Tag Archives: household

Tory ideas about money have been wrong since before 2010. Here’s the reason

Flag-waving fools: Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have no idea how to run a country. They rely on patriotism to blind the gullible while they take your cash – and still put us into debt.

Some of us have been saying this for years but here’s a big-league economist to back us up.

Remember all the talk about Labour having “Maxed out the national credit card” that David Cameron and George Osborne used to win just enough seats to form a coalition with oily Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in 2010?

It was nonsense. I said it at the time (and many times afterwards in articles on This Site. You can’t compare a national economy with household income and expenditure.

But it seems people are still being taken in by it because the Tories are still using it as the basis of their economic model.

That is the reason the UK has fallen deeper and deeper into debt during their 10 years in office. We can only go into debt, while they continue to follow this course.

Richard Murphy explains it very well in the video clip but I’ll paraphrase: while households become better-off by restricting spending, the nation loses out because businesses don’t benefit from that spending and cannot pass the money on through the system – therefore the nation becomes poorer.

So, by restricting spending with austerity policies, the Tory governments of the last 10 years have starved the UK of its economic lifeblood and plunged us into trillions of pounds worth of debt.

The only way to improve our economic situation is by spending into the economy with wise investments that help it to grow.

But Conservatives simply do not understand this basic (macro)economic fact. They never have.

See for yourself:

Some households fared well during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The lack of any way to spend their money meant they were able to pay off debts and bank spare cash.

But that won’t last. In some cases, families are already suffering because their income has fallen below their outgoings and the lockdowns are still going on.

In fact, the Tory plan is to ensure that they leach that money away from all of us as soon as possible.

There is nothing you can do about it in individual households because the household unit is too small to stave off economic intervention from a national government.

But if you group together with others, you might find a way.

Alternatively, you can just stick your head in the sand and wait for Rishi Sunak to empty your bank account and steal your house. It’s up to you.

You’ll probably see the sense in these words on March 2, when Sunak announces his spring budget.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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A stark warning for Labour over social security cuts

Jeremy Corbyn: He must control Labour policy announcements and not let 'spokespeople' offer opportunities to Tories.

Jeremy Corbyn: He must control Labour policy announcements and not let ‘spokespeople’ offer opportunities to Tories [Image: AP]

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn must be much more careful and clear with its message – with no “loose lips” making it possible for the Tories to “sink the ship” (to adapt an old saying).

The BBC is reporting that Jeremy Corbyn has voiced his opposition to plans by the Conservative Government that would lower the overall household “welfare cap” in an interview with New Statesman. There’s nothing wrong with that – the cap was introduced at a level that was too low, and now the Tories want to cut it further, pushing more and more families into poverty and out of their current homes in what has been dubbed “economic cleansing” of housing estates.

But the report also quotes a “spokesman” who said Corbyn was “very much in favour” of getting rid of the cap altogether – supporting this with a quote from Corbyn himself, telling the TUC conference last week that he wanted to “remove the whole idea of the benefit cap”.

That’s just opening up the goal for the Tories to score.

Lo and behold, up pops Iain Duncan Smith – a man who has been missing for months while his Department for Work and Pensions was battered by allegations that his policies have been killing benefit claimants – accurate allegations.

Working hard to wash the blood off his hands and divert attention elsewhere, the Gentleman Ranker said: “chaos and confusion” surrounded Labour’s position – despite being an unlikely judge. Chaos and confusion have dogged his tenure as Work and Pensions secretary, yet he continues, blithely unwilling to acknowledge any problems.

“Conservatives believe that nobody should be able to claim more in welfare than the average family earns by going out to work,” he said. “By pledging to reverse this position, it’s clear that today’s Labour Party are simply not on the side of working people. They are still the same old welfare party – wanting to borrow more to spend more on benefits.”

Childish nonsense.

If Conservatives really believed that nobody should claim more than the average working family earns, then social security benefits would be capped at £32,000 – not £20,000. The fact that the Tories want to cut the amount available means they don’t want social security to be a safety net for people in hard times. Instead, they want to use it to prise people out of their homes and into poverty. That much is clear and indisputable.

Labour has not pledged to reverse any claim that people should have more in benefits than an average working family. The evidence shows that Iain Duncan Smith was lying. Claims by a spokesman and comments that the Labour leader wants to do something do not add up to a policy commitment.

And the claim by the man This Blog calls RTU (Return To Unit – a military term for an officer candidate who is not up to the task) that Labour is “not of the side of working people” is nothing less than offensive to all the working people who have suffered at the hands of the Tories over the last five years and more.

But the fact remains that Labour people gave the odious IDS a chance to push his perverted version of the facts.

Labour needs to be better than that. Whoever this “spokesman” is, they should take a back seat for the foreseeable future. Anyone who is that loose-lipped cannot be allowed to speak for the party or its leader. The party needs to be on-message, all the time.

Owen Smith, Labour’s new Work and Pensions spokesman, has fought a rearguard action, saying it is “very clear” that Labour is currently opposing only the plan to cut the cap to £20,000 nationally, and to £23,000 in London – but he shouldn’t have to do it.

It doesn’t matter whether Labour MPs, spokespeople, supporters or whoever want a particular policy, or want to undermine the new leader (still an issue among the neoliberals who are hanging on in the party in the hope of turning it back to Red Toryism), or have an agenda of their own – they need to shut up and stick to party policy.

Tories like Duncan Smith are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to attack Labour and divert attention away from their own policies of hatred towards anybody not in the top one per cent of earners. If Labour is to win the country back from these despots, then Labour needs a much better publicity strategy.

Starting today.

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At last someone in the Labour Party is speaking up on political issues

… and it’s John Healey! Who’d have thought it?

His article in yesterday’s Guardian makes a lot of sense (although obviously he doesn’t go far enough in his suggestions. Labour never does, these days).

At least he’s making the right noises – pointing out that the Conservative Government’s plan to cut social security by £12 billion will harm people who are trapped by failing markets for housing and jobs. Think about it – cutting social security means people will be more insecure. That’s probably why Tories prefer to call it “welfare”.

He claims that the cut to the total annual household cap on benefits, from £26,000 to £23,000, is popular but will save less than one per cent of the total target.

More will follow – cutting tax credits (the subsidy for under-paying businesses, meaning people in work will be plunged into poverty), housing benefit (the subsidy for landlords, meaning people will be unable to pay their rent), and to disability payments (because nobody cares what happens to society’s most vulnerable until they become society’s most vulnerable; the evidence suggests these people will die).

According to Healey, every time the Tories wield the axe, they will challenge Labour to support them. If Labour refuses, the Tories will then be free to shout about Labour being the “party of welfare” – and never mind the fact that the Tories are the party of corporate welfare, funnelling billions to bosses.

Many of the cuts will punish the poor – without reducing the benefits bill, he reckons.

Take tax credits. Over the last five years, the Coalition government made 23 separate cuts, freezes and rule changes to tax credits costing working families £13.4bn. But overall spending rose, by £2bn.

Or housing benefit, where 10 separate cuts cost low-income renters both in and out of work over £5bn. But the total bill went up by £4bn over the Parliament.

Healey drew up a lengthy factual analysis of Coalition Government policy on housing benefits and discovered that the Tories and Liberal Democrats were actively increasing the bill.

The decision, for example, to raise council and housing association rents to 80 per cent of market rates will increase housing benefit spending by £5.4bn over the next 30 years, on those homes built in the last parliament alone.

He called this a “Conservative policy failure, with both the taxpayer and families on low incomes paying the price”.

His solution was for Labour to commit to building 100,000 new council and housing association homes a year until 2020, in the knowledge that those homes would pay for themselves, in full, in housing benefits savings over 27 years.

Just as people take out a mortgage over that time period and see a return on their home investment, so government could do the same.

Every pound invested in a genuinely affordable home means the state pays out less in housing benefit.

Over thirty years, I calculated that £1 generates £1.18 in savings… by recycling savings in benefit to build new homes, the up-front capital costs for those 100,000 homes each year would be no greater than the housing investment when I was Labour’s housing minister in our last year of government.

We can’t spend this parliament debating welfare costs on Tory terms again, so our challenge is to sidestep the narrow Tory narrative and start making a bigger case for bringing benefits spending down.

So this is the answer: Use the Conservatives’ own record against them and demonstrate that the government is asking the wrong questions and proposing the wrong solutions.

Source: Labour must make and win the big arguments on welfare – Comment – Voices – The Independent

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Tory economic policy has cost every household at least £4,000 – and aims to take more

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his 'Long-Term Economic Plan' on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his ‘Long-Term Economic Plan’ on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

If you’re thinking, “That headline isn’t news”, you’re right.

It is, however, the main point troubling Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro blog article. He states that Tory chancellor George Osborne started out in a similar position and with a relatively similar policy to Labour’s Gordon Brown, but caused huge damage to household finances, whereas Brown did not.

“The answer, of course, is that the … contexts were different,” writes the learned professor. “Osborne’s austerity happened when the economy was just starting a recovery from a deep recession, and interest rates were at their then Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) of 0.5%… When interest rates are at the ZLB, monetary policy cannot counteract the negative impact of fiscal austerity on output.”

In other words, with austerity shrinking the economy, nothing else Osborne did would have stopped your wages from shrinking too. It is entirely possible that Osborne was perfectly aware of this.

This is how George Osborne probably looked after the fire in his pants caused by his incessant lying about the EU’s £1.7bn bill burned away the rest of his suit. Note that his briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

George Osborne: His briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

Yet he is planning an even bigger austerity squeeze on your incomes if the Conservatives form a government after this year’s election.

Professor Wren-Lewis dismisses the possibility that Osborne does not understand what he has been doing: “A much more plausible explanation for his actions were that the macroeconomic risks were understood, but were put to one side for political and ideological reasons.

“First the possibility of hitting Labour with a populist concern about the deficit was too great a temptation to resist for a Chancellor for whom political tactics are everything. Second, austerity was a means of implementing an unpopular policy of reducing the size of the state by the back door.”

He adds: “Now you may cynically say that in a contest between economics and politics/ideology, politicians will always choose the latter. However much that is true or false, when that choice costs each household at least £4,000, it would be very strange if that politician survived the judgement of the electorate.”

Perhaps so – but he and his party are banking on the electorate being too ignorant of the facts to realise this. That’s why I put it in the headline.

Campaigning in the centre of a small Mid Wales town yesterday, This Writer asked one group of young people (in their twenties or thereabouts), who quite clearly had limited means, which way they were going to vote. They ignored the question and walked on for several paces, then one turned around and, raising his fist to the air, yelled, “Conservative all the way!”

George Osborne is relying on people like this for his party’s survival.

We have to foil him by educating them.

It is a task that won’t end after the election; in fact, it is a task that may not end in our lifetimes.

But it is the only way to protect ourselves from continual exploitation by an entitled class of layabouts who expect us to do all the work while they have all the privileges handed to them on a plate.

Please share this article if you agree.

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Forget AVERAGE incomes! What’s happened to the LOWEST incomes in the UK?

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. Source: ONS.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. Source: ONS.

Average household incomes have risen by 0.2 per cent since the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took office in 2010. Well, whoopee do!

That means for every £1,000 you earned then, you get £1,002 now. At long last you can buy that car you always wanted! That luxury holiday you’ve always been putting off; that mansion in the country!

Maybe not.

In fact, we know that average incomes are skewed by the disproportionately high earnings of the mega-rich, while the poorest in the country are losing more and more every day.

A far more indicative figure would be the change in the lowest incomes in the UK over the last five years – but you won’t see Cameron crowing over that!

Didn’t he once say the measure of a government was how it treated the least privileged people in society?

It’s amazing how they forget these comments when they’re asked to explain their record.

If anyone can provide figures showing the trend in the lowest UK incomes, please get in touch.

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Economy slowing as growth is revised down: So what?

141223economic-growth-uk-ons-quarter1

The BBC is reporting that the UK economy has grown by 2.6 per cent in the last year – less than the 3 per cent originally thought. In the third quarter of 2014 the increase was 0.6 per cent.

“So what?” you’re probably asking. “Isn’t 2.6 per cent enough?” Well, it’s certainly much better than the limbo days of 2011-13 when the economy was in and out of the red and Ed Balls’ claim that it had “flatlined” was literally true.

The lower growth has been attributed to smaller government and business investment than had previously been expected, and higher imports.

There’s nothing to be done about the increase in the balance of payments deficit (that’s the difference between import costs and export takings) to 27 billion – especially if both government and business investment is down; it seems that Britain simply has nothing to sell.

So much for the “nation of shopkeepers” as Napoleon Bonaparte (among others) famously described us!

Perhaps George Osborne has restricted government investment in order to meet his (revised-revised – and probably revised again) deficit reduction target for 2014-15. If so, he’s even more of a short-sighted fool than we all thought because this will cause greater harm in the long run.

And there’s also the impending crash when the property bubble created by Osborne’s artificially-engineered housing boom pops. Help to Buy and Funding for Lending stimulated the economy when the private sector ignored Gideon’s call for help, but won’t go on forever.

But what does all this mean for the average person on the street?

Not much, it turns out.

All this talk of economic improvement may sound good – indeed, it is intended to do so. But it hasn’t translated into any improvement in living standards. They’ve been plummeting ever since the Conservative-led Coalition government took office.

Tories are bad for the nation’s living standards. So are Liberal Democrats.

Household incomes have dropped by a massive £1,600 every year – a huge amount for the poorest to bear and a considerable inconvenience for those of middle incomes as well.

Pay rises have been non-existent or below the level, even of CPI inflation – which doesn’t take into account all the costs that households must bear. That’s why the Tories and Liberal Democrats switched to using it as their main indicator back in 2010.

Where are all the new full-time jobs?

The only people to benefit from any economic upturn have been the corporate bosses and the Conservative Party (thanks to donations from the corporate bosses).

This means that, instead of asking, “So what? Isn’t 2.6 per cent enough?” you would be better-advised to ask:

“So what? When do I get my share?”

The answer is: “Under the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats?

“Never.”

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Incomes increased for the richest last year, but fell for everyone else (surprise!) – Inequality Briefing

The richest fifth of the UK population saw their incomes increase by £940 in 2013. But incomes were down by £250 for the other 80% of the population… and by £381 for the poorest fifth, according to Inequality Briefing.

Before Vox Political readers start commenting in their droves that this is nothing new and no surprise to anybody: It is important to keep this in the public eye. The Coalition government came into office stating that austerity cuts were necessary but would be fair, and these figures are a constant reminder that they are in fact anything but fair.

Here’s a graphic for you to share:

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

The website states: This data compares the ‘equivalised disposable household income’ for 2011/12 and 2012/13. It was published by the Office for National Statistics as part of ‘the effects of UK tax and benefits on household income 2012/13 study.’ ONS have found that the recession did have a small effect on reducing inequality, but it now looks as though inequality maybe set to increase. The figures are available online via http://www.ons.gov. uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-333039

To download the full pdf, click here

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Will the Tories be embarrassed by the Affordable Housing Bill?

The National Housing Federation ran a campaign against the 'bedroom tax' while the legislation was going through Parliament - but the government was blind to the concerns of this expert organisation.

The National Housing Federation ran a campaign against the ‘bedroom tax’ while the legislation was going through Parliament – but the government was blind to the concerns of this expert organisation.

Tomorrow (Friday) the Labour Party will do something it hasn’t done in a fair few years – support a Parliamentary Bill put forward by a Liberal Democrat!

Andrew George’s Affordable Housing Bill seeks to soften the effects of the Bedroom Tax by exempting households in which disabled people have had adaptations made to the building, and in which any person in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (but notably not Employment and Support Allowance) is not able to share a bedroom with a partner, meaning that all bedrooms are occupied, if only by the claimant and their partner.

It would also force the Work and Pensions Secretary to review the number of affordable homes and intermediate housing available, assessing the need for such dwellings, progress made in meeting this need and the potential to do so, the role of registered providers and community land trusts, and whether he should act to meet any need revealed by the review.

This could doubly harm the Conservatives as David Cameron went on record during Prime Minister’s Questions many times as the Bedroom Tax passed into law, to say that it would not affect the disabled. Clearly his statements were false; clearly he was lying to Parliament.

It is also public knowledge that the Conservatives were well aware of the lack of appropriate housing for people to downsize into, once the Bedroom Tax came into effect and they were forced to pay for rooms the government now considers to be under-occupied. The plan was never to get people to move into more appropriate accommodation; it was always to force people – who had been allocated housing on the basis of what was available at the time – into a benefit cut created by conditions that were not of their making.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, writing on LabourList, stated that Labour will support Mr George’s Bill. “Though most MPs will have commitments in their constituencies, I and other Labour MPs will be present in the House of Commons chamber to support the Bill so that it has the best chance of progressing through to its next stage,” she wrote.

It is to be hoped that any absent MPs will have ‘paired’ with opposing MPs, in order to ensure that no side has an unfair advantage when the matter comes to the vote; it is bad enough that the government scheduled the Bill’s second reading for a Friday, when most MPs have constituency duties.

Labour has lately come under fire from certain individuals – including readers of this blog – who are living under the delusion that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition has supported the Coalition government with regard to the Bedroom Tax. Let’s put that to rest with a few more words from the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary:

“Labour has been clear and consistent in its opposition to the Bedroom Tax.

“We said it was cruel and unfair, taking an average £700 a year from half a million low income households. The government has admitted that two thirds of those hit have disabilities, and another 60,000 are carers. All the evidence from housing and disability experts showed that most would have nowhere else to move to.

“We also said it was unworkable and could end up costing more than it saved, with people unable to keep up with their rent, destabilising the finances of housing providers and risking costly eviction proceedings, or ending up with private landlords where rents and housing benefit bills are higher.

“Our fears were confirmed by the government’s own independent evaluation of the policy slipped out over the summer. This revealed that just 4.5% of affected claimants had been able to move to smaller accommodation within the social sector, that 60% had fallen behind with their rent after just six months, and that there was “widespread concern that those who were paying were making cuts to other household essentials or incurring other debts”.

“These are the reasons why Labour MPs forced a vote in the House of Commons for its abolition in November last year. It is why we supported a Bill to abolish the tax put forward by Ian Lavery MP in February this year. And it is why Ed Miliband has committed the next Labour government to repealing it if we win the general election next year.

“We in the Labour Party will take any opportunity to protect as many people as we can from this unjust and ill-conceived policy.

“But the only sure way to get the Bedroom Tax fully repealed will be to elect a Labour government next May.”

The Affordable Housing Bill is scheduled to be the first discussed in the September 5, 2014 session, and it should be possible to watch the debate at http://www.parliament.uk or the BBC’s Democracy Live site from 9.30am onwards.

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Six million people fall off electoral register due to ‘lackadaisical’ councils

vote

Local councils have been failing to check voter lists by making door-to-door visits – leading to a loss of no less than six million people from the electoral register, the BBC has reported.

This is before a new system comes into operation that will require people to put themselves on the register individually, rather than being registered as part of a household. This has been designed by the Coalition government and it is widely believed that it will discourage people who are not Tories or Lib Dems from registering – effectively rigging elections in favour of the ruling parties.

In addition, it is widely believed that the public in general is losing faith in democracy after being forced to put up with one government after another who have sidled into office with a minority of the vote – most people have voted against them. These governments have then imposed policies that have sucked prosperity from those who rely most heavily on the state for support, handing ever more cash and power to people who have too much of it already. The leaders of the Coalition government (the Conservative Party) were supported by around 29 per cent of the electorate in 2010 (although not all of the electorate voted).

In the light of this, it seems unfair to penalise our already put-upon councils for failing to go door-to-door – the Coalition has contrived to suck resources away from councils, meaning fewer officers are being asked to do much more work, and electoral matters could be deemed easy to sideline in favour of more pressing issues.

The story mentions Mid Devon Council, whose chief executive said he did not believe house-to-house canvassing was an effective use of resources when budgets were being cut.

So the electoral roll dwindles, faith in democracy stutters, leaving zealots to vote in the worst possible governments.

Is there an alternative?

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Is anyone stupid enough to fall for this Tory tax bribe?

131001cameronspeech

So David Cameron wants us to believe further public spending cuts will be used to ease the tax burden on the proles, does he?

He must think you’re stupid. Are you?

Exactly one month ago (February 5), the Institute of Fiscal Studies reported that Cameron’s Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year, as Vox Political reported at the time.

These are the cuts that the government considers vital in order to bring the nation’s bank account back into some kind of balance in the near future.

If Cameron abandons the “long-term economic plan” his Tories have been touting for the last few months, in a bid to bring voters back on-side, it means he will want to make even more cuts if he is returned to office in 2015.

We can therefore draw only two possibilities from his claim:

There will be no tax cuts; he is lying, in the same way he lied about keeping the NHS safe from private companies – the same way Jeremy Hunt has lied about your medical records being kept away from companies who will use them to raise your health insurance premiums, and the same way that Iain Duncan Smith has been hiding the true extent of the deaths caused by the Atos- (sorry, OH Assist-) run work capability assessments.

He will make a few tax cuts (probably in the March budget) but any benefit will be clawed back as soon as the Tories have secured your votes and won another term; the only people they want to help are rich – and you don’t qualify.

According to yesterday’s (March 4) BBC report, “every efficiency” found could help provide a “bit of extra cash” for households.

But we already know from the BBC’s article about the IFS that “additional spending, population growth and extra demands on the NHS meant more cuts were needed”.

Cameron even contradicted himself in his speech! At one point he said, “Every bit of government waste we can cut… is money we can give back to you.” Then he went on to add: “If we don’t get to grips with the deficit now, we are passing a greater and greater burden of debt to our children.”

Which are you going to do, David? Give money back to the people in tax cuts or tackle the deficit? If you want to achieve your goals within the time limit you have set yourself, you can’t do both!

Not that deadlines mean anything to him, of course. As noted in the earlier Vox Political article, it is more likely that the Conservatives have been working to give themselves an excuse for more cuts, rather than to restore the economy and balance the books.

And if he does cut taxes, what public services will we lose forever as a result?

Think about it.

Don’t let this liar make a fool out of you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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