Ten Tory MPs with less than 50% of the vote.

July 10, 2014

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It is true that if you were to include the number of potential voters in each constituency, no current Cabinet Minister would have received over 50% of the vote. But with the freedom to vote, comes the freedom to not vote, and with that in mind we should look more closely at the the percentage that current Tory MPs – seeking to impose voter threshold on strike action – managed to win at the 2010 general election, among actual voter turnout.

So here’s a quick list of ten:

  • Sajid Javid – MP for Bromsgrove and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities – 43.7%.
    – A man who is in control of the state’s involvement in culture, media, sport, and has the key responsibility for equality in the UK, was elected with less than 50% of the vote in Bromsgrove.

  • David Jones – MP for Clyde West and Secretary of State for Wales – 41.5%.
    – A Secretary of State for an entire country, elected with a little over 40% of the vote.

  • Oliver Letwin – Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Policy Review – 47.6%
    – Letwin – after winning less than 50% of the vote – insisted that public sector workers require “discipline and fear”. On a completely unrelated note, Letwin used £2,145 in Parliamentary expenses to fix a leaking pipe on his tennis court.

  • Mark Garnier – MP for Wyre Forest -36.9%
    On his website, speaking of strikes in November 2011, Garnier writes:

    “These strikes, which will cost the economy up to half a billion pounds, were not voted for by a majority and will hit ordinary working people hardest.”

    – Replace the words “strikes” with “Tories” in this massively ironic statement, and you have a far more honest sentence.

  • Jessica Lee – MP for Erewash & Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve – 39.5%.
  • Stephen Mosley – MP for the City of Chester – 40.6%
    – On his website, Mosley says:

    “The strike action undertaken by PCS union members in June highlighted the unconsidered approach that appears to be the default setting for many unions.
    Less than 20% of their members voted for the industrial action and less than half walked out on their responsibilities that day.”

    – Interesting admiration for majority votes, when almost 60% of Mosley’s own constituency doesn’t want him representing them.

  • Nicky Morgan – MP for Loughborough – 41.6%
    – Elected with a minority of the vote, and yet voted in an attempt to ensure same-sex couples couldn’t get married. She believes with less than 50%, she gets to regulate the love lives of others.

  • Edward Garnier – MP for Harborough, Knight Bachelor and former Solicitor General – 49%.
  • James Morris – MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis – 41.2%
  • Paul Uppal – MP for Wolverhampton South West – 40.7%
    – Uppal voted in favour of a change to striking laws that would prohibit strikes in the transport sector unless a majority of the workforce voted in favour and not merely a majority of those voting. This same principle, if applied to Parliament, would mean every Cabinet Minister would not have been elected. The closest would have been Theresa May, though she’d still have fell short by 7%.

    – If a Conservative Party wishes to impose a 50% voter threshold on strike action, then I see no reason why there should not also be a 50% voter threshold on the ability to propose legislation and vote in Parliament. Indeed, if MPs with less than 50% of the vote in their own constituency can vote to restrict pay and pensions for public sector workers, I see no reason why those same public sector workers can’t then strike with less than 50% of the vote.


  • Accommodation Expenses of Tory MPs who voted for the Bedroom Tax.

    November 15, 2013

    The Party of duck-houses and moat cleaning expenses voted this week to ensure that the most vulnerable families in the UK struggle to live, with the perpetuation of the hideous Bedroom Tax. So, it’s worth noting exactly how much those same Tory MPs have claimed in their own accommodation expenses.

    (For reference, ‘accommodation’ according to IPSA covers
    Accommodation, Rent, Home Contents Insurance, Telephone Installation, Approved Security Measures, Internet, Telephone, Usage, Buildings Insurance, Mortgage Interest, Telephone Usage/Rental, Council Tax, Other Fuel, Television Installation/Rental, Electricity, Residential Deposit Loan, Television Licence, Gas, Routine Security Measures, Water, Ground Rent, Service Charges).

    Karen Bradley Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, voted against Labour’s motion to repeal the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to cut £16 a week from the budgets of the hardest pressed families. Presumably to help plug the Treasury hole arising from her own accommodation expenses, seen here:

    conservatives expenses, karen bradley expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax mps

    Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. He also once blamed civil servants for the failure of certain government projects, and is particularly interested in investigating the causes of government overspending. Here, he claimed £22,000+ in accommodation expenses for a very short space of time, whilst voting to take away accommodation expenses from the most vulnerable:

    richard bacon mp, mps expenses, bedroom tax tories, tories expenses, conservative party expenses

    Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Morgan once told a room full of students at a debate I was at, that business owners make the best MPs. She got a huge boo from the audience. But I agree with her…. in a Parliament that is dedicated to the very wealthy, those sympathetic to the very wealthy to the detriment of the everyone else make the best Corporate-MPs. That’s true. For the rest of us, they are a nightmare. The Bedroom Tax is testament to that hideous Corporate-MP mentality. Anyway, Morgan, whilst ‘Economic Secretary to the Treasury’ and voting to uphold the misery that has lead to so many tragic incidents like that of Stephanie Bottrill, claimed the following in her accommodation:

    nicky morgan mp expenses, nicky morgan mp bedroom tax, bedroom tax mps expenses, mps expenses, conservative party mps expenses

    Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire and former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

    alistairburtMP, alistair burt mp expenses, mps expenses, mps accommodation expenses, bedroom tax debate

    Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset and great-great-great Grandson of Queen Victoria (as well as the great grandson of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone) claimed £166,109 in 2007/08. After the rule change in 2010/11, Liddell-Grainger claimed £147,004, making him the 6th most expensive MP in Parliament for that year. His wife and two eldest children are registered as his staff. He also voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

    liddell-grainger expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax tories, ian liddell-grainger vote

    John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, was chairman of the All Party group on Disability. Apparently it did nothing to soften what seems to be an inherent desire to strip those with disabilities of much needed help, whilst himself claiming a small fortune in accommodation expenses:

    john hayes mp, john hayes mps expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax vote

    Together, the expenses of these six alone could pay to lessen the horrific burden that austerity – caused by the most affluent – has placed on those who cannot afford it. We have become a country that grotesquely judges its success by how protected those with everything are, rather than those with nothing. The accommodation expenses of almost every Tory and Lib Dem MP who voted against the repeal of Bedroom Tax comes in at hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions. Here is the full list posted on change.org. If your MP voted against the repeal of the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to uphold such a cruel attack on the nation’s most vulnerable, get in contact and ask why they believe themselves justified in claiming thousands upon thousands in accommodation expenses, whilst their constituents struggle to afford to live.


    #MyDadHatedBritain

    October 1, 2013

    When the Tories unleashed the racist van a few months back, social media sprung to life in parodying it, thus rendering the miserable venture an episode in ridicule, taking the sharpness out of its nasty sting. Today, Twitter sprung back to life with similar humour, intending to render the Daily Mail’s vicious piece on Ralph Miliband, a piece worth nothing but ridicule. And they succeeded beautifully.

    The Daily Mail accused Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s late father Ralph Miliband, of “hating Britain”. So twitter users took to the social media site to confess their own worries that their father might also hate Britain. Here are a selection of my favourites:

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    4

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    9

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    Wonderful. And it’s still continuing on Twitter as we speak. Ridiculing irrational slur stories, is a fine way to discredit and disempower the original piece.


    Capitalism and Language

    August 7, 2013

    It is impossible to go a day or two without being presented with language that means very little, whilst appearing to mean a lot. It gives the appearance of some sort of professionalism, but that is all it is; appearance. It exists in its own World, somewhat divorced from reality. It perhaps mimics notions of professional dress codes; professional hair cuts; making sure tattoos aren’t on display; all the signs of modern day lifeless ‘professionalism’. It is all appearance, with very little meaning behind it. It is a religion unto itself. Allow me to give you some examples I once noted down having seen on a company mission statement:

    “Our team works to prioritise mission-critical web-readiness, leveraging cross-platform web services.”

    – I have studied this wording for quite some time, and I’m still unable to tell you what it means. I think it means; “We update our website a lot.

    Orwell once took this beautiful line from Ecclesiastes:

    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    – And transformed it into modern, business-English:

    “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

    If we take a look at language we’re so used to hearing from the business community, from politicians, and from those who are speaking from a position of considerable privilege, we can easily note that the rhetoric tends to reflect the prevailing social and economic centres of power, used – among other things – to water down injustices within that particular system. Words and phrases are used to subtly promote the prevailing structure. The Liberal Democrats have taken to using the word “fair” to describe policies that do not fix inherent problems (like housing shortages) but do such untold damage to those who at the bottom, that repeating the word “fair” over and over seems like nothing more than an insecure exercise in trying to convince themselves of what they’re saying.

    Conservatives are wonderful at claiming to be a Party willing to take “tough decisions“. As if that’s an inherently good thing. As if “tough” translates to “right“. It ignores ideology, if you claim the decisions were tough. You might envisage the millionaire Chancellor weeping as he signs off on cuts to disability funds for the most vulnerable, as if his anti-social security ideology isn’t a factor. It’s no different to Republicans in the US claiming it a tough decision to strip women of reproductive rights. Or slave owners in the Antebellum South claiming it’s a tough decision to whip their slaves. Those with the privilege do not get to claim a decision that perpetuates that pivilege, whilst oppressing those already oppressed, is “tough“.

    In the business world, “End of play” suggests a sort of child-like fun that you must be having. ‘Flexible accumulation‘ used to suggest an inherent and unavoidable part of the system that means of production, of distribution, and so labourforce (people) are in fact all unimportant in themselves – secondary – to the most important aspect of life; the accumulation of capital (which, oddly, is deemed a natural ‘good’). And so as language analysts suggest; if workers are convinced of their own nature as ‘flexible’ they are more likely to accept that their jobs are part of that ‘flexible‘ cycle, willing to work longer hours for less. If you tell a worker he or she is ‘expendable‘ or ‘worthy, until the boss deems otherwise‘, you’re unlikely to inspire much loyalty (a loyalty, the boss isn’t obliged to reciprocate). ‘Flexible accumulation’ is a very subtle threat, hidden behind more creative language. Just today, we read that the Institute of Directors has responded angrily to suggestions that zero-hour contracts be banned, insisting that it risks the UKs ‘flexible’ labour market. Another way to describe a ‘flexible‘ labour market, is job insecurity. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; anxiety, depression, and poor health increase dramatically in those people who consider their job to be insecure. This, to the Institute of Directors, is an unimportant consequence of a “flexible labour market“.

    Burst bubble” denotes something out of anyone’s control, and so those who were at the very centre of the financial crash are exonerated by a linguistic con-trick. Those who suffered the most from the impact of the “burst bubble” tend to be those with very little political or economic power, and so it is easy to transfer the blame from those at the centre of the bubble, to those who were reliant on the bubble. The rule of divide and conquer. Ensure those on incredibly low wages, with a falling standard of living, and insecure jobs (flexible workforce) believe it is the fault of those who are poorer than they, rather than those with the power and the wealth. The poor must be ‘scroungers’ or they are ‘leechers’ or they are ‘Welfare dependent’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘immigrants taking our jobs’.

    We are bombarded with how ‘the markets‘ will react, to any social or economic change. ‘The markets‘ are treated as a mysterious, God-like entity that must be obeyed. A new Theology. Milton Friedman appears like a Prophet promising “freedom” but delivering destitution. The ‘Market‘ God is treated as if infallible. As if perfect rather than what they actually are; indifferent, amoral. For example, if I were to drive my car a mile away to the shop, I must buy a car, I must buy insurance, I must pay my road tax, I must buy petrol, I might choose to buy a new CD for the car, or an air freshener. Doubtlessly, driving a mile down the road to the shop contributes to the growth of ‘the markets’. Or, I could choose to walk the mile to the shop. I am benefitting the environment this way, it is far more healthy for me to do this, and yet, I contribute nothing to the growth of ‘the markets’ this way. In this example, my health and the health of the environment are less important, than pollution and laziness. The Institute of Directors, who care little for the health of humanity, would be thoroughly unimpressed if I were to walk to work. But for the thriving of Capitalism, especially after such a risky crises, the language used to portray ‘the markets’ must be positive and lofty at all times, whilst those that fall victim to the insidious side of market forces, portrayed as weak, lazy, and a burden. By dehumanising the most vulnerable, people are able to turn their heads when harsh economic violence is conducted against them.

    We are told that policy must be directed to benefit those we now consider “job creators“. They are our saviours. We are indebited to those people. As if their money is how wealth is created. As if they don’t just ride the tide of demand. We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. We are told that if we do not cut taxes for the richest, whilst slashing social programmes that those taxes fund, the ‘job creators‘ will all leave. And so, they must be given the biggest Welfare payment of all; a massive tax cut. This is the real something-for-nothing society, because the obligation for someone who has used a well funded public system and social security safety net and framework in order to gain great wealth, to pay back into that system in order for the next generation to be afforded the same opportunities, is cut the moment a government give into the threat of leaving if taxed. The poorest do not have that option.

    Interestingly, through all the media hype and demands of “catching” Welfare cheats, alongside exaggerated shock stories of parents claiming millions in Welfare, for their 40 children, in their 140 bedroom house, and their Spanish beach home, all paid for by your hard work!!!!!…. only £1.2bn was lost to Welfare fraud in 2010/11, which is 0.8% of the total benefit expenditure. If the total benefit expenditure was a £1 coin, less than 1p would be lost to fraud. By contrast Vodafone (that’s one company, not an entire Nation) was allowed to write off its tax bill of £6bn. That’s six times more than that lost to Welfare fraud across the whole country. Rather coincidentally, the head of tax policy at Vodafone is a man named John Connors. Connors used to work at HMRC and enjoys a close relationship with current head of HMRC, David Hartnett. They go for cosy lunches together, and then they casually wipe £6bn from the Nation’s second largest company on the Stock market’s tax bill. Unsurprisingly, Hartnett is the most wined and dined civil servant in the country, by corporations. I’m sure it’s just because he’s such a nice guy. Yes. That must be it.

    The Conservative Party does not like talking about individual cases of those suffering intensely due to Tory budget cuts. Iain Duncan Smith, when presented with families struggling to live, started his answer with “this is typical of the BBC“.
    In March 2012, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities registered 48,510 households as homeless, representing a 14% leap. The largest in nine years. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
    Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

    “Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

    Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

    “These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

    Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

    “This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

    – With overwhelming evidence, and statements from those whose lives are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable, wishing to highlight the situation, you’d think the government might firstly accept their is a problem given that the 7th largest economy in the World has a rising homeless population, and secondly, set out just what the government intends to do about this horrendous situation. Instead, Grant Shapps said:

    “the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

    During the Mick Philpott murder case, George Osborne echoed the sentiments of the right winged Tabloid press, when he hinted that the murder of children, could in any way be linked to the concept of Welfare. Social security under attack politically, needed a rhetorical bedfellow, and it was handed it with the Philpott case. Tory Councillor John Bell, ran with this:
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    – The manipulative nature of the rhetoric is evident when we note how the Daily Mail dealt with the case, in its story:

    “Michael Philpott is a perfect parable for our age: His story shows the pervasiveness of evil born of welfare dependency. The trial spoke volumes about the sheer nastiness of the individuals involved. But it also lifted the lid on the bleak and often grotesque world of the welfare benefit scroungers — of whom there are not dozens, not hundreds, but tens of thousands in our country.“

    – The suggestion being that there are two groups of people in the UK; those not on any form of Welfare, and those on Welfare who are also potential child killers. The Daily Mail headline that day, above a picture of Mick Philpott was simple:

    “Vile Product of Welfare UK.

    – Yet, when Stephen Seddon murdered his parents for his £230,000 inheritance, the Mail did not suggest this was the ‘vile product‘ of the concept of inheritance. When the Mail editors got hold of the Philpott story, their main objective was to further the demonisation of Welfare. Nothing more. Any tenuous link was going to be drawn. Capitalism, that inevitably leads to the necessity of social security is not to blame, for the Daily Mail. That social security itself, is to blame.

    When the Shropshire millionaire Hugh McFall murdered his wife and daughter, the Mail said:

    “Detectives believe the mild-mannered family man snapped as he struggled to cope with spiralling debts…..Last night his sister Claire Rheade said: ‘It’s unbelievable – he doted on his family, he would never harm them. ‘He was a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ ”

    – Note the rhetorical differences.
    The Philpott case: “evil“, “sheer nastiness“, “grotesque“, “scroungers“, “bleak”.
    The McFall case: “mild-mannered“, “family man“, “doted on his family“, “never harm them“, “gentle man“, “wouldn’t hurt a fly“. They mention his “personal spiralling debts” as a catalyst. Here, they limit responsibility to he alone. They could call the McFall murders a “vile product of Capitalism“. They don’t.

    To water down injustices within the system, whilst promoting the prevailing order, it is necessary to inflict linguistic damage upon those considered ‘outside’ of the system. Those who lose out. Those on the receiving end of the injustices, because to face up to the injustices puts those who gain the most, in a threatened situation. Marx was convinced that the injustices would eventually manifest in the collective consciousness of the oppressed, which in turn, would lead to revolution. Marx faltered in his underestimating oppressive discourse and how it becomes so ingrained into the social fabric (especially if it is repeated over generations) so as to threaten opposition by stigmatising it as much as possible. It represents a narrowing of both social, and political discourse. You can usually tell just who benefits the most from the prevailing rhetoric of the day, because they’re the ones with the power.


    The Human Cost of the Bedroom Tax

    July 30, 2013

    In May this year, Liverpool’s Riverside Housing Association called for the urgent help of the Samaritans, to deal with the rising number of people on the brink of suicide because of the misery inflicted by the Bedroom Tax. The country’s most vulnerable – and subsequently, the easiest for a Cabinet of millionaires to belittle, humiliate, and immiserate – are having to pay (some, with their lives) for the failure of the Banks, and the offshore donors love affair with the Conservative Party.

    In March this year, grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide, after telling neighbours that she couldn’t afford to live any more. She could not afford the cost of living in her house, a home she had lived in for 18 years, because a government of millionaires decided she had too many ‘spare’ bedrooms.

    Today the High Court ruled that the Bedroom Tax legally discriminates against people with disabilities, and so, could not be overturned by the Judiciary. The case brought by ten families who will suffer from the Bedroom Tax, had asked the court to determine that the rules do not recognise additional needs required by disabled people and families. The ten households that brought the case argued that the Discretionary Housing Payment was woefully inadequate. Shelter agreed. As did other charities in the sector. The wealthy judges, unsurprisingly, didn’t.

    Firstly, it is important to note that the Court did find that the policy was discriminatory toward some disabled people. Try to remember that, when you hear the joyful response from Conservative MPs. They are expressing delight at the fact that they now have a legal right to discriminate against people with disabilities. This is the nature of the Conservative Party in 2013.

    In the coming days, we are likely to hear analysis on policy, on the Court’s role in challenging policy, we’re likely to hear how the bedroom tax is ‘already helping’ bring down costs, we’re likely to hear about logistics, and how unaffordable the housing situation is in the UK, we’re likely to hear about how the DHP is incredibly well funded and how Iain Duncan Smith finds everyone working at Shelter to be secret Marxists. All faceless, soulless discussion that works only to dehumanise the consequences of the policy. We’re likely to hear all of this, from very wealthy individuals, in very large houses, coming from the gleaming faces of Iain Duncan Smith and others like him, who do not have to deal with the horrendous circumstances they choose to inflict upon the most vulnerable. For example, this charming chap:

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    – On a side note, disabled people aren’t the only people Bob Blackman insists are less than human. He also told BBC News that gay marriage legislation was wrong “on principle”, insisting it could only work between one man and one woman….. The Mirror then exposed Blackman as a cheat. So, let’s be clear, Bob Blackman and others like him, enjoy inflicting misery on others. He has no principles. He has hobbies. Those hobbies include contempt for anyone who isn’t Bob Blackman.

    What we are unlikely to hear, are the human stories from those who will be most affected by today’s decision. Those that are forced to make heartbreaking decisions. FutileDemocracy spoke to two of those people, and so here are their stories, in their own words:

    Jacqueline Leeson, in Lincolnshire has two children; Ashley and Jake.
    Jacqueline told me:

    “One child is suspected autistic spectrum, he has social difficulties, he also suffers from short term memory, dyspraxia of the mouth and petit mals, he has a life threatening allergy to grass and is asthmatic, my other son has short term memory and also is asthmatic, my son with the social difficulties spends much of his night time talking in his sleep, falling out of bed, crying out and making dashes to safety from his night terrors, he’s now 11 and always been this way, I have a three bed house.

    “A short time ago I managed to find an exchange to Cornwall to another three bedroom house. It was the closest I could get back to my family and it took over a year to find this exchange, the school down there had autistic and a short term memory units meaning both of my children would have been supported, where I live now none of this is available at all, in fact hardly any support in these area’s are available.

    “Cornwall council deemed I was going to be over housed and removed me the move even though my children had been accepted in the new school and the disability care was already being arranged.

    “The bedroom tax has lost my children’s right to a better education and have their disabilities supported, I’ve also lost my partner as he’s working in Somerset as there is no work up here for his industry and the distance was too far for him to travel.
    My family have split up, my children have been left with the bare minimum chance of success and I’m still nearly 300 miles away from my disabled Mum who is very poorly, all because of the bedroom tax.
    Jakes also had his DLA slashed as well by about £75 a week.”

    – The Bedroom Tax – especially when taken with other harsh cuts – in this situation, not only punishes Jacqueline and her children, who are in a situation not of their own making, for wishing even a slightly better situation for herself and her children after years of difficulty. It is also a notice that the future must be bleak also. That their suffering is necessary. That Conservative policy, does not care much for family. That successive governments’ failure to deal with a housing crises, whilst Minister’s in control of policy – like the Bedroom Tax – such as the truly insufferable Lord Freud sat back relaxed in the comfort of luxury, knowing they didn’t have to act, because it didn’t affect them.

    Freud isn’t the only one.
    Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg insisted that the Bedroom Tax was necessary to deal with the 2,000,000 people on social housing waiting list, by evicting those in houses that have one too many bedrooms than necessary. Incidentally, Nick Clegg, upon his appointment as Deputy PM, gets to live here, somewhere among the 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening…. and he lives here, free:

    Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Dhowes9.

    Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free.
    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: By Dhowes9.


    – Though, he does have to share the 115 room Estate, with Foreign Secretary William Hague. So, he only has 113 spare rooms really.

    Sue North-Blake and her husband are having to cope with cutting down on the most fundamental necessities, like food, and heating. Their choice is; cut out meals, or leave their home. This is the reality of the choice handed to families that have to deal with the hardship of disabilities, by a government of multi-millionaires who themselves, own multiple mansions.

    My disabled husband and I live in a two bed bungalow. I am his full time carer. Because of his disabilities I use the second bedroom. It is NOT spare!. We applied for the DHP but were turned down because the council counts DLA as income, and said we should be using that to pay for the room.”

    “So we had to cut down on food, and in the winter the heating will just not go on. Yet if we had a night carer come in we would be able to have 2 bedrooms! The government is discriminating against married couples who need two bedrooms for medical reasons.”

    So, the legacy of the Bedroom Tax is one which promotes further hardship for those in the most vulnerable of situations. Conservatives and their voters should of course be ashamed, but it isn’t surprising. This is what Conservatives do. They measure the success of a government, by the wealth of its richest, rather than the poverty of its poorest. The real shame, should be reserved for the Liberal Democrats, whose support is necessary to enact such horrendous policy decisions.

    It is worth noting just who the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, actually is. She spouts the usual “Labour’s legacy” defence whenever questioned on the human cost of her soulless policies. Do we really believe that if Labour had left a strong economy, a Tory government wouldn’t be doing the exact same as what they are doing now? Do we really believe that this is all due to addressing the deficit, rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Do we really believe that having spent thirty years extolling the virtues of leaving the most vulnerable to suffer by themselves, this is happening because it is ‘necessary’ rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Well, one must examine Esther McVey’s ideological leanings, for the answer. And it comes all too easily.

    It is unsurprising that McVey feels it necessary to inflict more misery upon those who need the most support, given that she is a keen supporter of ‘Conservative Way Forward’, a group that dedicates itself to the further realisation of Thatcherite principles. Thatcher; ideologically dedicated to removing as much State support for the most vulnerable as possible, promoting the truly monstrous ‘care in the community’ scheme, alongside horrendously degrading and humiliating procedures in order to receive Disability Living Allowance. McVey is one part of the Thatcherite poison that infects the government and its disabled policy. The new PIP rules set to replace DLA, contain some awful details, when examined,(for example, the truly horrifying new rule that to qualify for Motability support, one must be unable to walk more than 20 metres) but again, when these people control the country, it is of no surprise that disabled people suffer the most. I’m sure joyfully slashing support for those already having to cut down on food, and having to deal with unheated homes, and care for disabled family members, pushing more and more to the brink of suicide, comes easy to the heartless Esther McVey, and the £51,737.22 she claimed in expenses alone for 2012/2013.

    Hitting the Conservatives with real life stories of the misery that they purposely inflict upon the most vulnerable families, highlights just how monstrous their dehumanising policies are in the 21st century. Especially from a Party whose donors cash in so heavily on that misery.


    The Deafening Silence of The Taxpayers’ Alliance.

    April 17, 2013

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    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.


    George Osborne’s Credit Rating Words of Wisdom:

    February 22, 2013

    George_osborne_hi

    “We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament…”
    – The Conservative Party Manifesto 2010.

    This evening – a day after it was noted that Osborne will embarrassingly reveal that borrowing this year will go up – Moody’s Ratings Agency has downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AAA to AA1. Moody’s stated the reason for the downgrade was:

    The key interrelated drivers of today’s action are:

    1. The continuing weakness in the UK’s medium-term growth outlook, with a period of sluggish growth which Moody’s now expects will extend into the second half of the decade;

    2. The challenges that subdued medium-term growth prospects pose to the government’s fiscal consolidation programme, which will now extend well into the next parliament;

    3. And, as a consequence of the UK’s high and rising debt burden, a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.

    The problem Moody’s sees, is lack of growth. The government have relied too heavily on austerity, and not on growth in any meaningful way. And austerity, without growth, is a failure. Austerity may work at times of prosperity, but when wages are worthless, when growth is stagnant or receding, it simply fails. It has failed again. Therefore, the Chancellor has failed. Moody’s continues:

    When Moody’s changed the outlook on the UK’s rating to negative in February 2012, the rating agency cited concerns over the increased uncertainty regarding the pace of fiscal consolidation due to materially weaker growth prospects, which contributed to higher than previously expected projections for the deficit, and consequently also an expected rise in the debt burden.

    – Here, they are clear. Moody’s is concerned that continued austerity, despite “weaker” (a euphemism, for no growth, stagnation, and recession) growth than ‘expected’, has led to rising debts. It failed miserably. The statement from Moody’s is one long winded way of saying, the Tory plan A failed. It will continue to fail.

    So what was the Chancellor’s response to the news that his plan has failed? Well, he seems to be under the impression that the downgrade simply means he’s doing a wonderful job, his plan is working, and will continue without any changes to it whatsoever:

    Far from weakening our resolve to deliver our economic recovery plan, this decision redoubles it.

    We will go on delivering the plan that has cut the deficit by a quarter, and given us record low interest rates and record numbers of jobs.

    – Let’s be clear, ‘record number of jobs’ simply means, people working, regardless of whether they are paid or not. Unpaid work, to me, is not “employment”. Nor is anyone “employing” you if your jobseekers allowance is only being paid under the condition that you stack shelves for multinational companies using free labour. There are still 2,500,000 unemployed, chasing 500,000 jobs. That’s not a record number. Of the 500,000 jobs the Government claimed to have created, 1 in 5 of those are on unpaid work schemes, and most still claim jobseekers allowance. You know, the people forced to work for multinational Companies, who apparently do not have to rent their labour (this is reprehensible Capitalism, but not unexpected from the Tory Party), because the government claims to be paying their wage, through unemployment benefit. People on ‘job hunt workshops’ receiving no pay or training are also counted. So let’s be clear; the Chancellor just invents whatever he feels comfortable with at the time, to make himself sound impressive. The problem is, sometimes those invented comforts come back to bite you.

    The Chancellor is missing the point and completely ignoring what Moody’s actually said. They do not believe that austerity, at a time when growth is slow or regressing has worked. In fact, it has made matters work. That has been the legacy of the past three years of Tory government. Osborne insisting he will continue on this path, suggests he thinks his policy has worked; that a downgrade simply confirms his plan is the right one. So let’s take a look at his thoughts on the Credit Rating over the past few years:

    George Osborne’s Words of Wisdom

    When Standard and Poor’s first put the UK on a watch list for our Credit Rating, the then Opposition Chancellor George Osborne made his feelings known about what should happen, even for being on the list, to the Labour Government:

    “It’s now clear that Britain’s economic reputation is on the line at the next general election, another reason for bringing the date forward and having that election now… For the first time since these ratings began in 1978, the outlook for British debt has been downgraded from stable to negative.”

    – Please note, that before today’s Downgrade, Moody’s put the UK back on negative outlook in February 2012. On Osborne’s watch.

    Also when in opposition, the Chancellor told us just what losing the AAA Credit Rating would mean for the entire nation, and particularly the Government:

    “….now Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating.”

    Also pre-election, Osborne lets us know that investment into the UK would be very difficult if the Credit Rating was downgraded:

    “What investor is going to come to the UK when they fear a downgrade of our credit-rating and a collapse of confidence?”

    It seems in opposition, the Chancellor could not keep quiet about just how important it was to keep our AAA Credit Rating, at the risk of the destruction of the entire Nation! And how only he could stop the doom!

    one of the things I’m very keen on doing, and that’s putting it mildly, is to preserve Britain’s international credit rating. You know it’s absolutely essential we don’t have the downgrade that hangs over the country at the moment.”

    In 2011, the Chancellor was keen to tell us how great his policies are, and how safe they have made us! HURRAH!

    “Our credit rating had been put on negative watch. Now, however, thanks to the policies of this coalition Government, Britain has economic stability again.”

    – That was mid-2011. By early 2012, we were back on negative watch again. Thanks Coalition!

    in 2010, he gave us a benchmark by which to judge him as a Chancellor. He also gave us strong assurances of what the Coalition “WILL” do.

    “Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success. Protecting the credit rating will not be easy… The pace of fiscal consolidation will be co-ordinated with monetary policy. And we WILL protect Britain’s credit rating and international reputation.”

    July 2012, Osborne tells us just how important retaining the AAA Credit Rating is:

    “A reminder that despite the economic problems we face, the world has confidence that we are dealing with them”.

    Moody’s is of course, untrustworthy and rather awful at what they do, given that a couple of weeks before its predictable death, AIG was rated AAA by Moody’s. That however, misses the point. George Osborne is the man who held the judgements of Credit Ratings Agencies up to be important references on how well a Government is performing economically, using them to continuously attack the Labour Government. He must face his own words. His own words, that simply add to his loss of all credibility this evening.

    We must add ‘Downgraded Credit Rating’ to the list of Osborne’s failures as Chancellor. And the list is pretty long for a Chancellor who hasn’t yet been in the job for three years. The failure stems from the fallacy, that by cutting the public sector, the private sector would sweep up all those lost jobs. By taking money away from the poorest, and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, we’d see new businesses everywhere, and job creation in abundance! Of course, none of that actually happened, or anything like it. Instead we have recessions, falling wages, people kicked out of their homes for having a spare room, banks not lending, the unemployed in payless jobs for multinationals, rising child poverty, borrowing and the deficit rising, and now a downgraded Credit Rating.

    The Chancellor has to be sacked. His list of failings is immense. By contrast, Andrew Lansley was sacked as Health Minister, simply for not ‘explaining’ the NHS reforms adequately enough. The problem the Prime Minister has with Osborne, is that sacking the Chancellor, is an admission that the economic plan set forth from the moment they were elected, has failed.

    If the Tories and Lib Dems thought they had inherited a mess in 2010, it is going to be a hell of a lot worse for those elected in 2015.

    – So, given that over the past four years he has insisted that our Country is doomed if we lose Triple A, that it’s a complete embarrassment, that the Government of the time should call an election due to the economic failure they preside over simply for being ‘watched’ and not downgraded, that his policies saved the credit rating, and then as that rating is downgraded today, insists its just proof that his plan has worked……. how on earth is this man still the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Surely by his own standards, he has failed miserably?


    The incoherent case against same-sex marriage

    February 5, 2013

    lyonmartin2There is a rather beautiful story that emerged from Chinese State of Chu during the Zhou dynasty, in which a wonderful male writer named Pan Zhang meets and falls in love with another male named Wang Zhongxian. The people of the town in which they lived adored the two. A contemporary writer writes that the two are:

    “affectionate as husband and wife, sharing the same coverlet and pillow with unbounded intimacy for one another”

    The story continues, that the two die on the same day, holding each other, and when they’re buried, a tree grew from their grave spot, and the twigs entwined.
    It has only been since Western progressions into China, that homosexuality has been considered wrong.

    No horrendous Church or vicious Mosque owns the definition of marriage. They appropriated the institution, and created their own definition. This is absolutely not a definition we must all consider unquestionable. Every argument I have yet come across, has a religious element. And it’s easy to understand why;

    The only reason gay people have been oppressed so viciously over the years, is because of religion. Absolutely no other reason. How absurd that a bronze aged book of fairy tales about a paranoid sky dictator has that sort of power to stigmatise an entire group of people that otherwise would not have to suffer such stigma, and bullying, and fear. For that alone, I think it’s vital to utterly despise religion and speak out against it at every possible opportunity.

    We must not be led to believe that the Church has a rightful monopoly on what constitutes marriage.

    The House of Commons today is alive with bigoted and homophobic Tory MPs insisting that they aren’t bigoted nor homophobic, whilst presenting arguments against gay marriage that curiously follow rather bigoted strands of ‘reasoning’ (and I use that term in its loosest possible form). The Supreme Court of the United States is working to decide whether to uphold the Christian fundamentalist “Defence of Marriage Act”, that has no basis in reasonable discussion, and is entirely the realm of mystical fairy tales. If the Supreme Court upholds DOMA, Secularism takes another battering from the unconstitutional, Christian Far Right. I will try to briefly address a few of the ludicrous arguments being put forth by the regressive homophobes in the Tory Party and the Republican Party.

  • “You cannot redefine marriage.”
    This argument relies solely on the idea that the institution of marriage has absolutely always followed the same defining route. It simply hasn’t. We know that marriage has changed radically over the years, and has different meanings to different cultures. We know that the old noble families of Europe insisted on marriage in order to cement or strengthen social and economic status. Rarely was marriage anything to do with love.

    For much of human history, we have had marriage. Granted, it hasn’t always been called marriage, but the naming is irrelevant, the coming together of two people in a shared bond has always existed; the name simply evolved alongside the institution. Stone aged marriage is now referred to as ‘pair bonding’. It was used to provide a stable social structure, though it seems love may have played a part given that social status was not yet a defining feature of human society.

    Hebrew society engaged in polygamy much of the time, it certainly wasn’t frowned upon. Monogamy in a marriage is a pretty new development. We know that the Islamic Prophet Mohamad married Aisha when she was 6 years old. In Ancient Rome, marriage was civil, it was not overtly religious. In India, if the bride was born when Mars and Saturn are “under the 7th house”, she is considered cursed and could end up murdering her husband. And so to break the curse, the bride must first marry a tree, the tree is then destroyed, and the bride is free from the curse forever. In the Tidong community in Northern Borneo, after marriage, the couple must not urinate for three days. Marriage is not official within the Neur tribe in Sudan, until the bride has had two children.

    In 1061, Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz were married in Rairiz de Veiga in Spain, by a Priest.

    It was only in 1967, that the US allowed interracial marriage. By 1910, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah had all banned interracial marriage. And what was used to justify anti-miscegenation laws in the US? You wont be surprised to hear that it was the Bible. Christian groups opposed to interracial marriage would often cite the story of Phinehas and the Curse of Ham.

    The Judge presiding over the case of the Loving’s; an interracial couple that this Judge sentenced to jail for marrying, stated:

    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    – Religion. Specifically, Christianity… has always been used to justify control over whom should be allowed to love who. The Conservatives in the Commons today are doing the same thing. They wish to control love.

    As suggested with the story of Pan Zhang, Same-sex unions have always existed. They are not a new thing. They have only recently come to be demonised, and that is down purely to the Church. The great cancer on the face of society.
    We know for example, that at least 13 Roman Emperors were either bi-sexual or exclusively homosexual. We know that Nero married a male in a very public ceremony. We know that the Ancient American Indians practiced a form of same-sex union known as ‘Two Spirit’ relationships, in which anthropologist Brian Gilley said:

    In many tribes, individuals who entered into same-sex relationships were considered holy and treated with utmost respect and acceptance

    So the ‘definition’ of marriage varies widely, from culture, and history. What the modern Church and its Tory bigots actually mean is, it wishes complete control over what marriage SHOULD mean, according to their very narrow doctrines. That, only their World view is acceptable. That, rights should be approved by them first.

  • “It is unnatural!”
    This is used against homosexuality in general. It is based solely on sexual and biological ignorance, promoted by faith. Since a review by Canadian researcher and biologist Bruce Bagemihl in 1999, it has been widely understood that at least 1,500 species have been shown to exhibit homosexual tendencies. At least 10% of the population of domesticated sheep, are exclusively homosexual. A study in London by M.J Cole noted that homosexual behaviour in Giraffes tends to be more common than heterosexual behaviour. The African Lion has been noted to have homosexual tendencies.
    Dr. Jerome Goldstein, Director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center, says:

    “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth”

    Goldstein continues:

    “Using volumetric studies, there have been findings of significant cerebral amygdala size differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects. Sex dimorphic connections were found among homosexual participants in these studies.”

    In fact, there is not one reputable scientific source that will in any way, suggest that sexuality is merely a choice. There is not one reputable scientific source that will say: “You know, turns out Leviticus was right”. None. This includes:
    The American Psychiatric Association,
    The World Health Organisation,
    The American Psychological Association,
    The American Medical Association,
    The Academy of Pediatrics,
    The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists
    Council on Child and Adolescent Health,
    The British Psychological Society,
    The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy…..
    …. all of these intensely reputable sources, with a wealth of research and evidence, will all tell you that sexuality, is part of a natural spectrum. There is no debate here. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists released a statement to:

    “clarify that homsexuality is not a psychiatric disorder. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”

    Now, there is only one species that has Gods. There is only one species that has homophobic tendencies. And there is only one species that has marriage. So which is the more unnatural?
    Sexuality is a spectrum. It is not simply “gay and straight” with one being “right” and the other being “unnatural”. Sexuality therefore is not a choice. Building on that idea, Alfred Kinsey, the great biologist noted:

    “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.”

    – To deny this fundamental fact of nature, i’m afraid, is not just very uneducated, it is unnatural.

    A wonderful in-depth study by Binbin Wang et al, found that allele types differed greatly between homosexual men and heterosexual men. A further study by Sven Bocklandt et al, found that mothers of gay sons, have higher rates of extreme skewing of X-Chromosome inactivation, than those without gay sons. All the evidence points to genetics playing a role in sexuality. Therefore, it is very very natural. Christianity on the other hand….. a social construct. Absolutely nothing to do with genetics. Completely man made. Unnatural.

    And let us also not forget that whilst being told by the religious that “Homosexuality is unnatural”, they spend Easter Sunday celebrating the coming back to life of a dead man, who sacrificed himself to himself, to atone for the sins that he himself created. Nature is the best!

  • “Marriage is about procreation! Gay people can’t procreate!”
    Charles Cooper, the Attorney defending California’s ban on gay marriage stated:

    “the central purpose of marriage in virtually all societies and at all times has been to channel potentially procreative sexual relationships into enduring stable unions to increase the likelihood that any offspring will be raised by the man and woman who brought them into the world.”

    – Curiously, Cooper hasn’t yet called for infertile couples to be banned from marriage, or couples that don’t want children, or the elderly. By his logic, we should ban all of those groups from marriage. But we don’t. We don’t because we believe marriage is about love, and the right to express that love. It is not simply a means to create offspring. If you believe your marriage is purely about reproduction, then your mechanical relationship is rather miserable in itself. “I married this woman, purely to reproduce”. How romantic.
    Wedding vows would certainly be interesting if those who claim marriage is purely for procreation have their way: “To have, and to hold, and to fuck, and NOTHING else! Get fucking! WE NEED TO POPULATE THE EARTH BECAUSE OF THE GAYS!”
    Cooper went on to say that legalising gay marriage, would result in the human race dying out. This guy is an ACTUAL Attorney. A guy who presumes, apparently, that in legalising same sex marriage, the entire human race will all at once decide that they are gay, and stop reproducing. A guy who believes that by banning same sex marriage, homosexual people will happily marry someone of the opposite sex and have lots of babies. The anti-same sex marriage lobby, are a parody.

  • “The Bible does not permit same sex relationships.”
    Well, then, let’s be consistent.  2 Cor. 6:14 tells me that a non-Christian is not allowed to marry a Christian (this is far more defining, than what the Bible says about gay marriage). Genesis 20:1-14 tells me it’s perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes, to marry your sister. Deut. 21:11-13 tells me it’s perfectly acceptable, when taking people hostage, to search out a hostage you find attractive, and marry her, as long as I shave her head first (she has no choice in this, obviously). I Corinthians 14:34-35 tells me that a husband should not allow his wife to have any opinions. Deut. 22:28 tells me that if I pay some silver to my rape victim, I am legally entitled to marry her. Again, she has no choice in this. Judges 21:7-23 tells me I can take the female children of families that i’ve slaughtered, and keep them for myself to marry. WHOOP! Leviticus 12:5 tells me that if my wife gives birth to a girl, she must spend two weeks in isolation because she’s a dirty bitch. Exodus 21:10 tells me that it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one wife (Polygamous, and chauvinistic all at once)
    So…… marry your sister, marry your hostage, marry several women, marry your rape victim, beat your wife if she offers an opinion, and marry the children of families you’ve just slaughtered. But NEVER let a gay couple marry.The Bible says very little on the subject of homosexuality. But if we are to condemn homosexual relationships based on the Bible, we must be consistent and reflect on absolutely every precedent the Bible sets out in relation to marriage. To do otherwise, would be widely hypocritical.

  • “What about my religious freedoms?”
    I have honestly never heard anyone describe how letting two people in love marry, will destroy their right to believe in whatever God they choose. So it’s pretty difficult to answer this, given that it’s an empty and meaningless question. This victim mentality, expressed against a victimless backdrop, is worthy of absolutely no respect.

    Giving a group of people rights that you yourself have always had, does not take anything away from you. It is absurd to suggest it does. I am almost convinced that those who spout the “you’re taking away my religious freedoms” argument are under the rather odd impression that allowing gay people to marry, would mean they themselves are forced to marry a gay person.

    Please feel free to enlighten me, as to which religious freedoms you will lose, if a gay couple that you’ve never met, and will never meet, get married without your knowledge?

  • “Legalising same-sex marriage? Why not legalise incest? Or marrying your dog?”
    – This is perhaps the most ridiculous of all arguments. A slippery slope fallacy of the worst kind. If homosexual marriage leads to marrying your dog, or your daughter, then we must accept that heterosexual marriage lead to homosexual marriage, and so in fact the very institution of marriage itself, starts the ball rolling down the slippery slope. It is a silly argument. It is the equivalent of insisting that eating pork, will eventually lead to eating humans. Why let gay people vote? We may as well let your dog vote, right? It is a disgusting argument, to suggest that a loving relationship between two men, or between two women is morally equivalent to incest. And yet, this intense logical fallacy is being used constantly by our Parliamentary representatives in the House of Commons today. How shameful. Canada legalised same-sex marriage in 2005, and in the eight years that has passed, no one is marrying their goat.

    For a Conservative Party and a Republican, who base their entire existence on ‘freedom’, and getting government out of people’s lives, the 100+ British Conservative MPs willing to withhold the right to love, and a Republican Party willing to use government to tell an individual he or she is not allowed to marry the person that they love, has to be the most vicious form of government oppression that exists in a liberal secular democracy.

    The choice to become Christian is just that; a choice. Sexuality is a spectrum based on genetic and hormonal differences, that is not in any way about choice. Therefore, sexuality, like skin colour, comes with inalienable rights, that choosing to be Christian, simply doesn’t. A choice is entirely different from genetic traits.

    Your choice to become a Christian does not bestow upon you a right to inhibit the rights of others.

    There is no debate here. It isn’t two rational sides conflicting. It is the side of rationality and sensible, evidence based point of view, against homophobes. Their arguments are so very weak, their points are useless, and so the conclusion we can come to is that they simply do not like homosexuality. To oppose the right for two people in love to get married, based solely on their sexuality, is bigoted and nothing else. The suggestion of ‘separate but equal’ is the cry of the regressives. It is a nice little sound bite that masks the intent; segregation. Segregation is, and always will be wrong.


  • The November 30th Strikes

    November 23, 2011

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

    “most did not vote for this”

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

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

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

    The tripling of Tuition fees.

    “most did not vote for this”

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

    “most did not vote for this”

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

    “most did not vote for this”

    Radical pension changes.

    “most did not vote for this”

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

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

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

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

    Baroness Warsi warned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is why I fully support the strikes next week.


    The Tory Party: One big PR disaster

    October 17, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Judicial Communications Office said this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “They were both right.”

    – N’awww…….what a cock.

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

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

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

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

    And on the subject of date rape:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To which, the follow up question:

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

    – was answered rather spectacularly by Hammond, with:

    “Neither of those facts are incorrect”

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

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

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


    The Liberal Democrat Delusion

    September 20, 2011

    The Liberal Democrat annual conference in Birmingham this year appears to be nothing more than a showcase of the deluded. The streaks of yellow in the crowd, drowned by the sea of blue on stage. “In Government, on your side” is the tagline. One wonders whose side? The student movement that pre-election Liberals managed to win over? The 80,000 who have lost their public sector job since the Coalition came to power? The pensioners who lost their winter fuel allowance? The kids from low socio-economic areas whose youth club is now closed? Whose side are they on exactly?

    A lovely big Corporate tax cut, from 28% to 25% by 2013, suggests the ‘side‘ the Liberals are on, is not ‘our side‘ at all. If Corporate Tax cuts ever led to high growth, growing wages, a happy and fulfilled population, we’d all fully support it. But it never does. It leads to higher CEO pay, dodgy stock market gambles, stagnating wages, and Corporate politicians. A report by accoutant Richard Murphy, of Corporate tax rates and job creation, of OECD countries between 1997 and 2010, found that:

    Analysis of the correlation between tax rates and growth in OECD countries (excluding the top and bottom outliers) finds that, at best, the relationship between the two variables is weak.

    – This contradicts the Government, who said:


    “The reductions in the rate of corporation tax and healthy financial position of UK companies in aggregate should help support further investment growth.”

    – My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that we need to get away from this odd idea that companies and the rich are “job creators“. It is a concept imported from the US. Demand creates jobs, not the rich. Investors do not look at that extra 5% and decide to keep their money in their pocket. If the demand is there for a product, then the potential profit far outweighs that extra 5%.

    This obsession with cutting the deficit fast, which is clearly causing my damage than good, places the Liberal Democrats firmly in the category of deluded Neoliberal dogma adherents. The downgrading of growth this year, by the IMF, from 1.7% to 1.1% along with rising inflation, high unemployment, and the failure of the private sector to take up the jobs the Government promised it was more than capable of doing, would force right minded people to rethink their policy, to be a little bit humble, admit you might have got it wrong, and try another way. But no. They insist there will be no Plan B. This is the Liberal Democrats greatest failure.

    One particular Liberal Democrat delegate to the conference suggested that Internet Access was now a human right. As far as I was aware, ‘human right‘ is an absolute term. There are no shades of human right. Something cannot be a ‘bit of‘ a human right. So, that being said, certain Liberal Democrats now consider providing internet access, just as important as providing water to famine stricken third World countries. But clearly more important than education, health and housing, if recent policy decisions are anything to go by. Interesting.

    I’d suggest first sorting out the Coalition’s policies that actually do have human rights implications, before trying to introduce new human rights concepts. Firstly, health care is a human right. I believe the entire World (other than right winged America, who appear to be under the impression that State funded life saving is wrong, but State funded execution is perfectly acceptable) considers healthcare to be a human right. And yet the Coalition’s policy of dismantling the NHS for, what I can only see to be the sake of Care UK, whilst not a new concept, seems to put that particular human right at risk. I blogged earlier last week on the gulf between the god-awful state of the American private system compared to our Nationalised system, and one has to wonder why we’d import any of the US model into our own. It is absolutely not about consulting with the experts on how to improve the NHS. If we look back to the previous Tory Government, Thatcher’s ‘NHS Community Care Act‘ was the first time in history that the BMA were excluded from policy discussions, the end result being a purchaser-provider split – an NHS market. Similarly, whilst Cameron is walking a very thin line between twisted logic, and outright lying to Parliament, the very Health professional groups he insists support his plans for the NHS, actually do not support him at all.
    On September 7th, Cameron said:

    “He may not like the truth but that is the truth and I have to say to him that is why you now see the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Nurses all supporting our health reforms.”

    – The Royal College of GPs then issued a statement, saying:

    “As a College we are extremely worried that these reforms, if implemented in their current format, will lead to an increase in damaging competition, an increase in health inequalities, and to massively increased costs in implementing this new system.

    “As independent research demonstrates, the NHS is one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world and we must keep it that way. “‬

    Similarly, the Royal College of Nurses, which Cameron insisted supported his reform proposals issued this statement:


    “The Bill being placed before parliament next week has enormous ramifications for patients and for our members. While we acknowledge that the Government have listened to our members in a number of areas, we still have very serious concerns about where these reforms leave a health service already facing an unprecedented financial challenge.”

    – When does propaganda, evolve to ‘misleading Parliament’?

    Disease should not have a market value. Healthcare is a necessity, not a commodity. It isn’t simply Socialist reasoning that brings me to that conclusion, it is simple Market logic. A Market is based on demand. If demand falls, prices will fall, businesses that fail to adjust will go bust. Demand is based on an individual’s informed choice. An individual has no choice if he or she suddenly gets cancer. He or she is not in control all of a sudden. He or she may have a choice which provider to go to, but they don’t have a choice on the ‘commodity’ for sale. Buy or die. So, a healthcare company has no reason to drop their prices, because demand will absolutely never fall. This gives a great advantage to private health companies and insurers. There will always be profit to be made. Markets respond best to peoples desires rather than their life needs. So, the commodity might be a drug to treat cancer, it will never be the cure, because the cure is worthless to shareholders. This is evident with the privatising of the utilities sector in the UK.

    Privatising that particular sector, a necessary part of life (heat, electricity, gas) will always result in demand that will never die. And so unsurprisingly, we’re now in a situation where there are six energy providers, charging extortionate rates and an energy secretary who continuously blames the consumer for not switching provider. Huhne (the energy secretary) took to the Lib Dem conference stage today and blasted energy companies for offering cheap deals to new customers whilst pushing the prices up for existing customers. In June he said:

    “Consumers don’t have to take price increases lying down. If an energy company hits you with a price increase, you can hit them back where it hurts – by shopping around and voting with your feet.”

    And yet today, he says:

    “It’s not fair that big energy companies can push their prices up for the vast majority of their consumers, who do not switch, while introducing cut-throat offers for new customers that stop small firms entering the market.

    – Isn’t this simply asking the consumer to perpetuate a system where new customers will be offered lower prices and then face huge hikes after a period of time? The first quote, seems to say “switch, you’ll find better cut throat deals, if you switch!” whilst the second quote seems to say “It’s not fair that you’ll get a better deal if you switch“.
    – The question has to be, who do you switch too? None of the big six like to undercut each other by much at all. It is not the consumer’s fault that 18% of all households in 2009 were classed as ‘in fuel poverty’. These are households in which 10% of annual income HAS to be spent on fuel bills. From 2007-2009 35% of single pensioners were living in fuel poverty. The biggest pensioner group, the National Pensioners Convention warned in 2009 that due to the cost of heating their homes, in a cold snap during the winter; 12 pensioners could potentially die every hour. As people struggle even more to pay their energy bills due to this latest round of price hikes, we must assume the ‘big 6’ are having trouble staying in business? Well….no.

    Centrica, which owns British Gas, posted pre-tax profits from Dec 2009 – Dec 2010, of £1.92bn. Its highest ever. 18% higher than the previous year. What Centrica tends to do, is rise prices very quickly when wholesale prices rise, but then refuse to lower prices, as wholesale prices drop. Profits from all six big energy companies far exceed £2bn, whilst prices for consumers have risen from an average of £572 p/a in 2003 to over £1000 in 2010. There is no excuse. Privatisation failed. Energy companies have proven that they find it impossible work in the interests of both investors and consumers. I cannot imagine anyone is deluded enough to argue that privatisation has benefited consumers.

    British Gas, whose tag line is:

    British Gas is the nation’s favourite Cheap Gas and Electricity Supplier

    – Put up its price at the end of 2010, by 7%. In July this year, it then shocked everyone by putting up its price gas price by 18% and its electricity price by 16%. The other 5 followed suit, and now the average household will have to fork out around £200 extra for the annual fuel bill. Huhne, has done nothing. Whilst his party is partly responsible for kicking thousands out of work, stalling growth, stagnating wages, and rising inflation, the ‘energy minister’ has done nothing, but complain about consumers, and say ‘naughty gas companies’. And worst of all, he is part of a government that, in March, cut the Winter Fuel Allowance for households in fuel poverty. It isn’t like he was unaware that further rises in the fuel market might be on the cards. Even back in March, there were warnings. Helen Knapman writing for Money Saving Experts back on March 11th, wrote:

    Energy prices are predicted to rise this year, prompting some experts to suggest you consider fixing gas and electricity costs.

    – The Coalition Budget was made public on March 23rd. The Government had at least twelve days to reconsider cutting the Winter Fuel Allowance. They chose to cut it anyway. Unsurprisingly characteristic of the cowards in the Coalition, they kept the cut to Winter Fuel Allowance out of the Budget document. If Huhne wants to gain some sort of respectability back, for his beleaguered and battered Party, he should be arguing for a Nationalised Utility option.

    Talk of ‘human rights’ is laughable, when you look at the record of the Coalition government. The right to education – which I’d consider a Human Right, has been tirelessly dismantled with the appalling Free Schools idea, and the cuts to EMA along with the trebling of Tuition Fees. To suggest, in a key note speech, cutting the benefits of the parents of kids who misbehave is a hideous indictment on the thought processes of Tories. Immediately, Cameron linked bad behaviour with low socio-economic regions. What ‘punishment’ do we give to rich parents of misbehaving kids? How do we punish the Bullingdon Club? Is it REALLY ethical, to make life even more difficult for struggling families, if their kids misbehave? Kids from towns where funding to youth clubs is drastically cut, where their jobs are never secure and where schools teach about five subjects, badly. If you take money away from the poorest and most underdeveloped areas, you force unemployment up, and you struggle to control inflation, whilst offering massive Corporate Tax cuts; expecting low-socio economic areas to respectfully suffer in silence, is economic warfare, and will always be matched with social unrest; be it in the classroom, or on the streets.

    On Tuition Fees, Grant-Thornton (an international Tax and Advisory service) reported that contrary to the Coalition’s claims that the highest earners would be hardest hit by the hike in tuition fees, actually the richest kids will pay back the least given that they will be able to pay back the quickest, thus avoiding large interest rates. The middle earners, will pay back the most. A lawyer, in a scenario set out by the report, with a £40,000 debt, will pay back £68,00 overall. The middle earner, with a debt also of £40,000 will pay back £98,00 altogether, despite earning 34% less than the lawyer. The report points out that if rich parents pay the debt immediately, the rich kids pay no interest. So the middle earner is effectively subsidising the education of the rich. The Lib Dems tend to keep this quiet during Conference season.

    It also contradicts the government, who claimed that Universities charging above £6000 tuition would be the exception rather than the rule. Grant-Thornton say:

    Most universities have declared that they will be charging the £9,000 maximum or an amount close to it.

    These levels have been struck as there seems to be a consensus of opinion that to charge less than the maximum would send the wrong signals about quality, and that the easier decision (or the decision that is likely to be ‘less wrong’) would be to charge the full amount.

    If the Lib Dems unique selling point for 2015, is simply “You think this is bad, it’d be worse if the Tories were in power alone” is not going to endear mountains of voters to their cause. Voters look at results. We know that anything the Lib Dems claim they are doing to financially support the poorest, is offset almost entirely by rising inflation; which they helped cause with their dogmatic obsession with cutting everything, including the one thing that pulls Nations out of stagnating growth; demand.

    Whatever they say, there were not just two options; Coalition, or Tories. The Conservatives in a minority government could not be doing what they are now doing. The divisive nature of Free Schools, the dismantling of the NHS, and the horrific speed of deficit reduction, that even the IMF is now a little bit worried (downgrading our growth forecast…..yet again) about the speed of deficit reduction, despite referring to fast deficit reduction as “essential” in 2010, the weak position on the banks, and cuts to winter fuel allowance would not have happened, had Lib Dems been allowed to vote freely as opposed to cowardly abstaining in order to preserve ‘strong government‘. More voters voted for centre-left parties, more voters voted for slower deficit reduction, than voted Tory and fast deficit reduction. There were other choices for government. Both Liberals and Tories put their money on fast deficit reduction and public sector cuts leading to growth and the resilience of the private sector in taking up lost jobs. Both have failed to materialise and that will be the legacy of Tory/Liberal Neoliberal economics. For me, the Liberal Democrats will always be associated with right winged economic vandalism.

    There is absolutely no substance to anything the Liberals say, that rhetorically keeps them on the centre-left.

    To finish, I am sick of hearing Liberal Democrats defend their ditching of the Student Tuition Fee abolition pledge, with “Well, you have to compromise in Government.“. If that’s the case, if it is the case that you can’t stick to your pledges due to hung Parliaments, then the Coalition should have presented a new, joint manifesto, which included NHS reforms, which included the Lib Dems u-turn on the speed of deficit reduction, which included cuts to Winter Fuel Allowances, which included disability cuts, which included VAT rise, and put it to the electorate in a second general election against Labour. What they shouldn’t have done, is presumed they now have a mandate to do whatever they like.


    Thank heavens for the private sector!

    September 16, 2011

    Now that the awful public sector has rid itself of thousands of jobs, isn’t it great to see such a thriving private sector?

    Well. No.

    There are now more unemployed women, than in 1988. Overall unemployment is at its highest since 2009 – the middle of a recession. One in five people between 19 and 24 is unemployed. Average wages rose 2.8% since 2010, whilst RPI (inflation) rose 5.2%, which means wages actually fell by 2.4%.

    So we were told that the private sector would take up the jobs lost in the public sector. George Osborne, back in November 2010, told the House of Commons in November that jobs created in the Private Sector, would:

    Far outweigh

    – the loss of jobs in the Public Sector.

    Remember those “35 leading businessmen” that the Chancellor quoted, as some sort of economic demi-gods (I have always wondered why businessmen are considered economic experts. They are not economists. They have an agenda). They sent a letter to the Telegraph, in support of Osborne’s claim. They wrote:

    “The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector.”

    Here’s the letter in full. Tories loved to point to it, last year. I’m guessing they will be less forward in pointing to it, this year.

    At its most optimistic, we we under the impression that someone who had spent their life in the public sector employed in a job they love, would now get a nice new job working the tills at McDonalds. Even that, failed to materialise. From April to June public sector job losses reached 111,000. The private sector jobs grew by 41,000. The problem is, the Government insisted in March, that only 20,000 (I say only, because it appears I have caught the bug of treating people and their jobs, as mere statistics – Am I becoming Tory? Dear God, I hope not) would lose their jobs. Unemployment rose by 80,000 in June.

    Apparently, when you make people unemployed, and you devalue wages, it becomes impossible to kick start the demand needed for the private sector to thrive. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT!

    EDF have just announced energy prices are to raise by 15%, despite profits of Euro1.2bn last year. Last month HSBC announced 30,000 jobs would be cut. They must be struggling right? Again….well. No. The first six months of the year saw their profits raise 3% on the previous six months, to $11.5bn. Seriously. We are now only concerned, as a World, with profit. This is emphasised in the fact that the moment HSBC announced it was kicking 30,000 people out of their livelihoods, their shares rose 3.4%. Rich people absolutely love to hear that they can make even more money now that there isn’t the annoying factor of having to pay 30,000 people.

    It is clear that demand creates jobs. Not wealthy businessmen. Referring to them as “job creators” is a falsity of epic proportions. When you take money out of peoples pockets with a VAT rise, with the removal of universal services, with housing benefit cuts; you cut demand in the process. Giving the wealthiest few a tax break isn’t going to change that.

    When growth is downgraded, almost on a daily basis, they insist it is Labour’s fault, Europe’s fault, the snow’s fault. No, it is the fault of holding dear to the heart a dangerous Freidman-ite economic philosophy. As with HSBC mentioned above; the epitome of the thought process that leads to this kind of system, is that the abstract concept of the “market” is deemed to be improving, regardless of how many jobs are lost. Shares in HSBC increase, as 30,000 jobs are cut. There is a dramatic evil in that process.

    Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers on Twitter insist on questioning whether Strike action is necessary. They should be ashamed to refer to themselves as ‘Labour’. A Labour party, who have seemingly made absolutely no impact on the political landscape since 2010, are quietly licking their wounds as a Tory party who have no legitimate mandate to carry out the ideological attacks they are inflicting, get away with it. If we don’t have the support of a half arsed Labour Party unsure of where its allegiances lie, given it’s past thirteen years of total capitulation to the financial sector, nor do we have the support of a weak Lib Dem party who cowardly abstain when they disagree with Tory policy, then Unions are the only other way to go. There is no other option. A very radical government, requires a very radical opposition. Instead, Labour seem to be constantly worried about their ties to the Union movement, rather than pro-actively and jointly making the case against deep and vicious austerity. The Tories have cleverly managed to set the political discourse in favour of a mythical, broken public sector, and away from the real broken sector; the financial sector.

    Yesterday we saw that same Financial Sector produce a rogue trader responsible for UBS losing $2bn on unauthorised dodgy dealings. Have they learnt nothing? UBS was also responsible in 2009, for helping wealthy Americans set up offshore accounts to avoid tax. Growth for the sake of the wealthy, is not real growth. The banks have been let off the hook, by having the support of government like ours, who shift the blame from them, to the constantly demonised public sector.

    If anything, we are finding out, for the second time in thirty years, that harsh and forced Neoliberalism is a dangerous dogma. Monetary policy does not pull Nations out of sovereign debt crises. It never has.

    Unemployment – Done.
    Dismantled NHS – Done.
    Bend over to be fucked by the banks – Done.
    Stagnating wages – Done.
    Provoke riots – Done.
    VAT rise – Done.
    Pull any support for poorer children (EMA) – Done.
    Close as many youth centres as possible – Done.
    Close libraries – Done.
    Make people work until they’re basically dead, before giving them a pension – Done.
    Demonise disabled people – Done.
    Rising inflation – Done.
    Threaten Unions – Done.
    Burden of debt created by wealthy, slammed onto the shoulders of Nation’s 18 year olds – Done.
    Tax cuts for the wealthy – Done.
    All within 15 months.

    It makes Thatcher look like a Socialist in comparison.


    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.


    What Tories Say

    August 19, 2011

    “Our members are the most socially-engaged, the most civic-minded, the most neighbourly bunch of people in Britain.”
    David Cameron, 2010.

    It wasn’t long after not winning the election (or before actually), that the Tories who had clearly been told to keep quiet for the past few years whilst Cameron built up his “progressive, green Conservative” persona, managed to make it known just how much contempt they have for anyone who isn’t them. I thought i’d provide a definitive list of the things Tories say:

    “You might ask how all the single mothers congregating with their push-chaired spawn are able to afford both their beer and their tattoos – I have a horrible idea I am paying for both.”

    – Recently suspended for calling the rioters “jungle bunnies”, Tory Councillor on Dover District Council, Bob Frost.

    “Good candidate, shame he’s black.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on an interviewee for a position as Chief Exec. of Monmouth County Council.

    “half a wog.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on a slightly tanned work colleague.

    “I think I have behaved impeccably. I’ve done nothing criminal. Do you know what this is about? Jealousy. I’ve got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it’s a 19th century merchant’s house. It’s not particularly attractive, but it just does me nicely and it’s got room to actually plant a few trees. I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None! It reminds me of an episode of Coronation Street.”

    – Tory MP for Totnes in Devon, Anthony Steen when questioned about his expenses claims, of which he claimed £87,000, for servicing his stately home, including 500 trees.

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

    Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

    “Evidence is quite clearly emerging that man is not having the impact on the climate that the EU climate alarmists claim.“

    The website of “Freedom Association“, of which Tory MEP Roger Helmer is a key member. He is our East Midlands MEP. We received his campaign leaflet, of which it said:

    “Conservatives played a key role in making new laws to cut carbon emissions and promote renewable energy“.

    This part of the leaflet, was a major factor for the campaign, given that it had an entire section dedicated to:

    “tackling climate change”

    – We can always trust the Tories to have a public agenda that soon gets trumped by their private agenda. The leaflet then tells us just how busy and relevant their work in the European Parliament has been!

    “You can still buy your fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces thanks to Conservative MEPs“

    – No more sleepless nights for me!

    “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”

    – Tory Councillor Gareth Compton of Birmingham County Council, talking about writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. You can bet if she’d have said the same thing about him, most Tories would be up in arms about the disrespect a Muslim is showing to England.

    15 hours in Council today. Very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people.

    – Leader of Kingston Upon Hull County Council. The “retards” being protesters, angry that the 15 hour day he had to so horribly endure, ended by him and his councilors making 1300 people redundant. They must have spoiled the joy on the faces of the miserable Tories who take such delight in instant job destruction.

    “I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”

    – Tory MP Chris Grayling. By his logic, businesses should be allowed to turn away anyone they don’t like the look of. If you’re Black, Grayling’s logic says that if a shop owner doesn’t want you in their shop, for being black, tough. A Gay couple shouldn’t have to worry that they might get turned away, for no other reason that the B&B owners religious bigotry. Same old Tories.

    “Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
    If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.””

    – Tory MP Philip Davies cloaking his apparent desire to see disabled people in the UK treated as a source of cheap labour, in bubble wrapped manipulative, like-he-gives-a-shit language.

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

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

    “Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies.

    “I can understand how it looks, but it is being a bit too politically correct.”

    – Tory Councilor for Bolton, Bob Allen’s half arsed apology, in which, like every Right Winger when they’ve said spewed some deeply offensive moronic bullshit, blaming political correctness, after he posted a photo of a gorilla next to comments about an Asian colleague.

    “IF YOU DON’T PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS YOU WILL RECEIVE 3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ABSOLUTELY FREE.”

    BNP Tory Councillor Simon Farnsworth for Ribble Valley council, at the end of a racist email joke sent to Tory colleagues. Then forwarded by Councilor Ken Hind. My favourite, is Hind’s apology:

    “I am privileged to name amongst my friends and associates many who are of Asian or African origin.”

    – He can’t be racist! He knows a black person!

    “I object to being required to embrace an agenda that actively supports and positively discriminates in favour of people who I consider to be sexual deviants and who engage in practices contrary to my religious beliefs.”

    – Tory Councillor for Derbyshire County Council, Patrick Clark, on Homosexuality. Another brilliant excuse:

    “The term deviant just means different, it was not derogatory.”

    Conservativehome.com, quick to distance themselves from Clark’s comments, went full force with their attack on his 1950s style homophobia and dogmatic religious nonsense:

    The “sexual deviants” reference was pretty unfortunate

    – YEAH! That told him!

    “All women should be sterilised”

    Tory Candidate Ross Coates offering his gem of wisdom on the “problem” of women getting pregnant at work.

    “close to the minimum wage”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, describing his £64,000 a year salary.

    “Recruiting ethnic people into key public sector organisations— in place to protect us—is a risk.

    – Tory MP, and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on revelations, which not surprisingly turned out to be entirely false, from the Daily Mail that the police force had been infiltrated by Muslim Extremists working for Al Qaeda.

    “I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless.”

    – Tory MP and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on his time in the Armed Forces.

    “The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament – handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler’s gas chambers.”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, comparing MPs during the expenses scandal, to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This is a few weeks after it was revealed he had claimed over £100,000 for the running of his own company. Apparently, we should be proud of that essential democratic tradition of profiting from public funds during economic downturns.

    “Should rioters also lose benefits? I approach this question with a belief that loss of benefits for a significant period might be a deterrent to some rioters, irrespective of whatever other punishments the courts may rightly impose.”

    – This beautiful statement was made, as I was writing this. Tory MP James Clappison calling for rioters to have their benefits cut. Interesting moral crusade, given that Clappison claimed over £100,000 despite owning 24 houses, a cricket club, 75 acres of land and a farm. His claims include TV licence, a cleaner, and Sky TV. The hypocrisy is outstanding. Actually, it makes my head want to explode. I cannot comprehend the upper class stupidity at this level. They are oblivious to the real World. To be fair to Clappison, he is trying to join the 21s….actually, the 20th Century, by claiming £295 in 2007….. for a VCR.

    “Yes, if you can believe it, homosexuality will be on the curriculum for students studying maths, geography and science.
    This plan is ludicrous and pushes political correctness to new bounds
    I would have thought raising educational standards and teaching our children to read, write and add up is far more important than imposing questionable sexual standards on those too young to understand their equality czars.”

    – Apparently Tory MP Richard Drax (full name: Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax) doesn’t think teaching children the importance of social acceptance is a reasonable idea. He seems to believe we either teach kids that homosexuality is not a great taboo, or we teach them how to read. Apparently we can’t have both. He then claimed he had meant that kids just wouldn’t understand teaching homosexual issues. Meanwhile, Tory Schools Minister Michael Gove said that our history class rooms should:

    “celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world, a beacon of liberty for others to emulate”.

    – If that isn’t propaganda of the worst type, I’m not sure what is. I wonder if children will understand that?

    Cameron’s morality machine 2011, is in full swing!