Tag Archives: Huffington Post

No, HuffPost, it isn’t a ‘taste of his own medicine’ – Chris Williamson wants re-selection for ALL Labour MPs

Up for re-selection: It’s what Chris Williamson wants.


Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post really needs to rein in his anti-Corbyn sentiments; this is fake news.

He has published an article claiming that efforts to make Chris Williamson go through a re-selection procedure, after he campaigned to make re-selection of Labour Parliamentary candidates mandatory, may be considered a “taste of his own medicine”. Clearly, it is not. It is what he wanted.

Here are a few snippets from the HuffPost piece:

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most vociferous supporters – who has pushed for the deselection of MPs critical of the Labour leader – is set to face his own battle for reselection following anger at his attacks on trade unions.

“One fellow MP said he will “get a taste of his own medicine” after spending months campaigning for some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to be effectively booted out.

“The left-wing backbencher is popular among many members of the grassroots Momentum organisation, not least for his Democracy Roadshow campaign for automatic reselection of every Labour MP.

“But what was seen as Williamson’s move to cut trade union members out of the process sparked a furious backlash, with both Unite and the GMB warning that it was an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots.

“The issue flared up at the party’s conference last month, with some Momentum supporters shouting “shame on the unions” after they blocked more radical attempts to open up every Parliamentary seat to automatic selection.”

This does not make sense.

The article attacks Mr Williamson for “campaigning for some members of the… PLP to be effectively booted out” and also for campaigning “for automatic reselection of every Labour MP”. Well, which is it?

Labour MPs who may be removed, if they have to go through reselection, can’t complain if it is Labour Party policy, as Mr Williamson wants. And a campaign for “every Labour MP” to face automatic reselection cannot target particular members “to be effectively booted out”.

As for the unions who are targeting Mr Williamson for re-selection – from the article, it appears they blocked an attempt to make the Labour Party more democratic, justifying it by claiming it was “an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots”. I understand tradition but there is a place for it and, if it harms democracy, that place is in the past.

Mr Waugh, and the HuffPost, have been upbraided for the misleading (in fact, confusing) report:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1049658150469681155

What do you think about Mr Williamson and his campaign for mandatory re-selection? You have an opportunity to make your voice heard, simply by Re-Tweeting the Tweet below:

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Scaremonger Leslie still represents the ugly side of neoliberal New Labour

Chris Leslie: Neoliberal, Blairite, behind the times – another closet Tory.

Today The Guardian wants to tell us the mainstream Labour Party thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s “starry-eyed, hard left” policies would keep the Conservatives in power for another 10 years at least. What a shame the paper is relying on the words of closet Tory Chris Leslie to make that point!

Leslie is the politician who, as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told the Huffington Post last year that a future Labour government would not undo the Coalition’s hugely unpopular cuts but would continue to impose the austerity that has kept our economy in crisis for the last five years.

In that case, as Vox Political argued at the time, why bother voting for Labour? We’ve already got one lot of Conservatives in power; there’s no need for any more.

Particularly galling is Leslie’s claim to represent the concerns of the “progressive left of centre” – a part of the political landscape he cannot ever claim to have inhabited. He’s a regressive member of the Uptight Right.

In the HuffPost interview, Leslie told us: “George Osborne has had his five years to eradicate the deficit. I am determined that we finish that task on which he has failed”. In response, This Blog asked how he proposes to achieve that aim, if his methods are the same?

140601uglynewlabour

Chris Leslie’s idea of socialism: Seems a lot like Toryism, doesn’t it?

The man just wasn’t making sense then – and he isn’t making sense now.

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a hard-left politician; Leslie’s problem is that his politics is too far to the right of the political spectrum for him to belong in the same party – he isn’t a Labour politician at all. Austerity is not the answer to the UK’s woes – five years of insane Tory ideological policies have demonstrated that.

The people are crying out for a change – the overwhelming victory of the SNP, with it’s anti-austerity posture, at the general election demonstrates that – and claims that England is not the same as Scotland in this regard are groundless because many English people have been saying they would have voted SNP if they could.

Mr Leslie is wrong – in what he says, in what he has been doing, and in his choice of political party. Like Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall and certain other high-profile neoliberals, he should cross the floor and join the party he really represents.

His announcement that he would not work for Mr Corbyn is the best news we are likely to get all day – and he should keep his scaremongering to himself.

The “starry-eyed, hard left” economic strategy of Jeremy Corbyn would hand the Tories at least another decade in power and end up hurting poor people by leading to higher inflation and interest rates as well as cuts in public spending, the shadow chancellor has said.

As Corbyn outlines plans to end “the years of political and economic austerity” to help create a high-skilled workforce in Britain, Chris Leslie has become one of the most senior Labour figures to say he would decline to serve under the veteran leftwinger.

In a sign of the deep unease at senior levels of the Labour party that Corbyn could be on the verge of a historic breakthrough by the left to win the party’s leadership, Leslie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday: “This is a fork in the road for the Labour party. On 12 September we will know what the fate is of the progressive left of centre. There are millions of people whose living standards and working conditions depend on making sure we get this decision right, otherwise we face a decade or more of Conservative government.”

Source: Corbyn’s economic strategy would keep Tories in power, top Labour figure says | Politics | The Guardian

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David Cameron’s Tory Supermarket

150228torysupermarket

Those of you who still bother watching British network television have no doubt seen the advert that spawned this clever little sideswipe.

This writer can’t stand the original – for reasons that should be clear. However, substitute David Cameron for the original subject and, well, see for yourself.

http://youtu.be/fFlJgF1fmNU

Good points, well made?

(Thanks to a Vox Political commenter who shall remain nameless, for this one.)

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SNP credibility crashes further after ‘bleak’ oil and gas performance

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth "£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland". He may have been exaggerating - considerably.

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth “£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland”. He may have been exaggerating – considerably. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/10198532/Alex-Salmond-North-Sea-oil-worth-300000-for-every-Scot.html)

 

What was Alex Salmond saying about oil revenues, again?

He said that oil would bring in revenues of £6.8billion – £7.9billion in 2016/17 (thanks to the Huffington Post for the figures).

How likely does this seem, now that industry body Oil & Gas UK has reported that falling oil prices and rising costs meant the sector spent and invested £5.3bn more than it earned from sales during 2014?

That’s right – last year North Sea oil lost almost as much as the SNP said it would earn in 2016-17.

Operating costs are rising, investment is falling, the cost per barrel extracted has rocketed to a record high, and the price of oil internationally is at its lowest in years, according to the BBC.

While all this was taking place, Alex Salmond was telling Scottish people they could rely on oil generating £20.2billion in tax revenues in the first three years of an independent Scotland. Now – again according to the HuffPost – it seems unlikely to generate a quarter of that figure.

It is hard to believe that Mr Salmond did not know the facts about oil when he was offering the Scottish people all his rosy talk about future prosperity based on oil revenues.

Yet even today, many supporters of Scottish nationalism are adamant that Labour (above even the proven liars in the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties) misled them.

It’s certainly true that somebody has been lying to Scotland.

Is anybody brave enough to admit who it really was?

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Duncan Smith has ruined the DWP – and has nothing to show for it

131010benefitdenier

Universal Credit has been an unmitigated calamity and so-called ‘reforms’ intended to end billions of pounds of spending on Incapacity Benefits every year have instead increased the cost – that is the end-of-Parliament report on Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions from Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

In addition, the department has suffered serious – and possibly lasting – damage to its reputation since 2010, a reputation that was at a high when Mr Portes left it in 2008, due to the success of its integration of benefit offices and job centres into Job Centre Plus.

“Six years on, that reputation is in tatters,” he writes in The Guardian. “This decade’s flagship programme – the integration of the six major working-age benefits into universal credit – is far behind schedule, with tens of millions of pounds of IT investment already written off and much more to come. The [National Audit Office]’s verdict has been damning, describing weak management, ineffective control, and poor governance, with both ministers and civil servants coming in for severe criticism. External experts – most of whom supported the principles behind universal credit – are unsure of whether the system can ever be made to work, even several years late.

“But this is far from the worst of the failures. The collapse of the department’s contract with Atos to reassess incapacity benefit claimants means perhaps half a million remain in limbo. The suffering of individual claimants misclassified by Atos and DWP – in some cases left literally starving – has been well-publicised. Less so has been the cost to taxpayers. But the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Welfare Trends report, published last week, shows an upward revision of £3bn a year in spending on incapacity benefits – entirely attributable to delays and mismanagement.”

And it is all the fault of the Tories, it seems.

Mr Portes states: “But the evidence points to a combination of hubris on the part of Iain Duncan Smith, a reluctance by civil servants to push back against unrealistically ambitious timetables, and arbitrary, Treasury-driven spending cuts.” The man we call RTU (Return To Unit) or SNLR (Services No Longer Required) is too proud to admit his ambition outweighed his ability; his staff were too timid (afraid of him?) to make him face the realities of the situation and the Treasury, run by Duncan Smith’s rival George Osborne, forced cut upon cut onto the department, perhaps in an effort to make the Secretary-in-a-State look worse than he already did.

So “Even after it was obvious that the [Universal Credit] programme was well off-track, Duncan Smith continued to claim it was ‘on time and on budget’.”

Sir Bob Kerslake, outgoing head of the civil service, described a “culture of good news” where no one could say that things were going wrong.

And “Duncan Smith’s well-publicised attempts to shift the blame for the mess to civil servants has poisoned relations within the department”.

Meanwhile, in a bid to claw back some of the money lost on UC, ministers were desperately clamping down on incapacity benefit claimants: “Ministers firmly believed that hundreds of thousands of people on incapacity benefits could in fact work, and that the new work capability assessment would show just that, giving the Treasury some of the savings it needed. So when their own independent reviewer, Malcolm Harrington, told them that the work capability assessment needed major changes, and meanwhile the reassessment process should be delayed, they ignored him; not pressing ahead would have left a significant black hole in the sums.

“The predictable result – tens of thousands of appeals, many successful; considerable hardship; administrative chaos; and eventually the collapse of the DWP’s contract with Atos. And the long-term downward trend in the number of people on the benefit has now actually reversed. Ministers have yet to explain why, if it is really the case that hundreds of thousands of people were receiving the benefit when they shouldn’t have been, the “reforms” are now actually seeing the numbers going up again.

“The promised savings, of course, have long since vanished. In fact, the OBR estimated last week that the delays to the government’s plans for these two benefits are now costing taxpayers close to £5bn per year – dwarfing savings made elsewhere, and leaving a large potential black hole in the next government’s budget.”

Perhaps this is why Rachel Reeves keeps talking about money, rather than the human cost of the DWP’s bungling.

Only this morning, she was on Twitter telling us she would be appearing on LBC to talk about how Labour will “make work pay” – annoyingly trying to steal a Tory soundbite.

Perhaps, also, this is why the DWP is infamously reluctant to answer Freedom of Information requests. The infamous call for an update on the number of ESA claimants who have died since November 2011, first made by Yr Obdt Srvt in 2013 (following other unsuccessful attempts) is now  – on a second attempt – with the Information Commissioner’s Office on appeal after ministers found another reason to refuse it.

And the Huffington Post has told us that a perfectly legitimate request by Newsnight’s Chris Cook has also been snubbed by the department.

“Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP has made a name for itself as one of the most vindictive arms of government since the coalition came into power, far more concerned with saving money than serving its jobless customers, and as useful as a wet paper bag in getting people into work,” wrote Nick Stephenson.

“It has been found to be using targets to drive sanction numbers ever upwards, its actions are one of the main reasons why people need to use foodbanks, and its latest wheeze is for staff to go into schools to scare children away from claiming benefits.

Here on Vox Political, as stated above, we call Iain Duncan Smith ‘Return To Unit’. On the evidence above, let’s hope the voting public decide it’s time he actually went.

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#CameronMustGo: Thanks for taking the flak, Jack…

… But you really didn’t deserve what you got.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Jack Monroe (she of A Girl Called Jack blog fame) has come under attack from pro-Tory Twitter users after she tweeted, as part of the #CameronMustGo drive, the following:

141124jackmonroetweet1

The Huffington Post, reporting on the hashtag drive, told us: “Some tweets directed against Cameron were deemed too far. Guardian cookery writer Jack Monroe faced criticism for a tweet accusing the PM of using the memory of his dead son to further his agenda. Ivan died aged six in 2009 after suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Cameron invoked his memory when defending his record on the NHS in a recent PMQs. Monroe subsequently received a number of messages of abuse.”

She really did. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes (Conservative), stated that Jack’s was “the most shameful tweet; you understand nothing about grief.” She then addressed Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, asking if Jack’s tweet, from her personal account, reflected the values of the newspaper.

Fortunately this miserable excuse for a public representative doesn’t need a put-down from me. Here’s Nick Portch, who did it with ease by asking if Dr Wollaston was “A Conservative trying to get somebody sacked for exercising their freedom of speech?”

Nice one, Nick.

As for understanding “nothing about grief”, back to Jack herself: “And because 2 years later, I can’t open my own front door, suffer anxiety attacks, the mental scars of poverty are ruinous, .” Okay, “mental scars” might not indicate grief to you but it seems very likely that if you suffered those effects as a result of them, you’d spend a certain amount of time grieving about it.

Other criticisms were less civilised.  Vernon Vega’s ran as follows [asterisks mine]: “Re the Cameron tweet…you really are a bit of a c**t aren’t you?” What a charmer. Absolutely no substance whatsoever.

Sarah Vine gave us: “No one is privatising the NHS.” We’ll examine the stupidity of this statement momentarily.

‘Angela’ tweeted: “I have no idea who you are, but you are a truly disgusting specimen. You deserve the biggest karmic kick in the face,” and Daily Referendum continued the theme with: “If Karma does exist, then you should be pretty worried right now.”

It seems likely there were worse, because Ms Monroe subsequently tweeted: “I can express my opinion on it, so can you. We disagree, debate, discuss. But death/rape threats, & threats to my son, are a crime.” If karma does exist, then it seems likely these are the people who should be worrying.

She remains unrepentant, as this shows: “Doorstepped by . Short statement, politely delivered, don’t regret pointing out that DC closes down debate on NHS & disability and that his experience of caring for Ivan was not comparable to experiences of others, many of whom are now victims of welfare cuts.”

The Mail subsequently – and gleefully – reported that Sainsbury’s is cutting its ties with Ms Monroe (after using her in advertising campaigns for its Value range of food for people with less money). The headline: “Sainsbury’s axes left-wing blogger for vile PM slur”.

In short, there’s been a lot of fuss over this tweet by Ms Monroe.

For Vox Political, this has been fascinating, because she posted it around 21 hours after Yr Obdt Srvt, the author of this very article, tweeted the following:

141124jackmonroetweet2

Who knows what might have happened if the Tories mentioned above had seen that, instead of Jack’s comparatively mild tweet?

Vox Political stands behind every word and has the evidence to prove it, as this article from last month demonstrates.

Neither this blog nor its author have received any adverse comments in response to the tweet or the article that preceded it.

What does this tell us?

Perhaps it indicates that Ms Monroe was targeted, not because she suggested anything that was beyond the pale or unforgiveable, but because she is a person from the lower orders who certain people believe has ideas above her station.

Her A Girl Called Jack blog catapulted her into the public eye because it offered ideas about how to make decent meals to people struggling to feed their families on a low budget – in other words, people on benefits. She did it to chronicle her own efforts to feed herself and her son on a food budget of just £10 per week – and she started blogging in response to a local councillor who claimed that ‘druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street’. A book of recipes went straight to the top of the charts at the start of the year, and a sequel may do the same before Christmas.

She built herself up from ‘Benefit Street’ and the blogosphere to become a success – and the vested interests don’t like it. It disproves their narrative that everyone on benefits is a scrounger, a skiver and a sponger – and they need working people to think what they tell them to think in the run-up to next year’s general election.

That’s why the Tories and the trolls have gone after her; it was an opportunity to put down a lower-class upstart and stifle the facts she was broadcasting.

Take a look at the Vox Political article referenced above; Jack Monroe was right in every word of that tweet. David Cameron is selling the NHS, Sarah Vine – around £9.2 billion worth of NHS contracts have been offered to private companies since the Health and Social Care Act became law (around 10 per cent of the NHS budget in England), meaning public money has been wasted on profits for corporate shareholders – including members of the Conservative Party and donors to the Conservative Party.

This writer hopes Jack Monroe can rise above the noise created by the Tories, those with vested interests, and the trolls. Their messages are meaningless. Let us all hope that for each of them there are at least a dozen of us who know her message has reached people we could not, and therefore can only offer her our gratitude and love.

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Do YOU feel as prosperous as you were before the crisis?

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

Britain has returned to prosperity, with the economy finally nudging beyond its pre-crisis peak, according to official figures.

Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? Next time you’re in the supermarket looking for bargains or mark-downs because you can’t afford the kind of groceries you had in 2008, you can at least console yourself that we’re all doing better than we were back then.

The hundreds of thousands of poor souls who have to scrape by on handouts from food banks will, no doubt, be bolstered by the knowledge that Britain is back on its feet.

And the relatives of those who did not survive Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal purge of benefit claimants can be comforted by the thought that they did not die in vain.

Right?

NO! Of course not! Gross domestic product might be up 3.1 per cent on last year but it’s got nothing to do with most of the population! In real terms, you’re £1,600 per year worse-off!

The Conservatives who have been running the economy since 2010 have re-balanced it, just as they said they would – but they lied about the way it would be re-balanced and as a result the money is going to the people who least deserve it; the super-rich and the bankers who caused the crash in the first place.

You can be sure that the mainstream media won’t be telling you that, though.

Even some of the figures they are prepare to use are enough to cast doubt on the whole process. The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest-growing among the G7 developed nations according to the IMF (as reported by the BBC) – but our export growth since 2010 puts us below all but one of the other G7 nations, according to Ed Balls in The Guardian.

And it is exports that should be fuelling the economy, according to JML chairman John Mills in the Huffington Post. He reckons the government needs to invest in manufacturing and achieve competitive exchange rates in order to improve our export ability.

“Since most international trade is in goods and not in services, once the proportion of the economy devoted to producing internationally tradable goods drops below about 15 per cent, it becomes more and more difficult to combine a reasonable rate of growth and full employment with a sustainable balance of payments position,” he writes.

“In the UK, the proportion of GDP coming from manufacturing is now barely above 10 per cent. Hardly surprising then that we have not had a foreign trade surplus balance since 1982 – over thirty years ago – while our share of world trade which was 10.7 per cent in 1950 had fallen by 2012 to no more than 2.6 per cent.”

All of this seems to be good business sense. It also runs contrary to successive governments’ economic policies for the past 35 years, ever since the neoliberal government of Margaret Thatcher took over in 1979.

As this blog has explained, Thatcher and her buddies Nicholas Ridley and Keith Joseph were determined to undermine the confidence then enjoyed by the people who actually worked for a living, because it was harming the ability of the idle rich – shareholders, bosses… bankers – to increase their own undeserved profits; improvements in working-class living standards were holding back their greed.

In order to hammer the workers back into the Stone Age, they deliberately destroyed the UK’s manufacturing and exporting capability and blamed it on the unions.

That is why we have had a foreign trade deficit since 1982. That is why our share of world trade is less than one-third of what it was in 1950 (under a Labour government, notice). That is why unemployment has rocketed, even though the true level goes unrecognised as governments have rigged the figures to suit themselves.

(The current wheeze has the government failing to count as unemployed anyone on Universal Credit, anyone on Workfare/Mandatory Work Activity and anyone who whose benefit has been sanctioned – among many other groups – for example.)

You may wish to argue that the economy is fine – after all, that’s what everybody is saying, including the Office for National Statistics.

Not according to Mr Mills: “The current improvement in our economic performance, based on buttressing consumer confidence by boosting asset values fuelled by yet more borrowing, is all to unlikely to last.”

(He means the housing bubble created by George Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme will burst soon, and then the economy will be right up the creek because the whole edifice is based on more borrowing at a time when Osborne has been claiming he is paying down the deficit.)

Ed Balls has got the right idea – at least, on the face of it. In his Guardian article he states: “We are not going to deliver a balanced, investment-led recovery that benefits all working people with the same old Tory economics,” and he’s right.

“Hoping tax cuts at the very top will trickle down, a race to the bottom on wages, Treasury opposition to a proper industrial strategy, and flirting with exit from the European Union cannot be the right prescription for Britain.” Right again – although our contract with Europe must be renegotiated and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement would be a disaster for the UK if we signed it.

But none of that affects you, does it? It’s all too far away, controlled by people we’ve never met. That’s why Balls focuses on what a Labour government would do for ordinary people: “expanding free childcare, introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, raising the minimum wage and ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts. We need to create more good jobs and ensure young people have the skills they need to succeed.”

And how do the people respond to these workmanlike proposals?

“You intend to continue the Tories’ destructive ‘austerity’ policies.”

“The economy isn’t fixed but you broke it.”

There was one comment suggesting that all the main parties are the same now, which – it has been suggested – was what Lynton Crosby told David Cameron to spread if he wanted to win the next election.

Very few of the comments under the Guardian piece have anything to do with what Balls actually wrote; they harp on about New Labour’s record (erroneously), they conflate Labour’s vow not to increase borrowing with an imaginary plan to continue Tory austerity policies… in fact they do all they can to discredit him.

Not because his information is wrong but because they have heard rumours about him that have put them off.

It’s as if people don’t want their situation to improve.

Until we can address that problem – which is one of perception – we’ll keep going around in circles while the exploiters laugh.

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Osborne’s tax avoidance failure reveals the facts about Coalition policies

osborne embarrassed

Embarrassed: And so George Osborne should be!

What bad luck for George Osborne to get two sums wrong in the same week!

The first sum was a simple times-table question; a school pupil asked him to multiply seven by eight and he couldn’t do it.

The second sum was more serious because it was a sum of money. Rather a lot of money. £1.9 billion, in fact.

The Boy had claimed that around £3 billion in extra tax had been recovered from “high net worth individuals” – tax avoiders – after investigations by HM Revenue and Customs.

Unfortunately, errors in the way HMRC’s performance targets were set meant that these improvements were… well, “overstated” is how the Huffington Post described them.

This meant that, when HMRC said it exceeded its target for tax compliance in 2010-11 by £1.9 billion, in fact it had only just hit its target. The following year, its claim to have exceeded targets by £2 billion was out by the same amount; in fact it had made gains of just £100 million.

There is around £21 trillion in unclaimed, avoided tax sitting in ‘haven’ bank accounts around the world – many of them British territories – and Osborne has managed to collect just £100 million.

Meanwhile unemployed and low-paid working citizens – who have no income apart from state benefits, due to the systematic destruction of the UK’s industrial base by neoliberal politicians who were intent on increasing insecurity among the lower classes – are being starved to death.

Osborne has only himself to blame. When the Coalition government came into office, the Tories insisted that they didn’t need anything like as many public-sector workers as were then on the books – and started laying people off wholesale.

Now the DWP has a claimant assessment backlog of 700,000 for ESA alone (compared with less than 30,000 in May 2010) and the government’s flagship Universal Credit project is hopelessly bogged down, to quote just two examples of the remaining public servants being unable to do their jobs.

Meanwhile, outsourcing of government jobs to private companies has created a disaster: The National Health Service in England is slowly falling over the cliff, with privateers taking so much in profit that the service will go £2 billion into debt next year while waiting times at Accident and Emergency departments continue to increase out-of-control (no matter what lies David Cameron dribbles in Prime Minister’s Questions); a £116 million IT programme arranged with French firm Steria to run staffing, procurement and payroll services for civil servants was scrapped at a cost of £56 million – and then Steria was re-hired to outsource British jobs to India, Poland and Morocco, again at UK taxpayers’ expense.

Does anyone remember the fiasco when G4S was hired to run security at the London Olympics, failed to meet requirements, and the Army had to be called in at the last minute?

Atos and the DWP, anybody?

Andy Hamilton commented on this phenomenon during this week’s News Quiz on BBC Radio 4: “For decades, we have watched governments hand over the utilities and services to companies like G4S and Serco and we have watched as they basically ruined them.

“And then once they’ve ruined them, they get given some more to ruin until they’re running all sorts of services; they’re now huge!

“I still hanker after the good old days when G4S was just Group 4, and its core business was letting prisoners escape from vans.”

Some of us still hanker after the good old days when George Osborne was just a department store employee, and his core business was folding towels.

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The ugly face of New Labour rears up again: Chris Leslie and Nita Clarke

 

140601uglynewlabour

It seems the neoliberal Blairites of New Labour are coming out of the woodwork in an effort to ensure that nobody in their right mind supports the modern Labour Party next year.

According to the Huffington Post, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie reckons that a future Labour government will not undo the Coalition’s hugely unpopular cuts but will continue to impose the austerity that has kept our economy in crisis for the last four years.

In that case, why bother voting for Labour? We’ve already got one lot of Conservatives in power; there’s no need for any more.

Just to recap what we all know already, austerity is no way out of a recession. Economies grow when an increased money supply travels through the system, making profits for businesses and creating the fiscal multiplier effect. This means more tax comes to the government and it is able to pay down its debts. Austerity cuts off that money supply, making it much more difficult for money to circulated, profit to be made and tax to be taken. Evidence shows that the only people who profit from it are those who were rich already.

Indeed, the current economic miracle (if you believe George Osborne) was engineered by government investment – rather than austerity – in a housing price bubble. It’s almost a return to Keynesian economics, but done in a cack-handed, amateurish way that will cause more problems in the long run.

Austerity is, therefore, a Conservative policy and one that should be abandoned if Labour ever comes to power. The fact that this Leslie person is promoting it shows his true-Blue colours. Perhaps someone should start a petition to have him ejected from the party.

Retaining austerity was described by the HuffPost as part of “Labour’s ‘radical’ policy plans”, but this is ridiculous. How can retaining a policy that is already causing uncounted harm be, in any way, radical? It’s just more of the same neoliberal Conservatism.

“George Osborne has had his five years to eradicate the deficit. I am determined that we finish that task on which he has failed,” said Leslie in the article. How does he propose to achieve that aim, if his methods are the same? The man just isn’t making sense.

Meanwhile, a former Blair aide named Nita Clarke has defended another pillar of neoliberalism – privatisation – by making the absurd claim that Labour should not criticise private firms when they fail to deliver public services.

Speaking at a conference by the right-wing thinktank Progress, she said: “We have to be really careful that we’re not always seen as attacking the private sector and celebrating their failures. How do you think that makes the staff who work there feel?”

How does Nita Clarke think British citizens feel about being let down on a regular basis by these profit-guzzling clowns, ever since Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives first started letting them into places where they did not belong?

How does Nita Clarke think British citizens felt when neoliberal New Labour refused to push back the tide of privatisation?

How does Nita Clarke think British citizens should feel about the fact that privatisation is now threatening the welfare state, the National Health Service and even state pensions?

Only today, Vox Political reblogged an article warning that HM Revenue and Customs may be undergoing preparations for privatisation.

Like austerity, privatisation is a fundamental pillar of the current neoliberal agenda. It has no place in the Labour Party, if the Labour Party is serious about opposing the Conservatives at the next election.

There should be no place in Labour for Chris Leslie, Nita Clarke, or anybody who supports their views, either.

It’s a view that might be unpopular with the Blue suits that make up the current Labour leadership.

But it’s the only way Labour will ever come up with a really ‘radical’ – and workable – plan.

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‘Unpaid taxes’ retrieval power – good or bad?

tax

Don’t you hate it when people avoid telling you things you ought to know?

George Osborne’s budget speech never mentioned the new power granted to HM Revenue and Customs, allowing it “to delve into Britons’ bank accounts for money that officials think is owed in unpaid taxes, in a move which critics have warned leave officials ‘a law unto themselves’,” according to the Huffington Post.

The trouble is, I’m not sure whether this is really a bad thing, or a useful tool in the battle against corporate and mega-rich tax avoiders/evaders.

Here’s what the HuffPost had to say:

“The Chancellor slipped details of the move out in the Budget’s Red Book, which stated that HMRC will be able to take money from people who owe officials over £1,000 in tax.

“Officials will only be able to use the power for Britons who have been asked ‘multiple times’ by debt collection officials to pay, and must leave at least £5,000 in the account.

“‘This brings the UK in line with many other tax authorities which already have the power to recover debts directly from an individual’s account, such as France and the US,’ the Budget reads.

“Once HMRC takes the money, the taxpayer will have 14 days to get in touch and set up a payment plan, otherwise officials will keep what they have taken.

“Osborne’s Budget also gave HMRC the power to take money from those they suspect of unfairly avoiding tax, with money only handed back – with interest – if the taxpayer wins a legal challenge in the courts.”

What do you think?

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