Tag Archives: elect

Labour lowers requirement to trigger selection of new Parliamentary candidates

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has reduced the required number of votes needed to trigger the selection of new Parliamentary candidates.

The decision means constituency Labour parties may more easily rid themselves of MPs who members feel no longer have the good of the party at heart.

This may include those who have spoken out against party leader Jeremy Corbyn because they do not share his political views, rather than over any wrong-doing he may be perceived to have carried out.

It may also include those who have deliberately attempted to hinder Labour’s electoral chances while Mr Corbyn is leader.

But the rule change also means members of the party’s right-wing may take advantage too – in order to remove supporters of Mr Corbyn and/or his policies.

Skwawkbox (quoted below) suggests that all those who wish to ensure the Parliamentary Labour Party more adequately resembles its left-wing membership need to get organised now, contacting their CLP secretaries to ensure they can make the necessary arrangements, and This Writer agrees.

The full procedures document can be downloaded here.

Labour members eager for the opportunity to choose a new parliamentary representative now have a green light to start the ‘trigger’ process – and some will face a lower hurdle to successfully force a full selection contest, after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed a change to the application of the ‘one in three branches’ trigger threshold.

In Labour’s new trigger rules, one in three member branches must vote for a selection contest in order to ‘trigger’ one.

However, the total from which ‘one in three’ will be calculated will be of those branches participating in the vote’, not of all branches in the CLP. Moribund branches therefore cannot be used by supporters of MPs hoping to avoid a selection contest to raise the bar.

Source: Excl: green light for triggers as Labour NEC lowers bar further | The SKWAWKBOX

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NHS-hater Paul Nuttall elected to lead UKIP. How long will this one last?

Paul Nuttall outside the Emmanuel Centre in London moments before he was announced as the new Ukip leader [Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA].

Paul Nuttall outside the Emmanuel Centre in London moments before he was announced as the new Ukip leader [Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA].

The only piece of information you really need about Paul Nuttall is that he wants to privatise the NHS completely.

He published this information on his website a few years ago, then took it down when he realised it was unpopular with the general public.

Fortunately, some of us made screen grabs so it could be kept for posterity.

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The campaigning group HOPE Not Hate has published 10 reasons to oppose Mr Nuttall. His opposition to the NHS comes in at number five, and here are the others:

1. Has strongly supported Farage’s “Breaking Point” billboard [which showed a snaking line of – allegedly – immigrants on their way into the UK].
2. He believes there is a secret coordinated Muslim plot to become a majority in Europe.
3. In a speech in the European Parliament Nuttall labelled the response of the EU to the refugee crisis as “freedom of movement of Jihad”.
4. He wants to ban the burqa [an act that would prohibit people from coming to the UK on religious grounds].
6. He wants a 31% flat rate of tax, meaning the rich pay far less.
7. He wants prison conditions to be made deliberately worse and the 1967 Criminal Justice Act to be abolished.
8. Nuttall believes climate change is a “hair-brained theory”.
9. Was one of only 14 MEPs to vote against a crackdown on the illegal ivory trade.
10. Opposes same-sex marriages.

The Guardian‘s claim (below) that Mr Nuttall’s election marks the end of UKIP’s troubles seems premature.

The previous leader, Diane James, lasted just 18 days in the job before leaving due to a lack of support.

Mr Nuttall seems to be trying to prevent a repetition of this kind of PR disaster by creating one that is unique to himself: He told members that, if they did not support him, they would be booted out of the party.

What a charming man.

Paul Nuttall has been elected by Ukip members to replace Nigel Farage as leader, ending a turbulent period for the party after the referendum to leave the European Union.

Nuttall, the former deputy leader, was elected with 62.6% of the 15,405 votes cast. His presumed nearest challenger, Suzanne Evans, won just 19.3% of the votes, only 200 more than the rank outsider, John Rees-Evans, who won 18.1%.

The MEP for north-west England takes over from Farage, who had returned briefly as interim leader in October when his chosen replacement, Diane James, stepped down after just 18 days in the job, citing a lack of internal party support.

Speaking at a party event in London after being announced as leader, Nuttall called for unity following tumultuous months for the party. He told members that if they did not wish to unite “your time in Ukip is coming to an end”.

Source: Paul Nuttall elected as Ukip leader | Politics | The Guardian

Postscript: I understand the BBC broadcast live coverage of the election result. Some commentators have questioned this but I think it was the right decision. UKIP may have only one MP, but it had 12.7 per cent of the vote in the 2015 general election – more than one-third as many as the Conservatives, who won. That is a significant amount and should be respected.

Besides, if we show people what UKIP really is, they might stop voting for this far-right pressure group.

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Labour must turn and fight now – or give up its electoral hopes altogether

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party's narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us 'One Nation' again, rather than hanging on David Cameron's neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party’s narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us ‘One Nation’ again, rather than hanging on David Cameron’s neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

The political debate is all about the Labour Party again today – as it has been since the Budget.

The newspapers and websites are full of advice for the party, which is now clearly seen to be struggling to gain any kind of a foothold with electors who have become disillusioned at what might best be called the Party of Very Little Opposition.

Labour “must adopt new principles” according to an alliance of thinktanks and party intellectuals who have written to The Guardian; Ed Miliband has been told “don’t play safe” with the party’s manifesto according to an article on the same paper’s site.

The BBC News site has words from left-wing MP John Mann, calling on his party leader to stop trying to be “too clever” and be “much clearer” in setting out his policies.

We can probably discount the Telegraph article by Dan Hodges, claiming that Labour is “closed for business”. It plays to right-wing readers’ prejudices just a little too much.

Will Ed pay any attention to these pleas? Evidence suggests he will not.

I should clarify from the outset that, as a Labour member, I want the Party to win in 2015 (and also to gain the lion’s share of the vote in May’s European elections).

But Miliband seems to be living in a world of his own, insulated from the rest of the Labour Party – not to mention supporters of Labour ideals who are not members – by a small group of (not-so-special) advisers who, it’s claimed, intercept any decent ideas before they get to the party leader and spin them until they turn to drivel. Whether this is true or not seems immaterial as this is the perception of the general public.

And perception is everything.

As I write this article I have just received a comment stating that “Miliband’s strategy for the next election seems to be a) to accept the Tory frame of reference for any given argument and b) to then concede the field of battle on that issue, whatever it is, without a shot being fired.” This is a common complaint, and Labour has no answer to it.

Why do Miliband, Balls, Tristram Hunt (notably), Rachel Reeves (lamentably) and all the other Labour frontbenchers blithely accept the Coalition’s terms of reference on any issue, against the wishes of their own backbenchers, their party as a whole and the public at large?

Are they really just a gang of greedy moneygrubbers, determined to screw the country for whatever they can get? That in itself would be a betrayal of Labour Party ideals and their constituency parties should deselect them if members believed that to be the case for one moment.

Are they a gang of neoliberals, their political philosophy so close to that of the Conservatives that you can’t get a credit card between them? This rings threateningly true in the cases of Oxford PPE graduats Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, ex-Bank of England employee Rachel Reeves and Tristram Hunt. But Ed Miliband is (famously) the son of a Marxist. He, above all, should know better.

The trouble is, David Miliband is the son of the same Marxist and he was as much a part of the neoliberal New Labour Red Tory deception as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Oh look – another comment has just arrived. “More people don’t bother to vote because they feel that we as a people have moved on and all we really want is people who will represent us honestly, by majority and with no hidden agendas, backhanders or lobbyists pulling the strings. I don’t see any evidence that the present government or the Labour Party are capable or willing to do just that… They should have the courage to change and become the voice of the people.”

Become the voice of the people. The meaning is clear – Labour is not currently representing anybody at all.

Is this true? Let’s look at some of the other comments on my (left-leaning, let’s not forget) blog. These are from people who are generally sympathetic to Socialism and who should, therefore, see Labour as the natural home of their vote. What do they say?

“[Is it] any wonder [that] 1. People don’t vote because they are seen as “all the bloody same”? and 2. The perceived differences have become so minuscule?”

“Until Labour wakes up and realises it is the welfare cuts that are a major concern to most of us and to anyone who has a conscience, they will lose the next election due to apathy.”

“Labour have to do something different to what they have up to now but they don’t seem to want to. Are they scared of being in government over a country in the state it is?”

“Labour have had four years to do something – anything – to fight against the welfare cuts, and to help the people they are supposed to be the party for! They’ve really done nothing when all is said and done.”

If Ed Miliband was reading this, I would be asking if he was getting the message yet (are you, Ed?) and what he proposes to do about it. You think not? Let’s have some more comments from people who should be supporting Labour – I’ve got plenty of them!

“There has been absolutely no fight in this opposition and I am ashamed of them.”

“People need a reason to apply their votes to Labour and Miliband-Balls are not providing them with one. They are sleepwalking into another hung Parliament and a very real risk of the Tories teaming up with UKIP. Then we’ll really see Nazism grip this country.”

“The would-be voters demand change and need bold new policies to blunt the Tory cutters. If the Labour Party cannot come up with policies which are radical then they don’t deserve to be in power at the next election, or ever.”

“Ed Balls worries me because he seems intent on copycatting Osborne. For example Osborne says he will run a surplus by the end of the next Parliament and Balls promises the same. Osborne say he will be introducing a Benefit Cap on social security spending on working age benefits (which could have devastating effects and lead to real terms cuts in benefits for years on end) and Balls says that Labour will vote with the Coalition to introduce it.”

“Surely we need some clear red water between Labour and the Tories? Surely Labour needs to differentiate itself more from the policies of the Coalition?”

“I sent an email to the Labour Party asking for its policy on TTIP (the rightly-feared Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will force employment standards down to third-world levels, or below), amongst other things. They were decidedly equivocal and I felt no reassurance at all. I think it’s about we faced facts, Labour aren’t being coy in a pre-election year to avoid frightening the horses, they really are just another pack of neoliberals.”

This is how left-wing voters (and the squeezed-middle waverers to whom Ed Miliband keeps trying to pander) see the modern Labour Party: Carbon-copy Tories with no fresh ideas who aren’t worth the effort of voting.

If any of Ed’s shadow cabinet is okay with that description, he needs to sack them and bring in someone with a clue. And he needed to do it last year.

If the Conservatives win in 2015, it seems clear that responsibility will lie as much with Labour’s failure to provide any clearly-visible alternative.

We have already seen carnage inflicted on the poor, the sick and disabled, and a Conservative-only government (or in collaboration withUKIP) would increase that bloodshed tenfold (senior citizens take note: the bribe you were given last week was a trick and if you vote Conservative, many of you will not live to rectify your error at another election).

Unless Ed Miliband sorts out his party – pronto – that blood will be on his hands as well, and the people will not forgive him.

Note that I did not say they won’t forgive Labour. I said they won’t forgive Ed Miliband.

Words cannot describe the way people feel at what has been done to them by the Coalition. If Labour reveals even the slightest element of complicity, I wouldn’t give a farthing for Miliband’s safety.

That goes for the rest of the shadow cabinet too.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Coalition drags out the pain with promise of many more cuts

140205cuts

The BBC has reported findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that the Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year (March 31).

The organisation said 60 per cent of the cuts were still to come.

This raises a few urgent questions. Firstly: This government was formed on the promise that it would balance the books by 2015, which presupposes that its entire plan for doing so would be in place long before then. We know that this ambitious claim was dismissed after years of failure, but part of the reason for this failure was that George Osborne stopped a recovery that was already taking place, and which would have led to economic growth of 20 per cent by now, if it had been allowed to continue (according to Michael Meacher MP). My question, therefore, is: Have the Conservatives been working to ensure that they would have an excuse to make more cuts, rather than to restore the economy and balance the deficit?

Secondly: We may presume that these further cuts will be inflicted over a period of years (as even the Tories know it is important to enact change gradually, rather than inflict sudden shocks on the economy that could create entirely unforeseen consequences). Are the Coalition parties assuming that they will be re-elected next year, and is it not supremely arrogant of them to believe this, considering the harm they have caused so far?

Thirdly: If the Coalition parties do want to be re-elected, it is clear that they will need to try to bring a majority of voters back on-side. Therefore we may reasonably expect to see all sorts of gifts coming our way over the next year – tax breaks or whatever else they can devise – aimed at increasing the amount of money in our pockets. However, knowing that 60 per cent of the Tory/Lib Dem cuts process is still to come, this means they will want to make even more cuts if they are returned to office. Why would we want to give them our vote, in return for presents they’ll grab back as soon as they’ve got what they want?

Fourthly: Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted £28 billion of cuts on people receiving benefits from his Department for Work and Pensions. If the IFS statement is accurate, then the total amount he’ll want to cut is a staggering £70 billion. If we consider that the amount spent on pensions (more than £100 billion) is safe, this leaves only tiny amounts for all the other benefits supplied by the DWP. Are people currently on Jobseekers’ Allowance to get nothing in the future? What about disabled people getting DLA or PIP? How about all the many, many people on Employment and Support Allowance, including those currently going through the appeal process because of wrong decisions? Mr… Smith might claim that all these benefits are being rolled into Universal Credit, but that won’t happen until 2016 or 2017 according to his own estimates, and the rest of us know that it’s not going to happen at all. Will we have any benefit system left if these cuts continue – or will the Tories try to trick us into buying duff health and employment insurance policies from their friends at Unum instead?

The BBC report said George Osborne wants a budget surplus by 2018-19, but “additional spending, population growth and extra demands on the NHS meant more cuts were needed”. This statement is not supported by any source material and we may take it this is a further sign of BBC right-wing bias.

The additional spending was made necessary because of unintended consequences of the cuts – the Tories got their sums wrong. Population growth, if due to the EU immigration that everyone complains about, will have led to a net growth in the economy as it has been proved that migrant workers from the European Union contribute more to the Treasury than they ever take out – so this is not a cause of increased spending. If the indigenous British population has been growing faster than expected, let us remember that Child Benefit is to be restricted to the first two children in a family (Cameron has denied it so it must be true) and therefore any further growth in individual families will have no bearing on the government’s bank balance. Extra demands on the NHS are a thorny subject as the Coalition promised to inject billions of pounds into the health service but no evidence has yet appeared to show that it has. Since this money was promised many years ago, it should have been included in national budgets and should not be a burden now.

The IFS also reports that there is no evidence of a housing bubble in the UK, as a result of Osborne’s ‘Help To Buy’ scheme. This was introduced last year, when Osborne realised that his austerity programme had failed and resorted to a Keynesian ‘pump-priming’ scheme to boost the housing market. Fears that this would lead to a debt-fuelled ‘bubble’ made commenters like myself cautious about the plan.

However, if there are no signs of a debt-fuelled bubble, then we should consider this to be proof that Keynesian economics was always the way forward and austerity has led us up an economic dead-end for the past four years.

This means none of Osborne’s ridiculous cuts were necessary (barring a few to eliminate waste and corruption – but under a Conservative-led regime we have no evidence that these took place and every reason to believe the opposite to be true. Look at the current ‘cronyism’ row over the appointment of Conservative ‘yes’-people to senior quango posts).

It also means the government and the right-wing media have been lying to you for four long years – and will continue doing so in self-justifying stridence for another 14 months to come.

Let them talk.

But don’t ever let them convince you their cuts are necessary.

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The Queen’s Speech (translated) – brief words signifying so much harm

A true pro: It is a testament to the Queen's skill that she is able to get through her speech at the annual opening of Parliament without either laughing at the stupidities or choking in horror at the implied threats to her citizens.

A true pro: It is a testament to the Queen’s professionalism that she is able to get through her speech at the annual opening of Parliament without either laughing at the stupidities or choking in horror at the implied threats to her citizens.

Today the Queen made her speech at the official opening of Parliament. Her words were, as always, written by the government of the day, and therefore it seems appropriate to provide a translation, as follows:

“My government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.” Focus on it, but do nothing about it.

“It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.” If you haven’t got a job, you’re shafted.

“My government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.” There is no intention to take any action in this regard; the government will simply applaud actions taken by others.

“My ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.” Interest rates are nothing to do with the government. It is easy to make promises when no action is required.

“My government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded. It will therefore continue to reform the benefits system, helping people move from welfare to work.” My government is committed to building a low-wage economy where people have to work hard simply to keep what they’ve got. It will therefore continue to erode the benefits system, forcing people to move from welfare to destitution as a warning to those who’ve got jobs, that this will happen to them if they make a fuss.

“Measures will be brought forward to introduce a new employment allowance to support jobs and help small businesses.” A bung for our friends.

“A bill will be introduced to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses. A further bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.” Deregulation worked so well with the banks in 2007, we thought we’d give other businesses a chance to ruin the economy. And it’s not enough that Facebook now owns everybody’s photographs – corporations want everything else as well.

“A draft bill will be published establishing a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and growth.” The rights of the consumer will be restricted to what we say they’re allowed, to protect corporate freedoms.

“My government will introduce a bill that closes the Audit Commission.” We don’t want the public to know the facts about our spending and where it goes (into our pockets).

“My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.” But we’re not saying where the money will go (into our pockets).

“Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the High Speed Two railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.” Future economic growth, of course – we won’t see the benefit for many, many years.

“My government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.” At huge cost to everybody who has to pay the bills.

“My government is committed to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded.” This is meaningless.

“To make sure that every child has the best start in life, regardless of background, further measures will be taken to improve the quality of education for young people.” This is meaningless.

“Plans will be developed to help working parents with childcare, increasing its availability and helping with its cost.” Private childcare organisations, starting cheaply but costing more as they get a grip on parents.

“My government will also take forward plans for a new national curriculum, a world-class exam system and greater flexibility in pay for teachers.” We’re going to stamp on teachers hard. And the new national curriculum means nobody from state education will be able to compete with our children at Eton.

“My government will also take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or to go to university.” We’ll shoehorn the state-school mob into something under threat of destitution, and save university for people who can pay for it (like us).

“New arrangements will be put in place to help more people own their own home, with government support provided for mortgages and deposits.” More second homes for Tory voters, as set out in the Chancellor’s Budget speech in March.

“My government is committed to supporting people who have saved for retirement.” If they have savings, they won’t need the national pension and can give it back, like Iain Duncan Smith suggested.

“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way long-term care is paid for, to ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills.” They can die there instead.

“My government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.” It’ll encourage saving because it won’t be enough; and carers can have the kids taken away from them.

“Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced.” Otherwise we’ll get the blame for abandoning them.

“My government will bring forward a bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.” We’re scared that UKIP is taking our voters away.

“My government will continue to reduce crime and protect national security.” We will privatise the police, MI5 and MI6.

“Legislation will be introduced to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in England and Wales.” If you thought our prisons were schools for criminals before, we’re turning them into universities.

“Legislation will be brought forward to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and further reform the police.” We will privatise the police and introduce curfews.

“In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.” We want to know how it works so we can make money off the internet.

“Measures will be brought forward to improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the reserve forces.” We’ll buy the cheapest equipment we can find and ask the reservists to do it for no pay.

“My ministers will continue to work in co-operation with the devolved administrations.” Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will get even less cash.

“A bill will be introduced to give effect to a number of institutional improvements in Northern Ireland.” It’s too peaceful over there and we need something to distract the plebs from the mess we’re making in the rest of the country.

“Draft legislation will be published concerning the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.” If we give the sheep the vote, they might vote Tory.

“My government will continue to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.” We want their money; we want their oil.

“Members of the House of Commons, estimates for the public services will be laid before you.” Prior to privatisation.

“My government will work to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. It will support countries in transition in the Middle East and north Africa, and the opening of a peace process in Afghanistan.” We want their money; we want their oil.

“My government will work to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.” We can’t even stop it here.

“My government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the overseas territories, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures.” They’re strategically important so we’ll rattle the sabre for them.

“In assuming the presidency of the G8, my government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change.” We’ll blame the other nations when none of these things happen.

“Other measures will be laid before you.”

That’s not a promise; it’s a threat.