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Austerity 5: former Conservative MP deplores the effects of austerity

Matthew Parris writes in the Times, “the cracks are showing in austerity Britain”

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.

 

 

 

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Broken Britain 15: “Cruel, rigid bureaucracy has replaced common sense in this country”

So writes Peter Hitchens, summarising the unease felt by many in his recent article. He was focussing on the events leading up to the anger felt about the treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’, regarded now ‘by most of us . . .  as something pretty close to family’.

He speaks of ‘the real lesson of the wretched treatment of longstanding British subjects who have been deprived of medical service, threatened with deportation and generally destroyed and trampled on by callous officials . . . deprived of the most basic freedoms and of entitlements they have earned by long years of working and taxpaying.’

After tracing the political trend from New Labour measures to Theresa May’s ‘Go Home’ lorries trundling around London’ he describes increasing ‘tough’ measures as a London liberal’s idea of what might please the despised voters.

Frankly it’s hard to see how the capital could function without foreign nannies, cleaners and gardeners

In a 2009 article, Andrew Neather reviewing the New Labour policies, ‘laced with scorn for working-class people worried about the immigration revolution’, said:

‘The results in London, and especially for middle-class Londoners, have been highly positive. It’s not simply a question of foreign nannies, cleaners and gardeners – although frankly it’s hard to see how the capital could function without them. Their place certainly wouldn’t be taken by unemployed BNP voters from Barking or Burnley.’

The post-Brexit plight of EU nationals

Last year there were reports about the post-Brexit plight of EU nationals who experienced the bureaucratic maladministration and occasional cruelty from which the country’s poorest have suffered for decades.

Universal Credit system

The most recent example, reported in The Financial Times, referred to the rollout of Britain’s “Universal Credit” benefits system, challenged by more than 120 MPs saying that delayed payments are leaving poor households exposed.

Food and heating

Recently Professor Prem Sikka tweeted about 21st century Britain: He linked to a BBC report about a separate survey for the Living Wage Foundation which says that a third of working parents on low incomes have regularly gone without meals, because of a lack of money. Around a half of those families have also fallen behind with household bills.

It also quoted Citizens Advice findings that as many as 140,000 households are going without power, as they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters. The survey conducted by Citizens Advice found, “most households that cannot afford to put money in the meter contain either children or someone with a long-term health condition. Some people are left in cold houses, or without hot water”.

Sure Start

The Coalition and later Conservative governments’ cuts largely dismantled the Sure Start network, created by Labour to support families in the early years of their children’s development.

Youth Work

Unison has been working on this for some time – its 2016 report, A Future at Risk, found that £387m had been cut since the Tories took power. That’s over 600 youth centres and 140,000 places for young people.

People with disability

One of many austerity measures reported here is the cuts to school transport for disabled children. This, and many more examples of ‘cruel, rigid bureaucracy, may be seen on the website Disability United.

Sikka summarised: “Poorest families are going without food or power. Wealth is concentrated in relatively few hands and governments shower tax cuts on corporations and wealthy elites. Inequitable distribution of income/wealth is a recipe for social instability”.

 

 

 

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Time for change: junk the Anglo-Saxon model* in 2018

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?

*the Anglo-Saxon model

 

 

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Some Times readers set the latest anti-Corbyn propaganda in context

 

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.

miliband-clinton

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”

blair-header

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?

jmcdonnellThe Times’ description on Saturday 19th September: ‘universally unpopular’, having ‘strained relations’ with unions, ‘abrupt’ and dismissive’.

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 partyfunding 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.

jmcdonnell in AmericaThis ‘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”.

jmcdonnell mfp header

Ministry for Peace meetings often attracted 70 & 80 people from peace organisations, lawyers and individuals committed to the idea – despite his ‘abrupt’ and dismissivebehaviour? 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

jmcdonnell appg meetingThis 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: Tony Blair fails to understand the Corbyn earthquake

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.

michael meacher

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

 

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/

Shadow cabinet members refuse to serve in posts Corbyn might well not offer, citing economic policies they clearly haven’t read

john mcdonnellSo 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.

Banks’ failure, assisted by New Labour and Conservative thinking

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

cameron bank regulation

https://twitter.com/paulgosling1