Campaign companions: Boris Johnson and Lynton Crosby (left).
It seems Boris Johnson is about to be revealed as a liar again – and this time he won’t be able to hide it by cutting video of a speech.
BoJob categorically denied that he was considering calling a general election – but the fact that he has been talking with election advisor Lynton Crosby, and his cronies have been competing to be involved, suggest that this is not true.
With Labour trying to build a consensus for a “no confidence” vote in Mr Johnson and his “no deal” Brexit, it seems the real battle is over who gets to call an election first.
Boris Johnson’s No 10 operation is increasingly on an election footing, with leaked internal emails revealing he was due to meet the political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby.
As Conservative advisers come under intense pressure to produce manifesto ideas quickly, a well placed source said Johnson had a meeting set up in the next few days with Crosby, the election guru who worked on the campaigns of David Cameron in 2015 and Theresa May in 2017.
Johnson is a longtime friend of Crosby, who worked on his London mayoral campaigns, and the pair are understood to have talked informally on the phone regularly during his leadership campaign.
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.
Boris Johnson’s forerunner Theresa May told us her government would fight ‘fake news’ – but did little or nothing about it. Now we see one of Mr Johnson’s friends is behind a propaganda network.
Will he do anything to stop it? Doubtful.
And this network, run by former Tory election advisor Lynton Crosby, is on Facebook.
The person in charge of identifying and removing ‘fake news’ from Facebook is former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
Why hasn’t he done anything about it? Is he too busy blocking access to innocent left-wing news pages?
The lobbying firm run by Boris Johnson’s close ally Sir Lynton Crosby has secretly built a network of unbranded “news” pages on Facebook for dozens of clients ranging from the Saudi government to major polluters, a Guardian investigation has found.
In the most complete account yet of CTF Partners’ outlook and strategy, current and former employees of the campaign consultancy have painted a picture of a business that appears to have professionalised online disinformation, taken on a series of controversial clients and faced incidents of misogynistic bullying in its headquarters.
They said that such was the culture of secrecy within the firm that staff working on online disinformation campaigns, which selectively promoted their clients’ viewpoints on anonymised Facebook pages that followed a common formula, used initials rather than full names on internal systems and often relied on personal email accounts to avoid their work being traced back to CTF and its clients.
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.
A company run by Conservative Party election strategist Lynton Crosby has been funding multiple advertising campaigns supporting a hard Brexit – creating a false impression that there is a groundswell of support for it among the public, according to a national newspaper.
The Guardian has said influential Facebook ad campaigns that appear to suggest several separate grassroots movements want a “no deal” Brexit are in fact nothing of the sort.
Organisations calling themselves names like “Mainstream Network” and “Britain’s Future” share an administrator who works for Mr Crosby’s company, CTF Partners, and have spent around £1 million on adverts appealing for members of the public to pressurise their MPs into voting for a hard Brexit, the newspaper claimed.
Documents seen by the paper’s staff show that almost all the major pro-Brexit Facebook “grassroots” advertising campaigns in the UK share the same page admins or advertisers, whose ranks include employees of CTF Partners and the political director of Boris Johnson’s campaigns to be mayor of London, who has worked closely with Mr Crosby in the past, it is alleged.
Leaked documents also revealed how CTF Partners boasts of its ability to run fake online grassroots campaigns that encourage users to join an online community and then be “mobilised to communicate directly with key decision-makers”.
When one such campaign – “Mainstream Network” – was exposed last year for spending at least £250,000 to reach more than 10 million voters with adverts urging them to encourage their local MP to “chuck Chequers”, among other things, it was abruptly shut down.
Subsequently, similar adverts began appearing on a Facebook page named “Britain’s Future”. Last month it was exposed as the biggest single UK political advertiser on Facebook, spending £422,000 on adverts campaigning for a hard Brexit despite never declaring its financial backers.
But it seems documents seen by The Guardian show that those who could place adverts on both the “Mainstream Network” and “Britain’s Future” pages include several people with strong links to CTF Partners and Mr Crosby.
To run a political campaign, all Facebook requires is a publicly-named individual who is registered to a UK postal address or contact details for a public organisation. There is no true disclosure around a campaign’s financial backers and no UK law requiring financial transparency outside an election period.
The Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee has repeatedly demanded that Facebook reveal the identities of those who were funding “Mainstream Network” – but it seems no positive response has been made.
According to The Guardian‘s report, Mr Crosby has been repeatedly linked to a possible campaign for Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party.
How do you feel about the possibility of a person linked to such unethical advertising practices being behind a campaign to elect the next political leader of the UK? If I were you, I’d be feeling a bit sick.
Vox Political needs your help! If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers) you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
Both the Labour Party and the Conservatives have new campaign videos out on YouTube for us all to watch – and they provide a stark contrast, for anybody who doubted the differences between the two parties.
Labour’s video provides ‘101 reasons to vote Labour in 101 seconds”, and was launched (predictably) on January 26, 101 days before the general election. You’ll need to use your pause button to catch every single reason, and of course some of them are more relevant to everybody than others, but it’s packed with information about the party’s plans. Here it is – see for yourself:
The Conservative campaign video is entitled ‘Ed Miliband and the economy? Don’t risk it’. Launched yesterday (January 30) it seems to exemplify the Lynton Crosby style of negative campaigning. It starts with six lies about Tory achievements (none of the claims are accurate) before going on to throw derision at Ed Miliband, with no evidential support. Take a look if you can stomach it:
Just on the basis of these two videos, who would you support with your vote?
The negative campaign that relies on no evidence to support its outlandish claims – or the upbeat, positive, progressive and above all reassuring set of plans for a more promising future?
The image above shows a letter from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to our comedy Prime Minister David Cameron, demanding answers to the questions he dodged during PMQs on Wednesday. The date shows it was written immediately after the incident.
It would not have been necessary if Cameron had bothered to answer the question, rather than indulge in a pointless relativistic attack on the Labour-run NHS Wales instead.
We are sick of these distraction techniques. We understand them and they merely strengthen our long-held conclusion that Cameron is at worst a liar and at best a dissembler, who would not let the facts pass his lips under any circumstances.
And three years after he withdrew selling off the nation’s forests to private developers from the Public Bodies Bill, Cameron has gone back on his word and reintroduced a plan to give them to privateers in the new Infrastructure Bill.
Those are just a few examples from the last two weeks!
Mr Burnham’s questions are relevant; the public deserves answers on them.
Why have 16 leading health organisations representing doctors, nurses and patients warned that health and social care services in England are at “breaking point”?
Why can’t he confirm that:
National Health Service (England) currently has the highest waiting lists for six years;
It has the highest number of people waiting more than four hours in Accident & Emergency for 10 years;
It has missed its cancer treatment target for the first time ever; and
Millions of people there cannot get to see their GP?
Does he, or does he not, agree with his unnamed Cabinet colleague that his former boss Andrew Lansley’s hugely expensive – and unexpected – £3bn top-down reorganisation of the NHS was a huge mistake?
And why won’t he support a plan to fund one-week cancer testing by levying a tax on tobacco companies? Would the answer have anything to do with the other business interests of his campaign manager Lynton Crosby?
“The country and the NHS deserve better,” wrote Mr Burnham. “Rather than indulging in smears and diversionary tactics you would be better advised to spend your time addressing the fact that [the] NHS… is at breaking point under your government.
“Until you focus on saving rather than smearing the NHS, the public will be understandably confronted with the sad truth that all this government offers is five more years of crisis in the health service.”
Perhaps Mr Cameron needs to be reminded of the information in this BBC report from 2011 – before his government made such a mess of the service – showing that public approval of the National Health Service was at its highest point ever and questioning why he (Cameron) felt the need to change it.
“If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it,” as the saying goes.
Now the NHS is broke, thanks to the Tory (and Liberal Democrat, let’s not forget) scheme to siphon off our tax money into the hands of private health ‘providers’.
And the nation is still broke, despite years of unnecessary Tory and Liberal Democrat austerity that have brought hardship to millions and caused the deaths of tens of thousands, thanks to the Coalition scheme to put people to work for a pittance and let business bosses keep the profits.
With a general election just a few months away, more than 60 million of us are looking to David Cameron for an explanation, only to find…
How unfortunate for the Conservative Party that “most influential Tory outside the Cabinet” Tim Montgomerie tweeted one minister’s disgust at the perception that unelected foreigner Lynton Crosby is running the party – and thus the government – on the same day the Tories were trying to get people riled up against the unelected foreigners they say are ruining human rights legislation.
Tom Pride, over at Pride’s Purge, had the juice: “Cameron is so desperate to win the next election he hired an Australian called Lynton Crosby to tell him how to do it.
“But now cabinet ministers are complaining that the unelected Australian is running the country instead of Cameron.
But Tom uncharacteristically missed the icing on this particular cake.
No, it isn’t the House of Lords (although that’s a perfectly good example of why the Tories are wrong, right there).
Today (Friday) is the day the Tories chose to launch their campaign to replace the Human Rights Act with a new ‘Bill of Rights’, dictated by them, which in fact takes rights away from you, rather than bestowing them.
Conservatives have described their campaign to remove power from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in a characteristic way, as follows (this is from today’s Express): “Tory MPs … say voters are fed up with unelected foreign judges siding with illegal migrants, terror suspects and criminals.”
Whoever he is, Mr Montgomerie’s minister is right to complain about unelected Lynton Crosby.
At the start of a campaign against unelected foreigners, his presence shows up the Conservatives as a gaggle of hypocrites.
What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.
The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.
You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.
So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.
So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.
Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.
Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.
Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs
By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.
By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.
Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).
Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.
So those are his six goals. But what’s this?
“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.
“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.
There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.
There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”
More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.
And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.
That makes six more goals! Double the value.
These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.
So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.
Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.
If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.
Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?
Effing who? It seems that, when Cameron talked about “giving the effing Tories a kicking”, he was in fact hoping to kick Labour instead – and he has found plenty of FOOLs (see the article) to help him.
It seems a lot of people have become terribly confused and are making a lot of rash assumptions.
The first is that promises by the political leaders in Westminster – to hand Scotland new powers over tax, spending and social security – persuaded voters in Scotland to reject the opportunity to split away from the United Kingdom and form their own country. We don’t know that this is the case. In the run-up to the vote, the result was too close to judge, depending on perhaps six or seven per cent of the total number of voters. If they were persuaded by the offer, does that invalidate the belief held by the other 48 per cent, who always thought Scotland was better off with the rest of us?
The second is that Labour has reneged on the promise to give more powers to Scotland. This claim is utterly inexplicable as Labour has not done any such thing. Only this morning (Sunday), on Andrew Marr’s TV show, Ed Miliband said: “Yes. Yes. Yes. We’re going to deliver. No ifs, no buts. We’re going to deliver on that promise.” That’s about as straightforward as it can get. Labour will keep its word.
Finally, that English devolution is tied up with the promise of more powers for Scotland. It isn’t. David Cameron never mentioned more powers for England until the morning of the referendum result and it was not part of the offer he made alongside Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the run-up to the vote.
It seems that the problems have arisen from the last point. Cameron – ever the opportunist – saw a chance to gain something from the unexpected victory, and cobbled up a plan to resurrect the long-dead West Lothian question.
This asks why Scottish MPs can vote on English matters in Westminster, when English MPs cannot vote on matters that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Cameron wants to introduce a law to ban Scottish MPs from voting on England-only matters in Westminster, tied in with the new powers for Scotland.
It is, as with most Cameron Government ideas, monumentally stupid. The way to ensure Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs don’t vote on England-only matters is to devolve powers to deal with such matters to an English Assembly – or several regional assemblies. In fact, such bodies used to exist; what happened to them? With those powers safely devolved, Westminster could continue dealing with matters that concern the whole of the UK.
There’s only one problem with that: It runs entirely counter to the whole of Conservative policy during the last four-plus years.
The Tories have worked very hard on concentrating power centrally in Westminster, by constricting the flow of money to all other UK authorities and telling them what to do with what they’ve been given. Devolving power to regional English assemblies means a loss of influence that the toffs who pull Cameron’s strings simply won’t countenance. The BBC’s Mark D’Arcy put it very well: “Devolution to regions or city-regions would mean more Labour enclaves.”
Labour clearly wants English devolution to be handled separately from the referendum promises, and this is entirely reasonable; tying them together is something Cameron is trying to do unilaterally – it was never agreed by the unionist parties when they were putting together their offer to Scotland.
The Tories and their followers are trying to spin this, to make it seem that Labour is the renegade party – with some success among the weak-minded, it seems.
Most of all, though – certainly on the Vox Political Facebook page – we’re seeing wave after wave of claims that Labour and the Conservatives are the same because they campaigned side-by-side as unionists, even though this makes absolutely no sense at all in the context of either Scottish devolution or the West Lothian question.
It seems that the many Tory minions who see this muddling of the facts as the only way to win the next election have been released into the community again to do their worst. The mission is explained by Robert Livingstone on the ‘We hate Iain Duncan Smith – The Minister For Manslaughter FB page: “BBC Tory correspondent Nick Robinson has stated that David Cameron’s best chance of winning the next election is to convince the electorate that all parties are the same.”
So we see:
“Tory/Labour theres no real difference and anyone with any sense knows that.”
“Darling Milliband and Brown campaigning with the Tories was the final straw.”
“Labour and Tory are two sides of the same coin.” (This one was from a UKIP supporter, who then claimed “I might yet vote Green”. Whatever.)
It occurs to Yr Obdt Srvt that, if Nick ‘Tory’ Robinson is right and Cameron’s best chance lies in convincing the electorate that all political parties are the same anyway and voting won’t make a difference, then he’ll have asked his campaign chief Lynton Crosby to make it happen.
Therefore it seems that we can safely consider anyone promoting such views to be allied to Mr Crosby – a Friend Of Ol’ Lynton (FOOL) if you like.
You can tell where this is going…
So the next time you hear anyone uttering such tosh, or read it in the social media comment columns, see if you can be the first to ask that person: “Are you a FOOL?”
Hot air on the blower: He’s probably just been told Wikipedia has reinstated the part about his ‘wedge issue’ strategy: “The party he advises introduces a divisive or controversial social issue into a campaign… (with) the goal of causing vitriolic debate inside the opposing party.”
A Channel 4 News investigation has found that substantial sections were removed from the Wikipedia page of Lynton Crosby, an Australian political strategist, by staff at the Crosby Textor consultancy firm that he co-founded.
On 15 July last year, accounts linked to Crosby Textor staff deleted multiple times sections on the controversy when the Conservative party dropped its policy for plain cigarette packaging.
The policy on cigarette packs has been revived after a review, but at the time the press linked the policy being dropped to Crosby Textor representing the tobacco giant Philip Morris.
The deleted section includes a call by a Liberal Democrat MP for Lynton Crosby to be sacked.
Wikipedia editors reverted the changes, leading the Crosby Textor linked-staff to again make the deletions, initiating an “edit-war” in which users repeatedly try to edit a page, disregarding more senior Wikipedia editors’ warnings and revisions.
This led to the Crosby Textor-linked accounts, including entire Crosby Textor computer networks, being permanently banned from editing any Wikipedia entry.
[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.
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.
“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.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.