Award-winning: Reading Buses regularly invests back into its services and have one of the greenest fleets in the UK.
Greater Manchester has won the right to cap bus fares at £2 for adults and £1 for children after a landmark ruling by the High Court.
The ruling allows the metropolitan authority to regulate bus services there in the public interest.
Liverpool, West Yorkshire and Sheffield plan to do the same.
But the victory has opened up the debate on whether local authorities should continue to be banned from running services for people and not profit.
Even the Tory government seems to have shifted its position on this, believing the ban on municipal ownership is now “ripe for review”.
According to We Own It,
Only 9 municipal bus companies around the UK survived Thatcher’s disastrous deregulation. Because these bus companies don’t have to pay dividends to shareholders, they can invest more into improving local services.
This makes them incredibly popular, with Nottingham City Transport, Reading Buses and Lothian buses all regularly winning awards.
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.
James Cleverly: Not the sharpest tool in the Tory box.
Remember when Dominic Raab was caught tweeting nonsense that wages were rising faster than at any time in the last eight years?
He was referring to a graph which demonstrated nothing of the kind.
You can read that story here. I stated at the time that this is the season for fairy tales and pantomimes, and – lo and behold! – here’s Conservative Party deputy chairman James Cleverly with another one!
He reckons home ownership among people aged 25-34 fell of a cliff during the years of the New Labour government (1997-2010) – but this has now been reversed under the Conservatives.
For that to be true, the number of people aged 25-34 who own their own homes now would be in the mid-40s on the graph below, and not the mid-20s. The Evolve Politics Twitter account is correct – the level of home ownership among 25-34 year olds is still lower than when the Conservatives came to office in 2010.
This graph literally shows that home ownership among 25-34 year olds is still lower than when the Tories came to office in 2010!!
How on earth do Tories think they can get away with this kind of reality-reversing bullshit!? https://t.co/tBMssJ7Ss9
And here‘s The Guardian with some of the finer details:
“A Labour government would ban zero-hours contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act, clamp down on bogus self-employment, end private finance initiatives and set up a department for employment to implement the policies, he said. There would be a particular emphasis on workers in the gig economy.
Workers in jobs with flexible hours and short-term contracts could be given similar rights to those in permanent work, including eligibility for sick pay, parental pay and similar benefits, he said.
Government contracts would only be given to firms that allowed collective bargaining and a Labour government would relaunch employee ownership funds, under which staff at larger companies would receive shares in order to give them a stake in the profits and management of their firms.
McDonnell also repeated a promise that Labour would spend £500bn over a decade to fix Britain’s crumbling infrastructure.
This would include road and rail, digital, research and development and alternative energy sources, he said, adding that the £500bn figure was supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with whom Labour was working to develop the proposals.”
That’s fine – but are these plans any good?
Let’s have a poll:
Feel free to use the ‘comment’ column to detail the reasons for your response.
Liar: Theresa May merrily passes off EU directives as her own laws.
How will the Conservative Government be able to pat itself on the back for implementing new laws that help people, after Brexit has happened and the organisation imposing those laws – The European Union – no longer has any power in the UK?
And will it matter, considering the fact that many of us have already cottoned on to what they have been doing?
The latest wheeze was the implementation of an EU directive to protect package holidaymakers, which the Tories announced as if it were their own:
Tories ridiculed after shamelessly taking credit for new EU law to protect holidaymakers! Once again they’ve attempted to take the British public for fools after shamelessly bigging themselves up for implementing a law that they had nothing to do with! https://t.co/gB0IDEMeeY
We all owe a debt of thanks to Richard Murphy, over at Tax Research UK. He has broken down the information in George Osborne’s misleading ‘annual tax statement’ into its component parts and then put a new version together, under categories that more accurately describe the spending concerned.
Then he turned the information into a handy pie chart – similar to Osborne’s but with one major change:
This version is accurate.
Here it is:
Let’s just compare it with Osborne’s…
The most interesting to Vox Political is the perception gap between Mr Murphy’s calculation of the total proportion of tax spent on unemployment benefits – 0.67 per cent – and Osborne’s ‘Welfare’ heading, which constitutes 24 per cent of spending.
Talk to most people about ‘Welfare’ and they’ll think you mean unemployment benefits – so the Osborne chart will make them think that government spending on the unemployed is no less than 36 times as much as is in fact the case.
When a government minister exaggerates the facts by that much, he might as well come out and admit that he’s lying to the people.
Mr Murphy wrote: “This is the statement George Osborne would not want you to see because it makes clear that subsidies, allowances and reliefs extend right across the UK economy. And they do not, by any means, appear to go to those who necessarily need them most. The view he has presented on this issue has been partial, to say the least, and frankly deeply misleading at best.”
He wrote: “Add together the cost of subsidies to banks, the subsidy to pensions and the subsidy to savings (call them together the subsidy to the City of London) and they cost £103.4bn a year – more than the cost of education in the UK.
“It’s also no wonder house prices are so distorted when the implicit tax subsidy for home ownership is £12.6 billion a year.”
He also pointed out that unemployment benefits cost only half the amount used to subsidise personal savings and investments.
For full details of Mr Murphy’s calculations, visit his article on the Tax Research UK site.
Mr Murphy tweeted yesterday: “Almost every commentator now agrees that Osborne is going to spend a fortune sending out tax statements that are wrong. Why not cancel now?”
He won’t unless he’s forced to; he has a political agenda to follow.
That is why Vox Political launched a petition to achieve just that.
If you haven’t already, please visit the petition on the Change.org website, sign it, and share it with your friends.
While you’re at it, feel free to share the infographic, created to support the petition:
Remember Chris Davies? The Tory candidate I shot down in the letters page of the local press because he was parroting the lies of Iain Duncan Smith and Grant Shapps at the population of my constituency as though they were the Gospels and he was God’s Own Messenger?
Well, he came back for more.
“Please allow me the opportunity to respond to the letter from the Labour Party’s Llandrindod branch chairman, Mike Sivier,” he writes. I’m not the branch chairman – just the secretary. Believe me, this is not the biggest mistake he makes!
“He obviously exists in the deluded fantasy world of the Labour Party, a party that has failed to learn the lesson from the last period in government and still actively promotes state dependency over individual responsibility and work.” He’ll contradict himself a few paragraphs down, but I wondered what he meant by that – “still actively promotes state dependency over individual responsibility and work”.I can’t say I do that. I actively promote work that benefits all those who carry it out – look at my article about the Liberal Democrat employee-ownership idea. I campaign against zero-hours contracts, Workfare/the Work Programme, and other practices that exploit the worker in order to make a big profit for bosses while they sit back and do nothing (the lazy scroungers!). I campaign against forcing people into work that is inequitable, and recalling that Cllr Davies’ original letter was about benefits, I include forcing the sick and disabled to seek work in that category. So if he is criticising me for actively promoting fairness and equitable employment practices over his party’s exploitation, then I stand guilty as charged. But I believe this reveals something about himself he would rather keep hidden.
“This is the same Labour Party which, despite bringing this country to the brink of bankruptcy,” – this is impossible – “still has the audacity to deny spending too much whilst they were in government,” – Labour didn’t – “and is still calling for even more borrowing and spending.” Labour isn’t.
“The last Labour government allowed the welfare budget to soar by 60 per cent in a decade.” It’s more like 40 per cent, and if you think that doesn’t excuse Labour, wait until you see my proof that social security spending has never been under control for any sustained period since the modern welfare state began, with the exception being between 2001-7, during the last Labour government! “They allowed housing benefit alone to increase by 100 per cent to £21 billion! The cynical among us say they did this to simply buy the votes of benefit claimants. Whatever the reason, the benefit system inherited by the Conservative-led coalition government was horrendously bloated, disgracefully unfair and heavily defrauded.”Wrong again. Welfare reforms since 1996 have unpicked around 30 per cent of the dependency that built up during previous Conservative governments, and the long-term pattern of social security spending relative to GDP had been falling since the year 2000. It was only the recession engineered by the Tories’ friends, the bankers, that pushed spending upwards – and Cllr Davies won’t blame Labour for a problem created by bankers, surely? (I’m being sarcastic. Of course he will. Every other Tory seems to).
“Benefit fraud totals £1.2 billion a year. You could build a lot of hospitals for £1.2 billion.” This is something that another Tory councillor wrote in a letter to a different paper. My response was: The claim that money saved will be used on hospitals and schools is fantasy. The aim of the cuts is to shrink the state – reducing the amount provided for vital public services. It was never the intention to redistribute savings to hospitals. In fact, David Cameron himself has been rebuked for lying when he said the Coalition was putting extra money into the NHS – funding dropped by nearly £1 billion between 2010 and 2012.
“Yet despite these facts,”WHAT FACTS?“Mr Sivier and his socialist comrades in the Labour Party are still opposing reform of the welfare system.” Absolutely untrue! The system now needs reform more than ever before – to eradicate forever the changes made by Iain Duncan Smith and his Tory-boy friends, and remove the bloodstains from its character, caused by the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people whose only crime was to have fallen ill or become disabled.
“What is so sad is Labour’s inability to see how their reign over the welfare system proved so disastrous for hardworking families, the most financially disadvantaged and the most vulnerable members of our society.” I don’t see that – but then, this is because it didn’t happen.
“We now have a generation of people trapped in welfare dependency.” That’s an Iain Duncan Smith lie. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated that this claim has no basis in fact. “We have widespread abuse of the benefits system.” IDS lies again. Benefit fraud stands at 0.7 per cent of the total number of claims. Widespread. HA ha-ha! “We have people travelling from the other side of the world to exploit the UK’s ‘generous’ benefits.” Yet another Iain Duncan Smith lie! Channel 4 News Factcheck looked for the figures, but when they asked HM Revenue and Customs for them, the response was that the tax credit system does not record nationalities of claimants, and HMRC doesn’t have the figures! No basis, therefore, in fact. “Who picks up the bill for all this?” All what? “As always it is the UK’s hardworking families who have to pay for Labour’s incompetence.” Except they’re not. They’re paying for the BANKERS‘ incompetence (see my reference to the bank crisis, earlier).
“I am more than happy to discuss our welfare reforms every week for the next two years if Labour really wants to.” That’s good because it’s exactly what’s going to happen! “They are on the wrong side of the argument on this issue and on the wrong side of public opinion.” If he has to tell newspaper readers that Labour is on the wrong side, he’s already lost the argument. As for public opinion, we know the national media are owned by right-wing press barons who push the Tory side of the stories.
“I might just add that in the last fortnight, it seems that Labour has started to realise the electoral folly of their opposition to welfare reform and is beginning to perform some screeching u-turns. Despite months of howling protests from Labour, their party leader has now said that should they get into government, they will NOT reverse any of the coalition’s spending cuts, including those on welfare!
“It would seem that Labour high command failed to inform Mr Sivier of that policy change.”
Here’s my response – going out to the paper today:
Chris Davies seems to have his ideas back to front. At first he tells us I’m the epitome of current Labour thinking, but by the end of his latest missive, I’m out of touch with Labour’s “high command”, whatever that is. The truth is that I am lucky enough to be a member of a party that does not require its members to be mindless drones, parroting the latest approved message from above – like the nonsense that has been handed down to Cllr Davies from Tory Party head office.
There are so many lies in his letter that it is hard to know where to start, so I’ll concentrate on the heart of the matter: Social security reforms and Labour’s record. I have already quoted some figures to Mr Davies but he clearly doesn’t want to take my word for it. Perhaps he’ll accept that of Bristol University Professor Paul Gregg instead (I have no idea what Prof Gregg’s political leanings are).
In his 2010 paper, ‘Radical Welfare Reform’ http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/bulletin/winter10/gregg.pdf he stated: “The number of welfare claims has actually declined, given the state of the economic cycle… welfare reforms since 1996 [under Labour] have unpicked about 30 per cent of the build-up of excessive welfare dependence after 1979 [under the Conservatives].”
Professor Gregg continues: “In terms of worklessness leading to reliance on welfare, the picture is not of a broken system. Rather it is of a system that has been steadily improving since 1995 but masked by the current recession… Welfare growth has never been under control for any sustained period since the modern welfare state began, with the exception only of the six years from 2001-2 to 2007-8 [under Labour]”.
He is saying that the last Labour government is in fact the ONLY government to have got social security spending under control since the Welfare State was introduced. The graph accompanying his paper shows this to devastating effect, with spending under the Conservative governments of Thatcher and Major increasing by up to 80 per cent in a single year!
In short Professor Gregg finds Labour’s record good – and the Tories’ record appalling. As for Cllr Davies’ other assertions, may I direct readers to my article on the Internet, where they should find responses to most, if not all, of them. In brief: The UK, as a sovereign country with its own currency, cannot be brought to bankruptcy. It didn’t spend too much in government until the Tories’ friends, the bankers, engineered the crisis and recession that caused all our current woes. It is not calling for more borrowing and spending. The benefit system was neither bloated nor unfair, and certainly was not heavily defrauded – unless you consider a 0.7 per cent total fraud rate to be excessive. No hospitals will ever be built from benefit savings under a Conservative government and the suggestion that they could is nothing but a lie. We do not have intergenerational welfare dependency. We do not have widespread abuse of the benefit system. We do not have foreigners travelling here for so-called ‘benefit tourism’.
Labour does not oppose reform to the welfare system – it simply opposes Conservative changes that are intended to cause harm.
If Cllr Davies is determined to continue making a fool of himself, every few weeks for the next two years, I’m quite happy to take him up on it. Perhaps he should bear in mind that, with the Internet, we are all perfectly able to check his so-called “facts” for ourselves.
And where is his apology for repeating IDS’ and Grant Shapps’ statistical claims about DWP benefits? Those claims have now been proved, beyond any doubt, false.
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