Rachel Reeves is sleeping with the enemy

—Putting her foot in it again: Rachel Reeves has a history of stupid decisions. Now she has employed one of the UK's leading tax avoidance advisors to help her, when we need to END tax avoidance in order to improve the benefits bill.

—Putting her foot in it again: Rachel Reeves has a history of stupid decisions. Now she has employed one of the UK’s leading tax avoidance advisors to help her, when we need to END tax avoidance in order to improve the benefits bill.

This is very disturbing, from the new Private Eye (1379):

“Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, is the latest Opposition member to accept help from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“The management consultant is supplying an analyst to support Reeves from October to January… This suggests that, although Labour has made a lot of noise about the government’s work with unpopular contractors like Atos and A4e, the People’s Party intends to stick with this commercial approach to welfare should it find itself back in power next year.

“PwC is already involved in advising the government on ‘commissioning’ welfare services; and last year Tory employment minister Mark Hoban asked it to help strengthen ‘quality assurance’ in the fitness-to-work tests carried out by Atos [PwC is Hoban’s former employer, implying an inappropriate relationship from the get-go]. This didn’t seem to work, as Atos quit the contract this year after much criticism.

“Reeves’ timing is unfortunate, to say the least. PwC is currently heavily implicated in the latest scandal of big corporations avoiding tax through Luxembourg. Most of the leaked documents show PwC was helping arrange all those tax-free tricks.”

PwC is, along with the rest of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms – Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – of course, well-known to Vox Political. Along with the others, it has been invited to actually write government legislation on behalf of the Tories and Liberal Democrats – specifically UK law on tax avoidance – while running many tax avoidance schemes.

In a previous article, Vox Political wrote: “The Department for Work and Pensions has employed many private firms; this is the reason that department is haemorrhaging money. There are the work programme provider firms who, as has been revealed in previous blog entries, provide absolutely no useful training and are less likely to find anyone a job than if they carried on by themselves; there are the IT firms currently working on Universal Credit, about which Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament when he said he was having to write off £34 million of expenditure – the true figure was later revealed to be closer to £161 million, almost five times as much; there are Atos and Capita, and probably other firms that have been hired to carry out so-called ‘work capability assessments’ of people claiming sickness, incapacity and disability benefits, according to a plan that intentionally ignores factual medical evidence and places emphasis on a bogus, tick-box test designed to find ways to cut off their support; and there is Unum Insurance, the criminal American corporation that designed that test, in order to push British workers into buying its bogus insurance policies that work on exactly the same principle – this is theft on a grand scale.”

This blog has warned that the bosses of companies like Unum, Atos and KPMG (and by extension, PwC) were planning to ensure that they would have government contracts, no matter which political party was in office. In effect, Vox Political warned, they would be unelected kings because whatever you decided at the ballot box, they would be in charge.

In another article, Vox Political pointed out that money paid to these companies does not benefit the British economy but goes abroad to their foreign headquarters or parent companies. PwC is part-American-owned.

In October last year, this blog stated that if Rachel Reeves had promised to be as tough on tax dodgers, in her previous job as shadow chief secretary to the treasury, as she promised to be on welfare in her first speech as shadow work and pensions secretary, Labour might have a lot more credibility.

The article said that ensuring we get the money that is currently going unpaid by tax dodgers – who are facilitated by firms like PwC – would ease the benefit bill as it would take up a smaller proportion of the national tax take. And now she is taking advice from PwC.

Maybe someone at PwC read the article and decided to take preventative action.

It seems clear that if Labour has any involvement with this company – or allows it to continue working behind the scenes on government business – it will not be in the public interest, and in fact is highly likely to harm the public good.

So we must ask:

Rachel Reeves, what the blue blazes do you think you are doing?

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44 thoughts on “Rachel Reeves is sleeping with the enemy

  1. RL

    This is actually not uncommon… the company thinks it benefits, the MP gets an office help.
    This is a Labour MP, so I don’t imagine PWC will get very much policy for their money – but the help, and perhaps more importantly, insight into how the City is thinking can only be useful.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I don’t think so. She can have her own people analyse what PwC and the others are doing without accepting their tainted shillings.

  2. Jim Round

    This is what is meant by “all the main parties are the same”
    You may say that is what Lynton Crosby wants people to think, but things like this prove it.
    There is no getting away from the fact that, like it or not, big business holds a lot of sway the world over.
    No government is going to bite the hand that feeds it.
    Yes, the majority of the public are also to blame, how many will boycott large companies in order to make a difference?
    Not many.
    It will be interesting to see what the turnout will be for the election next year.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Are you saying that the voting public should just sit back and let it happen? I’m not putting up with that!
      It’s up to voters to stand up and tell their elected representatives or candidates: “No! I don’t want to elect a corporate puppet! I want an MP who’s going to think for him/herself! If you can’t do it, stand down! Make way for somebody who can! You represent ME, not some faceless corporate entity!”

      1. Jim Round

        No, I’m not saying they should sit back, only that come next May, they will.
        Do you remember when Cadburys were taken over by Kraft?
        There was a phone-in on Radio 2, Jeremy Vine asked a woman who objected if she would boycott Cadburys, her reply was “I don’t think I’d go that far”
        This is what we are up against.
        Labour are taking a pasting at the moment, both in Scotland and by the MSM.
        The poll ratings show a disappearing lead, alongside news of falling unemployment and wages just above inflation.
        Whether these figures are correct or not, it’s what the majority see and the coalition (Conservatives) will take credit and use it for electioneering.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I tend to think that if Labour is taking a pasting now, then it will win the next election.

    2. Mike Sivier Post author

      Crosby wants you to think you’re powerless, you see – so there’s no point in you voting, and you might as well let the Tories back in because their voters will come out like good little drones no matter what.
      But you aren’t powerless; you can tell your MPs and candidates what to do, on threat of losing their seat, and any power or influence that goes with it, if they don’t.
      All you have to do is find your voice.

      1. Jim Round

        I have commented before that my MP is next to useless, and those who stand against are either the same or have no chance of being elected.
        One thing we both agree on Mike is the need for a “none of the above” box.
        Another thing that disheartens is the lack of discussion of the other points I make.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I cover everything I want to mention. If anyone else wants to add to what you say, or take issue with it, this forum is open for them.

      3. Jim Round

        I don’t mean you personally Mike, I mean in general, as with the unemployment figures as an example, no mention of the effect sanctions or questionable self-employment may have on the figures, just a statement that it has gone down.
        (something you have already covered)

  3. aussieeh

    If Milliband wants to be seen as a man of the people, then surely it’s about time he started to distance himself from these Tory lite cretins. There are many old true Labour MPs who have the people’s best interests at heart, who have spoken up time and time again of the injustices of unpaid workfare, Atos, G4s. The amount of ammunition he has had placed at his feet, only for him to step over it.He has to start speaking up for us now, otherwise he’s just another corporate whore. I just hope he has one hell of an election strategy, if not, we are all lost.
    He has to speak up of all the haemorrhaging, that’s the wrong word, Theft, is a better word, of the hundreds of billions of pounds being taken by these corrupt outside agencies, who all seem to be under investigation for some kind of fraud. Because at the moment he doesn’t seem any different from the rest of the underhanded lying scum. What a refreshing change it would be to actually have a politician who did put the country and its people first, before his own golden parachute.

  4. casalealex

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (trading as PwC) is a multinational professional services network.

    PwC is a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,400 people. It had total revenues of $34.0 billion in FY 2014, of which $15.1 billion was generated by its Assurance practice, $8.8 billion by its Tax practice and $10.0 billion by its Advisory practice.

    As of 2013 PwC United States is the sixth-largest privately owned organization in the United States.

    A few of a number of Controversies:

    In 1990, the US Internal Revenue Service seized most of the assets of Willie Nelson, claiming he owed $32 million in back taxes, including penalties and interest. He sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put him into tax shelters that were later disallowed by the IRS.The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

    In July 2007, PwC agreed to pay US$229 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Tyco International Ltd. over a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud. The chief executive and chief financial officer of Tyco were found guilty of looting $600 million from the company.

    Two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Srinivas Talluri and Subramani Gopalakrishnan, have been charged by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Satyam scandal. Since the scandal broke out, Subramani Gopalakrishnan has retired from the firm after reaching mandatory retirement age, while Talluri remains on suspension from the firm.

    India’s accounting standards agency ICAI is investigating partners of PwC for professional negligence[in the now-defunct Global Trust Bank Ltd. case of 2007. Like Satyam, Global Trust Bank was also based in Hyderabad. This led to the RBI banning PwC from auditing any financial company for over a year.

    PwC was also associated with the accounting scandal at DSQ Software in India. Following the Satyam scandal, the Mumbai-based Small Investor Grievances Association (SIGA) has requested the Indian stock market regulator SEBI to ban PwC permanently and seize its assets in India alleging few more scandals like “Ketan Parekh stock manipulations.”

    The construction of the ESPO (East Siberia-Pacific Ocean) pipeline by Transneft was estimated to cost in excess of US$13 billion. A leaked report of the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation indicated that the total amount stolen and siphoned from the company during construction through various mechanisms and schemes reaches up to US$4 billion. A Moscow Times editorial stated that one of the chamber’s auditors attempted “damage control” by saying in effect, “Yes, money was stolen, but not as much the media reported.” [PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was Transneft’s auditor and denied wrongdoing saying “We believe there are absolutely no grounds for such allegations, and we stand behind our work.”

    In 2011, a House of Lords inquiry specifically criticized PwC for not drawing attention to the risks in the business model followed by Northern Rock, a client of the firm, which was rescued by the UK government during the financial crisis.

    In 2012, the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) of the UK fined PwC a record £1.4m for wrongly reporting to the Financial Services Authority that JP Morgan Securities had complied with client money rules which protects client funds. The accountants neglected to check whether JP Morgan had the correct systems in place, and failed to gather sufficient evidence to form opinions on the issue, and as a result, failed to report that JP Morgan failed to hold client money separate from JP Morgan’s money. It is the greatest penalty administered to a professional accountancy firm in the UK.

    Cattles plc has brought a legal action against PwC in the UK in respect of the 2006 and 2007 audits claiming that they had failed to carry out adequate investigations.[79] Cattles, a UK consumer finance company, later discovered control weaknesses which caused its loan book to be materially overstated in its balance sheet; having been listed as a FTSE250 company, it subsequently lost its listing. PwC has disputed this legal claim.[80]
    PwC Ireland is being sued by the joint administrators of Quinn Insurance Limited for €1bn over alleged negligent auditing.[83]

  5. Ian Duncan

    Why do Labour insist on having the likes of PwC and David Fraud involved in social security at all? People who claim benefits often have problems that cannot be reduced to beads on an abacus and applying free market, big business models to the issue won’t work.

    Also, why have Labour bought into the myth that the private sector is more efficient? Efficient at what?

  6. delboydave

    This is so disheartening. There doesn’t seem to be any party that is not tainted by their dealings with big powerful companies, links that undermine their credibility and the idea that they are there for the people they are supposed to represent. I am afraid that Jim is correct. The vast majority of the voting public have no interest in this type of political discussion and their apathy will once again be the main reason why nothing will change. At some stage in the future I would guess there will have to be some sort of revolution but things will have to get a lot worse before that will happen. I am so disillusioned.

  7. paulmabbo

    This is one of the reasons why I consistently say that voting for them only serves to legitimise them (I know you won’t like that Mike).
    They are all neoliberal, I have no intention of voting for the least damaging demon when they all work for the same devil.
    You say that we should tell our mp how we feel, with the implication that if we don’t like the way they operate that we’ll ‘advise’ them to stand down. So let me tell you about my mp : She’s Lucy Powell, I’ve emailed her several times this last year and have never had a reply which came even close to satisfying me. For instance, I emailed her about TTIP when it was first making the news, warning her of the threat to democracy which it represented and, particularly, the threat to our NHS. She responded by saying that she and the Labour party would, of course, be keeping a wary eye on the possible impact of TTIP on the NHS and possible backdoor privatisation of it but that “TTIP represents a tremendous opportunity to bring business to Britain”.
    This woman is now Ed Milliband’s election campaign manager – says it all.

    Want something approaching genuine socialism? don’t try voting for it, it’s not going to happen.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If you’re not going to vote, you’re not going to have a say in anything at all and they’ll all roll right over you.
      I think my way is better.

      1. paulmabbo

        I’m a member of the Labour party. But I don’t vote for what I perceive as being anti-worker; pro-corporate, or against the common good. I think my way is a better way.

        Given the choice of Hitler, Goebbels, or Goering would you freely choose any of them?
        I know, slightly ridiculous comparison but best my addled brain can come up with for some reason.

        Anyway, I did say you wouldn’t like it.

        I’ll sit back and await the revolution 🙂

      2. Ian Duncan

        I don’t think we really have a say in anything now. As the post above says, voting for Labour only legitimises them. It carries with it implied consent and agreement to what they do.

        Nobody is going to get everything thy want from a party/MP but Labour are nowhere near where they should be (IMO), not even close enough to vote for.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        So you’d rather have five more years of Conservative Party, hard-line neoliberalism?
        Each to their own I guess but I find it hard to accept that you’d want to drag the rest of us down.
        Perhaps we could run some sort of ‘pairing’ scheme, similar to Parliament… If you find a Tory who doesn’t want to vote for their party the way it is now, then your not voting won’t do any harm. Trouble is, you’d have to stick with them from 7am until 10pm on polling day, to make sure they didn’t sneak out and do the dirty on you – and by proxy, the whole of the UK. They’re like that, you know.

      4. Bill Kruse

        I’ve never voted but I still have a voice and thus a say. I say central government has always been a bad idea and that localism is the best future we have, local currencies, local food supplies. Small will indeed prove to be beautiful.

      5. Mike Sivier Post author

        If you don’t vote, nobody needs to pay the slightest bit of attention to what you say.
        You want to complain about central government? So what – you can’t be bothered to do anything about it.
        You think small is beautiful? So what – you can’t be bothered to bring about the change you seek.
        That’s all the credence you’ll get from anyone.

      6. Bill Kruse

        I actually don’t vote because to do so would be to appear to be endorsing a system I believe is fraudulent and exists primarily to facilitate the continuation of the status quo. I’d be obliged, and your blog would carry more weight, if you wouldn’t misinterpret my (in)actions to suit what I assume are your own prejudices. Further, I do bother to do something about it as you well know, I promote the alternative of local accountable authority by pushing that book I’ve already mentioned here and elsewhere, ‘People Money’ by, among others, the late Margrit Kennedy, in the hope that an increasing number of people will be inspired to read it and of those readers, a handful will pick up on the ideas there and run with them. We need local farms everywhere too, that way we can go a long way towards making those malevolent financial puppets in government irrelevant. I’ve been holding off on that till recently as I thought people would be giving up on Labour about now but our most prominent (and worthy, and wonderful, and admirable) activists seem to be getting even more shrill in their endorsements. I was hoping a lot of activists (and, more importantly, their audiences) people would be looking for a genuine alternative once it became obvious Labour weren’t it but it seems I’ll have to go with what I’ve got 🙁

      7. Mike Sivier Post author

        The problem with what you clearly believe to be a principled stand is that, by leaving it alone, you not only allow the system to continue being fraudulent but actually endorse that system. You’re giving the people elected by that system carte blanche to do whatever they like, and I think that’s a pretty squalid stab in the back for the rest of us. Dress it up however you like if it salves your conscience, the truth is you are not helping anyone.
        Your endorsement of this book, its ideas and aims may be laudable but does not justify the betrayal of your fellow citizens encapsulated by your choice not to vote.

      8. Mike Sivier Post author

        Sorry if I seem to be coming down hard on you but you need to see the reality of the situation. People suffered terribly to secure the vote for you and now you can’t be bothered to prevent it from being abused.

      9. Bill Kruse

        That’s alright about criticising, it hadn’t occurred to me you might be being unduly harsh 🙂 Referring to what you were saying to Chekov, lack of accountability for politicians is a lot of the problem. IDS goes on TV and lies, goes in print and lies, stands in the house and lies and then breezes through a select committee ‘grilling’ because there’s none of them with a clue of how to interrogate or even properly question him. And why would they have? After all, they’re just MPs 🙁 This supposedly formidable process is in fact useless. I saw some of it and came away with the impression anyone who knew what they were doing could have verbally dismembered Duncan-Smith but we don’t have people in authority who know what they’re doing; we have MPs 🙁 He gets away with everything. There simply is no accountability. Difficult not to conclude politics and politicians are anything more than a complete waste of time then. I’m encouraged a little to see Tory Steve Baker has arranged for the first Parliamentary debate on money creation in rather more than a century (Nov 20th) but not enough to believe leaving our fate up to politicians is anything other than an abrogation of responsibility. I’ll keep on digging around in history looking for clues as to how our situation came about and what might be done to unravel it 🙂

    2. Ian Duncan

      That is pretty much the same response I go from my MP on the subject of TTIP and every other dealing I’ve had with him was similarly non-committal. When I had to ask for assistance on a personal matter he just passed it on to a (Tory) government minister who was pretty much uninterested and entirely useless. Couldn’t even answer a straight question on the law pertaining to his department.

      As for the much trumpeted business TTIP will bring to Britain, when did these billions ever filter down to the man and woman in the street?We’ll still be skint and we’ll lose the NHS and any semblance of democracy in the process. And if they promise jobs, that is just as disingenuous. If every scheme brought the promise of jobs did so everyone would be employed nineteen times over and Britain would be the land of milk and honey.

      Clear the lot of them out of Parliament. With meat cleavers, should that be necessary.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Of course, TTIP isn’t even close to being signed, nor will it be until long after the 2015 election.
        Of course, YOU won’t be voting for a change of government, so that’ll be neither here nor there to you.
        Of course, a Labour government would re-nationalise the NHS, meaning TTIP won’t make a difference to it – but you’re not voting for that.
        It seems to me that your choice of (in)action leads to much more uncertainty than actually participating in British politics would.

  8. Chekhov

    What is the point of voting if your vote is meaningless?..Since the whole corrupt “neo-liberal” scam will prevail whoever you vote for.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Is Lynton Crosby paying you to come out with this?
      Your vote is only meaningless if you’re determined that it should be.
      This whole “corrupt neo-liberal scam” as you call it only came about because people like you turned your back on the democratic process. Instead of holding politicians to account, you all said much the same as you’re doing now (with far less justification) and pretended it didn’t matter (much as you’re doing now).
      The system can be made to work for the people, because that’s what used to happen – but it won’t if you can’t be bothered.

  9. delboydave

    The reason why so many people don’t vote any more is because even when they do get involved and place their cross, nothing changes. The politicians do not listen to us, they just follow the party line. What happened to politicians having a social conscience? They have all taken the queens shilling and bugger the rest of us. How can they award themselves a massive pay rise yet the workers who create the wealth get nothing. And don’t say their pay rise was from an independant body. It is no more independant than if they were all MP’s. Even now they have tried to hide the details of what they spend their expenses on. No matter where we place our cross our country will still be run by neo-liberal elite who wouldn’t survive in the real world. As for labour re-nationalising the NHS? Don’t make me laugh. It was they that introduced PFI which was the thin end of the wedge and bankrupted the country laughing that the coffers were empty!! I have voted in every GE since I was 18 and I am now 61. My vote has never changed anything, we are still in a mess and, thanks to the EU we are likely to remain so. It dictates much of our policies and the politicians are just poodles. I want MY politicians and Parliament to represent ME and be accountable to ME not some faceless bunch in Brussels, and I have yet to see anything in the policies of the main parties that will achieve that. Of all the letters I have written to my MP’s, of both parties, not one has responded with anything like their own opinion, just a load of waffle and spin that tows the party line.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      In the case of Labour, the party line is what has been agreed after consultation with party members. If party members don’t take up responsibility for ensuring that policy reflects their beliefs, that’s their problem, isn’t it? To my way of thinking, much of Labour’s current policy stance has clearly been influenced by public feeling, but there are areas where people haven’t been as forceful as they might – perhaps they lacked the expertise in particular areas – so policies have come forward that are less desirable in the eyes of the general public (beyond party members).
      So politicians do listen to their party members – at least, Labour politicians do. We’ve seen the Lib Dem leadership ignore their grassroots members after conference votes, so fat chance there. And Tories arrange everything to suit the party leadership, much in the same way the Communist Party arranged matters in the former Soviet Union – there are far too many parallels between the Tories and these totalitarian forms of leadership – the Nazis are another such form – for comfort.
      There are plenty of politicians with a social conscience – it’s up to people like you to ensure they get selected to stand as MPs, and then get into Parliament and do what they said they would. If you don’t like what you’ve got, look first to yourself.
      (Note: I’m writing from experience – I supported the Liberal Democrat at the last election and he has been very nearly useless.)
      You say “they have all taken the queens shilling and bugger the rest of us”. What does the Queen have to do with any of this? She doesn’t tell them what to do.
      The pay rise is despicable, and proves that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is useless and should be disbanded in favour of a citizen-led body.
      Again you write of “a neo-liberal elite” – what have you, personally, done to rid the country of such people?
      You suggest that Labour would not re-nationalise the NHS, with inaccurate evidence about PFI to back it up. The Conservative Party introduced the Private Finance Initiative in 1992 or 1993. Labour took it on after receiving advice in its favour from Treasury civil servants. The country is not, and never has been, bankrupt; it is impossible to bankrupt a country with its own sovereign currency.
      If you are 61, and have voted in every election since your were 18, that means you are part of the generation that voted in the neoliberals you hate so much and caused the decline that you deplore (the first election for which you were eligible to vote would have been in early 1974). The way you – and the rest of the electorate – voted during that period, and particularly during the time of Margaret Thatcher, set the scene for everything that has happened since.
      Take responsibility.
      The current state of the country wasn’t brought about by unaccountable ‘others’ who would have had their way, no matter what – it was done by politicians who contrived to get themselves elected by members of the public.
      Your mentioning the EU merely confuses the issues. Which of the policies currently harming the UK did the EU force on us: Bedroom Tax? No. NHS privatisation? No. ‘Welfare reform’? No. Did the EU tell us to go to war with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya? No.
      We get the government our votes support. If you don’t like the current shower then you need to act against them, not run away and hide – as you are doing, even though you’re still broadcasting to us as if your opinion matters.
      As long as you believe that you are powerless, you will be powerless.
      But you really aren’t. You just need to realise that you’re running away.

      1. Rob Foster

        Labour played a good game of ‘let’s pretend we’re involving all members in party policy’.
        In actuality they had it sewn up.
        Local groups were allowed to submit proposals which were scrutinised and sorted by senior party members, MPs and shadow ministers and probably run past the big corporate lobbyists before being submitted for debate and voting. Anything remotely socialist like renationalising utilities or railways were firmly pushed to one side regardless of how many party activists and grassroots members wanted them debated and voted on.
        Late submissions were so restricted by the people at the top that they were pointless. I know. I was involved.
        Policy areas like the economy, welfare, NHS etc. had already been decided by the bigwigs and genuine participation and debate was stifled and snuffed out in favour of bigwigs again deciding what was going in the manifesto.
        I won’t be voting. I would attend to put NOTA in a box if it were an option.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        How were you involved, exactly? Is your name listed anywhere as being part of the process?
        Have you complained about the way it was handled?

  10. Ian Duncan

    I’m glad you’re so confident Labour would renationalise the NHS but they would also sign up to TTIP, they said as much in an email to me. Also in that email, the responder, no idea who it was now, said they were ‘keeping an eye on’ the ISDS section. If the ISDS section gets the do ahead no amount of promises on the NHS matter one bit as it will be financially prohibitive to renationalise.

    But still, at least the most ineffectual party leader in my memory by some distance is ‘keeping an eye’ on it. That’ll give those pesky multinationals something to think about.

    As for the earlier comment about me letting the filth in again by not voting, well I’m playing the long game; if Labour’s voter turnout keeps dropping, eventually they will have to do something about it. Besides, Labour just aren’t different enough for it to matter. They are pledged to more austerity, their version of workfare will still have elements of compulsion (even if the forced work pays some money it’s still forced work), they will retain the WCA… I speak as someone dependent on the ‘largesse’ of Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVomit, I know what it is to dread the postman coming with one of those brown envelopes. I also know the Labour started this s**t off in the first place, is still chock full of neoliberals (including Ed M and the rest of the shadow cabinet) and they show no sign of letting up on the Tory policy of kicking the s**t out of the poor.

    I have nothing to lose or gain whoever gets in. It makes zero difference to me.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      There is no danger of TTIP being ratified in this country before the General Election 2015. If Labour is elected into office, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 will be repealed the next day. TTIP would not have any relevance to the NHS in that circumstance.
      Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has ordered his vice-president to carry out a special investigation into ISDS, following the massive public outcry against it from across the EU. If the recommendation comes back that ISDS is no good, it will be removed from the draft TTIP agreement. It seems perfectly reasonable for Ed Miliband to be “keeping an eye on” it in those circumstances.
      You think he’s the most ineffectual party leader – clearly you haven’t been paying attention. Read this: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/11/16/ed-milibands-10-biggest-successes-as-labour-leader-at-a-glance-labourleft/ If you want an ineffectual party leader, look at Nick Clegg.
      As for you playing the long game, “I have nothing to lose or gain whoever gets in. It makes zero difference to me” – your compassion for your fellow human being is likely to astonish many people reading this. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, more people will die as a result of Conservative Party policies if that organisation continues in office.
      And I think you are mistaken. If you are “dependent on the ‘largesse’ of Iain Duncan Smith”, then they could decide it’s your turn at any time. When they come for you, who do you think will help, if you haven’t lifted a finger for anyone else?

      1. Ian Duncan

        You really think Rachel Reeves will be much different to IBS? Really? Because I don’t and have seen no sign of her being much better, the party is too timid and terrified of IDS and his ‘Labour are the party of welfare’ schtick and for whatever reason will just sit there and let him get away with literal murder. Miliband has seen what damage is being done and the way sick and disabled people are being hounded and remained silent. They, Labour, even connived to allow IBS his workfare sanctions bill emergency timetabling. Labour allowed it. So please excuse my cynicism as regards Labour rushing to the rescue of me and any other sick/disabled person. THEY WON’T. All these poor buggers the DWP have sanctioned? Labour facilitated it and are as culpable as IDS himself, Liam Byrne in particular.

        And you want people to vote for these morally cretinous personality disorder cases?

        Nah. You say I wouldn’t be lifting a finger to help anyone else? That’s a laugh, really, and could only have been said by a true hardcore member of the Labour Party, considering how the evidence stacks up against them. I now James Purnell [spit] is no longer in parliament (actually getting 300 grand a year for something or other at the BBC – the establishment taking care of itself) but the party doesn’t seem to have changed from the one that introduced all this in the first place, the one hat thought David Fraud was a good man for overseeing the benefits system. As I mentioned, Labour alowed sanctions legislation to go through (regardless of what te MPs say about being helpless), rarely criticise the DWP properly (Yvette Cooper on Question Time was performing all kinds of rhetorical gymnastics agreeing with IDS and trying to disagree at the same time. God help us if she takes over as leader. Vile, idiotic, patronising creature).

        Judge Labour by its actions and they are largely the same as they were 5 years ago. Putting wages up is start but they are still going to hammer the likes of me for having the temerity to be ill.

        Re. ISDS and TTIP. Labour can repeal the 2012 HSC act all they want, they will undo all that by not kicking TTIP and ISDS into the long grass. Europe is my only hope on that. If I’d kept my emails from Labour I’d repost them here and you’d see why; they were entirely noncommittal, wouldn’t even answer with a yes or no, equivocated when there was no need on the important stuff.

        Many Blairites may be gone (thank Christ) but that was just one faction, it’s not like the rest of them have renounced neoliberalism because they haven’t. You may put this opinion down to Lynton Crosbie but that is just burying your head in the sand. There is no substantive difference amongst the three parties.

        You might want to stop saying Labour’s critics are being hoodwinked by Crosbie, Noam Chomsky has been saying how similar political parties are and how narrow he debate is for years.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Just a couple of corrections: Labour MPs were advised to abstain from voting on the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill because Liam Byrne and Ed Miliband reckoned they had secured important concessions. You know perfectly well what I said at the time – that these concessions weren’t worth the time it takes to say what they are – and I attacked the Labour leadership bitterly over it. I cannot, therefore, understand why you want to take issue with me over it.
        ISDS and TTIP will not affect the NHS if the service is re-nationalised and private companies are denied the ability to compete for contracts within it. They will be irrelevant to that service. The two will not intersect. Companies will have no reason to take legal action against the state because they will not have been in a position to lose out – financially – from the loss of contracts when the TTIP agreement is brought in – if it is. I’m wondering how many more ways I can say this in plan language.
        The political parties were similar for a long time, but now Labour is pulling away from that neoliberal consensus that weighed us down for so long. It’s a shame that you are slow in realising this, but I’m sure it’ll come to you in time. Of course, like any political party, Labour will undoubtedly go back to Blairite neoliberalism if its new direction proves unpopular – so your disbelieving attitude could be harmful in the short run if it is adopted by many others.

  11. Rob Foster

    @Mike Sivier.
    It is ridiculous to say people should just vote to effect change.
    Our election system means at least 100 seats of Labour and Tory are safe as houses.
    The overall result will depend on a minority of seats where the incumbent changes between parties. My vote is meaningless in my constituency where at least 60% will vote for the same party as they have done for decades even if the party put a donkey up as their candidate.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      First thing: No politician is going to care what you think about anything if you don’t vote.
      Next: If you are in a ‘safe’ seat, and your elected representative is in the party you support but not doing what you want, then why not join the party and put your opinion across? You never know, others might agree with you (chances are, many will) and you could have that person replaced.
      If your MP is in an opposing party, then you need to get active to change that. It might take time but it is entirely possible.
      ‘Safe’ seats are only as safe as people in opposing parties allow them to be, and ‘safe’ MPs are only safe as long as they don’t upset their constituents too much.
      I’m not blowing smoke here – change of this sort is actually taking place in my own constituency. Hopefully it will be evident at the next general election; if not then, at the Assembly elections thereafter, or the general election after that. It does take time, but it is possible.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Ian Duncan sent this reply. Unfortunately another commenter has complained about an offensive word in his avatar. Rather than continue causing offense, I’ve decided to repeat his words in a comment of my own. I won’t keep doing this forever though, Ian, so if you want to continue being seen here, please change your avatar to one that won’t cause offence!

        Ian Duncan writes: “How do you change an MP, Labour in my case, from an obedient party loyalist to one who listens to the more left wing grassroots members and acts accordingly?

        My MP, Iain Wright, is a cypher and appears to have no values or ideology other than whatever the whips tell him on any particular day. I can not believe he’d defy the whips.

        So how do we convince him to? How do we make sure those ultra-loyalists never make it to the candidacy in the first place? I don’t now anything of the internal workings of the party so I have no idea. I do know all the candidates these days seem to be careerist New Labour types, the sort happy to say what an influence Thatcher was but would never utter the word ‘socialism’. You know the sort. How are these people parachuted in and how can they be stopped?

        I think changing the candidates for Westminster would be better than asking a New Labour type to be a bit more Old Labour.

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