Tag Archives: Lib Dems

Nick Clegg’s Red Lines

Nick Clegg, as many of us already know, is a bullshitter. His election promises are lies and the party he leads is slippery, two-faced and not beneath playing the race card when it suits. Clegg pretends to be the people’s champion; the brake on the out-of-control Tory juggernaut. It was all a pose: all he ever wanted for himself and his party was power. Letting go of the ministerial limousines and briefcases will be difficult for them. But change is a good thing. Right? Then, it’s time for a change.

When Clegg appeared in the media to announce his ‘red lines’, I knew immediately that he was getting ahead of himself. What makes him think his party will win enough seats to hold the balance of power? What makes him think anyone really wants to vote for a party that propped up the cruellest government since Thatcher? Clegg’s announcement was hubris wrapped in arrogance.

One of his ‘red lines’ was education. This is little different to his 2010 pledge and if he snuggles up  to the Tories in Coalition: The Sequel (directed by CCHQ), this will go out of the window with the rest of his pledges. so what are those other pledges? Well, he tells us that he will oppose Tory cuts. Just like he did when he was in power. Next, he claims that he will reduce Labour’s deficit. Really? Remember how Clegg and his gang complained that Labour had “bankrupted the country”? This never happened but the Lib Dems thought it best to repeat the Tory lie, just in case. The Labour Party would be foolish to enter a coalition with the backstabbing Lib Dems.

The best thing that could happen for Nick Clegg and his sad little party is for him to lose his seat and his party to get a kicking at the ballot box. Make it so.

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Filed under General Election 2015, Liberal Democrats, Political parties

The “Leaving Debt For Future Generations” Fallacy

How many times in the last five years or so have we heard the popular refrain “We mustn’t leave debt for our children and grandchildren”? Too many to count. The Tories and their allies in power, the Lib Dems, use it as a discourse-killer; a means of defending their absurd austerity measures and to silence their critics. However, this notion that if the government should borrow money to invest in public services or infrastructure, then this debt will be passed on to our children and grandchildren and so on is nothing but bunkum. It’s little more than a form of emotional blackmail to convince gullible voters to cast their ballots for the dismal Tory Party,  whose profligacy in government would make the most financially incontinent blush with embarrassment.

Governments always borrow money. If they didn’t, it would be unusual. The Lend-Lease deal that was negotiated between the Attlee government and the United States was paid off in 2000.  First World War debts were finally paid off a year ago. I wonder though, did any of you actually notice this debt dragging on you as members of the successor generations? No? I didn’t either. The South Sea Bubble, which happened in 1720 incurred massive debts. The Battle of Waterloo sucked in money like a black hole absorbs light. Those debts are still outstanding. It’s funny how none of the Tories or Lib Dems ever mention this. Instead of avoiding bubbles, the Tories and the Lib Dems actually did their best to stimulate them. Help to Buy has the potential to become the British equivalent of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. The recent attempt to revive Right to Buy, which has contributed to the current housing shortage, is another economically incompetent manoeuvre.

Truth be told, individuals don’t pay back these historic debts because they’re held in bonds that were issued at the time of borrowing. The wealthy people who lent money to the government demand their interest but, in effect, they’re a form of savings. So what about the budget deficit then? Well, that isn’t helped by the fact that the last government failed to collect enough in tax revenue because they gave tax cuts to their rich friends, while hammering those who need to work more than one job just to have an extra couple of quid a week. Yes, they told you that those earning less than £10,000 a year would be taken out of tax but those people often have no choice but to take another job. So they lied to you.

Governments can raise money in three ways: taxation,  borrowing (at preferential rates of interests) or by issuing bonds. The latter is often used for funding wars, while taxation is used for such things as social security. The government will often borrow money to service public sector needs (this used to be known as the public sector borrowing requirement or PSBR) or for infrastructure projects. PSBR is the old way of referring to the budget deficit. The government can always go into debt for wars and other military adventures but they will never claim that those particular debts will “be passed on to future generations”. Yet they will make that same claim when it comes to much-needed investment or paying out social security benefits. Such staggering hypocrisy should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

It’s The People’s Money blog had this to say about the “leaving debt for future generations” fallacy.

The real debt we leave to our children is the state of the environment and the nation’s resources they inherit from us, along with the lack of investments we could and should have made in their future. It is never about the record of government money on an accounting ledger.

The notion that the national debt is passed on to “our children and grandchildren” has its origins in Thatcher’s household finances analogy fallacy. The Center for Economic and Policy Research, a US-based research outfit claims:

Politicians, especially those who want to cut programs like Social Security and Medicare, are fond of telling people that our children and grandchildren will pay the national debt. That one may sell well with focus groups, but it is complete nonsense. Unfortunately, Eduardo Porter repeats this line in his column today.

A moment’s reflection shows why the debt is not a measure of inter-generational equity. At some point everyone alive today will be dead. At that point, the bonds that comprise the debt will be held entirely by our children or grandchildren. The debt will be an asset for the members of future generations that hold these bonds. This can raise distributional issues within a generation. For example, if Bill Gates’ grandchildren own the entire U.S. debt there will be important within generation distributional consequences, however this says nothing about inter-generational distribution.

In other words, the debt actually becomes a form of savings not a crippling burden as the free market cultists in the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties would have us believe.

When a government, like the last coalition government, keeps cutting taxes for the rich, it leaves a massive hole in the government finances. What the coalition has done is to pass on debts to those who can least afford them, while letting bankers and other parasites off the hook. The outgoing Blair-Brown government also dumped debts on unemployed by abolishing the social fund grants and replacing them with ‘budgeting’ and ‘crisis’ loans. If anyone is being saddled with unsustainable levels of debt, it’s the poor who are living at this moment in time. They’re in debt bondage and they’ve effectively become serfs in our late capitalist, post-Fordist economies. Why? Because the bullies who govern this country know they can’t fight back, because they lack the economic and political power to do so. When George Osborne stands before us and claims “it would be a dereliction of our duty to future generations”, he’s relying on widespread ignorance of state finances to push this mumbo-jumbo. Don’t fall for it.

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Filed under Conservative Party, General Election 2015, Government & politics, Liberal Democrats, Public spending

The ‘Deficit’? Which deficit are they talking about?

Let’s get something straight: there is no such thing as “The Deficit” there are deficits, and the politicians of the three main parties are all guilty of presenting an image of a single monolithic deficit that must be “brought down” at all costs. This is to support their cock-eyed view that cuts, particularly to social security benefits are necessary, while tax cuts for the rich will somehow stimulate the sluggish (some would say moribund) economy because the “wealth” will miraculously “trickle down” to those below. Not even the very right-wing George H W Bush believed that and derisively referred to trickle down (or supply side) economics as “voodoo economics”.

Our imperial masters will confuse, sometimes deliberately, “The Deficit” with “The Debt”. Again, there is a debt and it’s called The National Debt, which is accumulated through government spending on wars, for example.  The current national debt has been around since the end of the First World War. Politicians, many of whom are not economists, will often claim that “The Debt” also needs to “paid off” and will again cite government spending on social security as the main culprit of increased borrowing. This is economically illiterate bunkum. Yet, we are now in a situation where, once again, the level of the nationals debt is set to be increased by a new war in the Middle East. Yet, the government can’t find money for the NHS? Please, pull the other one.

When politicians talk about The Deficit, most of the public haven’t a clue what it means and this suits our imperial masters well, for they can use this magic phrase to rebut any criticism of austerity, privatizations and cuts to public services. I have lost count of the numbers of vox pop interviews where some member of the public has quite literally repeated verbatim the spiel of some government minister or other. “The country is broke and we need to pay our debts” some ignoramus will opine, while another will claim “There’s no money, we need to cut something”. The United Kingdom is the seventh richest country in the world and there’s no money? Come off it.

There are five kinds of deficits. Let’s deal with each one in turn.

First, there is the structural or budget deficit. This is when the government is spending more money than it receives. Usually, governments receive money through taxation. If a government is cutting taxes for billionaires and faceless corporations, then it isn’t making any money. It’s simple logic. The other way a government can raise money is to print the stuff but quantitative easing, as it’s referred to, has only benefited the same people who got us into this mess: the bankers. The government could remedy this by taxing the rich more. Whenever this idea is proposed, our imperial masters respond by telling us this will hurt the “wealth creators”. These people only create wealth for themselves. They don’t even work for it. They get other people to do the work.

Work is over-rated. Hard work more so.

The cyclical deficit refers to, as its name suggests, the economic cycle and is caused by downturns in output. Low levels of business activity and high levels of unemployment are the manifestations of this kind of deficit. Some economists disagree over the terms ‘cyclical’ and ‘structural’ and claim that there’s no difference between the two.

A balance of trade deficit occurs when imports outstrip exports. If you’re not making and selling enough stuff to other countries but are buying in loads of stuff from overseas, then this is what happens. Every outgoing Tory government since 1964 has racked up a massive balance of trade deficit for the incoming Labour administration to deal with.

Finally, there’s the balance of payments deficit. This is related to the balance of trade. A balance of payments deficit is created when the imports of goods, services and investment income exceeds the exports of the same things. In 1974, this led to the Sterling Crisis of 1976.

So what is the national debt? Well, this is when governments borrow money from the central bank (In the case of England, this is The Bank of England), which is a private concern and not owned, in spite of its name, by the state. Governments borrow by issuing bonds, securities and bills.  In the United States the level of debt to GDP is 73.60%. In the UK, it’s 88.7%. Does this make a difference to you or I? Well, not really, since the government can borrow money at preferential rates of interest. The Tory-led government claims that it’s “reducing borrowing” but it hasn’t. It’s actually borrowed more money  than the previous government. Furthermore, all governments borrow money. It’s a fact of life.  The Tories’ continual claim that they’re borrowing less (sic) is a lie. In fact, most people don’t even know how much the national debt is, yet Westminster politicians will usually pretend to know when they’re busy conflating the national debt with ‘The Deficit’.

I realize that I have simplified these terms without going into heavy economic theory, but this is how deficits need to be explained to the public.

Do I expect our imperial masters to come clean on government finances any time soon? I doubt it. These people can’t even lie in bed straight.

Here are more blogs about the government’s deficit lies.

Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going To Apologise?

The Great Debt Lie and the Myth of the Structural Deficit

Another Cameron myth: the coalition hasn’t reduced the deficit by “a quarter”

 

 

 

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 51)

Kennite’s been a little quiet of late. He’s been busy moonlighting for Bozza as his unofficial sidekick Cycling Commissioner. But a couple of weeks ago, there was a Panorama expose (sure) of Tower Hamlets Council, which accused its mayor, Lutfur Rahman of doling out council largesse to groups that apparently supported him. When I saw the trailer, I remember thinking, “this looks a lot like Gilligan’s handiwork”. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when a series of blogs about Rahman, which repeats Kennite’s stock phrase, “extremist-linked”, recently appeared on Telegraph blogs.

Here’s his blog from 4 April, in which he writes:

In its letter appointing the inspectors, the Department for Communities and Local Government asked them to pay particular attention to, among other things, “the authority’s payment of grants,” a subject we covered on the blog yesterday, and the “transfer of property to third parties.” That’s what today’s blog is about.

Exhibit A is the Old Poplar Town Hall, on the corner of Poplar High Street and Woodstock Terrace. It was the council HQ from 1870 to 1938, until the then Borough of Poplar moved to another town hall (now also abandoned) in Bow Road.

The Poplar High Street building has great historical significance. It was here, in 1921, that radical Labour councillors, led by George Lansbury, began a rebellion against “unfair” rates that resulted in them being sent to prison, and triggered reform of a system that discriminated against poor areas such as Poplar.

Now, however, the Old Poplar Town Hall is part of a rather more worrying redistribution of wealth being practiced by Lutfur Rahman to his associates and friends, such as the Islamic extremist group, the IFE,based at the hardline East London Mosque.

Here he flourishes the heritage card

Remember: the town hall is a large and attractive Victorian building a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf and a few minutes’ walk from a future Crossrail station. It is internally tired but otherwise perfectly usable, and was indeed used as offices by the council. It has 9,803 square feet of space. In 2011, Old Poplar Town Hall was sold by the council to new owners who intend to turn it into a luxury hotel with 25 bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar and two conference suites.

The price? £875,000.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Newham, the council  plans to move out of the 1000 Building in Docklands that it spent millions on and rent it out to Chinese developers. Newham Council has been accused by local residents of wasting money. There’s no mention of this. Why? Because the leader of the council isn’t Bangladeshi.

 In the 3 April blog titled “Lutfur Rahman’s favoritism: the evidence”, Gilligan writes:

Over the next few weeks, this blog will be setting out in detail the truth about Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, and the full evidence against him. I should stress that, over the last four years, all our material about Lutfur and his extremist allies has survived literally hundreds of complaints to Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission.

The truth? Really? Is that like The Sun’s version of the truth when it reported in 1989 that Liverpool supporters had urinated on their dying fellow supporters and picked their pockets? Kennite also claims that he has the protection of Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission – the latter of which is run by, guess who? The press.

Naturally, Kennite can’t resist having a swipe at The Guardian’s Dave Hill.

Rahman’s supporters make two main defences: first, that in the words of the Guardian’s Dave Hill, “if Rahman has sinned, how many others are doing so all day, every day in ways that, in the end, differ if at all only in the means and detail?”

Now how’s that for bitchiness? Anticipating the inevitable accusations of racism, he launches a pre-emptive strike on Rahman.

The second defence, inevitably, is to claim that all scrutiny of Rahman is racist – again, without any factual basis. Instead, as I show below, it is Rahman who is practising racial and religious favouritism and it is his ethnicity that has saved him from scrutiny.

The thing is, Rahman has a point: the main reason for Kennite’s pursuit of Rahman is precisely because he isn’t white and happens to be Muslim. Even when the Lib Dems were badly running the council, there wasn’t a peep from Gilligoon or, indeed, any mention of it in any of his blogs for the Telegraph. Admittedly, it was over 20 years ago.  So I suppose he can be forgiven. However, like Kennite, the Lib Dems often played the race card.

Headed ‘Focus’, the new leaflet was produced last month by party activists in the Labour-controlled Wapping ward. It describes the plight of an un-named 74-year-old woman living alone on the fifth floor of a block on possibly the ‘most dangerous estate’ in the area.

The woman, described as ‘Mrs X’, was decorated during the war. She is registered disabled and the lift in her block rarely works. ‘Despite repeated pleas for help,’ the local Labour-controlled ward has not given her a new lock on her front door – ‘it can be pushed open with one hand,’ it says. Her neighbours, also pensioners – one of them, the pamphlet claims, aged 90 – are also living in fear. They have asked for spyholes and latches on their doors but months later the work has yet to be done.

The article is illustrated with a drawing of an obviously black man, snarling with clenched fists. The piece ends with a plea: ‘Is this any way to treat those who endured the Blitz, and risked their lives for our country? Is this the welcome fit for heroes?’

Remember, this was around the time that Tower Hamlets council had acquired a BNP councillor by the name of Derek Beackon. Socialist Review carried a story about Lib Dem racism back in the 1980s that revealed endemic corruption in the borough. The article’s author, Chris Nineham, writes:

Revelations of racism among Liberal Democrats on Tower Hamlets council have made a mockery of Paddy Ashdown’s attempt to promote the Liberal Democrats as a viable and respectable third force in British politics. The projected image of the clean party of politics has been tarnished.

The local Liberal Democrat controlled council stands accused of creating an atmosphere in which Nazi ideas can grow. But recent reports have only told a small part of the story. The full poisonous record of the Liberals in office in Tower Hamlets is a crucial lesson to anyone who still believes tactical voting or LibLab alliances offer a way forward.

It is not just a case of a few racist leaflets or a few mavericks in the local party. Since the Liberals took office in 1986 there have been constant allegations of racism and corruption in Tower Hamlets.

This racism is not casual or accidental but blatant and provocative, and is a central plank of their operation in the area both now and in the past.

The liberals began to gain influence in the East End in the early 1980s using a right wing populism to attack the extremely unpopular Labour councils.

A 1981 Liberal leaflet ranted, ‘every year more break-ins, muggings, rapes, violence and acts of vandalism. People are scared to go out at night, and even to open their doors. Something is very wrong indeed’.

From the moment of taking office the Liberals not only discriminated against the local Bengali population, but actively scapegoated them in a series of high profile publicity stunts. In 1987 they made national news by claiming that 52 Bangladeshi families living in bed and breakfast accommodation had made themselves intentionally homeless, simply by coming to Britain. They were therefore not entitled to benefit. This was too much even for the Tories, and the council was eventually beaten in the courts, but the damage had been done. The vile message had already gone out, ‘Immigrants are scroungers, they are taking our homes’.

Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

Back to 3 April.  Kennite provides a litany of the apparent crimes of Rahman’s mayoralty, which reads like the Tory press’s “anti-PC” attacks on the Labour controlled metropolitan county councils of the 1980s. He precedes his list with this factoid.

First, some facts about the ethnic and faith makeup of Tower Hamlets.According to the 2011 census, its largest single ethnic group is white – 45.2 per cent of the population. Bangladeshis make up 32 per cent – down from 33.4 per cent in 2001. Muslims make up 34.5 per cent of Tower Hamlets people – again down, from 36.4 per cent in 2001.

You wouldn’t know this from the makeup of Lutfur Rahman’s ruling cabinet, which is 100 per cent Bangladeshi and Muslim, or from his grants. In 2012, the council changed its policy to ensure that “the decisions for all awards over £1,000 were to be made by the Mayor under his executive authority”.

Yes and the cabinet at Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham is 100% white and 90% male – and that’s in spite of the borough’s large black demographic. I daresay other councils are similar. But what does he mean when he uses the word “white”? White British? White Lithuanian? White Russian?What?

In his blog on 16 April, Gilligoon writes:

The Metropolitan Police confirmed to me tonight that Tower Hamlets CID is investigating alleged fraud at the council involving a grant to an organisation called the Brady Youth Forum. A member of the mayor’s staff is involved in the alleged fraud, I separately understand. The Met said the investigation was at “an early stage”.

“Brady”? Yeah, that sounds like the kind of name an Islamist organization would use. He continues:

I understand that detailed evidence on this specific allegation did form part of the dossier that Panorama’s reporter, John Ware, passed to the DCLG and which was then passed to the Met. The material supplied by Ware includes evidence implicating one of the mayor’s staff in an operation where cheques for public money were sent to what appeared to be a bogus address.

Yeah? Where is this “evidence” then?

But for all Kennite’s crowing, he’s beginning to look a little foolish. The Metropolitan Police have looked into Panorama’s story (because that’s what it is) and have decided there is “no new evidence”. Naturally, Kennite isn’t pleased and in the paragraph below, he may as well be accusing the Met of being “linked to extremists”.

This blog has previously noted the local police’s cosy relationship with Lutfur’s council – but what on earth is the Met playing at here? Serious questions – more serious questions – need to be asked about whether we can ever trust what this force is saying.

All this because the Met wouldn’t dance to his tune.  How low can you go? If you’re Kennite, you can sink much lower – right into the sewer. He whines:

Panorama, too, alleged favouritism in the allocation of council grants and misuse of council resources for electioneering purposes. The fraud allegation didn’t form part of the programme because it wasn’t ready for broadcast in time.

Let’s be in no doubt: Kennite doesn’t like Muslims (he probably doesn’t like blacks and Roma people either) and he likes the idea of a Muslim mayor even less. There are plenty of examples of municipal malfeasance around London, most notably in Hammersmith and Fulham, but Tower Hamlets has become his single biggest obsession.  The only real difference between Hammersmith and Fulham and Tower Hamlets is this: one council is David Cameron’s and Bozza’s favourite local authority and the other isn’t.

 

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Filed under London, Media, Racism, Tory press, Tower Hamlets, Yellow journalism

Looking forward to the Eastleigh by-election?

I don’t know if “looking forward” is the way to describe how I’m feeling about the Eastleigh by-election, but it promises to be one of the most interesting by-elections to have been announced in a while – especially given the circumstances that led to the seat becoming vacant.

So who will win this seat? UKIP thinks that it has a real chance but I’m not so sure. Last time they came in fourth behind Labour and polled 1,933 votes. While Labour’s man won just over 5,000. Labour has never won this seat nor has it done particularly well here either.  Eastleigh usually goes to the Tories and was won by the Lib Dem’s David Chidgey in 1994, following the mysterious death of Stephen Milligan (whose brother, Brian, works for the BBC). The Lib Dem victory happened at the height of the sleaze allegations that dogged John Major’s Tories. Now the Lib Dems are in government with the Tories, I can’t see how they can win this election. Moreover, I suspect the Tories will have a tough time here too.

My eyes have been drawn to the new National Health Action Party whose main campaign pledge is to work to save the NHS. There is a precedent for this: Dr Richard Taylor fought under the banner of Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern and won the Wyre Forest seat from Labour minister, David Lock. Given the depth of feeling over the NHS and in the wake of the Mid Staffs NHS trust scandal, the NHA Party could steal this seat from under the nose of the established parties. Labour is going to have a tough time.

The Labour candidate is the author and broadcaster, John O’Farrell. It’s pretty obvious that the party has selected a candidate based solely on personality rather than ideology. He also wrote jokes for Blair and Brown… make of that what you will. Now that may be applauded in some circles but, personally, I think it could backfire.

This Wikipedia page has the full list of candidates.

According to Ladbrokes, the NHA Party is 100/1 and they have the Lib Dems as 8/11 favourites.

Place your bets!

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So who will speak up for the unemployed?

Have you ever noticed that when politicians – and I include Labour here as well as the Tories and Lib Dems – talk about the unemployed, they do so only to speak ill of them? If they aren’t speaking ill of them, then they’re telling us how they’re all too lazy to “find work”. We’ve also had a newly coined expression enter the Tory vocabulary: “job snob”. This government is great at formulating new insults but not so great when it comes to policies.

Politicians like Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Byrne tend to use the unemployed for target practice.  Why? Because they’re easy to attack. They have no political voice inside Westminster Palace. Yet none of those politicians who guardedly speak of the unemployed as “scum” think of them as people;  real people or as voters. I would wager that there are a large number of politicians, Tories especially, who would deny full citizenship to the unemployed if they could get away with it. Whereas Labour simply offers the same Tory approach but couched in different language.

Being unemployed in Britain is no picnic. I know. I’ve been there. You get £67.50 a week and Housing and Council Benefit – if you’re lucky.  The benefits system, far from what is commonly claimed by the right-wing press, is less than generous. The process by which you claim benefits is dehumanizing. You’re stigmatized and excluded. Some local authorities will do their utmost to ensure that benefit payments are delayed and Jobcentres will trick people into losing their Jobseekers Allowance to meet targets.

The current government is doing all it can to make sure that the unemployed pay for the economic crisis. The benefit cap and The Quiet Man’s Universal Credit are two means by which the unemployed will be further punished. The Tories’ allies on Fleet Street do the  rest by producing a near endless stream of stories about “dole cheats”.

When this government took power in 2010, they immediately signalled their intention to wage war on the unemployed.  Ministers like IDS, Grayling and Gove told us how unemployed people were living the life of luxury at the expense of the taxpayer. They told us how these people were living in “expensive houses” and even produced sets of figures that were designed to impress us. But it is all a massive distortion. The real villains continue to enjoy special privileges under this coalition. And the Tories wants them to continue to enjoy these privileges at our expense.

Ministers have told us how they want to “cut red tape” in order to “stimulate” the economy.  What they’re really saying is how they want people to work more hours and for nothing. They also want to remove any workplace legislation that protects workers – so that companies will be absolved of any responsibility to provide hazard-free working conditions – safe in the knowledge that the Health & Safety Act no longer applies to them.

To date, not a single politician from the 3 main parties has said how unreasonable it is for the unemployed to exist on less than £68 a week and how this needs to change. Of course not. They would rather use the jobless as a scapegoat. Furthermore there isn’t a single MP on the government benches or the opposition benches who has been unemployed, therefore they will never understand what it’s like to scrape by. They will never be able to comprehend what it’s like to be stigmatized and excluded; to live without dignity. Unemployment for these people is “God’s punishment” or something like it. It was the same in the 19th century and little has changed in the minds of our political leaders, who continue to circulate the same stale ideas ad infinitum.

Benefits for the unemployed need to be increased. It’s as simple as that. The cost of even the most basic of foodstuffs has increased exponentially in the last year. Rents have increased and travel costs, which are the highest in Europe, are prohibitively expensive.  Many unemployed people cannot afford the fares and are tempted to dodge, for example, train fares. So not only are the unemployed being scapegoated, they are often forced into criminality. This suits the government narrative of a mass body of unemployed ‘parasites’ who are draining an otherwise healthy, virile country of its life-force.

Even if you are lucky to have a job, the chances are it is not one that pays enough for you to live comfortably. Wages have remained stagnant for the best part of 25 years, while the cost of living has spiralled. People are encouraged to supplement their income by taking on debt through credit cards and loans (in some cases, many people have to resort to using loan sharks). None of this matters to those in the Tory Party who are, without exception, well-off. I mean, have you ever encountered a Tory politician who didn’t have independent wealth that comes from either a trust fund, dividends, shares or rents? No, I haven’t either. They don’t need to supplement their income with credit card debt, they just ratchet up their rents and get their tenants to subsidize their income.

IDS told us that he wanted to “make work pay”. I can’t see that happening either for the unemployed or for those who work. If this government wants to make work pay, perhaps they should introduce a living wage and consider price-capping. But we know that won’t happen. This government wants to wind the clock back to 1862 and the mythical age of classical liberalism.

Given that the 3 main parties continue to regard the unemployed as beneath them, I would suggest that the jobless move their votes to a party that is prepared to speak up for them. The Socialist Party, for example. There are others too.

The Tories complained that”left-wing militants” and “Trotskyites” have derailed their “work experience” scheme. But this denies the fact that the government’s scheme was a sham from the start and most sensible people could see that making people work for nothing was nothing more than a form of slave labour. Furthermore, such a scheme has the effect of undercutting wages and those who perform menial tasks for the minimum wage could find themselves eventually joining the dole queue.

In 1986, Tory MP and former National Democratic Party member, Piers Merchant spent a week on the dole to “see what it was like”.   Yes,  just a week [rolls eyes].  These days,  no Tory MP, let alone a Labour MP, would dream of doing such a thing. They’re far too used to their comforts for that.

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Project Volvo: what a load of Balls

“Politician in backstabbing shocker” is what yesterday’s Daily Telegraph exclusive should have said.  The politician in question is Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, who was allegedly behind a plot called Project Volvo to oust Tory Bliar. Well blow me down and knock me down with a feather! There was a plot to oust Blair? Really? You must be joking! Blair was so popular. How could anyone conceive of something so rotten? So duplicitous.  So Machiavellian? Er, how about politicians? It’s their stock-in-trade.

In all honesty, this is a very big non-story. It’s a non-story that was cooked up by the Maily Torygraph.  They got their grubby, greasy, nicotine-stained hands on some memos sent by Balls. This proves that there was a brutal plot to “destroy” Blair! In reality the Torygraph is doing its bit for the government by deflecting attention away from the very big mess the government finds itself in.

That’s its job.

Lord Snooty’s plans for the NHS have run aground.The economy is shrinking though the IMF gave Hon Gid the thumbs up for his austerity measures. Yeah, the IMF… like that really means something. If the IMF gives you their seal of approval that means you’re hammering the poor really hard. They like that kind of thing. The war in Libya is dragging on with no end in sight (and you thought it was just a no-fly zone?) and Ken Clarke is being slapped down for his eccentric views on sentences for rape. Could it get any worse for the Tories? Maybe it can. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 29 year old woman in Central London (he’s a family man don’t you know). You didn’t see that one coming. Did you?

Predictably, the bloggers at the Torygraph are all beside themselves with joy. But they’re a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies. It seems that everyone in the country, except for the hacks on the right side of Fleet Street, knew about this story. This sort of thing isn’t unique to the Labour Party but the deadheads at the Telegraph think it is. They forget how Michael Heseltine, resigned from the cabinet over the Westland Affair and spent the next few years on the backbenches plotting Thatcher’s overthrow. It’s all conveniently forgotten. Then there’s the Lib Dems, whose Young Turks plotted the overthrow of Chatshow Charlie Kennedy. Once they’d dumped Kennedy, they knifed their mentor, Emperor Ming Campbell in the back. Now they’re in power. What gentlemen.

I think the silly season has begun early.

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