Tag Archives: rip-off

Mhairi Black rips off Vox Political? Where do I send the bill!

Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).

Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).

We’re told that Mhairi Black, the youngest new MP in Parliament at the age of 20, was still in college when she beat Labour’s Douglas Alexander in the General Election. Was she studying plagiarism?

Take a look at the following part of her maiden speech, made earlier today (Tuesday) and quoted in The Independent:

“After hearing the Labour leader’s intentions to support the changes to tax credits that the Chancellor has put forward, I must make this plea through the words of one of your own, and of a personal hero of mine.

“Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and signposts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they have to compromise.

“Then, there are signposts – signposts that stand true, and tall, and principles. They point in a direction and they say ‘this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why’.

“Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics are signposts.”

Now read this Vox Political article from yesterday, Labour is a ‘headless chicken’ over tax credits.

This Blog’s piece relies heavily on Tony Benn’s ‘weathercocks and signposts’ analogy to make its point about the interim Labour leader’s attitude to the proposed cut in tax credits. While Mhairi Black’s words weren’t exactly the same, it wouldn’t take a genius to read this piece and – if you’re an admirer of the great man, put together something similar using his words.

Is it really feasible that she could have come to this choice of material, in this context, independently? Nobody else has.

Such similarity – in subject matter, tone, and the material quoted – suggests a rip-off. If this is the case, Mhairi Black should be lucky to get off with a stern warning.

Instead she’s the toast of Twitter!

How disappointing.

Of course, we’ll never know if she didn’t write her speech independently. If this is the case, she’s hardly going to admit it – and This Writer isn’t going to take any further action because it wouldn’t be worth it.

But This Blog is part of my livelihood and if it seems to me that someone is harming that livelihood, then I’ll call “foul” on it.

As for you Mhairi Black – if you did rip off This Blog, shame on you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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The hate-mongers profiting from Remembrance Day

‘Pound-shop fascists’ Britain First have been raising funds for their hate-filled, xenophobic cause by selling overpriced Remembrance memorabilia – imported from China.

The Daily Telegraph has reported Britain First’s marketing strategy, which uses that symbol of Remembrance, the poppy.

So poppy-themed merchandise has proliferated over Britain First’s merchandising wing, Lionheart GB, with remembrance pin badges selling for around £5 a time, as you can see from this image:

141109britain-first-sales

[Image: Daily Telegraph.]

But these products are being bought from foreign (Chinese, in the example you’ll see) manufacturers at a tiny fraction of the selling price. Profit on the ‘White Cross Poppy Lapel badge’, for example, is around £4.80. Here’s the proof:

141109poppy-origin

It must be particularly galling for Britain First’s supporters to find out that a group spreading hatred against the foreigners is cynically using foreign-made goods to fleece its own supporters of their hard-earned cash.

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The Tories have run out of momentum, ideas and even arguments

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN'T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN’T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Dear old Fraser Nelson has been trying to generate some momentum against Ed Miliband’s plans for a Labour government.

But, bless ‘im, not only did he hit the nail on the head when he wrote (in The Spectator), “Tories seem to have lost interest in ideas”, he might just as well have been talking about the Tory press because – other than the parts in which he praises Miliband for his political acumen and perception, Fraser has nothing new to say at all.

“Why, if he is such a joke, has Labour led in the opinion polls for three years solidly? And why has he been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election for even longer?” These are the questions Fraser asks, and then goes on to answer in the most glowing terms possible.

“His agenda is clear, radical, populist and … popular. His speeches are intellectually coherent, and clearly address the new problems of inequality,” writes Fraser.

“His analysis is potent because he correctly identifies the problem. There is [a] major problem with the recovery, he says, in that the spoils are going to the richest, and it’s time to act… George Osborne does not talk about this. He prefers to avoid the wider issue of inequality. This leaves one of the most interesting debates of our times entirely open to Miliband.”

All of the above is a gift to the Labour leadership. Fraser has scored a huge own-goal by admitting the Labour leader – far from being “a joke”, has correctly identified the problem and can say what he likes because the Tories won’t even discuss it!

Worse still (for Fraser), he seems to think that telling us Ed Miliband is mining Labour’s past policies to get future success will put us off.

Hasn’t anybody told Fraser – yet – that it is current neoliberal policies, as practised by both Labour and the Tories, that caused the crash of 2007 onwards? With that as our context, why not go back and resurrect policies that offer a plausible alternative?

As a Conservative, Fraser should appreciate the irony that it is Labour who are now looking at the past to create the future.

“The philosophical underpinning is rehabilitated: that the free enterprise system does not work, and should be put under greater government control,” writes Fraser. “That companies, bankers and markets have buggered up Britain — and it’s time for people, through Big Government, to fight back.” Who could argue with that?

Then Fraser goes into some of those policies, like the plan to revive the 50 per cent tax rate. “But Miliband isn’t taxing for revenue. He’s taxing for the applause of the electorate and he calculates that the more he beats up on bankers and the rich, the louder the masses will cheer.” The answer to that is yes! What’s wrong with that? The Coalition came into office on a ticket that said bankers would pay for the damage they caused, and yet bankers have been among the principal beneficiaries of the ongoing raid on the public finances that the Coalition calls its “long-term economic plan”. In the face of dishonesty on that scale, Fraser should be more surprised that the North hasn’t invaded the Square Mile and strung anybody in a suit up on a lamppost – yet.

Next up, Fraser tries to attack Miliband’s proposed revival of a Kinnock plan for a state-run ‘British Investment Bank’ and two new high street bank chains. To this writer, the prospect of two new, state-run and regulated, banks is a brilliant idea! No more rip-off charges for services that should be free! Investment in growth, rather than short-term profit! And all run the way banks should be run – prudently and with the interests of the customer – rather than the shareholder – at heart. How can Fraser (bless ‘im) argue with that?

Argue he does. He writes: “As Simon Walker, head of the Institute of Directors, put it: ‘The last time the government told a bank what to do, Lloyds was ordered to sell branches to the Co-op’s Reverend Flowers. And we all know how that ended.’ Wrong. European regulators ordered the government (then principle shareholder in Lloyds) to sell the branches, and it happened on the Coalition government’s watch. In fact, George Osborne welcomed the deal. That’s an argument against Conservative mismanagement.

Fraser goes on to claim that Miliband doesn’t care how his bank project will work out – he just wants it done. He’s on an ideological crusade. Again, this provokes comparisons with the Tories that are (for the Tories) extremely uncomfortable. The Tories (and their little yellow Tory Democrat friends) have spent the last four years on an ideological crusade that has robbed the poorest people in the UK of almost everything they have, and are now starting to attack people who are better off (but still not posh enough) – they can hardly criticise Labour for having an ideology of its own.

The line about green policies which cost nine jobs for every four created – in Spain – is risible. Fraser has chosen a country where green policies have not worked well. How are they managing in Scandinavia?

Fraser says Labour’s energy price freeze “magically” makes good a 1983 pledge for everyone to afford adequate heat and light at home – without commenting on the fact that energy companies have been ripping us all off for many years and failing to invest in the future of power generation; they are an example of the worst kind of industrial privatisation.

Fraser says Labour has revived a 1983 demand for “a supply of appropriately qualified teachers” as though that is a bad idea (it isn’t. Bringing in unqualified people to act as teachers in Michael Gove’s silly ‘free schools’ sandpit was the bad idea). Note he says Labour wants “union-approved” qualified teachers – depending on mention of the unions to get a knee-jerk reaction from his readers, no doubt.

Fraser says Miliband attacks “predator” companies – moneylenders who offer short-term loans; people who make fixed-odds betting machines; landowners who stand accused of hoarding and thwarting housebuilding. “When Miliband talks about the future, he says very little about what he’d do with government. He talks about what he’d do to British business. All this amounts to a blitz of regulation, edicts and interference,” he writes.

This is to suggest that “regulation” is a dirty word – a synonym for “interference”. Let’s help Fraser out by suggesting a word he can use instead of “regulation” or “interference”.

That word is “help” – and it exemplifies what regulation is, in fact, about – helping companies to provide the best service possible, with the least possible corruption or profiteering, to ensure that customers get what they want and are happy to come back – boosting prosperity for everybody.

Substitute that word for the others and Fraser’s remaining rhetoric looks very different:

“All this amounts to a blitz of help” evokes the response, about time too!

“[Tristram] Hunt does not pretend that help at this level is being attempted in any free country” begs the question, why not?

While Fraser may have set out to write an assassination piece on Ed Miliband’s Labour, there can be no doubt that he ended up doing the exact opposite. It wasn’t his intention – look at his final few lines: “Miliband is bold enough to think that, in a country midway through the worst recovery in history, there may be a market for all this now. And most terrifyingly of all, he might be right.”

This botched attempt at scaremongering only exposes right-wing ideology for what it is: Out-argued, outclassed and badly out-of-step with the thoughts of the British people.

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The benefit debate is a diversion – that’s why it will go on and on

140218benefitstreet

How many of you tuned into the last episode of Benefits Street on Channel 4, and stayed on for the debate that followed?

Quite a few, I reckon.

They were worth watching, but the feeling that was left with this viewer (and I’ve been reviewing television for 20 years or more) is that we are talking ourselves around in circles – led by politicians with a vested interest in perpetuating the discussion.

They don’t want a solution. They want us to keep going over the same ground – which they have laid out for us with very specific limits – and they want to concentrate our anger about this issue so that we blame, not the people responsible – the tax dodgers who put money into tax havens that could be invested in British industry, the private landlords and low-paying bosses who are subsidised by the benefit system and the bankers who caused the economic crisis a few years ago – but the people who have been forced onto benefits through no fault of their own and are being persecuted for it by a punitive system that penalises them for failing to find jobs that really do not exist.

Look at the way David Cameron leapt forward with fistfuls of cash to pay for flood relief when Tory heartlands were affected, saying that money was no object and Britain is a rich country. We’re rich enough to look after the playing fields of Eton, but not our poorest citizens, according to his mentality. Property is worth more to him than people.

Why? Because the people who send their children to Eton are the people Cameron hopes will elect him (he can’t be re-elected; he didn’t win the 2010 election) in 2015. The unemployed are less likely to vote for him – in fact they are less likely to vote at all. It seems there is something about being rejected by society that instils a sense of listlessness and despair in the human psyche. People ask themselves: Why bother?

There are solutions, but it is cause for concern that we are not hearing about them from our MPs and politicians. Journalist Owen Jones came out with the clearest plan during the debate on Channel 4 last night, and it is well worth quoting in full.

He said: “Firstly let’s make it clear – work does not pay in this country. We hear that as a mantra, when most people in poverty get up in the morning and earn that poverty.

“We’re talking about people milking the system. Let’s talk about the low-paying bosses who are being subsidised with in-work benefits because, in the seventh-richest country on Earth, they won’t pay.

“If we’re talking about getting people into jobs I actually think we need to talk about solutions here. One in six workers in the last two years have claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance at some point; that’s a lack of security.

“What we need firstly is a massive house-building programme that would reduce the amount spent on Housing Benefit which, by the way, is not going into the pockets of these tenants – it’s lining the pockets of private landlords charging rip-off rents. If we build housing, it would create jobs and we would stimulate the economy as well.

“It goes the same with the need for an industrial strategy because what successive governments have done, and it started in the eighties, is let the secure jobs go to rot, if you like. Now, other countries like Germany, what they’ve done is had an industrial strategy. Instead of saying, ‘Hands off, let the market decide,’ they’ve said, ‘Actually we want to create jobs in renewable energy.’ Now we’ve just seen the floods; we’re going to have a lot more extreme weather, so let’s have an industrial strategy to go and create renewable energy jobs, giving people secure, dignified jobs, taking on the environmental crisis.

“These are solutions… We’ve got to change the debate we have at the moment where the real villains of the piece, like the tax dodgers who get away with not paying £25 billion a year in tax, like the private landlords and the low-paying bosses milking our welfare state, like the bankers who caused the economic disaster – they get away with it, but all we ever hear about is kicking people at the bottom.”

Absolutely right. And that’s all we’ll hear about it for the foreseeable future, as well. We won’t hear about returning to a full-employment society (which is perfectly possible), because that means the greedy rich will have less money for themselves in the short term.

In the long term, ensuring that there are properly-paid jobs for the most people, so they do not have to claim benefits, means that there is more money moving around the economy – and money makes money. The parasites – who are making a fortune unsustainably by working people hard and paying them poverty rations – would be just as rich in the long run, but they cannot bear to consider the possibility.

One has to consider whether they want to force people into poverty, just to make their own wealth seem more remarkable – the poverty trap as ego-trip, if you like.

But we won’t hear about that because it is politically inflammatory. Far better to set the lower classes against each other, laying blame on each other for problems that are caused by different people entirely – and laugh all the way to the offshore bank.

If I had to describe Britain to a foreigner, I would ask them to imagine a person being robbed outside a public lavatory, by the mayor of his town, while council workers started demolishing the building; the rich are destroying our public services and mugging us at the same time.

Very soon, the same people who are mugging you will be asking for your vote…

… while blaming you for problems they have done nothing to solve.

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