The Deafening Silence of The Taxpayers’ Alliance.

April 17, 2013

800px-Margaret_Thatcher_funeral_X8A2556

The Tax Payers’ Alliance are an interesting group of right wingers. Any sort of social program is deemed a waste of tax payers’ money, by those moral guardians over at the Alliance. Any increase in public spending, is criticised instantly as a waste of money, ineffective, and courtesy of the big bad government. They only want what’s best, apparently, for the mysterious “tax payer” God of which they pray at the alter. (Except, obviously, for Alexander Heath, the non-executive Director of the group; a man who hasn’t paid taxes in the UK for years).

I mean, they really hate anything funded by the tax payer. One of the members of the West Midlands brance of the TPA, Peter Roberts, wrote on his blog:

“And finally I hate buses because they are the symbol of a socialist society where people rely on the state to provide transport.”

– Yes. They even take their time to rant about how buses are a “symbol” of socialism, silently replacing the Hammer & Sickle and the face of Che Guevara. Remember that, every time you get on a bus. You’re basically announcing your support for Stalin.

So, given their vocal interest in any slight government funding for any project, ever…. we would expect them to remain consistent, and at least have a say over the £10m tax payer funded funeral for Margaret Thatcher. A funeral, which, according to a ComRes Poll 60% of the public do not believe the tax payer should have paid for. Great time to show that the Tax Payer’s Alliance isn’t just a Tory Party mouthpiece masked as a ‘grass roots, non-partisan’ Alliance of those concerned about misspent public funds.

Here then, is a comprehensive guide to the work of the Tax Payers’ Alliance over the course of the past month.

This a list of the items that the TPA has had an opinion on, over that month:

Business rates on empty buildings
Prison gymnasiums
Prison therapy programmes
Prisoner rehabilitation programmes
Prisoners’ access to legal aid
Prisoners’ access to air freshener
The Bedroom Tax
Rise in the tax threshold
The Health and Social Care Act
The Welfare Reform Bill
GLA staff internet browsing history
MPs expenses tribunals
Cosmetic surgery on the NHS
Working trips by the Science and Technology Facilities Council
International Development spending
Housing benefit for prisoners on remand
Sentences for benefit fraud
Compensation payments for injured children
Scrapping the development of a police computer
A grant to KPMG to set up a Glasgow office
The Cyprus bailout
Welsh councils’ spending on gifts for guests
Refreshments at meetings with Mayor Rahman
Demolition of derelict homes in Stoke
University Vice Chancellors’ pay
Medical negligence law suits
Accident at work compensation
Fitting council vehicles with GPS
The appropriate number of children for people on benefits
Gagging clauses for BBC executives
A subsidised bar in Whitehall
Charges for green waste collection
Windfarms in the South Pacific
Decisions of the Financial Services Authority
Councillors’ pensions
Advice offered by NHS Online
Headteachers attending conferences
Trainee doctors’ wages
Health support for obese children
The BBC iPlayer
The BBC’s disciplinary procedures
The Youth Police and Crime Commissioner Paris Brown
Gender realignment surgery
and…
The stuffing of William Hague’s snake

Here is a list of items the TPA has not had an opinion on, and has in fact, remained completely silent on, over the past month:

Margaret Thatcher’s £10m tax payer funded funeral.

– There must be some sort of mistake. Perhaps they’re just taking their time to write a well reasoned and eloquently presented response to the entire debacle. That must be it. Or perhaps every member of the TPA is currently on holiday without access to news. Or maybe too busy collectively weeping and mourning, their thoughts too occupied with grief to comment on the expense itself. That has to be it. I’m sure when the grief subsides, they will be vocal in their opposition to such an elaborate and overly extravagant day-long tax payer/socialist funded Tory Party Political Broadcast, of which 60% of the public they claim to represent, didn’t want to fund.

That being said, if they were in fact, too grief stricken to comment at all, we would expect their website to be bereft of any update since April 8th. And yet, oddly, we see five stories on their site since that day. A story about how shit and wasteful Owen Jones is. A story about how shit and wasteful Cardiff Council are. A story about how shit and wasteful Police and Crime Commissioners are. A story about how shit and wasteful Wales is. No story whatsoever, about the funeral expense.

So the one lesson we can all take from the TPA, and their ongoing campaign, is quite simple. Tax payers’ funding this…

Untitled-5

…. is acceptable, and represents good value for money. Not Socialism. But tax payers’ funding this….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

….. clearly a symbol of the Soviet Union of Great Britain, taking away your freedoms. It even has the nerve to be red.

The TPA are that excitable about every form of tax and spending in the UK (except extravagant socialist funerals for leading proponents of right winged, small-government dogma), that a spoof generator exists in which you too can come up with a generic ‘outraged’ TPA quote!
I typed in “England” and got this rather apt response.

Untitled-3

————————————————————————————————


The Greatest Prime Minister of the 20th Century

April 13, 2013

0111554

“Style, is normally seen in terms of sweeping gestures, the dramatic entrance, the flair for histrionic glamour in the spotlight. But style can be equally powerful when it exploits non-style”
– Political Journalist James Margach.

The year was 1967. England was triumphant in its securing the first and only World Cup win in the summer previous. The Beatles were at the height of their studio success with the release of Sgt Pepper. London was swinging. And Temple Church near Westminster was preparing to say a final goodbye to the arguably the greatest Prime Minister the United Kingdom ever had: Clement Attlee.

The funeral was a small gathering of family and friends. No press, no Royal acknowledgement, no grand seven hour Parliamentary tribute special, and no outward display of intense hatred from half the country, for the man who shaped the country and the World following the end of World War II. A simple goodbye, for an outstanding Prime Minister, key reformer, and Statesman.

Clement Attlee was never seen as a figure that would amount to much in the political arena. He was fond of established institutions, from an upper middle class family, studied at Oxford, and was never ashamed that he came from an affluent background. He was a conservative, in all but economic principles. He was also not considered Prime Minister material.
Future Chancellor under Attlee, Hugh Dalton, on hearing that Attlee had won the Labour leadership in the ’30s remarked:

“It is a wretched, disheartening result, and a little mouse shall lead them”.

– Attlee was unimposing, quiet, shy, and considered very unimpressive. And yet this ‘little mouse’ was a man who would change the face of Britain, and shape public discourse and the role of the State and the Individual, to this day. Winning an unexpected landslide victory in 1945, and reshaping Britain for the next seven years.

It is said that after the quiet, and modest Attlee’s surprising win at the ’45 general election over a Conservative Party led by Winston Churchill, he stood in silence with the equally as shy and quiet King George VI for six whole minutes at Buckingham Palace, before Attlee finally said “I’ve won the election“, to which the King replied “I know“.

His economic assistant at Number 10, Douglas Jay famously noted that:

“He would never use one syllable when none would do.”

Attlee’s social democratic leanings shaped his view of what was needed for the country following the terrible economic woes of the 1930s and the heavy loss of the war. Those social democratic leanings took shape following his years working in London’s East End and experiencing the horrors of extreme poverty. In 1950 Attlee remarked:

“I get rather tired when I hear that you must only appeal to the incentives of profit. What got us through the war was unselfishness and an appeal to the higher instincts of mankind.”

– This belief, that the amplification of the appeal to profit is not necessarily the fundamental trait that incentivises mankind, was the basis for his entire Prime Ministerial legacy.

On coming to power, the unimposing Attlee set about radically restructuring the entire country following the war years. His was to be a socialist government, for the people, and for the sake of equality. He was to pursue this radical aim with vigour, a clear juxtaposition to his personality, which paradoxically complemented it also. He came around at a time when the people demanded an end to austerity, and absolutely no return to the economic misery of the 1930s. Labour offered something new. Security.

To achieve his goals, Attlee appointed a pretty strong Cabinet. Towering figures like the radical Aneurin Bevan to head up Health, Herbert Morrison – grandfather of future Labour grandee Peter Mandelson, headed up the Foreign Office. Atlee Appointed Ministers louder than he, more abrupt than he, more imposing than he. And yet, he kept them in check. Attlee was a philosophical man, a man of debate. He said very little. His Cabinet were the people to turn his plans into a reality. The Labour Government set about putting the wonderful 1942 Beveridge Report, which recommended a socially secure country, as a way to break the horrors of poverty and lack of necessity, into place.
This was the birth of the modern Welfare State.

Social Security, the report said, must be achieved as a contract between the State and the Individual. The individual worked, and the State provided back up for when times got tough. No one would be left to fend for themselves. We truly were, all in it together. It was a ground breaking idea. The Attlee government used the report as the basis for one of the most comprehensive shake ups and social experiments in the history of the UK.

Social Security was not universal, nor comprehensive, and what existed of it, was dying, prior to the Attlee government. Under funded charities trying to cope with the pressures of people coming home from war, a lack of jobs, homelessness, and health issues. Some were palmed off onto other Government Departments. It was in a broken state, and people were left to rot. And so, The National Insurance Act in 1946 established the bulk of the brand new Welfare State. It insured everyone in Country, from cradle to grave, establishing Widow’s Benefits, Unemployment Benefits, Sickness Benefits, and Retirement fund, all for a small National Insurance contribution from the Nation’s workers. All workers paid a contribution, and as a result, were protected during tough periods in their life. A modern National safety net had been created.

Alongside the National Insurance Act came the Industrial Injuries Act, which provided assistance to anyone out of work due to injuries at work. The ‘Death Benefit’ gave help to widows in planning a funeral. The National Assistance Board was set up to assess those who hadn’t contributed through National Insurance, but still required help getting into work, to support them along the way. Unemployment between 1950, and 1969, averaged just 1.6% (social economics leads to idleness? Really?). Financial distress caused by long term unemployment, had been dealt with wonderfully. Secured jobs, people felt a breath of relaxation that if all failed, a safety net would protect them until they could get themselves back on their feet. Power over their own lives, was being handed back to the people who had it the least, and needed it the most. This is the legacy of Attlee.

The National Assistance Act in 1948, replaced broken and completely irrelevant “Poor Laws”, establishing a National safety net for people who didn’t pay National Insurance; the homeless, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled, obliging local authorities to grant accommodation to those in most dire need.

After providing a Social Safety Net, the Attlee government got on with a massive house building project in order to rebuild Britain following the second World War. Between the end of the war and 1951, around 1,000,000 new homes had been built to deal with the shortage, as well as projects to rebuild those damaged during the war. 80% of the new homes, were council houses, to deal with housing the least wealthy and the most vulnerable.

And then came perhaps the greatest legacy of the Attlee government. The NHS.

Before the NHS, healthcare was largely paid for by the individual as if it were a luxury. Expensive treatments were solely the right of the wealthy. Some provisions were available, in parts of the Country, largely in London, for the poorest.
The Health Minister, Aneurin Bevin, fought a raft of opposition against the National Health Service Act from its birth in 1946, to its passage through Parliament and implementation in 1948. The point of the NHS was as beautiful as it was simple:

“free to all who want to use it.”

It didn’t quite end up as fully planned, for the very basic notion of a universal healthcare system is something ingrained into the minds of all of us who consider healthcare a right and not a luxury. The NHS is still a national treasure. The Attlee government had to backtrack slightly on free prescriptions including glasses. This caused the Health Minister Aneurin Bevan, to storm out of government. Despite the back track the framework remained intact. A universal healthcare system, free at the point of use. The NHS would also cover mental health within that framework. A section largely ignored prior to the Act.

The government nationalised 20% of the economy, as part of decisive social and economic reforms demanded by post-war voters. Whenever Conservatives insist that the Attlee regime created a Socialist economy, it is necessary to point out that 80% of the economy, was Capitalist. The very essentials that are based on need rather than consumer wants, were nationalised; coalmines, healthcare, gas and electricity. All of which had been rotting terribly, underperforming privately, and offering no safety, or decent pay for workers. Nationalisation worked to change that. This was a consensus followed for the next thirty years by both Labour and Conservative governments. Much of that consensus died in the 1970s. The strife of that decade was used as an excuse by the New Right to destroy Attlee created consensus. Other clear causes of the economic struggles, specifically, inflation, of the 1970s – the Oil crises following the OPEC trade embargo, the Iranian revolution, and the disastrous ‘Competition and Credit Control’ policy of the Tory Heath government – were ignored, and instead the system of Welfare, nationalisation and the very concept of compassion and community itself was blamed and ripped to shreds; the attempted destruction of the entire post-war consensus, was disastrous. It didn’t save Britain; it rightly identified a problem with certain aspects of the consensus, attached the blame to the wrong place, and presented a solution that has been even more disastrous than the original problem.

It is perhaps the greatest respect to Attlee, that a modern day Conservative Party, feels that it had to use left leaning rhetoric to appeal to a vast sway of the public that would not elect it, had it revealed its own intentions to reignite the flame of a much despised Thatcherism three years ago. In 2010, the Tories presented themselves in a very Attlee-esque light: “Progressives“, “Compassionate“, “Helping the poor“, “The NHS is safe with us” was their battle cry; and what a far cry that is from the Thatcherite policies that the election winning rhetoric was used to mask.

It is true that the economy struggled during the Attlee years, owing almost entirely to the pressures caused by mass unemployment and economic crises of the 1930s, the destruction of major towns and cities during the war. Though, industrial production alongside manufacturing output greatly increased under Attlee, so too did volume of exports which increased 73% between 1945 and 1951. By the time Labour’s seven years in power was up, the country was turning around. An economic boom in the 1950s and 1960s existed on a new settlement based on a Social Security system, better wages and conditions for workers, a vast improvement in quality of life, government investment, and a National Health System all carved out by the Attlee government.

He of course, made mistakes. The de-colonisation of India, whilst a great venture that almost certainly wouldn’t have taken place had the deeply Imperial minded Churchill won in 1945, was not conducted fairly, nor sensitively enough. The hastily drawn up lines carving up Hindu India, and Muslim Pakistan, lead to thousands of deaths and conflicts lasting years. Attlee took the lead in Cabinet meetings surrounding Indian independence. He had supported India’s Independence for many years, and yet failed to provide for it adequately.
It is also the case that Attlee was not too great at Cabinet meetings in general. Among other, the Minister for Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell complained bitterly that:

“Sometimes Cabinet meetings horrify me because of the amount of rubbish talked by some ministers who come there after reading briefs that they do not understand…. I believe the Cabinet is too large.”

This concern plays out across government, when we note that during Chamberlain’s reign, there were just 13 committees, 8 of which were ad hoc. During the war years, a further 400 War Cabinet Committees were created. Attlee failed to get this government-by-committee under control. That being said, he was still able to hold control of Cabinet, and make swift decisions.
Also, had Attlee not reversed on his NHS promise of free prescriptions, Bevan and others may not have resigned forcing him to go to the polls.

Despite losing the election in ’51, which allowed Churchill’s Conservatives to swing back to power, it is untrue that Attlee’s government were unpopular by ’51. Their share of the vote was down just 2%, and yet the election results show that whilst the electoral system gave Churchill’s Tories a greater share of the seats in Parliament, Attlee’s Labour Party actually won more votes than the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party combined, polled 48.8% whilst the Conservatives polled 48%, and won more votes than Labour has ever won before or since. Labour won the 1951 election, the electoral system failed miserably. Gaining a majority of the popular vote is even more of an achievement, given that Attlee’s seven years were the longest uninterrupted years for a Prime Minister, since Asquith in 1908-1916. The Attlee government was not unpopular in 1951.

Christopher Soames, son in law to Winston Churchill, and sacked from Thatcher’s cabinet, once remarked on Thatcher’s government:

“Every time you have a Prime Minister who wants to take all the decisions, it mainly leads to bad results. Attlee didn’t. That’s why he was so damn good.”

– A fitting eulogy.

A million new homes, A National Insurance System that included; a National Health Service, Child Benefit, Help for the Homeless, Sick Benefits, Unemployment Benefits, Pensions, Widows Benefits, huge improvements to workers pay and conditions, the De-Colonisation of the British Empire. All of this was achieved at a time when the a third of the Nation’s wealth was lost to the war, and a practically empty treasury. The achievements of a government that lasted just seven years, and heralded in a ‘golden age’ of souring wages, minimum inflation, and low unemployment following a horrendous war and crippling austerity, are astonishing. His insistence that the State has a decisive role to play in the well being of the people, that compassion must not be drowned out by profit, and that we are not simply individuals at war with each other, is the legacy of the greatest Prime Minister the United Kingdom has ever known; Clement Attlee.


Re-Righting History.

April 10, 2013

Roars of disapproval echoed through the Tory filled chambers of the House of Commons today, as Glenda Jackson spoke out in beautifully crafted language against the social evils of Thatcherism. The Tory benches were not happy. And yet, they are the ones who insisted on firing up the debate upon her legacy, by referring to her as the “Saviour of Britain”. If you are going to bring politics into a eulogy, and present it in such a positive, and clearly manipulated way, then you must accept that not everyone is going to be happy with your summation, and their right to provide a dissenting voice. Thatcherism is now the point of debate.

This has already been covered by Liberal Conspiracy but it’s certainly worth pointing out in as many places as possible, because as predicted, any sort of mention of negativity toward Margaret Thatcher is being used to suggest some sort of vitriolic left wing hate campaign toward a recently deceased, frail woman. Her death is being intensely politicised by the right wing, who are insisting on using it to lecture us all on how she ‘saved‘ a broken country. One sided comments on how awful the unions were, how Thatcher rode to the rescue, how she was a hero of freedom, seem to be blocking out all negative opinions and the voices of the suffering Thatcherism caused, which are simply written off as lunatic left wing hate. The BBC is being painted as a Left Wing anti-Thatcher beacon of hate, simply for even suggesting she might have been a bit divisive, or, for simply not starting every broadcast with the phrase: “Our beloved Goddess, whom ascended to heaven on a carriage made out of the concept of the love of ALL the people….“. Any suggestion contradicting the policies and the outcome of the policies of the Thatcher era, is deemed ‘disrespectful’ to the woman, rather than the policies and her mindset, from the right. Maggie’s death is being used, quite transparently, by the Right to promote an agenda.

And so naturally, they’re consistent with this demands of ‘respect’, right? Well no.

The Guido Fawkes blog in 2010 announced the death of Michael Foot, with just a few words. The comments that followed, are telling:

foot

And of course, the guardians of all morality and respect over at the Mail wouldn’t dare be hypocrites, right? Today, commenting on the public celebrations in Brixton (is anyone surprised they celebrated in Brixton?) The Mail ran with this rather ironic sentiment, given the nature of their paper as a whole:

Untitled-10

Funny then, that they lead with this when ex-Labour leader Michael Foot died, three years ago:

Untitled-3

And Littlejohn continued with this:

Untitled-4

Charles Moore over at the Telegraph is just as vitriolic on the death of Michael Foot as the Mail:

Untitled-5

Moore starts his article with this:

“We have a habit in this country of turning certain people into “national treasures”. If they go on long enough, and have enough charm, we tend to forget what we once disliked about them.”

– Clearly he has a dislike of turning those who were once hated (even by their own party?) into some sort of ‘National Treasure’. Seems reasonable enough. Strange then, that yesterday’s article from Moore is this:

Untitled-6

Spot the rhetorical false framework the Daily Mail is attempting to create. If you mention her politics in a positive light, you are “leading the tributes”:

Untitled-9

– But if you note something negative about her politics, you are “crude”.

Untitled-8
– They dislike crude! They don’t want you to speak ill of the right-winged dead. No one must mention Thatcher’s undying support for Pinochet, whilst insisting that Mandela was a terrorist. Crude!

And yet, when the Marxist Historian Eric Hobsbawm died on October 1st at the age of 95, the Daily Mail, that beacon of respecting those recently deceased, ran with this on October 2nd:

Untitled-7

Glenda Jackson, the Oscar winning actress, turned Labour MP today told the Commons:

“But by far the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism was certainly not only in London, but across the whole country in metropolitan areas, where every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom for the homeless.

They grew in their thousands. And many of those homeless people had been thrown out onto the streets from the closure of the long-term mental hospitals.”

– It is absolutely right to be pointing out the suffering that was caused by Thatcherism. This is not some sort of lunatic left wing vitriolic attack. This is pointing out the causes of the celebrations, the reasons she was despised across the Country. It is providing a balance, to the horrendously disrespectful right winged line, which ignores all of the social consequences of her ideology, and focuses on how rich a few of them became because of her. If we are going to be forced to hear the right winged “tributes” (which are nothing but tributes to Thatcherism, not Thatcher) we must hear the opposite side.

Let’s not fall for the right winged game (and it is a game), that any criticism of Margaret Thatcher must be due to some crazed leftie hateful bitter pill still not swallowed since the 1980s. Her death is being used to promote her agenda. Her funeral will be another chance to promote an agenda.

All sides of the political spectrum are guilty of projecting vitriol onto public figures and especially politicians. The right is no better. She quite obviously, judging by both the outpouring of love and the outpouring of hate, divided the country. In Brixton, she closed her eyes to the problems, and blamed the people in Brixton. Despite all reports to the contrary. She ignored it all, she ignored mass youth unemployment, institutional metropolitan police racism that still exists, refused to invest in poorer cities like Brixton, and she told them all it was their own fault. She let Liverpool slide into a “managed decline”. She destroyed lives in such a cruel way and promoting that cruelty as not only acceptable, but preferable.

There is a narrative being woven by the Right that is empty of substance. We hear the words “Saved Britain”, “put the great back into Great Britain”, “made us all believe in Britain again!”; all a mask to hide the social consequences of her policies; policies that are failing again today, and if we mention them at all, there is a tendency to dismiss it as left wing lunacy. As if those who suffered, as if the thousands thrown onto the streets, just aren’t relevant. By dismissing the voices that suffered heavily, and pumping the media full of “she saved Britain” lines of sycophantic nonsense, we are allowing history to be completely rewritten by the winners, for the sake of promoting an agenda that is being repeated today. Except for her socialist funeral, obviously.


Margaret Thatcher

April 8, 2013

597px-Thatcher_reviews_troops_(cropped)“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”
Martin Luther King

It would be wrong to claim that a person is deserving of our unquestioning respect, simply because they’ve died. We do not have to respect Margaret Thatcher as a politician, or a person. I have very little respect for her as either. We should however consider the tone of our comments on her death, if only for the sake of her family. We do this, because we are decent people. The openly “dance on her grave” barrage of hate aimed at her today, for all to see, so publicly, is another legacy of her awful ‘no such thing as society‘ legacy.

It does no good to publicly celebrate the death of person, regardless of how divisive or even how evil they were (parading the body of Gaddafi around on TV was horrific). The person is dead. They are not going to see the comments. It is irrelevant to them. The only people who will notably suffer from the comments, are the family of the person who has died. She has family, and grandkids who shouldn’t have to be exposed to some outward display of public joy and declarations of “dancing on the grave” of their grandma. Gloating and demeaning, is giving up the moral high ground to the people who created a society based on suspicion, fear, greed, selfishness, human values replaced by commercial values, me-me-me, and uninformed vitriol in the first place.
It also feeds the right winged trolls. As we see with the insufferably irritating, and vacuous Louise “You shouldn’t drink coffee from Starbucks if you have ANY issue with modern Capitalism” Mensch:

ssss
– Apparently, subtly hinting that anyone on any sort of Welfare could be capable of murdering their family, is fine by Tories. Saying “I don’t like Thatcher” makes you Socialist scum.
It is worrying that dissent in any form, will be seen as a show of ‘disrespect‘, by ‘spiteful lefties‘. Anything short of portraying her as some great figure, putting ‘great‘ back into ‘Great Britain‘ or anything equally as meaningless and clearly contradictory to reality, will be seen as simply worthless vitriol from bitter socialists. This cannot happen.

There is a notable difference it seems to me, between demanding street parties and grave dancing, to openly criticising her and her shamefully awful legacy. The latter, should be just as open as it is for those who seem to be bombarding the airwaves with talk of how she was some sort of God-like saviour. She was a political figure, a public figure, a divisive figure, we cannot and should not shut off criticism, especially at a time when her legacy is up for grabs, and will most certainly be leaped on by the right winged media wishing to portray an angelic, hero of freedom.

I therefore find it equally as disrespectful for Downing Street to have released this horrendously provocative statement:

We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.
As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.
Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come

– This quote shows a complete lack of shame for the millions of people who suffered immensely because of her. It threads perfectly into the Tory-lack-of-shame-tapestry with how they have treated every minority in this country since 2010. The Downing Street statement is a right winged version of “We’ll dance on her grave” aimed at those they continue to despise, and punish every day. The unjustifiable needless rise in suicide rates, in homelessness, in child poverty, in poverty in general was horrifically high by the time she left office. The catastrophic nature of Thatcherite deregulated finance that Tories are now trying to “fix” by demonising the poorest and most vulnerable. To ignore this, to ignore the suffering inflicted upon the nation under the Thatcher government, simply to make a right winged point is as disrespectful to the families of those who suffered losses to suicide, the misery caused by the Hillsborough cover up, those who suffered through the nasty little Section 28, the dreadful poll tax concept that eventually brought her down, those who lost their homes and their livelihoods that she cruelly named “the enemy within“, those who will never be able to afford a home now, a huge inequality gap, those who died during her time supporting Pinochet; horribly disrespectful from Downing Street. People may well have benefited from her reforms. But a lot of people suffered horrendously, and they should be afforded respect also. They should also be freely entitled to speak out. Let’s not forget that whilst Thatcher spent the final months of her life in the expensive Ritz, many of the people left broken by her policies are now struggling to deal with the fact that they have a spare room tax to deal with. Judging a Prime Ministerial legacy should be based on how the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable were improved, not on how rich the richest were able to become. The Thatcher sycophants will inevitably demand uniformity of ‘respect‘ for her as a person. This is unnecessary, and is completely wrong to demand.
When the riots kicked off in London in 2010, 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 effects 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. Let’s not rewrite history to present her as a hero.

Let’s not dance to the death of a person. Save it, help to defeat her horrific ideology. Dance at the death of Thatcherism.

No one is denying that she changed Britain entirely. She was a towering figure. She climbed to the top of a male dominated profession, and for that, she is pretty special. I confess I have abandoned much of my socialist zeal from my younger days, however, my principles still lead me to stand firmly against everything she stood for. I have nothing but contempt for her politics.

But on the day of her death, I feel for her family. That’s about all.


Why the Big Society is a load of bollocks

February 14, 2011

I have taken it upon myself to write a bullet point list of why the Big Society is a load of bollocks.

  • It’s a Tory plan.

    In principle, is sounds lovely, and cuddly; a Country where everyone helps the little old lady cross the street, and the struggling girl trying to lift her suitcase up a flight of stairs, or a disabled man trying to reach food on the top shelf, or inviting a homeless drug addict round to Christmas dinner and letting him touch your wife’s breast. It all sounds lovely. But it’s a Tory plan. So obviously it isn’t all that it seems. Putting two and two together is not difficult, because this breed of Tory isn’t much better than the last breed at hiding their sinister motives.

    Tories and their supporters are notoriously unable to critique their dogmatically held economic principles, no matter how flawed or dangerous it is. They simply put a new mask on it, every couple of years. A rebranding. Putting sparkly bits on dog turd.

    Compact Voice, an agreement between the Voluntary sector and the Government, took London Council to court over plans to cut £10mn worth of funding. They won the right to a judicial review, after the court found that the plans to cut funding to 200 projects for lower socio-economic areas of London failed to meet statutory equality duties. So given that it takes a court order to promote a Big Society that the Government is apparently massively in favour of…. what is going wrong?

    First you must look at the current Tory leader. Margaret Thatcher. Actually, it’s a posher looking shinier version of the mad old witch, but it nevertheless, is Thatcher. Dogmatically gelling himself to out of date, unfounded economic principles that didn’t work last time, and wont work again. Economic principles that cause more misery than joy, and only work to enrich a few people; the same people who happen to be socially retarded bastards of the highest calibre.

    Thatcher famously said “there’s no such thing as society“. This is exactly what David Cameron is saying when he tries to promote his “Big Society”. The mask behind the motive, is that people will volunteer in their communities, rescue libraries, save post offices. The problem is that local communities are being drained of all resources.

    When you take the mask off, the choice is “run your library yourself, of we’re closing it down“. And that’s horrendous. It is no different to what Tories always attempt to do, it just has a new mask. It would seem that the “Big Society” is a clever PR stunt, to cover up the fact that the Government is taking money away from the public sector, washing its hands of all social responsibility, in order to fund a mass of tax cuts for the very wealthy. The evidence for this can be seen with the recent offshore Corporate tax rule change; the biggest change in its history. Public money is being taken away from your library, and given back to people who run a business in England, but store their profits elsewhere, and pay no tax on it. Not only has the offshore tax system been scraped, the Corporate tax rate will be dropped by 4% by 2014. Public money is being taken away from your child’s school, for purely ideological reasons, and given to the very rich in the form of tax cuts; the very same very rich people who happen to fund the Tory Party.

    Last year, George Osborne stood up in Parliament and told us all he was instantly getting rid of 490,000 jobs. Half a million people unemployed, in less than ten seconds. The Tory backbenchers cheered in joy. The Big Society is the tedious and futile hope that the voluntary sector will suck up the jobs that have been, and will continue to be destroyed by the Government. When millions are unemployed and in desperate need, the Government is washing its hands of them, and telling the rest of us to deal with it. We didn’t create this mess. The Financial Sector; many of whom donate to the Tory party, and all of whom are taking home a mass of money in bonuses this year created the problems.

    The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

    “In Scotland we’re already delivering the big society. David Cameron’s big idea simply describes a lot of what already happens throughout Scotland’s third sector, from active volunteers in communities across the country to excellent public services run by charities.

    “But government cuts are dangerously undermining our capacity to even continue the valuable work we were doing before the crash, never mind becoming the thriving third sector that Scotland so badly needs.

    “Right now we’re on a knife- edge. The local lifelines that so many people rely on face vicious cuts, leaving the most vulnerable without the support they need. It’s going to take more than rhetoric to save our services.”

    It is impossible to engage the Voluntary sector, when you are taking billions our of it, and giving a couple of million back whilst telling everyone you’re definitely funding it adequately. It is a joke. Most charity leaders don’t buy into it. They recognise that whilst Charity organisations face cuts of close to £5bn, plus the added issue of receiving less due to the scrapping of tax relief on donations, the promise of a couple of extra hundred million pounds, is minuscule. A £100mn “transition fund” is the equivalent of taking a loaf of bread away from you, handing you a slice of bread, and telling you to feed your family.

    In fact, the Office for Civil Society’s promise of an extra £470mn for Voluntary organisations over the next four years, during a Parliament of intense Council cuts, is nothing in comparison to £500mn over the past three years. The Charity Commission will also be required to cut its funding by 27%.

    Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the Executive Director of the UKs leading voluntary and training service; “Community Service Volunteers” said:

    “So there are a lot of very worthwhile programmes – for example volunteers working in child protection as promoted by the minister for children – which are now under threat of closure.”

    Do not buy into the Big Society hype.
    It is not just a cover for public sector cuts, it is a cover to transfer wealth to a very narrow wealthy elite, through a mass of Corporate tax breaks.
    In plain, it is Tories being Tories.


  • Welcome to Corporate England…

    February 9, 2011

    It was an exceptionally busy day in British politics yesterday.
    First, the dirtiest and most destructive years of the past half a century in Britain is being made into a film, staring Meryl Streep as Satan Baroness Thatcher……..

    How scary is that?
    To research the role, Meryl will be spitting on a few homeless people, and giving your money to her friends in the City.
    I hope it explains the situation of the Thatcher years accurately. I hope they don’t presume to tell the World she created a wondrous property and share owning society. I hope they explain that her deregulation of the banking sector lead to the biggest financial mess we’ve ever had; that her selling off the council houses lead to numerous housing market crises and a lack of affordable homes for the next generation; that selling a few shares in British Gas (which hasn’t improved British Gas as a service) is not an adequate substitute for stagnating wages and the destruction of pensions; that passing power from the unions to finance capital has not been a great achievement leading to wondrous trickle down economics like her dirty ideology promised.
    That would be nice.

    Secondly, the BBC announced that the Banking sector was FURIOUS at the Treasury for the increase on the bank levy. They are apparently “livid”. It reminds me of the first episode of The Royle Family where Nana rings Barbara just to tell her that the post office wont accept her voucher because it’s a couple of days out of date. Barbara tells Jim. Jim doesn’t care. Barbara says “I’ve told Jim……… oooo he’s livid“. It is a similar situation. The increase on the bank levy of an extra £800mn more is minuscule. The bankers are not “livid”, they are simply saying so, to make it seem as if the Government is being tough of banks. It is a joint effort, and it probably wont work, because people aren’t stupid. The banks will then announce that they have come to an agreement to start lending again (even though that’s what they’re supposed to do anyway), they will presume we will all be grateful to them for doing what they’re supposed to do as opposed to just extravagantly rewarding themselves for breaking things, and the Chancellor will seem like a hero who tamed the banks. The reality, is quite the opposite.

    The bank levy is still less, even with this extra £800mn, than it was under Labour. The banks are being asked to pay less than is required of them for destroying the entire system in the first place. Barclays Chief Bob Diamond will take home a bonus (not salary) of £8mn this year. Correct me if i’m wrong, but this is the exact same situation we were in before the crises. It will happen again and again. It is inherent to the excessive power of finance capital. The unions may have had too much power in the 1970s, but finance capital, backed by the forces of Conservatism has an even greater hold on power now.

    Thirdly, as the bank levy was made public yesterday, the Tories knew it would take up much of the coverage in the Press. So this gave them a chance to spill the beans on a horrid little change to the Corporate tax laws. When I say “little change“, I mean, the biggest change to Corporate tax laws in decades. It is the greatest transfer of wealth from a gutted public sector, from services to children, to the elderly and to the disabled – to big business, I think I’ve ever known and it is massively unjustifiable.

    The change is this;
    The corporate tax rules used to say that if you paid 10% on your overseas profits, and the rate here is 28%, you’d have to pay 18% when you shift your profits back here, to make up the difference. Which is sane.
    Now, under the new Tory rules; companies pay nothing on money made by their overseas branches.
    When the money gets here, through tax havens, they will have paid nothing on it. But, this rule change only applies to “large and medium firms“. Small businesses still have to pay.
    And here’s the icing on the feces cake…. the “large company” that now have even higher profits because it doesn’t have to pay tax on it, can still claim expenses for funding its overseas branches, against the tax it pays here. They don’t pay the tax on that overseas branch, but they can still claim expenses to run it.
    Oh and by 2014, the 28% rate will be dropped to 24%.

    The point of doing this, is obviously ideological. It is an ideology that says a lower corporate tax rate is better for us all, the extra money will trickle down to us from those philanthropists of the business World, and whilst the rest of us have to deal with mass unemployment, no police, cuts to any form of social service, privatised health care, child care cuts, fear of job and house loss, extra funding for school sports being abolished, the selling off of forests and our libraries closing; we should be thanking the Government for allowing our richest companies to get even richer. Because they will provide the jobs that will kick start the economy apparently. Like they definitely fucking didn’t did in Ireland.

    Welcome to Corporate England. Welcome to Wednesday afternoon, brought to you by Starbucks. Enjoy the air you’re breathing, sponsored by Nike. Indulge in some conversation, promoted by Walmart (Disclaimer: At the end of every sentence, you must use the phrase: this sentence was brought to you by Walmart).

    It is of course no surprise that the Tories are bending over the kitchen table and winking provocatively at the City. It was revealed in the Guardian yesterday, that over 50% of Tory funds come from the City. One of my favourites is Peter Hall, an Australian Fund Manager, who in 2008 told the Sydney Morning Herald that the oceans should be sold off as property. If privatising the sea wasn’t enough, David Rowland, the multimillionaire worth an estimate £700mn donated over £4mn to the Tory Party. Hedge Fund manager Stanley Fink donated £1.9mn. He was then made Tory Treasurer. The money is astounding. For all the talk of Labour being in the pockets of Unions, it is no better that that Tories are in the pockets of the richest and most powerful men on the planet. Actually, that’s a lie. It is worse than being in the pockets of Unions. Unions represented average men and women, thousands upon thousands of people. The City represents the most narrow of elites, whose main concern is increasing their own power and wealth.

    It is no wonder that Corporate Tax cuts and a banking tax cut is being masked as a great coup against a greedy banking sector. Who do our public servants work for? What a funny, blinded little World we live in, when we claim we’re a liberal and free democracy. We are too cowardly to fight back. The Egyptians are showing us how it should be done. The public face of Finance Capital, is the Tory Party, and that is not a good thing.

    I seem to remember there were Liberal Democrats in this Coalition at some point? Are they still calling themselves Progressives? Is that still what they insist on going with? Can a massive delusion really last this long?


    Privatise profit, socialise risk

    November 29, 2010

    I am not an economist.
    Never studied economics.
    The graphs, the analyses, the spreadsheets, the intricate data fine tooth-combing is not something I do on a regular basis. Even if I had studied economics, I might have a better understanding of the language we use to describe capital flow and its merits and contradictions; but I can’t honestly say i’d understand economics as a science, any better. When the Queen asked top economists at the London School of Economics, why they didn’t see the credit crunch coming, they couldn’t answer. They knew nothing. All those years at a top economist school taught them nothing when it came down to it. So therefore, I, like everyone else, can only comment on the relationship between society and economics as I see it, from my perspective.

    This is how I interpret the financial crash.

    The first thing to note, is that this isn’t Capitalism. This is a system of perpetual yet flimsy consumerism. It is not a free market system. It is a Financial Sector system.
    The obvious link between this crises, and society as a whole is also the catalyst for the problems. The subprime mortgage market began plunging around 2005. It was largely ignored because those who were losing their homes and livelihoods in cities like Detroit in the US, were predominantly Hispanic or African American. The media did not question it. The economists did not question it. The Bush administration did not question it. But it was a small basement fire that before long would engulf the World.

    When white middle class towns and cities around California for example started to experience a wave of foreclosures, and people started owing more than their properties were actually worth, the World took note. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all but died. Lehmann was allowed to collapse. AIG, who snook onto the gravy train, expecting the housing market to be on an upward turn forever and ever, were bailed out and then faced a liquidity crises. It’s a funny thing, because this started to happen in 2007. Two years after the poorer black communities felt the pinch hard. Suddenly millions were losing their homes in the US. This didn’t appear to upset those who actually caused the mess in the first place.

    Wall Street gave out bonuses of well over $30bn in 2007, despite crushing the entire system. Often you will hear Right Wingers defend these obscene bonuses with “you have to pay the best to get the best”. These people aren’t the best. If Wayne Rooney single handedly drives Manchester United down into the First Division, from the Premiership and then the Championship, he isn’t likely to get a massive bonus at the end of it.

    The point of neoliberalism today, as it was in the 1980s, is to protect financial institutions at all costs. An it has worked. It concentrates wealth within the Nations with big powerful financial institutions. A report by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University found that 1% owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults own 85% overall. In the US, it was found that 38% of the Nation’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population.

    A similar study from the Federal Reserve shows that between 1989 and 2004:

    “there are indications that wealth became more concentrated”

    and

    “from 1992 to 2004 the wealth share of the least wealthy half of the population fell significantly to 2.5 percent of total wealth”

    During the 1980s, real wage growth stagnated both here in the UK and in the US. Money did not trickle down. This great neoliberal Thatcherite/Reaganomic experiment actually did nothing but make the wealthy, very very wealthy. The poverty rate under Thatcher was higher than it has been since. The wages and assets of the guys at the top increased massively at the same time as the average workers’ wage stagnated. You see for example, the fact that you have to earn far over the National average to be able to afford a home now. We cannot afford homes, and we are working in the UK the longest hours in Europe. We have nothing to show for it, except stagnating wages, and massively inflated wages for the guys at the very top. But, the propaganda of Neoliberalism, tells us that they deserve their wealth, and we deserve nothing. So we get nothing. This creates a problem, because the workers are in the majority and they are where the demand comes from for the economy to flourish. How do you fill the gap between keeping the wealthy very wealthy, and making sure the masses can afford to consume? Well, if you’re a financial institution you employ an idiot to come up with the idea of easy credit. Give everyone a credit card. Give everyone store cards. Give everyone subprime mortgages. You are essentially giving people money that doesn’t yet exist, in the optimistic view that everything will be okay, and the money will exist sometime in the future. I was offered a Student Credit Card with £1500 on it. I’m 24, but presumably my bank had also offered this non-existent money to 18 year olds. They are only just allowed to legally buy alcohol, and banks are already luring them into this hellhole of consumer capitalism.

    David Cameron, when accused of socially cleansing London of poorer people, with his plans to cut housing benefit, said:

    “The point everyone in this House has got to consider: are we happy to go on paying housing benefit of £30,000, £40,000, £50,000?

    “Our constituents working hard to give benefits so people can live in homes they couldn’t even dream of? I don’t think that’s fair.”

    This is interesting for a few of reasons. Firstly, housing benefit has only gone up recently, because many people have been kicked out of their jobs as a result of the failings of the Neoliberal system David Cameron holds so dear. The benefit is a safety net for those who were unfortunate enough to lose their jobs. It is fine, if you managed to escape the chop, and can still afford your house. But no one knows what the future brings. What if double dip recession hits as a result of these cuts the Coalition are introducing? A lot more people will lose their jobs, and wont be able to find one for quite some time, when 10 or 12 people are chasing the same job. So, do they get kicked out of London too? They aren’t scrounging. They are victims of a crises of Neoliberalism.

    Secondly, the comment suggests that David Cameron sees no inherent problem with the way the housing market actually works. He hasn’t said he’ll make it easier for people to be able to actually afford a house. He simply offers ways to prop up a grossly overvalued housing market. The reason that “constituents working hard” can’t afford home they “even dream of” is because the Tories of the 1980s sold all social housing, and the Financial Institutions have been ripping people off ever since. Apparently, Cameron has no issue with this.

    And thirdly, kicking the poor out of London isn’t going to free up housing for Cameron’s “hard working constituents“. These hard working people wont suddenly flock to the City of London for homes that are now magically cheaper; purely because these hard working people are having to deal with stagnated wages, inflated prices, and a mass of debt encouraged by the Tories, Labour and the Banks for thirty years. The homes will be bought up by property developers, and people who want nice little London bachelor pads, becoming a city of croissant-at-Canary-Wharf-eating businessmen.

    British households, on average, tripled their debt over the past thirty years, mostly housing market debt. They had to, in order to keep up. Now, what happens what you can no longer pay that debt back? The subprime crash happens. And then suddenly banks stop lending, because they have no money themselves. They gave out this fake money, that not only didn’t exist before, but doesn’t exist when they suddenly need it. So now business can’t borrow. So unemployment shoots up. But then demand across the marketplace falls, because people have less and less disposable income. So businesses go bust. Good times!

    Millions became unemployed, millions lost their homes, the suicide rate shot up, the homeless rate was at a forty year high, and yet bonuses on Wall Street in 2008 were close to $32bn. Quite a nice rewarded for ruining lives.

    Consumerism obviously can only exist and perpetuate if there is some sort of emotional attachment to it. The need to “fit in”. I HAD to have Nike trainers at school because kids have their own social heirarchy going on, and we all have to try to fit in with it. We are what we own, that is how consumerism, supported by governments and the media have presented life. Volvo embodied this idea beautifully, with the slogan “Life is better lived together”. We need to buy an XBox 360 because all our friends play online together, we don’t want to be left out. How can we afford it? Ah yes, student credit card. Or, buy on finance, on which you pay about one and a half times as much as you would have done if you’d have brought it from a shop. Easy credit rears its ugly head once more, to ease our need to “fit in”.

    The Financial institutions keep getting fatter that way. Wealth becomes very concentrated. Capital becomes just as powerful and destructive, as the Unions were in the 1970s. This isn’t helped by the fact that businesses everywhere, and in fact, our consumer haven itself, relies on the Financial sector. The sector truly is too big to fail. They weren’t lying. Which means those working within the Financial sector are very very powerful people. And so people start to pump money into the Financial sector.

    A few economists have pointed out, that although capital accumulation appears limitless, when you start to make a lot of money, you start to look for other avenues to invest in, in order to get one over on your competition. You need to expand. But there are limits to expansion (scarcity of labour supply, consumption, production etc). But those limits are barriers that need to be broken, according to Capitalist thought. Marx stated that “Every limit appears, as a barrier to be overcome” as being a massively destructive force at the heart of the Capitalist ideal. The consequence of being unable to use this mass amount of surplus profit in expansion, was that more money was pumped into speculating on the stock market, in unproductive ventures with absolutely no social good. When the stock market tanked, the money tanked with it.

    When an entire financial system is built essentially on fake money, it is no wonder it didn’t last. For Nobel prize winning economists and top level financial experts at the Bank of England or the Federal Reserve, not to notice this, is a massive failure and quite frankly, disastrously unnerving. This isn’t Capitalism. It is a financial sector consumer economy. And out of nowhere, its failings are socialised. Suddenly we blame the public sector. Suddenly government spending on help for single mums has to be cut. Why? What have they done? They didn’t gamble away the Nation’s money on dodgy packages and risky easy credit. In fact, they took on the easy credit, because without it, they can’t afford to eat, what with wages stagnating across the board, and unemployment at a decade long high. Irresponsibility in the Financial sector has been ignored, and blamed entirely on the public sector.

    That is how I viewed the crises.


    A game played by “adults”

    June 8, 2010

    According to several sources, our wondrous new coalition government of nasty bastards, are to spend £4m on new “reintegration” centres in Afghanistan, to send unaccompanied Afghanistan child asylum seekers back to Afghanistan. This was announced, on the very same day that BBC News reported the deaths of 10 Nato troops, as fighting in Afghanistan escalated.

    In an horrendous move to the right, it isn’t just immigration that the Tories intend to clamp down on, but now quite horrifically, it is children they have taken aim at. Overall, I find the idea of limiting immigration whilst further opening our borders to trade and capital, a silly idea based solely on the Colonial model of Nation States. But then, I find Nation States to be an outdated, and damaging principle. A silly social construct of National pride, that really has its origins around 1534 here in the UK, and is wholly inconsistent with a postmodern World built on Capitalist principles. But children, who really do not have a notion of this largely fatuous and arbitrary system of National borders, or trade, or capital flows, are now becoming the innocent victims of a game played by “grown ups“. I read the article, and just sat thinking how evil the whole idea of Nation States really is.

    The Western World has spent decades destroying Afghanistan. We have armed the Taliban against the Soviets, because it suited us. In fact, in 1985, American President Ronald Reagan referred to the Taliban as;

    “These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

    Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted recently, that the creation of the Taliban, was pretty much entirely down to the US. Which in turn, means the problems that Afghanistan, and in a sense, Pakistan now face, are largely due to the policies of the USA, in its vain attempts to defeat whomever they have designated an “enemy” in that particular decade:

    “It seemed like a great idea, back in the ’80s to– embolden– and train and equip– Taliban, mujahidin, jihadists against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. And with our help, and with the Pakistani support– this group– including, at that time, Bin Laden, defeated the Soviet Union.”

    A decade later, an American oil company called Unocal attempted talks with the Taliban in an effort to secure the rights to a major oil pipeline that would shoot through Afghanistan. Unocal were forced to back out, after they were criticised for dealing with the Taliban.

    Add another decade, and George Bush bombed the entire Country back into the stone age, for no real reason whatsoever, whilst referring to the Taliban, as part of an axis of evil (it’s ironic that a fucking evil President, has the balls to refer to another regime as evil). The very same well equiped, and fundamentalist Taliban, that the US created and armed in the first place. The US didn’t seem to give much of a shit about the Taliban’s human rights record when Reagan was funding them. But then, the same can be said for the rather evil right winged groups throughout Latin America that Reagan’s administration funded. Reagan, should have been thrown in prison, and left to rot miserably in a cell for the rest of his life. Bill Clinton, is just as to blame.

    According to the Times of India, 2001;

    “In the 1980s, the CIA provided some $5 billion in military aid for Islamic fundamentalist rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, but scaled down operations after Moscow pulled out in 1989. However, Selig Harrison of the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently told a conference in London that the CIA created the Taliban “monster” by providing some $3 billion for the ultra-fundamentalist militia in their 1994-6 drive to power.”

    Apparently Americans are not too keen on their money being spent on keeping their population healthy, but are perfectly fine with $5bn being spent on arming crazed Religious fundamentalists, who are now responsible for mass oppression and child sex trafficking.

    Given the not-too-surprising violence that is rife throughout Afghanistan, why would any genuinely decent person, suggest sending children anywhere near a country like that? If I were Prime Minister, not only would I not give two shits about the moronic English Nationalists who must now be at home wanking furiously over this; i’d happily tell them they are scum; i’d also publicly state that there is absolutely no way I am sending any child into a Country whose child sex trafficking market is one of the biggest in the World, regardless of our pathetic sense of National Pride. Regardless of our immigration and asylum policies, regardless of the “burden” to tax payers. Regardless of their skin colour or what language they can or cant speak. They are children. And I could not live with myself, if I had openly agreed to hand a child back to a Country in the midst of war, and losing a battle against child sex trafficking. Especially given that the UK, has had a helping hand in destroying that Country in the first place. It strikes me as being a fundamental problem with the way the World works, that we have billions to give to dirty banks and bad business practice, which in turn contributed to the huge pension packages of people like Sir Freddy Goodwin, who fucked the entire system and now lives in luxury; but we complain incessantly about any money from the tax payer, going to help children who happen to have a different skin colour.

    A US State Department Report on Human Trafficking, from 2009, reported:

    Afghan boys and girls are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage to settle debts or disputes, forced begging, as well as forced labor or debt bondage in brick kilns, carpet-making factories, and domestic service. Afghan children are also trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor, particularly in Pakistan’s carpet factories, and forced marriage. Boys are promised enrollment in Islamic schools in Pakistan, but instead are trafficked to camps for paramilitary training by extremist groups. Afghan women and girls are trafficked within the country and to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation and temporary marriages. Some Afghan men force their wives or daughters into prostitution. Afghan men are trafficked to Iran and Pakistan for forced labor and debt bondage, as well as to Greece for forced labor in the agriculture or construction sectors. Afghanistan is also a destination for women and girls from Iran, Tajikistan, and possibly China trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Tajik women are also believed to be trafficked through Afghanistan to Pakistan and Iran for commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficked Iranian women transit Afghanistan en route to Pakistan.

    Not only that, but according to the World Fact Book:

    Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government’s inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan’s living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world.

    It does not matter how the children found their way to the UK. Whether they were trafficked here, whether they were sent by their parents, or whether they found their own way here out of desperation, it is irrelevant. Motives, are irrelevant. They are children. They are not a pawn in an adult game of economic warfare and its obsession with labeling people “illegal” if they weren’t born here. If a couple of pence in every pound of tax money goes to helping these children, rather than sending them to hell, then good! We are a decent country, with a sense of compassion built into us. We are not a country of the social Right. The Liberal Democrats, should be utterly ashamed of this.

    This represents a major shift to the social Right, for the Tories. It shows that they have indeed wore a moderate mask for the past few years; hidden behind moderate centre-right rhetoric, but scratch gently below the surface, and we are confronted with the same old vicious, nasty party of old. A party without a sense of human decency, who focus solely on economically driven policies rather than human policies.

    Left Wing Progressives, should work together to force real economic and social policy change. We need to understand how much the West is to blame for the hellhole of Afghanistan. We cannot simply exploit countries for the benefit of our business interests, rip the country to shreds, and then throw their children onto the scrap heap. Afghanistan has spent decades as a pawn in a game played by “adults“.


    The Reagan Legacy

    March 2, 2010

    Ronald Reagan, in my estimation, was a nightmare. He is adored as a grandfather like figure who transformed America, whilst his equally as evil minion, Thatcher “transformed” Britain. A Corporate bitch at best, a war criminal for what he did with Guatemala at worst. Reagan once commented on Guatemala:
    “President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”
    President Rios Montt, staunch anticommunist, and funded almost entirely by the Reagan administration, was according to a Roman Catholic investigation, guilty of commanding widespread torture, rape, political murders and genocide against the indigenous population if they happened to show left wing sympathies.
    Greg Grandin, a reputable historian found that:
    “In Nicaragua, the U.S.-backed Contras decapitated, castrated, and otherwise mutilated civilians and foreign aid workers. Some earned a reputation for using spoons to gorge their victims eye’s out. In one raid, Contras cut the breasts of a civilian defender to pieces and ripped the flesh off the bones of another.”
    Quite ironically, one of America’s most wanted terrorists, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was funded almost exclusively by the Reagan administration, whilst also given full immunity for cocaine trafficking, people trafficking and other horrific offences, purely because he didn’t really like the Soviets either.

    Whilst Reagan was quite happily knowingly funding rape, death, and genocide over in Latin America; back in America he was launching an all out assault on organised labour. His Chief of Staff (ex-chairman of Merrill Lynch, and vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange) Donald Regan helped build policy around this new Neoliberalist ideal. In 1981, air traffic controllers went on strike to demand better working conditions. 12,000 in all. When 12,000 people go on strike, ones instant reaction is that perhaps management isn’t all that great. 12,000 people are not holding the industry to ransom; the management is holding the people to ransom. Reagan didn’t see it that way. He had them all fired. As a result, management could now just replace striking workers, meaning workers didn’t dare speak out against poor working conditions. Which meant that management could do whatever the fuck they wanted. The median real wage did not grow, during the entire 1980s. But, the gap between rich and poor more than doubled, and the homeless rate was at the highest in decades. As a result of his tax cuts for the rich, the deficit reached record highs. After forcing a recession on the American public, he then managed to cut Federal low income household funds, by 84%.

    What about the middle class? According to research undertaken by Wallace Peterson, author of “The Macroeconomic legacy of Reaganomics“, The middle class share of the economy in 1980 was 61.7%. In 1985, that had shrunk to 58.2%. Similarly, the poverty rate under President Carter reached a peak of 12.1% before falling to 11.9% by the end of his term in Office. Under Reagan, between 1981-1986, the poverty rate shot up to 14.7%. Unemployment under Carter started falling and finished at 7.5% by the end of his term. Between 1981-1986, under Reagan, unemployment shot up to 8.1%.
    Under Obama, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10% to 9.7%, whilst U.S. Department of Commerce states that 4th quarter GDP growth went from 5.7% to 5.9%, the best rate of growth in seven years. Obama doesn’t have Fox News on his side, Reagan still does. That’s the difference.

    What Reagan essentially did, with his ideal of cutting the size of government and slashing aid to those who needed it most, was to bankroll the rich, spit on the poor, create a new class of homeless people, and use this new smaller government (which in fact, had more federal employees than any government before it) to undertake the task of destroying any left wing opposition in Latin America. That was the American Government’s new mission. Constitutional? Apparently so, if you ask Republican America.

    Economist Mark Weisbrot is quoted as stating that Reagan’s economic policies were “mostly a failure”. Free-market-failure-denial-sufferers, will never accept that Reagan was an utter failure. Weisbrot goes on to point out that: “The median wage was flat, and there was a massive redistribution of income, with wealth going to the top one or two percent of the population

    Was he the most popular President of the past century as some conservatives would have us believe? No. He never reached the 90% approval rating that even George W Bush and his father achieved, and Bill Clinton managed roughly the same rating during his two terms, surpassing Reagan in the second half of each of their terms.

    The hysteria about the debt and stimulus across the U.S, is crippling the recovery. America needs more stimulus. As does Britain. It didn’t go far enough. What the World doesn’t need, is another Reagan or Thatcher propagating the rumour that neoliberalism is the only way out of recession, because for millions upon millions of people, it certainly isn’t. During a recession of such huge proportions, a lack of easily affordable healthcare (a universal system), lack of a safety net, and lack of foreclosure federal help, means the majority is far more at risk from financial ruin and psychological depression. One of the many reasons i’ll never vote Conservative.

    Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery. That’s all.

    Obama now needs to man up, recognise that he’s President, recognise that the Democrats control Congress, and make sure the Republicans – as well as being a laughing stock for the entire World – know that they are largely irrelevant now.