Tag Archives: jobs

140,000 retail jobs lost in worst year for quarter of a century. That’s Tory government for you

Pretty soon, high street shopfronts will be no use as anything other than sheltering spots for homeless people.

So much for the party of business.

Guess what I’m going to say?

That’s right: 14 million Tories voted to flush our shops down the sewer.

Let’s sit back and watch…

… as Boris Johnson does nothing about it apart from talk out of his clacker.

More than 140,000 jobs on UK high streets have been axed in the past year, new figures suggest.

2019 has proved the worst year for high street employment levels in a quarter of a century, according to a report by the the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

More than 16,000 stores shut their doors for good over the course of the year, the new data shows.

The CRR said job losses had leapt by more than a fifth over the past 12 months compared to the previous year.

It warned the year ahead could see an even more dire outlook for traditional retail stores and jobs.

The majority of job losses, around 78,600, came as part of store closures by retailers cutting costs, as the growth of online shopping and high fixed costs of bricks-and-mortar stores took a heavy toll.

Source: 140,000 retail jobs lost in worst year for quarter of a century

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Jeremy Hunt doesn’t care about your job because he thinks Brexit will win him more votes

If you thought the UK would be ruined by a Boris Johnson premiership, try to remember that Jeremy Hunt will be just as bad.

Here he is, promising to destroy 350 jobs in Kidderminster for the sake of a few Brexit-supporting votes – because getting Brexiteers to support the Tories is far more important than actually doing anything supportive of the UK, its people and economy. Right?

I find myself in agreement with a friend on Facebook, who wrote the following:

‘This is where we are. No “sunlit uplands”, no “no downside”, no “easiest deal in history”, just “I will burn your businesses to the ground because of a legally questionable vote which all available polling says is no longer the majority view.”‬ The Conservative Party has lost its mind.’

And if you think Kidderminster is the only part of the country that will be affected, don’t come back to me when the hammer falls on you!

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Tory leader contest: Let’s all remember what Conservatism does to us

The candidates in the Conservative Party leadership election have been launching their campaigns today – and I’m sure their speeches make a lot of sense if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool, blue-rinsed Tory.

By a curious coincidence, the following social media post floated across my screen today and I wanted to share it. It says:

“While you were so worried Socialism would take your freedoms, Capitalism stole your pension, took your savings, sent your jobs overseas, robbed you of health care, dismantled the educational system, and put you in debt, leaving you only your racism, xenophobia, hate, & guns.”

The reference to guns suggests it wasn’t originally written for the UK, but the other words are entirely accurate. I would substitute “Conservatism” for “Capitalism” and add that it also sold all your public utilities – water, electricity, gas and others – to foreign firms.

None of the candidates in the Conservative leadership race will reverse any of the disasters listed here. They will worsen them. Remember that, as this election campaign goes forward.

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Brexit: The people will suffer while politicians squabble – and May is running down the clock

Theresa May’s Brexit: The people will suffer while the politicians squabble.

Fear is setting in over Brexit’s potential impact on jobs, house prices, markets and wages – while the politicians squabble over nonsense and Theresa May runs down the clock in her bid to commit the UK to her dire Brexit deal, or no deal at all.

The Financial Times has polled more than 80 leading economists, and they said Brexit will hobble UK business investment and depress consumer spending in 2019, stunting long-term growth no matter what terms are eventually agreed with the EU. Many said forecasting for 2019 was impossible given the “comprehensive” and “chronic” uncertainty that had become “a way of life” in the UK.

And Ashwin Kumar, chief economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said low income households would not share equally in wage growth, with families facing a squeeze on benefits payments. A rise of one or two per cent will not be felt in most households as the rich would be the ones to benefit.

Contrast this with the attitude of UK prime minister Theresa May, who is desperate to convince voters that it is critics of her duff deal who are damaging the economy, which has been dragged down almost to standstill point due to the uncertainty created by years of bickering among the Tory leaders who were supposed to be negotiating the terms of our departure with the other EU countries but instead fell into squabbling among themselves.

Her attempt to divert the blame saw her on The Andrew Marr Show, accusing those who want a second referendum of “disrespecting” the result of the first, and in the Mail saying they are harming democracy.

But she would not say what she would do if she loses the “meaningful vote” on her deal, due to take place on January 15:

And, despite having accused supporters of a second referendum of harming democracy, she did not say whether she would support such a poll if it was put forward in Parliament as a way to break the deadlock.

So she’s only interested in getting her deal past Parliament. We’ve already discussed the reasons for that and they have nothing to do with the national interest.

On the other side of the Parliamentary divide, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is having trouble getting his own Brexit message across because of demands for a second EU referendum by right-wingers within and outside his party.

It seems, if you’re on the right, you can both support and oppose a second referendum at the same time. Perhaps we could describe them as Schrodinger’s democrats; they want democracy both alive and dead at the same time but don’t know which, until after all our choices have been used up.

Much of the pressure on Labour is just talk, though. The Guardian has a scaremongering story that thousands of party members are demanding that the leadership must support a second referendum or they’ll tear up their membership cards and send the party to certain defeat if a snap general election is called. But we know that this isn’t true. Party membership is stable at more than 600,000, polls do not give a clear picture (we saw one last week that showed more Labour members and supporters are in line with party policy), and a general election will be about much more than Brexit.

report of a YouGov poll involving 25,000 people, that shows a new referendum would show a comfortable majority in favour of remaining in the EU and claims that Labour would lose a general election if it did not support staying in, is also in the realms of fantasy. Labour policy is to push for a general election before a second referendum because the result of a second referendum is likely to do little good for the majority of the British people – no matter what the result – if a Conservative government is in office; Tories would tailor the result to their own interests rather than those of the nation.

And an opinion piece by plummy-voiced right-winger Andrew Rawnsley, trying to foment rebellion against Mr Corbyn as a way of stopping Brexit, is exactly the kind of woolly-minded nonsense we have come to expect from the People’s Vote fantasists who have been putting the cart before the horse and hoping you won’t notice.

Rawnsley knows Brexit won’t be stopped by Labour supporters ousting Mr Corbyn in the belief that shifting Labour policy towards a second referendum will make it happen; it won’t. He just wants to cause trouble for a Labour leader whose people-friendly policies are anathema to him.

So the Tories are still – still! – squabbling among themselves after creating this problem in the first place; Labour members and supporters are being incited to squabble among themselves by right-wingers both inside and outside the party, who want to divide the left and unseat the best leader that party has had in 40 years; and in the meantime living conditions in the UK are likely to suffer brutally.

This Writer’s opinion – for what it’s worth – is that we need to take this one step at a time.

First priority is to defeat Mrs May’s deal because it is not in the national interest – it only benefits her and her cronies and is bad for the UK. Next priority will be a general election. A second referendum will only be worthwhile after a Labour government is returned to office.

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100,000 retail jobs lost – ironically, because of greed

What would Napoleon have made of this? His “nation of shopkeepers” is falling apart – all by itself.

And it’s all down to greed.

That would be greed by big companies, that are leaving the UK because they know a Tory-negotiated Brexit well mean a drop in profits.

Greed by company bosses who preferred to keep retail profits for themselves, rather than share them with staff.

Greed by central government, that has kept business rates too high to allow businesses to establish themselves on high streets.

Greed by shop landlords, who have pushed rents too high for businesses to be cost-effective in their spaces.

And greed by private car parking firms, making it impossible for shoppers to afford parking charges.

Most of the people named above are idiots.

Shop space that is occupied is better than shop space that is empty. It means retailers are making a profit and can afford to pay rents and business rates.

Some money is better than no money so any landlord with empty shops is a bad landlord and deserves to go bankrupt, and any government that sets business rates so high that retailers can’t afford to occupy the space is a bad government.

And any private car parking company charging so much that most people can’t afford to park in their spaces is a bad car parking company. They may say it’s fine because some people can still afford their prices, but it’s better – obviously – if lots of people can afford them. That way, everybody wins.

The question that arises is, why would anybody want to create conditions that stop retailers from taking up shop space, or employees from taking jobs with those retailers, or shoppers from being able to park their cars near those stores?

And that brings us back to the companies that are leaving the UK because of Brexit. They are greedy and want too much profit so we should have very little sympathy for them.

But we should also have very little sympathy for a government that knows it is creating economic conditions that will drive these big employers away.

Until all of these situations change, the UK’s economy will remain in deep, deep trouble. Who does that help?

Labour has called on the UK Government to save Britain’s “dying” high-streets, as new figures published by the Party reveal that 100,000 retail jobs have been lost over the last three years.

New analysis by Labour of ONS figures released on Tuesday has revealed that a staggering 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in stores across Britain since 2015, with Labour blaming poor wage growth and the Government’s handling of Brexit.

Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, has urged the Government to reform the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets.

She also called for a register of landlords of empty shops, to make it easier to bring boarded up shops back into use, and an inquiry into excessive car parking charges levied by private firms.

Source: 100,000 retail jobs lost in the last three years, Labour analysis reveals

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Theresa May’s reshuffle was so badly managed she even broke the Ministerial Code

(From the left) CCHQ Vice Chair for Local Government Marcus Jones, CCHQ Vice Chair for Communities Rehman Chishti, Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis, Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative Deputy Chairman James Cleverly standing outside 10 Downing Street, London.

It’s a clear breach of the code, and it would be welcome to see the Cabinet Office admit it.

(This is not as remote a possibility as it may once have seemed, as Damian Green’s resignation came after he was found to have breached the code.)

Section 6 of the code states that Government property should not be used for “party political activities” – but this is precisely what Theresa May, who, as prime minister, should know better, has done with a silly publicity photo.

Here’s the pic, courtesy of airheaded Tory PR boss Carrie Symonds:

I’ve added another pic from the same shoot at the top of the article, just in case the tweet disappears for some reason.

If all these people had jobs in the government, it would have been permissible – but only party chairman Brandon Lewis has a government post.

The others are all newly-appointed to positions in the Tory Party hierarchy – and that’s not on.

The decision to pose for a pic in Downing Street will have been Theresa May’s, so she must take responsibility.

This could be fun.

Theresa May is facing fresh reshuffle embarrassment amid claims that she breached the Ministerial Code with her Downing Street PR stunt to promote the Tory party’s new top ranks.

Labour has written to the Prime Minister to complain that she was in clear breach of rules which forbid the use of any Government and taxpayer-funded property for party political purposes, HuffPost can reveal.

May led a parade of Conservative party chairmen and vice-chairmen in Downing Street on Monday as she started her shake-up of ministerial ranks.

The Conservative Party subsequently retweeted the picture on both their main twitter account and the Conservative Press account.

But just one of the appointees, party chairman Brandon Lewis, was given a Government post and the rest were all party jobs.

Section 6 of the Ministerial Code – which was updated only this week – says that Government property should not be used for “party political activities”, a strict rule that carries sanctions if breached.

Source: Theresa May ‘Breached Her Own Ministerial Code’ With Tory Party Reshuffle Stunt In Downing Street


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The wages of sin? DWP announce plans to axe 800 jobs amid Jobcentre closures

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

As a reward for their work kicking innocent claimants off benefit and into the gutter (or, very often, the grave), the Department for Work and Pensions is sacking 800 staff members.

No doubt the situation will be packaged up with a nice PR spiel: “Staff will be encouraged to experience first-hand the department’s programmes to return people into work.”

I wonder how many of them will be sanctioned?

I wonder how many will experience health problems but be denied sickness or disability benefits?

I wonder how many will be threatened with eviction from their homes?

I wonder how many will end up dead.

And there’s one more thing:

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to muster up any sympathy for those who do. These are the wages of sin. How did they think they would be rewarded?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today (18 August) announced plans to axe hundreds of jobs, as a direct result of planned closures to Jobcentre offices.

Under the plans announced today, 800 staff with be offered voluntary redundancy. If they refuse, however, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union says the DWP is likely to impose compulsory redundancy.

Earlier this year, the Tory government revealed its intention to close more than one in 10 jobcentres around the UK, which employment minister Damian Hinds said would allow the department to focus resources “on what we know best helps people into work”.

Source: DWP announce plans to axe 800 jobs amid Jobcentre closures


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President Trump is indeed a wake-up call, but not for the reasons you might think

American poverty: Hillary Clinton would have done nothing for these people. But will Donald Trump be any better for them?

American poverty: Hillary Clinton would have done nothing for these people. But will Donald Trump be any better for them?

The claim that there is no left/right divide in politics anymore, and it has been replaced by neoliberalism and neoconservatism is the sort of thing that many might dismiss as conspiracy theory nonsense.

But it is close enough to accurate in the USA, where they have only ever really had a right/right divide in any case, and was accurate in the UK when the Labour Party was run by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. Why else would Margaret Thatcher have said her greatest achievement was New Labour?

Jeremy Corbyn has drawn a line under that and is pushing back towards “traditional” Labour Party values – and the mass media reaction in the UK tends to confirm the claims in this article, that they will support gross lies in order to maintain a status quo that lowers living standards for the poor domestically and starts wars abroad.

From the evidence, Donald Trump is a raging racist, sexist, xenophobe, liar, cheat, and narcissist – but I also agree that most of his supporters want “real social justice” as defined here, although they’ll be out of luck when it comes to healthcare.

I also agree that “any woman [or indeed anyone] who finds herself having to work three jobs and [is] still unable to adequately feed her children or to have enough ‘disposable income’ to feel she has a decent standard of living, will have little problem overlooking sexist remarks or racist hyperbole by a potential president if he promises to address the serious issues that concern her and do away with the kleptocratic policies pursued by Obama (and by Clinton, and by the Bush administration).”

The article goes on to say, “most of this underclass in the US are unlikely to be savvy political analysts with a deep understanding of the nature of the rapacious neoliberal/neoconservative agenda. But what they do understand is that if their living standards have continued to fall under one government, then that government is responsible, and a change is in order.”

That is something we are told the electorate here in the UK has yet to grasp.

But we are told it via opinion polls that do not reflect what is actually happening at polling stations, where Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has been making very strong headway with double-figure increases in the percentage of people voting for the party. Here’s a typical example:

The conclusion – that fascism isn’t on the American agenda because of Trump but “has been your bread-and-butter for decades” – is eerily similar to my own, in an article late yesterday.

The difference is that, while Jeremy Corbyn has a proven Parliamentary record against which we can judge his choices, Mr Trump does not. I think this is why we have seen some abominable behaviour in the United States since his victory.

We will know him by his actions. He has a lot to disprove.

The fact that Donald Trump was elected President of the USA is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is the conditions that allowed for him to be elected President of the USA.

So what drove Americans to vote for either Trump or Hillary in this week’s US presidential election? Ask the mainstream media, or any Hillary supporter, and they’ll probably tell you it was issues like liberal values and social justice. They’ll also tell you that Trump supporters were motivated primarily by racism, sexism, and hatred. In reality, Trump voters were just as concerned about social injustice. In fact, this is the issue behind most popular votes around the world these days. And ironically, Trump voters were arguably more concerned about social justice than the liberals who voted Hillary because the social justice that drove millions to vote for Trump is very different to the ‘social justice’ that concerned Hillary supporters.

Here we need to note the clear distinction between the working-class ‘rednecks’ in the USA, and some of those in a more upwardly mobile financial position. Most people who voted for Trump were the ‘rednecks’ and they did so because they are feeling the negative effects of 8 years of the Obama government’s ‘liberal’ economic and foreign policies that have continued unchanged since the ‘conservative’ Bush years (you might wonder why that is and how it works – hint: the president isn’t the ‘decider’, by a long shot). Those policies coincided with the 2008 ‘crash’ and the bank ‘bailouts’ that saw millions of American homes repossessed and many traditional manufacturing job losses, both of which disproportionately affected the poor.

It was precisely this marginalization of the most vulnerable in society that was behind the Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year. Both the British people’s vote to leave the EU and American people’s vote for Trump were not primarily votes for racism or xenophobia but votes against the neoliberal status quo under which the poor saw their living standards drop further and everyone saw war and death abroad increase.

To underline the bipartisan nature of these protest votes; in the US it was the nominally ‘left’ government candidate that was rejected while in the UK the protest vote occurred under the nominally ‘right’ Conservative government. The point being; the supposed ‘left’/’right’ political paradigm in Western democracies no longer exists. It has been replaced by a combination of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, two fancy words that describe ideologies that together form the ‘elite’ project for transnational globalization and domination of the world’s resources by corporations and their political friends through the ‘projection’ of US military power around the world.

So while the mainstream media, largely supportive of Hillary as the establishment candidate, spent the last 12 months spreading the line that Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’ and that Trump himself is a raging racist, sexist, xenophobe, liar, cheat, and narcissist, this was a gross lie that hid the truth that most Trump supporters were motivated by a desperate desire for better jobs, better wages, better health care (or any health care), etc. In other words, real social justice.

Source: President Trump Is A Wake Up Call, But Not For The Reasons You Think — Puppet Masters — Sott.net

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Corbyn’s Scottish trip shows he means it when he says he’ll win back support

151002corbynirnbru

“Gotta feel sorry for Corbyn. “Don’t mention Scotland! Drink this! Just Drink. The. Irn. Bru. Try to look happy.”

That’s SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter’s opinion of Jeremy Corbyn’s trip north of the English border – but it’s one that doesn’t seem to reflect the actual state of affairs at all.

Sure, we have the photographs of Labour’s new leader brandishing a bottle of Irn Bru and claims like that in The National, that Scottish Labour has told him not to mention the word ‘Scotland’ for fear of “playing to the nationalist agenda” (it seems he was advised by senior party insiders to refer to towns and cities rather than the country).

Others have been taking the visit more seriously. According to the FT, “Some Labour members think that his left wing views will make it harder for the ruling Scottish National party to portray itself as a champion of socialist values while pursuing centrist policies” (Scottish Labour’s opinion seems to be that the SNP are “New Labour in kilts”).

This, of course, suggests that moving Labour to the left of the political spectrum leaves more of the middle ground for the SNP. Won’t that imply a visible shift in that party’s policies, away from what the electorate thought it was, though?

Mr Corbyn himself seems to endorse that view. Asked how Labour’s anti-austerity stance differs from the SNP’s, he told the Daily Record: “We mean it.”

“We’ve learned the lessons of the economic strategies of the past and the way they haven’t worked. It does mean rebalancing our economy, it does mean maintaining the 50p top rate of tax, it does mean not cutting tax credits for the poorest people in our society.

“We want to invest in a growing, expanding economy across the UK and we fully support the powers in the Scotland Bill, and we are going to be working closely with the Labour Party in Scotland to try to defend the people of Scotland from the worst effects of the Trade Union Bill and, of course, the Welfare Reform Bill.”

Mr Corbyn warned that the SNP plan for “full fiscal autonomy” would lead to “very, very heavy” austerity – implying that the nationalists have been misleading their electorate about the effects of their policies.

He told the Record: “If you go for fiscal autonomy, I don’t know what kind of austerity you are going to have but all I know is it would be very, very heavy. I want to see an end to austerity across all of the UK and that is what the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell did in his speech at the party conference on Monday.”

He made it clear that he rejects SNP claims that they are the only effective opposition to the Tories, and pointed out that Labour membership in Scotland it at its highest in years since he took over as leader.

“I believe we’re going to continue to gain support,” he said. “We’re going to do lot of campaigning and point out that what really matters to people is housing, is education, jobs, opportunities and opposing what the Tories are doing in the Welfare Reform Bill.

“We will do our best to get sufficient powers to the Scottish Parliament to try to reduce the impact of the disastrous welfare reform bill on the people of Scotland.”

And he repeated his position on Trident, saying his belief that it should be scrapped had been well known for years and would win popular support in Scotland.

Hmm. That’s six mentions of ‘Scotland’, just in the comments quoted here. Perhaps Ms Hunter and The National were mistaken?

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The Corbyn Phenomenon – Mainly Macro

Jeremy Corbyn's detractors need to start accepting that they are on the wrong side of the argument; Labour's membership wants a party of conviction - not one that goes any way they wind blows.

Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors need to start accepting that they are on the wrong side of the argument; Labour’s membership wants a party of conviction – not one that goes any way they wind blows.

Detractors of Jeremy Corbyn are pushing hard to discredit him any way they can – see yesterday’s article on Alastair Campbell for an example. But the arguments put forward by these critics lack depth.

In his latest article, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has been exploring whether the Corbyn phenomenon also lacks depth or if there is indeed something to it. It is perceptive in that it examines the issues rather than the personalities, and exposes weaknesses that we all knew existed in Labour policy – but that some of us choose not to acknowledge.

Well, it’s time to acknowledge them! This is only an excerpt from the article and you are heartily advised to visit Mainly Macro for the rest of it.

Whether Corbyn wins or loses, Labour MPs and associated politicos have to recognise that his popularity is not the result of entryism, or some strange flight of fancy by Labour’s quarter of a million plus members, but a consequence of the political strategy and style that lost the 2015 election. They should reflect that if they are so sure they know what will win elections, how come they failed to predict the Corbyn phenomenon. A large proportion of the membership believe that Labour will not win again by accepting the current political narrative on austerity or immigration or welfare or inequality and offering only marginal changes to current government policy. On economic policy in particular they need to offer reasons for voters to believe that there are alternatives to the current status quo of poor quality jobs, deteriorating public services and infrastructure, and growing poverty alongside gross inequality at the top. That means, whether he wins or loses, working with the Corbyn phenomenon rather than dismissing it.

It is nonsense to suggest that the Labour party membership has suddenly become markedly more left wing than it used to be. Corbyn’s popularity has much more to do with how the party in parliament has responded to both election defeats.

The reaction of most of the parliamentary party to the 2015 defeat seems to be that the pre-2015 strategy was right in principle but had just not focused enough in placating the marginal English voter, which they believe means more appeasement and shifting further to the right. The party membership seems to have reacted very differently to the 2015 defeat. The membership appears to believe that the pre-2015 strategy has clearly failed, and it is time to start talking with conviction about the issues you believe in. This is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn does: he is a conviction politician, who is not prepared to try and be someone else to win votes.

If Labour is to have any hope in 2020 it has to start attacking Osborne’s unnecessary and obsessive austerity, as well as getting the past history straight. There are also reasons for thinking that the power of deficit fetishism for voters will steadily decline. In that sense, on this issue and perhaps others, Corbyn seems to have an advantage.

Source: mainly macro: The Corbyn Phenomenon

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