Daily Archives: February 23, 2015

Chances of Labour-SNP alliance are dwindling due to nationalists’ own strategy

SNPlogo

Now even shadow cabinet members are speaking openly against any alliance with the SNP, post-election.

Vox Political has previously reported on Labour backbenchers’ concerns that any link with the Scottish nationalists would make a future Labour government vulnerable to a partner who would walk out when it best suited them – and least suited Labour.

Now it seems this concern has spread to shadow minister. Andrew Rawnsley has reported in The Guardian: “A growing number within the shadow cabinet … are urging a much more emphatically anti-SNP message.

“One of them says that Labour now needs to say ‘loud and clear’ that it would not treat with the nationalists as ‘a party that wants to tear the United Kingdom apart’.

“Another agrees: ‘We’re going to have to say no deal with the SNP.’

“It is also necessary, they argue, to disabuse Scottish voters of the notion that voting SNP will give them a perfect world in which David Cameron is thrown out of Number 10 and Scots hold sway at Westminster.

“Senior Labour figures also contend that striking any sort of bargain with the SNP would be such a strategic mistake that they should never countenance doing one anyway.

“Says a member of the shadow cabinet: ‘If we do a deal with the nationalists, my fear is that it will not just be the end of the Labour party in Scotland, it will be the end of the Labour party in England.’”

This is bad news indeed for supporters of the nationalist party, who were banking on being able to tell Scottish voters that Labour was a spent force in their country – and then convince them that voting SNP would give them a strong voice in an alliance with the same party in Westminster. It isn’t logical, but that’s what they’ve been saying.

And the nationalists are now finding themselves in bed with the Conservative Party, in their attacks on Labour.

North of the border, the SNP tells voters Labour is too similar to the Tories (this is, of course, a lie).

South of the border, the Tories are telling voters Labour is too willing to ally with the nationalists.

The two claims are mutually exclusive. A party that was similar to the Tories would never ally with the SNP, and the SNP would never ally with a party that was similar to the Tories.

But that doesn’t matter because they are being made to different sets of voters. It’s only when these fictions are presented side-by-side that they look as ridiculous as they really are.

Either way, the result will be the same, if voters are persuaded by these false arguments. As Rawnsley writes: “The Tories and SNP suggest that a vote for the nationalists will be a vote for a Labour government. The reverse is much more likely to be the case.

“What a mighty irony it would be if voting SNP were to put David Cameron back in Downing Street.

That outcome might secretly delight the leadership of the SNP.

It is rather more doubtful that it would please many of the Scots currently saying they plan to vote nationalist.

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Tories only tell you what to spend if you’re poor – Jayne Linney

Mark Harper the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions was on Radio4 Today this morning, talking about Cameron’s promise to protect pensions; in his discussion he stated “we can’t tell people how to spend their money“, writes Jayne Linney.

Where then does this leave the vow from IDS that he is “testing prepaid cards, onto which we will make benefit payments, so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family”? ‘Given the total contrast between Ministers statements, who can we believe, Harper’s – we trust the public or Ids – the poorest must be told where to shop and what to buy’?

What do you think? Read the rest on Jayne’s blog site.

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Cameron cold-shoulders calls to limit commercial corruption of MPs

Cameron's attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister, while effectively banning the public from speaking out against it.

Cameron’s attitude to Parliamentary corruption: When he brought in the Lobbying Act, it ensured that rich corporations had unfettered access to MPs and the Prime Minister himself.

The Labour Party is banning its MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies, to ensure that their only interest is their duty to their constituents.

Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have been put on notice that, from the coming General Election, the party’s standing orders will be changed to prevent them holding such second jobs.

The measure, which Ed Miliband has confirmed will be included in the party’s manifesto, would ensure no Labour MP holds a paid directorship or consultancy.

Labour is also consulting on legislative measures including placing a strict cap – similar to one that exists for members of the US Congress – on any additional money they can earn beyond their salary as representatives of the people.

Mr Miliband’s actions follow a series of allegations over recent years, about how MPs from both sides of the House of Commons have risked a conflict of interest by seeking or taking paid work from outside organisations.

Most recently, former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw (Labour) and Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) were secretly filmed apparently offering their services to a private company for cash.

It is claimed Mr Straw – a major figure in New Labour – said he had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, is reported to have told reporters posing as representatives of a fake Chinese firm that he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world.

Mr Miliband has written to Tory leader David Cameron, challenging him to impose on Conservative MPs the same restrictions as are being placed on Labour’s.

The letter states: “I write … not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

“The British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.”

He added that Labour “is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs”.

Vox Political applauds this move by Mr Miliband and Labour.

Long-term readers may remember this site’s e-petition, on the government’s website, to ban MPs from speaking or voting in debates on matters which could lead to them, companies connected with them or donors to their political party, gaining money.

Labour’s move goes further than that, by banning MPs from having any financial connection with commercial operations and interests.

It seems unlikely that Mr Cameron will do the honourable thing, though.

He has removed the party whip from Rifkind, but said he has no control over the chairmanship of the Intelligence committee. Rifkind has stated that he will not willingly step down from it.

Cameron said he approves of MPs having second jobs.

He said Labour would allow someone to be a trade union official but not “to run the family shop” or something similar, which is a gross misinterpretation of the issue.

This is not about running family shops; it is about taking money from huge corporations, to impose commercial priorities on the nation to the detriment of the general public. But Cameron will never admit that, or speak out against it.

He supports it.

Cameron promises to protect pensioners’ benefits. Do you believe him?

He's dreaming of all the cash he'll take away from the old, after he has hoodwinked them into voting for him again.

He’s dreaming of all the cash he’ll take away from the old, after he has hoodwinked them into voting for him again.

Why should you believe a word David Cameron says?

He has repeated a pledge not to introduce means testing for benefits such as bus passes, TV licences and the winter fuel allowance, if elected (not re-elected; he didn’t get enough support for that in 2010) in May.

This is the man who “looked down the barrel of a camera” (as he describes it) in 2010, promised to protect the NHS, and to tell any cabinet minister proposing cuts to frontline services that they should go away and think again.

He is denying the state pension to increasing numbers of people with a staged plan to raise the pensionable age. Members of Parliament, meanwhile, will receive transitional protection as the pensionable age rises – meaning they won’t miss out. Members of the public fund 60 per cent of Parliamentarians’ pensions.

Firefighters could lose their pensions altogether because of his plan to raise their pensionable age. Iif they don’t serve their full term, they won’t get the pension – but they can be ruled out of service if they fail the fitness tests (and older firefighters are more likely to fail).

What good is the promise to protect pensioners’ benefits if they have to learn how to use the Internet in order to get them? Remember, Francis Maude has proposed this extra hurdle for senior citizens and you won’t see Call-Me-Dave speaking against it.

He has already ended protections for those who receive Pension Credit. From April, 2016, the ‘assessed income period’ system will be abolished and pensioners will be exposed to the same draconian system of monitoring and case reviews as the disabled and jobseekers.

And we have to ask ourselves how safe pensioners’ free bus passes, TV licences and winter fuel allowance really are. Iain Duncan Smith announced more than a year ago that he was considering removing benefits that are exclusively for pensioners, in order to strengthen his benefits cap – and we know that David Cameron can’t stand up to Iain Duncan Smith.

So, do we believe him when he promises now that he will protect pensioners’ benefits in the future?

Not likely!

Afterword: A commenter on Facebook has just pointed out that pensioners will also be subject to the Bedroom Tax under a future Cameron government – yet another backdoor way of penalising people who worked hard all their lives and deserve better in retirement.

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Strikes: monsters that are almost extinct – Flip Chart Fairy Tales

150223labour-disputes-1931-2014

After he wisely cautioned the government against further trade union legislation a few years ago, Norman Tebbit changed his tune in the Telegraph earlier this week, writes Flip Chart Rick.

In a piece which summoned up the ghost of militancy past, he backed proposed new laws on strike ballots and warned of “irresponsible minorities of trades unionists in the public services engaged in blackmailing their employers into pay rises or other concessions”.

A lot has changed since the 1980s. As luck would have it, the ONS released the latest data on labour disputes yesterday. Its records go back to 1931. To say that the number of days lost to industrial disputes is at an all time low is something of an understatement.

Rick thinks the Tories would be picking a fight with a monster that is already extinct. For his reasons, see the article on Flip Chart Fairy Tales.

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