Tag Archives: overseas

Keir Starmer’s Labour is unpopular – because he supports war crimes and sacks people who don’t?

Sacked: Nadia Whittome.

… And actually briefs a right-wing, fake-news blog site about the sacking before telling the person he has sacked, too.

Classy moves, Sir Keir!

So it’s true. As first reported on the Skwawkbox blog late yesterday (September 23), Labour leader Keir Starmer has sacked Nadia Whittome, Beth Winter and Olivia Blake from positions as Parliamentary Private Secretaries because they voted against the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-21.

They were objecting to provisions in the Bill that would protect soldiers from prosecution if they participate in acts of torture while on duty overseas.

It will come as no surprise that the Conservative government relishes the idea of UK soldiers torturing Johnny (and Janey) Foreigner.

Starmer’s decision to abstain on the Bill (a U-turn from a previous position in which Labour would have opposed it) was, as Skwawkbox pointed out, reminiscent of the abstention on a Welfare Bill ordered by Harriet Harman years ago – that fuelled support for Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 leadership contest.

In all, 19 Labour MPs voted against the Bill:

The other 16 – including Mr Corbyn, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery and the previously-sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey – were all backbenchers.

The public response has not just been critical of Starmer for supporting the Bill and for the sackings…

… but also for the fact that he briefed right-wing trash blog Guido Fawkes on what he had done before he bothered to tell her, so it could say she couldn’t resign properly:

Labour has form on briefing members of the so-called press about action taken against members. When This Writer’s party membership was suspended on fake charges of anti-Semitism, I found out about it from a reporter for the Western Mail, who phoned me up a day before I was notified by email.

From this we may infer that the people in charge of the party’s disciplinary procedures at the time were right-wing factionalists and not supporters of then-leader Jeremy Corbyn. Or so it seems to me.

All this comes on top of reports that Labour under Starmer is less likeable now, compared to when Corbyn was in charge.

Here’s (and I apologise for this) the Daily Express:

A new Ipsos MORI poll has found in November 2019, under the leadership of Mr Corbyn, the likeability of the Labour was 49 percent.

Just 10 months later, and five months since Sir Keir took over the leadership, the figure has fallen to 38 percent.

The poll did show support for Starmer himself was higher than that for Corbyn ever reached – possibly because Starmer has support from rags like The Express? – but this was before the latest scandal.

Starmer’s letdowns are becoming legendary: he sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey under a false claim (it seems clear now that she opposed his plan to support Boris Johnson in reopening them too soon. She was right and he was wrong); he called the Black Lives Matter movement a “moment” after having a publicity photo taken to profess support for it; he betrayed the many party members who (like me) have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism; and he betrayed nine of the 10 pledges he made in his leadership election campaign.

He may be popular among a general public that is being spoonfed propaganda by a right-wing press that wants to keep a “safe pair of hands” – meaning a member of the Establishment who won’t rock the boat – in charge of the main Opposition Party.

But some of us know better – including increasingly-disillusioned Labour members.

Source: Keir starmer news: Labour Party’s likeability plummets lower than when Corbyn was leader | Politics | News | Express.co.uk

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Sort out the tax dodgers, Labour, then the benefit bill won’t be a problem

Off-message: If Rachel Reeves had promised to get as tough on tax avoidance in her previous job as she is promising to be on benefits now, Labour might have had more credibility.

Off-message: If Rachel Reeves had promised to get as tough on tax avoidance in her previous job as she is promising to be on benefits now, Labour might have had more credibility.

A lot of people have been getting their knickers in a knot about Rachel Reeves’ interview in today’s Observer – and rightly so.

In it, she tells us (wrongly), “We are not in an environment where there is more money around,” and says that Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill. She stressed that she wanted to explode the “myth” that Labour is soft on benefit costs.

There are a few myths feeding into these statements. Firstly, the myth that millions upon millions of British citizens are living a life of luxury on benefits, which is, quite frankly, infantile nonsense. Benefits do not pay the ordinary claimant enough to afford huge luxuries and never did. They were always intended to cover the cost of survival while the recipient looked for something better. Anything else is a lie concocted by unscrupulous politicians, that you would be a fool to believe.

Then there’s the myth that the British taxpayer is being defrauded out of a fortune by benefit cheats who are (again) living a life of luxury at our expense. One look at the figures dispels that idea! The fact is that only seven people in every thousand commit benefit fraud – at a consequently small cost to the overall budget – and the amount they receive simply would not support the lifestyle our politicians are suggesting for them.

Let’s move up to a bigger myth – that people prefer to live on benefits than get a job. We’ve now moved from infantile nonsense to dangerous nonsense. The current situation, engineered by the conservatives in both Coalition parties, means there are very few jobs available – around 500,000 at any one time, with 2.5 million people chasing them.

And what kind of jobs are they? How many are zero-hours contracts? How many are part-time? These jobs do not pay more than benefits (“Making Work Pay” – another Tory lie) so anyone taking them will be out-of-pocket.

Meanwhile, the Tories in power have rigged the system so that anyone who does not spend the entire working week pestering local businesses for jobs that they aren’t offering will be sanctioned and will lose their benefit for a period of up to three years! It is entirely disproportionate, considering the state of the economy, and may cost jobseekers a lot more than a few quid a week in the long run.

But this is how the benefits bill will be slashed – by the Conservatives and by Labour, if Rachel Reeves is to be believed. Ministers of any party, living in the la-la land of made-up statistics, will sanction people for failing to work hard enough at securing jobs that don’t exist!

Ms Reeves says Labour’s jobs guarantee will ensure that those jobs do exist but we don’t know that for sure. We do know that she intends to continue Tory policy on sanctions – blindly.

Finally, we have the biggest myth of all – that there isn’t enough money. HM Revenue and Customs just released estimates for the last-but-one tax year (2011-12), suggesting that it failed to collect £35 billion in evaded or avoided tax during that year.

That’s seven times more than the national bill for JSA, and more than 29 times the estimated cost of all benefit fraud. But wait – it gets better! This is only an estimate and it has long been believed that the true cost of the so-called “tax gap” is £120 billion – equal to each year’s national deficit, 24 times the cost of JSA or 100 times the cost of benefit fraud.

Why isn’t our government going after these criminals? Why hasn’t Labour promised to go after them if the Tories won’t?

Simple: Both main parties have been re-writing tax law to make it easier for rich individuals and large corporations to avoid paying tax, and ignoring flaws in tax laws that make avoidance possible.

So for example: In the late 1990s, the then-Labour government removed the tax on dividends that meant companies had to pay tax on profits if they wanted to pay them out to the owners. So for example Arcadia boss Philip Green’s wife Tina, who is technically the owner of the company and lives in Monaco, received a tax-free £1.2 billion dividend in 2005; if this tax had been in place, £300 million of that would have gone to the UK Treasury.

Gordon Brown slashed Capital Gains Tax from 40 per cent to 10 per cent in 2000, meaning income that his friends in private equity managed to engineer into capital gains would be taxed at a lower rate than was paid by their cleaners. Not the finest hour for the Party of the Worker!

And towards the end of its term, New Labour started dismantling the rules that guarded against industrial-scale tax avoidance by British multinationals, meaning profits returned to the UK from overseas subsidiaries would be exempt from tax. This created a substantial incentive for firms to send their income offshore.

Before the 2010 election, our old friend David Gauke made a lot of noise about stopping the limitless tax deductibility of interest payments, that had been used by Boots (the chemist) to slash its tax bill. Six months after the election, when he was in a position to do something about it, he was telling everybody the rules would not be altered because business considered them a competitive advantage.

The Coalition brought in tax exemptions for companies’ tax haven branches and for profits parked in tax haven subsidiary companies. Meanwhile, tax breaks for the cost of funding these offshore set-ups, from the UK, are also provided.

Corporation Tax will drop to 21 per cent by 2014, even though there is no evidence that cutting the rate will make the UK any more competitive in world business.

The Treasury’s mission is now to adjust the framework of tax laws to suit big business. The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms are now well-entrenched in writing our tax laws for us – and they run the most popular tax avoidance schemes. Consultations have descended into a process of agreeing laws demanded by big businesses.

There are clear and irrefutable arguments that reversing these legislative idiocies and closing every other tax avoidance loophole will do far more for the economy than flogging the unemployed to death, looking for jobs that don’t exist.

But I don’t think former Bank of England economist Rachel Reeves will be interested in that. In 1975, an appalled taxpayer wrote to then-Chancellor Denis Healey, complaining that an employee of the Bank (which is supposed to work on preventing tax avoidance) had been giving advice on how to avoid tax. “I wonder if this is really part of the Bank of England’s duties,” the correspondent wrote.

The behaviour of Ms Reeves, the former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, suggests that she believes it is.

Why does Gove want to sell school places to foreigners when there aren’t enough for British children?

The stupid boy sitting at the back: Michael Gove has just one aim for the education system - to make it profitable. If he succeeds, YOUR children will pay the price.

The stupid boy sitting at the back: Michael Gove has just one aim for the education system – to make it profitable. If he succeeds, YOUR children will pay the price.

The revelation that Michael Gove has a plan to sell places in academy schools to students who currently live overseas came less than a week after the BBC reported that a shortage of school places was likely to harm the quality of education here.

England needs to find 250,000 primary places – within two months – and this means that schools that perform poorly may expand to accommodate the need, even though the education they provide is substandard.

It is into this environment that Michael Gove apparently wants to introduce a paying market.

Academies are not allowed to make profits at the moment, but it seems likely that a Conservative government would change this requirement in order to allow paying pupils in – effectively accelerating towards the privatisation of the education system.

In an environment with too few school places for the British, parents need to realise that their children will be passed over in favour of paying foreign students. In essence, this is a plan to exclude poor people from education.

The evidence suggests that this has been the plan all along. A Guardian article yesterday noted that “Other milestones are already in place: performance-related pay for teachers is on its way. Around half the country’s secondaries are now academies, reluctant primaries are being forced down the same route and the 2011 Education Act decreed that if a new school is needed, it can only be a free school or an academy.

“Once schools are out of the maintained sector, only governed by a commercial contract with the secretary of state (the basis on which “independent” state schools are set up), it is only a short step to a new procurement process, which allows multinational for-profit chains to enter this market.

“And the point about schools run for profit is that they do what they say on the tin – seek to make a profit. So the first stop may be wealthy foreign pupils seeking access to selective, oversubscribed academies, but where would that stop? Co-payments? Fees for domestic families?”

The article continues: “Profit-making schools have a very mixed record in nearly every country where they have already been tried, notably Sweden, the US and Chile. Quality is often poor.

“If they fail they are swiftly closed down or reopened under new management – hardly a culture conducive to fostering sustained improvement.”

From here on, the article suggests, we should rename the British education system the “domestic market for education businesses”.

And your child’s education can go to hell. After all, the Tories educate their children privately, don’t they?

It is not only notable but sinister that Downing Street has declined to comment on the leaked letter that revealed the proposal.

Silence is not denial. In fact, with the current government, it might as well be an admission of guilt.

David Cameron has started to privatise the National Health Service; he has started to privatise the police. Now it seems he is ready to privatise education as well.

How long do the so-called ‘Working-Class Tories’ have to be exposed to this before they realise that their government is screwing them over?