Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

Richard Chester Explains How He Came to Prefer Starmer against the Tories

October 2, 2022

Richard Chester posted this piece, ‘Kier Starmer and Labour are not perfect but the UK needs them in power before the country goes insane’ on his blog. It explains how he came to support Labour and specifically Starmer after voting Tory against Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. He begins by describing how he was touched by Starmer’s description of his grief at losing his mother to Piers Morgan. He didn’t believe that Corbyn was an anti-Semite but was concerned that he wasn’t doing enough to root out anti-Semitism in his party and didn’t like his defence policy. But he was turned off the Tories by Tweezer, then Boris and now Liz Truss. Here are his views on Labour versus Kwarteng’s tax cuts:

‘And now with Truss as PM, if the last two weeks have shown anything, it’s that we find ourselves in a position akin to the months leading up to the 2010 election. We have a political party in charge whose welcome has been outstayed, whose status and delivery has become tired and whose policy fails to read the room, coincidentally led by someone who didn’t get elected via a general election.

The YouGov poll last week that projected a 33-point lead for Labour, which the Electoral Calculus suggested would result in the Tories being left with just three seats, may have made for good reading but seemed like a pipe dream given the unlikelihood of such a scenario. But what it does show is that there is a healthy appetite for change given the public mood towards the Tories and a Labour government under Starmer has perhaps already been accepted, even if some still have a sense of trepidation.

A tax cut of 20p to 19p may be sound and the scrapping of the rise in National Insurance mark positives of Kwarteng’s mini-budget but the cut in 45p tax for the biggest earners doesn’t do favours in dispelling the belief amongst some that the Tories have a softer spot for the rich.

Now we should not put down those who are very rich who do pay the right amount in tax here and provide well-pad jobs and have earned their keep, but a cut from 45p to 40p does feel like an act of lunacy, given it feels a fair way of meeting in the middle to avoid even a slightly too-high 50p tax.

Seeing millionaires and billionaires get a reduction in tax each month, some of whom likely are happy to pay 45p tax, that dwarfs whatever is saved by middle-income earners shows that Truss’s use of unpopular plays as an understatement. That Labour have already said, highlighted by Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson on Question Time this week, they will reinstate the tax back to 45p to fund free school meals for primary school children screams volumes for one instance why Labour should be elected at the next election, regardless of whether we should have low taxes all round.

There’s probably not been a time in this country’s history where the desire for a new party in power has been as strong and broad, perhaps more than 1997 in advance of New Labour.

Looking at the current frontbench of the Labour party, it does feel like the strongest and most convincing set of ministers for many years, even if there is some concern about the direction some ministers may take.

An Yvette Cooper Home Office is likely to be more sympathetic to migrants crossing the Channel and open to more asylum seekers, ignorant of those who, for whatever reason, would have concern about such arrivals in their communities, adding more pressure on services. And there is of course how Labour will go.’

To read it all, go to: https://opinionoftheday650548878.wordpress.com/2022/10/02/keir-starmer-and-labour-are-not-perfect-but-the-uk-needs-them-in-power-before-the-country-goes-insane/

Rachel Reeves Tears into Tory Economic Policy

October 2, 2022

I had this mass email from Reeves ripping apart Queasy Kwarteng’s wretched minibudget. As much as I despise her as a true-blue Blairite, who vowed Labour would be harder on the unemployed than the Tories, she is right. Especially about trickle-down economics. Robin Ramsey, the head honcho of conspiracy site Lobster, has a background in economics. He pointed out that the Thatcherites had cottoned on to the fact that trickle-down economics was rubbish, and so were trying to justify their vile economics policies with arguments about morality. Trickle-down economics was recognised as bunk long ago, so it shows how threadbare Cheeselab Truss’ policies and ideas really are. And as terrible as I find Starmer, I’d far rather have him in No. 10 than Truss or another Tory.

‘David James, last week, the Tory government laid out their budget. 

And with it, they crashed the economy by handing enormous, unfunded tax cuts to those who earn millions and the very richest companies. 

Because of this, working people will be paying higher prices and higher mortgage rates for years to come.   

This isn’t some global issue – it happened as soon as the government stood up last Friday. They’ve damaged the UK’s reputation for good. 

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have no one to blame but themselves. This was a crisis created entirely in Downing Street, a direct result of this government’s reckless decisions.

Labour is urging the Prime Minister to bring Parliament back as soon as possible and reverse their disastrous budget.

I have been clear: there should be no return to the failed idea of trickle-down economics – the theory where you make the rich even richer and hope that somehow, some of it trickles down to the rest of us.

Labour knows that growth comes from the talents and efforts of millions of people and thousands of businesses across our country. 

As a government we will make different choices. Just this week, Labour set out our plans to deliver economic growth with our Green Prosperity Plan to guarantee a fairer, greener future for all.

After 12 years of the Tories lurching from one crisis to another, Britain deserves better. 

Labour is ready to deliver it. 

Thank you,

Rachel Reeves,
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’

Request from Megaphone UK for Volunteers for their Leafletting Campaign

October 2, 2022

I got this from the left-wing canvassing organisation, the Megaphone earlier this morning. I’m afraid I can’t volunteer, because I’m simply too ill. It’s not just the myeloma, I’ve also come down with a stinking cold. This is one of the reasons I haven’t posted much over the past few days. Despite my inability to join the campaign, I’m putting the message up here for any readers of my blog who would like to.

‘David,

Cutting costs, keeping the heating off, and doing without essentials: the cost-of-living crisis is already stretching people to the limit.

That’s why the Prime Minister’s budget announcement was so disappointing. The budget delivered tax breaks for bankers and big business, when we need real support for families.

On November 2 in London, we’re going to lobby our MPs and demand a better deal for workers. 

But first, we need to get the word out.

Will you sign up to organise a leafleting event in the next fortnight at a train station near you?

I will hand out leaflets

We know that between work, family, and other responsibilities, people already have a lot on their plates. 

But it’s important for MPs to hear directly from as many of us as possible. 

By leafleting our community, we can spread the message that only working people can deliver change and pressure the government to actually listen — and act.

Last June, we leafleted 92 places around the country. This time, we’re trying to hold even more events to reach half a million people. Will you organise one of them?

Yes, sign me up

Don’t worry if you haven’t done this before — organising a leafleting event is pretty simple and rewarding. 

You’ll join hundreds of other people who are stepping up and speaking to their local communities. 

Sign up here, and you’ll receive everything you need to get started.

Hope you can join us,

Anthony, 

Megaphone UK’

38 Degrees Invite Water Company Heads to Fake Festival of Sewage

October 2, 2022

This is a highly amusing idea. In order to make the point that the sewage the water companies are allowing to get into the environment isn’t acceptable, 38 Degrees are asking their supporters to send the heads of their local water companies fake invitations to a festival of sewage. I go this email and invitation about it on Friday.

Coming to a river or beach near you David: SEWAGE FEST 2022!

Okay, so we’re not actually putting on a festival celebrating sewage pollution. I know, shocking. But today copies of this poster really did start appearing in Brighton, one of many beaches affected by sewage pollution this summer. [1] The message to water companies? Sort. It. Out.

The 38 Degrees community has a history of using fun and creative ideas to make a serious point – and this time is no different! With the Government asking water companies to develop better plans to tackle sewage pollution, it’s the perfect time to publicly shame them – and make sure they really do step up their game. [2]

So here’s the plan: Imagine thousands of us inviting water company bosses to ‘attend’ Sewage Fest 2022 by sharing VIP tickets with them over Twitter (after all, it just wouldn’t have been possible without them!). It’ll be massively embarrassing for them – as well as spreading the word about the campaign!

So David, will you tweet the CEO of your water company a ticket to Sewage Fest 2022 now – and publicly pressure them to clean up their act? The ticket design is below – we hope you like it!

I’LL TWEET A TICKET

So why now? Well, a few weeks ago the new Environment Secretary told water companies to produce more ambitious plans for tackling sewage pollution. [3]

It’s positive news – and only happened because of a huge amount of public pressure. [4] But with everything else going on in the world (and there’s a lot right now) we need to make sure water companies know we’re watching – and won’t accept watered down proposals!

Last week, thousands of us emailed water company CEOs demanding they make their plans as ambitious as possible. [5] But we can’t stop there. Just imagine those same CEOs being publicly invited to an ‘event’ of their own making – Sewage Fest 2022! VIP tickets too, what a treat. Together we can publicly embarrass them, making them feel the heat over their collective failure to tackle the issue.

So will you tweet the CEO of your water company – inviting them to Sewage Fest 2022 and hold them accountable for their disgusting mess? Just click below and you’ll be sent to a page where you can select your water company.

I’LL TWEET A TICKET

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Matt, Megan, Angus and the 38 Degrees Team

NOTES:
[1] Our posters are all over Brighton – you can see examples herehere, and here!
The Telegraph (paywall): Sewage now pollutes every single beach between Brighton and Hastings
BBC News: Sussex beaches: People advised not to swim after sewage releases
The Independent: England’s most polluted rivers as sewage pumped into waterways for 2.6m hours
[2] Daily Mail: Water companies given two week deadline by government to show how they will stop sewage being pumped into rivers and beaches
Sky News: Water company bosses given 14 days to set out sewage dumping plans, new environment secretary says
[3] See note 2
[4] BBC News: Environment Bill passes following lengthy battle over sewage
38 Degrees: Stop dumping raw sewage into our seas and waterways
DEFRA: Storm overflows discharge reduction plan
The Rivers Trust: Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan still too little, too late
[5] 38 Degrees: Enough is enough: draw up ambitious plans to fix our outdated sewage system

38 Degrees Internet Petition Calling for Scrapping of Mini-Budget

October 2, 2022

I also got this email and petition through from internet democracy organisation calling for ‘Cheeselab’ Truss and ‘Queasy’ Kwarteng to scrap their wretched mini-budget. I’ve had absolutely no problems about signing it. Please feel free to do the same if it frightens and appals you as much as it did me.

‘They’ve driven us off a cliff, David.

Markets in panic, pensions on the brink of bankruptcy, rising interest rates, the pound crashing. [1] It’s taken Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng just 6 days to tank the economy with their ‘mini-budget’ – and put OUR livelihoods on the line. [2] Mini-budget, maximum chaos.

This is about the money left in our pockets at the end of the month. Rising interest rates send mortgages skyrocketing. [3] A weaker pound makes clothes and food more expensive. [4] This budget has plunged us into even more chaos, just when we needed urgent help to get through the cost of living crisis.

Millions of us across the country are enraged by their decision to borrow billions to give to the rich – and tank the economy in the process. [5] International financial institutions, the Bank of England and even Tory MPs have savaged the plan. [6] There’s only one option: rip up the budget.

We need to show where the British public stand today. So, David, will you add your name right now to the open letter calling on Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng to RIP UP this disastrous mini-budget? Clicking the button below will add your name automatically.

ADD MY NAME

NO, I DISAGREE

Here’s the open letter:

To Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng,

RIP UP your “mini-budget” and replace it with an urgent rescue plan to save our economy, save families during this cost of living crisis and save our public services already on the brink.
Signed,Thousands of members of the public 

ADD MY NAME

NO, I DISAGREE

Thank you for being involved,

Angus, Mike, Ellie, Tom and the 38 Degrees team

Notes:
[1] BBC News: Treasury rejects U-turn on mini-budget despite turmoil
[2] The Guardian: Kwarteng scraps top 45% rate of income tax and cuts stamp duty
The Daily Mirror: Mini-Budget 2022 summary: £45bn tax cut announcements at a glance and how they hit you
[3] The Guardian: Homeowners warned of ‘significant’ rise in UK interest rates
The Times: Prove you can afford 7% mortgage, borrowers to be told
[4] The Telegraph: How the tumbling pound is pushing up prices
Metro: Why is the pound falling and how does it affect me in the UK?
[5] The Guardian: ‘A budget for the 1%’: government accused of huge tax cut for super-wealthy
[6] BBC News: IMF openly criticises UK government tax plans
Reuters: Bank of England moves to calm bond market rout after tax cut storm
The i: All the Tory MPs who’ve publicly objected to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget

Left Labour Online Event Next Thursday Reporting Back from Conference

October 2, 2022

I also got this from the organisers of the Arise Festival of Left Wing Ideas:

ONLINE EVENT: Labour conference reportback & next steps discussion

Online Thursday, October 6, 7pm. Register here // Share & Invite friends here // Retweet here to spread the word.

With: Richard Burgon MP, Rachel Garnham, CLPD vice-chair & chair Gemma Bolton (NEC.) Join us online to assess Labour’s conference & discuss together next steps for Labour and the left.

Hosted by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

We Own It Celebrate Starmer’s Policy of a Great British Energy Company

October 2, 2022

I got this email from the pro-public ownership organisation We Own It applauding Keir Starmer’s announcement that if he was elected, Labour would set up a publicly owned energy company: Great British Energy.

‘Dear David,

Public ownership in Starmer’s keynote speech, as one of Labour’s flagship policies?! This is HUGE.

Great British Energy, a publicly owned renewable energy generation company, would help tackle the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.

Two months ago, we told the Guardian that Labour was being too cautious on public ownership and asked the question:

“Why not set up a publicly owned renewable generation company to drive forward water and wind energy, while creating jobs and boosting the economy?”

You helped to share that article and spread the word – and yesterday Keir Starmer announced exactly that, so this is YOUR win!

Read and share our blog on Great British Energy

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Thousands of you signed the petition for energy in public ownership, which included Great British Energy as one of the demands!

Thousands of you shared polling about support for public ownership, showing how popular taking energy into public hands really is. 

Of course we want Labour to go further by bringing the National Grid and an energy supplier into public ownership. But this huge victory helps shift the debate. After a long period of avoiding the question, it shows that public ownership is on the table again for Labour. 

Starmer also stated that this policy would be rolled out in the first year of government. The next general election could be coming sooner than the Conservatives would like – so with Labour way ahead in the polls, these announcements matter. It’s people like you who will make sure they translate into action when the time comes. (Do read our blog for more on the politics of this announcement…)

We’re making progress. Let’s keep going! 

THANK YOU for everything you’ve done to make this happen.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, and Kate — the We Own It team

PS This isn’t the only public ownership announcement at Labour conference this year… Thanks to everything you’ve done to make the case, Labour announced that they would nationalise rail, lift the ban on municipally owned bus companies, and oversee a wave of insourcing. These are your victories!

Giorgia Meloni – Conservative or Fascist?

September 27, 2022

I’ve been watching some of the videos posted by members of the British and America right about the new Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. Meloni is head of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, or to give them their Italian name, Fratelli d’Italia. I think ‘Fratelli’ means ‘little brothers’, but if so, then someone decided that it’s not impressive enough for the English translation of their name. She and they have been accused of being Fascists, and arch-conservatives like Matt Walsh, Simon Webb, the Lotus Eaters and Piers Morgan have rushed to defend her. Part of the controversy about her concerns her party’s slogan ‘God, family and nation’. She is proudly Christian and determined to defend the faith. She also stands for the traditional nuclear family and is against adoption and surrogacy for gays. She also rejects the modern ideology she believes is threatening motherhood as an identity, along with national identity, in order, so she says, to reduce people to anonymous consumers. And she is also anti-immigration. For the above pundits, these are all Conservative policies, not Fascist. The problem is that they were also Fascist policies. Her slogan ‘God, family and nation’ sounds like a reworked version of the old Fascist slogan, ‘Family, Faith and Fatherland’. Mussolini was anti-clerical atheist, but he made a deal with the Catholic church that allowed Roman Catholic religious education in schools in return for papacy recognising Italy as a nation, something the church had refused to do following Garibaldi’s forcible incorporation of the Papal states into the new Italy during the Risorgimento. The Italian Fascists were also determined to protect the traditional family against attack from Marxism. Marx and Engels had made it clear in the Communist Manifesto that Communism sought to abolish the family. This attitude was shared by some of the sociologists and ideologues that denounced marriage in favour of cohabitation and free love in the 1960s and 1970s and it continues in the programme of Black Lives Matter, which seeks to replace the nuclear family with a communal raising of children. There was also a huge uproar in Italy a few years ago when an Italian minister, a Black African woman, declared that she wanted polygamy legalised.

Her party’s flag has also been cited as further evidence of fascism. It contains a flame, which is supposed to refer back to the flame on Mussolini’s tomb. From what I saw, the party’s flag was the tricolour of Italy with the flame in the middle. It reminded me very much of the Tricolour Flame, the name of a ‘post-Fascist’ party which emerged after the break-up of the Missimi, or Moviemento Socialie Italiano, the Italian Social Movement, the main neo-Fascist party after World War II. Another party right-wing descended from the MSI was the Alleanzo Nazionali, led by Pierluigi Fini, which claimed to be centre right rather than far right. From this you could conclude that Meloni and the Brothers of Italy were Conservatives, albeit descendants of fascism and just a little further right of the majority of contemporary European Conservative parties. Their defence of the traditional nuclear family and rejection of some gay rights certainly contrasts with the socially liberal wing of the Tories and Dave Cameron’s introduction of gay marriage.

But some of her rhetoric certainly had my alarm bells ringing. In one of her speeches, she’s supposed to have referred to the Great Replacement, the belief that non-White immigration has been deliberately encouraged in order to replace the traditional White European population. And she’s also denounced financial speculators trying to destroy the nation state. Superficially, this sounds innocuous enough with an element of truth in it. Britain, Ireland, America and many of the European countries were hit hard by the banking crash of 2008, a crash that was caused by rampant, unregulated speculation of the type Liz Truss would like to return. As for the hatred of the EU, I was told by an Italian lady while I was at Bristol uni that when her country joined the single market, prices shot up. This caused massive anger to an extent that when she went back there, she didn’t feel safe. And after Italy’s economy collapsed, the European ‘troika’ took control and dictated the country’s economic policy. But it also sounds like the coded rightist nonsense about George Soros, whose various pro-democracy organisations in Hungary and elsewhere have been accused by Viktor Orban and others like him of seeking the destruction of traditional society. More sinisterly, it recalls the vicious, blatantly anti-Semitic conspiracies about international Jewish bankers.

Her rhetoric denouncing the reduction of people to consumers also needs analysis. At one level it recalls the left-wing concerns about the rise of consumerism and the destruction of traditional values that were voiced during the emergence of the affluent society in the ’60s and ’70s. But it could also reflect another aspect of fascist ideology – the celebration of humans as producers. After Mussolini broke with the Italian socialists he gave his paper, the Popolo d’Italia, the subheading ‘the paper of workers and producers’ to reflect the corporatist ideology which promoted both workers, management and proprietors.

As she stands, it looks very much like she is a centre-right conservative with elements of Fascist ideology. I haven’t yet seen anything about her followers marching about in black shirts and jackboots, nor about the proscription of other parties and a rigid control of the media. But then she’s in coalition with Berlusconi and his Forza Italia party. Much the same was said of him when he had Italy under his libidinous rule. There was evening a book written about it describing it as a form of fascism, written not by someone from the liberal media, but by a Times journo, as I recall. Talking about his book on Radio 4 one Saturday morning, he said that the reason Berlusconi didn’t have the authoritarian, paramilitary trappings of fascism was because he didn’t need it. For example, Berlusconi owned much of the private Italian media, and dictated the direction of the state-owned broadcaster so that all of the Italian media was practically in his hands.

Meloni may not be an overt fascist, but there’s enough fascist ideology in her conservatism to be of real concern.

Comment about Poverty and the Destruction of the Irish Health Service from Video of Protests in Eire

September 26, 2022

Earlier this evening I found on my phone a video of a Cost of Living protest posted on YouTube by People Before Profit National two days ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it on my computer, so I don’t know what’s happened to it. I think it may have been from Eire, by a single comment I found posted to it. That was very interesting, and ran:

‘This cost of living crisis is not a new thing, and people’s lives have been adversely affected for a very long time.

As stroke, cancer, asthma patients, and disabled people have had no access to health, no access to medications, no access to treatment and no access to operations,, and no access to services for over four years, as GPs have stopped accepting medical card holders, and those minority vulnerable groups who are on low pay are faced with no other choice but to pay for GP, prescription and medication costs, in a country where healthcare is supposed to be free.

FF, FG and the Greens have a lot to answer for in the manner in which minority vulnerable groups are mistreated in Ireland, and this coming budget will do nothing to address those massive inequalities, or discriminations the silenced minority already face in everyday life. In 2022 it is a democratic, political and and human rights crisis how the sickest and the poorest people in society are living as fifth class citizens, and I hope the YouTube overlords do not block this from being posted in the comment section, like they do when people speak out against these issues.

Let’s Go Socialism (followed by a heart and a thumbs-up sign)’

The video to which this comment was attached only played for a few minutes before the screen turned black. I don’t know what happened to it or the comment so that I can’t find either of them using my computer. But I am very interested in the comment and what it says about the state of healthcare in the south. I don’t understand Irish politics and know nothing about the Irish healthcare system. But from reading the comment it sounds like Irish government have been starving it of funding, forcing the sick and disabled to pay for GP visits and their medicines. It sounds very much like what Liz Truss and the Tories would like to see in Britain with their cuts and privatisation of the NHS.

Best of luck and solidarity with everyone fighting these policies in Ireland, Britain and everywhere else.

Wednesday’s Online Meeting about Statutory Sick Pay

September 23, 2022

Wednesday evening, I went to a Zoom meeting organised by the Centre for Progressive Change about campaigning for much needed reforms to Statutory Sick Pay. The Centre for Progressive Change is a new organisation, and this is their first campaign, so they want to make a mark. As far as I could make out, the campaign is being led by the cleaners and their union, although other unions are also involved. At the moment there are a large number of workers, who aren’t getting statutory sick pay. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s something like a third or above. If they do qualify for it, they have to wait three days to receive it from the day they sign off sick, and the amount paid, £99 a week, isn’t sufficient to cover people’s needs. They are therefore campaigning for the amount to be raised, and for it to be paid from the first day of ill health.

They also mentioned cases where workers were denied time off work and SSP by their employers, even though they were perfectly entitled to it. This included one young man who came down with cancer a year or so ago. An operation was scheduled, but he was told he would have to isolate for a week or so before the operation to make sure he didn’t catch Covid and would need two weeks off work to recover. When he told this to his HR manager, who had previously been kind and supportive, he was told that the manager couldn’t run a place like this and so couldn’t take the time off work for isolation. Nor was he going to receive sick pay when he took time off work to recuperate. The boss told him instead that he’d have to take unpaid holiday.

This clearly isn’t acceptable.

The meeting itself was bilingual in English and Spanish. There was a button for simultaneous translation, so if you didn’t speak whatever language was being spoken at that moment, you could press a button and get the translation. It felt rather like being at the UN when the various ambassadors and officials there get the translations of speeches through their headphones. I was puzzled why it was in English and Spanish when we’re no longer in the EU, but it may just be that so many of the cleaning staff and other low wage workers involved in this campaign are Spanish.

They’ve got a petition to persuade the government to pay increased SSP and are also trying to get people to organise to see their local MPs about it. I’ve signed it because of the cost of living crisis and Truss’ renewed assault on working class wellbeing.

For more information, go to their website athttps://www.centreforprogressivechange.org/