Tag Archives: prosperity

Norway is better-off than the UK but Cameron won’t follow its example

Norway: Its mixed economy and low difference between the highest- and lowest-paid workers has made it the most prosperous country in the world. The UK, for all the Tory government's bluster, is 13th. Lucky for some (but not all)!

Norway: Its mixed economy and low wage difference between the highest- and lowest-paid has made it the most prosperous country in the world. The UK, for all the Tory government’s bluster, is 13th. Lucky for some (but not all)!

It seems the Public Relations Prime Minister has put his foot in his mouth – albeit nearly three years ago.

The Guardian has reported that David Cameron is to reiterate his claim that the so-called Norway option for relations with the European Union is not for the UK.

Considering the other things he said about Norway – in a speech to Bloomberg in January 2013 – this seems a very hard position to justify.

“Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe,” he said. We don’t. We have to buy our energy from foreign countries because the Conservatives closed down our coal mines so we have to buy it from aborad, sold off our energy companies to foreign investors and, most recently, signed a contract allowing China to build and run a nuclear power station here.

It “has a sovereign wealth fund of over €500 billion,” he added. A sovereign wealth fund is a state-owned investment fund, putting money into real or financial assets, and is usually created when a national government has a budgetary surplus and little or no international debt.

The UK doesn’t have a sovereign wealth fund. It has a massive budget deficit and debts totalling £1.5 trillion (and that’s just the headline figure).

Norway is deemed to be the most democratic country in the world. Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita among European countries (after Luxembourg), and the fourth-highest GDP (PPP) per-capita in the world. It ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. Foreign Policy Magazine ranks Norway last in its Failed States Index for 2009, judging it to be the world’s most well-functioning and stable country.

The standard of living in Norway is among the highest in the world.

So why would Cameron be averse to emulating Norway?

Could it be because, economically, Norway is the opposite of everything a Conservative like Cameron holds dear?

Norway runs a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state and social democracy country combining free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. UK Conservatives demand that this cannot work and the only way to run a successful economy is to privatise everything (barring the judiciary and the armed forces, if I recall David Cameron’s 2011 Telegraph interview correctly).

Norway has a very low unemployment rate, and nearly one-third of the labour force are employed by the government. Hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages, are among the highest in the world. The country’s egalitarian values have kept the wage difference between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most companies as much less than in comparable western economies – This Writer’s understanding is that the ratio is something like 1:4.

In the UK, a chief executive may earn many hundreds of times what a zero-hours, minimum-wage worker takes home, and average wages (for working people, not executives) have recently endured their longest period of sustained reduction since the Victorian era. Public sector employment is falling (as is the efficiency of government departments). Despite a much-trumpeted increase in employment levels, productivity in the UK has remained static and taxation income has dropped.

The conclusion is clear. Not only is Norway the antithesis of Cameron’s political philosophy, but it is also practical proof that Cameron’s political philosophy is utter childish drivel that will never work as the basis for running a country.

More to the point, the Norwegian model allows prosperity for all its citizens – and the very thought of that is poison to a Tory like Cameron.

He wants himself and his cronies to enjoy all the pleasures this life can offer – while dealing out all of its agonies to everyone who isn’t in the wealthiest one per cent of the population.

By rejecting the Norwegian model of participation in the European Economic Area (as it is known), Cameron has drawn attention to this.

Please feel free to do the same by sharing this article.


Negative campaigning – the easiest way

Take a look at the video above. Is it effective?

I think it is. A short message with a sting in its tail, coupled with a soundtrack that supports what’s being said by adding emotional connotations (‘Britishness’, turning to a harsh wind).

It’s a soundbite in video form – a videobite, if you like. Memorable, shareable – and easily debatable, because the message is so clear.

Conservatives are very good at putting out negative soundbites for their opponents. It would be useful to give them a taste of how it feels, so please share the video wherever you like.

Here’s another example of negative campaigning, found on the social media, on the subject of UKIP:


As effective?

Nobody seems to talk about UKIP’s domestic policies. This was mentioned, to great effect, on the BBC’s Question Time yesterday (Thursday).

The trouble with this one is it’s a ‘deep’ poster, meaning you have to scroll down to see the end of it – so the effect is less immediate.

The sad fact is that both of the above are more effective than so-called ‘positive’ campaigning, in which a political party or its representative promotes its policies as better for the country than anyone else’s.

Yesterday, the Labour Party announced it will repeal the so-called ‘Gagging Law’ – The Transparency of Lobbying (etc) Act – if elected into Parliament. At the time it was passed, Vox Political said this marked the end of free speech and free protest in the UK and the article had a huge audience of more than 100,000. So this announcement should have been greeted with joy, right? What response do you think it got?

It has been read just 128 times and of the three comments on the site, two are hugely negative – the first words being “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

It shows how far politicians have fallen in our trust.

That’s why negative campaigning is on the rise.

It seems those who want the public’s trust can only earn it by showing that the others don’t deserve it.

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If the economy is in recovery, why does it still feel like recession?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use tripled during the last year?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use almost tripled during the last year?

No doubt Gideon George Osborne will spend the next few days (if not weeks and months) crowing about the figures from the Office for National Statistics that say the British economy has grown for a third successive quarter.

He has already tweeted, “This shows that Britain’s hard work is paying off & the country is on the path to prosperity.”

The construction industry has grown by 2.5 per cent on the previous quarter, with house builders buoyed up by Gideon’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers (unsupported) mortgage guarantees to buyers and lenders. He has promised to divert £12 million to this, but has not said where he will find the money.

Critics have warned that this is simply creating another housing-fuelled debt bubble that will burst in a couple of years’ time, leaving even more people in debt than after the financial crisis hit us all.

Has this growth generated work for electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers? If so, are they being paid fairly? These are the people who will take their disposable income back into the wider economy, for the benefit of other businesses.

Production (including manufacturing) and services are both on the up as well. The BBC report says nothing about retail. But if this good news is true, why is the Department for Work and Pensions determined to expand its Workfare scheme, as laid out in a Conservative conference announcement and by an article reblogged here.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls welcomed the signs of growth in the ONS report but warned: “For millions of people across the country still seeing prices rising faster than their wages, this is no recovery at all.”

He is right, of course. Look at the rise and rise of food banks, which have seen a massive rise in attendances from even working people – whose wages simply don’t cover the cost of living. Benefits are, of course, being cut back by our “compassionate” Conservative-led government.

They say there’s no money for it but – if the economy is surging back into growth – where are all the tax receipts from the big corporates that are profiting?

Oh yes – they’re safely closeted in the tax havens that Mr Osborne kindly opened up for them. Ordinary, working, and poor people have to use their own limited funds to pay off a Conservative-run national deficit, presumably because Tories think the rich, who caused the problem, shouldn’t have to pay for services they don’t use.

And the Institute of Directors’ chief economist, Graeme Leach, warned that there are “strong headwinds” restricting the possibility of further growth, including “debt and inflation” which are “rising faster than earnings”.

That’s right. Only yesterday, Yr Obdt Srvt was talking with a gentleman who – despite having a full-time job – has fallen so severely into debt that he has had to cut his expenditure down to nothing but taxes, the vital utility bills (water but not heating), and rent. He has no budget for food and faces the possibility of having his belongings, such as his car, repossessed – and even eviction.

Is he on the path to prosperity, Mr Osborne? Of course not. This report is merely further proof that you were lying when you said, “We’re all in it together” – as you did (again) at the Conservative conference.

It’s prosperity for the greedy few, and austerity for the rest of us.

Maybe you have a different opinion, but ask any average worker on the street and they will tell you that continued wage depression and price inflation, the expansion of the Workfare regime that gives free employment to firms that don’t need it while the workers themselves have to survive on benefits, massive growth in food bank use, and the threat faced by thousands of eviction and the repossession of their belongings are not milestones on the path to prosperity.