Tag Archives: LSE

The UK is a failed state. When the London School of Economics admits it, it must be true

Wreckers: First Theresa May, and now Boris Johnson, have used little-known devices to undermine the UK’s constitution – to the point where it no longer functions and the country is becoming a failed state.

Core democratic institutions have been “contaminated” by Tory politicians who have rigged the system, leaving the UK’s unwritten constitution in tatters, according to the LSE.

Read:

The control of power has become dominated by a bunch of executive tricks, and an uncodified ‘constitution’ no longer provides any predictable or worthwhile constraints on government action.

Theresa May’s government demonstrated not an elite responsiveness to MPs after 2017, but instead an increasingly frenzied exploitation of a host of parliamentary micro-institutions to bulldoze the May-Whitehall compromise Brexit deal through a reluctant Commons where government policies had no majority.

This was the curtain raiser for the Johnson government’s more grand-scale effort to unilaterally rework the UK constitution so as to give the PM ‘governance by decree’ powers.

“Governance by decree” powers would be similar to the Enabling Act that gave Adolf Hitler the ability to pass laws without the consent of the German Parliament, back in 1933.

The Johnson government (advised by Cummings who is openly contemptuous of parliamentary government) has now sculpted from the equally obscure prerogative powers surrounding the prorogation of Parliament a superficially bland but deeply toxic disabling of the Commons for 35 of the 61 days remaining to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

The timings involved are clearly tailored to frustrate any efforts of a fragmented opposition to concert an effective counter-action before September 10 or after 14 October, while yet bringing a Commons tied hand and foot back in time to witness but almost certainly unable to prevent a ‘no deal’ outcome on the 31st.

That the Queen and her constitutional advisors accepted this proposal at its face value is yet another nail in the coffin of the old constitution, with the monarch’s vestigial capacity even to ‘advise and warn’ now obliterated and shown up as a fiction, for the meanest of partisan exigencies.

The author of the piece, Patrick Dunleavy, clearly accepts that the prorogation of Parliament is intended to render it powerless to prevent Dictator Johnson’s plan.

Instead of great decisions resting on the clearly expressed will of Parliament, or the consultation of voters via a second referendum or a general election, a minority government and a PM that no one has elected are apparently set on achieving their will by converting to their purposes a swarm of micro-institutions of which almost all voters, and most constitutional ‘experts’ have little or no knowledge.

Johnson’s manoeuvre must cause a further delegitimization of government, risking a spectrum of severely adverse developments that might include significant civil disobedience, some public order turmoil, a weakening of ‘tax discipline’ (‘no taxation without representation’), and in short order the break-up of the UK.

Source: After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution? | British Politics and Policy at LSE

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Poor-quality jobs are bad for your health. Why are they the only jobs our Tory government can find for us?

Department for Work and Pensions: Pushing people into jobs that are bad for their health?

You might think this research by the London School of Economics is only pointing out something we know already.

It’s true that jobs with poor working conditions and/or remuneration are known to be bad for our health, pushing stress levels up, meaning any likely benefits are lost.

Before I became a carer (and, later, an online journalist), This Writer worked for a newspaper that piled on the pressure while providing very few benefits. I – wisely – left after management made decisions that would have further harmed my standard of living.

I know poor work leads to ill-health. Many people become depressed as a result of pressure place on them by employers or work colleagues. That puts unnecessary pressure on the health service.

The research also makes it abundantly clear that people with a history of illness have less opportunity to obtain paid work than those who are more healthy.

This is something we already knew, and it has become a serious issue in recent years, as the Conservative government has imposed rules that allow civil servants to force people with long-term illnesses and disabilities off benefits.

The LSE research shows that around 800 of the 1,000 initially-unemployed people involved in the study were not on benefits at the start – they were living on other sources of income including handouts from friends and family members.

If that situation really is representative of the unemployed population, then it means 80 per cent of our unemployed people are being denied statutory benefits.

That’s a shocking figure!

Yet they are less stressed than people who have been shoehorned into low-quality work – the only work that seems to be on offer under race-to-the-bottom Conservatism.

People working in poor quality jobs have higher levels of chronic stress than those who are unemployed.

We followed up a cohort of over 1000 unemployed adults who were representative of the population of unemployed adults living in the UK in 2009-10 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We then compared what happened to the health and stress levels of those who remained unemployed and those who got jobs of both good and poor quality.

Unsurprisingly, those who found work in good quality jobs had a big improvement in their mental health. Moreover, those with any job, whether it is a good or bad job, had a bigger increase in their household incomes than those who remained unemployed.

However, contrary to the “any job is better than no job” assumption, we found that the improvements in the mental health of formerly unemployed adults who became reemployed in poor quality work (with two or more adverse job measures) were not any different from their peers who remained unemployed.

More significantly… those who were working in poor quality work actually had higher levels of allostatic load (chronic stress-related biomarkers) than their peers who remained unemployed.

We also examined the possibility that the unemployed adults who subsequently were employed in poor quality jobs had worse health and more stress at the start compared to their peers who remained unemployed. But this was actually not true. As many others have found, there are strong selection pressures into employment, and healthier people are much more likely to find work (any type of work, whether good or bad) than unhealthier people.

Source: Is any job really better than no job at all?


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No, Iain, benefits ARE behind the rise of food banks – and Germany proves it

CPAGFoodbankslarge

Iain Duncan Smith’s feet must be riddled with self-inflicted bullet holes – if only metaphorically.

Today (December 14) he went on the record saying that it was wrong for a cross-party group of MPs to suggest that the rise of food banks was purely to do with benefit-related problems.

Germany had more generous benefits and higher pay – yet more people there used food banks, he said in an interview on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

He said 1.5 million people a week used food banks in Germany, whereas the Trussell Trust – the UK’s largest food bank provider, has said it fed 913,138 people during the 2013-14 financial year.

“It is tiny in proportion here compared to a place like Germany which has more generous benefits and in which you have a higher level of pay,” said the man this blog describes as RTU (Returned To Unit) or SNLR (Services No Longer Required).

“So just saying it is to do with benefits is quite wrong. What I do say is there are lots of other reasons lots of people go to food banks.”

Oh really?

It seems Iain has been misreading a blog by the London School of Economics, from 2013 – a year and a half ago.

In it, author Stefan Selke does say Germany feeds 1.5 million people via food banks, but does not stipulate whether this is weekly or annually – so the Work and Pensions secretary is already off-message. Was he intentionally misleading viewers? Hard to tell with a man as stupid as him.

Now look at this paragraph from the LSE blog article: “The main growth of foodbanks in Germany began 2005, when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government introduced the ‘Agenda 2010’ of tax cuts, and cuts to pension and unemployment benefits. Around the same time, a new form of unemployment insurance (‘Hartz IV’) was introduced, reducing previous benefit levels and the duration for which they can be received.”

Aren’t these exactly the same reasons people use food banks in the UK – problems caused by benefits?

In both countries, the conditions under which benefits are provided have become stricter; the amounts available have decreased; and new forms of benefit payment have been (or are in the process of being) introduced that reduce entitlement still further. In both countries, taxes have been cut, most probably justifying further cuts to public services (clearly Germany has also been Starving the Beast – a policy with which long-term VP readers should be intimately familiar). Would anybody be surprised to learn that Germany has embraced neoliberalism?

The only difference is that Germany started this process five years earlier.

Unsurprisingly, nobody at BBC News seems to have bothered to do their research on this (it took Yr Obdt Srvt less than five minutes with a search engine) so – yet again – the mass media have let the British people down by failing to do their job properly.

A worse problem is that Iain Duncan Smith has never done his job properly – and clearly wouldn’t know how to.

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Tom Davey – another example of the best Conservatism has to offer

[Image: Political Scrapbook]

[Image: Political Scrapbook]

These creeps are coming out of the woodwork, it seems.

The latest member of the Conservative Party to reveal his true colours via the social media is Tom Davey. That’s DaVey, not DaLey the Olympic diver – although the world would be a happier place if this guy took a running jump.

Davey has been broadcasting his thoughts on Facebook, spreading messages of hatred towards minorities and women, along with dubious attempts at humour (according to Political Scrapbook) – for at least the past six years.

For example, take a look at this message:

“Benefit claiming scum beware. ps i don’t like paying taxes for you lazy bastards!”

or this one:

“Finding a job would be easier if [I] were a black female wheel chair bound amputee who is sexually attracted to other women.”

or this one:

“More excited than Harold Shipman in a nursing home.”

The messages were posted in 2008, when he was at the London School of Economics. One is led to question whether he was a member of that organisation’s Tory clubs because this man is now a Conservative councillor in Barnet.

The following year he delivered this:

“Smacking [my] bitch up… that’ll teach her for ironing loudly whilst the football is on!”

He later justified this by saying he does not like football and his wife doesn’t do the ironing.

Has he mellowed in the years since? Evidence suggests otherwise.

Last week, as Barnet Council’s lead member for housing, he admitted that he doesn’t care about the lack of affordable housing pushing poor people out; he wants rich people to take their place.

In a debate that was filmed by a member of the public, he said: “If there is such a problem with Barnet, if Barent is such a terrible place to ive and if it is so unaffordable, why are people flocking to Barnet and why are house prices going up? It’s because people want to live here.”

Challenged by an opposition councillor who said the only people coming were those who could afford it, he blurted: “And they’re the people we want!”

See for yourself:

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