Tag Archives: energy

Labour lays down the green energy gauntlet with interest-free loan plan for electric cars

While the Tories – and other right-wingers around the globe – are still messing up the planet with fossil fuels, Labour has announced a game-changing plan to democratise ownership of electric cars.

A Labour government will offer loans of up to £33,000 to low- and middle-income households, people in rural areas, independent contractors and small-to-medium-sized businesses, to buy electric cars.

The intention is to provide clean transport for everyone, with 2.5 million interest-free loans; the government would cover the cost of interest.

And the scheme would boost the national grid, as everyone receiving a loan would be required to participate in a mass trial of “Vehicle-2-Grid” technology.

Electric cars will store energy when demand is low – during the night when the wind is blowing but people are asleep, for example – and discharge into the grid when energy use peaks -in the evening as people arrive home from work. This smooths out demand and reduces reliance on gas-driven power stations.

The plan was explained by shadow chancellor John McDonnell:

“This will stimulate the automotive industry. It will sustain jobs in the conversion from fossil fuels to electric but actually it will create new jobs as well.

“So this is beneficial in terms of the climate, [and] it is beneficial for those people who want to convert their carbon-fuel powered car into an electric vehicle that is sustainable.

“At the same time, it will help support the automotive industry and create jobs. Those jobs are in areas where we have had real issues, particularly with Brexit.”

The plan has been announced to contrast with the Conservative government, which has been slammed repeatedly, including by the Society of Motor Manufacturers, for scrapping support for electric cars.

Labour’s plan seems much better all round, it seems.

Source: John McDonnell announces interest free loans for electric cars  – The Labour Party

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New revelations about Tory libeller Claire Perry – while the BBC dithers over its defence

Claire Perry: Even in the Commons, it seems she’s a loudmouth.

Apparently Claire Perry is a bully, besides being libellous and misandrist.

The Tory Energy Minister, who habitually accuses men of “mansplaining” when they get the better of her on television, has now been accused of “shouting and swearing” at civil servants, it seems.

And of course she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism on the BBC’s Question Time on November 15.

The BBC failed to screen the offending words out of its broadcast of the debate, meaning it is also guilty of libelling Mr Corbyn. If the outburst had been cut, Ms Perry would still have been guilty of slander, as the many members of the studio audience would still have heard it.

And what excuse has the BBC given?

None that is any good. In fact, the BBC has dithered.

According to Skwawkbox, the BBC stated: “David Dimbleby ensured that Labour frontbencher spokesperson and close ally of Mr Corbyn, Barry Gardiner MP, was given the opportunity to challenge the comments made by Claire Perry MP, which he did.”

That’s neither here nor there because it is not a defence against a libel accusation.

And the available defences aren’t applicable here. They include:

Truth – obviously, as the claim is not true, this defence is not available.

Honest opinion – this needs to be based on fact so, again, this defence is not available.

Public interest – this covers situations in which the information is false but may not seem so at the time to the person accused of defamation, and that they had a duty to report it before going into the process of verifying the information. It can be used by someone who finds themselves in a position in which it seems a necessity, either moral, legal, or social, to impart certain information to another who has an interest. But it is public knowledge that all the accusations of anti-Semitism raised against Mr Corbyn so far have been proved false, and there is no public interest in repeating false claims, nor is there any moral, legal or social necessity to do so.

Absolute privilege – this would allow complete freedom of speech but is only available in certain situations and a TV show is not one of them.

Innocent dissemination – this is not available to the author of a defamatory statement but is for innocent parties such as Internet Service Providers who act as a medium through which potentially libellous material may be published but had no knowledge that what they published was defamatory, had no reason to believe that the material would contain libel, and had not been negligent in this lack of knowledge.

It seems Ms Perry may soon face punishment by Parliamentary authorities for breaching the ministerial code, which says relationship with civil servants should be “proper and appropriate”.

But she could be joined in court by the producer(s) of BBC Question Time.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Welsh petitioners lead the way with plan for a low-pollution, NON-NUCLEAR energy policy

Artist’s impression of a six-mile sea-wall with turbines to generate low-carbon electricity at Swansea Bay, south Wales. The Conservative Government wants to ring Wales with nuclear waste instead. [Image: Tidal Lagoon Power].

Why does a certain kind of politician have to try to destroy our natural resources? What is this fascination they have with trashing our homes? And what can we do about it?

While the first two of those questions remain subjects for debate, an organisation in Wales may have the answer to the third.

Much of Wales remains startlingly unspoiled after nearly three centuries of industrialisation across the United Kingdom, but current plans by the Conservative Government would ring that country of the UK with the worst kind of polluters.

The Tories are keen to flood the UK with the nuclear waste generated by no less than 13 nuclear power plant rebuilds, including eight which will impact on the western coast of Britain: two at Hinkley in Somerset, two at Oldbury in the Severn estuary, two on Anglesey, three planned at Moorside, Cumbria, plus a recently-announced plan to build a Small Medium Reactor inland at Trawsfynydd.

There is also the issue of radioactive mud from the Hinkley A and B reactors being dumped in the sea just off Cardiff, and the rejection by Westminster of the Swansea Tidal lagoon – a renewable energy scheme that could have powered the equivalent of 155,000 Welsh homes.

And let’s not forget the attempt to bribe communities anywhere in Wales to host radioactive waste burial sites – literally sitting on some of the most toxic substances known to humanity.

The plan, it seems, is to cut back on renewable energy and increase nuclear pollution – at huge expense to the taxpayer.

So not only do they want to poison us – they want to make us pay for them to do it. Charming!

The Westminster government’s policy conflicts (deliberately?) with that of the Labour-run Welsh Government, which has three objectives:

  • Reduce the amount of energy used in Wales.
  • Reduce Welsh reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels.
  • Actively manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.

This plan means nuclear energy should be cut as it is neither low-carbon nor renewable. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the Uranium which powers nuclear plants from the ore in which it is found – and then it has to be transported. So in the case of Hinkley C, for example, 50g of carbon dioxide are likely to be released for every unit of electricity generated – breaching the Climate Change Committee’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.

And, of course, supplies of Uranium are limited. This means poorer ores would be processed as supplies run out, increasing the amount of CO2 generated by the process and, once the supply is depleted, we will have prevented future generations from using it in new – and maybe less harmful – ways in the future.

So the Welsh Government should be utterly opposed to the Westminster government’s plan – right?

Of course it isn’t as easy as that. Energy is not a devolved issue, meaning Westminster still has full control over the policy – across the UK.

But the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance has devised a way of getting around that problem:

The organisation has launched a petition, on the National Assembly for Wales website. It does not call for opposition to the Westminster government’s policy because this would be pointless.

It calls for the Welsh Government to take action that will make nuclear power proliferation unnecessary.

The petition asks the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to invest in green renewable energy sources, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy in Wales. Specifically, this means:

• Supporting emerging low carbon technologies that could put Wales at the forefront of renewable energies and help to slow climate change; and
• Investing in energy sources that do not leave a legacy of radioactive waste, spoil heaps and damage to health and the environment.

If the Welsh Government was able to show Westminster that it was actively engaging in such activity, it may be possible to persuade the political polluters to put away their plans. Remember, these are long-term schemes and it is possible to demonstrate that one course of action may make another unnecessary.

Here’s what you can do:

Sign the petition.

You don’t have to live in Wales; anyone can sign and the numbers will count towards those needed for a debate in the Welsh Assembly.

Get in touch with your friends and relatives, and get them to sign the petition.

And share the petition – or at least share this article – and urge anybody who may read it to sign.

This is a major opportunity – not just to oppose a hugely dangerous plan to pollute one of the UK’s great natural landscapes but also to become a world-leader in the development and exercise of non-polluting, renewable energy supplies.

Let’s take it.


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Another Theresa May manifesto promise evaporates in a puff of hot air

It’s all about gas. While Theresa May is full of it, she has failed to fulfil a promise to cap energy prices – and now an energy company is hiking its bills.

According to The Independent: “British Gas will hike its prices by an average of 5.5 per cent next month, taking the price of its standard tariff to £1,161 for a typical dual fuel customer.

“The energy firm said the increase was due to rising wholesale and policy costs, and blamed government policy for putting more pressure on customers’ bills.”

The minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, was quoted as saying: “We are disappointed by British Gas’s announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to.

“This is why government is introducing a new price cap by this winter to guarantee that consumers are protected from poor value tariffs and further bring down the £1.4bn a year consumers have been overpaying the Big Six.”

Too little, too late!

If Mrs May had been serious about this, she would have imposed the cap immediately – before energy companies had a chance to give themselves pay rises which even the Tory government has said are “unjustified”.

Therefore, she isn’t.

And we all know it:

We all know what to do about it, too:

Right?


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Fracking blamed for record-breaking Oklahoma earthquake – and it’s coming to the UK

The effects of fracking make themselves visible in Oklahoma [Image: Lenzy Krehiel-Burton/Reuters].

The effects of fracking make themselves visible in Oklahoma [Image: Lenzy Krehiel-Burton/Reuters].

Here in the UK, we can look forward to all of this.

Fracking is on its way, with the first contracts already signed – thanks to the Conservative Government’s short-sighted, backward-facing environmental and energy policies.

We don’t need to tie ourselves down to fossil fuels in order to power our world any more.

We already have electric cars, and vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

For power generation, we can have micro power generation. Small wind turbines, solar power and gas capture, run by ordinary people rather than huge corporations – and benefiting us immediately as well.

It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It’s here.

But it won’t make money for Tories so they would rather ruin our environment instead.

Residents of the small Oklahoma town of Pawnee have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding 27 fracking companies pay for the effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. They claim the companies exercised “reckless disregard for public or private safety.”

Property damage, reduced property values and emotional distress resulting from a record-breaking September earthquake are all claimed in the lawsuit, which does not specify any sum total that the 27 fracking companies would pay if found liable, according to the Associated Press.

The class-action suit filed Thursday in district court points to the natural gas extraction method of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which consists of injecting wastewater into the earth, as the cause for not only the major quake, but also 52 subsequent tremblors.

Source: Dozens of fracking companies sued over record-breaking Oklahoma earthquake — RT America

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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.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Where did Labour go wrong? Let us count the ways…

The newest right-wing party: This Gary Baker cartoon appeared after Ed Miliband's 'One Nation' speech last year, but let's adopt it to illustrate the fact that successive Labour leaders, from Blair to Brown to Miliband, have steered the party ever-further away from its support base until, with Miliband's speech this week, it has become a pale shadow of the Conservative Party it claims to oppose, leaving the majority of the UK's population with nobody to speak for them.

This Gary Baker cartoon illustrates the belief that successive Labour leaders, from Blair to Brown to Miliband, have steered the party ever-further away from its support base until it became a pale shadow of the Conservative Party it claims to oppose, leaving the majority of the UK’s population with nobody to speak for them.

Watching a drama on DVD yesterday evening (yes, there is more to life than Vox Political), Yr Obdt Srvt was impressed by the very old idea of the partners in a married couple supporting each other – that behind every great man is a great woman, and vice versa.

It occurred to This Writer that perhaps the biggest problem with the Labour Party’s campaign – not just for the May election but over the last five years – has been the leadership’s insistent refusal to support the requirements of its grassroots campaigners.

So, for example, on the economy: We all know for a fact that the big crash of 2008 or thereabouts was caused by the profligacy of bankers, and not by any overspending on the part of the Labour government of the time. Economists say it, blogs like VP say it, and we all have the evidence to support the claim. So why the blazes didn’t the Labour Party say it? Instead they let the Conservative Party walk all over us with their speeches about “The mess that Labour left us”.

On austerity: We all know that fiscal austerity will never achieve the economic boom that George Osborne claimed for it. If you take money out of the economy, there is less money – not more. What the UK needed in 2010 was a programme of investment in creating jobs with decent wages for the people who make the economy work – ordinary people, not bankers, fatcat business executives and MPs. The money would then have trickled up through the economy, creating extra value as it went. Quantitative easing could have done some good if it had been used properly, but after the Bank of England created the new money it passed the cash to other banks, rather than putting it anywhere useful. The Conservative Party said austerity was the only way forward: “There is no alternative”. Why did Labour agree? Party bigwigs might protest that Labour’s austerity was less, but the simple fact is that the UK was never in any danger of bankruptcy and there was no need to balance the books in a hurry. There’s still no need for it. Austerity was just a way of taking money from those of us who need it and giving it to those who don’t.

On the national debt: The Tories have hammered home a message that their policies are cutting the national deficit and paying down the national debt. That message is a lie. The national debt has doubled since the Conservatives took over. Labour hardly mentioned that.

On benefits: Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ have cut a murderous swathe through the sick and the poor, with more than 10,000 deaths recorded in 11 months during 2011, among ESA claimants alone. Many have chosen to attack Labour for introducing ESA in the first place, and for employing Atos to carry out the brutal and nonsensical Work Capability Assessments, based on a bastardised version of the unproven ‘biopsychosocial’ model, that ruled so many people ineligible for a benefit they had funded throughout their working lives. Labour should have promised to scrap ESA and the Work Capability Assessment in favour of an alternative – possibly even a rational – system. But Labour continued to support the Work Capability Assessment, earning the hatred of the sick and disabled. Why? According to Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, it was because the party leadership was afraid of provoking the right-wing press. Well done, Labour! As a result, instead of tearing into Labour like rabid attack dogs, the right-wing media… tore into Labour like rabid attack dogs. This pitifully weak attitude made no difference at all and Labour would have earned more votes by promising to ditch a policy it should never have adopted.

On education: This Writer attended a hustings on education, here in Brecon and Radnorshire. It was attended by many local teachers and it was clear that they all wanted to hear someone say they would clear away the layers of bureaucracy and constant interference that interfere with their jobs, and allow them to get on with teaching our youngsters. Nobody said anything of the kind, including the Labour candidate. Meanwhile, Michael Gove’s pet project – the very expensive ‘Free Schools’, continues unabated, and state-owned schools continue to be turned into privately-run ‘academies’, with all their assets turned over to private companies for free. And what about the debate over what should be taught in our schools and colleges? With employers now merrily shirking any training responsibilities and taking on foreign workers because they know what to do, can our educational institutions not take up the slack and provide that training for British people, so we don’t need to import as many people from abroad?

On immigration and the European Union: Right wingers including Tories and Kippers (members and supporters of UKIP) have made many claims that immigrants are a threat to the UK and to our way of life. In fact, migrant workers are a net benefit to the country, contributing far more to the UK Treasury in taxes than they ever claim in benefits. Ah, but they’re occupying houses that could be taken by British people; they use our NHS and their children take up places in our schools – and it’s all Labour’s fault because Labour signed the treaty that let them in, according to the right-wing critics. In fact, the Conservative Party signed that treaty, in the early 1970s. Free movement between European Union countries has always been a condition of membership and was never a problem when the EU consisted of nations that were on a relatively equal economic standing. The problem arose when the poorer eastern European countries were admitted to the union and people from those countries took advantage of the rule to seek a better life in the more affluent West. The simple fact is that those nations should not have been allowed full Union membership until their economies had grown enough that people would not want to move here – that was a matter that EU officials failed to address, not the UK government. Labour’s response was to fall in line with the right-wingers and promise harsh immigration controls. People naturally asked why they should vote Labour if Labour was no different from the nasty Tories.

On the NHS: Labour promised to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, ending the creeping privatisation of the NHS – and then said that it would limit the profits of private firms working in the NHS. This is contradictory and confusing. People wanted to end NHS privatisation, not let it go on with limited profits!

On housing: Labour promised an increased home-building programme, but what people need right now are council houses – cheaply-rentable properties run on a not-for-profit basis by local authorities. They need this because there is an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for individuals and families of varying sizes, due to the Conservative ‘Right to Buy’ policies that started in the 1980s. Council houses were sold off to their tenants, who in turn sold them to private landlords, who rented them out for more money than councils ever demanded. Labour never offered to build council houses again. Instead, we were promised more expensive alternatives from the private sector that we didn’t – and don’t – want.

On privatisation: More than 70 per cent of the general public wanted energy firms re-nationalised when the controversy over bills arose in 2013. Labour should have promised at least to consider it. Labour did not. Labour is the party that should represent public ownership of utilities. The private water, electricity and gas companies have ripped off consumers with high rates that were never part of the offer when their shares were floated on the stock exchange. But Labour was happy to allow those firms to continue.

These are just a few reasons Labour let the people down. They arise from the disastrous philosophical reversal of the 1990s that changed the party from one that represents the people into one that exploits us instead. Now, right-wingers in the party like Peter Mandelson are claiming that Ed Miliband pulled Labour too far back to the Left; instead, they want Labour to push further into Tory territory, utterly abandoning its core voters.

That would be a tragedy – not only for the people of the UK, but also for Labour. We already have one Conservative Party; we don’t need another.

Labour must rid itself of the right-wingers in its ranks and return to its original values – before it is too late for all of us.

Or is it already too late, thanks to the dithering of the last five years?

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Liberal Democrat hypocrisy over rail fares and energy prices

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Pre-election policy reversals are suggesting that the Liberal Democrats’ co-operation with the Conservative Party will cost them dearly.

The Liberal Democrats say they want to make it much easier for households to switch energy suppliers, and are pledging to end above-inflation rail fare increases.

They’ve got a nerve, haven’t they?

Check They Work For You and you may find that most Liberal Democrat MPs have voted against slowing the rise in rail fares. Vince Cable did. So did Danny Alexander and Ed Davey – and This Writer’s own MP, Roger Williams.

As for making it easier to switch energy suppliers, let’s look at the record of Mr Davey – who, until very recently, was the Coalition Government’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Faced with Labour’s proposals to freeze energy prices, he said this would be disastrous because the so-called ‘Big Six’ energy firms would all push up their prices both before and after such a freeze.

He was, of course, completely wrong. The energy firms have all cut their prices – before Labour even had a chance to gain office and implement its planned freeze.

According to the BBC, “the Liberal Democrats say their plans will shift the balance of power back in favour of consumers and commuters to ease the cost of living and save families hundreds of pounds a year” – but Labour’s price freeze plans have ensured that this has already happened.

So it seems the Liberal Democrats are proposing a complete policy reversal on rail fares, while refusing to face the facts about energy.

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Election choice isn’t as ‘stark’ as David Cameron wants you to think

How many of these will have a say in the next UK government, because Labour and the Conservatives won't offer what the electorate wants?

How many of these will have a say in the next UK government, because Labour and the Conservatives won’t offer what the electorate wants?

According to the BBC, “David Cameron is to tell voters they face a ‘stark choice’ between him and Labour’s Ed Miliband as the election campaign officially gets under way.”

Really? So it’s just a two-horse race again, is it? This writer disagrees.

People are sick of the Tories’ right-wing politics, that take from the many and give to the few – overbalancing the economy in the process. How many measures have been put in place to keep the ship of state from overturning since George Osborne became chancellor? Too many.

Tories have inflicted a massive rise in appallingly poorly-paid jobs, triggering consequential rises in housing benefit claims and food bank use.

They say they have cut the national deficit by half, but in numerical terms it is only down by a third, and now it is rising again. The national debt has doubled under the Conservatives. Responsible government? Not a bit of it!

Meanwhile, Labour has a better offer, but simply isn’t saying what people want to hear – basically out of fear that it will scare them off. Ever hear of the ‘Overton Window’? It’s a concept devised by American conservatives to describe what is deemed politically possible at any time. At the moment, that window opens onto ideas that are very much in the right wing of the political spectrum, presenting the illusion that they are moderate, middle-ground views.

Owen Jones, in his latest book The Establishment, makes the point clear: “When Labour’s Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze – a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable, policy – it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalising the energy industry lock, stock and barrel.”

This criticism can be applied to many Labour policies: They are timid. They are too concerned with what can be seen through the Overton Window. They are made in fear of a backlash from the right-wing press.

So when Labour says it will “reform” the work capability assessment, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands its abolition altogether and reform – real reform – of the benefit system as a whole, to serve the British population and not private industry.

When Labour says it will make public spending cuts – but they won’t be as harsh as those imposed by the Conservatives, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands an end to austerity altogether; in fact, it seems possible that Labour can achieve its plans simply by reversing the tax cuts for the very rich that the Tories have made over the last five years.

Neither of the ‘Big Two’ parties are offering what the public wants – and this means the door is open for the smaller parties.

Even the BBC’s arch-Tory Nick Robinson acknowledges this, in his first blog after returning to work post-medical procedures.

“With the polls so close, with the inexorable decline of the big two parties, with the widespread hunger for a different type of politics the range of election outcomes is bewildering. They go way beyond single party governments led by David Cameron or Ed Miliband or another coalition with Nick Clegg.”

They do indeed. With the rise in support for the SNP in Scotland – due to a collapse of confidence in a Labour Party that many Scottish voters no longer see as representing them (we’re back to that Overton Window again; it seems Labour has been looking through it in the wrong direction), Labour is unlikely to win a majority as matters currently stand. The Tories can’t win one in any case.

So we’re looking at coalition deals, confidence-and-supply votes, and the possibility of extremely unstable governments for the foreseeable future.

It seems unlikely that these will have any staying power. The Coalition went the distance because the Liberal Democrats turned out to be more yellow than their party colour, and did whatever their Tory masters told them, simply to hold on to a bit of power, some ministerial salaries and a few ministerial cars.

Future partners in government could include the nationalists (Welsh and Scottish), the Greens, the DUP – and they’ll all be much more strident in announcing what they want because they’ll know that, without their support, the government will be powerless to act.

The ‘Big Two’ parties need to learn a lesson from this (although they probably won’t).

This is what happens when you offer people what you want, rather than what they want.

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Labour’s new policies show it has been listening

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour's plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour’s plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

The Labour Party has announced a series of new policies intended to improve conditions for both small and large industries in the UK.

They are the latest in an apparently-unending flood of new policies to be placed before the public since the ‘long campaign’ began in earnest at the beginning of the year.

It seems likely that they follow on from a series of in-depth public consultations, such as ‘Your Britain’, that the party has always said would contribute to the shape of its 2015 manifesto.

For once, it seems, a political party was not lying!

Labour announced yesterday, “Ed Miliband will emphasise that Labour’s plan for creating wealth does not rely on just a few at the very top but on boosting productivity in every business and sector of the British economy.

“[He] will declare that Britain needs a better plan for prosperity than the Government’s failing plan which relies on allowing the most powerful and wealthy to do whatever they want.”

Crucially, the party is emphasising that “this modern industrial strategy is a different approach for Labour than in the past because it seeks to support working families not simply through tax-and-spend redistribution but by building a more inclusive prosperity.”

Here are the key points, as described by Labour:

Labour will back small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future.

·         Cutting business rates

·         Improving training and apprenticeships

·         Promoting competition in energy and banking to ensure market efficiency, lower bills and better access to finance

·         Handing more economic power to every part of the UK with £30 billion of devolved funding

Labour will back our biggest exporters which need certainty to invest:

·         Staying in a reformed EU and not taking risks with our membership

·         Building a strong economic foundation with a tough and balanced approach to cutting the deficit

·         Making long-term investment by implementing the Armitt Review recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission

·         Guaranteeing Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7

·         Promoting long-termism by changing the rules on takeovers

Labour will back our big employing sectors such as retail and social care by tackling undercutting, with firms coming together to raise productivity and standards: 

·         Industry led bodies to raise productivity, like we have now in the car industry

·         Banning exploitative zero hours contracts

·         Raising the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings  – £8 an hour by 2020

·         Offering tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage

·         Making it illegal to undercut by exploiting migrant workers

Labour will back every sector of the economy by ensuring the public sector plays an active part in driving up productivity by: 

·         Recognising its role in supporting cutting-edge innovation and research

·         Making strategic investment and procurement decisions

In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands, Mr Miliband was expected to attack the current situation under the Conservative-led Coalition government: “When working people are held back, the country doesn’t prosper as it should. When families don’t have money to spend, it holds back our economy.  When there is so much insecurity in the economy, businesses can’t plan for the long term. When people don’t have the chance to develop their skills and pursue a promotion, our companies become less productive and less competitive in the world.”

He was expected to promise support for both small and large businesses: “The jobs of tomorrow will come from a large number of small businesses, not simply a small number of large ones. Our plan recognises that. We will have a fairer tax system, keeping corporation tax the lowest in the G7 for large businesses, but also cutting and freezing business rates for smaller ones. We will create a British Investment Bank, supported by a network of new regional banks and more competition in business banking on the high street, to help small businesses grow. And a new Small Business Administration to co-ordinate work across government to help small businesses succeed.”

There are also plans to decentralise power, moving it away from London, and to help businesses plan for the long term.

That’s a lot of information to absorb in one go. What do you think of it?

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