Tag Archives: redundancy

Now the Covid crisis is being used to lever working disabled people out of their jobs

It seems people with disabilities have no safety net when threatened with losing their job because of measures they’re told to take, just to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Was there an underlying prejudice against people with disabilities all along, or did the Tories put it on the national agenda?

Until 2010, This Writer thought the UK was moving in the right direction, discarding discrimination against ethnic minorities and people with physical impediments.

But racism and disablism have skyrocketed since the Tories came back into office and I don’t know whether they have instigated it or merely allowed bigots across the UK to express what they felt all along.

Covid-19 seems to have brought this ugliness into its own.

The latest outrage is the revelation that a quarter of working people with disabilities are likely to lose their job – because of safety measures they have been told to take, to avoid infection.

This rises to 37 per cent of those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life.

And half of those shielding because of extreme vulnerability to the coronavirus risk redundancy.

It seems employers see people with disabilities as an easy cut to make – especially in an atmosphere where unfair dismissals are more likely to go unremarked.

And people with disabilities going onto benefits face an uphill struggle getting benefits – even if they’re not claiming sickness/disability benefits.

The five-week wait for Universal Credit is bad enough for able-bodied people, remember.

The Tory government isn’t particularly bothered. Anyone can seek an employment tribunal against unfair dismissal.

But how long is that going to take? And what will they do in the meantime?

Source: Parents, carers and disabled people in UK ‘twice as likely to lose job’ | World news | The Guardian

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What do the Brexit cheerleaders have to say about Jaguar Land Rover job losses now?

Road to ruin: A Land Rover Discovery. Last time I used this shot I said it was presumably on its way to Slovakia, leaving a blasted wasteland where its Midlands manufacturing base once stood. It would be nice to think that was a pessimistic opinion – but the outlook is not good.

I seem to recall some Vox Political readers saying this wouldn’t happen.

“How many times are we going to get empty threats from rabid remainers?” asked resident Brexiteer Barry Davies.

Chris Cooke Snr proclaimed: “We’ve had over 45 years of our industries being wrecked by EU rule. Some may cut and run after Brexit – but I seriously doubt it. On balance a UK free to trade across world markets would rebuild our industries.”

Oh really?

Here‘s the BBC:

“Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has confirmed it is cutting 4,500 jobs, with the substantial majority coming from its 40,000 strong UK workforce.

“The firm has … complained about uncertainty caused by Brexit.

“The firm, which is owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, made a £90m pre-tax loss in the three months to September 30, a major reversal from the £385m profit of the previous year.”

In fairness, we’re told most of the redundancies will be in office roles as the company wants to simplify its management structure.

But the cuts come on top of last year’s 1,500 job losses, meaning 6,000 will go in total – so far.

What next?

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Theresa May’s evil choice for schools: They’ll have to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises

Theresa May: She may think she’s the Joker but this gag isn’t funny at all.

Theresa May seems to have modelled her pay offer to schools on the choices presented by the Joker, as played by the late Heath Ledger, in the movie The Dark Knight.

Her government has promised teachers a pay rise of up to 3.5 per cent, providing £508 million to pay for it.

Head teachers have made it clear that this offer is not enough. They say they will have to cover the first one per cent of the pay offer from their own budgets – which won’t be able to cope.

So, if their teachers are to enjoy the increase, heads will have to cut working hours (meaning there will be no financial benefit to teachers and their workload will increase) or impose redundancies (meaning teachers will be better-paid but their workload will increase hugely).

That’s the kind of choice offered by the Joker in the movie mentioned above; the only way to win something valuable is to lose something valuable.

An example from the film is when the Joker rigs explosives on two ferries, one containing citizens and the other transporting criminals, and tells the passengers that he will destroy both boats unless one blows up the other; anyone taking that offer would survive – by becoming a mass murderer.

Mrs May’s offer to schools may not seem quite so extreme – but it could be argued that she is deliberately attacking our nation’s future.

The school pupils of today are the doctors, nurses, teachers, industrial leaders, scientists and thinkers of tomorrow. If their teachers are worked into the ground, how are they going to help these kids reach their full potential?

They won’t.

And that is what Mrs May wants – because she thinks it is more important to maintain the artificial advantage that the rich have over the poor than it is to give everyone in the UK an opportunity to succeed.

Schools face having to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises, ­heads have warned.

Under a recent Government pay settlement, teachers will get up to 3.5% extra, which ministers have boasted is “fully funded” through a £508 million grant.

But an open letter from four union chiefs to PM Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond says schools must cover the first 1% from their own budgets, already at “breaking point”.

Without extra funding, they fear schools will have to cut working hours or make staff redundant to afford it.

Source: Schools ‘will have to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises’ warn heads in open letter – Mirror Online

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If employment is at its highest rate since 1971, why are wages and the tax take in the doldrums?

Full-time employment is on the rise in the UK [Image: SolStock/Getty Images].

I have a doubt about this employment miracle the Tories claim.

We’re told employment is at its highest rate on record, but wage rises are below inflation, and what is the tax take?

If the Treasury isn’t in receipt of more money, then the employment figure means nothing.

We know productivity is lagging behind the other G7 countries.

And what about the factory closures that have recently been announced?

I asked Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, what it all meant.

She responded:

So we’ll have to wait and see.

Keep an eye on Vox Political. I’ll keep you informed. 

The pressure on employers to find skilled staff appeared to push up wages by more than expected in November as UK job vacancies reached a new peak.

City economists had expected the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit talks to limit wage rises, excluding bonuses, to 2.3%, the same rate as in October, but they increased to 2.4% in the three months to November. The figure rose to 2.5% when bonuses were included.

Vacancies hit the highest level since comparable records began in 2001, up 60,000 on a year earlier at 810,000.

Further indications that the labour market remained in rude health could be found in figures for the total number of people in employment, which hit 32.2 million, the highest on record.

The Office for National Statistics also said the employment rate, which measures the proportion of 16- to 64-year-olds in work, reached 75.3%, a figure that was higher than for a year earlier and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

Source: UK job vacancies and numbers employed both hit record highs | Business | The Guardian


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There is a better way for BAe Systems – but will the Tory warmongers understand?

A member of staff works in the cockpit of an aircraft on the Eurofighter Typhoon production line at the BAE Warton plant near Preston [Image: Phil Noble/Reuters].

https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/917694135041216513

The article, to which Aaron Bastani links in his tweet (above), makes interesting reading – although it is a bit long-winded.

It proposes a future for the company in which it won’t have to cut jobs, but may devote them away from building weapons and into peacetime technological pursuits. For the UK’s biggest exporter, it seems this is far preferable than the collapse and ruin presaged by the announcement of 2,000 job losses today (October 10).

The Tory government will do nothing, of course. Tories no longer understand industry, if they ever did. Their industrial strategy, from the mid-1970s onwards, has been to destroy industry in order to impoverish working people and undermine the trade unions.

Here’s the relevant part of the Open Democracy article:

BAE Systems should be taken into public ownership, with tens of thousands of engineers and fixed capital re-directed towards renewable energy industries, automated civilian avionics and vehicles, space transport and climate change solutions – specifically around flooding and desertification.

Right now BAE has 33,000 employees across the UK, 70% of which are engineers or work in engineering-related areas. That is an immense amount of talent that is currently deployed to, among other things, build weapon systems to be used against civilian targets in one of the poorest countries in the world. As well as Saudi Arabia, other BAE clients include the UAE, where the company sells surveillance systems and, potentially Qatar, which is still looking to buy Typhoons despite recently purchasing a large number of French Rafales.

Rather than create weapons for some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, while also depending on British defence budgets only set to shrink and the renewal of a nuclear deterrent ill-suited to the modern world, the resources and skills of BAE Systems, especially given its comparative edge in avionics, vehicles and energy architecture, would be instead be deployed in fields of importance to Britain and the wider world. New flooding solutions, crucial as Britain adapts to climate change, would not just be for the domestic market but for export too. The same is true for dealing with desertification, a major issue not only for North America, the Middle East and Africa, but Europe and Australia.

Then there are the fields of renewable energy, automated transport, AI and robotics.

Contrast this with the bleak news of the company’s announcement today:

Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs in a significant blow to the UK’s manufacturing sector and the government’s industrial strategy.

The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said on Tuesday that up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business.

BAE aims to achieve the cuts, which are due to be implemented by 1 January, through voluntary redundancies where possible. It employs 83,100 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK.

There is a way forward.

If these job cuts go ahead, then you will know that they are happening because BAe – and the Conservative government – have ignored the opportunity to open the company up to new markets. For the Tories, that would be an unforgivable crime.


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Tube strike is about maintaining good service. Don’t let selfish people tell you it’s about selfishness

The London Underground is in a mess due to cut by the Conservative Government and poor management by Boris Johnson Conservative administration.

Sadiq Khan, the current (Labour, he says) Mayor of London appeared on Radio 4, to oppose the strike, but is arguments do not ring true.

His administration may be working to limit the damage but the service is suffering now, and changes imposed by Johnson and the Tories may be hard to reverse.

The strike was called because of ticket office closures and the loss of 800 staff members under Mr Johnson. Mr Khan could only say 200 jobs had been restored, and his comments about ticket offices were limited to saying he had accepted the findings of a review by Travel Watch. He did not say what those findings were.

Meanwhile, Tube staff are striking because the service is not safe. They say the cuts, along with “brutal” unilaterally-imposed changes to working practices that have been imposed by Transport for London (TfL) have led to “a further exodus of staff from the service”.

That is their right; anybody can walk away from a contract if the other side imposes unfair conditions.

And it doesn’t take genius to work out that they are right to do so.

The level of support for the strike among those who remain – only 10 stations are open, it has been reported – is evidence of this.

The Tube system needs restoration now – not talk about doing it tomorrow (maybe).

Claims that the strike is causing misery for a day show a lack of understanding that the aim is to prevent misery on a regular – or indeed permanent – basis.

They are the claims of the selfish, the narrow-minded, and the ignorant.

Some critics are even claiming that Tube workers have decent, well-paid jobs and should not, therefore, be striking.

The only reason any employee has a decent, well-paid job, is union action – including strikes. And in this case it is clear that striking remains the only way to protect pay and conditions that the Conservative Party has tried to erode.

It’s time some of the people catching a bus today also got a clue.

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The depth of corruption in the Conservative Party’s new, privatised health system

n4s_nhs1

You can’t call it a National Health Service any more, can you?

The corruption imposed on the system by the Conservative-led Coalition government has reached new depths with the award of huge contracts to companies that donate to the Conservative Party, and plans to stop the corrupt re-hiring of executives who had already received large payoffs – after this has already happened.

Especially to blame are the Liberal Tory Democrats who made sure that this desecration could take place by supporting it in Parliament.

Did anybody else find it laughable when the Telegraph reported plans for the Queen’s Speech this year to include stopping highly-paid civil servants and NHS executives from receiving large redundancy pay-offs and then being re-hired only a few months later?

The plan, apparently part of the legislative programme to be announced by Her Majesty tomorrow (Wednesday), is effectively fixing the barn door after the chickens have come home to roost; already thousands of NHS executives who were sacked from their jobs in the pre-Health and Social Care Act service have been re-hired – at great cost to the taxpayer – into the new one.

The new law won’t be able to stop any of them from doing what they have already done, and Treasury Financial Secretary Nicky Morgan’s claim that “We must make sure hard-earned taxpayers’ money is not being squandered” is meaningless.

Meanwhile, health companies have been rewarded with ‘NHS’ contracts worth almost 1,000 times as much as the money they have donated to the Conservative Party.

According to the Daily Mirror, Circle Health has been given £1.36 billion of health work after investors gave £1.5 million to the Tories; and Care UK – who bankrolled former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley with £21,000 during the seven years he was secretly working on the Health and Social Care Act while Tory leaders were denying any plans for the top-down reorganisation it would authorise – has won £102.6 million in contracts and its chairman John Nash has been made a lord, in return for a £247,250 donation to the Tories.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham was right to say, “Nobody gave David Cameron permission to sell the NHS to his friends.”

Nobody did – Cameron lied about his plans for the NHS throughout his 2010 general election campaign, and then failed to win a mandate from the electorate.

But this is what David Cameron’s NHS was always going to be – a gravy train for rich asset-strippers.

The only losers are the sick – and Tories couldn’t care less about them.

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UKIP: They don’t like it up ’em!

UKIPpolicies

Was anybody else astonished to read, on Facebook this afternoon (May 12), that police had visited a person who had posted a version of the above meme on Twitter, and told said person to remove it as UKIP had made a formal complaint?

The truth of the matter became irrelevant very shortly after, when the image was merrily shared and re-shared across the social media by those of us (let’s face it; a version is directly above these words. VP is as much a part of this act as anyone) who weren’t going to put up with even the rumour of such heavy-handed behaviour.

Shortly afterwards, the referenced version of the meme appeared – it’s what you saw when you loaded up this article.

Readers with good taste in comedy will recognise our headline as a catchphrase of Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, made with reference to the German Army and to the “fuzzy-wuzzies” – as Jones refers in casually racist (yet of-the-times) terms to his erstwhile opponents when he was fighting colonial wars in South Africa. Although they’re not likely to enjoy being ranked alongside either of Jones’s targets, UKIP supporters proved that they really don’t like it up ’em – and responded with fury.

“This is not doing the right thing by Britons by posting propaganda rubbish like this one,” wrote one outraged ‘Kipper’.

Propaganda?

That would be “misleading information that is systematically spread”, according to the VP dictionary. Thank goodness we can look up the websites referenced on the image and make up our own minds! But it should be noted that anyone trying this should hurry – some of the sites mentioned have already been changed.

For example, VP is informed that Amjad Bashir has changed his website to remove the reference to maternity pay and other employment rights. Fortunately, another member of our online community had the presence of mind to keep a copy of the site as it was before the edit, and created an image that demonstrates the differences.

140512amjadchanges

The point is confirmed on UKIP member Keith Rowe’s website, where item 3.2 states: “UKIP proposes to vastly simplify this legislation. It would be up to each employer to decide whether to offer parental leave.” That would mean the end of Statutory Maternity Pay.

Further down, Mr Rowe confirms UKIP’s plan to raise Income Tax for most of us, while also cutting it for the richest people in the UK: “The cornerstone of UKIP’s tax policies is to roll employees’ National Insurance and basic rate income tax into a flat rate of income tax of 31 per cent for all sources of personal income (except pension income).”

On holiday entitlement, Mr Rowe tells us: “UKIP would put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays and holiday, overtime, redundancy or sick pay etc.”

UKIP supporters would argue strongly that the party does not intend to speed up privatisation of the NHS, and Mr Rowe’s website expends a large amount of verbiage trying to obfuscate what is intended. But the gist is here: “UKIP will abolish the complex competitive tendering rules which currently make it very difficult for smaller companies to bid; as a result of which, a small number of large companies have a disproportionate share of NHS business. In addition, the UKIP will require the NHS to use people with commercial experience to negotiate with the private sector.” This means that UKIP would continue the Coalition policy of inviting private companies to bid for the right to provide NHS services, making a profit from the taxpayer in doing so.

The section entitled ‘Looking Ahead’ suggests worse to come: “UKIP would like to offer people a choice of how they wish their health care to be delivered… We believe that other models are worth considering to see whether lessons can be learned from abroad… which appear to offer more choice, shorter waiting times and objectively better health outcomes at comparable cost and have been praised for their lack of bureaucracy.”

On climate change, the UKIP leaflet referenced in the meme states: “UK’s cuts in CO2 emissions will have no meaningful effect on global climate and … the Climate Change Act’s unilateral action is in vain”. Further on, it states: “We criticise the EU for creating serious market distortion by favouring some low-carbon technologies (wind, solar) over others (e.g. nuclear). There are, however, some clear priorities: gas, nuclear, and coal.”

UKIP’s own ‘issues’ page makes it clear that the party will “remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights” (even though this would be a travesty – the UK was instrumental in setting up that institution and wrote much of its rule book).

Coming to marital rape, if the reference in the meme does not provide help, then try this link. It shows that, of the 14 MEPs who voted against ‘Combating violence against women’, which included “to recognise sexual violence within marriage as a crime and to make rape within marriage a criminal offence”, nine were members of UKIP. Thanks to Rachel Harvey (on Facebook) for this information, and for sourcing the image on maternity pay.

Ms Harvey adds: “The ‘no’ vote to rape within marriage being a criminal offence was also a no vote to making FGM [female genital mutilation] illegal. Such lovely blokes these UKIP MEPs.” Indeed.

Admittedly, policies are mentioned for which proof is not directly available at the time of writing (although any help with this would be appreciated). Nevertheless it should be clear that the image at the top of this article is absolutely not “propaganda rubbish”.

It is a genuine attempt to alert the British voting public to the true nature of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

And no – I didn’t create it.

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Why listen to naysayers when Labour has so many reasons to be cheerful?

A strong hand: Ed Miliband has plenty of ammunition with which to hammer the Conservative-led Coalition this autumn - but using it would mean a break from his recent policy direction. Does he have the stomach for it or will he continue to ignore the majority of Labour supporters and favour an inner circle of advisers who have, so far, served him poorly?

A strong hand: Ed Miliband has plenty of ammunition with which to hammer the Conservative-led Coalition this autumn – but using it would mean a break from his recent policy direction. Does he have the stomach for it or will he continue to ignore the majority of Labour supporters and favour an inner circle of advisers who have, so far, served him poorly?

Vox Political reblogged a post on the Skwawkbox blog yesterday, identifying a commonplace tactic used by members and supporters of the Coalition government.

It works like this: You make an assertion in the media that will harm your opponents, even though you have no evidence to back it up. You argue your case vehemently, refusing to accept any alternatives to what you are saying. And when the evidence comes in and it’s against you, you say it is a stitch-up and continue claiming both the moral and factual victory.

This is what the Conservative Party has been doing, loudly and continually. Look at its record on the NHS and on social security reforms and you’ll see that this assertion is supported by fact. Now, more factual evidence has arrived to undermine other Tory claims.

In spite of this, the Labour Party presents the appearance of an organisation torn by inner disagreement, after several high-profile figures broke ranks to criticise the leadership for failing to go on the attack during the summer, when the Conservative-led Coalition was vulnerable on any number of levels.

The BBC ran a story in which Labour’s Tessa Jowell warned that public criticism of Labour leader Ed Miliband by party colleagues creates an “unappealing sense of toxic disunity”.

We’ll come back to the BBC shortly, but for now it is enough to say the story quoted an article by Dame Tessa in the Observer, claiming that “disloyalty” of this kind risked handing the next election to the Tories.

She wrote: “There is… nothing constructive in publicly delivering ‘helpful advice’ that could be much better delivered quietly in private,” but for all we know, Mr Miliband’s critics had already done this, only for him to turn a deaf ear.

She is wrong, of course. Those people spoke up because they believed that their leader has been ignoring the mountain of evidence piling up against the Coalition – evidence that he could use to pummel David Cameron and Nick Clegg into the dust long before the next election; that Mr Miliband is unaccountably trying to avoid criticism from the likes of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, in an attempt to court the right-wing readership of those papers; and that he would get more respect from those people – and win back disenchanted Labour voters – if he acknowledged and supported the evidence against the Coalition’s policies and set out opposing plans that mapped out a different course for the UK, one that might actually have a chance of success.

There are so many ways to strike against the web of so-called ‘myths’ (in fact outright lies) spread by the Conservatives since they came into office with the Liberal Democrats that it is hard to know where to start.

Let’s begin with the report by the international doctors’ organisation Medecins Du Monde (Doctors of the World), stating very clearly that the claim, by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, that health tourism is rife in the UK, is nonsense.

In a policy briefing, the organisation stated: “Seven years of data… shows that service users had, on average, been living in the UK for three years before they tried to access healthcare. Only 1.6 per cent of people using the service had left their country of origin for personal health reasons.”

Concentrating on one particular illness, “Research carried out by Terrence Higgins Trust and George House Trust found that people living with HIV using their services had been resident in England for between 12-18 months before testing positive for HIV. If access to HIV drugs had been their motivation for coming to England, they would have been unlikely to wait so long to become eligible for life-saving treatments.”

Therefore, “Research by Doctors of the World’s European network indicates no correlation between accessibility of healthcare to migrants and migration patterns.”

The government has made health tourism a major part of its anti-immigration campaign, claiming that it costs the taxpayer a fortune, but even this was rubbished by the professionals: “Current estimates vary greatly, although last year the NHS estimates it spent £33 million treating foreign nationals and wrote off £12 million of this sum. This represents about 0.01 per cent of the £107 billion NHS budget. These sums are considerably less than the net contribution made to the UK by migrants of 1.02 per cent of GDP, or £16.3 billion, according to the OECD.”

Just 0.01 per cent of the NHS budget is lost treating foreign nationals who do not pay – even less than the 0.7 per cent of the social security budget that is lost to fraud, according to DWP figures. But the government talks up these comparatively tiny amounts as though they will topple us all into bankruptcy (impossible).

One might almost believe there was an intention to distract us from something else. Remember, the Conservatives are well-practised at ‘bait-and-switch’ fraud, as mentioned in an earlier article. Perhaps they don’t want us examining their lackadaisical attempts at pretending to counter corporate tax avoidance that costs up to £120 billion per year? Or maybe they don’t want us thinking about what could have been done to restore respectability to our bankers after the financial crisis they caused.

Meanwhile, Tory claims that the Bedroom Tax – I said the BEDROOM TAX – would cut the Housing Benefit bill by £480 million have been destroyed after Labour MP Karen Buck retrieved figures from the House of Commons library, showing that the cost will in fact increase by £1.5 billion this year – and still further over the next three years.

The Mirror reported that this is because more than 40,000 more people have claimed HB since this time last year, with the biggest pressure coming from working people who need help with housing costs because their wages no longer cover them, especially since private landlords have increased rents by an inflation-busting three per cent over the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, councils have been forced to rehouse victims of the Bedroom Tax from cheaper social housing into more expensive private rented properties, creating more unwanted extra costs.

It was previously reported that larger social housing is going empty because people do not want to move in and then fall foul of the Bedroom Tax. I can’t currently find the reference for that, but if anyone can help out, please send in a comment with the link.

The SPeye blog has filed an alternative take on Housing Benefit, which claims that the current amount paid by the taxpayer on HB, at £23.77 billion, is £5.77 billion more than George Osborne predicted in 2010 when he said his changes to HB meant it would be “controlled and reduced” from £20 billion in that financial year to £18 billion by 2014-15.

This blog is highly critical of Labour’s reasoning, as reported in the Mirror story, but then comes up with an even greater loss to the taxpayer, caused by the Conservatives’ changes.

Back to the NHS now, where the Coalition government has spent £1.4 billion on redundancy payoffs, rather than care, since it came to power. This can be added to more than £3 billion that was spent on the pointless and unnecessary top-down reorganisation that David Cameron promised, prior to the 2010 election, would not take place.

The government has claimed that the redundancies will save £1.5 billion per year, which will be reinvested in patient care – but this will only bring annual spending back up to just above where it was when Labour left office, as it was revealed at the end of 2012 that annual spending on the NHS has dropped by nearly £1 billion. The government has stated that spending will have increased by £12.7 billion by 2014-15 which, in financial terms, is next year.

The Coalition lied when it said changes to the planning system would protect the Green Belt. This land, “intended to provide countryside access for urban dwellers and ensure conservation of nature, as well as maintaining agriculture and forestry” according to a BBC website article, is being eroded away with the help of new rules introduced by the Coalition, with planning applications on Green Belt land in England almost doubling from 81,000 homes in 2012 to 150,000 this year.

The government said protection was being maintained but the Council for the Protection of Rural England said the Green Belt was under threat. Who do you believe?

The announcement that the UK economy grew by 0.7 per cent, rather than 0.6, has been greeted rapturously by the Coalition, whose representatives have claimed that it shows the economy has moved “from rescue to recovery”. This is, of course, utterly ludicrous. There is no way an improvement of this kind – after years of economic flatlining thanks to Coalition policies – can be claimed as either evidence of a sustained recovery or evidence that Coalition policies are responsible for the improvement. The weakness of the upturn suggests the change brought on by conditions that would have arisen, whether the Coalition had tinkered with the economy or not.

Thankfully Michael Meacher has returned, after a brief holiday from blogging, to give us chapter and verse. “Today’s announcement by the ONS that its initial 0.6 per cent growth estimate for the second quarter of this year has now been upgraded to 0.7 per cent is insignificant when put into perspective against the recoveries of the five other UK recessions in the previous 100 years,” he writes.

“This time the economy still remains 3.3 per cent below its pre-crash level in 2008, while at the same stage of cycle (ie five years on from the crash) it was nearly FIVE per cent above the pre-crash level in the early 1980s, SIX per cent above pre-crash in the 1920s, SIX per cent above pre-crash again in the early 1930s, SEVEN per cent above pre-crash in the early 1970s, and nearly 10 PER CENT above pre-crash in the 1990s.” (Caps and italics mine)

“Come on, at this stage 0.7 per cent is to be apologised for – both historically and in comparison with other other economies emerging from recession this time round – Britain still three per cent down, but France one per cent down, Germany two per cent up, the US four per cent up and Canada six per cent up.”

The above stories emerged over the past couple of days. Look back over the rest of August and we have:

  • The revelation that the upcoming Lobbying Bill will do nothing to prevent professional lobbyists from influencing Parliament unduly, but will attack your right to campaign politically in “an outrageous attack on freedom of speech”.
  • The revelation that a ‘top ten’ list of benefit fraudsters, reported by right-wing newspapers, does not exist.
  • Information that the government may be corruptly supporting fracking because several of its members have stakes in fracking firms.
  • Home Office vans stirring up racism in London.
  • Conservative plans to abolish the human rights of everybody in the UK, in order to inflict a dangerous and exploitative regime on working people that will amount to slavery.
  • The revelation that recent attacks on the NHS for causing needless deaths have been blown out of proportion in order to make public opinion more receptive to further privatisation.
  • The revelation that the DWP is spending £1.3 million on extra staff who have been calculating the government’s flagship benefits cap – perhaps its only popular policy – because the computer system needed to do the job has not yet been built. Ministers had no intention of admitting this and the information only became public after it was discovered by somebody else.
  • And then there’s the fact that the fundamental claim of the Coalition government – that the financial crisis of five years ago happened because Labour overspent massively and mishandled the economy – was absolute and total groundless fabrication. Labour in fact handled the economy responsibly, even when the financial crisis hit.

That has to total more than 10 ways in which Labour could undermine the Coalition. All Mr Miliband has to do is open his mouth and tell people about them in ways that will be reported by the media.

And on that subject: If and when he does, and it is reported by the BBC, we can all be certain that right-wing commentators will claim that this is because the BBC is full of pinko left-wingers who support Labour. Let’s put that myth to rest as well.

A lecturer at Cardiff University has checked the facts and found that the BBC has a broadly right-wing bias. The study showed that the government of the day generally gets more airtime than anyone else (natural considering it is making policy and actually carrying out the business of government) but in reporting of immigration, the EU and religion, in 2007 Gordon Brown’s appearances on the BBC outnumbered David Cameron’s by less than two to one, while in 2012, Cameron’s outnumbered Ed Miliband’s by around four to one. The same ratios occurred for other prominent members of each party. When reporting of all topics is taken into account, Conservative politicians were featured more than 50 per cent more often than those from Labour in both 2007 AND 2012.

Going into the autumn Parliamentary session, Ed Miliband has a strong hand to play – if he has the stomach for it. And if any of the media try to suppress his arguments, he can just point to the evidence of right-wing bias and tell them they need to clean up their act just as much as the Coalition.