tiny corner of a great curtain, behind which lie, no, not potholes, but a million anxious human stories, caused in part by cuts in public spending”.
He adds that accidents due to potholes are usually relatively trivial compared with cuts which for others may have meant:
- the loss of social care in dementia,
- no Sure Start centre for a child,
- the closure of a small local hospital
- or the end of a vital local bus service.
Potholes are a parable for others that matter even more. Unfilled potholes put lives at risk and have become a symbol of the damage done to every walk of life by spending cuts.
All the pressures on those who run government, local and central, are to worry about the short-term. it is usually possible to leave issues like road maintenance, decaying school buildings, rotting prisons, social care for the elderly, Britain’s military preparedness or a cash-strapped health service, to tread water for years or even decades. “They’ll get by,” say fiscal hawks, and in the short-term they’re often right.
- Nobody’s likely to invade us;
- the NHS is used to squeezing slightly more out of not enough;
- cutting pre-school provision is hardly the Slaughter of the Innocents;
- the elderly won’t all get dementia at once;
- there’s little public sympathy for prisoners;
- teachers can place a bucket under the hole in the roof
- and road users can dodge potholes.
Parris continues: “But beneath the surface problems build up. The old get older, and more numerous. Potholes start breaking cyclists’ necks. Care homes start going under. The Crown Prosecution Service begins to flounder. We run out of social housing. Prisoners riot. And is there really no link between things like pre-schooling, sports and leisure centres and local outreach work, and the discouragement of knife crime?”
“When New Labour was elected in 1997 we Tories groaned as it tipper-trucked money into the NHS, school building and other public services. Thirteen years later when Labour left office the undersupply was monetary, the red ink all too visible”.
Parris asks: “Must we forever oscillate like this?
One answer: Green & Labour Party leaders would meet these needs and avoid red ink by redirecting the money raised by quantitative easing.
The FT reports that senior executives at several of the largest US banks have privately told the Trump administration they feared the prospect of a Labour victory if Britain were forced into new elections.
It then referred to a report by analysts at Morgan Stanley arguing that a Corbyn government would mark the “most significant political shift in the UK” since Margaret Thatcher’s election and may represent a “bigger risk than Brexit” to the British economy. It predicted snap elections next year, arguing that the prospect of a return to the polls “is much more scary from an equity perspective than Brexit”.
Jeremy Corbyn gave ‘a clear response’ to Morgan Stanley in a video (left) published on social media reflecting anti-Wall Street rhetoric from some mainstream politicians in the US and Europe, saying: “These are the same speculators and gamblers who crashed our economy in 2008 . . . could anyone refute the headline claim that bankers are indeed glorified gamblers playing with the fate of our nation?”
He warned global banks that operate out of the City of London that he would indeed be a “threat” to their business if he became prime minister.
He singled out Morgan Stanley, the US investment bank, for particular criticism, arguing that James Gorman, its chief executive, was paying himself a salary of millions of pounds as ordinary British workers are “finding it harder to get by”.
Corbyn blamed the “greed” of the big banks and said the financial crisis they caused had led to a “crisis” in the public services: “because the Tories used the aftermath of the financial crisis to push through unnecessary and deeply damaging austerity”.
The FT points out that donors linked to Morgan Stanley had given £350,000 to the Tory party since 2006 and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, had met the bank four times, most recently in April 2017. The bank also had strong ties to New Labour: “Alistair Darling, a Labour chancellor until 2010, has served on the bank’s board since 2015. Jeremy Heywood, head of Britain’s civil service, was a managing director at Morgan Stanley, including as co-head of UK investment banking, before returning to public service in 2007”.
A step forward?
In a December article the FT pointed out that the UK lacks the kind of community banks or Sparkassen that are the bedrock of small business lending in many other countries adding: “When Labour’s John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, calls for a network of regional banks, he is calling attention to a real issue”. And an FT reader commented, “The single most important ethos change required is this: publish everyone’s tax returns”:
- In Norway, you can walk into your local library or central council office and see how much tax your boss paid, how much tax your councillor paid, how much tax your politician paid.
- This means major tax avoidance, complex schemes, major offshoring, etc, is almost impossible, because it combines morality and social morals with ethics and taxation.
- We need to minimise this offshoring and tax avoidance; but the people in control of the information media flow, plus the politicians, rely on exactly these methods to increase their cash reserves.
But first give hope to many by electing a truly social democratic party.
Is the rainbow suggesting a new party logo?
Not for the first time, the Murdoch Times made a ‘throwaway remark’ into a headline ‘soundbite’. It centred on a passing reflection by David Miliband, a former foreign secretary in the Blair government, made in an interview in the Times.
Widely reported to be a great friend of the Clintons
Peter Burgess asks a pertinent question: “Why on earth do you think that the likes of Murdoch preferred him and Blair rather than the likes of Benn or Major? Of course the establishment and in particular people like Murdoch want Miliband Snr as Labour leader, just as they wanted Blair rather than Foot or a Tory like Major. They knew how to control him”.
Miliband said that the Labour party is now weaker than in the 1980s and must face up to the “historic nature” of the challenge ahead.
Hem Laljee refers to this as “the fallout from the New Labour. Its founder is still loitering in our midst and giving advice. New Labour was the different garb of the Conservative The working class have been left rudderless which reflected in their votes for the Brexit”.
David Miliband’s main theme was his own well-rewarded work for the USA’s International Rescue Committee. Asked about his future leadership intentions, he added: “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s hard to see, but what’s the point of saying never?”
Radlon comments: “Rather standing his ground to save the Labour Party . . . he scarpered off to a well-paid US job. How would Labour’s traditional voters, not to mention the Dave Spart wing of the party, view this rich kid parachuting into the leadership of the party from 3000 miles away?2
Mr Corbyn said: “I was elected to lead this party. We will continue our campaigning work on the NHS, on social care, on housing.”
Another comment was that the political-corporate-media establishment must secretly think that Corbyn has quite a good chance of electoral success, despite their rhetoric, because they are spending so much time and devoting such great efforts to discredit him and his supporters.
“And the children of Iraq, in their graves, disabled, cancer ridden from DU weapons, disabled, deformed, homeless, displaced, Mr Blair?”
Blair’s Grand Delusion: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”
Tony Blair has announced plans to set up a new centre-ground institute to combat the “new populism of left and right”.
This new body would provide answers to anti-business and anti-immigrant views which share a “closed-minded approach to globalisation”.
In a characteristically self-congratulatory statement published on his website, he said his new not-for-profit organisation would deliver policies based on evidence rather than the “plague” of social media abuse.
It would be a response to the political shocks of the last year, such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency.
It aims to support practising politicians – such worthies as John Mann, Jess Philips, Simon Danczuk and those former colleagues still waving the New Labour flag?
He ends: “I care about my country and the world my children and grandchildren will grow up in; and want to play at least a small part in contributing to the debate about the future of both.”
Felicity Arbuthnot asks, on behalf of millions: “And the children of Iraq, in their graves, disabled, cancer ridden from DU weapons, disabled, deformed, homeless, displaced, Mr Blair?”
What could be more extremist than Blair’s deadly collusion in that country’s destruction?
Are Times’ journalists ignorant of John McDonnell’s work and cross-party alliances, economical with the truth, or under orders?
Not so, he has many friends, co-operative colleagues in all parties and admirers in this country and the United States.
And though his versatility is shown in his inspiring and wide-ranging book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour, putting forward a set of attractive new ideas, principles and policies, his most sustained work has been directed towards peace-building – and without peace there can be no real prosperity for the 99%.
He will – of course – be anathema to party–funding arms manufacturers, arms traders and the politicians who need their cash and non-executive directorships, because of the following activities.
In 2003 he was inspired by Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who was calling for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace within the Executive Branch of the US Government. His bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace was repeatedly reintroduced in each session of Congress, attracting 72 cross-party co-sponsors. This work was later carried forward by the Peace Alliance.
This ‘unpopular man’ was heartily welcomed in the States where city councils across the country welcomed the practical impact a Department of Peace would have on reducing violence in their nation and abroad. 18 cities -representing a collective population of over 6.5 million people – had endorsed it at the time of writing. They included Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, San Jose and more.
John McDonnell advocated a ministry for the promotion of peace in all areas of life from the “playground to the Government” to embrace education/conflict resolution within business, prisons, homes, the media and the whole of life. He pointed out that this would be in line with developments in the USA and Europe, adding that Gordon Brown had set aside £500m in a “united Govt approach to reduce conflict in society and specifically to promote conflict resolution”.
Ministry for Peace meetings often attracted 70 & 80 people from peace organisations, lawyers and individuals committed to the idea – despite his ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’ behaviour? Unlikely.
John McDonnell introduced a Ten Minute Bill, the Ministry for Peace (Interim Provisions) Bill, passed unopposed on Tuesday 14th October, 2003. A second reading is planned for 21 November. The Bill’s second reading was passed unopposed but it was unable to go through all its parliamentary stages before the end of the session in November.
The other cross-party sponsors joining the less than ‘universally unpopular’ John McDonnell were the much-missed Elfyn Llwyd – Plaid Cymru, Jeremy Corbyn – Lab, Alex Salmond – SNP, John Randall – Con, Rudi Vis – Lab and the excellent also-missed Alan Simpson – Lab, who has become a great asset to the environmental movement.
Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrat) and Gary Streeter MP (Conservative, current chair) were also moved to work with John McDonnell to set up All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues in September 2006
This holds meetings such as a series of three with young Israelis and Palestinians who presented their visions and aspirations for changes they wished to see in the region during the next 20 years.
The APPG provides a forum for dialogue between Parliamentarians, Her Majesty’s Government and civil society on alternative methods of preventing and resolving violent conflict, on the basis of expert information and opinion from across the political spectrum, in dialogue with officials from the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as well as various conflict NGOs, academics, members of the business community and the media. The Group currently consists of twenty named members from both Houses of Parliament. Others in the new Parliament who express support or interest will be added to this list.
Hansard recorded words summarised John McDonnell’s message in a Commons debate: “The most civilised form of defence is actually securing peace and preventing conflict.”
Michael Meacher was Minister of State for the Environment for six years, though for some reason Tony Blair did not appoint him to the Cabinet. Meacher gained a fine reputation, well-respected as a skilled negotiator and a minister with full command of his complex brief. He helped John Prescott to clinch the Kyoto agreement to limit carbon emissions in 1997 and was one of the first in Government to come to grips with the issue of global warming.
Meacher notes in his recent Global Research article , that after hi-jacking the party down a route utterly alien to its founders, in order to ingratiate himself with corporate and financial leaders on their terms . . . Tony Blair appears not to understand why the Corbyn earthquake is happening or the passionate resentment which he and New Labour created:
- by laying the foundations for the financial crash of 2008-9 and making the squeezed middle and brutally punished poor pay for it,
- by aligning New Labour alongside the Tories in pursuit of austerity from 2010 onwards, though Osborne’s policy (to shrink the State) has been unsuccessful in reducing the deficit,
- by taking Britain without any constitutional approval into an illegal was with Iraq,
- by introducing into politics the hated regime of spin and manipulation,
- by indulging now his squalid lust for money-making
- and by clearly having no more overriding desire than to strut the world with Bush.
He then asked three searching questions about Blair’s conduct:
Why did he urge the Blairites to support the government’s welfare bill which opposed every tenet of the real Labour Party?
Why did he push for privatisation of the NHS and other public services?
Why did his ally Mandelson say “New Labour is “relaxed at people becoming filthy rich”, and proved it by letting inequality balloon to even higher heights than under Thatcher?
And concluded: “He has a lot to learn . . .”
Read the whole article here: http://www.globalresearch.ca/tony-blair-is-living-in-a-state-of-deluded-denial/5473462
Shadow cabinet members refuse to serve in posts Corbyn might well not offer, citing economic policies they clearly haven’t read
So writes MP John McDonnell in the Guardian. Mr McDonnell is author of the superb book, ‘Another World is Possible: a manifesto for 21st century socialism’, a challenge to New Labour that put forward a set of new ideas, principles and policies. He adds:
“As people wake up to the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn actually being able to win the Labour leadership, the reaction has become increasingly hysterical, especially from elements of the Labour establishment”
McDonnell notes that the ‘near panic’ is especially evident in its response to the counterproductive strategy outlined by Corbyn’s team of economic advisers, whose rebukes to Labour supporters have simply made them more determined to work for beneficial change. He continues (summarised):
The vast majority who didn’t cause the economic crisis shouldn’t have to pay for it
“Let me make it absolutely clear that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is committed to eliminating the deficit and creating an economy in which we live within our means . . . (but) we don’t believe that the vast majority of middle and low-income earners who didn’t cause the economic crisis should have to pay for it through cuts in tax credits, pay freezes, and cuts in essential services.
“We believe we can tackle the deficit by:
- halting the tax cuts to the very rich and to corporations,
- making sure they pay their taxes,
- and by investing in the housing and infrastructure a modern country needs to get people back to work in good jobs.
“We accept that cuts in public spending will help eliminate the deficit, but our cuts won’t be to the middle-and low-income earners and certainly not to the poor.
“Our cuts will be to:
- the subsidies paid to landlords milking the housing benefit system,
- to the £93bn in subsidies to corporations,
- and to employers exploiting workers with low wages and leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab.
“All the factors that caused the 2007-8 crisis are currently reappearing on the scene – frozen or low incomes, low productivity, asset inflation especially in housing, a hands-off government turning a blind eye to loose credit expansion and City speculation, and a growing debt bubble.
“Just like 2007 all it needs is a spark like Northern Rock to set things off again. The rehypothecation taking place in the bond markets could be the trigger this time, when the US starts unwinding its quantitative easing programme”.
Alongside deficit elimination, the Corbyn campaign is advocating a fundamental reform of our economic system
“This will include:
- the introduction of an effective regulatory regime for our banks and financial sector;
- a full-blown Glass-Steagall system to separate day-to-day and investment banking;
- legislation to replace short-term shareholder value with long-term sustainable economic and social responsibilities as the prime objective of companies;
- radical reform of the failed auditing regime; the extension of a wider range of forms of company and enterprise ownership and control including public, co-operative and stakeholder ownership;
- and the introduction of a financial transactions tax to fund the rebalancing of our economy towards production and manufacturing.
“Public ownership does have an important role to play, but this will be through smart forms of 21st-century common ownership and control. For example, rail will be renationalised, but with a form of joint management involving workers and passenger representatives. Energy would be socialised from below by the massive expansion of renewable energy production and supply by local communities, local authorities and co-ops on the successful German model, removing the monopoly of the big six energy companies.
“Politicians have patronised and talked down to us all when it comes to our economy, but ordinary working people have to manage on incomes significantly lower than the likes of George Osborne and his friends in the City. They could teach the bankers and many commentators a thing or two about managing a budget responsibly. Given the opportunity, we will use the sound common sense of our people.