Tag Archives: left

Facebook HAS been filtering out left-wing news. Is it time to check your settings? 

Facebook: presumably, all the silhouetted people here have been cut off from the left-wing news-related articles they wanted to read and are wandering aimlessly in search of them. Isn’t it time this interference was ended?

The social media platform Facebook has confirmed that it knowingly changed its news algorithms to filter out sites like Vox Political from your feeds.

The claim is that this was in response to pressure from right-wingers who claimed that they were being victimised.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, Mark Zuckerberg.

This lopsided treatment appears to have continued: SKWAWKBOX readers have reported posts they have shared disappearing from their newsfeeds, ‘see first’ settings disappearing in spite of repeated attempts to prioritise the page’s updates and other anomalies when they try to view or share news.

If you get your links to articles by This Site, or Skwawkbox, or The Canary, or any of the other left-wing sites via Facebook, it seems now would be a good time to check that the system hasn’t messed with your preference settings.

Alternatively, why not cut out the middle man altogether?

In the right-hand column of this page (if you’re using a computer) there’s a section marked “SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL”. It’s easy to use and won’t take more than a minute of your time.

Then you can be sure of receiving the articles you want to see. Isn’t that better than letting some faceless Facebook fascist separate you from what you want to see?

Source: Confirmed: Facebook changed its system to filter out left news from user feeds while leaving right untouched – SKWAWKBOX

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.

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Labour goons are trying to get lefties to buckle under to Starmer. Did they miss the last five years?

Keir Starmer: he’s not interested in accommodating left-wingers in Labour; he just wants them to shut up and do as they’re told.

It must be a kind of psychosis. Former Corbyn adviser Andrew Fisher’s outburst in The Guardian is just a symptom.

After spending five years refusing point-blank to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and follow the new (which was actually a traditional) Labour Party line, these creeps – and their buddie in the media (Graun) – are trying to get lefties to slavishly follow Starmer:

Labour’s left must work constructively with Keir Starmer and resist the temptation to go “back in our sealed tomb”, Jeremy Corbyn’s former policy chief has warned.

Notice the choice of language. Nobody on the left suggested the uptight right-wingers belonged in a “sealed tomb” (although let’s be honest, a fascist rally would be more appropriate).

He said it was the responsibility of senior figures within the party’s left to reassure new members that Corbyn’s replacement would not lead to their marginalisation.

That would be irresponsible because we have already seen leading left-wing figures marginalised (Rebecca Long-Bailey, for example).

Fisher said Starmer’s 10 leadership election pledges, which included commitments on abolishing tuition fees, taxing the wealthy and public ownership, was “still basically our policy programme”.

Not true – Starmer has already reneged on nine out of the 10.

So I don’t believe Fisher, and I don’t think anybody else should either.

The opportunity for the different sides of “broad church” Labour to come together was under the left-wing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

It can’t happen under right-wingers like Keir Starmer because their attitude is as described in this article’s headline: buckle under or bugger off.

They’re not interested in devising a policy platform that is acceptable to traditional Labour supporters – and good for the country as a whole.

They just want to use rank-and-file Labour subscriptions to line their own pockets. In This Writer’s opinion.

Source: Labour left must work with Starmer or risk ‘return to tomb’, says Corbyn adviser | Politics | The Guardian

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Honour for Duncan Smith has not humiliated the left – it has ENERGISED us

The pick of the Tories: Iain Duncan Smith might have been given a knighthood by Boris Johnson’s government, but few people are impressed with the face-chiseller from Chingford.

I read a message on Twitter suggesting that the knighthood for Iain Duncan Smith was an attempt to take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s playbook – humiliating and de-motivating opponents of the new Tory regime.

The honour for the so-called ‘Architect of Death’, whose draconian policies of hate against benefit claimants including some of the most vulnerable, ill and disabled people in the United Kingdom have ended the lives of thousands upon thousands of people who had as much right to live as the rest of us, was an attempt to demonstrate to us just how little we matter to Boris Johnson and his elitist clique.

Well, it backfired massively, didn’t it?

When I wrote my article calling on you to support Dr Mona Kamal’s petition to deny Duncan Smith his knighthood, it had already acquired a significant 70,000+ signatures. That number has now more than doubled to nearly 160,000 at the time of writing.

In just two days!

Instead of showing us that we are weak, and few, the decision to honour one of the least worthy men in the United Kingdom has instead inspired us all to dust ourselves down, stand up and show that we are many and we are strong.

And we reject a government that scorns its people in this way.

Keep signing the petition, folks. Let’s make this a statement that Boris Johnson remembers – to his humiliation.

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.

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Williamson launches fund to help Labour members who were wrongly expelled

Unity is strength: Chris Williamson, announcing the new fighting fund.

This is damning – for the Labour bureaucracy and the news media that lied about what it has been doing.

Chris Williamson, the former MP who left the party after being wrongly accused of anti-Semitism and subsequently took Labour to court, has been awarded all of the costs associated with that case after he won it.

He will use the money to start a fighting fund for other wronged ex-party members to fight back against the slurs on their names.

But why don’t I let him explain for himself? Here he is:

This is the right time for an overhaul of Labour’s policies – after an election in which that party fell disastrously short of what the public expected of it.

The nightmarish mistreatment of members falsely accused of anti-Semitism is just one area in which the party got it wrong, pandering to pressure groups when the leadership should have been questioning the motives of those involved.

It is one reason This Writer will not be supporting Rebecca Long-Bailey’s bid to be party leader:

Yes we do, Matt Kennard.

Would anybody strong enough like to step forward?

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.

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Facebook is STILL running ads from opaque organisations trying to influence politics – and banning Leftie sites

A website known as mainstreamnetwork.co.uk has been using Facebook to spread a pro-Brexit, anti-Chequers political message in a bid to influence the politics of the UK, according to media sources.

This comes after Facebook promised to be more open about political advertising, following harsh criticism over adverts that were targeted in ways designed to influence public votes on membership of the EU and the 2017 general election.

The social media platform was – only this week – fined £500,000 for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. This is the maximum fine possible under data protection rules that were in force before GDPR took effect in May.

Nobody outside Facebook knows what information is being published on the website or where it comes from – and only Facebook will know which adverts and information have been directed at which Facebook users.

This means it is entirely possible that Facebook and its advertisers are not abiding by the laws that regulate the democratic process and restrict spending on campaigns and the content of adverts.

This is crucially important at a time when Facebook is said to be removing pages run by left-leaning media sources.

US commentator Lee Camp fills you in here:

“This is a full-frontal crushing of dissident sources,” he said.

“Facebook conspired with Twitter to shut down a large swathe of independent media on the same day.

“This is like a full-on fascist takeover of independent thought.”

Well, is it?

Let’s get back to mainstreamnetwork.co.uk – the site that is not only still permitted by Facebook but actually splashed a quarter of a million pounds worth of advertising all over it.

What kind of site does Facebook endorse in this way? Take a look:

We do not know who runs the site. We do not know whether it is based in the UK or overseas. We do not know who funds it. There is no name or address anywhere on the site.

A report by political research organisation 89Up, prepared for the DCMS Select Committee… tells us that it has paid to use Facebook, probably about £250,000 in the last year, to spread its views and to encourage its users with a pro-forma letter to email UK MPs from a custom built website.

We also know that it has retained users’ email addresses, possibly in breach of data protection regulations.

Facebook has made these activities possible and profits from them. But it accepts no responsibility for ensuring its users comply with the law.

All of this is happening now – after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and after Facebook made a number of announcements purporting to address the misuse of the platform for political purposes.

Source: We don’t know who just spent £250k on pro-Brexit Facebook ads – that should worry us all

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


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This twaddle from Labour right-wingers shows it is ‘open season’ against the Left – again

Trevor Phillips said in the Left people of colour “achieve truly heroic status only after the ultimate act of distance — death” [Image: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images].

Labour right-winger Trevor Phillips hit on exactly the right description of his own words when describing the attitude of left-wingers in his own party: Twaddle.

The former chairman of the London Assembly has leapt on the bandwagon launched by Jess Phillips when the sexist, misandrist MP for Birmingham Yardley described left-wing men as the “absolute worst”.

It seems that, once again, it is ‘open season’ for unreasonable attacks on the Left.

It is hugely telling that Mr Phillips’s words were published in the Labour-hating Daily Mail.

Accusing lefties of being “racist”, and of “little hypocrisies”, the man who has been both president of the National Union of Students and chairman of the London Assembly said the left selects few people of colour for leadership.

So the fact that he was selected for it, no less than twice, is a fluke, then? Perhaps he’s just one of the lucky few.

Another one of the lucky few would be Keith Vaz, then, who remains Labour’s BAME representative on the party’s National Executive Committee, despite scandals in his personal life. This Writer isn’t fond of him personally but he certainly seems able to retain his place as a leader.

And black men only achieve heroic status after death? I’m not so sure about that, either. Look at David Lammy. This Writer would certainly accord him heroic status over the way he has stood up for the people of Grenfell Tower, after one of his close friends died in the blaze there.

He’s just an example that comes easily to mind. Undoubtedly there are many others, but it may be easy for Mr Phillips to dismiss them, depending on his own personal criteria. These matters are highly subjective, aren’t they?

Mr Phillips’s comments on sexism are easy for This Writer to dismiss, from personal experience. When I joined Labour, my local constituency party was chaired by a woman (as it has been by at least two others since). The chair of my branch is currently occupied by a woman, and I was replaced as secretary by another woman. While the last role does involve taking minutes, it is also about getting business done.

I would be very surprised if anybody in my branch or constituency had concerns about sexism preventing advancement up the party’s ranks.

Perhaps they have done it differently in Mr Phillips’s experience, but we’re back to subjectivity again, aren’t we?

And then there are Mr Phillips’s comments about the Left making Labour a “comfortable home for anti-Semites”.

Apparently this is achieved by “spouting high-minded twaddle about condemning all violence in the Middle East while making it clear that ‘evil Zionists’ are to blame”. This is a dangerous generalisation that fails to cover the complexities of the situation.

There is harm on all sides over the Israel/Palestine question, and Nationalist Zionism must take its share of the blame, certainly. But that doesn’t excuse violence by Palestinians. And neither fact can be allowed to change the fact that the aim must be for a peaceful, equitable solution.

What Mr Phillips hoped to achieve by penning this “twaddle” and having it published by the UK’s leading periodical of Tory thinking is beyond This Writer.

All he has done is subject his own prejudices to scrutiny. And he comes out of that scrutiny very poorly indeed.

Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has said that Left-wing men are “the most racist and sexist of all”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Phillips, who was Labour chairman of the London Assembly between 2000-2003, said that “little hypocrisies” are rife among the Left-wingers who flaunt a “moral superiority”.

He said the Left is “two-faced” in the way it praises leaders like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, but selects few people of colour for leadership.

“The further away black men are, the more they are loved by the Left,” he said. “And they tend to achieve truly heroic status only after the ultimate act of distance — death.”

Source: Trevor Phillips: The Left worships dead black men but passes over those who are still alive – The i newspaper online iNews


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Did generalising Jess realise she was testing Labour’s anti-sexism policy by being sexist herself?

Want to know why this is an image of Jeremy Corbyn and not Jess Phillips? It’s because he’s one of the people she attacked in her misandrist rant, and because the Labour Party under his leadership will have to decide what to do about the sexism she represents.

We’re going to have to devise a new word to describe people like Jess Phillips; the ones we have aren’t adequate.

The word This Writer used to describe her, last year, certainly comes nowhere near summing up the sexist – misandrist, in fact – stubborn illogic of her pronouncements.

I’ll be interested to see if the Labour Party responds to her claim that women are “entirely missing” from the party’s industrial strategy, but I don’t see that as any reason to denounce every single man who has left-wing leanings.

Nor do I see that she has much of a point in using some leftie Graun hack (and isn’t that a contradiction in terms these days? A leftie working for the Guardian?) and his (presumably his and not her) comments about Harriet Harman to support her.

Saying Jeremy Corbyn had “always voted the right way” can’t be used to say this person was suggesting he was better for women than Harriet Harman. That’s a non sequitur – the one statement does not follow on from the other.

And using sarcasm to attack Jeremy Corbyn is meaningless. What’s his record, and does it corroborate what Ms Phillips said? I doubt it (see tweet below).

The Times report that she said left-wing men pay lip-service to equality until it threatens their position, and never consider that women have changed the world, suggests that she thinks she knows what every left-wing man thinks. She doesn’t. She can’t.

If she said it, she’s a sexist and really doesn’t belong in the Labour Party. There is no room for that kind of prejudice in a modern political organisation.

Perhaps we should give her a new nickname: ‘Generalising Jess’. Look at these words, quoted from her appearance at the Edinburgh Festival: “Men said they supported better female representation but, when it came to losing their own jobs, they would say, ‘Oh, you mean me? But I am so clever. I’ve got so much to offer the world’. They are literally the worst.”

Men said.” Not some men. Not these men. Men.

Sexist. Misandrist.

Ignorant, too.

And any men who try to defend our gender against her tirade will be told they “want it to puff out their own chests”.

That is really annoying.

But then, This Writer is a left-wing man so you had all better disregard anything I have to say on the subject. Right, Jess?

Perhaps you would prefer to pay attention to women instead? Here are just some of them:

https://twitter.com/racybearhold/status/897484036137988100

https://twitter.com/earthygirl01/status/897131551212929024

https://twitter.com/dscale/status/897462357659701249

https://twitter.com/openjools/status/897457040678944768

I’m not sure if this person is female or not but they make an important point:

Perhaps my favourite tweet on this subject comes from – would you believe it? – Jess Phillips. It was posted on August 14:

And in fact, she was right. Will she be suspended and disciplined for her blatant sexism? If not, then the Labour Party clearly doesn’t have zero tolerance for sexism.

Jess Phillips has criticised the behaviour of left-wing men as the “absolute worst”.

The Birmingham Yardley MP spoke out at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and said women were “entirely missing” from Labour’s industrial strategy.

The backbencher also said that a leading left-wing journalist from The Guardian, who she would not name, had “lectured” her saying that ex-deputy leader Harriet Harman was “not that great for women” despite her role as a pioneer for all-women shortlists in party selections, as well as in equality legislation.

This figure had apparently added that Jeremy Corbyn had “always voted the right way”.

“So yeah, Jeremy Corbyn better for women than Harriet Harman, obviously. I remember him in all those meetings, there with his banners for [equality],” Phillips added.

Phillips told the festival that while left-wing men wanted to see equality “they don’t think of you on the same level”, The Times reported.

“When they close their eyes at night and think of amazing people who have changed the world, it’s always some white dude that pops into their head,” she explained.

Phillips was asked whether the “out and out sexists of the right” were worse than those “well-meaning” on the left, replying: “They [the left-wing men] are the worst, the actual worst. Men said they supported better female representation but, when it came to losing their own jobs, they would say, ‘Oh, you mean me? But I am so clever. I’ve got so much to offer the world’. They are literally the worst.”

She added later that this she feels “so cross about this”.

“Men who want to own your equality and the things you fought for are absolutely fine if they want you to own it as well but when they want it to puff out their own chests, that is really, really, really annoying,” she continued.

She was critical of Labour policy, saying that women are “entirely missing” from the proposed industrial strategy, as it is all about “men with shovels”.

Source: Jess Phillips: Men on the left are the “absolute worst” | LabourList


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Oh bloody hell, here’s Tony Blair

What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Westminster for a comeback? (With apologies to Yeats.)

Tony Blair praised Theresa May as a ‘very solid, sensible person’. [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images].

Tony Blair praised Theresa May as a ‘very solid, sensible person’. So much for his left-wing credentials!  [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images].

It’s Tony Blair. How godawfully depressing.

Here’s a man whose ‘Third Way’ ruined the Labour Party, driving voters away in their millions, turning socialism into a dirty word (by association – there were precious few socialists in a Blair cabinet), and eventually turfing the party out of office for more than six years – so far.

He talks about the Progressive Left but he’s as much a product of the Reactionary Right as, for example, David Cameron, who worked very hard to follow the Blairite model of neoliberal economic policies leavened with social reform.

The philosophy seemed to be, “Give ’em gay marriage and they’ll sell themselves into slavery”, and it seems to have been correct.

Margaret Thatcher, whose project during the 1980s was entirely geared towards the destruction of the UK’s industrial base and erosion of its trade unions, in order to destroy the economic leverage enjoyed by working people in the 1970s, considered Mr Blair’s New Labour to be her greatest achievement.

And now he’s back, claiming that the country needs him because Jeremy Corbyn – the most popular Labour leader, possibly in 50 years – is… not a “nutter”, as Mr Blair insists he has been misquoted as saying, but at least “mistaken”.

He says Labour has been “captured by the far left for the first time in the party’s history”. What utter drivel.

Jeremy Corbyn is a centre-left politician. If he were of the far left, he would be demanding the nationalisation of all industry and the UK’s reduction to single-party state status. He isn’t.

Clem Attlee was more left-wing than Mr Corbyn and his government gave us the National Health Service that everybody claims they love. Wilson and Callaghan were closer to Communism.

But Mr Blair needs to position himself and he wants the “centre left” label that belongs to Mr Corbyn.

Otherwise he would have to admit that he is a right wing politician – and that would play very poorly with his target audience.

But he gives himself away with his admission that he thinks Theresa May is “a very solid, sensible person” – she isn’t. She is a weak leader, from a line of weak Tory leaders, who cannot stand up for a single policy if a business leader opposes it.

Still, her politics is clearly the kind Mr Blair prefers and, after all, Margaret Thatcher liked him and David Cameron copied him. So why doesn’t he clear off and join the Conservative Party instead of haunting Labour?

To sum up, Tony Blair is not a representative of the Progressive Left or Centre-Left. That space is occupied by Jeremy Corbyn. Blair belongs to the reactionary, regressive Right and is trying to hoodwink us all into believing otherwise.

About the only thing he has said that anyone in Labour could support is that the party “has a historic duty to try to represent people in this country who need our representation desperately”.

But look at the choice of topic with which he has decided to re-enter politics: He has opted to take a view of Brexit that is deliberately antagonistic to the established Labour Party position.

Mr Corbyn has said that the referendum result will bind the Labour Party and its duty now is to work for the best possible parting from the European Union; Mr Blair wants people to think there is still a chance the split could be halted.

But look at what he says and you’ll see it’s all bluster. He doesn’t offer any guidance on how the people are to register their change of heart.

He says: “It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain, cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up… Either you get maximum access to the single market, in which case you’ll end up accepting a significant number of the rules on immigration, on payment into the budget, on the European court’s jurisdiction. People may then say, ‘Well, hang on, why are we leaving then?’

“Or alternatively, you’ll be out of the single market and the economic pain may be very great because, beyond doubt, if you do that you’ll have years, maybe a decade, of economic restructuring,” so even ‘Leave’ voters “would eventually “look at this in a practical way, not an ideological way”.

And what would they do next?

There is no mechanism for the people to register any desire to change their collective mind if the politicians in Westminster choose not to allow it – and Westminster has said there will be no further referendum.

Why should there be?

We know most of the people were cheated, one way or another, by snake-oil salesmen like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who promised untold riches and are delivering debt.

But plenty of us were saying this at the time and those who voted in ignorance should know that it is no excuse.

Ultimately, Mr Blair has nothing to say that hasn’t been said already – by Conservatives and by Liberal Democrats.

If anybody wants a real alternative, it is offered by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Source: Tony Blair: Brexit could be stopped if Britons change their minds | Politics | The Guardian

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Lend Corbyn your nomination, Labour MPs – let’s have a REAL debate

Five-time Parliamentary 'Beard of the Year' - the likeable Jeremy Corbyn.

Five-time Parliamentary ‘Beard of the Year’ – the likeable Jeremy Corbyn.

If any of you have been struggling to work out whether you know anything at all about Jeremy Corbyn, you are not alone!

This Writer has also been at something of a loss with regard to his personality and achievements.

So let’s all be grateful to Owen Jones, who knows Mr Corbyn well, for scribbling a few details into his latest Guardian comment piece.

According to Owen, Mr Corbyn is:

  • The very antithesis of the negative caricature of an MP: he’s defined by his principles and beliefs, uninterested in personal self-advancement, and determined to use his platform to further the interests of people and causes that are otherwise ignored.
  • One of the most likable MPs – and a five-time winner of Parliamentary Beard of the Year.
  • A proponent of peace, a staunch internationalist (he was protesting against Saddam Hussein when the west was arming him), a fervent believer in workers’ rights, and an opponent of austerity whoever peddles it

Not only does he seem exactly what we’re looking for, he even seems to fit what people in this nation genuinely want, as Owen explains:

“According to the polls, millions of Britons support a living wage, a radical house building programme, public ownership of utilities and services and higher taxes on the rich… Given their widespread backing, these policies surely at least need a hearing in the leadership contest of the dominant, purportedly left-of-centre party in Britain.”

In conclusion, this blog can only echo the article’s final words:

“If Labour MPs deny the party and the country a genuine debate, it will reflect disastrously on them. It will do whoever emerges victorious no good, either. Labour has just suffered one of the worst defeats in its history. If the party doesn’t have the good sense to have a meaningful debate now, you might wonder why it doesn’t just pack up. So come on, Labour MPs. Put your future careers aside for party and national interest.

“Lend Corbyn a nomination, and let a real debate begin.”

Hear, hear.

Labour MPs call for change in party policy – LabourList

Off the rails: Should railway companies be renationalised in the national interest?

Off the rails: Should railway companies be renationalised in the national interest?

A group of 15 Labour MPs have issued a public statement this morning, expressing concern about elements of Labour’s policy agenda, and urging a change of course in three key areas, according to LabourList.

The letter – signed by MPs on the left of the Parliamentary Labour Party – calls for an alternative to Labour’s current deficit reduction plans, public ownership of the railways and a return to collective bargaining and employment rights in the workplace.

Here’s the statement in full, which outlines the signatories preferred alternative approach:

1 An alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts till 2019-20

All three main parties, tragically, seem to agree that deep spending cuts must continue to be made until the structural budget deficit is wiped out in 2019-20, even though wages have already fallen 8% in real terms, business investment is still below pre-crash levels, unemployment is still 2million, the trade deficit in manufactured goods at over £100bn is now the largest in modern history, and household debt is now over £2trillion and still rising.

The Tories want to continue with these cuts because it gives them political cover to achieve their real objective which is to shrink the State and squeeze the public sector back to where it was in the 1930s.

It isn’t even as though the deficit is being reduced by these savage cuts. Because the reduction in the government’s tax revenues as a result of shrinking incomes exceed the spending cuts, the deficit (which is still nearly £100bn) is likely to rise, not fall, in 2014-15 and in future years.

There is an alternative way out of endless austerity. We need public investment to kickstart the economy out of faltering growth and to generate real job creation and rising incomes.

It can readily be funded. With interest rates at 0.5%, a £30bn investment package can be financed for just £150m a year, enough to create more than a million real jobs within 2-3 years. And even without any increase in public borrowing at all, the same sum could equally be funded either through the two banks which are already in public ownership, or through printing money (quantitative easing) to be used directly for industrial investment rather than for bond-buying by the banks as hitherto, or through taxing the ultra-rich by a special levy.

2 Returning rail franchises when expired to public ownership rather than subjecting them to competition

The essence of rail reform must be to reverse fragmentation, to reintegrate the system under public ownership, and to run it in the public interest. At present Britain has the highest fares in Europe. The additional costs of privatisation to public funds are estimated at more than £11bn, or around £1.2bn a year, so that the costs to the taxpayer are now three times as much as under British Rail.

Since 2010 rail fares have increased 25%, yet at the same time more than £200m a year has been paid out in dividends to shareholders or overseas state-owned rail companies which now hold two-thirds of the current rail franchises. Over 80% of the public want the railways re-nationalised, which must include a significant proportion of Tories.

The most obvious and simplest way to achieve this is by letting the rail franchises expire and then taking them back into public ownership at no cost whatever to the taxpayer. To subject them to a public bidding competition with private bidders is not only wholly unnecessary but sends out the wrong signals, as though we’re not confident of our own ideology. The Tories certainly didn’t offer a competitive option when they forced through privatisation!

Anyway, the franchise process, so far from being economic, encourages the gaming of wildly optimistic passenger number projections and this, combined with huge legal contract complexity which is bureaucratic and wasteful both in time and money (except for the lawyers and accountants), has led in the past to franchise failures and operating chaos, most notably on the East and West Coast lines. From past experience public ownership has consistently worked better, and we should not gratuitously throw obstacles in our own path in getting there.

3 The need for the restoration of collective bargaining and employment rights as a check against excessive corporate power

When the Thatcher government came to office in 1979, 82% of workers in the UK had their main terms and conditions determined by a union-negotiated collective agreement. The latest figures now show that the coverage is down to just 23%. One very significant result is that the share of national income going to salaries and wages has fallen dramatically from 65% in 1980 to 53% in 2012 – a loss to employees of some £180bn!

This has happened partly from the collapse in trade union membership from 55% of the workforce in 1979 to 23% in 2012. But it has also happened partly as a result of the anti-trade union laws introduced in the 1980-90s and partly because the state has withdrawn support for collective bargaining as part of the free market ideology of de-regulation of all markets, including the labour market. It is somewhat ironic however that de-regulation of the labour market requires the tightest regulation of one of the key players in that market, the trade union movement.

An incoming Labour government should choose to enhance the role of trade unions because trade union rights are human rights, a trade union presence creates more just and equal workplaces, and trade union collective bargaining is more redistributive than statutory wage setting and will assist on the road from austerity. We should therefore actively promote sectoral collective bargaining and strengthen the rights of trade unions to recognition, and of their members to representation.

Diane Abbott
Dave Anderson
Katy Clark
Jeremy Corbyn
Fabian Hamilton
Kelvin Hopkins
Ian Lavery
John McDonnell
Michael Meacher
Ian Mearns
Grahame Morris
Linda Riordan
Steve Rotherham
Jim Sheridan
Chris Williamson

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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