Tim Montgomerie and his parallel universe.

 

monitie letwin

oliver letwin

I see tweets like the ones above and wonder if I live on the same planet as Tim Montgomerie. (Tory Party activist, blogger, columnist, co-founder of the Centre for Social Justice and Conservative Christian Fellowship and creator of the ConservativeHome website)

I share Tim’s concern that UK politics is well on the way to becoming as partisan and nasty as it is in the US. However it beggars belief that he should single out, as an example, the rather mild treatment received by Oliver Letwin at just the moment Lynton Crosby, the arch exponent of the ‘dark arts’, has been given a knighthood for services to the Tory Party.

All parties are guilty of misdemeanours but the reality is incontrovertible – it is the Tory party spin machine and its media supporters that are masters at cynically and ruthlessly exploiting every dirty trick in the book in their fight to gain or retain power.

It also appears that the remaining two obstacles preventing our politics becoming as dysfunctional as in the US are about to be dismantled.

We are being prepared for the destruction of public broadcasting in this country. And with the cosy relationships between the cabinet and Rupert Murdoch fully repaired it must be just a matter of time before Murdoch is allowed to grab a monopoly position in British media and introduce Fox style news and commentators. This would have happened back in 2011, facilitated by Jeremy Hunt, if the News of the World hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone had not been exposed.

Now that the farce of Levenson and Cameron’s phony promises are on the scrap heap Murdoch is free to resume where he left off.

If Tim Montgomerie really is worried about the americanisation of British politics, he needs to address his owns party’s tactics and its relationship with the right-wing press and big business lobby groups, well before worrying about the very mild treatment of Oliver Letwin.

Note: It is a matter of fact that Oliver Letwin was guilty of making what, even for the 1980s, was a racist statement and has subsequently been in a position to allow that sentiment to influence Tory policy. He is also on record, as are others in the cabinet, for being in favour of the privatisation of the NHS.  It is therefore difficult to see that the tweet Tim mentions is particularly controversial when compared to the treatment regularly dished out by the Tory spin machine, supported by the Tory press, at anyone who gets in their way.

Here’s Tim promoting a Sun headline (not a word of criticism here):

Screenshot 2016-01-18 15.12.32

 

The 5 most shocking quotes in Oliver Letwin’s ‘racist’ memo: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-5-most-shocking-quotes-in-oliver-letwins-racist-memo-a6790551.html

Banking failure NOT public expenditure created the financial crash and UK Debt

Do you want “Long Term Economic Plan” or do you want the Truth? Here’s the Truth!:  Quarterly growth was 1% when George Osborne took over from Labour. Today, over five years later, it’s just 0.5%.

It’s tiresome to have to keep pointing out that the financial crash of 2007/8 and the resulting UK debt mountain were not caused by ‘immigrants’ or ‘welfare scroungers’ or ‘health tourists’ or ‘Polish plumbers’ or the disabled and they weren’t even caused by the Labour Party.

We have short memories if we fail to remember that the crisis (which had its foundation in the deregulation of banking and financial services in the 1980s) was caused by greed and incompetence in the banking industry. It culminated in the US where banks had lent colossal sums of money in worthless, sub prime loans and then repackaged those loans and sold them on to the rest of the global finance industry disguised as respectable investments. This was legalised fraud on a massive scale.

The crisis was duplicated in the UK where Northern Rock, another bank up to its eyes in sub-prime mortgages, suffered the first run on a British Bank in over 150 years. It soon became clear that a number of our banks were on the verge of collapse and had to be bailed out by the tax payer. The resulting recession meant that tax receipts dropped, welfare payments increased and the deficit went through the roof as the economy was hit for six.

Let’s also remember that by 2010, under Labour, we were in recovery and that it was George Osborne’s misguided reliance on austerity (2010 -2013) that stifled the recovery, left us teetering on the verge of  recession and lost us our triple A credit rating.  All countries eventually recover from recession, only the Tories could try to take credit for two wasted years and the longest UK recovery in over 150 years.

It is  annoying but hardly surprising that regardless of how much evidence you produce it is impossible to shift the minds of those who live in that alternative universe created by the Daily Mail and the Tory spin machine.

However it is particularly galling that during the General Election, and even, during the party leadership campaign, little effort was made by Labour party leaders to counter the barrage of lies and false statistics from the Tories and their friends in the media.

What happened to the bankers who led us into this mess? Northern Rock, once a respectable building society, was demutualised in the 1990s.  Under the leadership of Matt Ridley, Northern Rock developed a business model that involved borrowing heavily, selling large quantities of sub-prime mortgages and then reselling them on the international markets. When the market for those ‘securitised loans’ collapsed, Northern Rock was insolvent, there was a run on the bank and Matt Ridley had to go cap in hand to the UK government for a bail out.

Where is Matt Ridley now?  Is he hiding penniless and in shame some where? Oh you needn’t have worried, a group of Tory hereditary peers elected him into the Lords.  He can now live quite well on £300 a day attendance allowance courtesy of the tax payer. That will go nicely with the income he gets from the opencast coal mine on his estate in Northumberland while he acts as Tory party climate change adviser.

And before you ask – yes – Viscount Matt Ridley voted in favour of tax credit cuts for millions of low paid hard-working families.

 

 

The charts below show how the financial crisis and UK Debt were not caused by excessive borrowing or spending prior to 2007 (source: UK Office for National Statistics).

 

CFb3_8tWYAAQVI5 CFb3_88WMAIY5TZ CFb3_89WAAAqGtj

GDP-2008-15
Click to enlarge

Further reading:

Here’s what the last governor of the Bank of England thinks – ‘Labour not responsible for crash’, says former Bank of England governor: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/29/labour-government-not-responsible-crash-bank-england-governor-mervyn-king

Office for Budget Responsibility chief  rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy:  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/12/obr-head-rebukes-osborne-uk-was-never-risk-bankruptcy

Here’s a summary of the Reality: The last government did not borrow excessively and it was the banking crisis that caused the recession.
http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/mythbusters-excessive-government-borrowing-got-us-into-this-mess

 Here’s the full anaylsis – “Did excessive government borrowing got us into this mess” Charlie Cooper and Simon Wren-Lewis: http://dnwssx4l7gl7s.cloudfront.net/nefoundation/default/page/-/publications/Excessive%20borrowing%20got%20us%20into%20this%20mess.pdf

Labour is being far too reticent: it didn’t cause the global financial crisis and Coalition austerity policies have stalled the recoveryhttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/david-blanchflower/david-blanchflower-labour-is-being-far-too-reticent-it-didnt-cause-the-global-financial-crisis-and-coalition-austerity-policies-have-stalled-the-recovery-10158888.html

 

Update: The strange, sad moral and intellectual collapse of Labour moderates”:

 

Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia shames us all and seriously undermines our security.

Yahya Maasar and his family live in the ruins of their neighbours house with no power or water, after their own was destroyed by Saudi bombing. Faj Attan is one of the most heavily bombed areas in Sanaa city despite the danger of regular attacks they have no money to move away from the area.
Yahya Maasar and his family live in the ruins of their neighbours house with no power or water, after their own was destroyed by Saudi bombing. Faj Attan is one of the most heavily bombed areas in Sanaa city despite the danger of regular attacks they have no money to move away from the area.

(Sept 2015)

Saudi Arabia is a brutal, fanatical, fundamentalist religious tyranny where torture and execution are the norm and women are treated as chattel. It is about to behead and crucify a young man for being linked to a dissident group and is currently engaged in an indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is a major funder of terrorism and violence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabian sources funded Al-Qaida.

All but one of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudi Arabian.

Saudi  Arabia has directly interfered in our judicial system by insisting, successfully, that an investigation into BAe – Saudi corruption be quashed.

And yet UK governments, both past and present, have supported this regime, selling it military hardware (£1.6bn in 2014) and providing a cloak of respectability.

UK & Saudi Ministers of Justice
Chris Grayling & Saudi Minister of Justice sign deal.

In 2014 the then justice sectary, Chris Grayling, signed a £5.9m commercial agreement with the Saudis in which we will sell our ‘prison and probation expertise’ to the Saudi prison service. Yes, the same prison service that has already executed more than 150 people this year. One of the victims was ‘guilty’ of ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe.

Our government has refused to back out of this shameful deal. It has even removed all reference to its previous policy of being “opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle”. Yet another example of putting commercial interests above all else?

Now we find out that David Cameron has entered into a secret deal with the Saudis to procure them a place on the UN human rights council.  This is a travesty and can only be described as Cameron putting two fingers up to human rights and the long and honourable record of the UK in developing and promoting human rights around the world.  It’s no surprise that the Tories want to scrap our own Human Rights Act.

(UPDATE (2nd Oct): It seems that our government has also done a secret deal with the Saudi police force – see link below)

How long before Saudi Arabia is another middle eastern failed state collapsing into chaos and embroiling us in yet another humanitarian disaster.

The Tories tell us that security interests necessitate our support for Saudi Arabia. That story appears increasingly implausible.

The government’s previously hard-line stance on migrants and refugees suddenly did a U turn when the public were shocked into action by the photo of the little boy washed up on a beach.  David Cameron then suddenly ‘remembered’ that we were contributing  significant sums of money to help fund refugee camps. This contribution is commendable but it is also shameful that the amount of aid we give is less than the value of our arms sales to Saudi Arabia alone.  Those arms sales are currently laying the seeds for the next refugee crisis.

 

Refs:

UK and Saudi Arabia ‘in secret deal’ over human rights council place: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/29/uk-and-saudi-arabia-in-secret-deal-over-human-rights-council-place?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The Human Cost of Saudi Arabia’s Air War in Yemen, in Photos: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/yemen-saudi-arabia-bombing-war-civilians

George Osborne praised by China for ignoring human rights:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11890958/George-Osborne-praised-by-China-for-ignoring-human-rights.html

Is Chris Grayling happy to do business with a prison service that flogs, stones and beheads its inmates?  http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=3911

The story of the unfortunate MoJ and Saudi commercial proposal:  http://jackofkent.com/tag/chris-grayling/

Salisbury Amnesty International – What is the Foreign Office’s policy on human rights?  http://salisburyai.com/2015/10/01/what-is-the-foreign-offices-policy-on-human-rights/

Britain Backtracks on Justice for #Yemen: https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/01/dispatches-britain-backtracks-justice-yemen

UPDATE (2nd Oct): It seems that our government has also done a secret deal with the Saudi police force:

John Glen named as one of the ‘most responsive’ MPs in the country

“CONSERVATIVE election candidate John Glen received a pre-election boost after a survey by a political website found him to be the fourth ‘most responsive’ MP in the country.” Salisbury Journal: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/12882689.John_Glen_named_as_one_of_the__most_responsive__MPs_in_the_country/?action=success#comments

John should indeed be congratulated on his achievement which I can verify from my own experience. However this is little consolation when his replies invariably follow his own party line.

There is more to being an MP than replying to emails.

Salisbury MP, John Glen, has a 100% record of voting with the government. He has never rebelled against his party. The only times he has voted independently was when there was a free vote and he voted against the Equal Marriage Bill and against allowing mitochondrial donation as a treatment to prevent mitochondrial disease.

He voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Bill which, despite the absence of a democratic mandate and despite promises to contrary, is forcing through a £3.5 Billion top down reorganisation of the NHS and its rapid outsourcing to unaccountable international corporations.

He voted for welfare reforms which indiscriminately hit the low paid and vulnerable.

He voted in favour of the current debt fuelled boom in London house prices – yet another bubble that will burst without solving our catastrophic lack of affordable homes.

He was in favour of the appointment of tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby as Tory campaign manager and has done nothing to tone down his party’s vindictive and divisive rhetoric or the accompanying output of misinformation and made up statistics.

He voted to down grade commitments to ‘eradicate fuel poverty’.

He also voted in favour of the lobbying bill, which will do nothing to prevent big companies and wealthy individuals from influencing government but will stifle criticism from grass roots organizations and charities.

In short, the evidence suggests that Mr Glen has put his party before his constituents.

MPs are in parliament to hold governments to account on behalf of their constituents.  If they put party loyalty and ideology ahead of the welfare of ordinary citizens I suggest they should be paid from their party funds not the taxes of hard working families who are striving to cope with an unnecessary and deliberately prolonged period of austerity for which they were not to blame.

Other votes by John Glen:

Tues 7th Jan 2014: Voted against a motion to improve compensation to sufferers of Asbestosis and extend a levy on the insurance industry to pay for research into the deadly disease and its causes. (Bid to increase compensation for asbestos victims fails in Commons: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10919958._/) Northern Echo 8th Jan 2014.   (Dr Sarah Wollaston supported this motion as did a few other rebel Tories)
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140107/debtext/140107-0002.htm#14010751000002

Wed 8th Jan 2014: Voted against a proposal to give local councils greater powers to restrict the proliferation of betting shops containing Fixed Odd Betting terminals (FOBT)s.  http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/669/

 

Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP demonstrates how to hold her own government to account when they get things wrong:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10558580/The-Government-has-failed-to-lead-by-example-on-open-data.html  Daily Telegraph 08 Jan 2014.

See also:  BMJ investigation reveals the “cosy relationship” between the alcohol industry and the British government http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/article-clusters/alcohol

Here is another example of how MPs should be doing their job.  If only we had more MPs in all parties that were prepared to put reason and evidence before party dogma or self interest:   “Plain packaging and minimum unit pricing for alcohol killed off – The only winners, big tobacco, big alcohol and big undertakers“. (Dr Sarah Wollaston, July 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/tobacco-alcohol-public-health-minimum-alcohol-pricing

 

Man punches another man – people sign petition in support of man who was punched. Oh no wait a minute…

A man with a history of drink driving offences starts a petition for another man who, in a fit of temper, punched someone at work sending them to A&E. Hundreds of thousands enthusiastically sign the petition. Have I missed something?

Apparently Jeremy Clarkson punched someone at work.

Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) – extreme right wing blogger and  a man with a history of repeat drink driving [*] offences starts a petition in support, not of the man who was hit, but in support of Jeremy Clarkson.

Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, who refuses to discuss real issues, rushes to appear on TV, not to support the man who was hit, but to support Jeremy Clarkson – doesn’t even bother to mention the person who was punched.

The establishment of this country takes us for fools.  (and make no mistake, Jeremy Clarkson and Paul Staines are the establishment, even though they desperately pretend otherwise).

 

 

[*] In 2002, Paul Staines was banned from driving for 12 months for driving under the influence.

[*] In 2008, Paul Staines was again convicted of driving under the influence, his fourth alcohol-related offence and second drink-driving incident since he was banned from driving in 2002. He was also driving without insurance and narrowly escaped jail.

 

 

Response of Philip Morris and other tobacco companies to plain packaging vote justifies fears about TTIP

Cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris have hit back at the plain packaging vote, calling today’s action “an irrational and unnecessary attack on private property that vilifies products that well informed adults choose to buy”:

“The UK Government is ignoring serious legal issues under UK, European, and international law. Five countries are challenging the legality of plain packaging at the World Trade Organization, and 11 EU Member States have objected to the UK’s proposal at the European Commission – recognising their duty under EU treaties to uphold EU law and free competition. At the same time, the EU Court of Justice is considering whether the UK and other Member States have the power to introduce pack standardisation measures beyond those already required by the EU.

While advocates of plain packaging may downplay these issues, the UK Government should be fully aware of the potential consequences of ignoring them, and of rushing to preempt the legal process.”

It’s clear that Philip Morris regard themselves as above the democratic processes that protect citizens and democratic governments from exploitation and abuse by the bullies of the corporate world. They think they should have an inalienable right to promote carcinogenic products and to indulge in a business model that involves encouraging addiction to that product from a young age and then ruthlessly exploiting that addiction until the day the victim dies.  They also believe that their rights trump the right of ordinary citizens to say – no thanks, we do not find this business model acceptable in the 21st Century. We do not want our children to suffer the horrendous and wholly avoidable death rate that Philip Morris products have imposed on so many in the past.

No wonder ordinary citizens are worried about international trade agreements like TTIP that threaten to strengthen the hand of Companies like Philip Morris.

MPs vote to stub out cigarette packaging  (Financial Times March 11 2015):  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b10b9c9c-c7d9-11e4-8210-00144feab7de.html#axzz3U6MnQojE

 

Dave Hartnett, HMRC, HSBC, the revolving door and legalised corruption.

In all the furore about the HSBC – Swiss Bank tax evasion scandal let’s remember that it was Dave Hartnett who, as the boss of HMRC (supposedly our tax collection agency)  negotiated the notorious tax deal that granted HSBC’s bankers virtually guaranteed immunity from prosecution for any crimes they might have committed relating to tax fraud in Switzerland.

Dave Hartnett is also the man responsible for doing dodgy deals with Vodafone, Goldman Sachs and other large corporations that have cost the taxpayer billions in lost revenue. He has now retired on a very generous pension having suffered no consequences whatsoever for given away billions of pounds of our money.

Ordinary hard working families including the most vulnerable members of our society  are bearing the brunt of the government austerity measures because people like Hartnett believe that “only the little people pay taxes

And where is Dave Hartnett now?  Working for HSBC of course.   Why don’t we call this what it is – legalised corruption.

 

 

HMRC boss Dave Hartnett receives a life time achievement award for “Services to Corporate Tax Avoidance”: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1610

The man who did the deal that gave HSBC immunity went on to work for HSBC: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/02/09/the-man-who-did-the-deal-that-gave-hsbc-immunity-went-on-to-work-for-hsbc/#sthash.v6k4izaq.dpuf

UPDATE: 3rd March 2015  Dave Hartnett to appear in front of  Public Accounts Committee:

Subject: Tax avoidance and evasion: HSBC

See more at: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/03/03/this-looks-like-it-could-be-fun-on-monday/#sthash.hWDG79eg.jub1EvPP.dpuf

 

 

Is Chris Grayling happy to do business with a prison service that flogs, stones and beheads its inmates?

Chris Grayling and the Ministry of Justice, through its “commercial brand” JSi, expect to make £5.9m out of helping the Saudi prison service.

The extract below is taken from page 6 of the Ministry of Justice Mid Year Report to Parliament (just been published) [1]:

Selling Probation services to tyrants

 

Do I need to remind anyone that Saudi Arabia is where Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison after creating a liberal, secular website, ‘Free Saudi Liberals’. He faces lashings every Friday for the next 18 weeks, until the sentence is completed.

Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Burmese woman who resided in Saudi Arabia, was executed by sword on Monday after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers. A video showed how it took three blows to complete the execution.

There have been ten executions in the first two weeks of 2015.

Back in 2006, at the insistence of the Saudis, Tony Blair quashed an investigation into BAe – Saudi corruption.

UK & Saudi Ministers of Justice
Chris Grayling & Saudi Minister of Justice

Saudi Arabia is a a major funder of terrorism and violence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia funded Al-Qaida.

All but one of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudi Arabian.

It is a brutal fanatical fundamentalist religious tyranny where torture and execution is the norm and women are treated as chattel.

What is going on – we sell these people arms and fighter planes now we are going to help them run their prisons.

 

How does Chris Grayling sleep at night????:

Is there nothing the Tories won’t monitise? Do they have no sense of morals or ethics?

They really do know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The final sentence says it all:  [The Global Law Summit to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta] .. will demonstrate the foundation that our rule of law has created for businesses to flourish. Is this what we have in mind when we celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta?   Is this the limit of Tory aspirations?  No wonder they see the Saudi prison service as a business opportunity. The Tories really don’t get it do they!

Addendum:

Who are “Just Solutions international” (JSi)?  This is from their web site: “As the trading arm for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), Just Solutions international provides products, services and consultancy to help improve Justice systems across the world. JSi represents NOMS on all commercial issues.” Here is a link: http://www.justsolutionsgroup.com/main/

How do you improve the process of beheading a woman who doesn’t want to be beheaded?

UPDATE 24th (Feb 21015): Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/man-to-be-beheaded-in-saudi-arabia-after-ripping-up-a-koran-and-hitting-it-with-his-shoe-10067392.html 

IMPORTANT UPDATE 27th Jan 2015 “The Ministry of Justice and the Saudis: ten more unanswered questions” 

 

[1] Ministry of Justice Mid Year Report to Parliament (Published Dec 2014):
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/391930/ministry-of-justice-mid-year-report-to-parliament-2014-15.pdf

Ministry of Justice:Flogging prison expertise to Saudi beheaders and floggers (David Hencke https://davidhencke.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/ministry-of-justiceflogging-prison-expertise-to-saudi-beheaders-and-floggers/

The hypocrites have jumped aboard the Magna Carta bandwagon – Neither the Government nor the VIPs celebrating the historic charter’s anniversary give a damn about its principles: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11331353/The-hypocrites-have-jumped-aboard-the-Magna-Carta-bandwagon.html

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain: UK arms sales trump human rights: http://www.theguardian.com/world/defence-and-security-blog/2015/jan/15/bahrain-human-rights-arms-military

Saudi Arabia’s treatment of foreign workers under fire after beheading of Sri Lankan maid: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/13/saudi-arabia-treatment-foreign-workers?CMP=twt_gu

Saudi Arabia publicly beheads woman in holy Mecca as blogger lashings are postponed: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-publicly-beheads-woman-in-holy-mecca-as-blogger-set-to-receive-second-lashing-9982134.html

It’s official: UK arms sales to tyrants take priority over human rights and torture: http://stopwar.org.uk/news/it-s-official-uk-arms-sales-to-tyrants-take-priority-over-human-rights-and-torture#.VLqxomZ0LKU.twitter

Happy to do business with a prison service that flogs, stones and beheads its inmates?: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/colin-lawson/happy-to-do-business-with-prison-service-that-flogs-stones-and-beheads-its-i

 

A response to John Glen’s “High hope for green shoots of recovery”

Postbag
Salisbury Journal

(Printed in Salisbury Journal of 8th Jan 2015 (here is a link to the Journal’s online version)

It is was no surprise that in the same week that Tim Adams wrote to the Salisbury Journal commenting on the amount of space given to our MP John Glen to promote his party political agenda (PostBag, 1st Jan) we should find that John was once again doing just that in his “View from the Commons – High hopes for green shoots of recovery”. He justified this headline with a couple of dubious Tory Central Office sound bites.

John’s first claim that the current government will leave behind the fastest growing economy in the G7, is simply not true. This claim is based on the fact that in just one, three month period last year (when the US economy was set back by appalling weather) the US economy grew less than ours, but for the rest of the last four years, including 2013/14, US growth was well ahead of the UK and predicted to be ahead into 2015 and beyond. What John fails to mention is that the US, along with Germany, Canada and even France all regained 2007 levels of GDP per capita three years ago and are now well ahead of us.  When you are so far behind, any growth looks good.  If you wait long enough after a recession any country will recover.  We have had to wait three years longer than necessary because George Osborne stifled the recovery that had just begun when the Tories took over in 2010.

John also reeled off the claim that that there are 1.7 million more people in employment but fails to mention that this is less than the growth in the population over the same period. The employment rate for full time work is only just returning to 2007 levels with all the extra jobs on top of that being part time and self-employed.  These will include forced and insecure self-employment, part time work, work fare and zero hours contracts. It’s worth noting that the number of self-employed people earning less than £10,000 has risen from 20% in 2008 to 35% in 2014.  Due to the low pay of all these old and new jobs, Government income from tax receipts is so far below target that our deficit is now rising and is the largest in the G7. John calls this living within our means.

The current period of growth coming ‘conveniently’ just before a general election is mainly due to a government sponsored house price boom underwritten by government borrowing plus consumer spending based on escalating private debt – just the kind of growth the Tories claimed to want to avoid. In the meantime the economy is still unbalanced and the financial sector has not been reformed.

It’s great that unemployment and particularly youth unemployment have dropped but why did we have to wait so long.  If only the government had built on the recovery of 2009/10 with a programme of investment in our country’s future – affordable homes for rent and buy, infrastructure, NHS, Education, a serious programme to insulate Britain’s homes starting with the homes of those in fuel poverty. This would have pumped money into real, quality jobs for ordinary people. It would have stimulated the economy, particularly benefitting small and medium sized businesses and the money would finally end up back with the government in the form of tax receipts which, along with the resulting reduced benefits bill, would result in the deficit being reduced year on year. Win win all round.

What a waste of four years! Let’s not repeat it.

Colin Lawson

The double standards and hypocrisy of a party scared of free speech.

Before the last election David Cameron claimed that Lobbying was the next big scandal and that he would clean up Parliament.  What has happened?  The government introduced a lobbying bill (aka the Gagging bill) which does nothing whatsoever to limit the lobbying of government by large wealthy companies and individuals or the revolving door between ministers, advisers and lucrative directorships in private business.  If this is not open corruption it soon will be with government contracts being outsourced not to small and medium sized British firms with a stake in our community but always to large international corporations.  Corporations with dodgy track records[1], some even facing criminal charges while being allowed to lobby for new contracts.

If the lobbying bill does not prevent any of this legalised corruption what does it do.  Well naturally enough it is aimed at inhibiting grass roots organisations, charities and unions from any kind of ‘political activity’ in the run up to the elections – hence its name ‘the gagging bill’.

So we have the situation where newspaper moguls based out side the UK, not paying UK tax, are able to use their papers to brazenly pump what is little more than propaganda at the British people through out the campaigning period.  Wealthy individuals and companies can hand over obscene amounts of money to help the Tories buy the election and yet charities that have to deal with the day to day effects of the government’s policies are restricted from raising their concerns.   So much for free speech.

Ironically the gagging law is so indiscriminate that it inadvertently affects right wing blogs like the Guido Fawkes Blog run by Paul Staines.  I hope he does not mind me pasting the extract below but he sums up the situation much more succinctly than I could manage.

Why are the Tories afraid of free speech?  Well perhaps its because their polices are based on dogma, ideology and, let’s not pussy foot around, ignorance of facts and evidence.  After five years reality has arrived to trump ideology, as it always does, whether it is the ideology of the left or of the right.  The chickens are coming home to roost and the Tories only hope is to continue trying to pull the wool, over our eyes.

Guido Fawkes Gagging bill

You won’t hear me say this very often but I am with Guido on this and won’t be paying attention to any rules and regulations from the government while the right wing press are free to print what they like and the Tory party is indulging in a campaign of half truths, deceptions and outright lies.

 

Foot note: without anyone noticing and under the eyes of the opposition parties the Tories managed to push through a law that raised party election spending limits from £26.5 million to £32.7 million. That’s a 23% increase when the rest of us are lucky if our income did not go down. The Conservatives did this despite receiving contrary advice from an independent body. The Electoral Commission – that sets the standards for elections – recommended against such an increase for the long campaign (starting on the 19th December). Instead, they advised on a £2.9million increase once the short campaign starts. The Tories entirely ignored this, or, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, interpreted it in their own way to mean they should double the number the Electoral Commission suggested and introduce this new law as soon as possible.

 

[1]  Sodexo, which runs HMP Salford rife with drugs, given £millions contract to run community sentences

[1] The number of deaths linked to G4S employees, some with racial overtones, means this company must have a problem. When will it be held to account?:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/g4s-convictions-deaths-employees-racial-overtones

[1] Serco chairman to leave troubled government contractor: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30078116