The Next In A Line Of Government U-Turns?

The analogy given on the  Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 in response to a long list of, so called, Tory U-turns, was that of a Formula One racing team. I feel this is the wrong analogy.  A more appropriate one would be a Muhammad  Ali boxing match, when he was in his prime. The man was a past master in predicting when he was going to knock his opponent out. But Ali was a shrewd fighter too, not a man to short-change his fans or the legion of paying customers who wanted to see him get beaten.

Round one, he would come out all guns blazing and knock seven barrels out of his opponent but, just as the crowd were feeling robbed he would slow the pace down and let the inevitable loser back into the fight.

In our case, the Tories went straight into round one with a flurry of punches that would knock the wind out of any adversary. Tuition fees, tax hikes and an assault on public services that even Thatcher herself would have been proud of. Unlike Ali, the Tories know that their opponent is the crowd and even they know you can’t knock all 60 million out at once. Round one knocked a good few out, but there’s still more to come. They know that if they get their opponent too angry he might hit them with a howitzer of a punch and knock them into unelectability for a generation.

So onto Round two.

Round two  Ali comes out and jabs a bit, a few deft digs to the body, just enough to wind a little and sap a some energy from his foe. Then he would perform a rearguard action and lean on the ropes to allow his newly invigoured opposition the naive belief he was back in the fight. Unbeknown to him, Ali was allowing the man to exert some much needed energy, energy he would need for later rounds.

We are now in round two. The Tories came out with some truly vile ideas: reductions in housing benefits for the poor, a right dig to the ribs with the obliteration of invalidity benefits, a loosening of employment legislation, (shown be the employment in Birmingham  of Indian contractors in the IT department of the council, bearing in mind there is more than enough skilled individuals for the positions here) an all out assault on the perceived middle-class.  Like Ali, or more unlike Ali, for he only fought one at a time and they are attacking the majority of the population, they start to perform a rearguard action.

Health reforms, weekly bin collections, selling off our forests all seem to have been put out of action by the assault of indignity by the British populace. But the Tories know better. While we’re punching at them they’re sitting back and absorbing the punches. In truth it’s we that are tiring. In our minds we feel victory is ours, this weakens us significantly. For, like Ali, they haven’t really tired and aren’t on the defensive.  The predicted knock out was round three and that is yet to come. The body punches of ‘NHS reform’, seem innocuous now, but the damage was already done to our weakened body and mind.

The so called concessions made over the NHS are just that, so called. In reality nothing has changed. The Secretary of State for Health has kept his responsibility, be he would have any way. Has anyone ever heard of a politician that didn’t crave power? No! They never relinquish it without a fight yet Lansley’s policy was to rid himself of a job. Complete balderdash. Of course he needed to stay in control, there is no other way he could have brought his pals into the NHS otherwise; and like the newly invigorated fighter, we believe we have the upper hand.   His intention was always to be there, he just wanted us to give him the mandate for the changes to come. (Some of the most violent Tory lead changes the country has ever experienced).

As for there being no chance of the NHS now being privatised, don’t be so naive! The private sector is still in there and now with a nod and wink from the doctors themselves. A mark of genius by this government.

Round three is yet to come, let’s see what punches we get in that one and whether we can get lucky with a desperate flailing blow!

Next Left Part 3.

Employment Status

After thirteen years of New Labour we are now in the  most awful of employment situations. Blair and Brown continued to promote the Tory dogma of a ‘flexible workforce’ which may have had some merit if it worked in tandem with a flexible corporate objective. The latter did not happen. Instead we are left with an inflexible corporate regime that returns nothing in compensation for the rights its employees have lost.

Agency workers are of epidemic proportions, especially within civil society. Schools, hospitals, councils and HM Revenue and Customs are awash with ‘temporary’ labour. I highlight the ‘temorary’ because many of these posts have had agency labour in place for five years and more; the same person in the same position. How this makes economic sense I am at a loss to discover. I understand the reasoning, that’s too clear and too cynical not to see from the moon. No permanent post equals: No pensions, no employment rights and minimum wage holiday pay. As for sick leave, that’s a sick joke, with most agency staff having to go back to the benefit system. Meaning that the tax payer pay all over again.

On average, agency staff are on lower incomes than their directly employed colleagues, but that doesn’t mean the employer, (you the tax payer)  are getting a bargain. The opposite is the truth. Agencies are pariahs, robbing the employee and the employer. Usually doubling up their fee in relation to the wage paid to the employee. (If the agency worker gets £6 the Agency charges £12) How that makes economic sense to the employer is beyond me. In truth, I know it doesn’t and the reasons for it are self evident.  Keep the workers scrabbling around in the mud.

I don’t know how many of you have visited the cheap eateries that have popped up all over the country, but I bet you’re unaware of the working conditions and working practices of such places. These companies take the term ‘flexible’ to another level all together. The majority of the staff will be on minimum wage and supposedly full time hours. The reality is stark by comparison. An individual may be told they are on a ten hour shift, not an uncommon one at that, only to find that the ‘custom isn’t coming through the door’ and are sent home within four hours, without any pay. That may seem a reasonable response to some of you. The argument being that there is no work so the employer can’t afford to pay for people to sit around. Quid Pro Quo. When the place is heaving and the worker doesn’t even have time for a break, the employer, who is raking in the loot, doesn’t turn around and say: “business was good today and I know you didn’t stop, but don’t worry, even though we contravened all employment legislation by working you straight through for 12 hours, (again not uncommon), There will be a nice bonus in your wage slip.

There lies the problem. In the above example, one I know from experience, there is no flexibility in the employer, that onus falls on the underpaid employee. Remember I’m not talking about the local curry house here; institutions with dubious employment records, but large and supper large corporations. New Labour was a party to this practice.  The irony is, in the long term society as a whole suffers because of this type of ‘flexible’ working practices. If people can’t earn a consistent wage, a regular wage and can’t invest into a pension, we the tax payer foot the bill. If someone is contracted to work 40 hours then they should work them. It is not their responsibility to compensate for the marketing failings of the company they work for. In the long-term, if companies can punish its workers for its own failings then the company, over time will lose out. Being competitive in a ‘competitive market’ is about targeting your customers and increasing revenue accordingly, not by reducing the wages of your potential customers, because if you’re doing it the company down the road is also doing it, and contrary to popular belief, it’s the workers that shop at your eateries, factories, shops and not the super rich.

Still not convinced? Simple acid test. Since 1979 we have had laissez faire economics, with a flexible approach to employment and employment law. Don’t believe our Ken’s rants about red tape and Health and Safety stifling business. The majority of red tape and Health and Safety were implemented by companies to protect themselves against lawsuits by placing responsibility, ( the onus) on the employee. The majority of Health and Safety practices within organisations have no basis in legislation and more to do with companies falling over each other to protect their own backs by deferring culpability onto the donkey at the bottom who risks his life for a daily wage. So if this flexible working shite worked why have we dropped down the league of economic activity?

Germany, which has a more restrictive working practice ideology than ourselves has strengthened its position, whilst we have dropped down the places to 6th on GDP and 12th on economic activity. Where’s the logic in flexiblity? Which in real terms means slavery. If economically it’s detrimental. Greed causes need. And New Labour were and are one of the most greedy group of individuals to have ever entered power; and that takes some going. There has to be a Next-Left, but this can’t be through ‘Think Tanks like the Fabian Society, who nurtured and educated the New Labour pilgrims. We were sold a lemon and until left thinkers remove any hope of converting New Labour to Old Labour, the Right will win again and again.

Violence!? March 26 Rally.

 

UKUncut; Black Bloc; TUC and March 26 Protesters.

 

 

Violence: The quality of being violent. Violent: using or tending to use aggressive physical force. Involving physical force. Vehement, passionate, extreme. Vivid, intense.

 

All the media hype seems to revolve around the splinter groups of anarchist and UK Uncut members. The fact that there was anything over 500,000 other demonstrators seems of little importance to the media and government ministers. Vince Cable, interviewed on the Politics Show, gave one of the greatest displays of dictatorial governance seen since the times of Tony Blair. I quote: “The fact that people are demonstrating against government policy will not alter it in the slightest.” How queer that people demonstrating in Libya not only have our government’s but the entire membership of NATO’s support. He seems to believe in the right of foreign citizens to oust their government but doesn’t like the idea of unarmed democrats telling his government that they don’t agree with and don’t believe their policies to be fair, reasonable, or economically viable.

We must bear in mind that no member of the electorate voted for the policies now being forced upon them. At no time within the election campaign were: Tuition fees mooted with regards to an increase. (On the contrary. His own party garnered votes on the complete opposite. As their manifesto stated: No to tuition fees) Swathes of cuts to the Public Sector jobs, the re-design and ultimate privatisation of the NHS and the sell off of the Post Office and the rape of its pension scheme.

 

Now we come to the violence. Running battles between 10,000 heavily armed and armoured police officers and a few hundred casually dressed running marauders. There is no debate needed with regards to the vandalism of property, whether that constitutes genuine violence in the way we envisage it is a matter for one’s own cognitive processing. But even if we are to agree that they were violent it seems to me to be a brave tactic against such well organised and heavily equipped police force. To quote from War of the Worlds: ‘Bows and arrows against the lightning.’ UK Uncut were the individuals responsible for occupying Fortnum and Mason and not as was reported by the BBC and other media outlets, Black Bloc. This is where I get to the other sides violence. UK Uncut undertook their usual tactic of demonstration by reading poetry, playing guitars and having a picnic. A demonstration that stayed peaceful throughout the occupation. The police, ultimately exposing the naivety of UK Uncut members, promised them that there would be no interrogation if they left peaceably, which they did. On the outside the police fell back into type and kettled, then arrested everyone on nonsense public order offences.

 

Black Bloc, showing more cynicism than their anti-tax-avoidance counterparts, kept a dodge and weave tactic going for the best part of the day and night.

 

So what if there was violence, although as I mentioned above, fighting helmeted, shield carrying, baton wielding police, is going to cause a lot more violence to oneself than to them.

 

This violence is incomparable with the violence being meted out on the British public. We are living under the sword of Damocles, those lucky enough to have a job, waiting for it to fall and impale us leaving our world shattered and our stomachs empty. This is where the real violence is coming from. A populace, from doctor to street cleaner all destined for the same limbo existence. Communities are and will continue to be decimated by the measures undertaken by this unelected government. (Yes it is unelected) These policies were not voted for, they did not stand on these policies and therefore, we the electorate, were duped into unelecting New Labour; a worthy cause I must emphasise, to be delivered into the furthest right-wing government in western Europe since the Nazi Party.

 

How do we know that they are that Right-Wing? Because they are intent to privatise or remove as many parts of civil society as they can in the shortest amount of time possible. By this time next year, the NHS will be under EU Competition Law and there will be no turning back the clock. They will be removing hard fought employment rights including, Health and Safety, right to tribunal and the right to compensation. If these aren’t violent acts then I am at a loss to know what is.

 

Child poverty, lack of opportunity, one of the least mobile societies in Western Europe, high unemployment, welfare cuts, housing cuts, elderly care cuts are just a small sample of a very long list. This is the real violence and as usual our representatives, those that are supposed to protect the public, line up in their hi-vis’s and helmets, batons, CS gas and shields at the ready to do their unconstitutional best and attack the innocent while the fascists, boots polished at the ready trample over a society that was ours. Now it will become a wasteland of missed opportunity and the playground for the rich and perverted.

THAT’S THE REAL VIOLENCE.

 

Next Left Part Two.

Next Left? (Part Two)

 

 

It isn’t difficult to find the contradictions and down-right hypocrisy that is and was New Labour – so called Socialists lining their own and pals pockets. What this party showed was its lack of respect for the electorate and the electoral process. If one takes a step back towards the inception of postal ballots, we can see how gerrymandering and gross electoral fraud was pushed to the sidelines. It may be argued that there were racial issues which made it a subject too hot to handle, yet this can not be a valid perspective. New Labour, along with the Lib-dems, made good electoral advantage from, what is without a doubt, improper and illegal electoral jiggery-pokery. The press had a sniff of it and felt that the racial aspect or the political disadvantage made it a story that was worthy of dumping. We know that Birmingham, Blackburn and certain boroughs of London were exposed to this fraud. What we aren’t privy to, is exactly how far this fraud went and who knew the truth.

 

I once heard a quote from a member of the secret services when quizzed about the chances of ‘rigging’ an election. To paraphrase: the interviewer made a statement to the effect that it was an impossible task. The agent’s response was to infer that his perspective wasn’t true. This made me think. If it were possible to ‘rig’ an election how would this be done? The first answer was very simple: Voting is a private matter. The election officer is unaware as to who has voted for whom or for what. This allows the interception of ballot boxes and replacing them with ‘rigged’ ballot papers. Implausible maybe, impossible surely not. As a ‘democracy’, a term I use warily, less than 50% of eligible voters actually bother. As those of you who have voted know, one does not need a polling card to vote. It is merely a matter of giving one’s name and address to the returning officer and he/she will tick you off the list and allocate you a ballot paper. What this shows is, regardless to how private your vote may be, the fact that you vote is public knowledge, or at least the state knows that you vote. So the state know you vote what difference does that make? The difference lies in who it knows doesn’t vote. If someone hasn’t voted and doesn’t vote, as a rule, the chances are that they aren’t ever going to vote. To send a confederate into numerous polling stations within a given constituency and vote for non-voters isn’t such a flight of fancy I fear.

 

If we take the last election and the unprecedented turnout, moreover the unprecedented refusal of votes, there may be some basis of truth in my hypothesis. There were stories, not greatly reported, where individuals who turned up to vote were refused. Other weren’t able to make it into polling stations at all. Surely, a ‘democracy’ as we are reported to be, could handle 100% turnout? If it isn’t designed that way, which the last elections shows it wasn’t. Why isn’t it? When I was a child my father always said: ‘if it rained on election day, the Tories would be elected.’ I have not researched the data but what he was implying was that Labour voters were less likely to to venture out to the polling station if the weather was wretched. Where as Tory voters, individuals who perceived themselves to be Middle-Class, whether they were or not, would vote come rain or shine. In general, as in the 70’s when my father first mooted this theory, Tory voters were more likely than Labour voters to have transport. My point is this. Whether the hypothesis is correct or not, it does show that there will be patterns regarding voter behaviours and these can be interpreted as well as acted upon. This last election, I feel, demonstrates some form of Gerrymandering. To end up with the percentage of Lib-Dems to Conservatives that eventually gave us this horrendous form of government.

 

There was going to be a backlash against New Labour, that was as inevitable as the Liberal-Democrats showing their true blue colours. New Labour needed a bashing, sadly the bashing wasn’t sufficient to change its direction. Yet, if one had vested interests in how Britain was governed and one wanted to make sure that the policies needed to support those interests would be best suited with a Hobson’s Choice of governance then to ‘rig’ the votes would make sense. The election appears to show that the electorate had no great interest in a Tory Government, nor did it see the Lib-Dems as a genuine alternative. Whether other parties, in the last election, were sidelined we will never know for sure. But, what I feel we can say with certainty is, that we did not vote for what we have now and probably had less to do with the outcome than we previously thought.

 

It may be argued that I am making leaps of fancy to connect up disparate perspectives, but bear with me. The point I’m trying to deliver here is that a real Left alternative can not come to the political fore within this structure. The option of Alternative Vote cannot give the kind of fundamental government that is needed to change our political and economic deep-think. What is needed is an act of parliament that makes it a prerequisite of citizenship that everyone has to vote. If my above hypothesis is correct, this move would reduce the probability of an election being ‘rigged’. It doesn’t negate the threat entirely but it does remove a very simple and effective way of stealing votes. It also affords representation from a larger field of political alternatives.

 

Whether our elections are being ‘rigged’ or not may seem to be an academic point with regards to a genuine Left alternative – my argument is: that without understanding our electoral system and the ways it can be manipulated we can never truly have the government we need and deserve. To a degree, until we can see a more open and accountable election process, whether we can find a Left alternative or not becomes a mute point. Without real open and fair elections the status quo remains the same. There are parties out there that give us a socialist opportunity, yet they appear to be making limited gains on the three major parties. This may be due more to my above hypothesis than we are comfortable to accept, but from casual conversations with individuals that voted in last years elections there seems to be an imbalance with what they reported to have voted and the result.

 

Next Left (The Fabian Society)

Next Left: Neologism – Which means: embarrassed to admit I like the gains of capitalism although I should be ashamed at the cost to others?  Next Left is a front name for the Fabian Society, a Think Tank, (yes where people sit and think about how best to fuck up the rest of our lives) They see themselves as: centre Left. (I have no idea what that means either) I was always under the impression, or delusion, that that was what the Lib-Dems were about. Obviously we all knew they were Tories in yellow jackets, but I assumed that they were the ones who pretended to be ‘centre left’ at election times.

Instead it seems that the Labour party, of which the Fabian Society is the nursery for, is Centre Left. News to me. May be I was living in another Britain, but the past 13 years were nowhere near the centre, and as for left only if they were facing the mirror and raising their right hands.  We have seen right-wing Friedman policies foisted, (not sufficient), imposed, impressed and sledge-hammered  into British society.  We have seen some frighteningly Orwellian legislation flashed through Parliament, civil liberties trampled under the boot of  ‘free-market economics’ and a tightening of the noose around the throat of democracy and free determination.

Centre-left Labour, would have, and there is no doubt about this, brought ID cards and all their cost and ineffectuality down to bear on the British Public. That, surely, isn’t centre left by anyone’s definition. This same party, allowed the privatisation of education and health, through the much lauded but never applauded Private Finance Initiative (PFI); something, we and our children will be paying for,  for the rest of our days.

My point is this: We need to take back the term Left. Remove it from the deluded Right. It may help to get to sleep to pretend to be left when you’re are so evidently right, but that distracts real thinkers of the left from getting the genuine point across. Intelligentsia may have been the original spark for Left thinking, but again this may be due to them being allowed a public voice, but they can not be the conclusion for a real Left party and government. Socialism must be taken back by genuine socialists and workers and not cosseted, life ignorant toffs, that feel a little bit better about their cosy lives if they can pretend they are thinking about the poor and subjugated. Where they can ignore the dissonance of their lifestyle in contrast to their reported political views, by joining a Think Tank and calling it ‘centre-left!’, then lead the populace down their cul-de-sac of inevitable self-advancement, whilst making sure the poor are poorer and the middle-classes end up with bigger tax bills than they started with.

New Labour anyone? Centre-left – only in a perverse parallel universe.

I will return to this matter sooner rather than later. We will find true and original Left thinkers, but sadly I fear, not in New Labour and not in its Grow Bag, The Fabian Society.

Deficit

Your first point starts you off in the wrong direction. The idea that the recession was caused by something other than government policy is misleading and false. Exposing the Tories and Liberals support for the policies does not detract from the fact that it was a Labour government that left us bare and vulnerable to the financial services. While the perpetual motion machine was racing along throwing out money Labour were more than happy to lord it and declare that there would ‘be no more boom and bust.’ The economic collapse was inevitable. So to somehow pretend that it was an anomaly of economics is nonsense. Brown followed the Tory model, who had followed the Friedman doctrine and we ended up with much of the same with a bit more poison to boot. The ‘deficit reduction’ budget is nothing of the sort. It’s more about reducing living standards and employment rights. Rights that were so blatantly abused by the New Labour Project. In the long term, as Thatcher found to her own detriment, the deficit will eventually grow larger as benefit payments and compensations to industries begin. At the same time taxes will reduce, due to lapse taxation laws and insufficient staff to collect and investigate taxes and tax ‘avoidance’ schemes.

This will, inevitably, lead to a reduction in healthcare provision, education support and training allowances. Which, in turn, will reduce employees skills, undermine professional apprenticeships and aid in the dumbing down of the workforce. The banks will be back at the door and demanding more tax money to bail them out, due to defaults in mortgages and their exposure to debt from CDS’s and CDO’s two lovely financial tools that are yet to come home to roost.

As for Social Democrats, ( a term that seems as meaningless as New Labour) questioning each cut as it comes, seems as irrelevant a task as I can think of. There is  no point in questioning which benefit or service is being cut and whether it is necessary. This leads to the wrong perspective. The entire concept of deficit reduction should be the starting and finishing post for the debate. 1)Why do we need to reduce the deficit? 2)Is there an alternative to it? 3)What genuinely does it mean? 4)Should we pull up politicians and commentators when they try to compare a country’s budget to a household budget?

1) We only need to if one believes that real money is being loaned to us by an individual. If, as we know, the monies are promised through funds and bonds then we don’t need to pare down the deficit.

2) In fact, bearing in mind that the money is coming from pension funds and insurance premiums, working from a capitalistic perspective, keeping the deficit increases pension fund pots and reduces Insurance premiums to the majority.

3) It’s a meaningless statement and is being used to push through an agenda based on the greed concept of ‘free market economics. (Yes. I am talking about the same economics that allowed industry to die because it couldn’t get government support, because it’s not allowed. Yet the same support was allowed when it came to the banks. Banks that owe us as much as the deficit and are still not paying back their debt. In truth, the majority of that debt is now ‘ring fenced’ which means that tax payers are the ‘sole beneficiaries’ of it.

4) We should pull them up about it; we should shake them that hard that they faint and crack their necks. A country’s economics aren’t in the remotest like a household and any comparison therein is futile and misleading.

To conclude: Labour run by Miliband, either would have been the same, will not change its position on the economic model it believes in. (Gordon Brown showed us that) They are not an alternative to the Condem-all government. They, like the brothers Miliband are the same. New Labour, because that’s what they are, have no counter argument for they believe in the same economic model. A cut of £40 billion or £80 billion means the same when you have lost your job and home. Not one of them are willing to bite the hand that feeds them, (Corporations and the filthy rich) even though that very same hand will eventually drag them by the collar down the corridor for the ‘long walk.’

Brown sold his soul for the Blairite dream but didn’t realise he wasn’t part of the club and would be left outside in the cold, exposed to the ridicule and lambast of the public and the press. Miliband thinks they’ll let him join, but again he is deluded. Education can only give you knowledge. Schooling is what will give you power and protection.