Reasons to be fearful for a warm Summer’s day

Hero of the week: Peter Hain put the record straight about the cause of the UK's current economic woes (bankers) and the Conservatives' attitude to bank regulation (they wanted less of it before the crash). At long last, the facts came out on a national media outlet!

Hero of the week: Peter Hain put the record straight about the cause of the UK’s current economic woes (bankers) and the Conservatives’ attitude to bank regulation (they wanted less of it before the crash). At long last, the facts came out on a national media outlet!

There are a lot of potential topics for discussion but yr obdt srvt (that’s me) is very short of time on this sunny Sunday, so today’s article is going to have to be a quick run through of Things You Need to Know.

First up, following yesterday’s feature on how the Tories are blaming the civil service for the problems they have been creating, here are a couple more examples: The Guardian tells us that housing ministers are ordering councils to help families stay in their homes, rather than re-housing them in expensive bed & breakfasts for longer than the maximum period. Apparently this breaks the law. Minister Mark Prisk said he had created a £2 million fund to help councils currently breaking the rules.

Nice one. Shame it won’t scratch the surface of the £2 billion that has been spent by UK councils on temp accommodation since 2009 – that’s an average of £500 million per year; 250 times the puny amount Mr Prisk is offering, to alleviate problems his government has created with (for example) the Bedroom Tax.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph tells us that Jeremy Hunt has ordered the NHS to find a solution to the crisis in Accident & Emergency departments – that he and other Tory ministers have created – by next April.

These are further examples of the current Conservative ‘Create a Crisis and Blame Someone Else’ strategy we saw outlined in yesterday’s Vox Political article.

The BBC and many others have reported that Tim Yeo has joined the growing ranks of Tory MPs involved in ‘lobbying’ scandals, alongside Patrick Mercer from last week. Unlike Mercer, the allegation does not involve taking money to raise an issue (paid advocacy) – instead it is alleged that he coached an organisation, telling representatives what to say to the Commons’ Energy and Climate Change committee. It’s still corruption, and it’s staggering that these people are being allowed to continue as MPs while investigations go on, and possibly even afterwards, if they are found guilty. Should we really have people who have been proven to be dishonest, helping to make decisions on the future of our country?

Should we, Mr Cameron? Mr Shapps? Mr… Smith? Mr Hunt?

As some of us predicted long ago, Iain (Duncan) Smith’s benefit cuts (you mustn’t call them ‘reforms’ – that only encourages him) have led to a 40 per cent rise in the number of people seeking help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

It’s just a shame that funding for the CAB (much of it from the government or statutory authorities) is declining, isn’t it? It’s almost as if somebody planned it that way, to make it even harder for poor people to get any justice. (I write as the vice-chair of a Welsh CAB so, believe me, I know my facts).

On the subject of justice, did anyone hear John Finnemore on The Now Show, laying into inJustice Secretary Chris Grayling’s ‘reform’ (there’s that word again) of the Legal Aid system that will make it impossible for anyone in that system to get justice, unless – you guessed it – they’re rich.

“Legal Aid will have a financial eligibility threshold. To be fair, this doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world,” he said. “And I can be confident about that, because right there next to it – as if deliberately placed there for purposes of comparison – are two of the worst ideas in the world.

“One – defendants will no longer have the right to choose their own lawyer; two – legal aid contracts will be awarded on the basis of price-competitive tender, i.e. who’s cheapest, to private companies – like Tesco and Eddie Stobart. You know, the lorry guy.

“You might almost wonder whether this might affect the quality of the representation in some way but Chris Grayling, Minister of Justice and dispenser of none, assures us it will not… Even though everywhere else, the government is obsessed with getting us to choose… when it comes to poor people who’ve been arrested, suddenly Daddy knows best.

“The bargain-basement Eddie Stobart Legal Aid lawyers will be paid a flat fee, regardless of results and, best of all, regardless of whether the client pleads guilty – which is quick and cheap – or not guilty, which is not. Yes, Chris Grayling has actually created a system where privately-run Legal Aid firms have a direct financial incentive to persuade their clients to plead guilty, while simultaneously being under enormous pressure to slash costs to the bone in order to put in a tender low enough to keep the contract.

“Meanwhile, the career crims… tend to trust their regular solicitor and take their advice if they suggest they’d be better-off pleading guilty, but they’re certainly not going to take that advice from Eddie McTesco in his ‘My First Lawyer’ costume. So they’re going to start pleading not guilty to everything.

“Well done, Mr Grayling, you’ve pulled off the double – innocent people encouraged to plead guilty; guilty people to plead not guilty. What a merry, madcap world of misrule you have created, Mr Grayling, you absolute tit!”

Finally, still on the radio, did everyone hear Peter Hain on Any Questions, putting the record straight on the reasons for the economic crisis and the facts about bank regulation – two subjects about which the Conservatives have been hugely vocal in their lies for many years.

He was talking about the announcements last week by Labour’s leaders, on their future plans for welfare. He’s critical (which is a relief), but he said it would not be right to make promises about things that Labour can’t deliver.

“We can’t deliver because this economic policy of the Tory-Lib Dem government is failing on a spectacular scale,” he said. “They’re doing all these things, all these cuts, in order to bring borrowing down, the deficit down, debt down.

“What’s happening? Borrowing is £245 billion higher than they said it would be in 2010 when they began this cuts programme. The national debt is £309 billion higher – and the deficit is £78 billion higher.

“It’s because cutting and cutting and cutting is a way to putting people out of work, destroying businesses, they don’t pay taxes, you don’t get government revenues and everybody goes on benefit – that’s why this is a spectacular catastrophe and we’re going to have to rescue the country from that, and we’ve got to do it responsibly and honestly.”

Hear, hear.

Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, went on the attack with the usual rubbish about Labour overspending but didn’t get very far before Hain put him straight: “It was the banks that destroyed the economy, not the Labour government – it was the international banking system!”

Uproarious applause from the studio audience in Machynlleth (just up the road from me) where the broadcast was taking place. They – like most of the British population – had clearly been waiting years for someone to come out with that simple fact on a national media outlet: The banks caused the current economic situation, not Labour.

Let’s just repeat it: The banks caused the current economic situation, not Labour.

Anyone suggesting otherwise is just plain wrong.

Paterson riposted weakly, “Because Gordon Brown didn’t regulate them”. But Hain had his answer for that ready, as well.

“You wanted lighter regulation. Come on, remember – you wanted lighter regulation!”

And that was also true.

Paterson went further into idiocy by prattling about breaking the national credit card – the kind of stuff that we all now know is nonsense and that has been disproved irrefutably on this blog and in many other places – and about the private sector creating 1.25 million new jobs, which we know it hasn’t done, for example, because 200,000 were education jobs that the government redefined from public to private, probably in order to create another made-up statistic.

In other words, the Conservatives have no arguments for what they’re doing. No arguments about the economy. No arguments about the cuts they have been making.

I’ve met Peter Hain a couple of times, and I’ve had a few differences of opinion with him – but in this instance he was right on the button and far more effective in putting forward an argument for supporting Labour than anything Ed Miliband said in his “we’re supporting Tory policies because we think pretending to be Tories will win us votes” speech last week.

It was one of the worst speeches a Labour leader could have made, but if it prompts more Labour representatives, like Peter Hain, to stand up for the party and present a proper case for opposition to this hateful, incompetent, evil shower – the Coalition – then it might do some good in spite of itself.

21 thoughts on “Reasons to be fearful for a warm Summer’s day

  1. fkreid

    As usual spot on except one point: Tim Yeo although not paid directly for the coaching he gave, stands to gain financially because of his association with a multitude of green energy companies. This IS corruption!
    It seems to be a daily event where some MP (mostly Tory) is outed for corruption. What is sickening, though, is they seem to get away with it. You never hear of any one of them going to Gaol.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Thanks for that illumination. I was trying to get a paragraph in about how he stood to profit but couldn’t find the reference I needed.

  2. guy fawkes

    If as Peter Hain stated ” the banks wanted lighter regulation” and Brown caved in to this, does this mean that labour after bailing them out is now to demand tighter regulation and less bonuses, or will it be more of the same?

    1. Mike Sivier

      No, he said the Conservatives wanted lighter regulation, even than Brown was permitting. My recollection of the situation in 2010 was that Labour would have done as you say. In 2015 I can only hope the position won’t have changed, because the Tories will have done as little as possible.

  3. Bill Kruse

    Miliband, Byrne, Balls etc don’t belong in the Labour party, they never have done. However since they’re in charge Hain’s best bet is to team up with Meacher and others (including Tories like Douglas Carswell and Stever Baker, both of whom are entirely financially literate) and form an anti-Neoliberal party. Sooner the better, too.

  4. bookmanwales

    Good concise article even for a sunny

    What I can’t understand is how someone with a declared interest can be chair of the Energy and climate change committee. Declared interest or not he is hardly impartial in the matter.
    Having said that, as an unemployed person, could I possibly ask all readers to nominate me for the Chair of the DWP committee ( I will still cut benefits, honest I will).

    The bailing out of the Banks was done to the detriment of every single aspect of our economy save the EU and foreign aid. What I do need to know is why are we paying banks interest on the money we used to bail them out in the first place ?

  5. Alex Casale

    Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
    “To err is human, to blame it on somebody else shows management potential.”

  6. Mutlee

    How do you feel about the stance that when the coaliion made that awful embroidery of truth in their entry speech, having snuck into leadership via the back door, instead of holding another election at the point of hung parliament, when they said “We are all in this together”, that this could (and clearly DOES in my eyes) include Labour? Because, let’s face it, when they said that, they didn’t mean that they were in league with the public, as the spin suggested, but were in fact cleverly telling the truth – that in fact it doesn’t matter WHICH way we vote, because they are all in it together?

    History shows us that the old left-right, red vs blue paradigm has played “good cop bad cop” for nearly a century at an increasingly transparent rate; oligarchy cannot be under-estimated, and it is clear to anyone with eyes that Ed Milliband is of the same ilk as Cameron, Clegg and IDS.

    I guess my question is, should we not be looking at alternatives to faux monarchy, faux politics and faux solutions, when it is clear that the entirety of geopolitics is now in the grip of the corporate military industrial complex?

    Anarchy does NOT mean chaos. It means “No Crown”, and is a very viable alternative to being owned and operated by a bunch of financial elites, surely?

  7. beetleypete

    Nice stuff, as always.
    Ed showed his true colours, and weaknesses, with that speech. He has more or less guaranteed to either be replaced, or lose the next election. There is fast becoming no viable opposition. Let’s get some socialists back in charge of Labour, with some real left-wing policies, offering a genuine alternative, not just more of the same, with a different logo.

    1. Bill Kruse

      Labour’s lost, a new party’s needed. Normally a new party has no chance but a Coalition of antiNoeliberals from known and trusted faces from both sides of the House (left and right now being irrelevant) would probably get the support it needed to win elections. That’s assuming there ever are any more, of course, which might be assuming a lot. Since the Eds and the Coalition are seperated in policy by only the smallest of degrees it would make more sense for them to join up and announce there was no need for elections any more.

  8. simmo70

    Blair set out the blueprint for Welfare Reform ‘were all in it together Dave’ implemented the draconian cuts to those of employment age and below now Balls if in Power will finish off the whole process by going for the Pensioners and whatever else .
    Osborne promises to sell off shares in RBS & Lloyds to be announced on the 19th June to the Public who are Registered on the electoral Roll .Remember Thatcher,s sell off’s when unemployment was at its highest only the rich could afford them.Lying Grayling is speaking out about the risk to Jobs and Growth by the EU – bit late Pinocchio.They are all justifying their jobs whatever overall agenda is afoot for this Country it is steadily carrying on in the background.They are all in it together concerning the Diversion .

  9. Andrew Shaw

    Think its rather insulting to a majority of Labour minded and supporters that people glibbly just refer to those who lead the party. Thereby ignoring the rest of the party and those who work behind the scenes tirelessly to try and make the UK a better place to live. It also does a great disservice to someone like Peter Hain and indeed the Dennis Skinner’s of the Labour party who will not just run away from belonging to a party to whom no matter what they remain loyal to. I admire these people and for everyone to judge a party by its leadership alone are very much mistaken for without the machine and the people that represent their constituents who are many from ordinary backgrounds the leadership are powerless indeed!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Personally, I’m absolutely not trying to denigrate the vast majority of the Labour Party – in fact, they’re the only hope left for sanity, in my opinion. The leadership has gone badly adrift and it seems that it’s up to the membership as a whole to make the point that the Labour Party is a DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST party, in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the MANY, not the few; where the RIGHTS we enjoy reflect the DUTIES we owe, and where we live TOGETHER, FREELY, in a spirit of SOLIDARITY, TOLERANCE and [above all, in my mind] RESPECT.

      That’s on the back of every single Labour Party membership card. It seems some Labour frontbenchers need to take a look at that, some time, and reflect on what it means.

      1. Andrew Shaw

        Mike, sorry wasn’t having a pop at you but those who seem to want to give up on a party that everyone has as much right to have a say in as anyone else. But I cannot ever get over one problem that many still seem to hold in the party that if you want to get on in life its as if you have betrayed the party. I think that many need to wake up and smell the coffee as this is an outmoded way of thinking and as long as you hold the same principles you should not be decried for wanting for better in life. I have seen some writing on social networking sites saying that we need to reinstate clause 4. Why do we need something in writing to remind us of what should come naturally in what we think every day. Its like when a religion is used for a cover to do what you want all week then repent your sins on a Sunday. That isn’t how it should work as its part of who we are and be part of every day as we eat and breath thus if we need reminding of this I suggest our instincts are ultimately are in the wrong place for our party….

      2. Mike Sivier

        No worries, I didn’t take offence.

        Personally, I’m not bothered about reinstating a pledge to nationalise as much as possible. That seems like lazy thinking, to me. Some industries should be nationalised, certainly – for the benefit of everybody in the country. But others don’t, in fact, benefit everybody in the country and belong in private hands. That doesn’t mean they have to be run in exploitative ways; it just means it’s not appropriate for them to be in public ownership.

        (I like the idea of co-operatives, which would probably fit your criterion for wanting better in life; company members rise according to ability and longevity, and the success of the enterprise as a whole is down to the individual and group efforts of everyone in it.)

        A lot of the problem is that people are brought up to have a blind spot when it comes to co-operation – because, I think, the powers-that-be find it easier to exploit us that way. In fact, it seems, co-operative efforts are far more likely to yield rewards for everybody involved, and at a realistic level (consider John Lewis).

        Alternatives to the current status quo are all around, and intelligent people are doing everything but scream at the Labour leadership in their urgency to be noticed. Nothing doing – the career politicians on the front bench, former university graduates, many of whom (including Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, if my memory isn’t failing me) attended THE SAME COURSE AS DAVID CAMERON – have bought into the same failed ideology as the Coalition.

        If the Labour grass roots don’t pick up the slack and put the party on the right track, then we’ll ALL be turning to religion: God Help Us!

  10. guy fawkes

    Any member from predominantly the left of the labour party handed in their membership when Blair was elected. I attended meetings and discussions with a friend who was a labour party member at the time and saw anyone in opposition to new labours policies expelled from the meetings – one of which was a 70 year old woman who had been a lifelong old labour member.

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