Tag Archives: bankrupt

Councils are going bankrupt after the Tory government cut their funding

Council tax bill: but the levy on residents of council areas won’t save some authorities, because it is a massive cut in CENTRAL government grant that is bankrupting them.

There’s not a lot to add to this because the fault is self-evidently with the Conservative government in Westminster.

Oh – this is different from the situation in Birmingham that was brought about by a coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration imposing a sexist bonus scheme, for which the now-Labour-run council is going bankrupt while trying to pay compensation.

The fault still lies with the Tories, either way.


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If Birmingham is ‘bankrupt’ it is not because of Labour but TORY mismanagement

A Labour-run council has effectively declared bankruptcy, leading to mockery from Conservative MPs who are equating it with the way a Labour government would run the UK – wrongly.

Yes, Birmingham City Council has issued a section 114 notice, confirming that all new spending, with the exception of protecting vulnerable people and statutory services, must stop immediately – after receiving a £760m bill to settle equal pay claims.

It comes after a Supreme Court ruling back in 2012 found in favour of mostly female employees of Birmingham City Council – and that a bonus scheme that was handed out to staff in certain roles favoured those which were mainly taken up by men.

The Tories caused the problem that led to Birmingham Council’s woes

But here’s the kicker: the court ruling relates to people who were working at the council from 2004 to 2010 – when it was not controlled by Labour. Indeed, records show that in 2004 – the year from which claims could be made, the council was run by the Conservative Party, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

For most of the period covered by the court ruling, the council was under no overall control.

The plot thickens

When the council originally lost its Supreme Court appeal, back in 2012, it had been ordered to save £600 million by 2017 – by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government.

It could afford to borrow £429 million of the £757 million it was expecting to have to pay – but would have to get special dispensation from the government of the day to take out any more loans.

It seems likely that no such dispensation was forthcoming. This would indicate that it is not Labour, but the Conservatives, who are responsible for Birmingham Council’s precarious financial position.

So when MPs like Richard Holden, below, took to the social media to say things like

he was wrong. The council has been bankrupted by his own party (with help from the Liberal Democrats). Or so it seems to This Writer.

Some Tories, like Simon Clarke (below), have claimed that Birmingham is just one of many Labour-run councils that are now bankrupt. But this is to deny that Conservative-run councils are also out of money, as the context box indicates:

The vast majority of local authority funding comes from central government in the form of the Aggregate External Grant (AEG). It is this money that pays for the vast majority of council services.

The government of the day determines the amount to be given to each council.

This means that, if any council is struggling to provide services, it is likely to be because the Westminster government has not provided enough AEG funding.

So, again, it seems the Conservative government – not individual councils, no matter what the colour of their ruling political group – is responsible if any councils are in danger of financial collapse.


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#Labour is dead; who’s joining #PAL instead?

Rachel Reeves: it has been suggested that she would be more at home in the actual Conservative Party than Labour – but now Keir Starmer has turned the Red party into Tepid Tories it seems she has become comfortable again.

Rachel Reeves really put her foot in it on the morning media round today (Thursday, January 20, 2022).

Challenged over the fact that her political party – Keir Starmer’s Tepid Tories (formerly Labour) – has room for a right-wing Conservative, but not for a socialist like Jeremy Corbyn, she not only admitted that she was glad that Starmer had changed Labour into a pale reflection of the Conservatives, but also spluttered that Mr Corbyn should apologise for the fabricated anti-Semitism “crisis” that was foisted on him for political reasons by right-wing organisations outside the party and was then seized by right-wingers within Labour itself.

She lied, saying Mr Corbyn needed to apologise for his response to the “EHCR” [sic – she meant EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission)] report because it had said Labour was “institutionally anti-Semitic”; the EHRC report said no such thing. Here are the facts:

And she lied again, saying that Mr Corbyn damaged relations between the Labour Party and “the Jewish community”. Firstly, there is no single group that identifies as “the Jewish community” or represents all Jews in the UK (although there are some who falsely claim they do); and secondly, Mr Corbyn did nothing to upset any Jews at all – some people on the political right saw an opportunity to bring down a socialist by lying about him and opportunists like Ms Reeves joined them.

Hear it for yourself because here’s the clip:

If that wasn’t bad enough, Reeves seems to have gone on a destructive rampage against Labour’s left-wingers and through her own party’s current policies to ensure that a Labour Party with either her or Starmer as its MPs would never be acceptable to left-wing voters:

She said that the loss of 200,000 members was a “good thing” because it removed anti-Semites from the party, and “people who never shared our values”. She did not say what those values were but let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that this is a person who gave a glowing endorsement to Nancy Astor, who was an infamous anti-Semite, Nazi idealogue and supporter of Adolf Hitler.

She admitted that Keir Starmer’s Tepid Tories were in financial difficulty but lied yet again, saying this was Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. In fact, when Mr Corbyn handed over the party leadership to Starmer, Labour had £13.5 million in the bank. Starmer, and his general secretary David Evans, squandered the lot.

Some of these claims were made on the Today show; some in the Financial Times. None of them were corrected by either Today presenter Mishal Husain or any of the newspaper’s editorial staff. On the BBC’s side, this is surprising, because only last week the corporation apologised for not challenging claims of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn in another interview:

We may await an apology and correction – although I expect we shall be waiting a long time.

Fortunately, those of us who want a better life for more people than just the fabled “one per cent” don’t have to put up with Reeves’s nonsense any longer: there is an alternative:

It seems likely that at least six other groups are likely to announce their own involvement in PAL.

Of course, there will be no publicity from the BBC, Financial Times, or any of the other mainstream media. They’ve spent decades neutering Labour; they won’t want to let some other working-class Lefty upstarts rock the boat, now they think they’ve put us all back in our place.

If it’s a genuine alternative, it will grow in spite of them – and This Writer is looking forward to helping that happen.

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#Labour is said to be on verge of #bankruptcy – and we can all see the reason

Keir Starmer: if his job was to destroy the Labour Party, then it is nearly complete.

So there you have it. After less than two years in office, Keir Starmer has turned a bank account of around £13 million into bankruptcy.

And he was the Great White Hope of neoliberal right-wing Labour – the “any other leader” who was going to revitalise the party’s popularity and put it 20 points ahead of the Tories in the polls.

Labour is ahead of the Tories in some polls (just!) – but only because corrupt Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson has disgraced himself by breaking the rules he himself imposed on the people of the UK.

How did Starmer drag Labour to this new low?

Partly by launching a wrong-headed crusade against left-wingers/socialist party members, under the guise of attacking anti-Semitism. We all know it’s a false flag because he has been expelling left-wing Jews.

Court cases both by and against Labour, due to this outrageous behaviour, have cost the party millions.

And ordinary members have been deserting the party, having realised that Starmer is turning it back into a tepid version of the Tories that they simply won’t support.

What better example of this behaviour could we have than Starmer’s response to a vote on the Tory Welfare Cap on Monday (January 10)?

What a shocking indictment against Labour – the party that was set up to stand up for common people everywhere!

You can probably work out most of the Labour MPs who voted against the plan to restrict benefits to poverty levels and increase child poverty, but here’s the list:

Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Margaret Greenwood, Kate Hollern, Kim Johnson, Ian Lavery, Andy McDonald, John McDonnell, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Marie Rimmer, Zarah Sultana, and Beth Winter.

Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe also voted against it but of course Starmer has thrown them out of his Parliamentary party for no good reason.

183 Labour MPs abstained, including Starmer himself and his Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth – indicating tacit support for the harm the Tory measures will inflict on vulnerable people across the UK.

That is why Labour is nearly bankrupt: if Starmer won’t stand up for us, we can’t support him.

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How long will it be before #racist #KeirStarmer drives #Labour into #bankruptcy? Place your bets [VIDEO]

“Keith”: this is just one comment on the way Starmer treats members of his own party who support the values on which Labour was formed, rather than the twisted parody that he leads.

Can you believe it? After blowing a £13 million war chest within just 18 months, Labour Exploitation Party leader Keir Starmer is hammering the little people for cash again.

He’s embarking on a fourth round of staff redundancies and has been writing around to all constituency party units to find out if they have property he can sell off to pay for the huge expenses of the lawsuits he has incurred.

Here’s Cornish Damo to explain in his unique style:

It’s insanity.

Starmer seems hell-bent on pushing his ideological support for the genocidal Israeli government to its worst extreme, persecuting rank-and-file members who hate the racism and persecution he represents – even though they are responding in the courts, to his party’s cost.

Would he be so keen on litigation if it was his own cash at risk? Doubtful.

But it’s Labour’s funding that he’s flushing away – and this leads me to an inconvenient but inescapable conclusion:

Starmer seems to be determined to purge Labour of all its anti-racists – or to destroy Labour by bankrupting it.

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Leaked report warns of Covid-Brexit “horror show” – remember THIS IS WHAT BORIS JOHNSON WANTS

Two-fingered salute: the UK might fall into lawlessness and chaos because of Boris Johnson but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets what he wants.

A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case” report on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit combining with another wave of Covid-19 has laid out exactly what Boris Johnson wanted for the UK when he became PM.

Johnson, you’ll remember, did not want any trade deals with the European Union after the UK leaves that bloc.

It was widely believed that this is because the hedge fund managers who supported his bid to be Tory leader have bet heavily on the UK going into recession, with many big-name firms going out of business. The claim was that they could make £8 billion out of it.

Of course, none of these multi-billionaires care a fig about the rest of us. If the country falls into chaos they’ll be off to their holiday homes in the sun, with their cash safely stowed in a tax haven.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, you will be left to deal with food, fuel and power shortages, illness and deaths caused by flood, flu and Covid-19, and incursions into the country from outside such as EU boats coming into our fishing waters.

And, as may reasonably be expected from his government’s failures so far on Covid-19 – the school reopening furore, school meals, exam results, care home deaths, PPE procurement, face mask procurement, test and trace, contract nepotism… the list goes on and on – on flooding (remember that?) and on any other subject you care to mention, the Johnson government has not planned any response to this at all.

The article goes on to state:

  • One in 20 Town Halls could go bust in a second Covid wave, sparking social care chaos.
  • The economic impact of the virus and Brexit could cause public disorder, shortages and price hikes.
  • Troops may have to be drafted on to the streets to help the police in the worst-case scenario — 1,500 are already on stand by.
  • Social distancing measures and masks will have to continue until 2021 regardless.
  • Supplies of food and fuel are all under threat this Christmas if Dover becomes blocked.

The planners warned that “pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a Covid second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on ­disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability.”

It could be combined with likely “coordinated industrial action” as well as shortages risking public disorder and a mental health crisis that will hit the poorest hardest.

Nobody in a Tory government is going to worry about a mental health crisis that harms poor people, of course.

And the attitude by leading Tories to this frankly terrifying report seems to be that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Michael Gove is quoted as babbling: “We got Brexit done with a great deal in January.

“A brighter future awaits as we forge our own path.”

A government spokesperson did add that this was a “reasonable worst case” scenario.

But on the Johnson ministry’s record so far, it is stretching the facts to breaking point to suggest that the government is “ensuring we are ready for all eventualities”.

That simply is not going to happen. On the evidence of the last 12 months, it would be irresponsible to believe anything Johnson, his ministers or his spokespeople say about it.

But there’s one more matter to remember:

If this disaster happens, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than to prepare as well as you can (because the Tories simply won’t).

I anticipate another stockpiling splurge, worse than the rush for toilet roll in March, at the very least.

Obviously the worst-case will be social unrest and violence – and I’m not ruling that out, either.

Whatever happens, if we end up with no deal and any of the feared outcomes are triggered, you must remember (because he’ll lie about it):

It is what Boris Johnson wanted all along.

Source: Leaked document reveals Cabinet’s emergency plans for perfect storm of No Deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave

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Cameron’s ‘mission’ is morally bankrupt

140117democracy

When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.

When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.

That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.

Cameron has been responding after the Catholic Bishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, delivered a vehement attack on the social security “reforms” being forced on the country’s most vulnerable people by Iain Duncan Smith.

In the Daily Telegraph, Cameron smarmed: “Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right… Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up.

“We are in the middle of a long and difficult journey turning our country around,” Cameron said. “That means difficult decisions to get our deficit down, making sure that the debts of this generation are not our children’s to inherit.

“But our welfare reforms go beyond that alone – they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance.

“Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart too of our social and moral mission in politics today.”

Drivel. Any evidence-based analysis will find the exact opposite. Where are the opportunities in Workfare schemes that pay only benefits, meaning travel expenses alone put claimants out of pocket, and then send jobseekers back to the dole queue so rich companies can profit further by taking on more claimants on the same terms?

How can anyone derive hope from taking responsibility for their job search, when DWP staff at Jobcentre Plus are ordered to ignore their own responsibilities in favour of harsh sanctions for invented infringements of the Jobseeker’s Agreement?

And how is encouraging people to say they are self-employed, even though they have little chance of earning enough to support them and none of enjoying a holiday or a pension, different from writing them off with no chance?

Look at the new employment figures from the Office for National Statistics – the Coalition government has been making a song and dance about them ever since they came out. On the face of it, they seem reliable: In December 2013, 30.15 million people were in work of some kind, up by 396,000 from the same time the previous year; there were 2.34 million unemployed, down 161,000 from December 2012; and the Claimant Count (those on Jobseekers’ Allowance) was 1.22 million in January, down 327,000 from a year earlier.

However, the number of people marked as self-employed has rocketed to a record level, totalling one in seven of the workforce. That’s 4,370,000 – up 150,000 on the previous year. This is extremely suspicious, as the increase in the previous year totalled 25,000 – just one-sixth of this week’s figure.

Some of these people might be genuinely self-employed and making their new business work – but all of them? In an economy where productivity hasn’t increased since the Coalition took office? You’d have to be stupid to believe that.

Assuming the amount of real self-employment has increased in line with economic growth (at 1.9 per cent), that’s an extra 25,475 in 2013, leaving 124,525 in limbo. Are these really self-employed? Or were they told by Jobcentre advisors to say so and claim working tax credits (as we’ve seen in the past), leading to a huge debt when HMRC tells them they have been claiming fraudulently and have been overpaid?

How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to sanctions? We don’t know, because we don’t have figures up to December 2013. We do know that 897,690 sanctions were enforced in the year to September 2013. We don’t know how many were for one month, how many for three months or how many for three years, but we do know that the rate was six per cent of jobseekers per month in the three months to the end of September 2013. Assuming that rate stayed solid, it suggests that 73,200 were off-benefit due to sanctions in December and should be added to the Claimant Count to give a more accurate figure.

How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to Workfare? We don’t know. How many are unemployed but on Universal Credit, which isn’t included in the Claimant Count? We don’t know – 3,610 were on it at the end of November last year, but the DWP has not divided them into those in work and those without.

David Cameron has access to all of this information, and he doesn’t care. He also has access to the mortality figures for claimants of Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance, that the DWP has been withholding from the rest of us, probably for fear of sparking an international outcry. He doesn’t care about that either.

His comments are therefore doubly outrageous – not only is he claiming that his Coalition’s changes are having a beneficial effect when the figures demonstrate the opposite, but he is also claiming the moral high ground when his actions are more appropriate to the populace of the Pit.

In terms of his morality, there can be only one description for him and his cronies:

Bankrupt.

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Public and private debt reach record levels under ConDem Coalition

inflation

Household debt in the UK has reached a record £1.43 trillion, according to the BBC. What a marvellous achievement for Gideon George Osborne to put next to his already-record public net debt of £1.212 trillion (excluding interventions) or £2.184 trillion (including them).

If you’re surprised at that, don’t be – he needs to pretend that there isn’t any money so he can cut any services that are still left in the public domain after the fire sale of the last few years.

The Tory plan was always to increase private debt. Of course it was – if you cut public spending for people on the breadline, then they go into debt. Why do you think Wonga.com’s owner Dawn Capital is such a prolific contributor to Tory Party funds, with £537,000 in known donations this time last year?

The rich are shielded from debt problems in the same way they are shielded from taxation, thanks to the way our tax laws have been rewritten in their favour – all their money is safely tucked away in tax havens and can’t be touched.

On average, each adult in the UK owes £28,489. Some owe much more than that, though. Yr obdt srvt doesn’t owe a bean to anyone, despite being very poor, so that’s already £28,489 to be spread among everyone else. Mrs Mike isn’t in debt either.

The BBC report cautiously suggests that the record debt level “might increase concerns that the UK’s economic recovery [you know, the one they keep talking about on the news and in Parliament as if it actually exists] is based on increased borrowing, rather than growth sustained by rising incomes” – which of course is correct.

According to The Money Charity, total net lending by UK banks and building societies rose by £1.9 billion in September 2013 – that’s just in one month.

Over the four quarters to Q2 2013, they wrote off £3.67 billion of loans to individuals. In Q2 2013, the daily write-off was £7.61 million.

Based on the latest available data, every day in the UK 285 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt – that’s one every five minutes; 84 properties are repossessed; 1,447 people lost their jobs and eight people became unemployed for more than 12 months; 141 mortgage possession claims are issued and 113 mortgage possession orders are made; and 431 landlord possession claims are issued and 319 landlord possession orders are made.

The benefit system helps nobody. It has been redesigned specifically to push people further into debt – the cap on benefit rate increases to one per cent per year means people are two per cent worse-off for every year it continues, while inflation remains at current levels.

It is in this atmosphere that words written in this blog more than a year ago come back to haunt us all: “What do people do for money when the State fails them and they can’t get work? They fall into the debt trap.

“High-interest, doorstep lending to poor people is Britain’s latest – perhaps only – boom industry. In other words, the government’s sick benefits regime is forcing the poor into debt to organisations that will take away everything they have left, in order to make up payments on a loan whose interest rate they probably made up on the spot.

“And when they’ve taken everything, what do you do then?

“Do you really want your kids to starve?”

Sad to see this Tory candidate has not learnt from the last letter I wrote about him

Tory Parliamentary candidate Chris Davies: In his letter he accuses local Labour members of "acting as disciples of their London hierarchy" - and then regurgitates as much of the drivel handed down to him by his own Westminster masters as he can manage.

Remember Chris Davies? The Tory candidate I shot down in the letters page of the local press because he was parroting the lies of Iain Duncan Smith and Grant Shapps at the population of my constituency as though they were the Gospels and he was God’s Own Messenger?

Well, he came back for more.

“Please allow me the opportunity to respond to the letter from the Labour Party’s Llandrindod branch chairman, Mike Sivier,” he writes. I’m not the branch chairman – just the secretary. Believe me, this is not the biggest mistake he makes!

“He obviously exists in the deluded fantasy world of the Labour Party, a party that has failed to learn the lesson from the last period in government and still actively promotes state dependency over individual responsibility and work.” He’ll contradict himself a few paragraphs down, but I wondered what he meant by that – “still actively promotes state dependency over individual responsibility and work”. I can’t say I do that. I actively promote work that benefits all those who carry it out – look at my article about the Liberal Democrat employee-ownership idea. I campaign against zero-hours contracts, Workfare/the Work Programme, and other practices that exploit the worker in order to make a big profit for bosses while they sit back and do nothing (the lazy scroungers!). I campaign against forcing people into work that is inequitable, and recalling that Cllr Davies’ original letter was about benefits, I include forcing the sick and disabled to seek work in that category. So if he is criticising me for actively promoting fairness and equitable employment practices over his party’s exploitation, then I stand guilty as charged. But I believe this reveals something about himself he would rather keep hidden.

“This is the same Labour Party which, despite bringing this country to the brink of bankruptcy,” – this is impossible – “still has the audacity to deny spending too much whilst they were in government,” – Labour didn’t – “and is still calling for even more borrowing and spending.” Labour isn’t.

“The last Labour government allowed the welfare budget to soar by 60 per cent in a decade.” It’s more like 40 per cent, and if you think that doesn’t excuse Labour, wait until you see my proof that social security spending has never been under control for any sustained period since the modern welfare state began, with the exception being between 2001-7, during the last Labour government! “They allowed housing benefit alone to increase by 100 per cent to £21 billion! The cynical among us say they did this to simply buy the votes of benefit claimants. Whatever the reason, the benefit system inherited by the Conservative-led coalition government was horrendously bloated, disgracefully unfair and heavily defrauded.” Wrong again. Welfare reforms since 1996 have unpicked around 30 per cent of the dependency that built up during previous Conservative governments, and the long-term pattern of social security spending relative to GDP had been falling since the year 2000. It was only the recession engineered by the Tories’ friends, the bankers, that pushed spending upwards – and Cllr Davies won’t blame Labour for a problem created by bankers, surely? (I’m being sarcastic. Of course he will. Every other Tory seems to).

“Benefit fraud totals £1.2 billion a year. You could build a lot of hospitals for £1.2 billion.” This is something that another Tory councillor wrote in a letter to a different paper. My response was: The claim that money saved will be used on hospitals and schools is fantasy. The aim of the cuts is to shrink the state – reducing the amount provided for vital public services. It was never the intention to redistribute savings to hospitals. In fact, David Cameron himself has been rebuked for lying when he said the Coalition was putting extra money into the NHS – funding dropped by nearly £1 billion between 2010 and 2012.

“Yet despite these facts,” WHAT FACTS? “Mr Sivier and his socialist comrades in the Labour Party are still opposing reform of the welfare system.” Absolutely untrue! The system now needs reform more than ever before – to eradicate forever the changes made by Iain Duncan Smith and his Tory-boy friends, and remove the bloodstains from its character, caused by the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people whose only crime was to have fallen ill or become disabled.

“What is so sad is Labour’s inability to see how their reign over the welfare system proved so disastrous for hardworking families, the most financially disadvantaged and the most vulnerable members of our society.” I don’t see that – but then, this is because it didn’t happen.

“We now have a generation of people trapped in welfare dependency.” That’s an Iain Duncan Smith lie. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated that this claim has no basis in fact. “We have widespread abuse of the benefits system.” IDS lies again. Benefit fraud stands at 0.7 per cent of the total number of claims. Widespread. HA ha-ha! “We have people travelling from the other side of the world to exploit the UK’s ‘generous’ benefits.” Yet another Iain Duncan Smith lie! Channel 4 News Factcheck looked for the figures, but when they asked HM Revenue and Customs for them, the response was that the tax credit system does not record nationalities of claimants, and HMRC doesn’t have the figures! No basis, therefore, in fact. “Who picks up the bill for all this?” All what? “As always it is the UK’s hardworking families who have to pay for Labour’s incompetence.” Except they’re not. They’re paying for the BANKERS‘ incompetence (see my reference to the bank crisis, earlier).

“I am more than happy to discuss our welfare reforms every week for the next two years if Labour really wants to.” That’s good because it’s exactly what’s going to happen! “They are on the wrong side of the argument on this issue and on the wrong side of public opinion.” If he has to tell newspaper readers that Labour is on the wrong side, he’s already lost the argument. As for public opinion, we know the national media are owned by right-wing press barons who push the Tory side of the stories.

“I might just add that in the last fortnight, it seems that Labour has started to realise the electoral folly of their opposition to welfare reform and is beginning to perform some screeching u-turns. Despite months of howling protests from Labour, their party leader has now said that should they get into government, they will NOT reverse any of the coalition’s spending cuts, including those on welfare!

“It would seem that Labour high command failed to inform Mr Sivier of that policy change.”

Readers of this blog will know that I’m well aware of that issue – and will also know exactly what I think of it!

Here’s my response – going out to the paper today:

Chris Davies seems to have his ideas back to front. At first he tells us I’m the epitome of current Labour thinking, but by the end of his latest missive, I’m out of touch with Labour’s “high command”, whatever that is. The truth is that I am lucky enough to be a member of a party that does not require its members to be mindless drones, parroting the latest approved message from above – like the nonsense that has been handed down to Cllr Davies from Tory Party head office.

There are so many lies in his letter that it is hard to know where to start, so I’ll concentrate on the heart of the matter: Social security reforms and Labour’s record. I have already quoted some figures to Mr Davies but he clearly doesn’t want to take my word for it. Perhaps he’ll accept that of Bristol University Professor Paul Gregg instead (I have no idea what Prof Gregg’s political leanings are).

In his 2010 paper, ‘Radical Welfare Reform’ http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/bulletin/winter10/gregg.pdf he stated: “The number of welfare claims has actually declined, given the state of the economic cycle… welfare reforms since 1996 [under Labour] have unpicked about 30 per cent of the build-up of excessive welfare dependence after 1979 [under the Conservatives].”

Professor Gregg continues: “In terms of worklessness leading to reliance on welfare, the picture is not of a broken system. Rather it is of a system that has been steadily improving since 1995 but masked by the current recession… Welfare growth has never been under control for any sustained period since the modern welfare state began, with the exception only of the six years from 2001-2 to 2007-8 [under Labour]”.

He is saying that the last Labour government is in fact the ONLY government to have got social security spending under control since the Welfare State was introduced. The graph accompanying his paper shows this to devastating effect, with spending under the Conservative governments of Thatcher and Major increasing by up to 80 per cent in a single year!

In short Professor Gregg finds Labour’s record good – and the Tories’ record appalling. As for Cllr Davies’ other assertions, may I direct readers to my article on the Internet, where they should find responses to most, if not all, of them. In brief: The UK, as a sovereign country with its own currency, cannot be brought to bankruptcy. It didn’t spend too much in government until the Tories’ friends, the bankers, engineered the crisis and recession that caused all our current woes. It is not calling for more borrowing and spending. The benefit system was neither bloated nor unfair, and certainly was not heavily defrauded – unless you consider a 0.7 per cent total fraud rate to be excessive. No hospitals will ever be built from benefit savings under a Conservative government and the suggestion that they could is nothing but a lie. We do not have intergenerational welfare dependency. We do not have widespread abuse of the benefit system. We do not have foreigners travelling here for so-called ‘benefit tourism’.

Labour does not oppose reform to the welfare system – it simply opposes Conservative changes that are intended to cause harm.

If Cllr Davies is determined to continue making a fool of himself, every few weeks for the next two years, I’m quite happy to take him up on it. Perhaps he should bear in mind that, with the Internet, we are all perfectly able to check his so-called “facts” for ourselves.

And where is his apology for repeating IDS’ and Grant Shapps’ statistical claims about DWP benefits? Those claims have now been proved, beyond any doubt, false.