Posts Tagged ‘Institute of Economic Affairs’

What A Surprise! Anti-NHS Thinktank Funded by Tobacco and Fast Food Industries

May 18, 2019

One of the fascinating articles Mike put up yesterday was about an article in the British Medical Journal that reported that Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing think tank that funds the Tories and which demands the privatisation of the NHS, is funded by all the industries that actively damage people’s health: tobacco, gambling, alcohol, sugar and fast food. One of the major donors to this secretive think tank is British-American Tobacco. The report noted that the IEA had attacked campaigns against smoking, drinking and the obesity academic, and raised concerns that a future leader of the Tories would side with these industries against the interests of the British people.

Well, as Bill Hicks used to say ironically, ‘Colour me surprised!’

I don’t wish to sneer at the doctors and medical professionals behind this article, and am absolutely fully behind its publication. But I’m not remotely surprised. It’s almost to be expected that a think tank that demands absolute privatisation and deregulation in the interests of complete free trade, should be funded by those industries, which have the most to lose from government regulation. And in the case of the Tories, that has always included tobacco, alcohol and gambling. Way back in the early ’90s under John Major, when Brits were just beginning to get into the habit of binge drinking and the government was considering allowing pubs and nightclubs all day licences, there were concerns about the damaging effects of alcohol. People were demanding greater regulation of the drinks industry. But this was being blocked by the Tories, because so many Tory MPs has links to these companies. This was so marked that Private Eye actually published the names of these MPs, and the positions they held in various drinks companies.

As for gambling, the Labour government after the War tried to crack down on this, but it was the Tories under MacMillan, who legalised the betting shops. Later on, Tony Blair, taking his ideas from them, had plans to expand the British gambling industry further with the opening of ‘super-casinos’, one of which was to be in Blackpool, I believe. But fortunately that never got off the ground. Unfortunately, there has been a massive rise in gambling addiction, despite all the warnings on the the adverts for online casinos.

The Tories have also had a long relationship too with the tobacco industry, resisting calls for bans on tobacco advertising. Private Eye also reported how, after Major lost the election to Blair, former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke then got a job with British-American Tobacco. As did, I believe, Saint Maggie of Grantham herself. BAT was employing him to open up markets in the former Soviet central Asian republics. The Eye duly satirised him as ‘BATman’, driving around in a car shaped like a giant cigarette, shoving ciggies into people’s, mostly children’s, mouths.

The Institute of Economic Affairs is a particularly nasty outfit that’s been around since the mid-70s. For a long time, I think it was the only think tank of its type pushing extreme free market ideas. A couple of years ago I found a tranche of their booklets in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. One was on how the state couldn’t manage industry. This looked at four examples of state industrial projects, which it claimed were incompetently run and a waste of money. One was the Anglo-French supersonic airliner, Concorde. The booklet had a point, as many of the industries they pointed to, like British Leyland, were failing badly. Concorde when it started out was a massive white elephant. It was hugely expensive and for some time there were no orders for it. But now it is celebrate as a major aerospace achievement. While the British aircraft industry has decline, the French used the opportunities and expertise they developed on the project to expand their own aerospace industry.

Looking at the booklet, it struck me how selective these examples were. Just four, out of the many other nationalised industries that existed at the time. And I doubt the pamphlet has worn well with age. Ha Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism and John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics have very effectively demolished their shoddy and shopworn free market capitalism, and shown how, rather than encouraging industry and prosperity, it has effectively ruined them. Read these books, and you’ll see just why we need Corbyn, whatever the champions of free market capitalism scream to the contrary.

Oh yes, and ladies, particularly, be warned. This is an anti-feminist organisation. Mike mentions in his article that it has a spokeswoman, Kate Andrews, who turns up regularly on Question Time to push for the privatisation of the NHS. Or rather, its reform, as they don’t want to alarm the populace by being too open about what they want to do. Despite this feminine face, this is an organisation that has very traditional views about gender roles. One of the pamphlets I found had the jaunty title Liberating Women – From Feminism. The booklet was written by women, and I know that some women would prefer to be able to stay home and raise their children rather than go to work. And that’s fine if it’s their choice. But this outfit would like to stop women having a choice. Rather than enabling women, who choose to stay home, to do so, they would actively like to discourage women from pursuing careers.

The IEA really is a grubby organisation, and the sooner it’s discredited everywhere, the better. Like the Tories.

Priti Patel and the Shady World of Right-Wing Lobbyists and Thinktanks

November 9, 2017

Hat tip to Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, for letting me know about this article.

Priti Patel has finally done the decent thing, and resigned following the revelation of her highly secretive visit to Israel, where she met met leading politicians, while telling everyone she was just on a holiday. Part of the reason behind Patel’s little trip seems to have been to get the British government to divert some of the money it gives for international aid to Israel, so it can spend it on the IDF’s continuing occupation of the Golan Heights. This is territory which Israel nicked from the Syrians during the Six Day War.

Israel is already massively supported by Britain, the US and the EU, where it is treated almost as a member, despite not having formal membership. The IDF is one of the main instruments of the country’s brutal repression and ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Arab people, the Palestinians. During its independence campaign in 1948, the Israeli armed forces were responsible for a series of massacres, rapes and beatings against the Palestinians. The most notorious of these was Deir Yassin. But that was only one massacre out of many. Very many. Israeli soldiers killed people sheltering in a mosque, shot and threw handgrenades at women and children, and in one horrendous incident killed a group of Palestinians, who were coming towards them to offer them rice in the hope of getting some mercy. The IDF today enforces the brutal apartheid regime against the Palestinians, including the fouling of cisterns and wells to make the water undrinkable, and the demolition of houses and seizure of property by Israeli colonists.

I have no desire whatsoever to see my government give aid money to the IDF. And I very much doubt I’m alone.

This isn’t about anti-Semitism. I am very much aware that there is and always has been a very strong Jewish opposition to the ethnic cleansing and terror, which not only includes American and European Jews, but also Israelis such Ilan Pappe and human rights organisations such as BT’salem. Anyone, who dares to criticise Israel, is smeared and abused as an anti-Semite. But many anti-Zionist Jews, or simply Jews critical of the occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, feel that they are particularly singled out for abuse and vilification. Tony Greenstein, a veteran anti-Zionist and anti-Fascist campaigner, has quoted in his blog the left-wing comedian, Alexei Sayle. Sayle, the son of Jewish Communists, has said that it seems to him that the majority of people smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour Party were Jews.

Returning to Patel, an article by Adam Ramsay on the Open Democracy site, reveals that she has very extensive links to some very shady right-wing lobbying groups and thinktanks.

Before she was elected MP in 2010, Patel worked for the PR form Weber Shandwick, whose clients included British American Tobacco. Not only does the company produce a highly addictive and lethal drug, it also has links to the dictatorship in Myanmar and child labour. The article notes that some of the PR company’s employees were uncomfortable dealing with BAT. Not so Patel. She was perfectly relaxed.

BAT in their turn fund the right-wing think tanks the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute for Economic Affairs. In 2002, while Patel was working there, Weber Shandwick merged with the Israeli lobbyists Rimon Cohen, whose clients include the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, the illegal Migron settlement on the West Bank, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Whom Patel coincidentally met on her jaunt.

Weber Shandwick’s clients also included Bahrein, and just months after her election, the Bahreini’s flew her there to meet some of their ministers. This is a Gulf kingdom widely criticised for human rights abuses. In 2012 she went on another trip, this time to the United Arab Emirates, as part of the All Party Group, which went there. She made two return trips in 2013 and 2014. The first time she went with the World Consulting and Research Corporation, based in New Delhi. This outfit describe themselves as a brand equity and management organisation. The second trip was courtesy of Sun Mark Ltd., who are regular donors to her office. Weber Shandwick also added the Dubai firm Promoseven to its list of clients about the same time it merged with Rimon Cohen.

In 2014 she also attended a meeting in Washington, courtesy of the right-wing, and highly secretive British think tank, the Henry Jackson Society. The meeting was organised by AIPAC, the very powerful Israeli lobbying organisation in the US, about security in the Middle East. As for the Henry Jackson Society, they are so secretive about the source of their funds that they withdrew it from two parliamentary groups, rather than reveal where it comes from. Earlier this year the Charity Commission announced they were investigating it following allegations that it was being paid by the Japanese government to spread anti-Chinese propaganda.

Patel’s holiday to Israel also seems to have been sponsored by Stuart Polak, the former head and honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel. In 2009 Peter Oborne wrote a piece about the extensive influence the CFI has in the Tory party. Ramsay also notes that trips to Israel funded by the CFI and similar groups are the most consistent entry in the MPs’ and MSPs’ register of foreign interests.

The article concludes

Much has been written about the weakness of the current Conservative government, as exhibited by this scandal, Boris Johnson’s blunders, and last week’s resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour. But here is the problem. When governments are falling apart, special interest groups run riot. Flagrant abuses usually happen at times when minor abuses are normalised. What other powerful lobby groups are pushing ministers around? How did it get to the point that Patel thought she’d get away with this?

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/we-cant-ignore-patels-background-in-britains-lobbying-industry

It’s a good question, though you’d have to work extremely hard to find out. The Labour MP Colin Challen wrote a piece years ago in Lobster reporting that half of Tory funding remains mysterious. As for the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs, they’re extreme right-wing think tanks that provided much of the ideology of the New Right during Thatcher’s grotty rise to power and period in office. They want to privatise everything, including the NHS and schools, as well as social security. I know. I’ve got the IEA’s pamphlets about the last two. The IEA also produced another pamphlet addressing a question vital to today’s women: Liberating Women – From Feminism. Which has been the line the Daily Mail’s taken almost since it was founded.

Mike yesterday put up a piece commenting on the strange verbiage of Patel’s resignation letter, and the reply from Theresa May. Both contained passages stressing that Patel was usually open and transparent about her business. Mike commented that neither of these letters actually looked like they’d been written by the two.

Mike comments that neither May nor Patel have acted transparently and openly, and we still don’t know what Downing Street’s role in this whole affair may have been. The Jewish Chronicle suggests it’s rather more than May and Patel are telling.

He concludes

This matter has demonstrated that Theresa May’s government has no interest in transparency and openness. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The minority Prime Minister will be hoping that it will go away, following the resignation of the offending minister.

It won’t.

We need to know exactly what happened, when it was arranged, with whom, who knew about it, who was there at the time, what was said about it afterwards and to whom, and whether all the information has been made public. My guess that it hasn’t.

Recent events involving Boris Johnson have shown that ministers cannot expect to be able to lie to us and expect us to accept it. We need the facts.

And if Theresa May can’t provide the answers, it won’t be one of her ministers who’ll need to resign.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/11/08/priti-patel-resigns-resigns-doesnt-theresa-may-have-the-guts-to-sack-anyone/

And Patel’s trip to Israel is just one secretive lobbying trip, paid by some very shady people, of many.

It’s time this government was forced out, and some real transparency put in place.

Tory Anti-Feminism and The Descent of the Manosphere

August 13, 2016

Mike’s put up a number of excellent articles this week, so many that it’s quite a choice deciding which one to reblog and comment on first. But this one struck my eye, as it coincided with a series of videos I’ve been watching on YouTube recently.

Tory MP Philip Davies and the Justice For Men and Boys Party, Vs. Corbyn and the Labour Party

Mike yesterday put up a piece asking which party – Labour or the Conservatives – was the most in favour of gender equality. He raised the question because the Guardian had found footage of the Tory MP Philip Davies speaking at a meeting of the Justice for Men and Boys Party, which intends to compete against the Tories in 20 marginal Tory constituencies. In his speech, he accused feminists of only supporting equality when it suits them, and of trying to give women advantage over men. He also contrasted the campaign to put more women on company boards with a ‘deafening silence’ over men being given custody of their children after the break up of their marriages, and entering traditionally female occupations, such as midwives.

Mike contrasted his comments with those of Jeremy Corbyn, who also talked about adopting policies to increase gender-equality, ending the system that saw certain jobs as suitable only for men or women, and making the pay gap between men and women narrower. Owen Smith, to give him credit, has also talked about appointing equal numbers of men and women to the cabinet.

The Groan’s report also described how Davies appeared amongst bloggers, who described Malala Yousufzai as worse than Osama bin Laden, and published articles like ’13 Reasons Women Lie about Rape’.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/12/labour-or-the-conservatives-which-of-them-best-supports-sex-equality/

Blogger Kevin Logan on the Lunacy of the Manosphere

There’s a series of very good videos against some of the denizens of the Men’s Rights movement by Kevin Logan on his YouTube channel, entitled, The Descent of the Manosphere. I haven’t linked to any here, because as far as I’m concerned, they’re all equally good. I’ve also got another reason in that some of the people he discusses have such a bitter hatred of women and such repulsive attitudes to domestic abuse and rape that they are genuinely frightening. I really am not trying to be condescending or imply that women aren’t as tough as men, but I’m also aware of the severe trauma inflicted on the women subjected to rape and domestic abuse. I can imagine that some women would be extremely upset just listening to these idiots mouth their views, and I’d rather not put anyone through that.

Logan’s an atheist, and some of the misogynists he criticises are those that have appeared in the on-line atheist community claiming that their highly reactionary opinions are based on reason and logic. This is odd, because very many of the organised atheists on the Net and elsewhere are Carl Sagan-y Humanist types, with progressive views on race, sexual equality and social justice. There was discussion by one young woman in the Skeptics’ community a year or so ago about starting an ‘Atheism Plus’ movement. The plus here represented social and political activism. Some of their hatred for organised religion derives or is aimed at some of the very reactionary American religious figures, like the Televangelists Jerry Falwell, and Jimmy Swaggert, and the right-wing political broadcast Rush Limbaugh. These guys are so right-wing I’m surprised they haven’t fallen off. I don’t support atheism, but I do support the concern for progressive politics of many of the movement’s members.

Roosh V’s Rape Advocacy

And with many of the people – there are women amongst them, God knows why! – I don’t think you have to be particularly interested in feminism to despise them, just a decent human being. Some of the people Logan has attacked include Roosh V, who’s published a series of books advising men on how to seduce women. By force, if necessary. He writes books describing his sexploits with titles like Bang Ukraine. Reggie Yeates did a programme on him for one of the BBC satellite/cable channels, and was really unimpressed. Leafing through that volume, he said it’s not a book he’d want his younger brother to read. He pointed out Roosh V has not been accused or convicted of rape, but he describes forcing himself upon women, who haven’t given their consent in his book. He also advocates encouraging women to be more careful about avoiding rape, by making it legal in certain circumstances. Yeah, he’s that repugnant.

A lot of them seem to blame rape victims for their assault, by claiming that they went out dressed too provocatively, or weren’t sufficiently careful about making sure they weren’t vulnerable. Like not getting drunk on tequilas, and then going up to a strange man’s room she’d met with him. Now I know women, who have been very careful not to get drunk, because of the fear of being assaulted. A good argument against getting drunk in public for anyone, regardless of sex, is that it will leave you vulnerable. But that does not even remotely make the rape the woman’s fault.

Sexual Resentment

Sexual resentment also features a lot in these people’s attitudes towards women. You can hear a number of them, like Davis Aurini, bitterly denouncing modern women for their perceived promiscuity, until they decide that the fun has to stop, and they have to settle down with a reliable provider. The attitude is that they are Mr Nice Guy, but all the women ignore them instead to go after bad boys. And when the fun there stops as middle age hits them, they want to find a man they can marry and exploit for his money. It’s a nasty attitude, expressed in very vulgar terms.

Racism and Nazism

It isn’t surprising that many of them also have deeply unpleasant attitudes on other issues, like race, the environment, socialism and so on. Many of them are outright racists or racial supremacists, like The Golden One, an expatriate Swede. This guy makes the claim that the Second World War was started because Hitler wanted to break away from the international banking system, and that only 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust. This, as any fule kno, is complete twaddle. The Second World War broke out because Hitler invaded Poland. Despite his rants about the Judeo-Bolshevik international banking conspiracy – surely an oxymoron if ever there was one – Adolf had nothing against American Jewish bankers like the Rothschilds when they gave him money. And they did fund the Reich, even when it was murdering the Jewish peoples of Eastern Europe. Also the Nazis very definitely killed 6 million Jews, and 5 1/2 million gentiles, mostly Slavs, in the concentration camps. Aurini seems to hold similar views.

Libertarian Anti-Socialism

There’s also a considerable amount of Libertarian anti-Socialist ranting, by people claiming to be defending freedom. Except when low paid workers call a strike. One of the Manosphere bloggers Logan takes down does a piece complaining about a strike by employees of MacDonald’s in his local town, moving about the crowd of picketers while sneering at them.

Feminists Do Care about Men

They also have a bitter hatred of particular bloggers and celebrities, like Anita Sarkeesian, who was at the centre of the ‘Gamergate’ row over sexism in computer games. There’s also a lot of ranting against Rebecca Watson, the former actress who portrayed Hermione in the Harry Potter films. She’s now a feminist activist. There’s one Manosphere blogger – I’ve forgotten quite who – who attacks her and feminists generally for ignoring similar issues for men, such as rape, domestic violence and sexism. Logan shows in each case that this simply isn’t true. For example, it’s due to feminist pressure that the figures for rapes against men are now being recorded and released for the first time. And he shows a clip of Watson at the ‘He for She’ conference talking about doing more to help male victims of domestic violence, and confronting sexism against men. He also provides a link to an internet petition to criminalise a particular form of male rape as well, which is also not yet illegal under British law.

Logan’s a witty blogger, and his videos are very funny. They feature interruptions and asides from his cat, who speaks with a French accent, and from an otter, who speaks with the kind of western American ‘Howdy, y’all!’ accent that you used only to hear from Slim Pickens. If you look at his videos, be warned: there’s a lot of very strong language, including the ‘C’ word, which many find extremely offensive. Another blogger I recommend on this issue is Abaddon5. He’s also an atheist and former Satanist, and there’s a lot of obscenity in his language. But what he says about the MRAs is cool. But be warned: the people they talk about are really disgusting. There’s been petitions, if I recall correctly, against Roosh V and another bloke, who has similar views, by women, who were concerned that they are really dangerous. I signed them, because I think they’re right. Roosh V’s apparent attitude that women are to be used for his sexual pleasure, and his complete indifference to the matter of consent, in my opinion make him a real danger to women.

The MRAs ultimately hanker for a 19th century-style America, where a women’s place was in the home, and proles and people of colour knew their place and were properly deferential to their social superiors. And all this is important, as despite the Tories’ claim to be pro-feminist with the election of Theresa May, there is a profound anti-feminist aspect to the Conservative party. I put up a piece a few weeks ago about a couple of pamphlets I found in one of the charity bookshops in Cheltenham written against the women’s movement, and published by the right-wing thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs. One of them even had the title Liberating Modern Women… from Feminism. The Tories’ policies have hit women the worst, as most women are employed in low-paying jobs in the service sectors, such as carers, or shop assistants and so on. When Theresa May talks about equality, it seems to mean getting more jobs for middle class, well-heeled women like herself, and not those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Anti-Feminist Pamphlets from Tory Free Market Thinktank

July 23, 2016

feminism pamphlets

The pamphlets in question. Picture courtesy CJ.

This will annoy nearly every woman and also a very large number of men. Looking round one of the charity bookshops in Cheltenham yesterday with a friend, I found a whole load of pamphlets from the Institute of Economic Affairs. They’re a right-wing, free market thinktank connected with the Tory party. I think they were also trying to promote themselves as non-party political when Tony Blair was in power, as I think he was also very sympathetic to their message. Put simply, their pro-privatisation, anti-welfare, anti-poor – one of the pamphlet’s was Alexis de Tocqueville’s Pauperism, anti-Socialist – another was Von Hayek’s Socialism and the Intellectuals. And anti-feminist. Two of the pamphlets were anti-feminist screeds, intended to encourage women to forget any notions of equality, independence and a career, and return to their traditional roles as wives and mothers.

The two pamphlets were entitled Liberating Modern Women…From Feminism and Equal Opportunities – A Feminist Fallacy. They were collections of essays on individual subjects within the overall theme of rebutting feminism. The contributors seemed to be an equal number of men and women. Among the policies they recommended were measures to preserve the family from break up and end ‘no fault’ divorces. They claimed that men and women pursue different goals because of innate biological differences. And rather than being a patriarchal institution, the family was actually a matriarchy. They also attacked women working, because it meant that the household economy was now based on two people having an income, whereas before it was only the husband’s wage that was important. And, almost inevitably, there was an attack on single mothers. Left-wing welfare policies were attacked for taking them out of the jobs market and placing them into ‘welfare dependency’.

My friend decided to buy them to see how extreme, shocking and bonkers they actually were. Though he insisted that I tell the woman on the desk when paying for them that we we’re buying them because we agreed with them, which raised a smile from her. While walking round town afterwards he said he would have felt less embarrassed holding these pamphlets if he’d had something less offensive to put them in, to disguise the fact that he had them. Like one of the porno mags. I didn’t recognise most of the contributors to the pamphlets, but one name stood out: Mary Kenny. She had been a journalist for the Guardian or Observer, but moved to the Torygraph. My friend was also shocked, as the Institute of Economic Affairs has been on Channel 4 News several times. It’s one of the organisations they’ve gone to for ‘balance’ discussing particular issues. My friend’s point is that they’re policies are so extreme, they really aren’t providing any kind of reasoned balance at all, just more far-right opinion.

There’s an attitude amongst some Republicans in America that feminism really is a terrible Marxist plot to destroy Western civilisation, despite the fact that it existed before Marxism, and its campaigns for votes for women and equal opportunities cross party-political boundaries. Despite the institute’s arguments, there really isn’t one of their views that isn’t vulnerable to disproof. For example, it’s true that men and women tend to perform different jobs, and have different personal goals and attitudes. But it’s very debatable how far this is due to biological differences. A few years ago, back in the 1990s there was a lot of interest and noise about supposed sex differences in the organisation of the brain. Men’s and women’s brains were made differently, and this was why men were better at maths and parking cars, and women were better at language and communication, but couldn’t read maps. Since then, the situation has reversed slightly. One female neuroscientist, Cordelia – , wrote a book a few years ago arguing that any psychological differences and intellectual aptitudes that differed between the sexes weren’t due to physical differences in the brain. With the exception of individuals at the extreme ends of the scale – very ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ brains, brains are just brains, and you can’t tell their former owner’s sex simply by looking at them.

As for feminism itself, it’s probably fair to say that many women do feel caught between their careers and their families, and would like more time to spend raising or attending to their children. But their entry into the workforce, and pursuing jobs, hobbies and interests previously reserved for men are the product of profound needs and desires on their behalf. It isn’t a case that they have been somehow brainwashed or indoctrinated by some kind of feminist ‘false consciousness’. For example, you can hear from older women how they felt when they were young, when they wanted to play with boy’s toys, like train or construction sets, like Meccano, but were forbidden by their parents. Or wanted to try their hand at ‘boy’s’ subjects at school, like woodwork. Or join in with boy’s games like footie or rugby. This doesn’t mean that all women wanted to do all of the above, only that a sizable number did want to do some of those, and felt frustrated at the social conventions that forbade them to. When the feminists in the 1960s argued that women had a right to do traditionally male jobs and pursuits, they were articulating the desires of very many women. They weren’t just abstract theorists speaking only for themselves.

As for the statement that the entry of women into the workforce has made family finances more difficult, because mortgages are now based on a double income, that’s also very open to query. It might be that the change to women working has had an effect, but I’ve also seen the argument that women had to go out to work, because the income from the husband’s wages alone wasn’t enough to pay the bills.

As for the family being a ‘matriarchal’ institution, the status of women has changed over time. But in the Middle Ages, women were basically their husband’s chattels. And in the West, women didn’t automatically have a right to hold their property independently of their husbands until the Married Women’s Property Act in the late 19th century. One of the early feminist tracts from 19th century Germany was a polemic attacking the way women’s property automatically became their husband’s on marriage.

I’m alarmed by the break down of the traditional family, rising divorces and absent fathers. I always have been, ever since we did ‘relationships’ as part of the RE course at school, when the news was full of it. But part of the problem isn’t the ease of divorce, although it became more difficult and expensive when Blair was in power. It’s the fact that many people do find themselves trapped in unhappy relationships. Some idea how much of a problem this was can be seen in some of the jokes about how awful marriage was and quarrelling spouses. At a far more serious level, you can also see it in accounts of men, who walked out on their families, and took up bigamous marriages elsewhere in the days when divorce was difficult and all but impossible unless you were very wealthy.

The two pamphlets were published a little time ago. One dated from 1992 – twenty-four years ago -, and the other from 2005, about eleven. But they represent an attitude that’s still very present in the Conservatives, and especially in right-wing newspapers like the Daily Heil. A week ago the Tories elected Theresa May as their leader, and will no doubt be presenting themselves as the ‘pro-woman’ party. This shows the other side to them, the one that’s beyond and underneath Cameron’s rhetoric of flexible-working hours, and the Tories’ embrace of female leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

IEA Book on Privatising the Education System

June 28, 2016

Privatising Education Book

The Profit Motive in Education: Continuing the Revolution, James B. Stanfield, ed. (London: The Institute of Economic Affairs 2012).

I’ve been meaning to some research and reading on the government’s privatisation of the education service, as shown in Thicky Nicky Morgan’s policy of converting all state schools into academies. I found the above book, published by the IEA, a right-wing think tank, in one of the charity secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. This book is a whole-hearted endorsement of the promotion of private, for-profit education, both in Britain, Sweden and the US. The blurb states

The UK government – in common with the governments of many Western countries – is in the midst of implementing policies to reform education. However, the government has, as a matter of principle, decided that profit-making schools cannot provide state-funded education even if they would lead to substantial improvements in quality.

This monograph makes the case for widespread acceptance of the profit motive in education. It does so not by presenting statistics that demonstrate that profit-making organisations could drive up quality – there is already a substantial literature on this. Instead, the authors show how profit-making organisations could create an entirely new dynamic of entrepreneurship and innovation. As well as improving quality and reducing costs within existing models, such an approach could lead to the development of completely new ways of providing education.

The authors of this monograph have a range of international experience. Many of them have run profit-making schools in countries more accepting of the profit motive than the UK, such as Sweden. Others have struggled against the odds to participate in education reform programmes in the UK. Overall, this collection makes and important contribution to the international debate about education reform.

Basically, this is a book to encourage the privatisation of the education system, as shown in the contents and various chapters.

Chapter 1, the introduction, by James B. Stanfield, has the section, ‘Questioning the Anti-Profit Mentality’; 2, by Steven Horvitz, is entitled ‘Profit is about learning, not just motivation’; Toby Young’s chapter, 3, is about ‘Setting up a free school’, and so on, from contributors in America and Sweden. The final chapter, by Tom Vander Ark, is entitled ‘Private capital, for-profit enterprises and public education’. This has individual sections on ‘New openings for private capital’, ‘The for-profit advantage’, and ‘Combining philanthropy and profit-seeking investment’.

This is by and for the people, who want to privatise our schools and charge us all money for sending our children there. One of the chapters speaks glowing about the voucher scheme, to allow parents to opt-out of state education, and spend the money that would have been spent by the state on private education for their sprogs instead.

I don’t take any of their guff about the supposed advantages of for-profit private education seriously. Buddyhell, over at Guy Debord’s Cat, did an excellent article on how the introduction of Neoliberalism, including Milton Friedman’s wretched vouchers, had trashed the Chilean educational system, leading to massive inequalities and demonstrations by students. See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-chilean-equality-protests/
He has also served up more article taking down Toby Young, one of the more visible and offensive of the Tories, who keep on turning up in the media. Mike over at Vox Political has also put up very many articles, showing that free schools and privately run academies perform worse than schools run by the LEA. One of the chapters in this book is on budget fee-paying schools in the US. They would have to be. A friend of mine told me that in the heyday of British private education just before the War, but private schools were on very tight budgets just a few steps away from bankruptcy. If they took on more than a handful of non-fee paying pupils, they’d go under.

Or is this just Eton’s excuse for only taking one, non-paying pupil, in order to qualify as a charity and so get public money?

The book’s only value is as a guide to the people, who want to privatise the British educational system, and why they believe in it. And the Institute of Economic Affairs unfortunately not only influences the Tory right, but also the nominal Left. I’ve got a feeling the Blairites were in contact with them and had them as their advisors.

This is the ideology and the people behind it, who want to sell of Britain’s schools. And if we really do value education in this country, for the benefits it brings in itself, and not as income stream for public-schooled self-styled entrepreneurs – they have to be stopped.

Blair and the Corporate Penetration of New Labour

January 29, 2015

I also found this very revealing remark about Tony Blair and his very right-wing conception of the what the Labour party should be in Lobster 45, in an article on Demos by William Clark. Demos is the ostensibly left-wing thinktank, that actually aims to extend the power and influence of big business in the Labour party. One of its members is Lord Stevenson, formerly the chairman of Express newspapers, if I recall correctly. He described in the article as a friend of Peter Mandelson, and was supposedly recruited by Blair in 1996. In a 1998 interview with Sunday Times, he states that Blair

… always wanted to make Labour into an alternative party of business. There were some big businessmen who were always pro-Labour: Lord Hollick and Chris Haskins for instance. Blair wanted to meet the others, so I organised evening where he could meet friends of mine. People running FTSE companies … Blair has involved businessmen to a huge extent … In fact he has almost delegated power to them. I think there is a legitimate question about the extent to which that is actually right.

He was also chairman of the recruitment company Manpower, which ran Working Links, the welfare-to-work company.

Among the other members of Demos was Graham Mather, a director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who declared that he wanted ‘to get government out of providing schools and hospitals, cut taxes and give vouchers to the poor. He was also a member of the Institute of Directors, where he stated that he wanted ‘the advance of markets into government itself’. According to the article, he saw himself as part of a ‘priesthood of believers in the market’ pushing for libertarian right ideology against the ‘threat … from socialism’.

The connections between Blair’s New Labour, Stevenson, Graham Mather, and many others like them probably explains why so many of Labour’s front bench don’t attack the government and its policies with the venom they deserve. They don’t press their point home, even when the Coalition present open goals, because essentially they stand for pretty much the same thing.

IEA Neoliberal Think Tank at UKIP Conference

May 2, 2014

NigelFarage

UKIP is an anomaly, in that most of its grass-roots supporters are left-wing – almost as left as Labour party supporters – while its policies are extreme Right-wing Neoliberal. Jess pointed out that Mark Littlewood, the director of the Neoliberal think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, addressed this year’s UKIP party conference, according to the anti-Fascist magazine, Searchlight. Littlewood was particularly concerned at the scale of state spending, which he strongly urged should be cut.

“Mark Littlewood, director general of the free-market think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, complained that welfare including pensions in the UK would cost £220 billion in 2014. “We are in an overtaxing, overspending, over regulating state,” he said.
“UKIP goes for victory in 2014:”

The Searchlight article is at http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/ukip-goes-for-victory-in-2014.

As with many such think tanks, it’s been claimed that the IEA are somehow not political as they are at least formally independent of political parties. This does not alter the fact that they are a Neoliberal organisation pressing for the adoption of extreme Right-wing policies, such as the virtual destruction of the welfare state and more privatisation and deregulation. Again, Jess provides further information on this. This is a list of the think tank’s publication from Wikipedia, making it very clear where this organisation’s political views lie:

“Green, David, Benefit Dependency: How Welfare Undermines Independence, IEA, 1998
Green, David, An End to Welfare Rights: The Rediscovery of Independence, IEA, 1999
Green, David and Casper, Laura, Delay, Denial and Dilution, IEA, 1999
Green, David, Stakeholder Health Insurance, Civitas, 2000
Green, David, ‘The Neo-Liberal Perspective’ in The Student’s Companion to Social Policy (2nd ed, Blackwell, 2003).
Green, David, Grove, Emma and Martin, Nadia, Crime and Civil Society: Can we become a more law-abiding people?, Civitas, 2005
Green, David, We’re (Nearly) all Victims Now: how political correctness is undermining our liberal culture, Civitas, 2006
Green, David, Individualists Who Co-operate: Education and welfare reform befitting a free people, Civitas, 2009
Green, David, Prosperity With Principles: Some Policies For Economic Growth, Civitas, 2010″
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_George_Green

Or John A Lincoln “The Restrictive Society’, IEA , 1967.

And in stark contrast to the views of many UKIP members against Workfare, the IEA are very staunch supporters of this form of modern forced labour. This from their policy statement, published in 2010:

Key (summarised) parts are a p.5
“Introducing a ‘workfare’ system
The minimum number of working hours required to qualify for in-work benefits should be raised, but this must not be pursued in isolation. If so, it would only push many tax credit recipients from part-time employment into worklessness. A necessary companion reform is the attachment of work requirements to the receipt of out-of-work benefits, following the model tested in the US state of Wisconsin. Under this ‘workfare’ system, the daily life of benefit recipients is not that different from the daily life of their working peers, which would both remove the stigma from recipients, and encourage them to look for full-time employment in the regular labour market straight away.

Abolishing winter fuel payments and free bus passes
Special age-contingent benefits, cash and kind, should be merged into one single payment. The level of assistance payment is either sufficiently high to cover the cost of items like winter fuel, bus travel, eye tests etc, or it is not. If the former, top-up benefits for special purposes are unnecessary; if the latter, the most obvious solution is to raise the level of the assistance payment itself. In neither case is there a convincing rationale for adding layer upon layer of additional transfers

Freeing labour and housing markets
Welfare reform would be much more effective if accompanied by a liberalisation of the labour market and the land-use planning system. This would enable an increase in the demand for labour, and make housing easily affordable at every point of the income distribution.”
http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/transforming-welfare-incentives-localisation-and-non-discrimination-web-public

My thanks to Jess for digging this information out. She says of the last link, ‘Health Warning; Also an extremely right wing site.’

I’ve no doubt that the IEA are trying to influence all political parties, including Labour. Nevertheless, it doesn’t alter the fact that they are an extreme Right-wing organisation with policies that will hurt the working class.

Searchlight on UKIP and IEA Think Tank Recommendations to Cut Welfare Even Further

April 30, 2014

Jess has also posted this comment, reporting Searchlight’s coverage of UKIP’s party conference, at which the leader of the Institute of Economic Affairs, recommended further attacks on state welfare spending:

‘I should have picked this up earlier, but will persist because I know it will be of general interest;

It’s from a report in Searchlight on the 2014 ukip conference;

“Mark Littlewood, director general of the free-market think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, complained that welfare including pensions in the UK would cost £220 billion in 2014. “We are in an overtaxing, overspending, over regulating state,” he said.
“UKIP goes for victory in 2014:” http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/ukip-goes-for-victory-in-2014:

Searchlight is the anti-Fascist magazine that exposes the activities of the Far Right in Britain. The article reports UKIP’s declared policy of banning former BNP members from joining the party, as well as their condemnations of racism, sectarianism and other forms of bigotry. However, the magazine also lists various members and speakers at the conference, who were members of the extreme-Right Bruges Group. It also notes that Neil Hamilton, the disgraced former Tory MP, who is now one of the leaders of the party, during his political career was also a member of the anti-immigration Monday Club, and spoke to the Italian Social Movement in the 1970s. The Italian Social Movement, or Missimmi, was the Italian Neo-Fascist organisation, found by former members of Mussolini’s armed forces.