King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: Mourning a monster.

January 26, 2015

King_Abdullah_bin_Abdul_al-Saud_January_2007

The planes carrying World leaders home from the unity march in Paris in support of free expression last week, barely had the chance to touch the tarmac before those same World leaders began queuing to offer their heartfelt sympathy and condolences to a man who ruled a country in which criticism of the King is illegal, and who spent his final days overseeing the hideous flogging of Raif Badawi for exercising his right to free expression.

On the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, The British Prime Minister, David Cameron (so overcome with grief was he, that he flew especially to Saudi Arabia), said:

“He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

– Smilarly, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised Abdullah for his commitment to interfaith relations. This same – laughable, if it wasn’t so horribly tarred with the blood of many innocent people – sentiment was also echoed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said:

“I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.“I knew him well and admired him greatly. Despite the turmoil of events in the region around him, he remained a stable and sound ally, was a patient and skilful moderniser of his country leading it step by step into the future. He was a staunch advocate of inter faith relations.”

– President Obama added to this feeling of great anguish and woe, insisting that he:

“….valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship.”

At first I thought I was reading condolences for someone else, perhaps someone with a record of human rights victories championing the plight of the most oppressed in society, but no, it is definitely King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia they are talking about. A man they are convinced was a wonderful ‘moderniser’ for intervening in one or two court cases that would otherwise have highlighted his regime as one of the most brutal in history (call it a PR stunt, given that he’s never indicated a preference for human rights instead of religious supremacy). Indeed, Saudi Arabia is a country that scored the lowest marks from Freedom House rankings in 2014 of civil freedoms. A country that, despite the Prime Minister’s comment that the dead King will long be remembered for his ‘commitment to peace‘ is about to continue its flogging of blogger Raif Badawi for blasphemy (having an opinion that differed from the ruling elite in Saudi), and on average beheads around 80 people a year.

It is simply madness that any human being should lose their life, due to the religious beliefs of someone else. Talking to BBC News back in 2003, Muhammad Saad al-Beshi – a Saudi executioner – worryingly said:

“It doesn’t matter to me: two, four, 10 – as long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute”.

– The power structure of Saudi Arabia & those it privileges relies heavily on convincing otherwise decent human beings, that brutally murdering other human beings, is part of a plan designed by an invisible being. It is simply a horror story. We as humans are permitted such a brief time on this Earth as it is, it is so sad that others believe they have the express right to decide whether we live or die, according to religious beliefs. It seems to me that if you are going to claim ownership over the life of someone else, you must first offer irrefutable proof for the existence of your God, and then the rest of us must freely accept that we are to be ruled according to His principles. Otherwise, you are simply a murderer.

The Prime Minister’s insistence that King Abdullah would be remembered for ‘strengthening understanding between faiths‘ and Blair’s insistence that Abdullah was ‘a staunch advocate of inter faith relations‘, along with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s defense of the flags lowering to half mast, is entirely negated by the fact that Abdullah’s Theocratic Monarchy expressively forbade public practice of any religion but Islam, insists that children born to Muslim parents must be considered Muslim themselves, and has a legal system – for non-Muslims as well as Muslims – based entirely on Islam. From the moment you are born, until the moment you die in Saudi Arabia, you are a possession of the religion of state. You have no liberty. You are owned by one royal family, and their religious beliefs. You must not utter words they disapprove of, nor live according to your own beliefs. You are chained. If you happen to be gay, female, or you simply don’t believe in the faith that the state insists that you must, your life is not yours, your beliefs are not yours, and you are banned from falling in love with someone that the religion of someone else disapproves of. If you attempt to break free from such a hideously oppressive cage, you are likely to be flogged or beheaded. This was a system upheld and perpetuated by King Abdullah. Indeed, here are a few more examples of the innocent victims of the idea that human rights and civil liberty matters little, when it clashes with preserving religious privilege and supremacy.

Amina bint Abdel Halim Nassar was beheaded by the Saudi state in 2011 for:

“…the practice of witchcraft and sorcery.”

– In the 21st century, a life, filled with memories, loves, passions, childhood friends, family…. so violently cut short for the ridiculous offence of ‘sorcery‘. There was no outpouring of grief from massively disingenuous political elite of Western nations, for her.

Also in 2011, 45 year old Mansor Almaribe – an Australian man with back problems – was sentenced to 500 lashes on the back, for blasphemy. His crime? Praying with fellow Shi’ites in a country run by Sunni extremists. After intervention from the Australian government, the great Saudi ‘reformer’ managed to get the sentence down from 500 lashes, to 75 lashes and a year in jail.

In 2005, Muhammad Al-Harbi was sentenced to 750 lashes for teaching children about other religions. For daring to teach children to think for themselves, that they are entitled to believe something other than what the state demands, the state violently tortured Al-Harbi and threw him in prison.

In 2014, Loujain al-Hathloul, and Maysa al-Amoudi were leading a campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia when authorities arrested them on ‘terror’ charges. In fact, terror charges are a new weapon of the religious supremacists in Saudi Arabia. So dedicated to ‘progress’ was the late Royal thug, that in 2014 a royal decree includes violent punishment for:

“… calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”

– Atheism is now classed as terrorism in Saudi Arabia. The leader of the family that believes it has the inherent right to chain every last citizen – and their short lives, with much promise and hope – to their sociopathic dictates based solely on their personal religious beliefs, is the same leader that both Blair & Welby insist did so much for inter-faith relations. Further reducing the comments of Western leaders to at best an insincere round of grovelling, is the knowledge that whilst they insist Abdullah did much for inter-faith relations, in Saudi Arabia all faiths other than the one he personally believed in are largely prohibited, and questioning the fundamentals of – a very insecure – faith, apparently gives the King the right to violently harm other human beings. Saudi Arabia’s Monarchy is not content with owning your sex life, you love life, your words, it also requires you submit your own mind to their religious cage.

In 2007, the General Court of Qatif sentenced a woman to 90 lashes, for “illegal mingling” with a man who – with his friends – then raped her. She had the courage to speak out about the attack, and so the court more than doubled her sentence to 200 lashes, for, and I quote:

“….her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

Similarly, In 2009, a 23 year old Saudi woman was hideously raped by a gang of rapists. She was then arrested and sentenced – yes, she was sentenced – to a year in prison and 100 lashes by more men, more abusers, for ‘committing adultery‘ and seeking an abortion. The White House issued no statement over this, instead, they sent their condolences upon the death of the King of a land that seeks to further harm victims of rape. The perpetuation of a religious settlement that is misogynistic by its very nature, requires the complete oppression of women for its survival.

As with misogyny, homophobia is never too far behind when it comes to religious power structures. The ironically named ‘Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice‘ sentenced a man to 450 lashes for Tweeting in the hope of meeting other gay men a couple of years ago. He was also sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2007, two men were sentenced to 7000 lashes each, for being homosexual. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Sexuality discrimination in Saudi Arabia is not surprising, given the utterly repulsive nature of just what Saudi Arabia teaches children about sexuality. One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– Last week, Downing Street, The White House, and other World leaders abandoned the lives of so many who have suffered, continue to suffer as you read this, and will suffer at the hands of religious thugs in Saudi Arabia in the future, and instead those leaders chose to send heartfelt condolences upon the death of the victims’ chief abuser; a misogynistic, homophobic, violent, abusive, religious supremacist who terrorised so many, and who worked hard to ensure civil liberties and human rights never got a foot in the door of Saudi Arabia. His reign should be viewed as a warning of the kind of hideous human rights abuses – that begin with the psychological abuse of children via religious indoctrination – that inevitably occurs when the religious are permitted power. The World should not mourn the death of such a monster.


The Frackers of Downing Street.

January 17, 2014

There are very few more pressing issues on the planet right now than climate change, and sustainable energy. For that reason alone, throwing dangerous chemicals down a well and splitting rocks to extract gas, leading to complaints of contaminated water supplies in Texas, and earthquakes in Blackpool, was always going to be a controversial topic. Without getting into the pros and cons of the industry and the practice, I thought I’d focus on the names and faces attached to fracking in the UK, who seem to be extraordinarily close to a government that is now suddenly fully embracing fracking.

Lord Browne is the Managing Director of Riverstone – a private equity firm that backs Cuadrilla Resources (of which Lord Browne in the Chairman). Cuadrilla is a Shale Gas operator that was found to be the likely cause of two minor earthquakes in 2011 through its drilling in Lancashire. Lord Browne is lead non-executive director – a Coalition advisor – at the Cabinet Office and a crossbench member of the House of Lords.

Also at Riverstone was Ben Moxham. Moxham was a vice President at Riverstone – the equity firm that backs a company responsible for a small earthquake – until 2011. Moxham was then a lead advisor for the Coalition on climate change issues, and a senior policy advisor for energy issues, to the Prime Minister. Moxham, like Lord Browne, was also at BP for a time.

The Senior Independent Director of of BG Group PLC is Baroness Hogg. BG Group is a British oil and gas company with interests across the planet, including shale gas in the US, where it claimed to be wishing to produce 80,000 barrels a day by 2015, growing up 190,000 barrels a day by 2020 through its shale production. Baroness Hogg was appointed Lead Non-Executive Board Member to the Treasury.

Sam Laidlaw is the CEO of Centrica. He was also Lead non-executive director on the board of the Department for Transport, and a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group . Also at Centrica for a time, was Tara Singh. In May 2013, Number 10 announced that Ms Singh would be the Prime Minister’s personal advisor on energy and climate change. This is the same Tara Singh whose previous role was Public Affairs Manager at Centrica – owner of British Gas. A few weeks after Singh was appointed to a government advisory role, Centrica – her former employer – bought a stake in Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla for its shale gas production. Singh has also worked for PR firm Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represents the Norwegian energy giant Statoil, a company with investment in fracking in North America.

Lord Green, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, was also non-executive director of chemical giant BASF. BASF supply gas-based chemicals for the fracking industry.

The Windsor Energy Group in March 2013 discussed, according to its own documents:

“…the energy revolution from shale gas and tight oil and other game-changers so far looking east, west and south…”

– This excitement was echoed by the Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group – Lord Howell – who told Parliament that the former colonies were ripe for picking:

“…wake up and realise where our future and our destiny lie…the new range of Commonwealth countries coming into the prosperity league either side of Africa, as they find through the shale gas revolution that they have fantastic raw energy resources and prospects.”

– Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G – also happens to be the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne. The Windsor Energy Group takes time on its website to thank Shell and BP for its support. It is unsurprising that two of the biggest players in the oil industry might choose to be close friends with an organisation whose chairman is the father-in-law of the Chancellor. Lord Howell was also former energy advisor to William Hague.

Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G and father-in-law of the Chancellor – is also the President of the British Institute of Energy Economics. The BIEE is sponsored by Shell and BP. In 2013, Howell was appointed President of the Energy Industries Council.

It comes as no surprise then, that in July 2013, Howell’s son-in-law Chancellor George Osborne announced a massive tax break for the fracking industry, setting the rate at 30% for onshore shale gas production, as opposed to 62% for new production of North Sea Oil. Echoing the wording by his father-in-law, and the Windsor Energy Group that his father-in-law Chairs, Osborne referred to fracking as a revolution:

“This new tax regime, which I want to make the most generous for shale in the world, will contribute to that. I want Britain to be a leader of the shale gas revolution”

– But it isn’t just Osborne. Vince Cable, whose Party spent the best part of the last decade insisting it was the party of green energy, took to TV news to defend the tax breaks. The fact that Cable here suggests that fracking would have to be heavily regulated and watched, must raise eyebrows as to its potential dangers. It is worth noting that Vince Cable was the former Chief Economist at Shell (supporters of the W.E.G, and financial backers of the BIEE, both run by George Osborne’s father-in-law) and that Malcolm Brinded – the former Chief Executive of Shell Upstream International – referred to Cable in a letter to the Secretary of State as the “Contact Minister for Shell”. Here:

shell
– Shell is positioning itself to be a major player in the UK Fracking industry. It’s also worth noting that William Hague worked for Shell UK before entering Parliament.

The tax breaks must have felt like a wonderful victory, not just for Shell and Osborne’s father-in-law, but for everyone’s favourite soulless lobbyist Lynton Crosby. The Prime Minister’s election advisor and strategist founded the lobbying firm Crosby Textor, which lobbies on behalf of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and fracking is one of its main objectives. One of the members of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association is Dart Energy, whose UK subsidiary holds a fracking licence in the UK.

So to summarise, Lord Browne from Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Tara Singh from Centrica who own a stake in Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Sam Laidlaw – the CEO of Centrica – was a coalition advisor. Baroness Hogg – a lead non-exec. board member to the Treasure – is Senior Independent Director at a company with huge interests in fracking in the US Ben Moxham – an advisor to the Prime Minister on climate change and energy – was at an equity firm that backed Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla. Lynton Crosby whose firm lobbies on behalf of the fracking industry is a key strategist to the Conservative Party. George Osborne’s father-in-law is the President of a group financially backed by BP & Chairs another organisation supported by Shell among others that pushes for the fracking industry at the same time that his son-in-law announces incredibly generous tax rates for the fracking industry. And the Business Secretary is referred to as the “Contact Minister for Shell” by a former Shell CEO. It is an incredible state of affairs.

Those who are in a position to be making a very large amount of money from fracking, also appear to be at the centre of a government that will make the key decisions on the future of the industry including its regulations and safety procedures. By contrast, there don’t appear to be any members of local communities close to proposed fracking sites, at the centre of government. For a Tory Party needing to shed its image as the Party of big business, this isn’t helping. The fracking industry hasn’t even taken off in the UK to any great extent, and yet it would appear its representatives are well placed right at the very heart of government.


Trolling Racist Van.

July 29, 2013

Stewart Lee once said that if ‘political correctness’ had achieved one thing, it had forced the Conservative Party to cloak their inherent racism behind more creative language. This July confirmed that Lee may be onto something. The Tories have evolved from this catchy little 1964 Tory campaign leaflet distributed in Birmingham at the time:

toryrace1964conservativerascismmigrant

To their new, far more subtle campaign, featuring more creative, yet similarly dirty language and imagery:

Untitled-1

The campaign has drawn condemnation from all sections of the political spectrum. From Lib Dem coalition partners like Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called the vans “Stupid and offensive”, to, amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted:

“The danger is that the kind of message that is being sent from these billboards will be taken not just by illegal immigrants but also by many people of settled ethnic minorities as being some sort of sign of open warfare.”

Even leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Keith Prince was unhappy with his horrendous colleagues at the Home Office:

“If we had been consulted, we would have warned strongly that, whatever effect this campaign might be intended to have on people who are in the country unlawfully, that message is far outweighed by the negative message to the great majority of people, from all backgrounds, who live and work together in Redbridge, peacefully, productively and lawfully.”

One cannot help but wonder if Lynton Crosby has recently invested in the van industry.

It was of course, only a matter of time before this wretched little campaign fell victim to both Photoshop, and prank calls. And rightfully so. So here are a few of my favourite racist van trolls:

Untitled-2

ferge

BQWLs8BCIAECZBE

BQVVxMOCIAICRxo

Untitled-3

sketch

Untitled-5

Untitled-6

BQLpCXrCEAATCb4

Racist van 8

Untitled-7

As with all failing Tory campaigns, this particular nasty campaign complete with a thinly veiled, menacing threat – naturally used to pass through poorer, multi-ethnic areas of London – is already being touted as a success by the Home Office, without actually producing evidence to confirm. Child-like, EDL-style fear tactics, with NF procured phrases like ‘go home’, designed to spark up community mistrust, suspicion and division, rather than measured and humane approaches, to, well, anything, seems to be the basis by which all Tory policies are formulated.


The curse of the Tory Donors

July 10, 2013

Labour Leader Ed Miliband took a gamble this week with plans to reform Labour’s historic ties to the unions. From constant attacks surrounding the unions’ influence over the Labour Party in recent years, the Conservative Party play a very risky game given their relationship to very wealthy donors. A main complaint we often hear from the Tories’, is just how undemocratic the election processes within unions are. And this may be true. But again, the Conservatives play a very risky game in highlighting the undemocratic nature of unions, given that 52% of the British public did not vote Tory at the 2010 election; only 36% of a turnout of 65% did vote Tory; they didn’t manage to command a majority; they didn’t put their new coalition agreement to a vote; they didn’t run on the basis of a complete restructure of the National Health Service; and they didn’t explain where cuts would fall prior to election. As undemocratic processes go, the Tories between 2010 and 2013 have led the way on that one.

But the biggest risk the Conservative Party has taken recently, has been to highlight the links between the unions and the Labour Party. And here is why:

The Solicitor General and MP for the constituency of Harborough, Edward Garnier opposes, and voted strongly against practically all smoking regulations, in Parliament. Edward Garnier was treated to a £1,132 invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show, by the World’s third largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco International (which owns Silk Cut, Mayfair, and B&H). Along with a couple other Tory MPs (also voters against smoking regulations), JTI spent around £14,000 wining and dining their new friends in government, in 2011. A month later, six of the MPs invited by big tobacco to the Chelsea Flower Show, tried to block a bill in Parliament banning smoking in private vehicles that had children present.

In November 2009, six months before the general election, and Andrew Lansley’s promotion to Health Secretary, John Nash of private health care provider Care UK donated £21,000 to Lansley’s personal office. This was the same year that Care UK received a large number of complaints – from demoralised staff, as well as patients – due its lack of acceptable care, losing contracts along the way. As Cameron – opposition leader at the time – was out insisting that the NHS was safe in his hands, that the Tories were now the party of the NHS, his Shadow Health Secretary was being bankrolled by a private health provider that was involved in a string of controversy, including an incident in which two bodies were left unfound for two days at Lennox House in Finsbury Park. Care UK now has a lovely little tax arrangement with HMRC by which, it takes out loans via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, and so lowers its tax bill (presumably so it can use the saved money, to fund the Tory Party). For a few Care UK horror stories, see here, here and here.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

“They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.”

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted research that found the Conservative Party between 2005 – 2010, reliant on hedgefunds, bankers, and investment executives for Party funding with just 10 donors from the City donating around £13,000,000 to the Tory Party in just five years. The biggest individual banking donor, was Michael Farmer, founder of hedge fund RK Capital Management. Coincidentally, he is co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Coincidentally, Farmer funded his son’s membership to the elite, violent, Bullingdon Club. Peter Cruddas, founder of CMC Markets gave £215,243. Coincidentally, he is an ex-co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, who once boasted that a large donation to the Tory Party would secure access to the Prime Minister and gain influence at No 10’s Policy Committee. There appear to be a lot of unfortunate coincidences when it comes to Tory Party donors.

Another ex-Tory Party Treasurer is Michael Spencer. Spencer and his business partner David Roland (David Roland is worthy of an article all by himself) donated more than £2m to the Tory Party in 2010. Spencer threatened to move his company’s operations out of London, if a financial transaction tax was introduced. Another wealthy Tory who doesn’t wish to be included in the “we’re all in this together” mantra, whilst threatening the jobs & the livelihoods of the staff he couldn’t care less about, in the process. The putrid Michael Spencer is the personification of Tory Party “values” in 2013.

On to David Roland. Roland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010 before revelations about his dodgy business deals, forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before.
Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Apparently the Right Wing are convinced a single mother claiming a little extra in benefits each month, is monstrous, whilst David Rowland, some sort of hero. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is Tory Donor – David Roland that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Len McCluskey not starting to look so bad afterall.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Every employee in the country might not be too pleased to know that the man who wrote the government report on the need to strip workers of their rights when it comes to unfair dismissal, Adrian Beecroft, donated over £500,000 to the Tory Party, whilst personally investing in payday loan company wonga.com. Beecroft insisted in his report that the government should make it easier for companies to fire employees (thus, further helping companies like wonga.com), claiming it would promote economic growth. He provided no evidence for that claim. I’m not sure it’s right that very wealthy Tory donors, with links to predatory companies that benefit hugely from austerity, like wonga.com should be allowed to create government policy. As well as the Tories not having a mandate to do any of what they have so far done, the public certainly didn’t vote for an awful man like Beecroft to oversee certain policy making endeavours.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK.

In 2012, searchthemoney.com found that the Conservative Party was using a loophole in the donor system, to channel millions of pounds of donations into its coffers, with donors able to remain annonymous if they donated through a private club. If a donor gives more than £1500, they cannot remain anonymous. If they funnel the funds through a club, they can give up to £7500 without being named. Through this, the Carlton Club has donated over £500,000 to the Tories, without having to name individual donors. The local Party of Education Secretary Michael Gove has received over £100,000 from clubs, that don’t have to name their donors.

When Tory backbenchers wave their papers in Parliament in a show of euphoria at the Chancellor’s child impoverishing cuts, we know that they are cheering the further enriching and empowering of their very very wealthy, tax avoiding donors.

I am positive that I would rather a Party represented by Unions, and its members; those who fought for better working conditions, better pay, equal rights in the workplace, the end of child labour, the working week, minimum wage; than hedgefund managers, extremely wealthy, shadowy figures, and dangerous private healthcare and tobacco companies who keep their funds offshore, threaten to leave the country if they have to endure any sort of austerity, and sell access to the Prime Minister for large donations. The hypocrisy of a Tory leadership waging a ‘moral’ campaign against union activity with the Labour Party, is astounding. These are people that should not be allowed anywhere near political power. The Party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.


The November 30th Strikes

November 23, 2011

Conservative Party hypocrisy reached a new high today, when The Sun published an article in which David Cameron calls on public sector workers to defy their unions, by not going on strike on November 30th. The phrase the Prime Minister used, which really quite sums up the sort of post-modern irony that seems to run the veins of the Coalition, was a beautiful:

“most did not vote for this”

He is of course referring to the vote for public sector strike action on the 30th November over pension reform.

Unison vote: 245,358 voted in favour, 70,253 against.
National Association of Probation Officers Union: 80% vote for strike action.
The National Union of Teachers: 92% in favour.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union: 4 to 1 in favour.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): 86% In favour.
Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84% in favour.
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64% in favour.
Among others.
Over three million will strike. The Prime Minister believes it is illegitimate to strike, because most public sector workers didn’t vote in the ballot. This of course, simply adds to the breathtaking level of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s already weak argument.

It is true that most public sector workers didn’t vote. Even so, the unions that did have a huge turnout, were almost identical in respect to results, as those with low turnouts. For example, whilst Unite only managed a 31% turnout with a result of 75% in favour; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) managed to get 66% turnout with a result of 86% in favour. Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) managed a turnout of 66.3% and a vote of 79.19% in favour. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive. But it strikes me as insanely ironic that Cameron would even have the nerve to bring up democratic legitimacy. The irony is beautiful. The turnout for the public sector strike vote among unions was around 27%. Pretty small overall. That being said, only about 2% actually voted against strikes. A stark contrast to the 67.6% of people who voted for any Party other than the Conservative Party in 2010. If we’re talking legitimacy after a vote, I’m pretty sure I know which is truly illegitimate, given the scale of reform since 2010.Let’s apply Cameron’s wording to the election and its aftermath:

The tripling of Tuition fees.

“most did not vote for this”

The abolition of 150 PCTs/Control of budget handed over to GP consortiums.

“most did not vote for this”

Rise in VAT, which the Tories said “We have no plans for” and the Lib Dems described as a “Tory bombshell waiting to be dropped”.

“most did not vote for this”

Radical pension changes.

“most did not vote for this”

On the last point, the radical pension changes can not in any light be considered ‘fair’. If we look at what the Government is saying; that a teacher retiring on £37,000 will now get a pension of £25,000, as opposed to £19,100 under the current scheme… sounds like a pretty good deal. But here’s the problem; for a pension of £25,000, the NUT says a teacher would have to work to 68, rather than 60 for the pension of £19000. What this means is if a teacher were to retire at 60 under the new proposals, he/she would receive £13,800…… £5300. Work for eight years longer, pay more, get less. That’s the new scheme.

Danny Alexander told the House of Commons on the 2nd November:

“Yes, we are asking public service workers to contribute more. Yes, we are asking them to work longer, along with the rest of society, but we are offering the chance of a significantly better pension at the end of it for many low and middle income earners.”

– Interestingly, this is nonsense. The document that Alexander is referring to, is the ‘Public Sector Pensions: good pensions that last’ (what a vomit-inducing title), in it we are given the example of a 40 year old male civil servant with 18 years of service, and would only have to work 18 months more – to the age of 61 years and 6 months – to get his existing pension deal. If he were to retire at 67, he’d have £3700 more than under the current scheme. Here’s where it is nonsense. Channel 4 pointed out that if you use the calculator on the Civil Service website, that man would actually only take home £2,567 more. 30% less than Alexander suggested. To even get near to the same pension as they’re currently due, the average civil service worker would have to work close to five years more than now. In contrast, Downing Street has been redecorated to the tune of £680,000 of public money, since May 2010. Just saying….

Baroness Warsi warned:

“Millions of public sector workers could be forced to strike against their will.”

– Oh the hypocrisy. Thousands of students will now face crippling debts, against their will. A report on Radio Leicester this morning highlighted the problem caused by deep austerity (remember, MOST voted against deep austerity in 2010) by showing that since this time last year, homeless rates have tripled in Leicester. Libraries have closed against their will. By June, 240,000 public sector workers had lost their jobs, against their will. GPs are being handed 80% of an NHS budget, against their will. Baroness Warsi really is a disaster.

Overall, the government intends to increase public sector pension contributions by 3.5% by 2015. The TUC says that this amounts to a 3% wage cut. They call it, a tax on working in the public sector. It essentially raises around £3bn a year. Coincidentally, the Chancellor ruled out a tax on bankers bonuses, that would have raised £2bn a year.

It would appear that the Coalition don’t understand. The High Pay Commission this week found that Executive pay is astronomically high, rising hugely even during recession, whilst the rest of the Country had to deal with rising inflation and flatlining wages, followed now by public sector pension attacks and the burden of the nation’s debt placed onto the shoulders of the Nation’s 18 year olds. Barclay’s bank saw its Chief Executive pay increase 5000% in 30 years, whilst its average employee saw his/her pay increase just 3 fold. In 1980, the average pay of the man at the top was 13 times more than the average employee…. now, it’s 169 times more. Collective, The report ends with:

“Stratospheric increases in pay are damaging the economy – distorting markets, draining talent from key sectors and rewarding failure. There appears to be little truth in the myth that pay must escalate to halt a talent drain in executives.”

– Executive pay is in no way linked to company performance. For example, as share index of FTSE 100 companies rose just 7%, average pay for bosses rose 32%, average pay for their employees rose just 2%. Renumeration committees are sordid little greed affairs, and it all remains very very private. It is wrong. So, given that Chief Execs. of financial institutions; a sector that caused the entire globe to become engulfed in the flames of sovereign debt crises, have been given massive tax breaks, and have seen their pay increase beyond anyone’s idea of a reasonable level whilst they ride the tide of consumer demand calling themselves, quite amusingly, “job creators” at every possible turn to defend their obscene life styles, knowing full well they have a plethora of multi-millionaires in the Cabinet to defend them…… the rest of the working World is expected to sit down, shut up, and take the Tory-led economic raping like a good little bitch.

The 0.1% at the very top, are taking even more, funded by cuts to wages like that of the public sector pension reforms. Teachers and nurses are funding the luxurious lifestyles of Britain’s banking chiefs. The Government absolutely fully supports this.

This is why I fully support the strikes next week.


The Tory Party: One big PR disaster

October 17, 2011

Every morning, David Cameron must get out of bed, and feel as if he is walking through a storm without an umbrella. And instead of being soaked in water, he’s drowning in collective Cabinet shit. The Tory front bench, is a PR disaster, almost on a daily basis now. The media is totally in control of the image of the Tory Party. This is a sign of great weakness. There is no PR man controlling the public image of the Tory party any more. The days of painting David Cameron as a “Compassionate Conservative” are dead. The ball is now fully in the court of the media.

Even when we leave aside the fact that they have taken a weak economy that no one thought could get much worse, and made it far worse than anyone could have ever sat and imagined, the drivel that comes out of their mouths, and the antics they get up to, is enough to astound even the least interested in politics among us.

On the subject of the economy; growth had been downgraded from Osborne’s Office of getting everything entirely wrong, all the fucking time Budget Responsibility, five times. Three times before the Eurozone crises really started to take hold. The first time, the Tories blamed Labour. Everything was Labour’s fault. Then, in December 2010, when growth was downgraded again, they blamed the snow. Then the Royal Wedding. Then Europe. Surely the inherently racist Tory party can’t be far away from blaming black people?

Today, the Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, (admittedly, a Lib Dem, but that is so similar to Tory now, it really doesn’t need a distinguishing disclaimer) came out of a meeting with the big energy companies in the hope of striking a deal to bring down the cost of energy in the UK, as its rising rapidly out of control. Huhne’s interview with the BBC went something like this:

BBC: How did the meeting go?
Huhne: Very very very well!!
BBC: And what can we expect to happen?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah out of touch bollocks.
BBC: Did the energy companies concede anything?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah even more out of touch, skirting the question bollocks.
BBC: So it’s the consumer’s fault?
Huhne: Well, if you switch ….. you see where this is going.

– To sum up, Huhne thinks if we all switch to a cheaper tariff, we’ll all save money. The problem is, the difference between one company and another, is the difference between £1, and £0.99p. We know there are options, but the options are raping our bank accounts collectively. Ofgem reported last week, that the average profit margin for energy companies had risen from £15 per person in June… to……… £125 in September. That is vastly unacceptable. The bosses of these companies continue to blame wholesale prices of oil. Now, if profit margins had stayed the same, despite the rise in the price to the consumer, then they’d have a point. But you cannot increase your profit by such a huge quantity, and then claim it is the fault of wholesale prices. Huhne, is a PR disaster.

It goes without saying, that Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke are PR disasters, after the Tory Party Conference this year. For a quick refresher, May had used her speech to pour unnecessary and dangerous fuel onto the fire of a Nationalism that already burns far too bright in this Country. She was arguing against the Human Rights Act (a document so important, that May’s only argument against it, was an entire lie. She should be sacked for that alone). To do this, she said:

“The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – I am not making this up – because he had a pet cat.”

– The problem was, she had made it up. She is the personification of the Daily Mail. When you cannot find a legitimate reason to promote hate and anger; just make it up. When a Minister hasn’t checked their facts, has resorted to UKIP style populist politics to provoke anger and outrage and something that simply isn’t true, to then use the phrase “I’m not making this up” is so indescribably amateurish, one has to wonder how any of these people are in the position of power they currently occupy.
The story itself – the cat loving illegal immigrant – is wrong. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary and May’s cabinet Tory colleague responded to her speech, by saying:

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out.”
“They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about.
“I’ll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership of a cat.”

The Judicial Communications Office said this:

“This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy – applying at that time to that appellant – for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK”.
“That was the basis for the decision to uphold the original tribunal decision – the cat had nothing to do with the decision.”

– So, May was wrong. She made up the story. She lied. But it gets even better. Chris Huhne (the PR disaster mentioned previously) tried to send a message on Twitter to his friend, saying:

“From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story”

– This is in relation, to being exposed as the person pointing our the “i’m not making this up” speech by May was eerily familiar to Nigel Farage’s (leader of Far Right UKIP) speech, in which he said:

“Should not be deported because – and I really am not making this up – because he had a pet cat!”

– Huhne notified a Guardian journalist to the exact, word for word quote “similarities” between the speeches. But accidentally tweeted to all of his subscribers that he didn’t want his fingerprints on this story. So, May is a PR disaster. Clarke is a PR disaster. And Huhne is a double PR disaster. Brilliantly, Nick Clegg waned into the argument by saying, quite beautifully:

“They were both right.”

– N’awww…….what a cock.

Until recently (having declared he wont stand for re-election) Tory MEP Roger Helmer is responsible trying to justify his speeding, by saying:

“No matter how fast you are going, you get people passing you.”

And an email to a 17 year old animals rights activist, with:

“I am not prepared to join the seal campaign, because while I agree that the culling of seals by beating them over the head is not very pleasing and aesthetic, I think it is probably fairly quick and humane…
“I challenge the use of your term “innocent baby seals”, because
(A) Seals are not morally competent, and therefore cannot be innocent or guilty;
(B) I think it is mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a “Bambi” attitude to animals, or to seek to anthropomorphise them – I wonder if you would have the same sentimental view of rats or tarantulas? – if not, why not?
(C) In one sense the seals are guilty (without any moral responsibility), for damaging fish stocks and the livelihoods of local fishermen.
“Your sympathy for dumb animals does you credit, but my advice would be that you save your concerns for people rather than animals.”

And on the subject of date rape:

“…the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”

– Roger Helmer, not only is one of the worst human beings I have ever had to displeasure to read about, but also, a massive PR disaster.

Liam Fox’s friendship with lobbyist Adam Werrity is a PR disaster for so many reasons, it’s almost too big a story to try to dissect. Needless to say, using public funds to pay a lobbyist, and to claim thousands of pounds of public money to allow a lobbyist to stay rent free in your flat, is never going to end well. Especially when you’re the Minister in control of the Nation’s defence system. When that same lobbyist, who is almost entirely funded by public money, is able to bypass official channels because he is friends with the Defence Secretary, and arrange meetings with private companies for commercial purposes; the Defence Secretary automatically becomes… not just a PR disaster, but a massive moron of a PR disaster. When that same lobbyist is given over £140,000 by a property investor with ties to Israel and an intelligence firm with links to Sri Lanka, whilst he accompanies the Defence Secretary as an “advisor”, on trips abroad, not only is the Defence Secretary a massive moron of a PR disaster, he is a dangerous PR disaster.

Oliver Letwin, Minister of State for Policy, photographed dumping confidential documents in a bin on St James’ park, a few months after saying no one wants to see a poor family from Sheffield going on holiday abroad. Oliver Letwin, PR disaster.

Caroline Spelman, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans in late 2010 to sell off a third of the 1.85 million acres of British forests to private investors for the sake of Hotel Resorts and Theme parks, only to have the Prime Minister admit he’d never given permission for that, and for the entire thing to be shelved. Where’s the communication?

George Osborne, who seems to keep being on TV insisting that the UK is leading the way out of the financial crises, that his plan will work, and that all will be fine. He says this, whilst the poverty rate increases – more on this point later – whilst unemployment is very very close to hitting the 3 million mark, whilst youth unemployment is at its worst since the 1980s (coincidentally at the time of the previous Tory government), whilst wages are stagnating, whilst output is dropping, whilst homelessness increases, whilst inflation is slowly getting out of control, whilst energy bills are now unworkable, and whilst dropping growth figures show that we are very very close to another recession. George Osborne is a PR disaster.

Philip Hammond, New Secretary of Defence, tells BBC’s Question Time, that allegations of his tax avoidance (he’s a multi-millionaire who said he’d continue to claim £30,000 a year of public money to fund his second home) by Channel 4’s dispatches were:

“Completely unfounded innuendo and unfortunately if you go into public life you have to accept that innuendo’s will be made against you to which you don’t always have the opportunity to reply.”

To which, the follow up question:

“So were the allegations that you’d moved shares into your wife’s name and that you took dividends rather than income, wrong?”

– was answered rather spectacularly by Hammond, with:

“Neither of those facts are incorrect”

– Unfounded innuendo one second, but absolutely true the next. Brilliant. Phillip Hammond, is a PR disaster, whilst also managing to be a smug twat about it.

How weak Cameron is looking. He needs an Alastair Campbell. His one attempt to attract an Alastair Campbell type figure, was Andy Coulson….. a massive PR disaster. They are one PR disaster after another, day after day, idiots running the Country and being exposed as idiots every time they show their contemptuous, nasty little faces.

The problem this represents for those of us on the left, is that the actual issues do not get publicised (perhaps i’m partly responsible for that, given the nature of this blog) enough. The BBC chose to almost entirely ignore 2000 people blocking the bridge the day of the NHS Bill moving to the Lords. The big issues, like the NHS bill, that have grave consequences for all of us that believe in a Nationalised, free health service, are put to one side, because Letwin uses a bin. And so, public discourse focuses almost entirely on the image of the Government, rather than the disastrous and dangerous ideological economic project they are inflicting on Country. Policy gets pushed aside, the underlying nasty nature of Theresa May’s made up cat story, is ignored. This can only work to benefit the Tories. Nobody voted for such a big NHS reform. Nobody voted for a huge hike in tuition fees. The Tories are getting away with shifting vast sums of wealth to very rich individuals and businesses, and the docile English population is too engaged in the fact that Liam Fox has a friend. Perhaps there comes a time when endless PR disasters can be used to benefit an unpopular government and its very undemocratic and ideologically motivated agenda.


The frivolity of Prime Minister’s Questions.

September 7, 2011

There were laughs reverberating around the hall of the House of Commons today as Tory MP Nadine Dorries asked “Will the Prime Minister show the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the boss?” She raised the issue in conjunction with NHS reforms. Someone should inform Dorries that no one in the Country actually gave permission for these NHS reforms (when I say no one, I obviously exclude John Nash over at Care UK).

On a side note, for those who do not know Nadine Dorries, she attempted to prevent abortion providers giving NHS funded counselling to women, under that famous Tory justification-of-the-disgusting as “patient choice”. The amendment to the Health Bill, seeks to force the NHS to provide “independent” counselling to women seeking an abortion. The worry is, this opens the door for faith based groups to provide counselling to pregnant women. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, given that Dorries other anti-abortion campaign in 2008, was funded by Christian Concern for our Nation. This is a Christian fundamentalist group, who believe any kind of pro-equality legislation for homosexuality, is anti-Christian legislation. Here is what their site says:


Sexual orientation is being given increasing protection under equality legislation. Unfortunately this has led to serious consequences for Christians.

Here is its EDL style fear tactics, on Islam:

From the introduction of Sharia law and Islamic finance to the implications on freedom of speech and women’s rights, the presence of Islamism in the UK has great repercussions for all of us.

– They seem to be under the impression that the introduction of entirely Christian fundamental values is a wonderful thing, but any other religious fundamentalists must be great evils. I want neither. They also seem to be under the impression that we have a country controlled by Sharia and Islamic finance. How odd.
They have arguments against the scrapping of the Blasphemy laws (we genuinely still had blasphemy laws up until 2008 …… not 1534……2008!) on their site. They are shocked that anyone would support the scrapping of Blasphemy Laws. Speaking on the site, Andrea Williams defends the Blasphemy laws because they protect against “strident criticism” of God. That it protects against “sexual assaults against Jesus Christ. Making sexual overture towards Christ”…. sounds similar to the way Muslims reacted to the drawings of Mohammed…irrational, and dangerous. After much of what i’ve wrote on this blog, I guess if the laws were still in place, I could be prosecuted for it.
Anyway, This is who funds Dorries campaigns. That is who Dorries is.

Today, MPs voted overwhelmingly against it, and rightfully so. After such a crushing defeat, Dorries said:

“Actually, it was the most tremendous success. We lost the battle but we won the war”.

– One recalls Tariq Aziz in 2003, as the Ba’athist regime in Iraq crumbled, insisting that victory was imminent.

The laughs were justifiably aimed at the pointlessness of the question, and Cameron’s absolutely correct refusal to answer it, but to me it highlighted two problems:

I) Nadine Dorres has simply amplified growing concern on the Tory benches that the Lib Dems are diluting the message of Conservatism. This Blog by Conservative home echoes similar sentiments. It is vastly misguided in its anger. They seem unable to grasp the concept of not winning an election. They did not pass the post. They did not get a majority. They do not have a mandate to initiate deeply right winged, Tory principles. If the Deputy Prime Minister were to be suddenly struck down with a conscience, and said “We are not voting for anything you put forward any more“, the “boss” would appear incredibly impotent. The Country did not choose one boss or one Party. We did not elect a Tory government. We elected a mixture. Doubtlessly Nadine Dorres is simply annoyed with Clegg’s refusal to back her ludicrous religious fundamentalist anti-abortion campaign. What the Tories are doing now it seems, is attempting (as Conservative Home did in the blog I linked to) to use the diluting of Tory policies by Liberal Democrats, as a reason for weak growth. So, that’s the Lib Dems, Europe, the Royal Wedding, Labour’s legacy, and the snow, that the Tories have blamed for weaker than anticipated growth. Even so, the point remains valid; someone needs to tell those like Dorries, who seem to think they have some sort of inherent right to rule, that they didn’t win the election. This is not a Tory Parliament. Even to claim they won the most seats, is fallacious, given that more people voted for slower deficit reduction – Labour/Lib Dem – than voted for the pace now being forced upon us. As far as I can tell, the Lib Dem dilutions aren’t good enough. This is a very very Tory Government. Frustrated about being in Coalition with the Lib Dems? Tough. The public don’t want a very Right Winged government. Either you operate a minority government, or you deal with Coalition. You have no other choice.

One must wonder what the polls would be saying, if the Tories were able to cut even deeper and apply Tory principles where otherwise they are diluted by the Liberals. The Poll from Yougov yesterday, despite Lib Dem dilution, showed that when asked “Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government’s deficit, do you think this is… “
Only 35% said it is good good for the economy. 27% said it is being done fairly and 52% said it is being done too quickly. Even now, having not won the election, they still don’t have a majority of the country agreeing with their policy. They have no mandate. They do not understand this.

II) Prime Minister’s Questions last for thirty minutes every Wednesday. It is a chance for our nationally elected legislature to interrogate the government. Given the rapid nature of change in schooling, the NHS, the struggles facing people who are the victims of deep austerity, the Libyan conflict; It is simply a waste of a question, and a stain upon the fabric of Parliamentary Democracy for an elected representative, who has the opportunity to ask anything at all, to have the nerve to stand up and ask the Prime Minister to bitch slap his Deputy into place. I would have preferred for Cameron to have spent that wasted time laughing at the insanity of Nadine Dorries, instead answering questions about his apparent vast NHS reform support from The Royal College of Nurses, despite their Chief Executive Dr Carter saying recently:

….. we are telling MPs that this Bill risks creating a new and expensive bureaucracy and fragmenting care.
This fragmentation risks making inequalities worse, and preventing health providers from collaborating in the interests of patients. We must avoid a situation where existing NHS providers are left with expensive areas of care while private providers are able to ‘cherry pick’ the services which can be delivered easily.”

– Isn’t the dismantling of the NHS, and the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept the almost universal condemnation of the reforms, far more important to the future of the Country and the people who live in it, than Nadine Dorries personal dislike of Nick Clegg? She should be ashamed of herself to continuing the politics of theatre in a supposedly “honourable” National Legislature.
Shouldn’t we be asking why former Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the NHS and now “health policy expert” on David Cameron’s personal NHS advisory group said this to a group of Private Healthcare lobbies, organised by private equity firm Apax:

“In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer. The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

– Doesn’t seem like the Lib Dems are fighting hard enough to me. Heaven knows what the Tories would be pushing for now, had they won a majority in 2010. It is unnerving to think about. Nevertheless, it isn’t a Tory government and so excessively Right Winged policies like that on the NHS, really need to be fully scrutinised during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Dorries isn’t the first. I blogged not long ago, on the subject of Loughborough Tory MP Nicky Morgan asking misleading and futile questions in Parliament, having emailed her to point out her pointlessness. She, oddly, blamed by anger at her helping to bring down the intellectual discourse that we expect from our Parliamentarians…… on my apparent sexism. To this day, I fail to understand her point, and cannot comprehend how someone of that level of stupidity manages to get elected. But it isn’t just restricted to the Tories. Labour and Liberals are just as guilty of weak and frivolous questioning in Parliament. It is one of the very reasons I am thoroughly anti-Lords reform. I do not want a second chamber full of mediocre career politicians trying to score points against each other. I am quite content with an appointed Lords based on merit and expertise. Another House of Commons, would be a disaster. I don’t care if it’s elected. It’s irrelevant. If all we can achieve by the Democratic process in this Country, is a Health Secretary funded entirely by the Private Health sector, and a mad old Christian who spends her time throwing darts at Nick Clegg, then perhaps Democracy isn’t all it is cracked up to be. We expect more from our politicians. It becomes increasingly obvious that people who spend their debate time, taking cheap shots at each other, should be not representing anyone, in any walk of life. They are not worthy of the office of MP.

We are told constantly of the importance of voting. That our ancestors fought for this privilege. Well, Parliamentarians fought civil wars, their brothers and fathers and sons were killed, for the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament must be worthy of our vote, because that is what wars were fought to ensure. Do we really think that the current Parliamentary tussling, complete with childish attacks and needless questions at the expense of serious debate and discourse, is truly worthy of the vote that is apparently so precious? The degradation of Parliament is circular, in that the mediocrity of our career politicians creates an air of ambivalence toward politics and the democratic process. In return, the disinterest of the electorate necessarily creates a system in which it becomes far easier for mediocre career politicians to enter politics. It is almost certainly the reason we need an unelected House of Lords.

Nadine Dorries may have raised a laughable question, but it illustrates a growing disease in Parliament. Prime Ministers Questions is a public arena, for rather bad theatre, than an arena for informed debate and intelligent discourse and holding the most powerful office in the Country to account, and that is a worrying state of affairs.


Cameron’s (im)moral crusade.

August 16, 2011

The rioting appears to have sparked a debate about the social implications of a culture focused on consuming. The Prime Minister has been forced onto the ropes, bruised and battered, agreeing tentatively to an inquiry into the underlying causes of the riots. Ed Milliband surprised me yesterday, made me sit up and take note of him, in a way that no Labour leader has done in quite some time. In his speech, Milliband said:

‎”People who talk about the sick behaviour of those without power, should talk equally about the sick behaviour of those with power.”

– It is perhaps a little opportunistic of him to have waited so long, to have been a Brownite and not said a word, to have spent the past year as leader of the Labour Party, not really separating himself from his predecessors. Silly little concepts like Blue Labour followed the post-97 tradition of capitulating to the Right on social issues, when they had the opportunity to take the title of “Progressives” away from a deeply regressive Liberal Democrat Party, made me wonder if I could bring myself to vote Labour again. But Milliband seems to be trying to distinguish himself now, from both the New Labour legacy, and the ToryLib Coalition – which, if you watch Simon Hughes speak, is slowly crumbling. So whilst opportunistic, Milliband has created a gulf between himself and the Government, the lines of which were forever blurred when Blair and Brown held the keys to power.

David Cameron, by comparison, is apparently on a rather ironic moral crusade to instill moral values into poorer communities by the time the Parliament is at a close. A particularly ironic statement he made was that the riots can partly be blamed on:

A culture that glorifies violence

– Ironic, because in five weeks time London will host DSEi 2011, the biggest arms trade fair in the World, just a few short months after a disastrous rush to intervene in Libya.

Cameron thus far has offered no solutions. The only thing of substance he managed to muster, was the idea to take benefits away from rioters. Cuts being the cause of the unrest in the first place, Cameron’s solution is more cuts? His ironic moral crusade is vile. I say ironic for a few reasons. Firstly, where was this moral outrage when the Banks were destroying the World? I don’t remember Cameron ever demanding that those responsible for the financial breakdown and its transformation into a sovereign debt crises, come out the massively inflated bonus packages of the crooks who caused the mess. Secondly, it is easy, as a Government with no mandate to do what they’re doing, to see physical violence as the collapse of the moral fabric of England, to watch the looting of private business and express outrage. It is easy to do what Republican Americans tend to do, and scream and shout about the need for smaller government, whilst threatening to evict families from their homes if their children were involved in rioting, or banning social networking and having security services monitor it closely. Their idea of Government is just as big as it ever was under Labour, the difference is the Tories seem to believe that thugs looting the private sector, is somehow worse than the Government absolutely gutting the public sector. But then I guess the aforementioned Bankers, according to the Telegraph, have bankrolled over half the funding of the Tory party in the previous five years to the tune of £43mn.

By contrast, A disabled children’s charity called “The Children’s Society” cannot afford political influence like that of the Banking sector. It is no surprise then, that the Children’s Society found that due to public sector cuts, when a disabled child reaches the age of 16, some families could be up to £22,000 worse off. That’s just for one child with a disability. Two or three children with disabilities in the same family; the damage caused by cuts is unthinkable; unless you’re Tory, in which case it’s a “difficult decision” but “necessary”. Perhaps agreeing to tax on wealth being brought back from tax havens be entirely scrapped; marking the biggest change in Corporate tax rules, in years, so that the richest tax avoiders get away with paying nothing when they move back, represents a “difficult decision”? The curse of the nasty party. I am ever more unsure how anyone can justify taking so much money away from families who need it the most. It represents looting of the worst kind.

In 2010, before the election, Gordon Brown suggested that Sure Start would be under threat under a Tory government. Clearly he was ignored, as Cameron and his Party of the family, said:

“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this. centres do not need to close”

– Well, the lying, nasty party of big business, between July 2010 and July 2011, has closed 20 Sure Start Centres…. that’s in just one year. The average cut to Sure Start per child is £50 across the Country. Though, in the poorest areas; Tower Hamlets and Hackney for example (coincidentally, where rioting took place), the average cut will be £100 per child. Yet, in the richest areas such as Richmond, it will be £30 per child. In contrast, here is the holiday home that Cameron stayed in during the riots; isn’t is lovely?

A few chavs stealing Nike trainers from Foot Locker isn’t even a drop in the ocean of the destruction caused both by Government cuts, and by those rich few in the Private Sector who happen to be the traditional support base of the Conservative Party.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

It is no surprise then that the NHS reforms are market orientated reforms, in which private equity firms and individuals who have donated to the Tory Party in the past stand to make a fortune. Perhaps we should investigate the absolutely immoral behaviour of Tory Donors?
Take Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK. The amount it should be paying, given that 30% of its production is in the UK, would cost 20,000 families to fill the gap left by Corporate theft committed by a company that was run by one of the Tory Party’s top donors.

Short Selling stocks no doubt was one of the major causes of the financial crises. People lost their homes and their jobs, their lives, the means to feed their families, because Hedge Fund short sellers gambled on the failure of the economy. John Nash is a Hedge Fund manager. He also ran Care UK. A Private healthcare company. He also donated £21,000 to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s private office whilst still chairman of Care UK. In June 2011, NHS Buckinghamshire announced that Care UK had “won” a contract to provide a Musculoskeletal Service costing £2,000,000. Since 2010, Care UK has seen a rise in profits of £1.6m, with a rise in turnover of £94m. Quite a large increase. Especially when one considers that since 2009, countless councils have cut all ties with Care UK for frankly awful service. Take Islington, who ended their contract with Care UK in 2009, stating:

“We have made the decision carefully and decided that clients’ needs will be better served with a different model of care from another provider. We look forward to announcing publicly the new contract partner in due course.”

– Lennox House in Finsbury Park, run by Care UK, came under fire when two care home resident’s bodies were left in their bedrooms for over two days.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.
Given that the Tory Party are clearly the new guardians of morality, why would they choose to offer any contracts whatsoever, from a Private Healthcare provider who have failed in their duty to provide quality healthcare where ever they can be found infecting our health system, if it not for the fact that donations equal influence over policy? There is no other reason.

David Rowland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010, before revelations about his dodgy business deals and immoral attitude toward the Planet forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before, is really not a great person to have on your side when you’re preaching morality. Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is this thieving immoral shit, that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Cameron appears to be obsessed with looting the public sector, whilst unveiling tax exiles, and immoral Corporate fraudsters, as the answer to the troubles of the Conservative Party. Blatant hypocrisy.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Hedge fund managers like John Nash are not a productive force. They make nothing. The gamble on the lives of millions. They are dangerous and unnecessary. The World would carry on without them, just fine. And yet seven of the top ten Tory donors, are hedge fund managers. In fact, Stanley Fink, who donated almost £2m to the Tories, is considered the “Godfather” of hedge funds. £13m from ten bankers, contrasted with £11mn from the Union Unite – with its two million members, as opposed to ten men – to the Labour Party and suddenly the influence of the Unions is about as relevant as Nick Clegg.

So, given the rhetoric on instilling a sense of morality, and knowing this must extend to every part of society, including the super rich, and the banking industry and its bonus culture that created such a mess in the first place, what are the Tories doing? Well, before the election, David Cameron said this:

where the taxpayer owns a large stake in a bank, we are saying that no employee should be paid a bonus of over £2,000.

– After the election, Stephen Hester of RBS was able to collect a £2.1m bonus. His salary and other payments, means he took home over £6m for the year. Brilliant. Eric Daniels at Lloyds; £1.45m bonus. Brilliant.

In 2009, George Osborne demanded that the Labour Government put a stop to ALL retail banks:

“paying out profits in significant cash bonuses. Full stop.”

– After the election, and after Osborne now has the power to stop it… full stop… Bob Diamond of Barclays is to take home around £4m in cash bonuses.

And most scandalous of all, especially for a Government that promoted honesty and transparent government, was the rather shocking revelation from a leaked Treasury paper, that whilst the Tories were telling the public they would seek to create new tough rules on banking bonuses across Europe; they were secretly lobbying to make sure the law never passed through the EU Parliament. The Government failed, and the directives passed the EU Parliament despite the Treasury in the UK working its hardest to fight it. Then, in true Osborne style, he said in the Commons, after the directive that he tried to destroy passed the EU Parliament:

on 1 January this year we introduced the most stringent code of practice of any financial centre in the world.

– Not only is he taking credit for something that he tried to destroy, it also isn’t true in itself. The EU originally wanted a 20% cap on upfront cash for bonuses. Osborne pushed for it to be raised to 40%. Under the rules for the UK, bonuses are not considered “large” until they reach £500,000. Significantly more than the EU. Certainly less than the £2000 Cameron was demanding before the election.

So, will Cameron be insisting these people are evicted from their homes? Or banned from the Internet, or imprisoned? Well, his spokesman said this:

“We’ve made a broad statement which is about the need to see some restraint and some responsibility from the banks, but we are not going to set bonus pools for individual banks,”

– The concept of morality from a Tory perspective, is evidently unnerving, dangerous, and breaks the immoral barrier down within seconds. We now have to deal with five years of a Party that is far more destructive, wedded as it is to big business, and dangerous than it ever was before, under a Chancellor whom, every day, seems more and more deluded and out of his depth.

The rioters are from a class that has been ignored, abused and disenfranchised for decades. The solution doesn’t lie in punishment alone, the solution lies in sorting out the immoral practices of the people at the very top first. The REAL trickle down affect. We need, as a society, to see looting by the wealthy as being just as wrong as looting by the poor. It is ironic, hypocritical and if it wasn’t so unnerving and dangerous, it’d be laughable, that a Prime Minister, from a Party with such a shady record on its ties to dodgy businessmen and a cabinet full of millionaire Parliamentary expenses abuses, would have the nerve to insist he is the one to instill moral guidance upon us all.


Panic on the streets of London

August 9, 2011

Theresa May: We can cut police budget without risking violent unrest
– Home Secretary Theresa May, September 2010.

I love London.
There is no city on Earth like it. I miss living there, every day. There is an odd sort of pride and even serenity in the crowds of people coming to experience such a great history. Watching it burn is saddening, but not surprising.

The riots have spread across London. Tottenham was first, Croydon and Hackney were hit. Brixton rioted. Reports that Camden High Street took a battering; the electric ballroom was smashed to pieces and the stretch between Camden Town and Chalk Farm Underground Station has been blocked by police. Peckham is under siege. Oxford Circus – a group of 50 people throwing rocks at shops. Bethnal Green Road has a youtube video showing the extent of the violence. BBC reporting that Canning Town in East London was hit, with cars smashed on Portabello Road. A five minute walk away from my old place in Southwark, Old Kent Road was attacked. An horrendous fire has been lit at a Sony Distribution Centre in Waltham Abbey. It isn’t just London either. A police station in Handsworth, in Birmingham was set alight tonight, with 87 people in the city being arrested. Bristol is experiencing riots. Police in Liverpool are advising people to keep away from Upper Parliament Street, after violence erupted in the North. It is utter madness.

The motives are of course opportunistic. There appears to be no political motive. It has purely brought out the violent and senseless mob who are achieving nothing but the destruction of their communities. But the social and economic situation in relation to these riots cannot be ignored. We must accept that when one person commits a crime, it is an individual problem. When thousands commit the same crime, on the same day, there is a deep social problem. Certain tweeters have said they watched people looting supermarkets of nappies and milk. The underlying issues need addressing. Many of the Greek rioters last year, were opportunistic in nature. But the economic pressures created an atmosphere where rioting was essentially inevitable. A government who go out of their way to initiate a shock to the system that forces unemployment up deliberately, whilst living cost and rising inflation also rise purposely, is a government that is committing economic criminality. It is similar in the UK. A study by the business information group Experian found that inner city poorer areas are not equipped to deal with economic shocks like that of austerity, because they are still dealing with the after affects of the economic shocks of the 1980s. It found that Elmbridge in Surrey was the least likely to be affected by austerity, coincidentally, Elmbridge in Surrey was labelled as the town with the highest quality of life by a Halifax Estate Agency, and the “Beverly Hills of England” by the Daily Mail. The looting of the public services and economic violence from the Government, will absolutely always lead to social violence and criminality.

Bringing business to poor areas doesn’t always help. This is where the public sector, can and should step in to fill the gap. The study by Experian showed that:

areas such as Islington and Tower Hamlets in London have relatively high business resilience compared to their people, place and community scores.

– Business may pick up, but the affects of austerity on a place like Tower Hamlets and its community, are far deeper and widespread. Unsurprisingly, rioters struck less than a mile away from the Tower Hamlets border. It highlights the importance of the State to provide better educational opportunities rather than taking away EMA. Bringing more low paid jobs to an area like Tower Hamlets, does not increase the overall feeling of worth and belonging. Making opportunities to better oneself through the education process is the key. And it begins with absolutely key programs like Sure Start.

The riots are quite simply, the culmination of an aggressive and regressive social engineering project.

There were warning signs:

Pre-election Nick Clegg warned of Greek style rioting, if a Tory government was elected and pushed through deep austerity. In October last year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the austerity measures would hit the poorest areas of England the hardest. On the earlier point of looters looting for nappies, it is no coincidence that the IFS said that the poorest people, with children, would be the hardest hit of all.

A teacher posted on Twitter:

“Taught in E17 10 years ago- clear this was going to happen- kids have been made to feel like nothing for so long.”

– If people are surprised that a growing inequality gap between the poorest and the richest, increasing under Labour, exploited and increase further still by the Tories has resulted in widespread riots in low socio-economic areas, they are incredibly naive.

We are a nation that condemns. If you’re homeless, if you’re on benefits, if you’re taking drugs. if you’re foreign, if you’re Muslim, if you’re Gypsy, if you’re poor. We condemn, without trying to understand, and yet we feel alienated when people don’t understand our problems. It is true that the rioters are a disgrace to the Country; but the issues that lead, and have always led to riots and rebellions are still not being addressed. It is all economic.

Earlier this year, The Government had planned to cap housing benefit to £290 for a two bedroom flat. Though that is slightly misleading, because before the cap – the Local Housing Allowance was based on the median average of rents in that area (known as the 50th Percentile), now it is based on the 30th Percentile. Which means the £290 is the absolute maximum, and not many will be able to claim that. Couple that with LHA being cut for people on jobseekers for more than a year, and people are suddenly able to claim pretty much nothing. Poorer people absolutely will lose their homes. Meaning, whilst business is down, unemployment is inevitably high, government austerity means people cannot afford to now pay their rent. Social exclusion of the worst kind, during the most troubled of economic times. Piling the pressure on the shoulders of the most vulnerable, is a disastrous policy from a nasty party. If Tories thought that this wouldn’t culminate in social unrest, they are living on another planet; or a Villa in Tuscany.

Labour pointed out rightly, that cuts to the Sure Start program for poorer areas (specifically mentioning Hackney) would deprive a family of around £100 per child. Whereas, in an affluent town like Richmond, it was only £30 per child. A massive discrepancy.

This video accurately defines the mentality of kids from deprived areas, after having been further deprived, of their youth facilities due to government enforced cuts. A girl on the video says that the council didn’t alert the young people or prepare them for mass youth service closures, and that one moment the youth services are there, the next they’re gone.

The Guardian article from 2009, highlighting the apparent inherent racism of the Met was spot on in its opening paragraph:

Murder and racism, indifferent and incompetent policing combined with continuing injustice, make for a toxic mix.

– The Met’s record these past three years has been disastrous, and sooner or later was going to push the situation one step too far. From the killing of Ian Tomlinson, to the kettling of kids, they get it wrong every time, and then proceed to lie their way out of trouble. We have no idea what happened to Mark Duggan. But the silence from the Met is slightly suspicious. The leaking of Duggan’s death to the press, before even informing his next of kin, was in sensationally poor taste. In fact, it then took hours for the family to get any sort of explanation from the police. The Met are shameful. The pressure from the community became volatile. It was always going to happen.

An entire generation has been told that we must own stuff. That the purpose of life is to consume. We are given easy credit to fuel the debt needed to sustain an economy and a prevailing social wisdom built around consuming. People who have very little, who are told they will always have very little, living in areas where the opportunities are bleak at best and non-existent at worst, are still encouraged to consume. The materialist mindset that has dominated all other thought processes for far too long, must not be ignored as a contributing factor to the unrest; this can be seen quite evidently with the looting of non-essential, luxury goods. We are what we buy. And that is a problem. A generation of young people have had luxuries dangled infront of their faces by incessant advertising, only to be told they would never be able to afford them; well that temptation exploded and now they can get those desirable consumer items for free.

Whilst London burns, the Mayor is on holiday. The Chancellor is on holiday. The Deputy Prime Minister didn’t return early, but is now in London following the natural end of his holiday. The Prime Minister is in Tuscany having tennis lessons in his rented villa, and the only person to come home so far is Theresa May, the Home Secretary, whom during the outbreak of the News Corp phone hacking scandal, was being tipped as a possible challenger for the leadership of the Tory Party if the scandal brought David Cameron down. One suspects she is still positioning herself as an eventual successor, given that she’s the only one to bother coming home from an apparent government-wide holiday, to deal with these problems. I cannot imagine the public – especially those hit the hardest by austerity – would happily get on with their lives as they become more impoverished, with the knowledge that the people who have forced this on them, are holidaying around the World and indulging in tennis lessons in the sunset of Tuscany. Though I fully expect Cameron to give a speech in which he states “lessons must be learnt”, without recognising the irony in his statement.

Cameron is proving to be weak. First, his cabinet start announcing ridiculous initiatives without his knowledge; selling the trees for example. Then his Chancellor blamed the snow for poor growth figures. Then he has to backtrack on NHS reform. And now his long refusal to leave the comfort of privileged life in Tuscany, to come home and deal with the mess that the Country is in, after spending the past four years telling us only he could fix “broken Britain” is telling. Britain was fine. The Tories broke it. And now they wish to wash their hands of it. I very much doubt he will recognise the underlying economic issues that led to this crises.

There can be no mistaking that the rioting, vandalism and violence are motivated by and large, by opportunism. For many, the idea that one could get a free iPod by storming an Apple store in an area of London where police are no where to be seen because they’re dealing with the same shit elsewhere, is too great an opportunity to miss. It has no political motivation on the surface. 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.


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.


Phone Hacking, The BBC, Left Wing Conspiracies and Boris!

July 20, 2011

There are a lot of blogs and articles surrounding the staggering resignations, deaths, arrests and revelations surrounding the Met and its Press Office run almost entirely by ex-News Corp journalists and their incompetent handling of two investigations; the utterly absurd judgement and ignorance of the Prime Minister; the shameful opportunism of Ed Milliband; with regard to the News Corp hacking issue. There are hundreds of articles and new revelations popping up every day. So I wanted to a somewhat different angle to this, and run down a tangent.

Though first, it seems that the Prime Minister is on the very brink of being dragged underwater and his Premiership drowned (I say that, with a lasting smirk on my face) as it emerged that not only was Coulson brought into Tory Party HQ, but also Ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who is one of the people who have been arrested so far, was an adviser to Coulson after Coulson began work for the Tories. This is particularly toxic for Number 10, because Wallis has already brought down Met Chief Sir Paul Steve Stephenson and Deputy Met Chief John Yates after it was revealed that the Met had employed Wallis as a PR consultant. This will be worth following, because even Tory blogger Iain Dale makes the extraordinary suggestion that Cameron could be brought down by this scandal. This is echoed with Tory blogger Mark Thompson offering up Theresa May as a replacement for Cameron, after betting agencies were taking 6-1 bets on Cameron being brought down, down from 100-1 two weeks ago.

Anyway. Onto the main point.

At Prime Minister’s questions last week, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart asked the Prime Minister if the police would also be investigating what he refers to as a “criminal conspiracy” at the heart of the previous Labour Government and the Murdoch Empire, into the desire to undermine Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the General Election.

I think it necessary to evaluate the character of Graham Stuart MP directly, as to discern whether his little outburst is worthy of our attention.

When Graham Stuart was at Cambridge, he was the Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. His term also coincided with a scandal, in which voting for his election was seen as suspicious and irregularities in the outcome meant that eight of his colleagues in the CUCA resigned in protest. Eight!

As well as having a face you just want to slap, and being a little bit untrustworthy at election time, he also managed to acquire the services of the repair men to resurface his private road leading up to his luxury mansion, at a usual cost of £2,500….. for free. There are potholes on the public roads around the town that he lives, but instead the resurfacing was used for his private estate.

But even if he had to pay for the road (which he didn’t), he would be able to, with the money he saves on his fortune, through his expense claims, which he thinks are perfectly legitimate. According to his forms, that I have spent the past couple hours of my apparently boring life reading through, he claimed half the electricity bill, half the rent on the flat which comes to £1400 a month, half the council tax, food, internet, phone, mobile phone, digital camera, tripod, an Egyptian cotton satin sheet worth £40, £240 on bed linen from John Lewis which he says represented “good value for money“, four £86 pillow cases, £8,500 on food between 2005-2009, he claimed £85 from a company called “Freestye Design” whom design company logos. I wondered why he’d be using a company like that. When his expenses were released, he said:

“if anyone has any questions or queries about individual claims they are more than welcome to email me or contact my office and I will do my best to answer them.”

So that’s exactly what I did.
He didn’t reply.

So, given that this man has a bit of a dodgy typical Tory character, one has to examine his question. The point he was trying to raise, was that Tom Baldwin, Head of communications for Ed Miliband, had obtained information about the Tory Lord’s tax affairs illegally. It’s an odd charge to make, given that no one is likely to feel all that sympathetic toward a Lord, worth over £1bn at the heart of a Government (who, indeed, is the largest donor to the Tory government) whose mantra is “save save save!!” Money must be saved everywhere, disabled people must lose out, children must lose out, everyone who isn’t rich must lose out…….. except for Lord Ashcroft, who isn’t contributing to the save save save mantra, because the “illegally obtained information” showed that he is classified as a non-dom, which means he doesn’t pay any UK tax on his fortune made abroad. Yet, he is part of a legislature, that insists the UK is on the “brink of bankruptcy“. He is hardly likely to foster the sympathy of a public, in the same way that the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone gained. The Tories are actively trying to divert attention away from themselves, because not only did David Cameron appoint Andy Coulson (they clearly want, and desperately need an Alistair Campbell), but Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London referred to the hacking scandal last year, as a Left Wing conspiracy. Whenever a Right Winger uses the term “left wing conspiracy” to refer to something they do not like (it happens alot in America, who, any time a gay guy says he wishes to get married to the love of his life, some lunatic Republican insists it’s all part of the “gay agenda“), I often want to bang my face against a wall and weep for the sanity of that particular section of humanity. Take Janet Daley writing in the Telegraph yesterday:

…..that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre.

Firstly, she does what most right wingers do, and suggests the BBC has a horrid left wing bias. She will no doubt point to some illogical evidence to back up her point, whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The BBC, to me, has no real bias. It is almost impossible for a media organisation to be objective when objectivity itself is impossible with regard to politics. For example, whilst Daley will claim that Euroscepticism doesn’t get treated as a legitimate political view on the BBC, it is equally as important to point out (which she doesn’t) that the BBC personality who presents all their Westminster shows, is Andrew Neil, a man who was in the Conservative Club at the University of Glasgow, was a Conservative Party Research Assistant, and stood side by side with his former boss; Rupert Murdoch at the launch of Sky in the 1980s, before becoming a writer for the Daily Mail. It is almost impossible to become more right winged, before morphing into Margaret Thatcher. And he presents all of the BBCs Westminster coverage. The Daily Politics, sees Andrew Neil flanked by Labour MP for Hackney, Diane Abbott (never been a minister, or taken particularly seriously in politics) and Michael Portillo, a former Tory Defence Secretary, Shadow Chancellor, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and potential leadership candidate. The balance is tipped very much in the direction of the Right on this one.
The political editor at the BBC is Nick Robinson. One quick google search shows that Robinson, during his time at Oxford, was not just a member, but President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was National Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Before the 2010 election he compared Cameron to Disraeli. After the election when the coalition agreements were being debated and drawn up, he referred to a Lib/Lab coalition as a “Coalition of losers“. And contrary to the views of the those of us on the Left, on his blog Robinson says of Cameron:

David Cameron prides himself on being bold when big moments occur – challenging for the Tory leadership in 2005, calling on Gordon Brown to have a snap election in 2007 and that “big, bold and generous” offer to form the Coalition in 2010.

What Robinson has done there, has metaphorically kissed and caressed a photo of David Cameron.

Daley is so blissfully ignorant to the fact that the past two years has seen the political discourse dominated by the desire to see deep public sector cuts rather than tax hikes for the wealthy; it has seen the emergence of the desire to revert back to the Capitalism that indeed failed and brought the World crashing down with it from both Labour and the Tories, and it has seen the discourse in the media and from the mouths of politicians everywhere throw spear after vicious spear at the hearts of anyone on benefits or in a Union. The NHS has been attacked, the Welfare state has been attacked, Universities have been attacked, the public purse has been attacked, and yet the very people who caused the mess in the first place have been given vast pensions and allowed to go free. A Guardian poll yesterday showed the Tories ahead of Labour, which all suggests that the public discourse and its limits are very firmly in the court of the Right Wing. A left wing discourse would, above all, launch a sustained attack on the very need for public sector cuts in the first place, it would be calling for a complete reinvention of the economic system as opposed to ignoring the inherent flaws which WILL lead to another crash, it would be unequivocally supportive of the Unions and public sector workers rather than painting them as out of touch, greedy, and overpaid, it would be constantly presenting the information surrounding Corporate tax avoidance and the obscenely high cost to the taxpayer rather than attacking the single mum who claims a few quid more than she perhaps should. As a left winger, it is an insult to hear the discourse of the political landscape in this country referred to as left wing. But that is the superb nature of right winged discourse, unless we’re throwing anyone with an Asian complexion out of the country, privatising the NHS, and shooting the families of Union leaders in the face, they will insist the Country is too left wing. Boris Johnson did that when he claimed the coverage of Phone hacking was all part of a left wing conspiracy. The same Boris Johnson who will now, in his short term as Mayor of London, see the arrival of the third Met Commissioner on his watch. Not a great record. So that’s Boris, Cameron, The Met, Lord Ashcroft (who we are now supposed to feel sympathetic toward) and Graham Stuart MP, who have not had the greatest of records pertaining to the phone hacking scandal.

Back to Ashcroft. In 2005, he commissioned two polls by YouGov and Populus. The polls were huge, and were set up to help the Tories target marginal seats, therefore it is most certainly in the public interest. He commissioned them and paid for them through his company which is based in Belize, which means he didn’t pay any VAT on them. The Guardian estimated that he owed £40,000 in unpaid VAT. Ironically, Vince Cable, now part of the Tory government funded by Ashcroft, said at the time:

“This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling.”

– So why on Earth should I care that a man who sort to keep his tax details private whilst funding a Party who would almost certainly allow his abuses to continue as they gutted the public purse, had his details extracted illegally? There are levels of poor conduct within the journalist arena, and those conducted by Brooks and Coulson and the Met (the Chief of the Met had a meeting with the Guardian to urge them to drop the phone hacking investigation last year) and in-directly, David Cameron, is far far worse than those by Tom Baldwin.

Graham Stuart MP should quit his ramblings and just go back to his mansion, and lay on his Egyptian Satin tax payer funded sheets.

The saga continues…


The hypocrisy of the Guardian.

April 3, 2011

In 2009 The Guardian ran a
series of stories surrounding Corporate Tax Avoidance and its worse
adherents. One of the Guardian’s chief reporters on the situation
is Richard Brooks. Brooks, in 2009 wrote this:

The Guardian’s investigation aims to shine some light into this
dark corner and challenge an ultimately anti-democratic tax
avoidance industry. The practices exposed merit comparison with the
excesses of the financial sector (many of which also include a fair
measure of tax avoidance). Moves towards more responsible,
better-regulated business in the wake of the financial crisis
should cover tax avoidance too

They exposed
companies like Diageo PLC who, through complex methods and
exploited loopholes, avoid great swathes of tax whilst the wages of
the average worker remain stagnant. As noted in previous blogs,
whilst benefit cheating costs the UK £900mn a year according the
Government’s own figures, Corporate tax avoidance costs the UK
£25bn. It is quite obviously time to close every loop hole that the
treasury can find. The Guardian is correct. So it might come as a
bit of a surprise that whilst the Guardian is on an apparently
righteous mission to rid the World of tax avoidance, the Guardian
Media Group (the parent company of the Guardian) is one half of a
partnership which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. The GMG is
tax avoiding. GMG and private equity firm Apax, set up Eden Bidco
in the Cayman Islands in order to purchase a company called Emap.
Apax at the time of the acquisition had a man named Adrian Beecroft
as its Chief Investment Officer. Beecroft is now on George
Osborne’s “Independent Challenge Group”, which states as its
mission:

The group will have a remit to think
innovatively about the options for reducing public expenditure and
balancing priorities to minimise the impact on public services.

Perhaps not setting up vehicle companies for
tax purposes by a multimillionaire, would be a good start in
achieving their aims. Perhaps not appointing other members like
John Nash, the Chairman of Private Health Care provider Care UK
would be a good start in achieving their aims. Coincidentally, John
Nash’s wife, Caroline Nash, gave £21,000 in a personal donation to
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s election campaign, and have
together given more than £200,000 in donations to the Tory Party.
Care UK has recently been awarded a £53mn prison healthcare
contract. Suddenly the word “independent” in “Independent Challenge
Group” is looking rather tedious. The Guardian tried to absolve
itself of all wrongdoing by stating that it was Apax who insisted
on the creation of Eden Bidco and its tax structure, in order for
the deal to buy out Emap to go through. It would appear that Apax
have been rather naughty for some time, and that the
multimillionaire Beecroft who is now advising the Government on
spending has a bit of explaining to do, because one search of the
Cayman Islands Company Register shows the following companies set
up in the Cayman Islands:

APAX CAYMAN SIX
LIMITED 110745 APAX CAYMAN TEN LIMITED 110850 APAX CAYMAN THREE
LIMITED 110724 APAX CAYMAN TWELVE LIMITED 110852 APAX CAYMAN TWO
LIMITED 110717 APAX CSG HOLDINGS LIMITED 34379 APAX EUROPE VI NXP
FOUNDER GP LTD 174622 APAX EUROPE VI NXP FOUNDER L.P. 18092 APAX
EUROPE VI NXP FOUNDER MLP CO LTD 174678 APAX FINANCIAL CORP 221135
-SO 22113 APAX GLOBIS PARTNERS & CO., LTD. 88778 APAX NXP
US VII, L.P. 18065 APAX PARTNERS & CO (GERMANY) II LTD.
72401 APAX PARTNERS & CO (GERMANY) LIMITED 36877 APAX
QUARTZ (CAYMAN) GP LTD. 195012 APAX QUARTZ (CAYMAN) L.P. 21487 APAX
US VII GP, L.P. 17341 APAX US VII GP, LTD. 163273 APAX US VII
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS, L.P. 18392 APAX US VII, L.P.

For the Guardian to take a righteous stand
against Corporate tax avoidance, whilst firstly doing business with
a prolific Corporate tax avoiding company, and secondly actually
setting up a tax avoiding company themselves, is mightily
shameful.


A place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes

February 25, 2011

Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes

– Charles Bukowski

Whilst David Cameron continues to sell arms to violent nations, ignoring the fact that hundreds of fellow Brits are stranded in Tripoli, I thought I’d give you a bit of context on how Tories tend to view those who don’t own a great deal of wealth. Tory Peer Lord Lang, The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business appointments has announced that the committee that looks into business employing former ministers, said that he would only accept people to his panel:

“who had experience and proven success in a relatively important profession or trade – somebody who had achieved distinction – rather than a waitress or bus driver.”

– A beautifully elitist attitude if ever I saw one.

One should also bring into view, the alleged fraudulent behavior of Lord Lang in the past. He is a part-time director of Marsh & McLennan, a US company, and the World’s biggest insurance brokers. In 2004 they settled out of court, for massive fraud. They had moved clients toward insurers who Marsh and McLennan had payoff agreements with. They also solicited rigged bets for insurance contracts from those insurers. The CEO resigned and they settled out of court.

Another bad news week for the economic situation. Osborne must be wondering how long he can keep saying “obviously these figures are concerning” before he starts to realise he’s absolutely to blame.
Firstly, over here in the U.K, the government and it’s slightly more mental-than-usual support base spent Monday singing the praises of the horrifically dogmatic Libertarian George Osborne because public sector net borrowing showed a £3.7bn surplus. Rising VAT and raping public services of all funds brought in more money? Who’d have thought it!!! Of course there would be a surplus rise. I am not sure why that’s even news. I don’t think that most Tory supporters understood the point of public sector net borrowing and how it is funded.

This is evident with today’s announcement, that the UK economy shrunk worse than expected in the final sector of 2010. Initial reports said the economy shrunk by 0.5%. Comically, Osborne (remember, this man is our Chancellor) blamed the snow. Now it turns out the economy shrunk by 0.6%. If you look at the ONS figures from 2008 recession, to now, it tells quite an impressive story. Recession struck, and GDP fell massively. From 2009 to the end of 2010, the economy was growing and actually recovering substantially. And then Tory policies took hold, and the economy is shrinking again. The ONS figures show that if we don’t experience some sort of miracle bounce, we are about to hit a double dip recession very soon.

To give you a bit of context, since mid-2010, construction output has fell 2.5%, household expenditure fell 0.1%, utilities output fell by 4.6%, mining output fell by 4.5%. Here is the graph:

Anyone who looks at this graph and believes the Government know what they’re doing, is seriously deluded.
If you look at employment figures, they were recovering up until the last quarter of 2010. Now, they are worsening. It isn’t surprising given that the Government has decided to kick another 40,000 people out of work at the NHS. The cutting of simply back office staff (as if that’s a good thing anyway) is ridiculous, it will hit front line services.

Predictably Danny Alexander at the treasury couldn’t answer why the situation was worse than previously expected, without starting his sentence with “Well, we inherited…blah blah utter bollocks“.

This of course wont affect Gideon Osborne, who is a trust fund baby. He will never be insecure. He will never struggle. This is because Osborne is set to inherit a 15% stake in a wallpaper and fabrics company called Osborne & Little. He is worth £4,000,000. Despite this, he flipped his second home in order to pay less capital gains tax. The Lib Dems found that Osborne owed £55,000 in Parliamentary expenses abuses on his second home. Quite comically, he spent £47 of taxpayers money on a copy of a DVD of his own speech on “value for taxpayers money“.

As the misery is spreading, due to the less fortunate being expected to pick up the bill for the extravagances of the very fortunate, there is wonderful news for the banks. RBS, despite recording a loss of £1.1bn, gave out bonuses close to £1bn for 2010. Apparently nothing has changed since 2007. But then it isn’t surprising, we apparently as a nation collectively decided that to beat right winged economics and its massive failings, we need more right winged economics.

This is even more evident in the U.S. After the Republicans in Congress decided they will be forcing through some incredibly steep spending cuts, and a very weak Obama tacitly accepting, the Wisconsin assembly have voted to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

What a horrible World we live in, when we decide it is more important for the owners of capital to treat humanity as a commodity, than it is for those people to live securely.

Essentially, what the Governments of the UK and US are telling us, is we do not understand what is best for us. What is best for us, apparently, is letting the private sector exploit as much as it wants, without us being able to stop it. They have cleverly managed to take a crises caused by Neoliberalism, and use it to push through some of the most Victorian style Neoliberal reforms we’ve ever had the misfortune to have forced upon us. The market doesn’t set wages. The base rate is set by very greedy employers. For this, unions are essential. I would urge all public sector workers in Wisconsin to collectively walk out. Let’s see just how unimportant Republicans think you are then.

Don’t let them tell you it is democratic. Being controlled by one CEO whom you cannot overthrow no matter how much you value your 2nd Amendment right to bare arms against tyrants, a CEO who is not accountable to you and whose main function is profit; being controlled by him, is not democracy and it is not freedom. It is Corporate tyranny.

Meanwhile David Cameron gave us his multiculturalism is dead speech, in which he mentioned the words “muslim” and “Islam” 36 times, in a 20 minute speech. Racism has always been a tool used by the fortunate to stifle collective action.

Thomas More once commented that

In fact, when I consider any social system that prevails in the World, I can’t, so help me God, see it as anything but a conspiracy of the rich to advance their own interests under the pretext of organising society. They think up all sorts of tricks and dodges, first for keeping safe their ill gotten gains, and then for exploiting the poor by buying their labour as cheaply as possible.”

When you analyse the rhetoric, it would appear that Thomas More was correct. The pretext of organising society after the financial crash has run thusly:

  • The Financial institutions should be bailed out.
  • The Public Sector should pay for the failings.
  • People will lose their jobs as a result of cuts.
  • Benefits for the unemployed must be cut, even as six people chase one job.
  • Help the one person who gets the job, fuck the other five.
  • Massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
  • Play on racial tensions.
    One wonders how it has managed to get to this point. But it isn’t new. Racism has always been played upon, during time of crises.
    During the American Civil War, very wealthy white Southerners managed to convinced poor white Southerners to go and fight for their right to keep black slaves. Why? How were they convinced that slavery would be beneficial to everyone? Well, they weren’t convinced. Racism was played up and the economic consequences were played down. If you convince a bunch of poor white people that those who are “racially inferior” want to be treated equally, and how they will infiltrate your kids school with their “barbaric culture”, you are very carefully constructing a social narrative that ignores the fact that the rich white folk, simply want slavery to save money on labour costs. If you can employ a black slave to do your work for free, you’re not going to employ the poor white person, regardless of how low you’re allowed to pay him. Slavery screwed over poor white people and poor black slaves. The only people who benefited, were the rich white people. And yet, poor white people were willing to die to perpetuate a system that held them back.

    This critique can be applied today. Somehow workers have been convinced, through constant negative media attention, that Unions are a great evil that need to be purged. It’s madness. During the British Airways strike, the media and so the mindless public at large took the line that the Union was to blame for the problems. The management who were screwing over both the workers and the customer were largely treated like the victims. The CEO of BA Willie Walsh had recently been forced to make BA pay the largest fine in Aviation history, after he was found guilty of price fixing. Somehow, the wealthy have managed to convince the workers that it is in their best interests, not to fight for better pay, and better conditions, and health benefits. We have been convinced, that exploitation and overbearing tyrannical management, is great for everyone. It is very U.S orientated approach to society. Which is kind of funny. America has weak unions, and strong anti-union laws. You’d think, under the rhetoric and the narrative that unions are a great evil, that America would be a pretty happy society…

    The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development conducted vast research into which countries people feel the happiest living in. It is all subjective, the people were asked if they thought their lives were predominantly affected by positive or negative experiences. Sample questions included:
    Did you enjoy something you did yesterday? Were you proud of something you did yesterday? Did you learn something yesterday? Were you treated with respect yesterday?
    They quizzed 1000 15-100 year olds, from 140 Countries.
    Surely, with all that Capitalism and so little union involvement, America should be steaming ahead? Far ahead of those EVIL SOCIALIST OPPRESSIVE EUROPEAN States weeping uncontrollably in their Government-run lives, right?

    As of 2009, here is the top ten happiest Countries out of the 140 polled:

    1. Denmark
    2. Finland
    3. Netherlands
    4. Sweden
    5. Ireland
    6. Canada
    7. Switzerland
    8. New Zealand
    9. Norway
    10. Belgium

    Their governments probably forced them to be happy, whilst talking through the Telescreen in the wall. Note that Canada is sixth.

    Perhaps it is all because whilst the happiest people in Denmark enjoy their EVIL SOCIALIST Government forced happiness, the US citizen, in his plethora of freedom, is working hard!!!
    Well, no.
    Firstly, Denmark’s unemployment rate is at 2%. Far far below the UK and US levels.
    Secondly, 9th place in the list, Norway has GDP per capita nominal of $84,543. Denmark has GDP per capital nominal of $55,113.The US has GDP per capita of $47,132. The US lags behind Sweden and Switzerland on this as well. The UK meanwhile lags behind Belguim, Singapore, Belguim, Japan. All figures from the IMF.

    As far as public debt goes (Osborne always mentions, as do most Tories, just how badly in debt we are, verging on Greece) as of 2009 figures, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, the UKs public debt as a percentage of GDP is 68.10%. Greece’s is 144.0%. Here is the list of Countries in between the UK and Greece, for public debt, along with their debt as a percentage of GDP:

    Iceland 123.80, Jamaica 123.20, Italy 118.10, Belgium 102.50, Singapore 102.40, Ireland 98.50, Sudan 94.20, Sri Lanka 86.70, France 83.50, Portugal 83.20, Egypt 80.50, Dominica 78.00, Nicaragua 78.00, Israel 77.30, Germany 74.80, Malta 72.60, Hungary 72.10, Austria 68.60, United Kingdom 68.10.

    Perhaps the UKs GDP itself is awful? What with Labour OVER SPENDING!!!!!!!!!!1111
    Oh wait, no, we have the sixth largest economy in the entire World. Our little island, is the sixth largest economy in the World. Greece, is 31st.

    Perhaps our debt is the worst we’ve EVER known? It must be pretty bad if we’re privatising absolutely everything and kicking thousands out of work?

    Okay that’s only 100 years.
    What about in the larger context?

    So it turns out the Nation’s debt, is still at one of it’s all time lows. Which begs the question, why do we believe the bullshit that has spread? The bullshit of a dire economic situation, is used purely to further the cause of an ideological attack, and nothing else.

    It is amazing. We are further empowering the financial institutions that are responsible for the problems. None of them have faced criminal charges. In the 1970s the power of the labour movements was clearly defined as the problem. Today, the problem is clearly the power of finance capital. And instead of putting a foot down and regulating the power of finance capital, we are loosening the chains even greater. Crises in this case, is inevitable. We will have another crash. But whilst we have a politics (not a democracy) funded and run by the very very wealthy, there can never be change.

    Private funding of political parties and inherited wealth from Stock Market speculation, are the great evils and the most anti-democratic and dangerous ideals of our generation.

    Politically, the left is week. They are in a daze because they have spent the past ten years being the Right. Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor cannot complain, he spent his years in office given up economic power to the financial sector. It is as if the political left (I make a distinction between the left, and the political left, because the political left is really the centre-right) doesn’t understand why its unwavering support for Thatcherite policies, has failed so miserably. It is odd, because our Political Left is still scared of certain lexis. Socialism is considered a dirty word and Capitalism is considered a golden word. Why? Capitalism failed everyone other than the very wealthy. Labour politicians do not like to be seen to align themselves with unions? Why Tories have no problem aligning themselves with greedy tax avoiding billionaires who endulge in questionable and often unethical business practices. Those businessmen represent a very narrow group of people. Unions represent thousands upon thousands of people who would be far worse off without the many industrial gains that have been made over the past century, thanks to collective bargaining.

    We need a strong united academically gifted Left for the theory, and a strong united working people’s party for practice. Note, this does not mean a local Socialist party….. they are all, as far as I can see, still living in 1917.

    So it turns out, all is not as dire as it seems. The multiculturalism card, I maintain, is being used to ensure a division between the lower classes who will be losing out whilst the rich class will benefit greatly. If we are inspired to concentrate on Nationality and Culture rather than the fact that the Polish worker, the Pakistani worker, and the British worker are all being massively screwed over, we wont rise up and fight back. Attacks by Unions as being attacks on the British public will be further propagated. As if it is their fault. It is a smoke screen designed to make us forget about the fact that the very people and the very economic ideology that got us into this mess, are going to be the ones who benefit the most.

    The Big Society will rescue us though, so it’s okay.
    (ignore the fact that according to Voluntary Sector Cuts, £53,000,000 has been cut from their budgets).

    Student strikes.
    General strike.
    Union united.
    Mass protests and rioting.

    Libertarianism must be fought against as if it is a foreign invader. Our children do not need to be born into “a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes“.


  • Cameronism

    February 21, 2011

    Neoliberalism: The tyranny of Big Business, under the mask of “Freedom“.

    I have always wondered how the very fortunate manage to convince the very unfortunate that perpetuating that system is to everyone’s benefit. Thatcher managed to convince a mass of people that the Unions were evil, and were strangling the Country. She killed off the Unions, and bosses began the biggest exploitation effort since the 19th Century. Jobs shipped abroad daily, wages kept lower than ever before, and homes repossessed with the homeless rate doubling. How were people convinced that that was a good thing for the Country? Northern England still hasn’t recovered from what she did. It would seem that if you add the words “freedom” and “giving power to the people” to the end of a speech that is essentially going to destroy those people, you will have convinced them.

    One has to wonder, if this was a people power thing, why not mention it during the run up to the election. Such a social and class engineering project doesn’t come into being over night, it takes years of planning. They knew this would be the case. So why not mention it, if it’s so great? I’d suggest because if a political party was to suggest privatisation of the NHS and the public services, before an election, they would be so massively unelectable, they would have no MPs left. So, the answer is to manipulate a population into voting for you, and then systematically destroy their life.

    The fact remains, no one has given the Tories a mandate to do this. They did not win the election. More people voted for a slower reduction of the deficit, and less cuts. More people voted centre and centre-left political parties, than who voted for the Tories. Economically, if not socially, the Tories have no democratic right to be doing what they are proposing to do.

    Any time mass privatisation is suggested, the phrases “more power to the people” and “freedom” are banded about. I am always very suspicious of this, because it never quite turns out that way. It was “freedom” that drove Thatcher to privatise British Gas and the railways. British Gas is now run by one CEO who rises prices in line with an increase in oil prices, but then when the oil price lowers, he keeps British Gas prices high, raking in massive profits. For charging customers obscene amounts of money for no legitimate reason, boss of Centrica (which runs British Gas) was Knighted for “services to business“. The Chief Exec, Sam Laidlaw (who went to Eton, unsurprisingly) increased the cost of gas for consumers by 35% in 2006, for no reason whatsoever, and made record profits, when asked about it, he answered “Well, I am not about to apologise for making a healthy profit“. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    One wonders how long they can keep blaming Labour, given that unemployment and the deficit were shrinking in May 2010. They’re now both on the rise.

    David Cameron does not have the mandate to be privatising the entire public sector. And yet, in the Telegraph today, he shamefully used his dead son as justification for the most worrying of plans I’ve yet to hear him say:

    And though I was always so grateful for the tremendous care my eldest son received, I never understood why local authorities had more control over the budget for his care than Samantha and I did.

    I never understand why my boss, where ever I choose to work, has the right to be as rude and obnoxious and speak down to us as he so wishes. But apparently that’s “freedom“. What a wretched freedom it is. Allowing business the freedom to dictate terms and conditions for its workers, with absolutely no balance, is not freedom. Replacing democratic oversight with a dictatorial boss whose only objective is to make more money, is not freedom.

    I would never use a dead relative to promote a political agenda. He should say it like it is; Cameron and Osborne are Libertarians. It is why there is a mass of tax cuts for the very wealthy whilst the public sector is being gutted. It is why the banks are not being hit. It is why he is demolishing the NHS and the public sector as a whole. It is something beyond scary.

    “Instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in individual public services – as we are now doing with schools and in the NHS – the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly.”

    What the hell? Damn right you should have to justify privatisation, logically because you are changing the system. You have to justify why you are changing the system. But mainly, because it has never fucking worked as promised in the past. The Tories privatised the railways, and now no one can afford to go anywhere. The Tories sold off the Council Houses, effectively entirely privatising the housing system, and now no one can afford homes. The Tories privatised electricity, and now old people die because they cannot afford to heat their homes in winter. So damn right you have to justify why you are handing even power to big business. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    One of the most worrying aspects of these proposals, is that the White Paper will lay out plans to make the proposals irreversible. Cameron said the Government would:

    “make it impossible for Government to return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly”

    It is an ideological attack. It is Social engineering on a grand scale. Because those of us on the Left would argue that the bad days, especially where British Gas and the railways are concerned, and looking at the private health service in America; revolves around the private sector. It has to be resisted. By making this right wing plan irreversible, he is ironically presiding over the biggest Government in decades, because he is forcing Right Winged tyranny on those of us who oppose it completely. He is effectively banning the Left Wing. What if the Labour government had given more power to the Unions, and made it irreversible? Surely we’d be hearing how Orwellian that actually is?

    What if recession hits again. Which it will. It means that the only legal response, would be to do nothing. Keynesian economics would be entirely banned. What basis do they have to ban it?

    The difference is, the power. The Unions represent hundreds of thousands if not millions of ordinary people. Their power is legitimate, if we are talking about giving power to ordinary people. Syndicalism, is not a bad idea. Giving power to a very narrow set of businessmen is not, and could never be considered the height of human freedom.

    It amazes me that we have got to a position where we are being convinced en masse, that privatisation is “handing power back to the people“. It is such a falsity that it is almost funny. When we elect a politician, we know their face, we know their name, and if we don’t like them, we vote them out. By privatising the public sector, they are practically selling democracy to the man with the most money and calling it “power to the people“. We are getting to the stage where local representatives cannot do a thing, because their power is being handed to faceless businessmen, who we do not see, ever, never mind elect. Corporations act as little Stalinist States, where money is forced upwards, from the bottom. Those at the very top are always going to want more. Those at the bottom are always going to be squeezed for as much productivity and as little money as possible. We are therefore ruled by a Stock Market system, that relies on very very dodgy deals that have no social benefit whatsoever. Has it enriched our lives thus far? Longer working hours, ever more slimy bosses with a deluded sense of superiority? Stagnating wages with no real chance of an increase? Unions unable to exercise any power? An out of control financial sector? No housing? Gas and electricity more expensive than ever before? Less job security and more worry than ever before? I have argued previously that Democracy and Capitalism are entirely incompatible. This proves it. We are not a Democracy. We are wholly run and controlled by the power of big business. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    Orwell’s worry about an overbearing Government should not come to symbolise just the abstract concept of a State. Corporations are just as dangerous.

    There is a reason why the Public and Private sectors are separate. They have different values. Profit seeking should never place itself in the public sector.

    It took a Labour backbencher, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, to force Barclays to admit that it had only paid 1% Corporation Tax in 2009, even though it made profits of £11.9bn. That is absolutely obscene and completely unjustifiable. Unless you’re a Tory, obviously. Bob Diamond, the CEO of Barclays told the Treasury Select Committee that Barclays paid £2bn in taxes in 2009. It turns out he was very misleading, because those taxes are payroll taxes and its employees National Insurance. It paid just 1% Corporation Tax. It is paying bonuses worth £3bn. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    If that wasn’t enough, Barclays (remember, the tax it saves, is obviously for our benefit, for the people!) helps to fund Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. It lent £750mn to Zimbabwean officials who had siezed land from White farmers, in 2007 alone, in order to “boost farm production“. Didymus Mutasa, the National Security Minister of Zimbabwe got a large chunk of Barclays money, even though he masterminded the ousting of white farmers….. who were left homeless. Mugabe has three farms, that he was able to take over, thanks to the funds from Barclays. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    If you’re disabled, tough. If you’re a child in a low socio-economic area, tough. If you want a borrow a book from a library, tough, it’s closed, fuck off. If you’re the CEO of a tax avoiding, corrupt regime propping up Bank…. great, have a bonus! FOR THE PEOPLE!!

    So that begs the question, why is David Cameron focusing purely on the public sector? The public sector did not fail to the extent that he is suggesting. The public sector didn’t cause the biggest financial crises we’ve ever seen. The private sector has failed miserably, far far worse than the public sector could ever imagine. The private sector created a culture of short term gain at the expense of long term stability. It gave everyone credit cards to artificially inflate demand, to keep wages at the very top getting higher and higher whilst (unsurprisingly) wages for the rest of us stagnated. It is the reason that my boss can keep us on minimum wage, and squeeze extra work out of us, without ever offering a pay rise, and talking to us as if we are socially inferior. It is a class system. The neoliberal system. And it doesn’t work. It is a hopeless, dire, miserable little system.

    David Cameron is focusing purely on the public sector, because like all Tories, he is unable to recognise the absolute failure of the Private Sector, and instead focuses all his energy on attacking the public sector. He constantly mentions benefit fraud, as do most Tory supporters. People cheating benefits is their big gripe. Yet it costs just £900mn a year. Corporate Tax avoidance (like Barclays) cost us £25bn. Get your fucking priorities in order.

    I am unsure how the Liberal Democrats can continue to let this happen. They have no shame. If they keep referring to themselves as Progressives, it is going to be the main source of ridicule politically for years. Freedom, for a left of centre party, should never mean the freedom for big business and a class of business elites, to control every inch of our lives.

    I hope to God that one day humanity opens its collective eyes to the absolute abuses of this horrendous right winged economic system we are force fed. It is not here to work for you and I. It is here to work for a very narrow wealthy elite.

    I smell Class War.

    The Unions, the Student movement, UK Uncut, and anyone who relies on public services, and anyone who hasn’t got an essential part of their soul missing, should fight back. The last thing this Country needs, is Cameronism. I give it a month before England has its name changed to McEngland, or Nike Air England.

    Thatcherism and its supporters like to boast that they beat the dragon of Socialism. The Country and the World will never be truly free until it has immunised itself from the disease of Neoliberalism.

    Neoliberal Democracy: Of the rich, for the rich, by the rich.
    FOR THE PEOPLE!!


    Pig Society Part III

    February 19, 2011

    David
    Cameron took a break today from trying to convince a very very
    unconvinced public that the Big Society idea is such a wondrous
    agenda, to work for a No vote for AV. So whilst he’s doing that, I
    thought i’d continue my series of blogs on the Big Society, by
    going one by one through the Tory/Lib Cabinet, and letting you all
    know what it is each is doing for the Big Society; what they
    volunteer for. Which ones run their public libraries, which ones
    have found the time, like the rest of us must do, to run their
    local school. I’m almost certain they practice what they preach. It
    would be terribly pathetic if they didn’t.

  • Prime Minister David Cameron, Tory: No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Deputy Prime
    Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat:
    No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Secretary of State for
    Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared

  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander,
    Liberal Democrat
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for the Home
    Department; and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and
    Skills, and President of the Board of Trade Vince Cable, Liberal
    Democrat:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan
    Smith, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
    Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat
    : No voluntary work
    declared.

  • Secretary of State for Health
    Andrew Lansley, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.
    Far too busy selling the NHS to American Private health firms.

  • Secretary of State for Education Michael
    Gove, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local
    Government Eric Pickles
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food
    and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman Tory:
    “I have
    been chair of two local charities MABL and Welcome although in my
    new role as a cabinet minister I have had to step back to be a
    patron but the first of these has hit a very difficult patch
    financially so I have had to spend a lot of time trying to help
    secure sustainable funding for MABL which helps the victims of
    domestic violence. We are not out of the woods yet and I have yet
    more meetings planned this week to try and save it. I have to be in
    the department in Whitehall even when parliament is not sitting so
    it is not easy to schedule the time but I come home every Friday
    and help also at the weekend.” – I fully salute Spelman for this.
    Not so much for trying to privatise trees.

  • Secretary of State for Transport Phillip Hammond,
    Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for International Development
    Andrew Mitchell, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics,
    Media and Sport Jeremy C….Hunt, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Secretary of State for
    Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared

  • Secretary of State for
    Scotland Michael Moore, Liberal Democrat
    : No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of
    State for Wales Cheryl Gillan, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Leader of the House of
    Commons, Lord Privy Seal Francis Maude, Tory
    : No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Attorney General
    Dominic Grieve, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Solicitor General Edward Garnier,
    Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin, Tory:
    No voluntary work declared. So that’s one out of 23. I’m not too
    good at maths, never have been, but I believe that’s about 4%. Just
    saying…..