Tag Archives: enabler

A simple plan to get Labour back on track

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

If the Labour Party is to regain the confidence it has lost, it needs to re-state its identity with a core message of purpose – one that not only encapsulates what Labour is about, but also what it opposes.

That is what was missing from Labour’s general election campaign, and is as much a reason for Ed Miliband’s defeat as the Conservative campaign, which was not based on objective facts but on political spin.

In a nutshell, it is time to remind the voters and the public that Labour is the enabling party. This creates a clear contrast with the Conservatives – the party of restriction.

So, for example, with the National Health Service, Labour should support a service available to everyonefree. That means no private involvement. With the Tory privatisation in full swing, funds are being restricted and so are services. The NHS is now a postcode lottery, with care allocated on the basis of profitability. That’s not good enough; the privateers must be told to jog on.

Education must also be available to everybody, up to the level each person can achieve (or wants to). Again, this means there should be no charge for state-provided services. A state school system has no place for privately-owned ‘academies’ or ‘free schools’. These are Tory devices; the private sector will, by its nature, restrict access in order to extract a profit. It also means no tuition fees for students in further/higher education.

Labour should be helping anyone who wants to start a business, by ensuring there are as few obstacles in the way as possible; it must be the enabling party. That means, for example, a graded taxation system, with lower business rates and taxes for start-ups, progressing to a higher rate for medium-sized enterprises, and a highest rate for multinationals – who should be taxed on all takings made in the UK; no excuses.

Another part of the enabling agenda must be ensuring that people can pay a minimum price for things we cannot live without: Accommodation, services, utilities.

There is now an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for many people – mostly because the Tories sold off so many council houses and did not replace them. This is why the Tories were able to impose the Bedroom Tax on so many innocent people – a restrictive idea, intended to push people out of some areas and into others; shifting Labour voters out of places the Tories didn’t think they should have to share with the riff-raff, you see – a gerrymandering tactic to make those constituencies easier to win in elections. The solution is simple: Build council houses again.

When the utility companies – gas, water and electricity suppliers – were privatised, we were all promised that household bills would be kept down by more efficient private-sector business models and private investment. That has not happened. Instead, consumers have been held to ransom by a small cabal of corporations who have been able to charge rip-off prices. Remember the electricity price scandal of 2013? Who told those firms to quit their restrictive practices and cut bills? Labour. The enabling party. The fear of a Labour government imposing new rules in the consumer’s favour helped hold the greedy private bosses in check for a while, but now we have a Conservative government. How long do you think it will be before prices soar? This Writer reckons they’ll take the first opportunity. Even now, after Labour managed to secure price cuts, the poorest families still have to choose between heating and eating during the winter (the phrase has been used so often it is now a modern cliché). This must not be allowed to continue and the solution is clear: Re-nationalise. There are even two bonus factors in such a plan: Firstly, as many of these utilities are owned – or part-owned – by firms or governments based abroad, it will ensure that our bills pay people in the UK rather than boosting foreign economies at the expense of our own and, secondly, takings will help the UK Treasury balance the books.

There is at least one other privatised service that could also be re-nationalised: The railway system. Prices have rocketed while government subsidies have also soared, since the system was turned over to private hands in the early 1990s. This is madness; it is a huge drain on resources and must not be allowed to continue. We should re-nationalise and follow the example of Northern Ireland, where the service was never privatised and where any profit is ploughed into improvements, not profit.

Then there is our grocery bill, which keeps escalating. This is a particularly thorny subject as, for example, farmers are being ripped off by supermarkets over the price of milk, but the same corporations will happily send apples to the other side of the world and back, just to have them polished. It’s time to straighten out that system as well – although it will take a while.

So this is how Labour should frame its arguments from now on: Labour enables; the Tories restrict.

It should be stressed that the themes raised above are just starting-points which occurred to This Writer while considering the issue last night. The above is not an exhaustive list. Undoubtedly there are many more.

Your comments are invited.

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Why are Lib Dems facing a Euro election ‘bloodbath’ – and not the Tories?

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Senior Liberal Democrats have been warned they might end up with no MEPs after next month’s European Parliament elections, due to the party’s current electoral unpopularity (according to the Daily Telegraph).

The electorate certainly has plenty of reasons to punish the party that has become known as the ‘Tory Democrats’ due to its adherence to Conservative Party policies in the Coalition government.

But here’s an interesting point: Conservative support has not dropped off in the same way.

Sure, the LDs are Tory enablers who betrayed their own pledges before the first votes were cast in the 2010 election, but the Conservatives betrayed their promises too. And the Conservatives were behind most of the policies that have caused the damage.

The Liberal Democrats voted the Bedroom Tax onto the statute books, but it’s not their policy – it’s a Conservative scheme.

The Liberal Democrats had very little to do with the changes to Employment and Support Allowance that have led to the deaths of so many people with long-term illnesses and disabilities – Conservative ministers pushed them into practise.

The Liberal Democrats had little to do with the increased sanctions regime that has been foisted on the unemployed in order to cook the benefit books – that was a Conservative idea.

The Conservatives are responsible for the plan to cut back access to Legal Aid, so rich criminals can walk free while the innocent poor are told to admit offences they have not committed and go to prison.

The Conservatives introduced mandatory work activity (colloquially known as Workfare) for people on benefits – both unemployment and sickness, meaning companies get free labour and there are fewer paying jobs in the economy.

The Conservatives introduced the Workplace Pension, which has led to employers encouraging their workforce to take out private pensions that they cannot afford, in a bid to avoid paying their own part of the scheme.

The Conservative Party’s answer to the immigration question was to send vans around London encouraging people who were in the UK illegally to “go home”. This scheme led to the victimisation of British citizens because other people thought they looked foreign.

The Conservatives told us all they would protect the National Health Service and then started a process of privatisation that has led to billions of pounds worth of services being ‘outsourced’ to private health firms – who pay handsome donations to the Conservative Party – at huge cost to the taxpayer (because private firms need to make a profit, don’t forget).

The Conservative Party has fed the public one lie after another, using its puppet right-wing press to brainwash people into believing its nonsense. When these falsehoods have been exposed, ministers have tried to bluster their way out of the blame.

The Conservative Party has engineered the feeblest economic recovery in British history, ensuring that only the very rich have been able to benefit while the poorest – who actually made it happen – are set to be thousands of pounds worse-off in 2015 than they were in 2010.

And yet it is the Liberal Democrats who have lost the most support.

Why?

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David Cameron’s dream: a Britain without hope

Here’s an article that brings home the truth about David Cameron’s “Hopeless” Britain. It’s entitled ‘This cruel welfare system is steadily crushing lives – where is the anger?’ Read it and weep.

Having read it myself, I’m glad to see that at least one Guardian contributor appears to agree with my opinion of Liam Byrne, as expressed in my blog back in January.

I believe I can answer the question posed by this article. There isn’t any anger because the prevailing emotion is DESPAIR. John Harris correctly deduces the government’s attitude to welfare, as prompted by companies like A4E, Working Links (who?), Serco and G4S. The trouble is, this is the government’s attitude, and we’ve seen that its far-right policy isn’t for changing just because benefit recipients are suffering!

There will be no Parliamentary rebellions; the Tory back-benches are behind Mr Cameron all the way and the Liberal Democrats are useless as anything but Tory enablers. The saddest part of their involvement is the fact that they will be blamed more than the Tories themselves.

The despair has spread to other scandals – the current banking issue is a prime example. The government wants an inquiry led by its own ministers, right? We know that half of Conservative donations come from the financial sector; Mr Cameron’s personal fortune is based in banking and tax avoidance (or so we’re told); the millionaires in his cabinet are heavily involved in banking. Therefore we can deduce that any minister-led inquiry will whitewash the banking sector and those who have been fleecing us – ‘us’ being ordinary working- and middle-class people who have to use banks to keep what’s left of our cash safe – will go scott free. The people see no way to prevent this.

Finally (although I could go on), Mr Harris asserts that the previous government’s social reforms are partly to blame for our current woes. There is certainly an argument for this and, together with the Labour leadership’s apparent inability to champion popular opinion, it means the people cannot expect the situation to improve, no matter who gets into power after the next election.

This is Britain under David Cameron. Hopeless. Perhaps this is why he is so fond of saying that word at Prime Minister’s Questions. It’s certainly why despair is the prevalent emotion, rather than anger.

Personally, I refuse to give up. I say: Britain needs to change. And the way to make sure it does is to be as vocal about it as possible. Demand change at every opportunity. Force ministers to explain themselves wherever they go. Make their position as difficult as it can be – after all, that’s what they’re doing to you.

If you give in to despair, and let them walk over you, then you’re as much a part of the problem as they are.