Posts Tagged ‘Grant Shapps’

The Nazis and Conservatives as Faux-Workers’ Parties

February 28, 2014

A few days ago I posted a piece pointing out the similarity between workfare and the commercial exploitation of poor souls the Nazis imprisoned in the concentration camps as ‘anti-social elements’. These included not only Jews, but also the voluntarily unemployed – called the arbeitscheu – and political dissidents, which were mainly Communists, Socialists and trade unionists. Now it seems the Tories are attempting copy the Nazis’ propaganda tactics still further: Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, wants to rebrand them as the ‘Worker’s Party’.

There is an excellent post at Another Angry Voice attacking this rebranding. See The bizarre Tory effort to rebrand themselves as “The Workers Party” at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/tories-rebrand-workers-party.html.

The Tories attempt to rebrand themselves as the ‘Worker’s Party’ is exactly what Hitler did with the Nazi party. And that ain’t an exaggeration.

There’s an attempt by the Conservatives to claim that Fascism is a form of Socialism, like Communism. Yesterday I reblogged a piece about the way this piece of Tory propaganda had been repeated yet again by Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph. Shapps’ proposed rebranding is an attempt to reverse the current images of the Tory and Labour parties by claiming that Tories somehow represent the workers, while Labour represent … well, it’s unclear who the Tories think they represent, but the clue was historically in Labour’s name: the working class. I expect the Tories will start attacking Labour by claiming they are the party of unelected bureaucrats, the feckless, unmarried mothers and skivers, as well as a condescending ‘liberal elite’ that secretly hates and despises the working class. This is, after all, the line they’ve been running for the past couple of years.

It’s also in line with the attempts of some prominent members of the Conservative party to appeal to trade unionists. I did hear of one, who had attended every one of his local trade union conferences, who was explicitly arguing that the Tories should attempt to win them over. According to the Fabian pamphlet, Labour and the Unions: Natural Allies about fifty per cent of trade unionists do in fact vote Conservative, basically because trade unionists tend to be better paid and have their own homes compared with non-unionised workers. It’s also not the first time the Tories have attempted to present themselves as a labour-oriented movement. In the 1970s there was a Conservative trade union movement. Any trade unionist, who seriously believes that the Tories have any sympathy with the working class would, however, be seriously mistaken. The Tories have consistently hated and opposed the unions, who have been one element in the formation of the Labour party. The origins of the Labour party go back to the late 19th century when some trade unionists entered parliament as ‘Lib-Labs’ as party of the Liberal party. These broke with the Liberals and, together with socialist societies like the Fabians, the Social Democratic Federation and others, formed the Labour party as they felt that the working class needed a party to represent them.

The Conservatives, however, have consistently attacked the unions, especially the ties they have to the Labour party. Thatcher’s ideology included as one of its fundamental elements an attack on trade union power. Witness the way she and the other Conservatives mobilised the police to destroy the miners. The Conservative trade unions were dissolved sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, if I remember correctly, leaving the movement’s leader feeling bitterly betrayed. He then denounced the Tories as the party of the bosses. Well, he had to wake up sometime.

Their cynical tactics in this are very much those of the Nazis. The Nazis started out as a fringe, socialist group calling itself the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. However, they don’t seem to have taken the ‘socialist’ elements of their ideology at all seriously. Of the 25 points of the original party programme, the only one that Hitler attempted to implement once they were in power – and that only half-heartedly – was the breaking up of the large department stores. Hitler was determined to try to win over the workers, and disappointed that the Nazis actually succeeded in gaining very few members from the working class. Much of the Nazis’ image as a ‘workers’ party’ was deliberately copied from the left-wing parties in order to steal their constituency. Joachim C. Fest, in his biography of Hitler, gives a statement by der Fuehrer, where he says that he consciously copied the red in the Nazi flag to stress the ‘socialist’ part of the party, in order to win the workers over from ‘Marxist’ socialism. He then analyses Hitler’s peculiar idea of the term ‘socialist’ to conclude that to Hitler, words like ‘socialism’ were simply counters being used to gain votes.

And once in power, the Nazis smashed genuine working class organisations like the trade unions, the SPD – the German Socialist party, the Communist party, as well as the various Anarchist and Syndicalist groups. These parties and groups were dissolved, and their members and leaders sent to concentration camps. They also destroyed the system of factory councils, which had been set up in Germany during the ‘Raeterevolution’ – the Soviet revolution – of 1919. These were replaced by the DAP – the Deutschearbeitsfront or German Labour Front. This attempted some alleviation of conditions in factories, and organised workers’ holidays and recreational activities following the Italian Fascist Doppolavoro. However, it was designed as a conduit for promoting the idea of the Fuehrerprinzip – the ‘Leader principle’ in the factories. The factory managers were the leaders, and the workers their followers with few rights. In theory, however, they had the right to appeal to the local Nazi leadership to replace a bad manager during a dispute. I can’t imagine the Tories tolerating something like that. It would be far too left-wing for them.

As for representing the workers, in 1933 Hitler gave a speech to a meeting of German industrialists stating that ‘Private property cannot survive an age of democracy’, declaring that it could only be preserved by his personal dictatorship. In another speech, Hitler declared that ‘the class conscious worker is as welcome in our party as the race conscious Jew’. When he was asked in the 1920s what action he would take against the German industrialists, he replied that he would do nothing. They had shown themselves to be naturally superior to other people, and so deserving of their position, through their efforts to rise to the top of society. it’s a social Darwinist attitude entirely in accord with the views of this administration on the right to rule of the middle and upper classes.

So let’s look at the similarities between Grant Shapps’ vision of the Tories as the Workers’ Party, and the Nazis.

Both are parties that deliberately appeal and represent the interests of the industrialists and upper classes.

Both are hostile to genuinely left-wing working class organisations, such as Socialists, trade unions, Communists, Anarchists, and Syndicalists.

Hitler smashed the German trade unions. The Tories wound up the Conservative trade union movement.

Both the Nazis and the Tories have imposed compulsory, forced labour on the unemployed, who were denounced by the Nazis as ‘arbeitscheu’ and the Tories as ‘skivers’, for the profit of private industry.

I therefore feel that if Grant Shapps genuinely feels that the Tories are the ‘worker’s party’, he should go all the way and make it explicit. I therefore recommend that the Conservatives rename themselves ‘The National Conservative British Workers’ Party’. This is, after all, a clear expression of their attitude towards the workers.

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Another Angry Voice on the Tories’ Rebranding as ‘The Workers’ Party’

February 28, 2014

Tory Workers Party Rebrand Propaganda

The Angry Yorkshireman has another excellent post on The bizarre Tory effort to rebrand themselves as “The Workers Party” . Apparently, Grant Shapps AKA Michael Green, the unconvicted fraudster now running the Conservatives, has dreamt up this attempt to appeal to what’s left of the British working class. The Irate One asks rhetorically if there is anyone stupid enough to believe this before going on to demolish the Tory pretence at representing the workers, from the way their party is funded, to wage restraint, the attempt to rename and abolish May Day as International Labour Day, and workers’ rights. The article begins

The Tories, and their braying supporters in the corporate controlled press have constantly attacked the Labour party over the fact that their party is mainly funded by small donations from hundreds of thousands of ordinary workers, via democratically organised institutions (the trade unions). Meanwhile the Tory party is funded by a rogues gallery of extremely dodgy rich people, without the faintest trace of democratic accountability.

How on earth could anyone be stupid enough to expect a political party that is majority funded by donations of over £50,000 a shot from the super-rich, to represent the interests of ordinary workers?

How on earth could anyone be stupid enough to expect a political party that has a secretive inner cabal of super-rich donors that it refers to as “The Leaders Group”, to represent the interests of ordinary workers?

How on earth could anyone be stupid enough to expect a political party that allows their wealthy donors to write up their own wish-list of anti-worker legislation as official Tory party policy, to represent the interests of ordinary workers.

The Angry Northerner then considers Shapps’ own career as an internet pioneer devising a computer programme that plagiarised content from other sites on the net, before concluding that this is, once again, another Tory propaganda attempt based on treating the British people, and particularly the working class, as stupid and gullible.

Unfortunately, I have a horrible feeling that some people will believe them.

The article’s at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/tories-rebrand-workers-party.html. Like just about everything the Angry One writes, it’s well worth reading.

Christmas Private on the Massive Increase in Homelessness

February 7, 2014

The Christmas edition of Private Eye, for the 21st December 2013 – 9 January 2014 also carried a story about the massive increase in homelessness under the Coalition, and the problems this poses for Grant Shapps’ policy of having local authorities house them in the private sector.

‘Room At The Inn

The housing charity Shelter has been telling anyone who will listen that around 80,000 children in England will spend this Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation. Some 2,000 of those families with children are in bed breakfast hotels (for which local authorities pay through the nose), 790 of these families beyond the six-week legal limit.

In 2011 Grant Shapps, then housing minister and now Conservative Party chairman, announced the solution to this problem: give local authorities the flexibility to offer homeless families a tenancy in the private rented sector.

Alas, the number of families accepted as homeless since the election is up by 34 percent – a rise fuelled by the shortage of social housing, cut in housing benefit and, er, the high cost of private rents. The private rented sector is in fact the fastest growing source of homelessness. The number of families becoming homeless after losing a private assured shorthold tenancy has more than doubled in England in the past three years, and more than quadrupled in London.

With the supposed solution to homelessness itself fuelling homelessness, the effects of the coalition’s latest wheeze are likely to be bleak: an extra £100m announced in the autumn statement to spend on increasing Right to Buy sales – which will get rid of any remaining social housing even faster.’

But perhaps we shouldn’t expect anything less from Grant Shapps. This is the man, who has repeatedly shown his complete indifference and contempt for the poor, the homeless and the unemployed. He is only interested in them if a private company can make money out of them. And he doesn’t seem too scrupulous in the realm of business morals. He did, after all, set up one of his companies under a false identity, which constitutes fraud.

UN bedroom tax report reveals truth about Tories

September 13, 2013

In this article, published on Mike’s blog before his post on the Commissioner’s report, Mike comments on the Tories’ rage at the UN Commissioner’s attack on the Bedroom Tax. Using the text of the report itself, Mike refutes Shapps’ criticisms, exposing them for the lies they are, and the petulance and hypocrisy that lies underneath them.

Mike also found this piece on BBC News, in which Ms. Rolnik herself completely refutes Shapps’ lies. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24053718.

Vox Political

What a spoilt little brat Grant Shapps has shown himself to be.

After the United Nations’ special investigator on housing told the Coalition government it should scrap the bedroom tax, describing the policy’s effect on vulnerable citizens as “shocking”, he threw a hissy fit.

He claimed that Raquel Rolnik had been biased from the start and had not met any ministers or officials, and said he would be writing to protest to the UN secretary general.

Why would an investigator, who has come to this country to see for herself the actual effect of a government policy, waste any time listening to ministers who want to overwrite her report with their own agenda?

Ms Rolnik is perfectly capable of accessing the reams of material that has already been written by the government about the bedroom tax – or spare room subsidy, as Mr Shapps (if that’s what he’s calling…

View original post 800 more words

The UN Housing Inspector’s Report on the Bedroom Tax

September 13, 2013

My brother, over at Vox Political, has posted up the report of the UN Commissioner, Raquel Rolnik, who came here to investigate the Bedroom Tax. She was deeply critical. After acknowledging the help given to her by government departments and agencies, and praising the UK for its considerable achievements in social policy, she remarks that

‘Some of my main preliminary findings indicate signs of retrogression in the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing. It is not clear that every effort has been made to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of retrogression, indeed much of the testimony I heard suggests they are bearing the brunt. Housing deprivation is worsening in the United Kingdom. Increasingly, people appear to be facing difficulties to accessing adequate, affordable, well located and secure housing. The numbers of people on waiting lists for social housing have risen, with reports indicating waits of several years to obtain a suitable house.’…

‘Especially worrisome in this package is the so-called “bedroom tax”, or the spare bedroom under occupancy penalty. It came into force on 1 April 2013, without having been previously piloted. It essentially means a reduction in the amount of benefit paid to claimants if the property they are renting from the social housing sector is considered under occupied. The Government has argued that this policy reduces dependency and will make available a stock of under occupied homes.’

‘Fiscal austerity measures include budget cuts in local Government expenditure, as well as significant reduction on the grants available for housing associations to provide social and affordable homes. This implies that social landlords will be required to reach out to the private financial markets in order to fund their building activities. As a consequence they will be pressured to increase their profit-making activities, potentially being forced to increase rent and reduce the stock made available to social renters.’

She goes on to describe the response she has had from people with disabilities and the poor, who are finding it very difficult to cope with the tax.

‘I would like to refer now to the package of welfare reform and its impact on a number of human rights, but especially on the right to adequate housing, such as for those seeking to live independent and dignified lives with physical and mental disabilities. The so-called bedroom tax is possibly the most visible of the measures. In only a few months of its implementation the serious impacts on very vulnerable people have already been felt and the fear of future impacts are a source of great stress and anxiety.

Of the many testimonies I have heard, let me say that I have been deeply touched by persons with physical and mental disabilities who have felt targeted instead of protected; of the grandmothers who are carers of their children and grandchildren but are now feeling they are forced to move away from their life-long homes due to a spare bedroom or to run the risk of facing arrears; of the single parents who will not have space for their children when they come to visit; of the many people who are increasingly having to choose between food and paying the penalty. Those who are impacted by this policy were not necessarily the most vulnerable a few months ago, but they were on the margins, facing fragility and housing stress, with little extra income to respond to this situation and already barely coping with their expenses.’

She is also concerned that devolution of housing policies to local councils in Northern Ireland could lead to increased sectarianism in the province, and discrimination against Roman Catholics. Another problem she raises is the lack of suitable sits for Gypsy camps.

Her report discusses the legislation and economic thinking behind the governments policies, such as the bias in British housing policy towards home-ownership, rather than rented accommodation. In her conclusion, she recommends

‘First, and foremost, I would suggest that the so-called bedroom tax be suspended immediately and be fully re-evaluated in light of the evidence of its impacts on the right to adequate housing and general well-being of many vulnerable individuals.
Secondly, I would recommend that the Government puts in place a system of regulation for the private rent sector, including clear criteria about affordability, access to information and security of tenure.
Thirdly, I would encourage a renewal of the Government’s commitment to significantly increasing the social housing stock and a more balanced public funding for the stimulation of supply of social and affordable housing which responds to the needs.’

Predictably, this has produced an angry response from the Tories’ chairman, Grant Shapps, which Mike also covers and demolishes in this and other articles.