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.


#StandForLife…. as long as it’s not left the womb yet.

July 3, 2013

poverty-creators

A sudden flurry of twitter activity around the #StandForLife trend, took my interest yesterday. The trend is in support of Texas House Bill 2, the Abortion Regulations Bill. I searched long and hard for any sign of anyone actually standing up for the life of a child once he or she had been born. Imagine my surprise when I failed to notice any mention of promoting universal healthcare, or well funded child care, or an emphasis on fighting child poverty, or a campaign to end the death penalty, or increased spending on education rather than weapons, or restrictions of guns. It would appear that #StandForLife simply means, protect a fetus; but when it’s born, it’s on its own, and should probably get a gun.

In a wonderful fit of ironic “freedom“, some were suggesting a fetus should have Constitutional rights, but then lose those rights, if they grow up to be gay:

Untitled-2

Others didn’t understand why discarding cells from a womb and protecting a woman’s health, isn’t treated the same as a word that has around 300 years of violent slave related, human rights abusing context behind it:

Untitled-1
– It really was another flurry of mad conservative overly dramatic preaching.

For those calling themselves ‘pro-life’ or insisting that they’re standing in protection of human life, they would do themselves great credit to note that universal healthcare, in every country it is permitted, works. And it tends to work far better, for far cheaper, for the majority of the population. Pro-lifers first big battle should be a system of healthcare that works for all. If we take the examples of the US with its private healthcare system, and the UK with its national healthcare system, we note some key differences, according to the World Health Organisation:

UK Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 79/82
US Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 76/81

UK Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 5
US Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8

UK Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 91/57
US Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 131/77

UK obesity rates (2013): 23%
UK obesity rates (2013): 30.6%

UK Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 3,322
US Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 8,608

UK Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 9.3
US Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 17.9

We should also note that the 9.3% of GDP the UK spends on healthcare, is enough to cover 100% of the people. By contrast, the 17.9% of GDP the US spends on healthcare, covers around 30% of the people. So, as of 2011, the US healthcare market was far less efficient than the UKs socialised healthcare system. It costs the government more, it costs people more, whilst life expectancy is lower, and there’s a higher risk of your child dying early, under the US system. It helps that that UK also has much stronger primary care, which is known to reduce healthcare costs overall. The US is especially good at late stage intervention. 13.7% of Americans were uninsured when Clinton left office in 2000; compared with 15.4% when Bush left office.
If you were to #StandForLife in the US, you would be advocating a universal healthcare system, opposing all Republican suggestions.

Republicans create poverty. Especially among children. Child poverty in the US is getting worse. The percentage of children living in a household earning less than 50% of the national average, was at 21.4% as of 2011. The lowest, is Denmark, at 2.4%. The UK is at 16.2%. In fact, from 2001, to 2009, the Bush years, child poverty rose by almost 6% in the US. Republicans care about life, before it is born. The moment it is born, they plunge you into poverty. That of course isn’t too much of a shock, given that Bush’s wealthy tax breaks resulted in the median income falling from $52,500 in 2000 (inflation adjusted) to $50,303 in 2008. In 2000, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, 39.8 million were in poverty.
During the 2012 ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, the House Republicans passed 39.8 million DOA Plan B 215-209-1. This Bill didn’t make it to the Senate, but its interesting to note that the proposal from Boehner, included throwing 300,000 children off of food stamps, whilst the Tax Policy Center found that the same proposal offered an average $108,000 tax cut for millionaires, in a typical Republican move to redistribute wealth upwards, whilst endangering and impoverishing the lives of children. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that the Republican plan results in:

“…a mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage of $7.25 and earns $14,500 a year would lose $1,560 of her Child Tax Credit, which would plummet from $1,725 to $165.”

Republicans in the House, we know, are pushing forward attempts at deep and harmful cuts to education funding, to help protect spending on defence. In May, House Republicans proposed a 6% rise in Department of Defence spending, whilst proposing a cap for Labour, Education, and HHS at $121.8; about $28bn lower than expected. Children hit again by a Republican obsession with spending cuts for those who need it the most, whilst proposing tax breaks for those who need it least.

In Tennessee, Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield introduced a bill in January that would limit welfare payments to families, based on a child’s performance at school. Essentially, do your homework, or we rich people are going to starve you. Interestingly, Senators and Representatives monthly wage isn’t dependent on their performance in government. They will eat whether they succeed in anything of any substance, or not.
If those on welfare in Tennessee have a child who skips school, they already get 20% of their welfare cut. Campfield wishes to add an extra 30% if the child isn’t performing to his standard.

Republicans dominate the State of Mississippi, they hold the Senate seats, and three of the four US House seats. And yet, voting a pro-life Party has done nothing but keep Mississippi at the very bottom of the list of worst possible States for children to live, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Index. It has remained at the bottom for 24 years. Though this year, it was overtaken by another red State; New Mexico. In fact, the bottom five States for child wellbeing in the US, are Republican controlled. All five States, coincidentally, passed ‘Right to Work’ anti-union laws, pushing poverty up horrendously, whilst enriching the wealthiest. It isn’t a war on poverty, it is a war on the poor.

In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public. Let’s also not forget that Mississippians still pay their tax dollars toward State murder, through the death penalty.
According to Gallup, in 2009, Mississippi was the most Christian State in America (Vermont is the least religious State, and also, has one of the lowest poverty rates. It is a Democrat State), whilst also being the worst State to raise a child for 24 years. Which renders tweets like this, rather ironic:

cruz
– Ironic on several counts. Firstly, for the reference to Christianity, at a time when the most Christian States tend to have the highest rates of child poverty. But also, because it’s coming from Ted Cruz. A US Senator from Texas, who voted against affordable University education for students, with the Student Loan Affordability Act, against regulations for assault weapons, against background checks for guns, against limiting firearm magazine capacity, sponsored limiting funds for people with pre-existing conditions, against the Violence against Women Act (so your child is a ‘gift from God and deserves to be protected’, until she is born), and against the Sandy relief fund and disaster relief. It is almost impossible for one man to be more anti-women, and anti-life than Senator Cruz.

#StandForLife is a soundbite. It sounds far more attractive, loving, and respectable than the truth, which is simply Republicans, under the banner of “individual Liberty”, wishing to control as many people (mainly women) as they possibly can, whilst enriching themselves in the process.

If you were to truly #StandForLife in the US, you would never vote Republican again.


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.


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…


A Neoliberal Attack…

July 13, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This could be 1983

May 13, 2011

The Conservatives haven’t changed. It is true that they are the epitome of what it means to be wealthy, privileged, and have an in-built mechanism of contempt for anybody who isn’t wealthy and privileged. I find their politics to be vicious and nasty, and their economics to be self serving and hypocritical. They are typical of the type who wish to use a system to climb to the heights they have, and then burn the ladder up which they or their family before them, climbed.

They will always use the “deficit” (which isn’t that bad) to justify the unjustifiable, simply because no one except a tiny band of elite scumbags will ever accept their economic principles. Libertarianism is dangerous and unhealthy to a civilised society. It is built on the premise of judging a nation by how rich its most wealthy have become, how concentrated that wealth has become, rather than how society protects its most vulnerable.

Their language is arrogant, vicious, dirty, and out dated, to match their political stance. Here is a few examples of Tories being Tories.

  • Wandsworth Council today announced plans for the Autumn, to charge children £2.50 to use the local park. It is in response to the £55mn it needs to find in spending cuts. Instead of fighting the obvious manipulation of figures from the Treasury which suggest we’re on the verge of becoming Greece (which we aren’t), and instead of pointing out that the Treasury is in worse shape now than it was when Labour left office, and expected to get worse, with regard to inflation and unemployment……… the Council has just accepted the bullshit, and decided that along with the disabled and the unemployed, children should be the next to be hit. We now have more property millionaires than anywhere in Europe – creating an horrendous property apartheid especially in the South, we have a banking system that has managed to get away with causing chaos, and we have a mass of Corporate tax avoiders costing the system £25bn a year….. and yet Wandsworth Council think the way to go is to make children aware that from now on, any ounce of fun, is going to cost them money. The excuse? The same typical excuse Libertarians use all the time, the same tired, nasty excuse Tories have been using for decades:

    “Why should Wandsworth taxpayers subsidise children from other boroughs?”

    – Who thinks like that? It makes me squirm.
    If that’s the case, why should the majority of left leaning voters (over 57% at the 2010 election) subsidise the jobs of a right wing government? I don’t want our family tax money to pay for our Tory MP to live so comfortably. I don’t want our tax money to go to paying a National debt whilst the very wealthy manage to pump their money into offshore accounts, and be allowed to claim expenses on running those offshore companies, against the UK tax they don’t pay. We are subsidising their ability to pay nothing. They couldn’t run a successful business in the UK, and offshore its profits, without functioning roads, a decent healthcare system, a property protection system like the police force, an education system to prepare their future workforce. And yet, their right to offshore, is supported by our Government who instead choose to attack children’s parks. Great.

    The Tories main campaign poster in 2010 was this:
    – So imagine our surprise when Mark Britnell, who made it into the Top Ten of the most influential people when it comes to healthcare in the country by the HSJ, 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.”

    Minister for Health Andrew Lansley, who is worth an estimated £700,000, and spent the Labour years flipping his second home, claiming expenses for renovating a cottage designated his second home, before selling it for a tidy profit, before claiming for furniture for his flat in London now designated his second home, insists that he isn’t considering NHS privatisation. One wonders what his most charitable donor, John Nash, of Private Health company Care UK thinks about that. Nash donated £21,000 to Lansley’s private office, whilst they continue to make 96% of their profit from the NHS. Care UK stand to make a great deal more from increased involvement of the private sector in the NHS.

  • Cameron promised that front line jobs would not be cut from the NHS, before the election. Vowing to protect the NHS is a big vote winner in the UK. Cameron knew that. He then didn’t win the election, didn’t get a mandate, and so decided to rip the NHS to shreds. According to Unison, 500 jobs at St George’s Hospital in South London are to go, along with three wards and 100 beds. Similarly, Kingston Hospital in South West London announced that around 20% of its workforce will need to go, to meet the governments cost saving demands. The government repeatedly claims it is increasing spending on the NHS in real terms. Another lie. NHS spending is set to grow by less than under the Thatcher years, which is when the NHS was gutted almost to complete meltdown. Here’s how that “increase” looks on a graph:
    Between 1997 and 2010, the number of doctors increased by 57% and nurses by 31%. Funding rose from around £1bn a year (less than Philip Green paid his family in dividends in 2009, which he financed by taking out a loan, which in turn reduced his Corporate tax rate as the interest on the loan could be offset against Corporate profits of his firm Arcadia) under the Tories, to £4.3bn under Labour, which increased the activity of the NHS by over 40%. It worked. We are healthier now than we were in the 1980s, we are living longer, and morale in the NHS was higher than the 1980s. Increases in spending this year, when adjusted for inflation, will be 0.024% from April 2011. Great. In fact, Sir David Nicholson, Chief executive of the NHS said this about the new spending plans for the NHS:

    there has never been a time where we have had four years of flat real growth. It is unprecedented.

    – There are many Tories that will argue consistently and poorly, that Osborne and the Tories are championing the NHS and funding it amazingly well beyond all recognition. Listening to them, is perilous.
    Waiting lists are already sky rocketing. In Coventry, it was reported that there would be a 13 week waiting list for Hernia repair at Walsgrove University hospital. That has now increased to 26 weeks and should be considered “just a guideline” as lists are likely to increase again this year.
    According to County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust:

    Trust is undertaking a £60m cost cutting exercise to be delivered by 2014, including £20m in 2010/11. The trust is also cutting 300 beds. 300 nursing jobs will be lost through natural wastage Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust: equivalent cost savings of around 200 fewer jobs are required to meet financial targets. In cash terms, the trust is making cost efficiencies of £25m over 3 years. City Hospitals Sunderland: The Trust undertook a £22.5m cost cutting exercise for financial year just gone. NHS County Durham and Darlington : The NHS service providers in County Durham and Darlington are undertaking a £200m cost cutting exercise over the next 3 years. The trust is cutting 62 senior nurse posts and replacing them with 78 more junior posts. In addition, County Durham PCT has identified 110 management posts for redundancy.

    The managerial posts are “in addition” to front line nursing.

  • Cameron told a female Labour MP in the House of Commons – the NATIONAL LEGISLATURE – to “calm down dear”. One wonders what Tory MP for Loughborough Nicky Morgan thought of this childish, sexist outburst from our Prime Minister, given that she was seen visibly laughing in the House of Commons at that pathetic remark, yet accused ME of being sexist when I simply asked if she had asked a planted question a few weeks back.
    This comes a few weeks after Cameron took a swipe at ethnic minorities in his attack on multiculturalism, in which he mentioned Islam and Muslims 36 times in twenty minutes, and Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Taoist, Buddhist not a single time. It was an attack on Islam, to the point where even Nick Griffin called the speech “provocative” and members of the EDL said that Cameron “understands us”.
    That came about a week after Osborne referred to an openly Labour MP in the Commons as the “pantomime dame”. It isn’t surprising, their stance on homosexuality, given that whilst 100% of Lib Dems, and 99% of Labour MPs voted to repeal the nasty little Section 28 law that banned anything positive being said about homosexuality in schools, only 24% of Tories voted to repeal it. And whilst 100% of Lib Dems, and 95% of Labour MPs voted in favour of allowing gay adoption……. only 6% of Tories voted for it. So that’s homophobia, sexism, and racism all within a year. What else is left? Ah yes, class.
    David Shakespeare, leaders of the Tory Councillor for Buckinghamshire Council said that poor northerners who are losing their jobs due to the cuts, should go down to London and pick the fruit of the land owners down south, instead of seeking job seekers allowance. He also said:

    ‘The North may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards, that may be a good thing’

    – Not even a necessary thing? Not even a regretful thing? A GOOD thing? He doesn’t mind kicking people out of their work and their jobs, he thinks it’s a great thing, because they’ll come to the south and work on his land for next to no money! He’s happy that the North is about to be gutted, again, of all funding whilst the south thrives, again, like the 1980s. Luckily I am from the Midlands, so I’m not sure i’d have to pick this overweight Tory prick’s fields, but i’m not sure if I have to bow as he drives past in his luxurious horse and cart.

  • Osborne announced this week that he was going to make it easier for companies to cut pay, cut pensions, dismiss people, and be allowed to get away with being discriminatory. In essence, he plans to make job security as unsafe as possible. It will be golden news to people like my boss. It is an attack on the workforce again. Presumably he will moan about Unions trying to hold the country to ransom whilst he attacks the rights of as many workers as possible, expecting us all to just bend over and take it. I hope the Unions unite and fight, I hope for a period of industrial action on a scale never seen before, and I hope a general strike is called as soon as possible If it is going to be a case of a very wealthy minority making life as miserable and difficult as possible for the many, then I hope the many fight back. Osborne claims employment rules are holding back job creation. He of course, is wrong. Job creation is held back significantly by a vast majority of big bosses plundering money into dodgy stocks or increasing their salaries beyond recognition. Why not cap private sector managerial wealth to a percentage of the lowest paid? Therefore when the lowest paid gets an increase, so does the highest paid. The extra-profit to be used to employ new people. Why attack the right of the workforce to a decent level of job security and working conditions? Why is that the only solution? Do you know what else creates job losses? It is happening on a smaller scale across the country, cuts are having affects on jobs and livelihoods. Cuts….
  • Derby’s Historic Industrial museum has had to close, 9 job losses.
  • Bishop Aukland College – 179 jobs losses.
  • South Tyneside College – 200 jobs to go.
  • Tyne Metropolitan College – 66 jobs to go.
  • Stockton Riverside College – 23 jobs to go.
  • City of sunderland College – 69 jobs to go.
  • Newcastle College – 171 jobs to go.
  • East durham college – 76 jobs to go.
  • New Cross library, Crofton Park library, Sydenham library, Grove Park library, Blackheath library all to close.
  • Oxford Brookes University – 400 support staff received “at risk” letters.
  • Diss weekly Youth Centre praised by police for helping troubled children, to close, and staff to lose their jobs.
  • Taunton Primary School – no more music teacher, no more music lessons.
  • A Big Society initiative – new volunteers to help out at museums in Hampshire – to replace 25 staff who have lost their jobs. Unpaid staff to replace paid staff. Great.
  • Five libraries in Lewisham to close.
  • Cuts to NHS disabled transport in Dumfries – jobs losses expected.
  • 50% of pupil support assistants assigned to children with special needs, to be cut in Aberdeen.
  • 21,000 job losses at Lloyds……..
  • ….. former Lloyds boss Eric Daniels takes home a bonus of £1.45mn…..
  • ….. new Lloyds boss António Horta-Osório takes a signing on fee of £6mn and a salary of £1.6mn.

    In short, the poor need jobs to live. The rich need the poor to be as close to slaves as possible, reliant entirely on them to be able to eat, to be called lazy and scroungers and attacked as greedy if they unionise or refuse to work for a piss poor boss in piss poor conditions for piss poor pay. It is not a plan to increase job creation, it is a plan to enable the very wealthy, to get even more wealthy – to buy an extra yacht to fill the void in their soul – by asking more and more of their staff for as little as possible, and it’s always been the case. The project is designed to make people believe their tax money is wrongly being used, not just by people who claim to have a physical disability whilst they play tennis and golf 24 hours a day, but also by children playing on swings in the town next to yours, as opposed to the fact that your tax money is actually used to make sure that the wealthiest get massively insane tax cuts with Corporation tax expected to drop from 28% in 2010….. to 15% in 2020. That is what your tax money is funding. Make sure the man in the expensive house in Notting Hill thanks you for his lovely new Mercedes….. but don’t let your kids play on the park next to his house, you scrounging scumbag.

    The progress the country has made since the hell of the 1980s, is about to be burnt to the ground. Do not be fooled into thinking this “has to be done”, it is Conservative party ideology, they have waited over a decade to have this chance.

    They are attempting to replace compassion, with greed, and it’s working.


  • A Tory England

    October 21, 2010

    Quote of the cuts day has to go to Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson, to Nick Clegg in the Commons directly after the Chancellor’s cuts package was announced:

    Somewhere between the ballot box and your ministerial car door opening, you changed your mind on everything.

    This particular brand of Conservatism is interesting. It is of course very Thatcherite. It is no different to what it was in the 1980s. Actually it is different because it is far more severe. It can easily be dressed up in lovely new inclusive phrases like ‘The Big Society’ and ‘Progressive Conservatism’ despite the fact that in less than ten seconds, the Chancellor can announce 490,000 expected job losses in the public sector, whilst his backbenches cheer gleefully. It’s easy to call it fair and necessary. But when, along with half a million job losses, we hear the Chancellor say:

    “The Employment and Support Allowance, given to people unable to work due to sickness or disability, will be restricted to one year”

    … it is virtually impossible for anyone who has even a fundamental understanding of the word ‘fair’ to be able to justify the madness.

    Yesterday’s spending review was ideological. It does not matter how many times Cameron says it isn’t, it is. It will devastate lives. £1bn is being saved by 2013 by cutting Child Benefit, yet £2bn is being given away to companies earning £350,000 a year, also by 2013. Most Conservatives are in politics for this very reason; to role back the Welfare State for the poorer and instead enlarge the Welfare State for their friends in business. When 490,000 people are instantly made unemployed, and the entire Conservative benches in Parliament stand up smiling and screaming, their faces beaming uncontrollably, waving their Parliamentary papers in the air with overwhelming joy; one finds it difficult to accept their rhetoric that this is ‘tough’ on them. It seems this is their moment in the spotlight. They were supremely happy yesterday. They have spent years hoping this moment would come.

    It has been a successful attack by the Tories and they have, I will admit, been amazing at getting their side of events across and gaining mass support for their plans. They have achieved this, as far as I can tell, in four ways:

    1) Absolutely 100% blame Labour for everything.
    It is clear that the Coalition has been told to mention the debt left by Labour as much as possible. It is perfect justification. Every Minister interviewed will refer to Labour’s legacy within about five seconds of being questioned. It is largely illogical because the debt left by Labour was firstly, very much needed, and secondly, is not actually dire.
    The problem with this view is that up until recession hit, the Tories pledged to back Labour’s spending pound for pound. So, by suggesting that Labour spent thirteen years on a spending spree, the Tories backed it fully. Then when the banks collapsed, and people’s homes and lives were put at risk, spending rose to keep people safe. This had to happen to offset the problems suddenly caused by huge unemployment. This isn’t the State’s fault. It isn’t the Government’s fault. Spending had to rise. What use is it cutting unemployment benefit during a time when unemployment is at an all time high? That is Tory logic. Allow the recession to run its course. Allow people to lose their homes and their jobs and to worry about how they are going to feed their kids. So next time when you complain about Labour’s debt, actually consider why we are in debt.

    2) Make sure the faults of the Private Sector are ignored.
    It was the financial sector that failed miserably. They risked everyone’s savings to enrich themselves further. But it isn’t just the banks that messed up. Since the early 1980s wages for workers have stagnated. They have hardly risen at all on average. Yet, the wages of the very wealthy; the owners, have increased ten fold. Take Sir Philip Green, the new Tory Party investigator of Civil Service pay; he owns a company called Taveta investments, which is registered in his wife’s name who happens to live in a tax haven. He has successfully avoided paying tax worth up to £285mn. At the same time, he awarded himself £1.2bn in a single year personally, whilst telling his work force (the people who actually make that money for him) that they must now increase contributions to their final pension scheme by half and work up to five years longer to receive it. He also uses sweatshops in India. BUT WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Now, you can only sustain unjustifiably large wages, like that of Mr Green if profit remains high. If your workers are being squeezed as much as possible, and have less disposable income to spend consuming and so enriching the very few, how do you do that? The solution was easy. You offer them easy credit, like a Topman Store Card. They then pay more than they usually would but over a longer period of time. Thus, the little man is squeezed further, but the guy at the top makes more. But apparently this is perfectly fine. The Public Sector, the sector that bailed out the Financial sector, is apparently entirely to blame.

    The problem as I see it, is that surplus profit was not being recapitalised in beneficial causes. Instead of expanding and looking into new forms of production, the owners of capital were buying up assets on the stock market. When this is amplified by million and millions of people, we suddenly have a problem. You buy assets on the stock market, hoping you will get a pretty handsome return in the future. But you understand that might not happen. You are gambling. The City of London and New York recklessly gambled our money away, they are entirely to blame.

    Whilst David Cameron likes to suggest that National debt is like household debt; he’s wrong. Not only is household debt nothing like National debt (I can’t suddenly raise taxes, if i go into the red, nor can I print my own money), but this neoliberal experiment, that the Tories kick started in the 1980s, actively encouraged us all to get into debt. This is why the banking sector collapsed. Because debt was encouraged. Secondly, personal debt is not always a bad thing if it helps improve the future. I am in debt, to pay for my education, which I hope will allow me to get a better job and be able to provide a better life for my future family, than I would had I gone straight into a job I did not want to do. This debt is an investment. Public debt is also an investment, especially if it keeps as many people in their homes and jobs as possible; which Labour understood (bare in mind, I am not a Labour voter), and which the Lib Dems understood before they were offered a bit of power. Public debt is not always a bad thing. It is often needed. It provides investment and a safety net.

    The Tories, with help from their friends in the Media (Conservative Director of Communications: Andy Coulson, used to be editor of News of the World) have shaped political discourse in this country to an apathetic and largely moronic population, beautifully. The Sun (owned by Murdoch, who also owns News of the World) ran a double page spread last Monday entitled “Britain’s benefit blackspots”. A guide to the worst areas of Britain for benefit fraud. Altogether, they noted that Benefit cheating costs the UK taxpayer £900mn. You may think that is a lot. But according to research by the TUC and Tax Research UK, Corporate Tax avoidance, and personal tax evasion (i.e – Lord Ashcroft and his non-dom status) costs the UK taxpayer close to £25bn. That’s about 30 times more in lost revenue. Enough to wipe out the deficit in about eight years, without the need for a mass of public service cuts.

    It is also suggested that public service workers are over paid. Now, given that wages have stagnated for most workers in the Private sector, i’d suggest that this is the fault of the Private sector. These bastards should pay more, not attack the public sector.

    The Tories ran the 2010 campaign on the idea that a rise in National Insurance was an evil ‘tax on jobs’. Today, they just killed off 50,000 jobs in 20 seconds. But, it’s the public sector, so apparently it’s okay. The massive consequences on communities and small private businesses, will become apparent very soon. The Tories will try to claim it is all Labour’s fault. It isn’t.

    The public sector, furthermore, is not inflated. Public spending during the 1960s was far higher than at any time during the 00s. Wages were rising beautifully during the 1960s too.

    3) Make sure the public believes, whether true or not, that this is the only way.
    The cuts that have been made, did not have to be so severe. They are overly harsh. We are a Triple A credit Country. 80% of our debt matures in 14 years, not a couple of years. We have the 5th largest economy in the World still. And we have the 3rd largest currency reserve in the World. And a very strong currency actually. So whilst you may believe everything the Tories tell you about how awful Labour were; it suggests to me that if the Tories were in power when recession struck, they’d have offered no help, spent absolutely no extra to keep people in homes and jobs, and then most probably blamed Unions.

    The current debt in the UK stands at 64% of GDP. After World War II, it was 180%. More than double now. Japan has a debt of 194%. The USA has a debt close to 73% of GDP. In fact, between 1920 and 1960, for that forty or so year period, UK government debt did not fall below 100%.

    4) Gain support from sources that apparently are credible.
    George Osbourne yesterday listed the people who agreed with him. We’ll take them one by one now. Firstly, he listed the IMF. The IMF is a neoliberal organisation that only ever proscribes harsh economic treatment to solve problems. They destroyed Ghana beyond recognition. Malaysia refused to accept anything the IMF demanded, and now Malaysia is doing just great. The IMF can also be blamed for half fucking up Ireland. Last week the IMF said that bank regulations were failing – We all fucking knew that two years ago. Nice of them to join us. Great source George. Secondly, he mentioned the CBI – the Confederation of British Industry. The business owners union. The same people who told us all that introducing minimum wage would destroy business in Britain. The same people who suggested that students are a drain on society, and yet they all went to university when it was free. They are businesses, looking to enrich themselves further, they have no sense of social responsibility, nor do they care if you cannot afford to eat. They would like to see no Welfare State and the NHS privatised. The CBI attempted to justify a huge amount of Corporate tax avoidance (discussed earlier) with….

    Legitimate tax planning – undertaken by companies that operate globally – should not be confused with so-called tax avoidance

    Thirdly, he mentioned the Bank of England. The institution responsible for the welfare of the economy. The institution that failed to see the biggest financial crises ever from taking place, even though that is its specific job. The same institution whose Deputy Governor Sir John Gieve admitted that they knew that the financial sector was out of control, and had no idea what to do about it. Another great choice for a source.
    And lastly, he mentioned the 35 businessmen who signed a letter and sent it to the press advocating everything they are doing. These businessmen are not economists. They do not know how to run an economy. They are under the impression that a business haven is ideal for all of us. Contrary to that opinion, i’d say otherwise. Nevertheless, they signed the letter. Who are these businesses? Well, one of them is Paul Walsh of Diageo, who I shall mention shortly. He has been given a role as an advisor to David Cameron. Vested interest number 1. Another is Nick Prest, Chairman of AVEVA. AVEVA has just been awarded a contract to supply Babcocks, who are to build the two new aircraft carriers unveiled by the Tories. Vested interest 2. Another, is John Nelson of Hammerson Investors. Massive tax avoiders, and are quite happy to even tell us that’s what they do, on their website. Perhaps I will refuse to pay any tax ever again and refer to it as ‘tax efficient’. Vested interest 3. Another is Moni Varma, Chairman of Veetee who admitted that Conservative HQ asked him to sign the letter. Not a vested interest, but an idiot nonetheless. Another is Philip Dilley, Chairman of Arup, who has just been given a place as an advisor to David Cameron. Vested interest 4
    The letter itself was drawn up by Next Chief Exec. Lord Wolfson. Wolfson has donated close to £300,000 to the Tory Party and is now a Tory Lord. Vested interest 5. Another is Sir Christopher Gent, non-executive chairman of GlaxoSmithKline. Gent has donated around £113,000 to the Tory Party. Vested interest 5. Isn’t it amazing? Why are we taking them seriously? Why aren’t their vested interests mentioned? I think I will email my logic Tory MP and let you know what his response is.
    Next, David Cameron has created a sort of business council. This includes Paul Walsh; the CEO of Diageo PLC, who has moved ownership of British alcohol brands offshore to avoid tax. Martin Sorrell, whose company WPP has moved entirely offshore to avoid tax. And CEO of Glaxosmithkline, Andrew Witty who avoids paying million in tax due to offshore accounting.
    None of these sources are credible. None have the Country’s best interest at heart. None care if a few hundred thousand lose their jobs, and their homes. This is Tory bullshit.

    It has been a very clever four pronged attack to win support for a program that would usually take months and years to thrash out the details of. The proposal yesterday was horrific. It is not Progressive or fair in any way. The Liberal Democrats should be utterly ashamed. They are finished. Out of protest, I will not vote in favour of AV, even though I once would.

    At the moment, the public is suffering from political apathy. They assume this is all necessary. It isn’t. It is dangerous and it is a complete attack on a decent, caring Nation in an attempt to turn us all into bitches of the business World. Labour are not all that much difference, hence the lack of credible opposition. They are not progressives. By moving to the centre, and even the centre-right, they have backed themselves into a corner. They no longer represent the Progressives. Their needs to be vast civil action. Unions need to step up, students need to step up, everyone needs to step up and let these people know that we should no longer be controlled or live in a society entirely shaped by a very select few old grey rich businessmen. I hold out hope and I have faith in this generation of anti-Tory opposition.


    Historical healthcare

    March 22, 2010

    Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.
    Winston Churchill

    OH MY GOD Churchill was a communist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Or not. Actually, definitely not. Unless you’re a conservative American. If Obama had said what Churchill said, Glenn Beck’s head would have exploded live on TV.

    Historic day for America. Obama’s healthcare plan passed. Which means more than 30,000,000 more Americans will be insured; insurance companies will no longer be able to oppressively discriminate on any basis, and best of all; Republican and conservative Americans hate it. They seem unable to differentiate between slightly left of centre beneficial policies, and Stalinist Communism.
    Obama was absolutely correct when he subtly digged at the Republicans for their appalling use of fear tactics to attempt to win this argument. They should be ashamed of themselves. They, in my eyes, are comparable to those who opposed the Civil Rights Act in ’64.
    Obama said:

    “We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things.”

    Whilst the Republicans continue to complain about the evils of Socialist medical care, I thought i’d sing it’s praises.
    We in the UK have a National Health Service. It is a single payer system. It is government run. It would, in short, make Glenn Beck’s face explode in rage.
    According to the World Health Organisation:

  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST life expectancy (m/f):77/81
  • The US’s free market haven life expectancy(m/f): 75/80
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 6
  • The US’s free market haven Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 98/61
  • The US’s free market haven Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 137/80
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST overall World Health standing:18th
  • The US’s free market haven overall standing:36th

    In short, whilst Republicans keep complaining about how awful Socialist medicine is……… we in the UK will continue to enjoy it, whilst living longer.

    For a World superpower that basis itself on freedom, I’m not sure how they can justify being so terrible in the healthcare rankings. The US even ranks below Singapore for infant mortality. That’s appalling. But, apparently allowing more children to die than 35 other countries, is far more Constitutional (as is sending the living children to war on the basis of a lie, when they’re older), than giving them a better healthcare program safety net. In fact, half of all personal bankruptcies in the USA are believed to be partly the result of ridiculously extortionate healthcare costs.

    Republicans and the Tea Party movement is simply a movement to protect the profits of American insurance companies. To fight against a bill that prevents insurance companies from turning down insurance for patients with pre-existing conditions, and cancelling insurance when people get ill, on the ideological basis that the new bill is “big evil socialist government” is pathetic. I cannot believe insurance companies have been allowed to get away with their utterly immoral practices for so long.

    In fact, I watched Republican John McCain tell a room full of people live on Fox News that the British NHS refuses to treat patients over 75. The extent of this ridiculous lie was rendered even more ingenious given that on that very same day, my 83 year old grand mother was being treated on the NHS after having a heart attack. They saved her life. The irony of John McCain’s position is, most of my family, if we lived under the current US healthcare system, would not be able to afford healthcare, and the rich conservative and Republican anti-socialised medicine brigade would have no problem denying us care.

    To deny people the right to healthcare whilst you yourself can afford it, in my opinion, is no different to me blocking the road when an ambulance needs to get past. I’m fine and healthy. I paid taxes that went to fix that road. So fuck them!!! That’s the attitude. The “individualist” attitude plaguing the West. The Republican attitude. Today, it was defeated. My face is one of complete smugness today.

    McCain today argued that the bill promoted big government. I’d argue that is irrelevant. Our British NHS has survived for sixty years, and whilst it has it’s issues, it is better than the American system. Big government or small government is not the issue. It is the equivalent of approaching an uninsured suffering child and saying “We wont help you, because, erm, well, BIG GOVERNMENT!!!!” Perhaps an injection of big business to curb the excesses of big insurance and big business, is not such a bad thing. I fully support it.

    My only issue, is that the bill doesn’t go far enough. After eight years of Republican misery, the fact that anyone actually pays any attention to those lunatics amazes me. President Obama didn’t seem strong enough. He allowed Republicans to populate their lies and fear tactics; the same tactics they used for the war on terror. It has to stop. The Republicans are an international laughing stock. And yet, their usual cry of “SOCIALISM!!! HIGH TAXES!!! BIG GOVERNMENT!!! COMMMUUUUNIIISSSM!!!! NO STIMULUS!!!!!” against anything slightly left of Reagan, seems to generate sympathy in America. The rest of us look on in amazement. Today, that horrendous and selfish tactic lost.

    I look forward to watching the psychotic Glenn Beck tell everyone America is now Soviet Russia.