Tag Archives: lies

Pusillanimous: Labour’s Opposition Style For The Last Five Years

Pusillanimous is a good word and it’s a useful word. It sums up Labour’s last five years in opposition. The definition of pusillanimous is:

showing a lack of courage or determination; timid

Either through cowardice or weakness, the Labour Party failed to counter the absurd allegations made by the Tories that they had created the recession and had driven the country to bankruptcy, because they “crashed the economy”. One ridiculous statement put forward by the Tories and the Lib Dems claimed the United Kingdom was in a similar situation to Greece. Not a single Labour politician that I saw on television or heard on the radio bothered to counter these accusations. Instead, they rolled over and let the Tories get away with murder.

Governments don’t create or cause recessions: these happen because of external factors, like banking collapses and stock market crashes. The current recession (What? You think it’s over?) was caused by a combination of factors, the most notable of which was the subprime mortgage crisis, which was triggered by the collapse in house prices and an increase in mortgage foreclosures. Mortgage companies lent money to people who didn’t have the means to repay the loan. Household debts like these were bought by unscrupulous companies hoping to capitalize on debts. Unfortunately the high rate of default meant that these debts were ‘toxic’.

The other factor in the recession story was the banking crisis, which was caused by the light touch regulation of the financial sector that has its origins in the 1980s under Thatcher and Reagan, and was continued under Blair and Clinton. The banking crisis and the subprime mortgage crisis are interlinked. Both crises were created by unabashed greed and a lack of regulation; the very cornerstones of neoliberalism.

Governments may not cause recessions, but they can make them worse through inertia, complacency and sheer incompetence. The latter includes handing out tax cuts to the rich; attempting to stimulate a property boom and basing a notional economic recovery on inflated house prices. All of these things happened under the Coalition government and look set to continue under the Cameron regime. Labour did little to challenge these things.

One more thing: the country wasn’t and isn’t “bankrupt” as the Tories and their erstwhile partners, the Lib Dems, have claimed. If the country was “bankrupt” it would not have been able to pay its civil servants or even its MPs. If the country was “bankrupt” it would not have been able to borrow money at preferential rates of interest on the international bond markets. Another Angry Voice comprehensively debunks these myths and others.

Instead of opposing the coalition’s fiscal imprudence, Labour actually walked through the Aye lobby with the Tories and Lib Dems and condemned the nation to more austerity by committing themselves to Osborne’s spending plans.

This is from the Morning Star,

LABOUR MP Diane Abbott accused her party’s leaders yesterday of doing working people a “great disservice” by backing Tory plans for permanent austerity.

The London mayoral hopeful was among five Labour MPs who defied their whips to vote against the Con-Dems’ budget responsibility charter.

Katy Clark, Dennis Skinner, Austin Mitchell and Roger Godsiff also opposed the charter alongside 13 MPs from other parties.

But support from shadow chancellor Ed Balls saw the charter, which includes plans to slash public spending by a further £30 billion, passed by a whopping 515 votes to 18.

The Star reported that Green MP Caroline Lucas called his position “feeble and inconsistent” during Tuesday’s debate.

It’s little wonder those who would have ordinarily voted Labour decided to give their vote to another party or stay at home. I mean, why vote for a party that’s going to do exactly the same thing as the party in power? It doesn’t make sense.

And Ms Abbott yesterday revealed her dismay at watching fellow Labour MPs ordered to troop through the lobbies with Tories and Lib Dems.

“I was hugely disappointed yesterday to see the Labour Party vote in favour of further austerity and in doing so we have done hardworking people a great disservice,” she told the Morning Star.

“Instead of simply mimicking current practices we should be offering a solid alternative through investment in public services to create real and sustainable growth.”

Yet Labour apparatchiks denied this ever took place and here’s an MP saying that it had. Only 13 Labour MPs could be bothered to vote against Tory spending cuts. That’s pretty sad, but it’s also a disgrace. It’s as if Labour actually wanted to lose the election.

Whatever you think of George Galloway, he’s got the two main parties bang to rights. They are indeed “two cheeks of the same backside”.

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Filed under Conservative Party, General Election 2015, Government & politics, Labour

Let’s Talk About: Legitimacy (of the parliamentary kind)

The Tories and their allies in the press seem to believe that the party with the most seats in the event of a hung parliament should have the automatic right to form a government. They also claim that should Labour get fewer seats than the Tories and if they form a minority government with the support of smaller parties, then this government would be illegitimate. This has been comprehensively debunked time and time again. Yet the Tories and Nick Clegg continue to lie about this, relying on widespread ignorance of how parliament and governments function.

There is a historical precedent that has never once been mentioned during this election campaign by those commentators whose job it is to ‘explain’ the political system to the voters. The General Election of 6 December 1923, which Stanley Baldwin had called over tariff reform (which meant very little to many working class voters), produced a situation similar to the one commentators claim will happen this Friday. Baldwin hoped that he could cement his authority after succeeding Andrew Bonar Law as party leader and Prime Minister, and he was eager to make his mark.

But Baldwin’s plan to increase his party’s already large majority backfired. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party came second with 191 seats. Herbert Asquith’s Liberals came third with 158 seats (the Liberals were split). Baldwin’s Tories came first with 251 seats . When added together, the combined anti-Tory seats outweighed the Conservatives’ numbers. However, things were not straightforward:  Baldwin claimed legitimacy and appeared before the Commons, but was defeated on 21 January by a no confidence motion tabled by former Labour leader, J.R. Clynes. George V had no choice but to appoint MacDonald as Prime Minister. Labour then formed a minority government with the support of the Liberals on 22 January, 1924. There was no question of Labour’s legitimacy to form a government on that occasion, because everyone knew  how the game was played. Today, the Tories and their media chums continue claim that should Labour come second, they will lack legitimacy. The front page of today’s edition of the Murdoch-owned Times has printed a variation on the lie.the_times front page

However, the role of the Liberals in 1924 should not be read as the facilitation of a Labour government but as part of a plan to secure more power for themselves, should the government fall. Indeed, the Daily Mail begged Asquith to form a coalition with the Tories to keep Labour out. Asquith hoped that the voters would see Labour as incompetent. What the voters actually saw were squabbling, power hungry politicians knifing each other in the back. Even so, MacDonald’s government was weak and unstable and suffered its first defeat in March. By October, it would be voted out of office thanks to the Zioniev Letter.

The Liberals paid for their treachery and they were reduced to 40 seats. Asquith lost his seat, was kicked upstairs and died four years later. Even though Baldwin secured a massive majority, he would again lose out  to Labour in the so-called ‘Flapper Election’ of 1929, which resulted in another hung parliament. MacDonald relied on the support of Lloyd George’s 58 Liberal MPs. But this government wouldn’t last long and in 1931 another election was called. Again, this produced a hung parliament and the notorious National Government was eventually formed with Baldwin pulling the strings.

In February 1974, Edward Heath’s Tories came second and Labour came first. Heath remained in Downing Street as  the caretaker Prime Minister and attempted to form a coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberals. But Thorpe rejected the Tories’ coalition proposals on the basis that Proportional Representation wasn’t offered as part of the deal. Harold Wilson was invited to form a minority government with the support of the smaller parties. Again, there was no question of legitimacy.  This government lasted until October, when Wilson called another election and won a wafer-thin majority. By 1976, Wilson was gone and replaced by’ Sunny’ Jim Callaghan, whose majority began to evaporate due to by-election losses and defections. Callaghan was forced to enter into a pact with the Liberals (the Lib-Lab pact) in 1977. This lasted until the end of 1978 and the rest, as they say, is history.

What these elections reveal to us are the flaws inherent in the First Past The Post voting system. Whichever party forms the government after tomorrow’s election, we must take to the streets to demand electoral and constitutional reform.  There must be no let up.

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Filed under 20th century, General Election 2015, History, History & Memory, Media, Tory press, Yellow journalism

The World Is A More Dangerous Place…

We’re always being told that “the world is a more dangerous place”, but is it more dangerous today than it was yesterday? Or was yesterday more dangerous than today? How about last year or the year before that? What about the decade before that? The Cold War made the world a dangerous place. But maybe the War of Jenkins’ Ear was more dangerous? How would I know? It was before my time.

Politicians, especially those who have an interest of keeping us in a state of fear, want us to believe that the time we are currently living through is the most dangerous in history. But is it? Wasn’t life in the Middle Ages nasty, brutish and short? Didn’t England and France go to war with each other for over 100 years? I wasn’t around then, but it sounded like a very dangerous time.

The world has always been a dangerous place. There’s nothing particularly unique about contemporary dangers apart from our technologically advanced means of killing people, but that doesn’t make the present day any more dangerous than, say, 1848.

I could go out tomorrow and get hit by a bus. Urban life is full of dangers. Even if I elect to stay in bed to avoid any potential dangers, I’m in danger of getting bed sores and possibly starving to death. Worse still, a plane could fall from the sky and hit my bedroom.

So, political leaders and media journalists (you know who you are), stop telling us the world is more dangerous now than it has ever been. It just isn’t true.

 

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Filed under Language, Media, propaganda, Society & culture

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

Right-wing Cliches (#7) “Benefit Tourism”

The Tories love to bandy about expressions like “benefit tourism” (“health tourism” is another such phrase) to make their spurious points about immigration seem more credible. But let’s be honest: no one comes to this country to claim a measly £74 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance. “Ah” I hear you cry “what about the other benefits, like Housing Benefit”? What about Housing Benefit? You really think immigrants come to this country to sample the delights of housing benefit and live in decrepit properties owned by our slum landlords? Think on.

If people wanted to sample real benefits, then there are better countries they can go to. Germany is one country and France is another. Benefits in these countries are far more generous than the paltry benefits available in Britain, which are paid at poverty levels set, apparently, by the National Office for Statistics. If the benefit levels are set by the NOS, then they must be working to 1970s figures because no one can live on  £74 a week. Not even the braggart and habitual liar, Iain Duncan Smith, can live on that kind of money – in spite of his unsubstantiated claim that he can live on £1 a day.

So, in reality, no immigrant comes here to live on benefits. They come here to work in the sorts of jobs that are beneath those who complain the most about immigration. Immigrants also pay more in tax than the average British worker. Indeed, they pay more tax than the so-called ‘wealth-creators’ that this government is forever talking about. So when the government complains about the budget deficit, they could always raise taxes on their rich mates but, instead, they would much rather you hate the immigrants who are putting money into the Exchequer’s coffers. How’s that for logic?

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics, immigration, Neoliberalism, Society & culture

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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Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics

Nightmare On King Street (Part 20)

Last week’s BBC Question Time was recorded at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, a stone’s throw away from a massive development at Fulham Reach. I will be writing a blog on that development and the others that are springing up around the borough in due course.

Billy Bragg was on the Question Time panel and mentioned how the Charing Cross Hospital site was being earmarked for redevelopment when it closes. The Tories have always denied this.

This morning, however, Phoghorn Phibbs let the cat out of the bag in this Twitter exchange with Billy Bragg.

Phibbs phucks up

 

You read it here first: Charing Cross Hospital will be demolished to make way for luxury flats.

Cllr Peter Graham, who works for lobbying firm,  Four Communications, whose clients include the Berkeley Group (parent company of St George) told me that “three blocks of flats” were already there. When I told him those were nurse’s homes, he claimed that [medical] students lived there (fair enough) as well as “others”. However, he wouldn’t clarify what he meant by “others”. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being lied to?

Graham, whose ward includes Charing Cross Hospital, also spoke in favour of the Fulham Reach development.

Peter Graham

Coincidence?

Next month use your vote wisely. Kick the Tories out.

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Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London