Tag Archives: sell-off

Eurostar sell-off: Isn’t this interesting?

Just seen on Twitter:
150304eurostar
It seems the Conservatives just can’t resist getting a last few bits of corruption under their belts before the end.

If Labour gets into office, Ed Miliband should declare such contracts void on the basis that they may have been made corruptly.

What do you think?

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Despite two democratic defeats, the Tories are STILL privatising our forests

Now imagine it filled with holiday cabins and a sewage treatment plant.

Now imagine it filled with holiday cabins and a sewage treatment plant.

Do you remember when the Conservative-led Coalition government relented on its plan to sell off our public forests into private ownership? It was only last November.

Here’s how Vox Political reported it. The article said the then-Infrastructure Bill would give Government agencies carte blanche to hand over any public land – including countryside and forests – to private developers.

But the article said campaigning organisation 38 Degrees had fought off this underhanded plan by the government: “They U-turned and made changes which will mean our forests are protected – in law.”

This was the second attempt by the government to sell off our forests. The first was abandoned in 2011.

Now it seems the Tories want to make it third time lucky.

The Guardian is reporting that there are plans to build luxury holiday cabins, majority-owned by venture capitalists, in public forests, putting protected wildlife and their habitats at risk.

Mark Avery writes: “One of my local woods, Fineshade wood in east Northamptonshire, is owned by me, and you, and every other taxpayer, as it is owned by the Forestry Commission (FC), a non-ministerial government department.

“Despite its wildlife, landscape and wider social value, the FC believes that Fineshade wood is the right place to plonk down 70 luxury holiday cabins, extra roads, and a sewage treatment plant. These would be built and managed by Forest Holidays, a company largely owned by venture capitalists, Lloyds Development Capital, in which the FC (ie you and me) has a small and diminishing holding. The development will be considered by East Northants Council on Wednesday evening.”

Didn’t we all decide, democratically, that this privatisation of our public forests should not happen?

But here it is.

And only days after we heard the Coalition in the House of Lords had voted to overturn regulations that would keep our drinking water safe from the effects of fracking. Greedy little piggies.

Is it time for another 38 Degrees petition? Or have the architects of this betrayal ensured that it is already too late?

Whatever happens, this is further proof that the Tories and the Liberal Democrats don’t believe in democracy.

They knew that the public wanted these forests to be safeguarded forever, but they are allowing them to be sold into private hands anyway.

Why, then, do they want us to – democratically – elect them back into Parliament?

Since they do not believe in democracy, they should not be part of it.

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Victory claimed in battle to save our forests

forest
Campaigning group 38 Degrees is claiming victory in the battle to save public land – including countryside and forests – from being handed over to private developers.
Vox Political quoted a report by blogger Tom Pride last month, which stated: “An innocuous sounding bit of legislation called the Infrastructure Bill is making its way through parliament with hardly a peep of protest from …. well, just about anyone really.

“Which is strange because the bill is about to give Government agencies carte blanche to hand over any public land – including countryside and forests – to private developers.”

Fortunately 38 Degrees leapt into action and a petition supporting the campaign to save our forests was signed more than 150,000 times within 24 hours.

In a statement on Facebook yesterday evening, the organisation told us: “The government was trying to sneak through plans which would have paved the way for our forests to be sold off. But at the very last minute, they backed down. They U-turned and made changes which will mean our forests are protected – in law. And together we played a huge part in that.

“For months, forest campaigners have been fighting for this. In the last 24 hours, over 150,000 of us signed a petition backing them. And we won.

“This latest petition has been the fastest growing 38 Degrees’ history. Today proves we’re still ready – ready to stand up to protect our forests. And that by working together we can It also proves how much power we have together.”

Now if only all those people would sign Vox Political‘s petition against George Osborne’s misleading ‘personal tax summaries’

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How does privatising Eurostar make economic sense when we can use it to cut our debts?

Take a look at this infographic from Another Angry Voice:

Osborne Eurostar Privatisation AAV1

He’s absolutely correct, of course. To hammer the point home, the Angry Yorkshireman has provided us with the following – visual – indication of just what a small drop in an extremely deep ocean this money would be:

Osborne Eurostar AAV2

The real answer wouldn’t be clear to a privateer like Osborne, which is why he should go back to folding towels.

Eurostar must remain a public asset!

When the UK government has a massive debt to pay off, the idea of selling a profit-making enterprise indicates stupidity of earth-shaking proportions!

You keep Eurostar and use its profits to pay off your debts!

While you’re at it, there are a few other profitable concerns you should be nationalising, too.

Osborne is a child, trying to do a grown-up’s job.

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Cameron’s crackdown on immigrant benefits is just another grubby con

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog - http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ - which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK's real problems.]

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog – http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ – which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK’s real problems.]

The UK is to cut the amount of time EU migrants without realistic job prospects can claim benefits from six to three months, according to David Cameron – who seems desperate to take attention away from Andy Burnham’s speech today on the Coalition’s unwanted privatisation of the National Health Service.

According to the BBC, Cameron said the “magnetic pull” of UK benefits needed addressing to attract people for the right reasons.

But the announcement seems to be deliberately confusing.

It seems this restriction will only apply to people born abroad who have had a job in this country and then lost it. They are the only migrant group currently allowed to claim JSA for six months before the benefit is cut off “unless they [have] very clear job prospects”, as Cameron put it in the BBC article.

EU migrants who were claiming benefits in their own countries must fill in an E303 form in order to receive benefits at the destination country – which are issued at the same rates as in their country of origin for a total of three months only. Failure to find employment in that time means the loss of the benefit or a return to the country of origin.

The BBC article is vague about this; it’s as if Auntie – and Cameron – are trying to hoodwink you (shurely shome mishtake? – Ed) into thinking he is restricting benefits for people who come here looking for work, which is something he cannot do.

Perhaps Cameron is trying to avoid the embarrassment created by his last attempt to claim he was doing something about immigration; he announced five proposals, one of which related to all employers (quadrupling fines for those that do not pay the minimum wage), while the other four were already part of the law of this land.

That little Con was exposed very quickly, on this blog and others.

Note also that he is still trying to say people are coming here from abroad in order to claim our benefits.

That is a lie.

From Vox Political‘s article last year: “UK citizens are a greater drain on the state than immigrants from Europe. Between 1995 and 2011 EEA immigrants paid in 4 per cent more than they took out, whereas native-born Brits only paid in 93 per cent of what they received. Between 2001 and 2011 recent EEA immigrants contributed 34 per cent more than they took out, a net contribution of £22bn.”

Considering the timing of this announcement, it seems likely that Cameron wanted something to take attention away from Andy Burnham’s speech on the Coalition’s dirty little backroom deals to privatise more of the NHS, reported on this blog earlier today.

He must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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Give the public a say before selling off the NHS, demands Burnham

torynhsposter

Scheming, lice-ridden vermin: All the airbrushing in the world could not erase the brutal, calculating dishonesty of the Conservative 2010 election poster.

This guy has been impressive from the get-go: Today (Tuesday) Andy Burnham will call on the Coalition to put its plans for further NHS privatisation on hold until there is clear evidence that the public wants the health service to be sold off.

The speech in Manchester is being timed to take place before the Conservative-led government signs a series of new NHS contracts that will – underhandedly – tie the hands of a future government.

Sly little devils, aren’t they?

The British public has never given its consent for far-reaching and forced privatisation of services – and that’s what Mr Burnham will be saying.

He will point out that the forced privatisation of the NHS is entering new territory and becoming harder to reverse: Contracts are being signed that will run throughout the next Parliament and beyond, tying the hands of the next government in a crucial area of public policy.

Not only is this unacceptable to Labour, but it has never been accepted by the public, and Mr Burnham will say that comedy Prime Minister David Cameron needs to be reminded that the NHS does not belong to him but to the British people – and he never received our permission to put it up for sale.

He will remind everybody that Cameron was dishonest about his privatisation plans before the last election. Cameron said there would be “no top-down reorganisation”.

If he wants to continue to force privatisation through, he should seek the consent of the public at the 2015 Election, Mr Burnham will say.

And he will contrast the increasingly fragmented and privatised travesty that Cameron wants to force on you – where service has become a postcode lottery dependent on the cost-effectiveness of providing certain forms of healthcare in your locality – with a public, integrated NHS as Labour intends to re-form it.

It was confirmed last week that NHS spending on private-sector and other providers has exceeded £10 billion for the first time.

“For all its faults, it is a service that is based on people not profits,” Mr Burnham will say. “That principle sets our health service apart and was famously celebrated two years ago at the Opening Ceremony of our Olympic Games.

“When his reorganisation hit trouble and was paused, David Cameron explicitly promised that it would not lead to more forced privatisation of services. But… on his watch, NHS privatisation is being forced through at pace and scale.

“Commissioners have been ordered to put all services out to the market.

“NHS spending on private and other providers has gone through the £10 billion barrier for the first time.

When did the British public ever give their consent for this?

“It is indefensible for the character of the country’s most valued institution to be changed in this way without the public being given a say.”

Among the long-lasting agreements due to be signed by the Coalition in a bid to tie the next government into its privatisation of services are two contracts for cancer care in Staffordshire lasting no less than 10 years and worth a massive £1.2 billion; a five-year contract worth £800 million for the care of older people in Cambridge; and a contract in Oxford and Milton Keynes set to begin a month before the General Election for medical staffing.

The last of these is using a ‘reverse auction’ process where the lowest bidder wins, confirming fears of a ‘race to the bottom’ culture and contradicting claims from the Government of no competition on price in the NHS.

Once again Labour shows us that there is no depth to which the Cameron administration will not stoop. This time they are using the summer Parliamentary recess to sign contracts intended to prevent any future government from restoring our health service and reversing the appalling damage they have done so that they and their friends can profit from the suffering and sickness of the poor.

They could not do more damage if they were a filthy, sickening, scheming plague of lice-ridden vermin; in fact, that is exactly what they resemble.

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How to regain your reputation with one simple sentence

Clint Eastwood. What a guy.

You may recall a while ago I was one of the many who took issue with Mr Eastwood for his bizarre interview with a chair during a Republican convention in the United States. I wrote an article asking why celebrities have to belittle themselves by declaring their support for political parties, and basically said that it can’t do their reputation any good at all.

Well, it seems I misjudged the great man.

Collared by an interviewer who demanded to know what possessed him, Eastwood’s response was the stuff of legends. “If they’re stupid enough to ask me to a political convention,” he said, “they have to take whatever they get.”

Genius.

One person for whom I doubt this response would work is David Cameron, who was outed as a dunce on David Letterman’s US chat show last week.

It isn’t stupid to ask what “Magna Carta” means. After all, my next-door-neighbour’s four-year-old can work it out.

Perhaps Letterman could have started him off with something easier, though – like maybe, when his party didn’t win the election and never stated that it planned to do so, why has he sold off so much of the NHS in England to private companies, and why does he have plans to sell off so much more of it?

The old argument that it creates more choice is clearly nonsense because people were, reasonably, expecting the choice to be theirs. Instead, they have been presented with the company that has bought the contract and told, “This is your choice of NHS supplier. Don’t catch anything too serious or you’ll be paying it off for the rest of your life.”

Or, in the words of an iconic Eastwood character: “Do you feel lucky?”

Why the Tory-led debt crisis has worsened

Never mind the playing field sell-offs for a moment; they’re only a small part of the economic mess over which the UK’s Conservative-led government is presiding.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that in July the government borrowed £3.4 billion more than on the same month last year. Net borrowing was £557 million (according to The Guardian), but the government made a surplus this time last year, and the figures were a serious disappointment for economic analysts, who had been predicting another surplus of about £2.5 billion.

So far this year, public sector net borrowing – excluding banking interventions and a one-off boost from a transfer (some say theft) of Royal Mail pension assets to the Treasury – was £47.2 billion, up from £35.6 billion during the same period in 2011.

The Office for National Statistics said net debt was 65.7 per cent of GDP. The BBC said this amounted to £1.032 billion, but I think £1.032 trillion is nearer the mark.

The Treasury says disappointing Corporation Tax receipts are to blame, especially after the closure of the Elgin oil platform.

Some analysts say the government may now overshoot its target for reduced borrowing this year, of £120 billion, possibly by more than £35 billion (excluding the Royal Mail effect)

I say that the Coalition government’s economic mismanagement has reached new heights.

We know what’s happening: This government has left open tax loopholes – such as exempting profits earned in overseas subsidiaries from taxation – that have allowed corporations to sit on hundreds of billions of pounds in retained profits.

It abolished the bankers’ bonus tax, so the financiers who caused the mess are not only still paying themselves average salaries of £350,000, but also enjoying billions in bonuses.

It has abolished the 50p top tax rate – creating a tax break for the rich. Executive pay has risen by more than eight per cent this year.

The richest thousand people in Britain own 25 per cent of its wealth – £1.5 trillion.

At the same time, benefits have been slashed, leading to mass suicides and health-related deaths.

VAT has been increased, helping to stall the economy.

Inflation has risen.

Income tax and National Insurance have increased in real terms.

University tuition fees have been tripled, meaning students face years – perhaps decades – of work to pay off the loans they have to take out, simply to get an education.

Public sector pay has been frozen.

Tax avoidance is only seen as a problem if it’s done by a satirical comedian with a talent for humiliating the Coalition government.

And then there’s that massive Royal Mail pensions raid.

And we see that the government is borrowing more, due to a fall in corporation tax payments.

We know why it’s happening: The government wants to cut public services down to (if David Cameron has his way) nothing apart from the judiciary and security services. Everything else is to be sold off to private corporations in order to fleece the general public of whatever they have left – wages, benefits, savings.

Some people are saying that the Tory economic policy has failed. They say George Osborne, as Chancellor, set out an economic goal and a method for achieving it – only to find that his methods have made the problem far worse. They say that his stubbornness in pressing on, even after being told his plan is a disaster, makes him the very definition of a failure.

Silly, silly people.

They forget how much the Conservatives love the private sector and hate public services. Their instinct is to ensure that large corporations (the kind that are happy to give funds to the Tories) have as much opportunity to make as much money as possible. They don’t want to balance the nation’s account books; that would mean taxing the rich and the corporations – in essence, biting the hands that feed them.

As long as the UK is in the red, they’ll have a perfect excuse to do as much damage to public services – and the vast majority of the population that relies on them – as they possibly can.

Let’s go back to the playing fields now. The decision to spite the legacy of the Olympic games by selling off 31 of these fields – 10 more than the Department for Education had previously admitted – was a gift on a day when the economy was shown to be utterly unfit while in Tory hands. They provide so many opportunities for clever wordplay, don’t they?

For example, I could say that, instead of levelling the playing field (in terms of the deficit and national borrowing) the Tories have made it steeper – possibly to match the slope at sold-off Woodhouse Middle School in Staffordshire.

But it would be more accurate to say that these Conservative Party hooligans have got onto the pitch – and spoiled it for everyone else.