The United States House of Wall Street.

November 25, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Andrés Nieto Porras.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Andrés Nieto Porras.

An interesting vote took place in the House of Representatives at the beginning of this month. A vote completely overshadowed by constant Republican tantrums over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. A vote that has potentially serious consequences in the future.

The Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) included Section 716, which ensured that banks insured Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, move their ‘swaps’ (a certain derivative) into non-bank arms of the business that aren’t insured by FDIC; not eligible for bail out funds. It ensured protection for the consumer’s savings, and ensured protection for the taxpayer, by enforcing banks to place their more risky derivative deals outside of the realm of Federal assistance.

At the end of October 2013, House Resolution 992 passed the House by 292 votes to 122. The Bill – H.R.992 – or The “Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act” – severely limits the reach of Section 716 of Dodd-Frank, ultimately striking down a key regulation that Dodd-Frank implemented back in 2010. The implication, simply put, is that incredibly risky Wall Street behaviour surrounding the dealing of derivatives could be backed by a taxpayer funded bailout – for exchanges that are not at all related to banking – if it all goes wrong again.

Despite the Treasury raising concerns about striking down such an important provision, the House – including many Democrats – voted to pass H.R.922. But why? What is the motivation? Well, one only has to look at the lobbying on this Bill to understand just how this may have come about.

Contributions to House members from interests groups who expressively support H.R.992 are rather eye watering. On the list of top contributions to House Members, Jim Himes (D-CT4) – a co-sponsor of the Bill – received $437,179 from special interests in favour. More than any other Democrat in the House. The second ranking figure in the Democrat House Leadership chain of command, Steny Hoyer (D-MD5) received $266,510 from Wall Street supporters of the Bill. The most expensive ‘Yes’ vote for Wall Street comes to us via Eric Cantor (R-VA7), who received $525,400. The main sponsor of the Bill Randy Hultgren (R-Ill) received more contributions from the Securities and Investment industry than any other industry, at $136,500.

In all, special interests supporting H.R.992 contributed 5.9 times more to House members than those groups that opposed it. Wall Street has been staggeringly influential in ensuring regulations from 2010 are struck down. Citigroup were among the contributors. Citigroup also wrote ‘recommendations’ that appeared to be reflected almost word for word in the final draft of H.R.992. The Citigroup recommendations reads:

(d) Only bona fide hedging and traditional bank activities permitted. The prohibition in subsection (a) shall apply to any covered depository institution unless the covered depository institution limits its swap or security based swap activities to:
(1) Hedging and other similar risk mitigating activities directly related to the covered depository institution’s activities.
(2) Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps that are structured finance swaps, unless–
(i) such structured finance swap is undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes; or
(ii) each asset-backed security underlying such structured finance is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions.

– Unsurprisingly, given just how much money Wall Street has spent buying its Congressional support for the Bill, H.R.992 reads:

(A) Hedging and other similar risk mitigation activities.
Hedging and other similar risk mitigating activities directly related to the covered depository institution’s activities.
(B) Non-structured finance swap activities.–
Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps other than a structured finance swap.
(C) Certain structured finance swap activities.
Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps that are structured finance swaps, if–
(i) such structured finance swaps are undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes; or
(ii) each asset-backed security underlying such structured finance swaps is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions.

– Practically word for word. In fact, according to the New York Times, 70 of the 85 lines in the Bill were penned by Citigroup. A Bill that deregulates the risky aspects of the financial industry – and spreads the risk of failure and the obscene costs of such, to the taxpayer if it all collapses again – was written by the financial industry. Welcome to the House of Wall Street.

The Bill passed the House, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs at the end of October. It is unlikely to pass the Senate, though if somehow it does, it is unlikely to be signed by the President. The White House has already registered its opposition to the Bill, though stopping short of threatening a veto. It might be worth noting that Jack Lew – current Treasury Secretary – worked as Citigroup’s Chief Operating Officer between 2006 and 2008, overseeing the Alternative Investments unit that invested in a hedge fund that had bet on the housing market to collapse.

The US is still recovering from the destruction wrought by, among others; Citigroup. In 2013, Citigroup and Wall Street have successfully managed to lobby Congress into ensuring that incredibly risky derivatives deals – that helped to cause the problems in the first place – are now fully exposed to a risk of a future bailout. This, despite the Federal Reserve reporting in 2012 that Citigroup was one of four financial institutions to fail its ‘stress test’; a test of the institutions ability to withstand another crisis like that of 2008. Also in 2012, Citigroup had to settle an investor lawsuit for $25,000,000 for allegedly misleading investors over the nature of its mortgage-backed securities. Why on earth is this institution allowed anywhere near the strings of government, to shape policy that has such far reaching implications?

Under such circumstances, Citigroup’s lobbyists must be in for a huge Christmas bonus. They’ve certainly earned it.


“The role of oxygen atoms in supply side economics”

October 16, 2012

The title of this blog is meaningless. It was composed by cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett to highlight scientific reductionism; the abandonment of theory, laws, interactions, and deeper understanding of the connections between chemistry, physics, and biology and even social sciences in an attempt to unify them all into a category, which almost always leads to the idea of social Darwinism. What Dennett is saying, is that to break down theories to their bare minimum, and then to attach them to other broken down bare minimum theories in an attempt to unify them, is meaningless at best, and very dangerous at worst.

Recently, the musician Frank Turner revealed that whilst his fans quite enjoy his apparently left leaning political ideals – he is actually a Libertarian. He accuses people of not understanding politics, if they believe that from this, he is a Republican/Tory. He also claims that Fascism, is a Left wing phenomena. Here:

“To start with, most people don’t seem to understand what the difference between left and right is. For example, the BNP are a hard left party.”

– For those of you who don’t know, the BNP (British National Party) is a fascist political party based on race. It has ties to neo-nazi groups, and its leader Nick Griffin once said:

Without the White race, nothing matters. Other right-wing parties believe that the answer to the race question is integration and a futile attempt to create ‘Black Britons’, while we affirm that non-Whites have no place here at all and will not rest until every last one has left our land.”

– He also denies the holocaust happened, believes that there is a Jewish conspiracy to destroy White Europeans, and is good friends with David Duke. For all intents and purposes, the BNP is a neo-nazi. Fascist, at the very least. Which suggests that Frank Turner believes that Fascism is a product of the Left.

This idea – that ‘National Socialism’ or Fascism are products of the Left – is not new. It represents a deeply reductionist understanding of the political spectrum, dismissing all theory and motive, and ending up with ‘well the Nazi’s controlled the State centrally. And enacted some social protections. As did Communist regimes. Therefore, the Nazi’s are a left wing party‘. It is a very very weak understanding of the difference between Right and Left. For the record, I do not place Fascism on the far right. I think the ‘right’ has changed incalculably over the years. And that both Right and Left are almost entirely different to their early 20th century counterparts. As noted in my previous article, the conservatism of Disraeli is similar to the social democratic principles of a politician like Barack Obama today; of which most of those on the right would consider ‘socialist’, whilst 100 years ago, would certainly not have been. The right has (for the sake of argument, though this assertion is debatable also) become a beacon of free market ideals, mixed with a dose of patriotism/nationalism. In that sense, it is not libertarian, as it seeks to strengthen national borders, rather than diminish them. Libertarianism is specifically the free, unhindered movement of labour, capital and goods. It recognises no national borders.

It is fair to say that Fascism and Socialism may have traits in common; central economic planning for example. But, then, so does Libertarianism and Communism; no government, free association, no borders. But the motives and the differences in organisation are enough to render them entirely at odds. The same is true of Fascism and the Far Left.

Turner seems to be suggesting that central economic planning, means far left. Theory, motive, and overriding political aims are ignored entirely. It is supremely reductionist and ignorant. The blurred lines between left and right when it comes to totalitarian dictatorships are often exploited by both sides. Ignore theory, and motive for just a second, and you can come up with all sorts of comparisons.
We can say that Hitler centralised power, providing a dictatorship of the German people. Marxist-Leninism calls for a similar ruler and control over the economy.
We could say that the Nazi’s use of the term ‘work shy’, followed by punishment for refusing jobs, is eerily similar to right winged austerity rhetoric coming out of the Republican/Tory camp.
We could also point out that Thatcher took on, and crushed the power of the trade unions in the 1980s, as did Reagan. Similarly, after coming to power Hitler banned trade unionism entirely.
Both comparisons miss the point; the reason Fascism differs entirely from the far left, is because it bases its entire being, its essence on a community based on race/nationality. The driving force of history, to Fascists, is shared heritage that must be preserved and perpetuated. The central economy of Fascist States thus works to this end and nothing else. When Hitler replaced the trade union movement and imprisoned German socialist leaders in the mid-30s, he created a new movement in order to control the working classes. He called this the ‘German Labour Force’. The name is significant. Before this, the trade union movement and the German communist/socialist groups associated with it, were international in their scope. They supported their comrades around the World. There were not understood in terms of national borders. Suddenly, they became the ‘German’ labour force. Their whole point, was advancement of the nation state. Alongside this new movement cloaked in patriotism, was a list of ‘un-german activities’. This included striking. Anyone who turned down a job in both the public or private sector was named ‘work shy’ and imprisoned. 8.3% of the unemployed were conscripted. It is important to note that a Fascist State depends on the strength of its armed forces, this is Nationalism, not socialism. Here is a song sung by the new ‘German Labour Force’….

“We demand from ourselves service to the end, even when no eyes are upon us.
We know that we should love our Fatherland more than our own life.
We vow that no one shall outdo us in loyalty,
That our life shall be one great labour service for Germany.
So in this solemn hour we pray for blessing on the oath we take,
We thank thee, Fuhrer, that we have now seen thee,
Do thou behold us as thine own creation?
May our hearts ever beat with thy heart’s pulses, Our lives find inspiration in thy love,
Behold us here! Thy Germany are we.”

– This highlights, again, the difference between Fascism and the far left. The far left bases its existence on class. It stands to obliterate class, ending in a completely classless society. Class is the driving force. Race, nationality, religion, sexuality and most other social constructs are not important. This is in stark contrast to what we see in this song. The German Labour Force had a purpose. That purpose was the advancement of the nation. The line: “We know that we should love our Fatherland more than our own life” is the key to the difference between Fascism and the far-left. The far-left is more often than not, completely obliterated by Fascist forces. The Fascism of Hitler attempted to destroy the far-left…. the Fascism of Saddam attempted to destroy the far-left. Fascism cannot abide the far-left. The two are vehemently opposed.

The Nazi Charter of Labour does not grant total control over the means of production to the workers, as you would expect if the Nazi’s truly were a party of the far-left. Instead, it states that the ‘leader of the enterprise’ (also known as the employer:

“……..makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise.”

– This, along with the banning of trade unions, cut wages (from 20.4 to 19.5 cents an hour for skilled labour, and from 16.1 to 13 cents an hour for unskilled labour), the banning of strikes, the outlawing of collective bargaining, and the move to make the labour force a cog in the Nationalist machinery suggests unequivically that referring to the Nazi’s as a far-left party, could not be more ignorant of historical fact and the environment in which the left had to exist under a Nazi leadership.

Let us also not forget who supported, and who opposed Fascism. Communists and Socialists across the World opposed the Nazi’s. Between 1933 and 1939 150,000 Communists were imprisoned by the Nazis purely for being Far-left. A further 30,000 were executed. The oldest Communist party in Germany, the KDP started in 1919 (the biggest outside of Russia) was declared illegal by Hitler in 1933. All Communist publications were closed down. Other Socialist groups – The Baum Group, Red Orchestra, Home Front, the Uhrig Group – were routinely terrorised by the Nazis, imprisoned and executed. In 1944, there was a workers uprising in an attempt to inspire a socialist revolution, in which 200,000 workers were arrested. This isn’t far-left.
And yet, the support seemed to come not only from the Catholic Church, but also from big business. The Fascists in Spain were being aided by Ford and DuPont. Standard Oil also worked with Franco. US Steel and Alcoa supplied the Fascists with steel.
An exert from the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary in 1974 stated:

In Germany, for example, General Motors and Ford became an integral part of the Nazi war efforts. GM’s plants in Germany built thousands of bomber and jet fighter propulsion systems for the Luftwaffe at the same time that its American plants produced aircraft engines for the U.S. Army Air Corps….
Ford was also active in Nazi Germany’s prewar preparations. In 1938, for instance, it opened a truck assembly plant in Berlin whose “real purpose,” according to U.S. Army Intelligence, was producing “troop transport-type” vehicles for the Wehrmacht. That year Ford’s chief executive received the Nazi German Eagle (first class).
On the ground, GM and Ford subsidiaries built nearly 90 percent of the armored “mule” 3-ton half-trucks and more than 70 percent of the Reich’s medium and heavy-duty trucks. These vehicles, according to American intelligence reports, served as “the backbone of the German Army transportation system.”….
After the cessation of hostilities, GM and Ford demanded reparations from the U.S. Government for wartime damages sustained by their Axis facilities as a result of Allied bombing… Ford received a little less than $1 million, primarily as a result of damages sustained by its military truck complex at Cologne.

– Are we saying that GM, and Ford are also far-left? Seriously?

Glenn Beck once claimed that ‘social justice’ was a term used by both the left and the Nazis, in an attempt to draw links between the two. And yet, one of the main strands of Nazism; harsh restrictions on trade unionism was adopted by the American Right Wing of which Beck belongs. It is illegal in the US for unions to ask other unions to picket alongside them. In 2001 a contractor named Ruzicka Electric hired to build a student centre at Lindenwood University were picketed by the union representing their staff for paying too low wages. In support of the union, other unions working at Lindenwood picketed alongside them. The Eighth Court and Supreme Court ruled that:

The picketing will be unlawful if there is an expectation or a hope or a desire that employees of the secondary employer will be induced or encouraged to take concerted action to quit working behind the picket line…Ruzicka Electric presented evidence that Local 1 agents, acting as observers at the neutral gate, engaged in picketing activity, asking neutral employees to refuse to work. If believed, this evidence establishes Local 1 engaged in unlawful secondary activity.

– It is thus illegal to ‘expect’ or ‘hope’ that another union might picket alongside your union. If Beck was truly anti-Nazi, he would recognise that limits to unionism is not only undemocratic, it is totalitarian in principle.

Motive is the key.

Economic centralising is meaningless without a purpose. The purpose of the Fascist centralised state is perpetuation of the Nation based on perceived heritage – be it race, religion, or any other man-made social phenomena that they claim is a natural way to order society. All economic planning in a Fascist centralised economy is geared toward the advancement of the Nation. It is a war economy. By contrast Left wing economic centralisation does not hold the Nation, or race to be a great natural truth that must be protected and advanced. It works to create a more equal society based on wealth distribution. It is international in its approach to social relations, and has absolutely no regard for perceived social heritage.

The Nazi’s certainly pushed social policies, and abhorred Capitalism when it suited them (we can call this left wing, if we wish), but they also promoted Nationalistic principles (we can call this right wing, if we wish). We can find Left leaning policies and rhetoric coming out of Fascist States, we can just as easily find Right leaning policy and rhetoric coming out of Fascist States.

Turner, whilst insisting that it is the rest of the World that doesn’t particularly understand political spectrum, makes a hugely ironic mistake. In an interview with ‘Moon and Back music’, he says:

“I consider myself a libertarian”

And yet, in 2011, in an interview with ‘Huck Magazine’ he says:

“I’ve got no problem with using taxes to pay for essential things like defence or the basics of a healthcare system.”

– It is my understanding of Libertarianism, that they believe taxation to be evil. A Libertarian system would include no taxation whatsoever. No healthcare system. No publicly funded anything. Libertarianism calls for free association without state coercion. It is the belief that taxation is theft (seriously ridiculous) and all government should be voluntarily funded, rather than collectively (because collective = evil). It is based on the premise that all wealth is individually obtained, and that the owner of wealth has no duty toward the rest of society. It is the ultimate in Hobbesian hell. A Libertarian’s fundamental beliefs are that individuals should be free to acquire property, without any State coercion, and form voluntary associations paid for by the individuals within the group, if they wish. The moment you believe in a tax payer funded program of any sort, you are not a Libertarian. Frank Turner is not a Libertarian, if he believes in any sort of state funded ‘basics of a healthcare system’. He’s just a little more Right Winged than Thatcher.

Turner makes the very fundamental mistake that a lot of commentators make when they attempt to attribute labels to political ideas; they reduce the complexity of methods and motives and aims and the roles of institutions, down to their simplest explanations. They do this, because they fail to note that ideology is dogmatic; free from the context in which they are placed. Whether a country be rich, poor, racist, liberal, democratic or totalitarian…. to ideologues, it doesn’t matter. We see this in the way that Communism was forced upon a largely unprepared agricultural Russia in 1917. The Nazi’s were neither a party of the left, nor the right. They incorporated methods for both, their motives were strictly Nationalistic, their aims were oppressive if they came into conflict with anti-Nationalist forces. This is neither a doctrine permitted by Marxism, or promoted by Friedman-ite New Right. Whilst the far-left strives for human equality, Nazism strived for human inequality in which the group (white German’s in this case) are superior.

Frank Turner, does not understand the very basics of political thought.

During the Bush years, Keith Olberman of MSNBC called Bush a Fascist. During Obama’s Presidency, Fox News have attempted to draw links between Obama and Fascism. It is simply propaganda in a simplistic attempt to discredit the Right or the Left, using very loose comparisons lacking any sort of context, without much thought and absolutely no analysis, drawn from flawed reductionism.


The myth of the job creators

October 5, 2012

This is my second time in the US. I’m currently in a house in Michigan, reading a leaflet posted through the door from the Romney campaign. The right winged rhetoric is as poignant on every line of text as it has ever been. I’m not sure why we call it right winged. Prior to the Thatcherite revolution, the right were markedly more Keynesian than anything else. One nation conservatism was far closer to what Barack Obama is today, than the conservatism of Mitt Romney. Most one nation conservatives believed the rich had a moral duty to protect the poor. Disraeli passed a plethora of social reform; the Employers and Workmen Act made it possible for employees to sue their employers if the employer broke a contract. The Factory Act expanded regulation beyond anything seen before; it prevented children under 10 being employed, it set maximum working hours for women, and it set compulsory education for children up to 10 years old. The Public Health Act set minimum requirements for house building including running water and internal drainage. Disraeli was a Conservative Prime Minister. Can you imagine Mitt Romney proposing any sort of tough regulation on the extremities of Capitalism? In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; Disraeli was a terrible socialist. In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; every President pre-Reagan, was a terrible socialist.
The point being, Conservative governments have not always been addicted to horrendous free market anti-government dogma.

The leaflet posted through the door makes clear several times that Romney is committed to free market fundamentalism. His is simply an extension of new right thinking. He isn’t new, he isn’t presenting a credible plan for growth. He is rehashing the same tired old Friedman-ite economic philosophy that has dominated Western thought for the past thirty years, and has failed miserably every time. It fails, because it is ideology set apart from, and applied to a nation regardless of the contemporary economic or social context. We see the failure again in the UK. Since coming to power the epitome of new right economic thinking have forced through economic austerity leading necessarily to high unemployment, stagnating wages, rising poverty rates, increased gap between rich and poor, and most tellingly of all; the biggest double dip recession since the 1950s. That is the legacy of the myth of the job creators.

We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. This is a fallacious argument for several reasons…

I recently started up my own small business. As you’d expect, business isn’t exactly booming in the current climate. The reason for this lack of business isn’t the fact that I need a tax break. I really don’t. The reason for that is the fact that by cutting social programmes that helped those on low and middle incomes, the people and families affected no longer have enough, if any disposable income to spend on little luxuries. Instead, they work to survive and nothing else. Three years ago, a family with a teenager who went to college, could rely on the Educational Maintenance Allowance given to students who stay on into higher education for their food, and their travel. I know this, because I received EMA. It paid my petrol to and from college every day, as well as my food. I also worked part time in the evenings and at weekends, for extra money to spend on luxuries…. like the kind offered by my Photography business. Luxuries keep a consumer economy running. By taking away EMA, that little bit extra is lost from the pockets of the young. Which means they spend less. Which has a knock on effect in which businesses take less money, because there is less money. And so they lay off employees. Who are now on unemployment benefits. But unemployment benefits that have been cut. So they have less money again. And so the cycle continues.The point being, my business, whilst it is staying afloat, is struggling not because I need a tax cut, but because demand has been completely wiped out.

By giving me a tax cut, the new right is expecting me to help fill the employment gap created when it cuts ‘government’. The problem with this idea is again, related to demand. Why on earth would I employ somebody new? There is not enough demand currently for me to fill. The extra money i’d save in tax reductions would simply soon be lost, plus a little more, to the cost of employing someone, to help cope with demand that isn’t there. I am not going to ‘create jobs’ with saved tax money. Nor am I going to expand. It may give an advantage to large business, who by their very nature, don’t need a dose of corporate socialism. Employing new people, especially for small businesses, is a measure of last resort. A tax break for the lower and middle classes – the masses – will help to stimulate demand, as do effective governmental programmes aimed at elevating the burden of necessities – soaring gas and electric costs; education costs, petrol, healthcare costs (of which a universal system, is by far the most advantageous for a growing, civilised society). Taxing the wealthy, to pay for programmes that benefit the middle and lower classes, benefits everyone economically whilst building a compassionate society. It is the only possible way forward. We must not fall for the rhetoric of “all the best people will leave”. No they wont. It takes a lot to up and move country. Uprooting your children from schools, leaving your family and friends. It is a big life changing decision.

The myth of the job creators is as evident in the US as it is in the UK. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan once stated:

The other thing, in the tax side is permanent tax increases on job creators doesn’t work to grow the economy. It’s actually fueling the uncertainty that is hurting job growth right now. And don’t forget the fact that most small businesses file taxes as individuals. So, when you are raising these top tax rates, you’re raising taxes on these job creators where more than half of Americans get their jobs from in this country.

– The key to this quote is “when you’re raising these top tax rates”….. Top tax rates.
Similarly, over at Romney/Ryan headquarters, Fox News said of the proposed Obama top rate of tax hike to 39.6%:

….a clear majority of all small business profits face taxation at this top marginal income tax rate.

– It simply isn’t true.
According to the non-partisan ‘Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ and backed up by ‘Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center’, only 1.9% of small businesses make enough profit to fall into either of the top two income tax brackets. Visually, it looks like this:

So, let’s move my small business to the US. If suddenly, I am making $300,000 a year, by raising my rate by 4%, I will be paying about $6000 a year more. I’m not sure that would prevent me from hiring someone new, given that demand is high enough for me to be earning so much in the first place. Raising the top rate of tax, does not affect job creation. If it were the case that lower taxes on the wealthy lead necessarily to job creation, and higher taxes killed jobs, as suggested by Ryan and Fox, then we would today be absolutely fine for jobs. The opposite is true. Here is the evidence:

– Note how low the top rate of tax will STILL be, after the President’s proposed tax rise in 2013. Note also, that between 1993, and 2000, the top rate of tax was …. 39.6%… exactly as the President has proposed for 2013. The period between 1993 and 2000 was the largest period of US growth in history. Note also just how high the top rate was under Reagan. Prior to Reagan, in order to be eligible for a tax cut, a company would be required to use a portion of its profits to reinvest. Reagan put a stop to that, and gave a tax break up front. The companies thus invested elsewhere (offshore) and got the tax cut in the US. Isn’t ‘freedom’ wonderful?

The irrational phobia of ‘big government’ is a jobs killer. The Romney leaflet makes clear that government does not create wealth. This is disingenuous at best, and horribly dismissive of the millions of Americans that help drive the economy forward from the public sector. Schools create inquisitive minds and help to create an equipped workforce that both intellectually and materially drives the economy. Road building, property protection (being a policeman, is a job), fire protection and so on, all help to create an environment for which capitalism can flourish. It is true that the Government should not be the main force for economic growth. But they help, they protect, and they foster private growth. Without the government, we would belong to a Hobbesian hell hole. Libertarianism is as dangerous as Communism.

Evidence suggests that when the top rate of tax is higher, so is growth. When it is lower, economic inequality grows, not the economy.

Romney has pledged to reduce tax rates by 20%. It is no surprised that whilst market fundamentalists hail this as the beginning of an economic miracle, those who rely on evidence and analysis paint a different picture. According to a report by The Brookings Institution, the Romney tax plan would see taxpayers who earn over $1,000,000 given an extra 8.3% after tax; an average tax cut of $175,000, whilst taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would see a tax rise of about 0.9%; an average rise of $130. They go further:

“Offsetting the $360 billion in revenue losses necessitates a reduction of roughly 65 percent of available tax expenditures. Such a reduction by itself would be unprecedented, and would require deep reductions in many popular tax benefits ranging from the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC
and child tax credit.”

– The Romney/Ryan tax plan, is based on fundamentalist dogma devoid of all context, and based on an even more extreme form of failed economics. We see market fundamentalism, and austerity programmes failing all across Europe. Romney seems to be ignorant to the plight of those living under deep austerity, choosing instead to emulate it in America. It doesn’t work.

It is more evident to me being here, that the Right-leaning US electorate ignore evidence of what actually works, and instead choose to cling to outdated dogma – government bad/private business great – borne out of the fear of the big bad tyrannical government. Government is portrayed as the enemy, out to destroy your freedom, maliciously rubbing their hands whilst the country burns. It is the reason the US has resisted universal healthcare, despite the FACT that nations with universal healthcare continuously – as I noted here – out-perform the US in all healthcare league tables. To the US, Disraeli inspired conservatism is apparently Marxism. Any form of government help, is Marxism. They have chosen to ignore what actually works, in order to fight a misplaced war on what they perceive as Marxism. It is terrifyingly inaccurate and ignorant, as well as fundamentalist.

It is simply not true that those who enjoy profits that place them in the top rate of tax bracket, are job creators. They ride the tide of demand. The term ‘job creator’ is a deliberate attempt to create an almost moral argument for extending and perpetuating economic privileges for the very wealthy, without providing any evidence that it is beneficial for the rest of us. Manipulative language apparently negates the necessity for a reasoned argument. For free market fundamentalists; manipulative language is all they have ever had.

Demand creates jobs. Not tax cuts for the wealthy.


There’s nothing for us here.

August 12, 2012

The majesty of the Olympics really has struck a chord with the UK over the past two weeks. This has to be down to the fact that we as a nation have absolutely no confidence in our sports stars. With good reason. Every year The Sun would ask “Can Tim win?” when it came to Henman at Wimbledon and every year the answer a firm “no”. Every four years we drape ourselves in red and white and pray to God that England don’t end up going to a penalty shoot out. And every time, our overpaid, over valued, and under achieving footballers let us all down. I get caught up in this myself. So, on the rare occasion that our sportsmen and women actually out perform even our most positive of expectations, a cynical nation suddenly takes notice. And so it was. Jessica Ennis’s utterly spectacular performance at the Heptathlon. Greg Rutherford came from nowhere to take the Men’s Long Jump Gold. Mo Farah became a national treasure for his outstanding performances to take the double Gold in the 10,000 and 5,000 metres. Team GB is third in the rankings, the highest we have achieved since 1920. Our sports stars have a lot to be proud of, and i’m sure they will lives in the celebrity spot light are just beginning.

The organisation, the happy faces, the atmosphere in the country has been buzzing after months and months of grim economic news on a daily basis. And yet, through all the delight at the success of the Games, I cannot help but feel slightly uneasy at the comparisons between the riots in London last year, and the Olympics this year. There are of course comparisons that can be made arbitrarily if we must; both the success of Team GB, and the riots last year caught everyone off guard……. and that’s about it. Comparisons shouldn’t be made between the two.

I keep hearing phrases like: “London needed this, after last year“. As if it is simply a matter of good vs evil. As if the Olympics has neatly patched over the problems that inevitably lead to social unrest; of which there are many. It seems as if the Olympics is being used as a tool to deflect attention away from what will always result in violence. The economic destruction of the country by the current government and a complete lack of opportunity is a wound that cannot be dressed so weakly by a sporting event.

According to the DWP, the poverty rate in London is 6% higher than the average for the rest of England, at 28%. And it’s rising. 220,000 people live in overcrowded accommodation; 60,000 more than 10 years ago. Housing benefit changes mean people are struggling to stay in their homes. And whilst the outer boroughs are cheaper, they have even bigger funding problems; 35% of primary schools in the outer boroughs are overcrowded; 8 of the 10 primary care trusts with the fewest GPs per population are in Outer London, the unemployment rate in the poorest areas are at their highest levels in decades, and The poorest 50% have less than 5% of financial or property wealth whilst the richest 10% have 40% of income wealth, 45% of property wealth and 65% of financial wealth. – According to London’s Poverty Profile. And here is the most telling fact on poverty and inequality in the Capital: Babies born in Southwark, Croydon, Haringey and Harrow are twice as likely to die before their 1st birthday than those born in Bromley, Kingston and Richmond.
So how is the government dealing with this? Well, whilst the riots were taking place, the Mayor was on holiday in the US. The Chancellor was on holiday. The Deputy Prime Minister was on holiday. The Prime Minister was in Tuscany having tennis lessons in his rented villa. And what we have now, is a situation where the government have insisted that it is for our own good, that the poorest areas lose housing benefit, Sure Start, youth clubs, libraries, and all hope that maybe the education system might provide opportunity (the end of EMA for example). All of this during an atmosphere of rising inflation, rising unemployment, a broken NHS, and the biggest double dip recession in 50 years. Any lasting hope has been cruelly ripped out of the communities that are the most economically vulnerable, and replaced by fear of losing everything, and we act surprised when this results in social violence? The riots may have appeared on the surface to be a bunch of opportunistic thugs. But the underlying issue, the social deprivation, high unemployment, high VAT rates, the end of EMA, rising inflation, the mass of cuts to youth services, and the unfair and shock economic violence by a government that has grown up enjoying the benefits of a strong public service, only to loot it when they came to power, thus burning the ladder up which they themselves climbed, is an obvious precursor to social violence from communities that feel ever more excluded.

It is no wonder that riots appeared in London as government cuts began to hit. Islington, Hackney, Westminster and Camden all hit the top ten list of worst areas for child poverty in the entire country. And top of the list? Tower Hamlets. With this damning conclusion to the report by The Campaign to End Child Poverty:

‘The poverty line means that, after housing costs, all the household bills and family’s spending needs will need to be met by around £12 or less per family member per day.
‘For many families, especially those reliant on out of work benefits, it can be substantially less.’

I’m pretty sure schools in Tower Hamlets don’t offer Archery as a subject.

What has the Mayor, or the Government done to change the fact that over 53% of children in the borough of Tower Hamlets live below the poverty line? It is the worst area in the UK for child poverty, and one of the rioting boroughs…… The Government have scrapped community-based youth projects. Despite almost 3000 signatures demanding the service not be touched, by residents. Local community-based services were there to help the youth in those particular areas. They knew they area. The staff often lived in the area and had struggled themselves. And the government scrap it. Youth services; gone. Educational Maintenance Allowance to help young people stay at school; gone. Tuition Fees; tripled. Employment; non-existent. The UK now has the biggest gap between rich and poor than three quarters of the OECD nations. Reuters interviewed a man during the riots, who said:

“There’s two worlds in this borough. More and more upper middle classes are coming and we’re being pushed out. The shops are pricing stuff like it’s the West End, we can’t afford the rents. We’re the outcasts, we’re not wanted any more.
“There’s nothing for us.”

– This is the economic backdrop that leads to social unrest. Jumping in front of the problem holding an Olympic banner is not the answer. Nor is it a way to deal with the problem.

“London needed this”.
Yeah, there’s nothing more that those whose youth clubs have been closed, schools underfunded for decades, welfare all but scrapped and jobs with regressing wages, struggling to pay for their homes love more than a government who spent the entire riots last year, in private Tuscan villas telling them that the wealthy man who had his own stables growing up, should be held up as their aspirational hero. “We know you can’t afford to live….. but at least we won the Dressage!”

We see the the crowds, and the British flags, our Royals, and the wonderful music that this country has produced, and the athletes, and the spectacle at we can put on, and we rightfully feel privileged to be a part of such a great country. The Olympics has its place in the history of London. We should be proud of our athletes. They have done us proud in the sports arena. But it isn’t a bandage for the massive problems we currently face. The deep underlying social and economic issues that lead to unrest can only be sorted via real investment, and a strong support system in the most affected areas. The Olympics cannot do that. It is sport. It does not even begin to deal with the problems caused by an ideology that benefit those who can afford to live in a World where dressage appears frequently in every day vocabulary, and so destroyed the World of those who now insist “there’s nothing for us here“.


Aidan Burley and the curse of the nasty Party

August 3, 2012

800px-Olympic_stadium_and_The_Orbit_during_London_Olympics_opening_ceremony_(2012-07-27)_2

The Olympic opening ceremony was a spectacular representation of the progress from industrialism to, well, Dizzie Rascal apparently. I adored it. There cannot be many more years go by without Danny Boyle not becoming Sir Danny Boyle. Boyle’s opening ceremony expressed progression. He not-so-subtly directed the audience left ward. Though it seems to have angered the Right Wing. And rightly so. It was a kick in the teeth to everything they stand for. It was a display of the achievements of the Left in this country. Tory MP Aidan Burley tweeted during the opening ceremony with the following:

This is the same Aidan Burley who was sacked as Parliamentary Private Secretary after attending a Nazi themed stag party, in which he himself hired Third Reich outfits and toasted the groom with nazi salutes. Burley’s credibility as a political commentator to be taken seriously, is hardly rousing.
Unfortunately for Burley, the NHS (opposed by the Tories), Welfare (opposed by the Tories, at every level), and union advancements to fairer work conditions (opposed by the Tories), minimum wage(opposed by the Tories) and maternity pay(opposed by the Tories) is modern Britain for the majority of the people living here. It isn’t champagne, nazi themed stag do’s and taxpayer funded moat cleaning for the majority. It is multicultural, it is black, white, gay, straight, female, male and everything else. It is dole queues, and a lack of hope – largely the result of the policies of his Party. It isn’t just a golf course is Kent with wealthy businessmen and a group wank over their new yacht. I cannot imagine Burley is going to last much longer as an MP.

Boris Johnson has said there was nothing left winged about it, Cameron has called Burley an idiot for suggesting it. They are both wrong. Burley is right. It was left leaning in nature. That’s why I loved it. To suggest the glorification of the NHS, of union advancements and of the suffragettes were not left leaning, is to suggest that the Tory Party had either supported all of those things, or played a part in them. This would be disingenuous and they know it. It works to the Tory Party’s advantage if they show how much they just love the NHS, if they keep quiet and reluctantly support the show of union advancement. Why let them have that? They achieved none of it. They fought it at every opportunity. So yes, the Olympic Opening Ceremony declared what every decent Brit cherishes; and none of it came from the Conservative Party.

So everyone from the far left to the Prime Minister weighed in on this, attacking Burley for his tweet, and telling us all how wrong he was. That he should apologise. An embarrassment to the Tory Party. And I think that’s a mistake we on the Left make far too often.

Burley is a Tory that has contempt for anyone that isn’t like him. But he isn’t alone. He is a regular Tory. They all think like him, the rest of them just have the sense to stay quiet. Or, Burley just has the balls to say exactly what he thinks. This is troubling, because come election time (as in 2010) the Tories can present themselves as new, cuddly, loving, ‘compassionate conservatives’, that the NHS is safe in their hands, that their budget will deliver growth and help for ‘hard working families’, that the likes of Burley do not represent the whole Party; because any outward display of their true colours is quickly silenced, not just by their Party superiors, but by the left. We demand apologies. This is in fact the British Left shooting themselves square in the foot, because it allows the Tory Party to engage with mass thought and mould communication around it. If we did not complain so loudly, the Tory Party would doubtlessly show themselves for the awful bigoted bunch of over privileged toffs that they have always been, rendering them unelectable. We now know that the NHS was not safe in their hands. We now know that listening to the advice of Britain’s biggest businesses when they supported the Chancellors plans to cut, cut, cut, was a massive lapse of National judgement in collectively believing they wanted to actually help the country rather than line their own pockets…. we know this, because it has failed miserably. We now know that they had planned to raise VAT yet cut Corporation tax and other wealthy taxes. We now know that many of their associates working for them keep their money in offshore accounts whilst shamelessly attacking anyone on welfare. The attacks on welfare are easy. These people do not fund the Tory Party, so they are unneeded; the country hates benefit cheats, because the media completely over hypes the situation, whilst the biggest cons – the tax avoiders who fund, work for, and appear in the cabinet (see George Osborne) sit comfortably dividing and conquering. But…. let them speak, their one weakness, their regressive attitudes to absolutely everything, and they will fall.

Burley later attacked the decision to allow Dizzee Rascal to perform. He wasn’t sure why we allowed rap music to feature. A further attack on multiculturalism. Clearly Burley isn’t aware that Dizzee Rascal has four number 1 hits, a Mercury Music award, NME awards, BET awards, has worked to encourage youth voting, and is internationally known. This isn’t an obscure musician. This is a guy who epitomises a certain age group, a certain social and economic background, and has shot to the top. He is also from the East End, not far from the Olympic village. A global musical star, from that area. Seems like the right choice to me. Who would Burley choose instead?

The two fundamental belief that drive everything the Tory Party stand for, that I despise are:
1) The rich are ‘job creators’.
2) Unless you are white, heterosexual, English born, and have a mind for business, wearing a suit the moment you were born; you are different, and different = wrong.
Give them the opportunity, and they will express both of these dangerous ideas time and time again. They will play on prejudices to make sure their obvious bigotry is somewhat clouded – i.e- mention constantly how awful people on welfare are. Deflect the negativity onto those who have no real political representation. And it works, because a pessimistic population has no time to look into these claims, as everyone is working more, for less, thanks to Tory economic policy.

The Tories are rather good at covering their inherent prejudices. If we take the case of Chris Grayling, the Minister for Work and Pensions; this man is a compulsive liar. But he backtracks. Or his lies are just forgotten; glossed over by the Tory spin machine. Usually compulsive liars; those whose lies become a sort of way of life, are nothing to worry about. But when they hold incredibly important offices with the responsibilities of those of Grayling, we must all be concerned. I would go so far as to suggest he has one of the most profound records of fabrication in any government of the post war era.
As shadow minister for work and pensions, Grayling pushed the lie that £2.5bn was lost to benefit fraud in 2006 by stating:

…billions of pounds are still being lost to fraud.”

– Actually, less than a billion was lost to fraud in 2006. The National Audit Office who actually released these figures said that £690m was lost to fraud. Chris Grayling has never admitted his mistake here. It is also extremely odd that he seems to take offence at the morality of misspent taxpayers money, given that his Parliamentary expenses receipts show that he bought a flat in Central London, less than 17 miles from his constituency home, using tax payers money, and then renovated said flat, with tax payers money, claiming almost £2000 alone for refurbishing the bathroom. One wonders what taxpayers are getting out of the fact that he can have a more luxurious shit every morning? Or what taxpayers are getting out of his lovely new £1,341 kitchen And one wonders how this is any different to a single mother getting a few £ extra out of the system every week. In fact, it is worse, because Grayling is on a salary of £64,000 and has a house that was worth £600,000 in 2000, and two buy to let properties in London. Grayling spread the cost of the renovations on his flat over two years (one year would have gone over the maximum allowed by Parliament) claiming:

…..decorator has been very ill and didn’t invoice me until now.

Grayling, is a hypocritical, lying turd.
After saying that he supported the right for B&B owners to not allow gay couples to stay in their B&B, he backtracked, stating:

I am sorry if what I said gave the wrong impression, I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone… I voted for gay rights.

– Humble apology. Though a complete fabrication. If we look at his voting record on gay rights we find that….
Civil Partnerships – Grayling voted against.
Fertility Treatment for Gay Couples – Grayling voted against.
The Repeal of Section 28 – Grayling did not show up to vote.
The Right for Gay Couples to Adopt – Grayling voted against.
– He couldn’t have lied more if he tried. There are more examples of Chris Grayling’s lies, blogged several times. The most prolific, and where I started my research is here.

We know where their hatred lies. Burley disliked the left wing attitude that the Olympic opening ceremony took on. That includes the trade unionism. Is it any surprise a Tory Party member – whose current cabinet is made up almost exclusively of millionaires – dislikes a movement that protects those who do not have a voice in Parliament? We are all playing the Corporate game. They want you to work longer, for less pay, whilst the guys at the top do less, for more. Here is a government that have led the country into the biggest double dip recession in decades. They have blamed the unions, Labour, the snow, the royal wedding. All whilst giving the wealthiest a huge tax cut. It is easy. There aren’t many public services – Sure Start, libraries, youth centres – that would ever likely benefit Conservatives, so swap them for a wealthy tax cut, and they’re all happy. It seems we have become a country that judges its success on how well we treat the wealthiest. The balance is tipped in the wrong direction and it has all but destroyed the economy.
In two short years the UK has gone from signs of growth and recovery (1.2% in the first quarter of 2010 – Labour’s last few months – staggering given the recession that we’d just come out of), to a shocking -0.7% drop in growth. There is no one left to blame. The economics of ‘businesses and rich people create jobs’ is a myth. Demand creates jobs, and by stripping the economy of demand as part of their unfortunately named “Budget for Growth” in 2010, the Tories have been given the harsh reality of making sure they only look after the people who fund them. Because let’s not forget that as part of Grayling’s flagship ‘back to work’ programme, the company Deloitte Ingeous was awarded 7 out of 40 contracts to get people back to work…… this comes after the same Deloitte Ingeous donated £28,000 to Grayling in 2009. The same back to work programme that found a certain Mr Stephen Hill fit for work.

Stephen Hill had been referred to a Fit For Work assessment by the private healthcare company Atos, after signing up for Disability Living Allowance whilst waiting for tests on his heart. Despite the fact that doctors had diagnosed him with heart failure, he was still found “fit for work”. He appealed, and won. But the Department sent him another letter demanding a second assessment, this time whilst he was waiting for heart surgery. The assessor commented:

“Significant disability due to cardiovascular problems seems unlikely.”

Stephen Hill died a couple of weeks later. Atos have just won £587mn worth of new contracts to carry out assessments.
Welcome to Corporate England, and the joys of private healthcare companies.

A country works best with a healthy national health service to ensure healthy members of an economic community. It works best with a safety net to catch those who fall, or who cannot help themselves. JK Rowling famously defended the welfare state with this rather beautiful summation of how it works:

I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism.

It works best when those who benefitted the most from a healthy public sector – roads, health, education – do not burn the ladder up which they climbed for future generations, as the Tory Party is doing now. It works best when we fight to protect the most vulnerable, not to force them to work in order for unemployment figures to look better on tomorrow’s newspaper. It works best when we focus on how our Nation treats our poorest, and not how many yachts our richest can now afford.

Back to Burley. He is not alone in his contempt. Along with Grayling’s apparent dislike of homosexuality (and the disabled, claiming 75% of those on disability, were “skiving”), and the entire policy of forcing those with quite blatant disabilities back into work just to improve employment figures, whilst using the new found revenue flow to fund tax cuts for wealthy donors, other Tory’s have been quick to show, and then hide their true colours these past few years.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, a noble post, stood up in Parliament, and referred to gay Labour MP Chris Bryant as a “Pantomime dame”, followed by a sickening smurk and a barrage of laughter from his pompous back benchers.

“There is a real danger that the abolition of section 28 will lead to the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle as morally equivalent to marriage.“

– Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

“if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

– Tory MP Philip Davies, after an act of vandalism which was later proven to have not involved any Muslims at all.

“Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.’

– Tory MP Dominic Raab.
This is the same Dominic Raab who complained about tax payers money should not be spent on Government staff who are working on union projects. And yet, doesn’t seem to have a problem with millions of £ in taxpayers money being given to previously mentioned companies like Atos. Raab appears to rabidly dislike Unions marching, but has no problem with a company like Care UK majorly benefiting from changes to the NHS at a time when they donated £21,000 to the private office of the health secretary. Raab seems to have no problem with his party choosing Philip Green to head the “efficiency of government spending review” despite himself keeping his multi-millions in offshore accounts, being accused of excessive pay by awarding himself a dividend of £1.2bn, whilst his company avoided £125mn in tax payable to the UK, whilst also being accused of treating workers poorly by using sweatshops. By the way, the money spent on union planning that Raab is so angry about, came to £6mn. That’s about 20 times less than Philip Green’s company alone avoided in taxes. We see where Raab’s priorities lie. Alongside the rest of the Tory Party; with Corporate England.

So you see, it is wrong of us to insist on silencing Tory prejudice. It is inherent to them. They are the party of big business and bigotry. The nasty party. They haven’t changed, nor will they. Shouting abuse at Aidan Burley will not make him change his views that multiculturalism is anti-British, or that the NHS, the suffragettes, and the union movement are all disastrous. He, and his wealthy colleagues are simply playing a Corporate game with the lives of ordinary people. We should leave them to spurt their occasional venom at anyone who isn’t like them. It does the right wing no favours, and can only turn voter after voter off ever voting for these putrid little scumbags ever again.

And maybe, just maybe…. the ‘left wing’ aspects of the Olympic opening ceremony were used, because they are the things the British are most proud of.


Planet Clegg

September 22, 2011

I am not sure where Planet Clegg is located in the Universe. It is certainly light years away from Earth. They say the laws of physics are the same anywhere in the Universe; from a little town in Gloucester, to the edge of a black hole. Well, Planet Clegg seems to have physical properties that differ somewhat from the rest of the Universe, because whilst we can choose to talk shit, Clegg seems compelled by nature itself, as if it is a natural instinct, to talk shit. It really is amazing.

His speech at Conference is available everywhere, so I thought i’d take what I consider to be the most significant parts of the speech, and try to dissect them. To sift through the bullshit, and look at the substance:

“Our first big decision was to clear the structural deficit this parliament. To wipe the slate clean by 2015. This has meant painful cuts. Agonisingly difficult decisions. Not easy, but right.”

– As the £12bn black hole in the public finances was revealed earlier this week, it became clear that the “painful cuts” (less painful if you’re as rich as the Cabinet, and not painful enough to consider cancelling the five day boring yet incredibly expensive tax payer funded Conference) have achieved the opposite of what they were intended to do. Borrowing has stayed higher this year, because growth has stalled at 0.2%. According to the Financial Times:

The Financial Times has replicated the model of government borrowing used by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, which suggests the structural deficit in 2011-12 is now £12bn higher than thought, a rise of 25 per cent.

– To fill this black hole, VAT would have to rise again to 22.5% and further, deeper cuts (if we stick to the path of extreme austerity). For Clegg to claim it is “right” to do what he has been doing, to cut the structural deficit by 2015, he is simply deluded and vastly ignorant. A Lib Dem turned Tory.

A new economy where the lowest-paid get to keep the money they earn. That’s why a Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury has put two hundred pounds into the pocket of every basic rate taxpayer and taken almost a million workers – most of them women – out of income tax altogether.

– The Bank of England warned that inflation was set to rise to over 5% by the end of the year. Average wages rose 2.8% in 2010. So actually, average wages, when taking inflation into account, fell. People are not better off now. Inflation, caused by strangling demand out of the economy is what keeps investment out of poor areas, and a few small changes to the tax system, regardless of how Clegg sugarcoats it, means nothing.
Do the lowest paid get to keep the money they earn? Or is it going to be spent on extortionately high energy bills?

And within one city, two nations: In Hammersmith and Fulham in West London, more than half the children leaving state schools head to a good university. Just thirty minutes east – down the district line to Tower Hamlets – and just 4 percent do. Odds stacked against too many of our children. A deep injustice, when birth is destiny. That’s why I’ve been leading the charge for social mobility – for fairer chances, for real freedom.

– One City, two Nations is a nice little tag line. The suggestion that the Lib Dems are dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest kids through education, is overwhelmingly delusional. According the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for each year up until the end of the report (2014), child poverty is set to rise. 90% of children on free school meals then go on to receive EMA to the tune of around £1,170. This is what I received, otherwise I certainly would not have been able to afford to go to college, and then onto University. Due to the cut in EMA and the replacement with the new bursary scheme, those who would have received the full £1,170 EMA, now stand to receive just £370.
The IFS stated of EMA:

“The EMA significantly increased participation rates in post-16 education among young adults who were eligible to receive it. In particular, it increased the proportion of eligible 16-year-olds staying in education from 65% to 69%, and increased the proportion of eligible 17-year-olds in education from 54% to 61%. The simple cost-benefit analysis mentioned above suggests that even taking into account the level of deadweight that was found, the costs of EMA are completely offset.”

– Getting rid of EMA is an ideological attack on social mobility. As stated above, overwhemingly delusional for the Lib Dem leader to suggest he has been ‘leading the charge’ on social mobility. Education is the key to social mobility. Taking away EMA, whilst at the same time back tracking entirely on Tuition Fees to the point where he agreed to triple the debt of the Nation’s 18 year olds, does not represent ‘leading the charge’ on social mobility. Does he really believe cutting EMA for the poorest, offering them a piss poor replacement bursary, whilst inflation continues to spiral out of control effectively cancelling out any perceived benefit, whilst benefits are slashed, and whilst wages stagnate and poverty rates rise – is a good thing for the cause of social mobility?

After being hit hard, we picked ourselves up and we came out fighting. Fighting to keep the NHS safe. Fighting to protect human rights. Fighting to create jobs. Fighting for every family. Not doing the easy thing, but doing the right thing. Not easy, but right.

– I think by ‘right’ he means right winged. How can one of the men responsible for the destruction of over 100,000 jobs in less than a year, a man partly responsible for a working NHS considered to be one of the best in the World succumbing to the terror of the private sector; a private sector that certainly did not provide improvements to the railways or the utilities, a man partly responsible as shown above, for poverty rates set to rise and families set to lose more and more due to high inflation and stagnating wages; how can this man claim he is fighting to create jobs and fighting for every family?
From April 2011, to July 2011, those three months alone saw unemployment rise a further 80,000 to 2.51 million. A huge amount of job losses in just three months. It was the largest increase in unemployment since 2009 – the midst of a recession. What about disability? Lib Dem Steve Webb said that the £12.3bn for DLA at the beginning of this Parliament, would be exactly the same by the end of the Parliament with the Personal Indepedent Payment. Clearly Webb doesn’t understand inflation over a five year period. Wheelchairs, travel, care will cost over 20% more in 2015 due to inflation. So, that £12.3bn is worth far less than Webb would have you believe. 20% of those claiming DLA will lose it, not because it is better targeted, but because it has been cut by 22%. Clegg started the house fire, the fire is still raging, and he claims he’s brilliantly putting it out, as more of the house burns.

Labour says: the Government is going too far, too fast. I say, Labour would have offered too little, too late. Imagine if Ed Miliband and Ed Balls had still been in power. Gordon Brown’s backroom boys when Labour was failing to balance the books, failing to regulate the financial markets, and failing to take on the banks. The two Eds, behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows, always plotting, always scheming, never taking responsibility. At this time of crisis what Britain needs is real leadership. This is no time for the back room boys

– What a waste of a paragraph. The charge of plotting and scheming from a man who signed a pledge, and gained much support and votes from the student movement in 2010, only to piss all over that pledge when he came to power and use “Well, you have to compromise in Coalition” as an excuse, is unbelievably hypocritical. In their 2010 manifesto, in bold font, on the first page, the letter from the leader, we see:

Don’t settle for low politics and broken promises; be more demanding.

– I voted Lib Dem in 2010. I want my vote back. That is me being more demanding. I want a vote on a joint Lib/Tory manifesto that includes a VAT rise, the dismantling of the NHS, closures to youth centres, and libraries and the loss of 100,000 jobs VS a Labour manifesto. If he is going to use “have to compromise in coalition government” I want to vote on that coalition compromise, rather than having to deal with the outcome of behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows, always plotting, always scheming Lib Dem politicians trying to worm their way out of their commitments that allowed them this taste of power in the first place.

On the first point, that Labour say the government is cutting too far, too fast; The IMF this week pointed out that with growth having to be downgraded for (i’ve lost count) yet another time, the government may have to slow down its austerity measures. At the beginning of 2011, the IMF, fully supportive of austerity joyfully claimed the UK economy would grow by 2% this year. That was downgraded to 1.7%. That was downgraded to 1.5%. That was downgraded to just 1.1%. We’ll be lucky to hit that mark. So, the IMF’s support for austerity, and the fact that they may be coming to the conclusion that deep, fast cuts do not work appears to echo not only Labour’s stance, but also pre-election Clegg’s stance. Clegg in 2010 of the Tory plans for fast and far cuts:


“Self evidently I think, we think, that merrily slashing now is an act of economic masochism.”

– It isn’t just Labour who say the Coalition is cutting too far, too fast. It was also pre-2010 Clegg.

I don’t think the unions should be able to buy themselves a political party. Ed Miliband says he wants to loosen the ties between Labour and the union barons who helped him beat his brother. Let’s see him put his money where his mouth is. Let’s see if he’ll support radical reform of party funding. Every previous attempt has been blocked by the vested interests in the other two parties.

– Perhaps he should convey the same message to his master in Downing Street. Islington Council severed their links with John Nash’s Care UK because the private health provider has an awful track record, and racks up mountains of complaints. John Nash of Care UK donated £21,000 to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley’s private office. Unsurprisingly, at the beginning of the year, a £53,000,000 contract to provide health services to prisons went to Care UK, even though the NHS was deemed to be:

better than the successful bidder on quality, delivery and risk.

– I ask, being the pockets of unions – that represent thousands, if not millions of year, is now considered worse for ‘centre-left’ Clegg, than being the pockets of one businessman and his desire for profit at the behest of patient care. The policies that he will ensure his backbenchers vote for, are drawn up by a Party in the pockets of big business. He is therefore complicit. Brilliant.

Probably the most important lesson I have learned is this: No matter how hard you work on the details of a policy, it’s no good if the perception is wrong. We can say until we’re blue in the face that no one will have to pay any fees as a student, but still people don’t believe it. That once you’ve left university you’ll pay less, week in week out, than under the current system, but still people don’t believe it. That the support given to students from poorer families will increase dramatically, but still people don’t believe it.

– It isn’t that we don’t understand. Or that we don’t believe it. It is simply that we don’t believe education should be open to market forces. Education is the right of everyone. For families who are struggling to pay increasingly inflated gas and electricity bills, whose benefits are slashed, the prospect of their 18 year old being charged £9000 a year is a step too far. With this policy also came the policy of pay-nothing-back until you earn over £21,000 a year, compared to the £15,000 limit in place now. Most Universities will rise tuition fees to above £6000, and many to the £9000 limit. The £21,000 is meaningless. I don’t care if i’m paying back £1 a year, the fact that I would leave university with well over £40,000 of debt, when you include living costs, before i’d even reached my 21st birthday, is ludicrous. If I have three children, and they want to go to University, that is going to amount £110,000+ worth of debt that my children end up with. Couple this, with the fact that England’s University budget has been cut by £449m, the teaching budget cut by £215mn, and Educational Maintenence Allowance (which I relied on to get me through college) scrapped, this does not represent a progressive plan for students. If the unique selling point is pay nothing back until you earn over £21,000, why have a top £9000 limit at all? Why not £50,000 a year? Or more? The universities can speculate that they will be richer than ever, and the debt, which Clegg seems to think is not a deterrent at all, will be irrelevant. Their policy is a disaster.

My main issue with the tuition fee debacle, is the principle. Saddling the Nation’s 18 year olds with the burden of the National debt, whilst not one banker has been prosecuted, and big businesses receiving Corporate tax cuts, and whilst the Government has allowed Vodaphone to get away with not paying the £4.8bn they allegedly avoided paying in tax, is shameful. It is certainly not progressive.

The Clegg speech at the end of the Lib Dem Conference had eroded any last glimpse of hope I had in a Liberal Democrat Party. They are, and will forever be, in the eyes of we on the Progressive Left; Tory-lite. Even Clegg’s tie, is slowly turning blue.

If you look through a particularly powerful telescope, you may be able to see Planet Clegg. I hear it was formed by the coming together of the concepts of dishonesty, u-turns, and delusion.


The curse of Letwin

August 1, 2011

The Conservative Government REALLY need an Alastair Campbell. Desperately. They attempted to secure a Campbell figure to head their PR team, with the [sarcarm] brilliantly managed and executed appointment of Andy Coulson.[/sarcasm] It would take a top PR team most of the day, every day, to ensure Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Policy, keeps his grotesque mouth closed whenever someone from the press is around, because he betrays the idea that the Tories have change, or modernised, since, well, around the 19th Century. Letwin is a left over from a group of Etonians who clearly and misguidedly believe they have a right to rule by way of their heritage. It is an arrogance that the Cameron Government will never shake, because they are the living embodiment of that privileged arrogance. They have disastrously inter-breeded this mentality with a Thatcherite economic mentality that is as dangerous as it is out-dated. His disastrous face, screams contempt for anyone who isn’t Oliver Letwin. He is a PR disaster. It is one of the many reasons (another being massive incompetence and dishonesty – which we’ll come to later) that he was overlooked when the Tories were searching for a leader. Hell, they even chose Iain Duncan Smith, does anyone remember him?

With a face looking as if someone had created him out of the concept of pompous twat, Oliver Letwin has once more allowed the Conservative Party mask it currently shrouds itself in, to fall, revealing a Thatcherite brigade just as frightening and dangerous as their 1980s counterparts.

Letwin had told a consultancy firm, that his proposals for public sector reform should instill:

“some real discipline and some fear”

He said this, because he believes the productivity of the public sector has failed. It is a strange comment and angle to take, given that the private sector has spent the past four years creating sovereign debt crises’ everywhere it goes. Productivity is very difficult to measure in the public sector, because the public sector is not about creating anything. Investment in the public sector has seen waiting lists for operations down year on year since the last Tory administration. Teaching standards are also up. The public sector does not “make” things. So talk of productivity in comparison to the private sector, is futile and misleading. It strikes me as wholly patronising that a man such as Oliver Letwin has the balls to lecture public sector workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen – on what “real discipline” is. They are not children. They also did not claim public money for ludicrous items like mortgage interest payments. Also, the public sector hasn’t spent twenty five years creating a system of easy credit to boost the excessive pay of CEOs and Managing Directors, whilst the average worker saw overall increase in wages? And then when the company or bank failed miserably, the “fear” was THAT pertinent that the CEOs are given massive pay offs and lovely big bonuses. All this, whilst the public sector is told constantly, and has been told constantly, from Thatcher, to Major, to Blair, to Brown and now to Cameron, that it is not good enough, that it must be modelled on a failing private sector built on squeezing productivity out through long hours, a mountain of stress, and all for less pay whilst the big boss is compensated for his little contribution to overall productivity with huge salary and bonuses; and that their jobs are always on the line. A private sector model should be as far away from inflicting misery on the public sector, as possible.

It isn’t the first time Letwin has revealed his hostility to those less fortunate. Earlier this year, he surprised and disgusted the most posh of Tories, Boris Johnson, by telling Johnson:

“We don’t want more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays.”

– At least he recognises that the North suffered horrifically with the gutting of jobs and thus wealth during the Thatcher years. Though he seems to have suggested that it is perfectly okay for the wealthy Southerners to pay for expensive holidays and that holidaying abroad should be based on wealth. I expect he thought he was at home with Boris, and could reveal his true feelings, but sometimes posh Tory twats seriously misjudge the situation, and regret the fact that their well crafted public self has been set on fire by their real self. This seems to happen a lot with Letwin. And now on to why I referred to his as a hypocrite:

In 2005 Letwin used the phrase “Wealth Distribution” in a positive light! I know! I was shocked too when I first read it. A Tory, interested and supportive of wealth distribution? Surely not! Well, actually, not. 2005 was the year Cameron was trying to pose as being a “progressive conservative“, deeply contradictory term yet one he managed seemingly to work. Letwin clearly took on that contradictory term, by trying to fill out a left wing term with right winged substance in the hope that no one would scratch below the service. He said:

…….not by trying to do down those with most but by enabling those who have least to share an increasing part of an enlarging cake.

– In practice what this means is, a desire to scrap the top rate of tax for the richest, a desire to lower the Corporation tax rate to the lowest recorded level, a desire to allow companies like Vodaphone a get out of jail free card by writing off their tax debt, whilst at the same time cutting allowance for the disabled, the elderly, according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Letwin must be talking about the 16000 less police Britain will have after this Parliament; according to the leaks that the Guardian currently has; the Tory’s new director of policy Steve Hilton, suggesting abolishing maternity leave whilst also abolishing ALL consumer rights legislation. Just to reiterate….. this man, is the Nation’s DIRECTOR OF POLICY. Now i’m not saying these idiotic and deeply right winged ideas of Hilton’s are likely to become a reality. To suggest so would put me on the same wavelength as the manic Right Wingers who would constantly suggest that New Labour were about to ban England shirts and change the name of Christmas, or ban you from being white. Letwin must believe Hilton’s ideas will “enable” those with the least to a share of an increasingly large cake. Tories consider Hilton a genius…… not just because of his ideas (which aren’t in any sense a spark of genius) but also because he doesn’t wear shoes in Downing Street and they consider this “wacky”. In their defence, it is as wacky as most Tories are likely to see, given that they are born wearing business suits, slick back hair, and spend the next twenty years trying to hide the fact that their schooling experience is a plethora of homoeroticism cunningly disguised as a love of “Rugger“. It can’t have been too many years ago when gay and black people were described by most Tories as “wacky“. Hilton, like Letwin, is politically dangerous.

The reason why Letwin is hypocritical in his desire to do away with the idea that public money can actually do good, is because he used public money to claim over £80,000 for his Cottage in Somerset, in order to heat the place, empty the septic tank, £1000 in mortgage interest and most beautifully of all…… over £2000 to repair a leaking pipe underneath his tennis court. So much for “real discipline and fear“.

Either the Tory Party spend some time searching and investing in a decent PR figure, or they sew Oliver Letwin’s mouth closed, he is a liability to the Conservatives, and a liability to humanity.


A Neoliberal Attack…

July 13, 2011

Religious people are far more likely to engage in conversation about religion with me, after I mention that I have studied Philosophy and take an interest in Theology. I think they presume I will agree with their thoughts and perhaps provide reasoning to their illogical beliefs. I think they imagine that one can only speak with conviction on matters of religion, if one is religious in an academic sense. The same is true of many walks of life, not least the public sector in England. Because Tory MPs are essentially a part of the public sector, they seem to believe they have the right to talk of all public sector workers, as if they’re the official spokespeople for the public sector.

On Question Time last week, John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham appeared delighted as he informed the audience that as a public sector worker, he would be working longer and putting more money into his pension pot as a result of his Government’s reforms, and he was proud of it. The reason John Redwood can seem so pleased with himself that he is accepting the changes to his pension and retirement age, is because on top of the £65,000 a year he earns as an MP, he also claimed a hell of a lot of money, that regular public sector workers could only dream of. Yet, Mr Redwood seems to think his claims were perfectly reasonable, as suggested on his own personal blog:

In 2007-8 I claimed a total of £105,917. This made me the 19th cheapest MP, claiming around £40,000 less than the average. One fifth of that claim was the mortgage interest costs, the Council Tax and service charge and maintenance on a bedsit flat in Pimlico. It is entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business. During my ownership it has only been slept in by myself. I do not need it for any other purpose. The deposit and repayments of capital are of course paid for out of my taxed income.

– We should be thanking him, for claiming in one year, more than a teacher is likely to earn in five years. We should be happy that tax payers money is going to fund the “maintenance” on his Pimlico flat. We should be grateful that the money spent on his mortgage interest (tax payers money) will go to buying a flat he can then sell when he retires, making a handsome profit, and giving nothing back to the public, whilst his party continue to force harsh austerity. One does wonder what the purpose of his 2004/5 claim of £13,305 for his luxurious house in Berkshire (a £1,000,000 estate which he fully owns), including £168 and £112 for his lawn to be reseeded, and how that is “entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business” was needed for, but nevertheless, i’m sure it’s just as noble as the necessity of “maintenance” claims on the MILLIONAIRE’S flat in London. Thank you John “Jesus Christ” Redwood. You are a hero.

A man in the audience pointed out that the Private Sector has forced through harsh pension reforms, and so the Public Sector should do the same and “modernise”. The audience were alive with cheer! But it got me thinking; why is it always the public sector that is made to look as though it is in the wrong, like a Soviet leftover, trailing behind the private sector. People seem happy to accept the notion that if the private sector is screwing people over, then so should the public sector! Why is no one arguing that the private sector should be actively forced to lift itself up to the level of the public sector? As far as I can discern, over the past twenty five years it has been an out of control short-term wealth obsessed private sector that has been so majestically out of control, that when the bubble finally cracked, the public sector had to take the hit.

Let’s look at examples of the private sector providing a “modernising” model that the public sector ought to apparently follow:

Lloyds TSB is currently 43.4% owned by the taxpayer. Yet, its new Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio received a signing on fee of £4.1mn in shares, £516,000 in money, and an annual salary of £1.6mn with a yearly bonus of £2.5mn.

A wonderful company named Trafigura, in 2010 leased a ship called the Probo Koala to a company called Compagnie Tommy, with the intent to dump toxic waste at a waste disposal sight in Amsterdam. The site raised their prices by 20 times that quoted, because the toxic waste was deemed to be far more dangerous that Compagnie Tommy and Trafigura first suggested. So, a new company set up on the Ivory Coast agreed to take the waste, for a very cheap sum. Trafigura did not investigate just why this new company was offering to take the waste for such a cheap price. After the waste was dumped, ten people died from poisoning, and over 100,000 became ill. Trafigura said they’d tested the waste, and it wasn’t toxic, and that they had no idea why so many people became ill. The Dutch tested the waste and found it contained two tonnes of Hydrogen Sulfide. A killer gas. Trafigura spent three years publicly denying the waste they dumped in a poverty stricken area of Africa, was not enough to kill people. Suddenly, Trafigura offered to pay a massive amount of compensation of Euro152,000,000 to the Ivory Coast (which didn’t go to the victims) with the instruction that on acceptance of the compensation, they couldn’t be prosecuted or causing death in the courts. The reason they did this, is because The Guardian obtained – through Wikileaks – private company emails from Trafigura in which they quite plainly accept, as early as 2006 before they’d even chosen the Ivory Coast to dump the waste, that the waste was indeed dangerous.

According to the Guardian, Diageo PLC, the company that makes Guiness, in 2009 paid as little as 2% tax on its profits, despite racking in £2bn in profits. Diageo pays its Chief Executive £3.6mn salary. To fill this gap, it takes 20,000 ordinary British households per year.

The term “Modernising” has come to mean subtle privatising of key services in recent years. An economic laissez faire that apparently promised to solve all of our problems. The outsourcing of cleaning from NHS to private companies with £94mn worth of contacts, led to such declining standards between ’83-’00, that an extra emergency £31mn was injected into cleaning in the NHS, with the a Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), set up to visit hospitals to ensure standards were being met; the Private sector had failed. By 2000, only 20% of NHS Trusts had achieved an acceptable level of cleanliness.

The banks aren’t the only sector that have required government bail outs in recent history. In 2002, British Energy (privatised under the Tories) had to approach the government for a £410mn bail out to finance its debts.

News of the World. I believe this doesn’t need elaborating on.

Private sector bonuses and high CEO pay, is more harmful to you and I, than highly paid private sector bosses. When money accumulates in the hands of very few people within the private sector (we spend more in the private sector, than on taxes), the cost gets passed on to us. The Bush tax cuts, along with the deregulation of the financial sector didn’t go toward greater investment, it went to increasing the pay and bonuses of those at the top, and the cost was passed on to us, through the creation of a very easy credit system. We all know how that turned out.

British Airways, under the incompetent management of Willie Walsh faced massive fines (record breaking fine actually) for price fixing, long drawn out industrial disputes with the cabin crew which the media helped by describing the cabin crew as greedy, despite 2000 of their workmates being laid off, the company making huge losses, and Willie Walsh taking in a 6% inflation busting pay rise, taking it to £743,000 and £1.1mn in deferred share bonuses. Enough to keep at least ten people on at BA, who otherwise lost their job. The media will never paint the boss as the greedy incompetent bastard in this kind of dispute. It will always find a child at Heathrow, crying, because the cabin crew strike means he wont see his mummy this Christmas. The media do not tend to side with the unions, they never will, and so neither will the ill-informed public.

Do we need to even mention the banking system? A particularly ironic take on this whole new “private good public bad” era of austerity we are living in.

Thankfully we have the Government’s new corporate team, who will help him “stand up to business”. On the panel, inevitably, is Philip Green, Topshop mogul who owns Taveta Investments, which he put in his wife’s name, who happens to live in Monaco, thus avoiding £285mn in tax. He also paid his family £1.2bn, taken from a loan in the name of his company, thus cutting Corporation tax because the loan’s interest charges were offset against profit. Oh and he also uses sweatshops in Mauritius, whilst claiming his obscene bonuses are justified because he “takes risks”. Another on the panel, is Justin King, Chairman of Sainsbury’s. In his first year, he received free shares worth over £500,000, whilst axing the £120 christmas bonus for his staff. After his staff didn’t receive their christmas bonus, King awarded his wealthy finance director £357,000 worth of shares. King was also offered 1,000,000 free shares, if he met specific targets the year before. He didn’t meet the targets, the company’s profits fell 2.9% and yet he still took home 86% of the promised shares. He will be given the same year on year, on top of his £500,000+ a year salary.

We all know that the private sector has the potential to deliver fantastic opportunities, despite the fact that its raison d’etre is unjustifiable power and wealth in the hands of people who simply injected the first dose of capital required to kick start the specific business, as if that initial injection of capital somehow creates a universal, unbreakable law, like gravity, that requires the majority of the subsequent profit and the decisions required to move the business forward, be placed in the hands of the person who injected that capital. It’s a bit of a flawed and odd concept that people just tend to accept. But, it does create opportunity (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only way of creating opportunity). The downside, is unregulated greed. The public sector is a constant target of abuse from the source of that greed, and the politicians that the greed of the private sector can buy. Corportocracy at its finest and most dangerous.

Isn’t it about time a Politician had the balls to stand up and say the Private Sector over the past thirty years has spiraled disastrously out of control, and perhaps needs to be able to pay people a decent living wage, as opposed to bringing the public sector down to the unacceptable level of the private sector?


The wisdom of Philip Davies, MP

June 22, 2011

Twitter Philip Davies MP

A couple of nights ago, Twitter was alive with the news that Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies had stood up in the House of Commons and said this:

“If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.

“Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.

“My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”

Philip Davies ideal England is one in which sweatshops, full of people with disabilities create cheap goods for the overly privileged Tory benches to feed from, whilst the sweatshop bosses drive up to the gates of Downing Street in their brand new Mercs, accompanied by a lovely big donation for the Tory Party.

Perhaps we could use the £161,300 in expenses he claimed rather dubiously in 2009, on top of his £65,000 a year salary, to pay people a better salary? On the subject of his expense claims, he claimed the most of all Bradford MPs, and claimed £10,000 more on his second home allowance than Bradford North MP Terry Rooney. I am not entirely sure how that’s warranted, or helps him does his job to a greater degree. Incidentally, claimed for more in second home allowances than my dad makes in a year. Unsurprisingly, he clings onto this gravy train by opposing much needed Parliamentary reform. The lobby for Parliamentary reform, Power 10 label Philip Davies as one of the six MPs who will happily block reform of Parliament. This isn’t surprising, given just how much he has financially benefited from the current corrupt nature of Parliament.

Nevertheless, there is an unnerving essence to a member of our national legislature, insinuating that a person’s worth should be based solely on their physical or mental capability, and then using defensive rhetoric, heartfelt sentiment, to sound as if he only wishes to help disabled people, rather than line the pockets of his Party’s donors, and make it easy for employers to exploit without worry. It is equally as unnerving for a politician to tacitly suggest that wage discrimination is not only acceptable, but entirely the fault of those who are being discriminated against. His words sound as if he is suggesting being disabled is a lifestyle choice, that requires a bit of a punishment. That punishment should apparently be an agreement to work for less money that one needs in order to live, along with the added expense that comes with certain disabilities.

It would be right to point out that those with disabilities, who Davies wants to be paid less, did not cause the financial problems we’re now in. Ironically, for Davies, it was the private sector’s excessive greed (of which he clearly has no problem in promoting) that caused the mess, through unproductive excess profit being used – not to pay people better even when it had accumulated enough to easily manage paying more – but on dodgy asset deals. The problem in 2007 wasn’t that there appeared to be a lack of capital caused by the need to pay disabled people, or anybody a national minimum wage, but by the fact that there was an abundance of concentrated excess capital that wasn’t being put to good and productive use. Wages were stagnating for the majority of people, whilst wages at the very top climbed higher and higher. That, is entirely the fault of the private sector. Is Davies saying that if we dropped the minimum wage, wages would flourish, failed Tory economics would be proven right, and disabled people would be working shorter hours, for a loyal boss, who paid wonderfully? Because I foresee a bunch of employers driving even bigger Porsche’s whilst their £2 an hour disabled employees can no longer afford adequate care. Davies certainly didn’t offer any added benefits that some disabled people may require due to being paid below minimum wage. Grants for specialised equipment? Incomes and the ability to pay for necessary care and equipment cannot always be planned for even on a week to week basis, for those suffering certain disabilities. To promote the idea of wage discrimination against those with disabilities, at the same time as cuts to Disability Living Allowance take hold

It is a minimum wage for a reason. Do we really believe employers wouldn’t use an “opt-out” for their own advantage? Wages at the top are already obscenely high in the private sector. In 2009, for example, the chief executive of the Anchor Trust, which provides home for the elderly, took home £391,000. Anchor Trust is a charity! Whilst donations are down and employees are facing redundancy it is ludicrous for a CEO of an organisation that so many people rely on, to take home almost £400,000 a year.

I continue to be of the opinion that if an employer cannot afford to pay somebody a decent enough wage to live on, he/she shouldn’t be running a business. They are a danger to the public. £5.89 is not a lot of money, and to suggest that the rest of us are entitled to at least that, whilst a disabled person is entitled to less, purely because of a natural affliction is sensationally regressive.

The far right narrative is the problem, not minimum wage legislation. Philip Davis is attempting to remove responsibility for fair pay away from the employer, and onto the employee. Citizens UK found that of the companies in London willing to sign up to paying their lowest paid members of staff a “National living wage” rather than a “National minimum wage”, of £8.30 an hour, they managed to lift 3500 families out of poverty in 2009. It didn’t have an adverse affect on prices, in the same way as the minimum wage introduction in the late 1990s didn’t have an adverse affect as many Tories claimed it would. Campaigners for a National Living Wage are screaming out at Tesco, who have failed to ensure their cleaning staff are paid a fair living wage, despite the company making £3.8bn profit last year. Employers do not, ever, take paying their staff a respectable wage seriously. Ever. Surely if they were made to pay more, of which they can definitely afford, the money would be divided among a workforce who would pay more tax, and use the added disposable income on goods and services from businesses across the Country, rather than wasting it on the very very small band of wealthy elites?

A study in America called “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researches sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and black sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas black applicants with stronger resumes than other black applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, black applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant. I wonder if Philip Davis thinks black Americans should agree to work for less money than their white counterparts, purely because they are black? What about a black person with a disability? Back to slavery?

We should though, not be surprised by the ignorance that Philip Davis displayed. Here is an MP who voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which state that it is unlawful to discriminate when selling goods or services, education or facilities based on sexuality. Davies therefore thinks it is acceptable for a school to expel a gay student. Or for a shop to ban a lesbian lady purely for her sexuality. He also voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. So, he wants more freedom for shop owners to ban people based on sexual orientation (individualism and all that Libertarian bollocks) yet that same individualism, he doesn’t extend to the most privileged of people passing that privilege onto their children, who may or may not have worked or produced anything worthwhile in their entire lives? Oh the hypocrisy.

In 2011 he even invented his own logic based on a lie, when it comes to making cigarette packaging plain:

“I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that.”

– The objection I have with the line “it would not have any basis in evidence” is that it does have basis in evidence. Cigarette companies spend millions on their packaging, and over the last couple of decades, they have used the idea of “light” packaging to sell products to people who believe smoking “light” fags, means less danger. A 2004 British Medical Journal research article found that:

The increase in lung cancer risk is similar in people who smoke medium tar cigarettes (15-21 mg), low tar cigarettes (8-14 mg), or very low tar cigarettes (≤ 7 mg)

– So smoking a cigarette from a package that claims to be “ultra light” means nothing. But do people really believe “ultra light” means they are at less of a risk of developing lung cancer? Does the advertisement on the packaging work? If it does, then Davis is either a liar, or a massive idiot. Well, surprisingly……. he’s a liar or a massive idiot. A University of Toronto research paper, titled “‘Light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes: who smokes them? Are they being misled?” published in 2002 found that:

In 1996 and 2000, respectively, 44% and 27% smoked L/M (light and mild cigarettes) to reduce health risks, 41% and 40% smoked them as a step toward quitting, and 41% in both years said they would be more likely to quit if they learned L/M could provide the same tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes. These data provide empirical support for banning ‘light’ and ‘mild’ on cigarette packaging.

– The policy of plain packaging is absolutely based on evidence. It is time we started to ignore the “nanny state” hysterical screams from manic, misinformed, ignorant right wingers.

Not only that, but in 2006, after an act of vandalism was initially blamed on a group of Muslim men, Davies said:

“if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

– It later turned out that the act of vandalism was caused by white men. Davies did not apologise, nor did he take the same tough far-right, BNP-esque line with the white vandals as he had done when he imagined the vandals were all muslim.

You might think the incessant stupidity stops there. You’d be wrong. In 2009 Davies asked:

“Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person? Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?

Maybe he would be happy for black people to take a pay cut after all.