Filed under: Capitalism, Politics, UK Politics | Tagged: British citizenship, Cuba, Dennis Skinner, human rights, Immigration, Jean Calder, Jim Grozier, NHS, skill shortages, Tony Greenstein, undercutting wages | Leave a comment »
I thought I would share some thoughts about the case for a programme of publicly funded works that I think would be part of the answer for Double Dip Britain:
There is nothing economically unsound in increasing temporarily and artificially the demand for labour during a period of temporary and artificial contraction. There is a plain need of some averaging machinery to regulate and even out the general course of the labour market, in the same way as the Bank of England, by its base rate, regulates and corrects the flow of business enterprise. When the extent of the depression is foreseen, the extent of the relief should also be determined.
There ought to be in permanent existence certain recognised industries of a useful, but uncompetitive character, like, we will say, reforestation, managed by public departments, and capable of being expanded or contracted according to the needs of the labour market, just as easily as you can pull out the stops or work the pedals of an organ.
I sometimes fear the increasing evil of casual labour. We talk a great deal about the unemployed, but the evil of the underemployed is the tap-root of unemployment. There is a tendency many trades, almost all trades, you have a fringe of casual labour on hand, available as a surplus whenever there is a boom, flung back into the pool whenever there is a slump.
I can almost see Paul Perrin spilling his warm milk as he reads this nonsense about public works. But don’t have a go at me, Mr Perrin, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 above are the words of that well-known radical, Winston Churchill writing in ‘The People’s Rights’, first published in 1909. It is a powerful plea for ‘a great policy of social reconstruction and reorganisation’. He was at the time, of course, a Liberal. Whatever became of that great radical party …?
The last two weeks have seen election result that will change the European political landscape for a decade.
In Britain, France and Greece, the voters have said a resounding “no” to austerity. Even in the voters of Schleswig-Holstein gave Angela Merkel a bloody nose, her CDU party’s worst defeat in Schleswig-Holstein since 1950. Gone is Nicolas Sarkozy, in comes the anti-austerity Francois Hollande as President, and the two pro-austerity centre parties in Greece have been rejected by the voters.
The two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk have been given notice. Writing in today’s Daily Mail, former Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, has revealed that he has waged a £1,000 on Cameron being gone by November. He got odds of 10-1.
There is so much to comment on, but the rejection of austerity must be the headline. Other matters, in brief, include:
Labours excellent performance up and down the country and its growing lead in the opinion polls. However, the party should not be complacent and, in light of European election results, needs to show that it is setting its face firmly against austerity. Just saying that they would not have cut so far and so fast is the wrong message. It now needs to give people hope and begin to make firm promises about public increasing expenditure, investing in housing and infrastructure products, and reversing changes in the NHS.
Locally, Labour had an excellent result in Hastings, having secured its most seats ever on the Borough Council and reinforcing its hold in that town. But Hastings is a strange place, having elected a Conservative MP, Amber Rudd, in 2010 on the same day as it elected a Labour council. Sarah Owen, Labour’s energetic and electable young candidate, should not underestimate the Blue Lady, Amber Rudd, who has become a highly respected member of the local political establishment, across party divides.
The Greens have much to be pleased about. They increased their number of councillors by more than any other party other than Labour and the Scottish Nationalist Party. The highlight was the third place secured by Jenny Jones in London’s mayoral election, beating the Lib Dems who came fourth. This was achieved in spite of Brian Paddick being given equal coverage to Boris and Ken with Jenny being treated by the media as an also ran.
As for the Lib Dems themselves, they now have fewer councillors than at any point in their history. Perhaps this is a trend that will see these Tory appeasers returning their lowest number of MPs at the next election. Their claim, that they are preventing the worst excesses of the Conservatives, ring increasingly hollow. They are nothing more than Tory-enablers who, but for their enthusiastic participation in the Coalition, the Conservatives would have been able to force through many of their most extreme measures.
Finally, the relative success of the far right in Europe is extremely worrying. While the BNP lost all the seats it was defending in Britain’s local elections, Marine Le Pen in France and Golden Dawn in Greece sends a chilling warning to all democrats across Europe. I will write more about this soon.
(Note: An earlier draft of this post referred to Rising Dawn. This has been corrected to Golden Dawn)
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Lib Dem betrayal and police heavy-handedness is seeing the politicisation and radicalisation of a generation
It was a successful policing operation, according to the Metropolitan Police. No students died!
We are entering a fascinating period in the political life of the UK. The Government have lost control of the streets. Tens of thousands of students up and down the country are being politicised by the Lib Dems collusion with the Tories and radicalised by the heavy-handed policing tactics being deployed against them.
It is like the poll tax protests all over again and very different from the inner city riots of the early 1980s. In the 1980s it was alienated youths, often black youths, who had no hope for the future and who were being treated heavy-handedly by the police. In 1990 it was working and middle classes uniting against the unjust Poll Tax.
As now, a popular cause was targeted by a political elite, fortified by their deluded self-belief and secure in their Westminster Palace, that made an enemy of the country as a whole. The sight of police horses charging young people on the streets of London will have appalled many people, not least middle class parents whose children were the targets of the horses and the victims of police batons. The students are being politicised, and so too are their parents.
The Met Police appear to have just one tactic – kettle to contain. Not only is it not working, it has already undermined public confidence in th police. There is anger at the increase in tuition fees, and it is right that it is aimed largely at the Lib Dems. If the Coalition Government had hoped that that level of anger would now receded, they are to be disappointed. The betrayal of the pledge by Lib Dems, including Norman Baker, coupled with the treatment of student protesters (the majority of whom were non-violent and law abiding) will see this run and run.
We are all bracing ourselves for the result of the Comprehensive Spending Review when we will know the scale of the cuts e are facing. Workers in the public sector will, initially, be in the firing line. But those in the private sector should be equally concerned. For every job lost locally, there will be one person less spending in local shops, using buses and taxis, and using local leisure facilities. And with local government cuts, the amount spent in the local economy falls.
All this results in more job losses and a vicious cycle gather pace. But that is just the financial fall-out. The human cost is so much greater.
Michael Moore, in his depressing, yet excellent book Downsize This! refers to research carried out by economists at the University of Utah, that for every 1% rise in the number unemployed, homicides increase by 6.7%, violent crime by 3.4%, property crime 2.4%, and deaths by heart disease and strokes rise by 5.6% and 3.1%, respectively.
VAT is a mildly progressive form of taxation claims Vince Cable as supporters abandon the Lib Dems in droves
According to a poll published today, 48% of Lib Dem voters are now less inclined to back that party, and they say that their change is as a direct result of the VAT increase. How has Principled Vince responded. He writes “No decision to raise tax is taken lightly, but VAT is more contentious than most. One reason is that VAT is often denounced as if it were the most regressive tax of all. However, the truth is more nuanced. As a proportion of expenditure, it is in fact mildly progressive”.
Yesterday I wrote of Cable: “The sight of Vince Cable bumbling and stuttering through feeble and half-hearted defences of his party’s total sell-out of his policies, his sound economic analysis and his principled stand on the banks, is pitiful. Actually it is beneath contempt”.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr programme, as I write this, Cable dismissed the VAT Bombsell allegation made by the Lib Dems against the Tories “That was during the election campaign” and that the Lib Dems are now in coalition.
I wonder how Cable will justify the latest analysis of the ConDemNation budget. It shows that the measures will hit the poorest six times harder than the rich. The poorest 10%, those with an annual income of less than £14,200 will experience a 21.7% cut. The richest, those with an annual income of over £49,700, with experience just a 3.6% cut.
How could someone who was so right about the banking crisis become so wrong about the impact of cuts on ordinary people?