Labour has rejected the economics of austerity.
10 January 2015
Labour is developing “a pragmatic and deliverable economic policy for our country and in developing a fairer and more prosperous economic alternative based upon investment and growth which reaches all sections of society.”
This will “oppose austerity and to set out on economic strategy based on investment in skills, jobs and infrastructure.”
The Tories remain in thrall to austerity as the “way forward”, and as a consequence, the failed policies of austerity will continue to overshadow the lives of millions every day.
This is despite the fact that these policies, where implemented, have been shown quite emphatically not to have worked, having created economic insecurity, a rise in social inequality, and a collapse in living standards for very many.
Austerity is a political choice , not an economic necessity, and it is self-defeating.
The Tories have attempted to create a false record of the last Labour Government on public spending with deceitful claims about it being “profligate” and “runaway” , and that this caused the recession in 2008-9.
Leading economists have dismissed the Tory charge of profligate public spending as nonsense.
As has been pointed before, employing more NHS staff or raising the pay of the lowest-paid didn’t crash the economy ; the banks and their light-touch regulation did.
In April , over 400 practitioners in the field of mental health warned of the serious consequences of the flagship UK government policy of austerity.
They called for “a broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the damage that neo-liberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health” and that it was time to “unequivocally denounce the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking “
In the same month, it was reported that the numbers using foodbanks in Britain had topped 1 million for the first time.
The Tory Government’s choice of austerity rather than an expansion of the economy and a commitment to growth was an ideological choice to shrink the state and so reduce the role of the public sector in society.
They could have chosen the long-established method of using government spending to retain and to create the jobs that provided the income that supplied the taxes to reduce the deficit.
Instead, the Cameron-Osborne approach was to squeeze growth out of the economy, reduce people’s income and ability to pay taxes and so make it much more difficult to bring down the deficit.
For the Right , this was an opportunity to shrink the state.
Instead, there needs to be government intervention in the economy rather than withdrawal from it.
There needs to government responsibility for the condition of society, rather than denial of it.
And a common political purpose to end austerity and its injustice.
In the broadest terms, we need an economy that works for all rather than just for the financial markets of City of London, that shares prosperity, where investment is equitable, produces jobs of quality, and raises labour productivity which results in higher wages.
Such a strategy addresses the related social issues of poverty, health and inequality.
For example, the diverse North East economy shows a great deal of resources and potential that could be better used in creating that kind of economy.
The Extent of Unemployment in the North East
Figures released this month by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) from its “model-based” approach of calculation, estimates that unemployment in the 12 month period up to June 2015, the number and percentage rate of unemployed in each of the 4 council areas were :
Aberdeenshire 3,700 ; 2.6 per cent
Aberdeen 5,400 4.1 per cent
Angus 2,900 5.1 per cent
Dundee 5,900 ; 8.4 per cent
Underemployment in the North East
Government figures indicate the estimated numbers of those seeking longer hours at work in their present job; or an additional job to supplement the wages from the other job; or a different job with more hours of work
Aberdeen 7,700 ( 6.3 per cent of those aged 16 and over and in work)
Aberdeenshire 10,500 (7.7 per cent)
Angus 5,300 ( 10.2 per cent)
Dundee 4,800 (7.8 per cent)
Our new year 2016 already had a very special event set aside, but that will now not take place.
That was to be 24th. March 2016, which Alex Salmond declared to be Independence Day , the first day of an independent Scotland .
However, the collapse in oil prices, and therefore oil revenues, has comprehensively discredited the SNP’s economic case for independence.
Alex Salmond’s case for a secure economic future for an independent Scotland rested on oil at $113 per barrel, as set out in the SNP Government’s White Paper in 2013.
This month, oil prices have been at a 7-year low , and Brent crude has been at around $40 per barrel, around one third of the value that Mr Salmond’s economic case was built upon.
Expected oil revenues have fallen drastically .
The Office for Budget Responsibility says that the UK Treasury is likely to receive just £130 million in taxes from North Sea oil this year compared with £2.2 billion last year , and just £130 million than the £7.5 billion predicted in the SNP Government’s White Paper .
So in the months to come, with oil revenues plummeting, it is unlikely that we'll hear more about Nicola Sturgeon’s prediction in August of last year of another oil boom for Shetland with the magnitude of a “second energy bonanza” or of references to Mr. Salmond’s previous forecast of another oil boom two years ago.
Independence won’t be on the ballot paper next May.
Instead, the political debate will focus on the record of the Scottish Government.
The election is about the SNP government’s performance in government over the past 8 years.
That is why it will be about education at home and not about embassies abroad
- About an appointment to see your GP – and not about the appointment of 100 ambassadors world-wide after independence.
And the Scottish Government will face the same questions repeatedly :
”Name one redistributive policy of the Scottish Government that has reduced inequality in Scotland”.
“How can low taxation of the rich pay for high quality public services for the rest
The latest round of cuts from the SNP Government , inflicted on top of those from the Tory Government at Westminster, show that services to communities across the North East will be severely affected.
The cuts have already been condemned by COSLA who describe them as “unprecedented” and as being the result of policy decisions taken by the SNP government rather than the UK government. condemned the cuts
The figures below, expressed in real terms taking inflation into account, indicate the gravity of the cuts :
Aberdeen Cuts in 2016-17 £13.3 million, a cut of 3.9 per cent
Aberdeenshire Cuts in 2016-17 £10.9 million, a cut of 2.6 per cent
Angus Cuts in 2016-17 £9.8 million, a cut of 4.8 per cent
Dundee Cuts in 2016-17 £16.1 million 5.5 per cent
Councils are not to be made the scapegoats for cuts made by the SNP Government and by the UK Government.
In early December Nicola Sturgeon addressed the STUC rally "No Austerity" in Glasgow.
The following week her SNP Government consigned local councils in Scotland to another year of austerity cuts.
John Swinney should be reminded of his promise to “consult” with his “partners” in local government on his proposed Budget.
Councils and trade unions will campaign against these cuts , and at the same time, SNP councillors should be reminded that their first responsibility is to the welfare of the communities that they represent and not loyalty to the SNP Government in Holyrood.
Education is important for the individual , for the community, for society and for the economy.
We want every possible prospect and opportunity to be made available to pupils in our communities.
More investment in education means more investment in our future and our children’s future.
That is why we want every possible prospect and opportunity to be made available to them.
Let’s examine just a few of the major issues in Scottish education to take up Nicola Sturgeon’s invitation to “ judge us on our record !” at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
When the SNP took power at Holyrood in 2007, there were over 26,500 secondary teachers in Scotland.
Today, eight years later , there are just over 23,000 , a decrease of over 3,500.
In the same period, the number of primary school teachers has fallen by 400.
Local council budgets have been cut and cut and cut again , with education being denied the investment it needs to sustain improved standards.
Colleges offer 140,000 fewer places now under an SNP government with 1,300 fewer staff.
Those particularly affected include older learners, people returning to education , and women returning to work.
Eight years ago, Alex Salmond promised that by 2011 there would be no class in Primaries 1 to 3 in North East Scotland that would have more than 18 pupils in them.
Today, eight years on, under the same SNP Government , the percentage of Primary 1-3 classes with 18 or fewer pupils in them are :
Aberdeenshire – 12.6 per cent
Aberdeen – 10.6 per cent
Angus – 22,4 per cent
Dundee – 3.4 per cent.
The promise in the 2007 SNP election manifesto
The assurance given in the Scottish Parliament
Teaching numbers fall
Under the SNP Government , the number of secondary school teachers in North East Scotland has fallen since the SNP took office in 2007
Aberdeen 2007 - 898 ; 2015 -735
Aberdeenshire 2007 – 1,316 ; 2015 – 1,217
Angus 2007 - 608 ; 2015 - 548
Dundee 2007 - 805 ; 2015 - 646
And the judgement on the SNP’s record in education ?
Let’s quote Nicola Sturgeon :
The recent Audit Scotland report NHS in Scotland in 2015 revealed a service struggling to cope.
It confirmed that spending on the NHS on Scotland by the SNP Government has fallen in real terms by 0.7% in real terms between 2008/09 and the last full financial year, 2014/15.
It concluded that the SNP Government are not making sufficient progress towards its own 2020 “vision” which is “to enable everyone to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting by 2020”
One of the principal issues facing the NHS in Scotland is dealing effectively with rising demand, and concern is growing over staffing levels to address the demand.
Latest available data on the number of nursing and midwifery vacancies in North East Scotland (combining NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside; for September 2015 ) was just under 600.
Over 170 of these had been vacant for 3 months or more
Similarly, the number of vacancies in North East Scotland for consultants was just over 70, and 34 of these had been vacant for 6 months or more.
Nursing vacancies can be covered temporarily by expensive bank and agency expensive staff , but additional pressures are placed on existing staff to cover for the vacancies.
The consequence for an already hard-working staff facing excessive workloads is even more stress, the danger of burnout, and exhibiting “presenteeism” –attending work while unwell so as not to let work colleagues down.
As an example of the strain, the NHS in Scotland saw the number of stress-related sick days among nurses increase by a third rise, by 34% from over 116,000 in 2012 to 156,000 in 2013.
Earlier this year, bodies representing medical professionals warned that Scotland could find itself short of 900 GPs by 2020 unless government policy changed course and that 2016 poses significant added pressure for the NHS in Scotland through rising demand and staff vacancies.
Policies that promote gender equality aim to establish that men and women share the equal rights and obligations that are characteristic of a fair and forward-looking society.
Despite progress , women’s economic inequality remains a long-standing matter.
It is experienced by many who are in jobs that are low paid, part-time, with little or no prospect of career advancements and confined to a relatively small spread of jobs. (“gender segregation”)
There is also the Motherhood Penalty in which a woman’s career can be set back on becoming a parent, as well as a lack of women in top posts, and women’s caring roles.
All of these factors and others combine to create the Gender Pay gap.
It exists despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was established in 1975.
Using the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics, the Gender Pay Gap for the local council areas in North East Scotland is :
Aberdeen – Women earn 94 per cent of men’s wages
Aberdeenshire – Women earn 92 per cent of men’s wages
Angus – Women earn 87 cent of men’s wages
Dundee – Women earn 88 per cent of men’s wages
At UK level, Equal Pay Day is an annual event as part of the campaign to close the gender gap.
It marks the event by taking the calendar to illustrate the Gender Pay Gap.
This year it was 9th. November, and in terms of the Gender Pay Gap, a woman working full-time would work for nothing from then till January, while the man continued to be paid.
As well as being underpaid, women face being under-represented.
This also has an economic outcome.
Academic research has highlighted the under-representation of women in academia, business, public service and public office, highlighting the estimated benefit to Scotland’s national income from a doubling of women’s high-level skill contribution to the economy -£170 million a year.
The Women 50 : 50 campaign
The aim of the Women 50 : 50 campaign is to have equal representation of women in public life such as Parliament, local councils and on public boards.
Women make up 52 per cent of the Scottish population, but they account for around just one third of members of public boards and MSPs, and a quarter of councillors.
Experience from elsewhere tells us that this is a policy whose time has come.
Labour's sister party in Sweden , the Social Democrats, are the main party in a 50 : 50 government , and the new Canadian government has a gender-balanced Cabinet.
"Truthiness" and the Political persuaders
20 November 2015
There are three parts of the body involved in political thinking – the heart, the head and the gut.
Contrasts between two of them produced a famous exchange in the 1964 US Presidential election.
Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate suggested that atomic bombs could be used in Vietnam to destroy lines of communication with China.
The Republicans portrayed his stance as :
“In his heart, you know he’s right”
Lyndon Johnston’s Democrats responded with :
“In your guts, you know he’s nuts”
The three are involved in raising public engagement in political issues as politicians appealing to the head and to the heart , while TV interviewers ask
political commentators :
“What’s your gut feeling about how the campaign’s going?”
In recent years a new type of thinking has been defined, where the status of commonly-shared concepts such as “a fact” have been downgraded .
From this change in status for facts has emerged “Truthiness”
“Truthiness" is a concept created in the last decade by the American satirist , Stephen Colbert, which he defines thus :
“ truthiness is ‘truth’ that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively “from the gut" or because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination of facts.
"Truthiness is what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer as opposed to what reality will support”
At its core, truthiness dispenses with the classical model of reasoning based on objectivity, facts that are held to be universally true ; and theories and claims being dependent on facts for their credibility and reliability.
Instead, as Colbert states :
“Truthiness is the reality that is intuitively known without regard to liberal ideals such as reason and logic.”
He goes on :
“We are divided between those who think with their heads, and those who know with their hearts. … The ‘truthiness’ is, anyone can read the news to you, I promise to feel the news, at you. (his emphasis in italics )
In other words, whatever a person feels strongly about, for him or her that becomes the Truth.
Truthiness is ego-centric :
Colbert once more :
“Truthiness is : ‘What I say is right, and nothing anyone else says could possibly be true. It’s not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true.’(Colbert’s emphasis in italics)
“It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
“But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It’s certainty.””
“Truthiness” merited a place in the Collins English Dictionary where it was described thus :
“ the quality of being considered to be true because of what the believer wishes or feels, regardless of the facts”
It fitted comfortably into the world of the ever-expanding Internet, where traditional political news reporting was being challenged by politics presented as “infotainment” , and the rise of instantaneous social media, the sheer volume of which made it well nigh impossible to maintain standards of the information that it produced in terms of accuracy, its sources of reference and their trustworthiness.
However, society requires critical choices to be made.
These choices require factual information from authoritative sources to make people’s choices well-informed, and the constant supply of that information is the role of a responsible media.
The information has to be set in context that people recognise as being relevant to their daily lives.
It requires as well that those participating in politics don’t concede the political debate to “truthiness”.
The basis of classical rational thought - verifiable facts , publicly-available evidence, impartiality - must prevail instead.
We cannot surrender political discourse to truthiness.
Lesley Brennan : Labour's Campaign against Tory Tax Credit Cuts
14 November 2015
Today marks Labour’s National Campaign Day against the Tory government’s £4 billion tax credit cuts that would leave three million families £1,300 a year on average worse off.
It is part of David Cameron’s “compassionate conservatism” , a vision of society that he shares with former US President George W Bush.
In reality, the “compassion” requires the state to do exactly the opposite – a withdrawal from its responsibility to provide for the vulnerable and a removal of social security provisions from them.
In another part of society, the rich are undisturbed.
According to Equality Trust, the wealth of the richest 1,000 families in Britain increased by £28 billion last year , an increase several times more than the £4 billion cut in tax credits.
Their total wealth, according to the Sunday Times Rich List is £547 billion.
This is why the impoverishment of families set to lose over £1,000 a year is the antithesis of fairness.
That is why we are campaigning against these cuts.
Recipient families receiving Child or Working Tax Credit (April 2015) by Scottish Parliament constituency
Dundee City East
Out of work
Families 2,100 ; Children – 3,600
Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
Families – 2,400 : Children – 3,700
Child Tax Credit only
Families - 800 ; Children – 1,500
Total number of families 6,200.
Dundee City West
Out of work
Families 1,700 families ; Children – 3,200
Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
Families – 2,200 : Children – 3,600
Child Tax Credit only
Families - 800 ; Chilldren – 1,600
Total number of families 5,600.
Lesley Brennan : Tory Pretence as the "Workers' Party"
12 November 2015
Quite soon after the General Election in May, the Tory Party tried to re-invent itself as the "Workers’ Party”, using ideas from business marketing strategy
Some said that this was an exercise in “rebranding” through changes in a product , including its name, symbol, image and advertising to distance it from a previous regime of not-so-favourable business.
Others said it was something less, a “re-badging”, which means that it remained the same product but with a different logo or trademark applied to it.
Whether it was re-branding or re-badging, the public soon discovered that the Tories remained , in Theresa May’s words , “The Nasty Party”.
George Osborne , the Chancellor of this new “Workers Party” who had portrayed his austerity policy as a national “we’re all in this together” movement, now turned the screw even tighter on the lives of workers and their families in receipt of tax credits.
These workers are the working poor, those on low wages, those who are underemployed, those on zero hours contracts, and many more who are working hard to support their families.
The pause in Mr. Osborne’s thwarted attempts to rip some £4bn – a horrendous sum of money- in tax credits from them gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves of the effect of these cuts that were to implemented in the name of a punitive policy to “make work pay”
Touchstone, the TUC blog, provides estimates of how this and other changes will affect the various groups of families, all told, saying :
“These cuts are massively biased against the poor.
“Look, not at the change in pounds and pence, but the percentage loss in disposable income for working families”:
• Poorest quintile (lowest fifth) : 8.78 per cent.
• Second quintile: 4.29 per cent.
• Third quintile: 1.24 per cent.
• Fourth quintile: 0.26 per cent.
• Richest quintile: 0.03 per cent.
The price of these cuts is deepening inequality , a much more divided society and even more exclusion from opportunities.
These result from the policies of the new “Workers Party”.
And to show workers who earn low wages and endure poor working conditions what kind of society the “Workers Party” represents , there is the “Workers Party” Trade Union Bill which intends to obstruct and prevent the unions from seeking better wages and improved working conditions for their members.
Lesley Brennan : Women 50:50 and Council Representation
25 October 2015
Lesley Brennan has placed an item on the agenda of Monday's Dundee City Council meeting seeking support of 50:50 and recognising that more needs to be done at local government level.
Currently, there are six women on Dundee City Council:
Labour group is 40% women
SNP group is 12.5%
Her motion reads :
Council notes that women are underrepresented across Councils in Scotland and make up only 25 % of Councillors
This Council further acknowledges that whilst voluntary mechanisms such as all women shortlists have made some progress, women are still not represented fairly.
The Council congratulates the Women 50:50 campaign who have working across all political parties and have gained support from the SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Green Party leaders.
The Council welcomes and supports Women 50:50’s call for legislated candidates quotas in the Scottish Parliament and Council elections and backs the campaign’s call for fair representation of women in Scotland.
Link : Two Week Warning
The Tories’ plans have attracted the condemnation of organisations such as Liberty, the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and Amnesty International UK, who have issued this joint statement :
“The government's plans to significantly restrict trade union rights – set out in the Trade Union Bill – represent a major attack on civil liberties in the UK.
“By placing more legal hurdles in the way of unions organising strike action, the Trade Union Bill will undermine ordinary people’s ability to organise together to protect their jobs, livelihoods and the quality of their working lives.
“It will introduce harsher restrictions on those who picket peacefully outside workplaces – even though pickets are already more regulated than any other kind of protest. Unions will be required to appoint picket supervisors who must wear armbands and carry letters of authorisation, the absence of which could expose their unions to legal action.
“Further proposals out for consultation could mean unions are required to provide a protest plan to employers, police, and other State regulators, revealing in advance if they plan to use social media, including Twitter and Facebook during their campaign and what they plan to set out on websites and blogs.
“Taken together the unprecedented measures in the Bill would hamper people’s basic rights to protest and shift even more power from the employee to the employer.
“It is hard to see the aim of this bill as anything but seeking to undermine the rights of all working people.
“We owe so many of our employment protections to Trade Unions and we join them in opposing this bill.”
The bitterness towards unions behind the Bill is borne out by new figures from the Office of National Statistics which show that strikes are at a historically low level.
Last year there were just over 150 stoppages compared with just over 1,200 thirty years ago.
Nearly two-thirds of strikes last for just one or two days.
Most disputes were settled without recourse to strike action - the number of strike ballots (650) was four times the number of stoppages that occurred.
Comparisons with countries in the European Union show that industrial disputes indicate in the UK stand at just over half of the European average.
These proposals are an attack of the rights of trade unions and their members, and they are deliberately one-sided.
If they are not, then why is there no provision in the Bill that Tory Ministers and MPs are required to give Parliament two weeks' notice of their intention to speak in debates and what they intend to say in their speeches or on social media?
2015 17 September
2015 for air traffic control , digital imaging in medicine , and business cycle analysis in economics
12 September 2015
25 August 2015
Tax Credits and Tax Avoidance
: The two £12 billion
He dispensed with the in-house rules on drama at Prime Minister’s Questions, and instead he read out questions from ordinary people outwith Parliament who had asked him to raise their real issues with David Cameron :
He quoted Paul :
“Why is this Government taking tax credits away from families?
“We need this money to survive so that our children don’t suffer.
“Paying rent and council tax on low income doesn’t leave you much .
“Tax credits play a vital role and more is needed to stop us becoming reliant on foodbanks to survive.”
He quoted Claire :
“How is changing the thresholds of entitlement for tax credits going to help hard-working people or families.
“ I work part-time, my husband works full-time earning £25,000.
“We have five children.
“This decrease in tax credits will see our income plummet.
“How is this fair?”
Jeremy Corbyn has already denounced the cuts in tax credits as a “work penalty”.
And there are over 3 million families set to lose on average £1,000 a year through the actions of the Tory government which Jeremy Corbyn describes as “intent on punishing the people of this country for a crisis they did not cause. “
Tory claims that the losses in tax credit cuts would be recouped by the new level of the Minimum Wage (their "National Living Wage") have been dismissed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Labour are proposing an alternative to reduce spending which includes support for trade unions to push for higher pay, a £10 an hour National Minimum Wage, and tackling the housing crisis in dealing with high rents.
The tax credit cuts are part of an overall Tory plan to cut welfare spending by £12 billion.
Tax credits were introduced to top-up the wages of the low paid and ensure that families are better off in work.
Their reduction as part of the £12 billion in cuts will ensure that many will struggle on the poverty line.
There is, however, another different £12 billion that the £12 billion in welfare can be compared with.
And it exists in a different economic world from the one where tax credits are set to be slashed and where Office of National Statistics figures show that the poorest 20 per cent pay a higher percentage of income in tax than the richest 20 per cent do. ( 37per cent to 35 per cent)
Research by Dr. Kevin Farnsworth - 'Corporate Welfare State: Public Provision for Private Businesses’ examines the annual cost to UK taxpayers of” corporate welfare” - subsidies for private sector business, which he estimates at as much as an annual £180 billion
He estimates that “ corporate tax avoidance costs the exchequer £12 billion per year. "
As we have already seen , £12 billion is also the identical sum of money being cut from welfare spending by the Tories
If we are to get the country’s economy and the lives of the many on a sound basis, then we need fairer taxes on the wealthiest, not big reductions in the standard of living for those who can afford it least.
And we need to invest the proceeds of fairer tax in people’s skills to raise their productivity and their incomes, not cuts in tax credits that are “arguably the biggest single cut to families’ income ever implemented by a government”, as Labour describes them..
We need tax justice.
Trade Union Bill : The Tories’ Imaginary Numbers
Despite their unreal nature, imaginary numbers have their uses in the real world; to take just three examples :
The Tories have used their own political version of “imaginary numbers” - numbers which they imagine justifies their Trade Union Bill introduced this week at Westminster which in the real world will have a disastrous impact on employment rights
When the Tory Government talks about “trade unions”, the word “strike” and phrases such as “holding the country to ransom” usually follow close behind.
They imagine that the number of days lost through strikes makes their case for action against union rights.
However, numbers from the Office of National Statistics tell a different tale.
The number of days lost through strike action in the UK last year was 788,000.
That figure is lower than in any year during the Second World War, and lower than in any year of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
Also , the number of days lost through strikes was a small fraction of the annual number of working days lost through stress, anxiety and depression – 15 million ( ONS data for 2013)
And there is reliable evidence to link the austerity policies of the Tory Government to mental health :
"Austerity is having a 'profoundly disturbing' effect on Britain's mental health, say experts", ran a headline in the Independent
Numbers Two and Three
The Tories imagine that the number 50 is a fair number as the minimum percentage -50 per cent - of the trade union membership in “important public services" -(the NHS, education fire service, transport, border security and nuclear decomissioning) who must vote in a ballot for industrial action .
There is another number 40 - which adds an extra sanction : that support for action in “important public services" must be approved by 40 per cent of the entire membership. ( the equivalent of an 80 per cent approval on a turnout of 50 per cent of members)
No Tory MP, MSP or councillor has ever had to clear such a huge hurdle to get elected at general elections, council elections or at by-elections.
The TUC have responded with their own numbers - from the real world
Their polling earlier this month has indicated that :
“65 per cent of the public think employers using temporary workers as cover during strikes will give permanent workers less power to defend their pay and conditions at work.
*77 per cent of the public think making it compulsory for unions to give two weeks’ notice if they intend to use a loudspeaker or carry a banner during a strike is a “bad use of police time”.
*72 per cent think forcing unions to submit what they are planning to post on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs during a strike two weeks in advance to the police would be a “bad use of police time”.
*60 per cent of the public (and 79 per cent of trade unionists) think making the lead person on a peaceful picket line give their name to their employer will have a negative effect on that person’s career.
In the video below TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady presents further evidence as to why this Bill will be opposed.
And there is yet another number to add that illustrates the anti-union spiteful nature of the Bill
The Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) found that "Managers were typically positive about their relationship with their employees, the vast majority (96%) rating this relationship as either ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’"
The report was sponsored by and published two years ago by the UK's Government's Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills - the Tory-led Government of David Cameron.
Labour's New Leader
In choosing Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has a Leader whose election campaign has brought transformational change to the party.
He began the contest in the deep gloom of the days after 7th. May as a paper candidate given a place on the ballot, if only to grant the Left in the party a voice in the battle between party hierarchy figures who were the Westminster-media network favourites for the top job.
However, his campaign came into its own when he voted against the Tories iniquitous Welfare Bill while the others abstained and made their position worse by attempting to justify their abstention.
His principled stand won him swathes of support amongst party members, as did him addressing and supporting their long-held beliefs.
Now Labour is back on the path to its long-established role as a distinct Left-of Centre party, and of being proud of it as well.
Jeremy Corbyn wants Labour to return to the politics of its core beliefs which include re-distribution and public ownership, in clear contrast to the Tory Party who remain the defenders of Big Money interests as well as the party of inequality and austerity.
This comes after years of “modernisation” and “triangulation” as well as the politics of the “Overton Window” (where there is a consensus amongst the political establishment and the mainstream media about the range of views that are regarded as acceptable.) –all of which meant moving to the Right.
That era has gone.
As Jeremy Corbyn said in his speech today after being elected leader : "Things can, and they will, change."
Two Months On From "Will Jeremy Corbyn Make the Ballot?"
There was a time in June when the New Statesman asked :
“Will Jeremy Corbyn Make the Ballot ?”
Now, as his leadership campaign has progressed with a groundswell of support , the online publication For Argyll has described how he answered questions from members of the audience at the rally in Dundee earlier this month :
“When asked questions, he considers what he sees from his stand point and describes it freshly and with no nod to the amending forces of any given ‘line’ or any public relations spin.
“He speaks straight from the mind and directly to those in front of him. “
Jeremy Corbyn provides straightforward –style communication; and he doesn’t “do” personal attacks.
Since then, there has come the support from 28 professors, including the authors of “The Spirit Level” for his candidacy , in a letter to the Guardian
Its text stated :
“This is a moment of opportunity for the Labour party and the country. A new movement is emerging in British politics; party membership is growing rapidly, particularly among young people who had increasingly given up on politics and politicians.
“There is a possibility that academics who have always felt that their research – whether on social policy, public health, economics, sociology or other disciplines – was ignored by policymakers may now be more in tune with the leadership of the Labour party.
“And rather than a backward-looking “old Labour” approach to politics, this is about recognising the inspiring possibilities for a fairer and more equal society offered by an information economy in an interdependent world.
“We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature for leadership of the Labour Party.
And after that has come last Sunday’s headline in Sunday’s Observer
Jeremy Corbyn wins economists’ backing for anti-austerity policies
Former adviser to Bank of England among signatories to letter dismissing criticism of economic plans, saying they are ‘not extreme’
Whichever way the contest is framed – the underdog v. the party establishment -or the progressive Left candidate v. the consensus candidates - he is attracting enthusiastic crowds eager to listen to a man who is free from the culture of centralised control and spin, and who rapidly became a national political figure by following his principles and voting against the Tories’ horrendous Welfare Bill that will bring even more hardship to poor families on Britain.
Attempts to shape the issues of the contest to be his presumed “unelectability” or alleged mass “infiltration” by spoilers from the Right and by the “hard”, the “far” and the “extreme” left have failed to dent the message of hope and confidence that the Corbyn campaign exudes.
His campaign offers optimism and a return to politics as a cause rather than a career.
18 September 2015
17 September 2015
for air traffic control , digital imaging in medicine , and business cycle analysis in economics
12 September 2015
25 August 2015
Jeremy Corbyn's Analysis and two Nobel Prize Laureates
12 August 2015
Into that vacuum and ever since the Tories have wasted no opportunity to occupy that space with a false record of the Labour Government on public spending with deceitful claims about it being “profligate” and “runaway” , and that this caused the recession in 2008-9
As Larry Elliott of the Guardian has observed : “ It has been a catastrophic political blunder not the challenge the myth that Brown’s Government caused the crisis and the austerity that followed.”
And as Oxford economist Simon Wren-Lewis has commented :
“The profligacy charge is nonsense.
"But you would not know that from seeing political commentators routinely allowing charges of profligacy to go unchallenged and asking for apologies from Labour politicians.
"Partly as a result, many members of the ordinary public just know that Labour was profligate, and accuse either Labour politicians or academic bloggers of lying when they suggest otherwise.”
Now, in the aftermath of the Labour’s defeat in the 2015 General Election, and in the campaign to elect the new Leader of the Labour Party, the party has one uncompromising champion of public spending in Jeremy Corbyn who asks :
“Did nurses pay crash the economy? Did refuse collectors pensions bankrupt Northern Rock? Did too many teaching assistants bring down the derivatives markets? No”
He and very many other Labour Party members and supporters blame the banks and their light-touch financial regulation.
While his stance may have earned him the wrath or displeasure of other politicians, Jeremy Corbyn’s emergence as a potential leader has been understood by Nobel Prize winners in economics.
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz was, according to the Independent, “not surprised at all that there is a demand for a strong anti-austerity movement around increased concern about inequality.”
And fellow Nobel laureate Paul Krugman remarks :
“All the contenders for Labour leadership other than Mr. Corbyn have chosen to accept the austerian ideology in full, including accepting false claims that Labour was fiscally irresponsible and that this irresponsibility caused the crisis.
“As Simon Wren-Lewis says, when Labour supporters reject this move, they aren’t ‘'moving left', they’re refusing to follow a party elite that has decided to move sharply to the right."
Here is Jeremy Corbyn describing the effects of austerity on take-home pay and standard of living in the UK :
“Some workers in our public services are taking home 20% less in real terms now than they were before the recession - due to years of pay freeze, pay caps, and increases in pension contributions. "
And here is Joseph Stiglitz on the same theme of falling living standards in the US :
“While the rich have been growing richer, most Americans (and not just those at the bottom) have been unable to maintain their standard of living, let alone to keep pace. A typical full-time male worker receives the same income today he did a third of a century ago….
“Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable.”
So Jeremy Corbyn’s analysis of the country’s condition demonstrates that he is not an isolated figure.
A vote for him and his campaign is far removed from the politics of the protest vote for minor parties at by-elections.
His campaign challenges the status quo.
It is about bringing together the disconnected and the elected.
It is about restoring the Labour Party to its traditional distinctive Left-of-Centre politics.
The Benefits That Trade Unions Bring
8 August 2015
The benefits that trade unions bring have been recognised by a most unlikely source – from within the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF has been at the forefront of the extensive austerity offensive that has driven down standards of living and widened levels of inequality.
High levels of inequality have serious consequences for society, and now the IMF, on reflection, has been expressing its concern that the inequality that austerity has brought is a barrier to increased economic growth.
As its Managing Director Christine Lagarde remarked in addressing a conference in Brussels earlier this year,
“the theme of growing and excessive inequality is not only back in the headlines, it has also become a problem for economic growth and development.”
An in-house IMF Staff Discussion Note ( Link ):
had found that a lower degree of trade union involvement in the labour market corelated with increased inequality in society as a whole and also with greater wealth for their richest in the countries examined.
The research found that “ the decline in unionization is related to the rise of top income shares and less redistribution, while the erosion of minimum wages is correlated with considerable increases in overall inequality”.
It went further saying that, according to the research , “the decline of union membership explains on average 40 percent of the increase of the top 10 percent income share over the period under consideration (broadly, 1980- 2010.)
It also went further saying that : “unionization and minimum wages can help reduce inequality”
And, as if to speak against the unfair distribution of the income and wealth, Ms. Lagarde in addressing the audience referred to above, referred to : “a league table of the world’s best paid hedge fund managers. It showed that the highest earner was able to pocket $1.3 billion in 2014. One man, $1.3 billion!
“Together, the 25 best-paid hedge fund managers earned a combined $12 billion last
year, even as their industry suffered from largely mediocre investment performance.”
Despite that outcome and Ms Lagarde’s speech, the IMF research could not bring itself to indicate an obvious solution - greater trade union activity in the labour market reduces inequality.
Instead it reached a conclusion that was reached was no real conclusion : its data “ do not constitute a blanket recommendation for more unionization or higher minimum wages.”
What should it have concluded ? From the experience elsewhere, in areas of Europe such as Scandinavia where inequality is less than it is here, the workforce is more unionised.
Increasing trade union engagement will help to close the enlarging gap between the rich and the rest.
And that the creation of a fairer society and a better economy needs more than government intervention; it needs the participation of trade unions as well.
Austerity and the Austerians
6 August 2015
In April, over 400 practitioners in the field of mental health signed an open letter to the “Guardian” warning of the serious consequences of the flagship UK government policy of austerity.
They called for “a broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the damage that neoliberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health” and that it was time to “unequivocally denounce the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking “
Their message was in direct, plain- spoken language, describing the policy of austerity and its repercussions as “malign”, “profoundly disturbing” ,and “ominous”.
It described those looking for work as “being subjected to a new intimidatory kind of disciplinary regime”
In the same month, the Trussell Trust reported that the numbers using foodbanks in Britain had topped 1 million for the first time.
“Our foodbanks continue to report that large numbers of clients who are in work are struggling with insecure work, low wages and high living costs, “ it said.
A few months previously, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had revealed that the extent of poverty in the UK showed that the number of people in working families who were living in poverty was greater than the number living in workless and retired families in poverty combined .
In the same lead-up time to election day in May, the Tories kept up the fallacious chant throughout the campaign of the deficit created by the previous Labour Government through its alleged “overspending”
According to the Tories it was this, and not the ideologically-driven policies of David Cameron and George Osborne, that was responsible for the austerity that has reigned since.
However, to gain a different perspective from the Tories, Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner and a keen observer of UK politics and who lives in a world outside the media-Westminster village, provided one during the election campaign.
He wrote :
“Unfortunately, economic discourse in Britain is dominated by a misleading fixation on budget deficits.
“ Worse, this bogus narrative has infected supposedly objective reporting; media organizations routinely present as fact propositions that are contentious if not just plain wrong.
“The narrative I’m talking about goes like this: In the years before the financial crisis, the British government borrowed irresponsibly, so that the country was living far beyond its means”
Paul Krugman’s own verdict ?–
“None of this is true .
“Was the Labour government that ruled Britain before the crisis profligate?
“Nobody thought so at the time.
“In 2007, government debt as a percentage of GDP. was close to its lowest level in a century (and well below the level in the United States), while the budget deficit was quite small.”
The choice by the Cameron government of austerity rather than an expansion of the economy and a commitment to growth was an ideological choice to shrink the state and so reduce the role of the public sector in society.
They could have chosen the long-established method of government spending to retain and to create the jobs that provided the income that supplied the taxes to reduce the deficit.
Instead, the Cameron-Osborne approach was to squeeze growth out of the economy, reduce people’s income and ability to pay taxes and so make it much more difficult to bring down the deficit.
For the Right , this was an opportunity to shrink the state, which they would imagine to be a “success”.
Austerity has failed as a discredited economic policy for a society, and doubly so for the people described by the Trussell Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the signatories of the letter to the “Guardian” referred to above.
More of the same from the Cameron government will ensure that the rich get richer while the poor suffer.
Instead, there needs to be government intervention in the economy rather than withdrawal from it.
There needs to government responsibility for the condition of society, rather than denial for it.
And a common political purpose to end austerity and its injustice.