Posts Tagged ‘Tax’

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/

Petition from Richard Burgon for Windfall Tax on Energy Companies

September 4, 2022

I got the email about this petition on Friday from left-wing wing, socialist Labour politico Richard Burgon. They’re aiming to get the number of signatures up to 50,000. I’ve signed it already, but am putting it up here in case other people want to sign it and haven’t already done so.

‘Dear David

A quick message to say that in just a few days over 35,000 people have signed my petition calling for the new Prime Minister to hike the Windfall Tax on oil and gas profits – not our bills. 

I’ll be presenting this to the new Prime Minister in the House of Commons when Parliament returns next week. 

Thank you to everyone who has signed it. Can you help get it to 50,000?

Sign and share the petition to help us reach 50,000

My petition calls for the Windfall Tax to be at least doubled so that oil and gas giants don’t make a single penny in excess profits. This would raise many billions to fund crucial support to help people through this crisis.

I hope, like me, you agree that oil and gas giants shouldn’t be able to exploit a crisis to make excess-profits on the backs of higher bills for ordinary people? Shouldn’t this wealth be used instead to lower people’s energy bills?

If you agree then sign and share the petition here.

We need bold action to prevent millions being thrown into a social catastrophe through soaring bills. As the petition says this must include energy firms being brought into public ownership, freezes to energy prices and the rolling-out of a mass programme of home insulation.

Going after the eye-watering profits of North Sea oil and gas companies is also key to lowering the energy bills for millions of people.  Record gas and oil profits are a major driver of higher energy bills.  So add your name to the petition. 

Protest against the energy price hikes!

As well as in parliament, we are going to need action in every community against this cost of living crisis.  Enough is Enough is organising a day of action in October and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a National Demonstration in November. 

In solidarity

Richard Burgon MP

PS: It only takes 30 seconds to add YOUR name to the petition I will be presenting in Parliament. Sign it here

Forget Tweedlesunak and Tweedletruss, it’s politicians like Burgon who should be the next prime minister.

And the proposed demonstration against the cost of living crisis in November looks very promising!

Why Did British Public Opinion Turn Against the Empire?

August 10, 2022

The British empire and its history is once again the topic of intense controversy with claims that its responsible for racism, the continuing poverty and lack of development of Commonwealth nations and calls for the decolonisation of British museums and the educational curriculum. On the internet news page just this morning is a report that Tom Daley has claimed that homophobia is a legacy of the British empire. He has a point, as when the British government was reforming the Jamaican legal code in the late 19th century, one of the clauses they inserted criminalised homosexuality.,

In fact this is just the latest wave of controversy and debate over the empire and its legacy. There were similar debates in the ’90s and in the early years of this century. And the right regularly laments popular hostility to British imperialism. For right-wing commenters like Niall Ferguson and the Black American Conservative economist Thomas Sowell, British imperialism also had positive benefits in spreading democracy, property rights, properly administered law and modern technology and industrial organisation around the world. These are fair points, and it must be said that neither of these two writers ignore the fact that terrible atrocities were committed under British imperialism either. Sowell states that the enforced labour imposed on indigenous Africans was bitterly resented and that casualties among African porters could be extremely high.

But I got the impression that at the level of the Heil, there’s a nostalgia for the empire as something deeply integral to British identity and that hostility or indifference to it counts as a serious lack of patriotism.

But what did turn popular British opinion against the empire, after generations when official attitudes, education and the popular media held it up as something of which Britons should be immensely proud, as extolled in music hall songs, holidays like Empire Day and books like The Baby Patriot’s ABC, looked through a few years ago by one of the Dimblebys on a history programme a few years ago.

T.O. Lloyd in his academic history book, Empire to Welfare State, connects it to a general feeling of self hatred in the early 1970s, directed not just against the empire, but also against businessmen and politicians:

”Further to the left, opinion was even less tolerant; when Heath in 1973 referred to some exploits of adroit businessmen in avoiding tax as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’, the phase was taken up and repeated as though he had intended it to apply to the whole of capitalism, which was certainly not what he meant.

‘Perhaps it was surprising that his remark attracted so much attention, for it was not a period in which politicians received much respect. Allowing for the demands of caricature, a good deal of the public mood was caught by the cartoons of Gerald Scarfe, who drew in a style of brilliant distortion which made it impossible to speak well of anyone. The hatred of all men holding authority that was to be seen in his work enabled him to hold up a mirror to his times, and the current of self hatred that ran so close to the surface also matched an important part of his readers’ feelings. Politicians were blamed for not bringing peace, prosperity, and happiness, even though they probably had at this time less power – because of the weakness of the British economy and the relative decline in Britain’s international position – to bring peace and prosperity than they had had earlier in the century; blaming them for this did no good, and made people happier only in the shortest of short runs.

‘A civil was in Nigeria illustrated a good many features of British life, including a hostility to the British Empire which might have made sense while the struggle for colonial freedom was going on but, after decolonization had taken place so quickly and so amicably, felt rather as though people needed something to hate.’ (pp. 420-1).

The Conservative academic historian, Jeremy Black, laments that the positive aspects of British imperialism has been lost in his book The British Empire: A History and a Debate (Farnham: Ashgate 2015):

‘Thus, the multi-faceted nature of the British imperial past and its impact has been largely lost. This was a multi-faceted nature that contributed to the pluralistic character of the empire. Instead, a politics of rejection ensures that the imperial past serves for themes and images as part of an empowerment through real, remembered, or, sometimes, constructed grievance. This approach provides not only the recovery of terrible episodes, but also ready reflexes of anger and newsworthy copy, as with the harsh treatment of rebels, rebel sympathisers , and innocent bystanders in the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, an issue that took on new energy as demands for compensation were fuelled by revelations of harsh British policy from 2011’. (p. 235).

He also states that there’s a feeling in Britain that the empire, and now the Commonwealth, are largely irrelevant:

‘Similarly, there has been a significant change in tone and content in the discussion of the imperial past in Britain. A sense of irrelevance was captured in the Al Stewart song ‘On the Border’ (1976).

‘On my wall the colours of the map are running

From Africa the winds they talk of changes of coming

In the islands where I grew up

Noting seems the same

It’s just the patterns that remain

An empty shell.’

For most of the public, the Commonwealth has followed the empire into irrelevance. the patriotic glow that accompanied and followed the Falklands War in 1982, a war fought to regain a part of the empire inhabited by settlers of British descent, was essentially nationalistic, not imperial. This glow was not matched for the most recent, and very different, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These have led to a marked disinclination for further expeditionary warfare’. (pp. 421-2).

In fact the whole of the last chapter of Black’s book is about changing attitudes to the empire and the imperial past, which Black feels has been distorted. The British empire is seen through the lens of atrocities, although its rule was less harsh than the Germans or Italians. In India the view is coloured by the Amritsar massacre and ignores the long periods of peace imposed by British rule in India. He also notes that the cultural and international dominance of America has also affected British ideas of exceptionalism, distinctiveness and pride, and that interest in America has superseded interest in the other countries of the former empire.

Attitudes to the empire have also changed as Britain has become more multicultural., and states that ‘increasingly multicultural Britain sees myriad tensions and alliance in which place, ethnicity, religion, class and other factors both class and coexist. This is not an easy background for a positive depiction of the imperial past’ (p. 239). He also mentions the Parekh Report of the Commission on the Future Multi-Ethnic Britain, which ‘pressed for a sense of heritage adapted to the views of recent immigrants. This aspect of the report’ he writes, ‘very much attracted comment. At times, the consequences were somewhat fanciful and there was disproportionate emphasis both on a multi-ethnic legacy and on a positive account of it’. (p. 239). Hence the concern to rename monuments and streets connected with the imperial past, as well as making museums and other parts of the heritage sector more accessible to Black and Asians visitors and representative of their experience.

I wonder how far this lack of interest in the Commonwealth goes, at least in the immediate present following the Commonwealth games. There’s talk on the Beeb and elsewhere that it has inspired a new interest and optimism about it. And my guess is that much of popular hostility to the empire probably comes from the sympathy from parts of the British public for the various independence movements and horror at the brutality with which the government attempted to suppress some of them,, like the Mau Mau in Kenya. But it also seems to me that a powerful influence has also been the psychological link between its dissolution and general British decline, and its replacement in British popular consciousness by America. And Black and Asian immigration has also played a role. I’ve a very strong impression that some anti-imperial sentiment comes from the battles against real racism in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the Fascist organisations that founded the National Front in the 1960s was the League of Empire Loyalists.

This popular critique on British imperialism was a part of the ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ strip in 2000AD. This was about a future in which Earth had become the centre of a brutally racist, genocidal galactic empire ruled by a quasi-religious order, the Terminators. They, and their leader, Torquemada, were based on the writer’s own experience as a pupil of an abusive teacher at a Roman Catholic school. The Terminators wore armour, and the title of their leader, grand master, recalls the crusading orders like the Knights Templars in the Middle Ages. One of the stories mentions a book, published by the Terminators to justify their cleansing of the galaxy’s aliens, Our Empire Story. Which is the title of a real book that glamorised the British empire. Elsewhere the strip described Torquemada as ‘the supreme Fascist’ and there were explicit comparisons and links between him, Hitler, extreme right-wing Tory politicos like Enoch Powell, and US generals responsible for the atrocities against the Amerindians. It’s a good question whether strips like ‘Nemesis’ shape public opinion or simply follow it. I think they may well do a bit of both.

But it seems to me that, rather than being a recent phenomenon, a popular hostility to the British empire has been around since the 1970s and that recent, radical attacks on imperial history and its legacy are in many cases simply an extension of this, rather than anything completely new.

Sajid Javid Now Scared of Labour

July 11, 2022

All the current candidates for Tory leader are, in the humble opinion of Yours Truly, absolutely terrifying. They’re all saying they’re going to cut taxation, with one – I can’t remember who – saying he intends to cut corporation tax down to its very lowest level, 15 per cent. As the news programme which interviewed this specimen pointed out, cutting tax means cutting expenditure. But obviously, this particularly Tory candidate didn’t say what he was going to cut expenditure on, and to my knowledge neither has the rest of them. However, I should think it’s fairly obvious: it’s going to be whatever remains of the welfare state, plus the privatisation of the NHS. And additionally, it doesn’t matter whether the new incumbent on No. 10 is Black or Asian, he or she will still seek to restrict immigration. And while they’re election may not mean that the Tory party as a whole isn’t racist, they’re still going to ignore the racism in the Tory base.

Mind you, as the great commenters on this blog have pointed out, Labour’s front bench really isn’t as diverse as the Tories. I can think of a number of reasons for this, from racism in the Labour leadership – Starmer and his coterie have significantly failed to punish those responsible for the racial harassment and bullying of Black and Asian MPs – to fear that some of the best qualified Labour MPs are particularly vulnerable to Tory attacks and smears. Diane Abbott, despite the personal attacks, really isn’t stupid, and having been elected in the 1980s she is now a veteran MP. But the Tories and their base particularly loathe her because of her tough stance on White racism and her left-wing politics. Which means she’s one of the Labour politicos who’s most subject to press vilification and online abuse. Someone said that she receives half of the misogynistic messages sent to women MPs. I can honestly believe it. And because of her close relationship to Corbyn and her left-wing views, she clearly isn’t going to get a cabinet post under Starmer. But I don’t doubt that there are other Black MPs, who could be given a cabinet post without the dangers of attack and smears Abbott would run.

But there are some hopeful signs. I just caught a headline on a GB News video that appears to show that at least one of the Tory hopefuls is rattled. Sajid Javid has apparently said that ‘the danger is that too many people believe Labour is fit for government.’ And if he’s saying it, you can bet that there are others thinking it. I just wish Starmer could show his party that he’s fit to run it and govern the country.

Commoners Choir – ‘These Are the Bastards’

May 5, 2022

And now, as the late, sorely missed computer-generated video jockey Max Headroom said, ‘More – of the same’. Here’s another deeply satirical musical attack on the Tories and their backers in industry, the media and the aristocratic landlords from Commoners Choir and their channel on YouTube.

It’s presented as a school lesson, showing us the bastards who underfund everything, rarely work, don’t pay tax, print lies, fiddle accounts, and frame our laws. The bastards making money responsible for starting wars, play golf while damning the poor, privatising everything they can while going grouse shooting, and tell lies. The same people who botched the response to the Coronavirus, failed to prevent further deaths by going into lockdown as soon as possible, botched supplying the protective masks and equipment. The Tory and industrial elite that deliberately don’t employ enough staff and underpay those they do, curtail public rights of way, cut grants and condemn the sick. The aristos and toffs who use public school arithmetic to drag everything back to the 19th century and before. They are arms merchants, landowners, the proprietors of the news media, and the rich figures who hypocritically front appeals while enjoying obscene wealth themselves. It also has a go at beardie Branson for suing the NHS and then grovelling for the state to bail him out. It ends with the request that people remember what they learned today, with images of people demonstrating against the privatisation of the NHS and the message spoofing the government’s own warnings about the Coronavirus – ‘Stay alert> Stop the bastards> Save Lives.

It’s less music than an old-fashioned schoolroom chant accompanied with the images of the offenders themselves. They are too numerous to list, but obviously include Johnson, Cameron and co. as well as Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Margaret Thatcher and many, many more.

Cassetteboy Vs the Tories at the May Elections

May 5, 2022

Well, it’s the council elections today and that’s one of the reasons I’m putting up these left-wing, socialist and simply anti-Tory music videos and mash-ups. This one’s by Cassetteboy, and makes their views about the sheer vileness of the Conservatives very clear. It begins by stating that according to the polls, Johnson should be on the dole and the elections are a good way to give them rejection. It points out his and his party’s connection to Putin through Russian donors, has a dig at them for watching porn in the commons, before then going on to condemn them for rising energy costs. Ordinarily people freeze ’cause they can’t pay their energy bills, but the Tories keep their money safe in offshore accounts so they don’t pay tax and certainly aren’t going to tax BP and the rest of the oil companies for the massive profits they’re making. It talks about them scuttling off to Russia, and Priti Patel wanting to lock us all up if we demonstrate and send us to Rwanda. It concludes with Johnson stating openly that you shouldn’t vote for any of them, because they’re all the same.

Appearing in the video and having their words and speeches edited to create this indictment are Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and others.

A Small Family Sex Show in Bristol Cancelled Because of Petitions and Death Threats

April 26, 2022

As a Bristolian, I feel I have to add my fourpence worth about this controversy. One of the arenas of the culture war is over sex education in schools and especially sex education, with particular concern about the teaching or promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism. Parents and politicians are concerned about proper age-appropriate teaching of these subjects. The controversy seems to be particularly acute in America, where various, mostly right-leaning journos, activists and media pundits like Michael Walsh have criticised videos posted on TikTok of teachers coming out to young pupils and announcing that they’re gay, non-binary or trans. There have been instances where primary school children have been asked about which gender they identify with, as apart from their biological sex. One teacher proudly announced the ‘gender closet’ in which children can get changed into the clothing of the opposite sex when they want to keep it secret from their parents. There have been very sexually explicit books published for schools about gay and gender issues, containing the kind of imagery that once upon a time only used to be found in hard porn. And schools have also been told that, if a child trans, they should not inform his or her parents. As a result, there have been meetings of outraged parents confronting their local school boards in various towns and cities across the US. The Republican governor of Florida,, Ron de Santis, has just passed his so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act, which forbids the teaching of anything about sex and sexuality, including heterosexuality, from ages 5 – 9. The Disney corporation and various LGBTQ+ employees have been particularly incensed by it, and have tried to mobilise opposition against the bill. This was in conjunction with a leaked video showing some of its top brass saying that they want half of all their characters to come from ethnic minorities or the gay community. As a result, right-wing Republicans like Walsh are calling for an end to Disney’s autonomy in the state and its tax exemption. I have to say that this shows a somewhat skewed morality. As a massively profitable global enterprise, Disney should pay its fair whack of tax like the rest of us proles. And especially because conditions for its workers in China are so dire that they’ve had to install suicide nets in their factories to stop the wage slaves toiling over their merchandise from killing themselves.

The Tobacco Factory, one of Bristol’s many theatres, put its collective feet firmly into this mire of controversy last week when they announced they were hosting ‘A Small Family Sex Show’ by theatre company ThisEgg. The show was described as woke, Queer and feminist, ,and intended to teach children about sex, using personal experiences, covering sexual orientation, gender identity, boundaries and so on. The show was described as suitable for children of five upwards, and included a section where the performers were free to take their clothes to the extent they felt comfortable. This could be total nudity, or else the removal of bottoms but not underwear, or even just simply staying clothed. The content included teaching children about masturbation, touching as well as other, much more dubious and extreme practices. Quiet-voiced Benjamin Boyce, an American YouTuber who discusses topics like gender identity, went through the description of the show’s contents on their website. This also included various explicit drawings. It was a weird mixture of sex with information about theatre, such as pointing out that the areas to each side of the stage that are hidden from the audience are called the wings. It also promised to teach children about White privilege and supremacy. In the video introducing the show, it’s producers introduce themselves with their pronouns and a description of their race, complexion, hair colour and so on. They seem to have been White, and Boyce wondered why they thought such descriptions were necessary when everyone could see what they were like. But it was the sexual subjects they show intended to teach which naturally attracted Boyce’s astonishment and disapproval. Again and again he wondered aloud how it wasn’t grooming. And others wondered too, on both sides of the Atlantic, with many being very firmly convinced it was.

Karen Davis, a gender critical Black American YouTuber, covered it on her channel. She was concerned that it was aimed at a time when children were only just learning to differentiate between fiction and reality, and that you could not like people while still being civil to them. She was also concerned that it would break down barriers about sex between children and adults, barriers that children naturally have for very good reasons. She was concerned that it was teaching kids not to believe their own eyes and feelings about whether an adult presented a danger, and would so make them vulnerable to predators. Davis has very strong and uncompromising views on the trans issue and she goes further in her opposition than some other gender critical folks. But in this instance her views seem to be very well grounded. She frequently cites the medical and academic literature to support her opinions, which are also informed by her work as a special needs teacher for children. She has also previously worked in centres for people with mental health issues. She knows whereof she speaks. And one of her concerns was about the theatre companies name. ‘Egg’ apparently is trans slang for someone on the verge of being trans, who needs to be ‘hatched’. I wondered if the name wasn’t inspired by a cult BBC show about a group of graduates living in London called This Life, one of whose characters had the monicker ‘Egg’. The show claimed it had the support of one of the organisations charged with protecting children, but a glance at that organisation’s website – it might have been the NSPCC – showed that the show was in conflict with the organisation. This said on their website that one of the signs that a child was being abused or near to a child who was, was sexuality explicit talk.

There have been any number of people on YouTube in Britain and America tearing into the show. Meesh Makeida, a Black British mother, covered it in one of her videos and made it very plain that she definitely would not take her five year old to it. Karen Davis in her video about it compared it to the real, grubby sex shows for adults. Unfortunately, these have been about in my city. The city council voted a few months ago to shut down the, er, ‘gentlemen’s clubs’. And the tone of Park Street in Clifton went up when the strip clubs there closed down in the 1980s.

A large number of Bristol’s citizens also made their opposition to the show very plain. There was a petition against it, which garnered 38,000 signatures. There were also threats of death and violence against the theatre and ThisEgg. This resulted in the show’s cancellation. The producers have claimed that they were forced to pull the show due to the threats, and that these came from a small minority of extremists.

I don’t agree with making death threats, and sincerely hope that those sent did come from a small minority. But the 38,000 signatures on the petition definitely don’t come from a small number of people. I don’t know how many people were actually aware of the show’s existence – I haven’t seen it mentioned on the local news. But offhand I can’t think of anyone who would be happy at such a show being performed in front of children and especially not five year olds.

And grooming is a real and legitimate issue with this play. It appears to be informed by Queer Theory. This, in the view of scholars and critics like James Lindsay, explicitly wishes to break down the barriers between adults and children in matters of sexuality and sexual identity. It’s based on the theories of Foucault, a postmodern philosopher and paedophile. Foucault and other intellectuals tried to get the age of consent reduced to 12 or there about in France in the 1970s, and Foucault himself used to go to North Africa to take advantage of the prostituted boys. One of the issues here is that the gay rights movement in its early stages included many paedophiles and civil rights activists who mistakenly believed that it should be legalised. The gay movement in Britain began making headway when the gay organisations purged the paedophiles from their ranks and made it very plain that gay very definitely did not equal paedo. There are thus fears that the paedophiles are trying to come back in through Queer Theory and the kind of sex education that it produces.

Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, Big Train and the IT Crowd and a very firm opponent of the trans ideology, also discussed the play with American gender critical feminist Kara Dansky. I think Linners believed that ThisEgg were genuine in their concern that children received proper information about sex, just misguided. Dansky, on the other hand, suggested that the company really may have been deliberately grooming children. I hope not. They seemed sincere, but terribly, destructively wrong in my opinion.

When the news that the show was being staged a week ago, some of the commenters on various videos had a dig at Bristol. The city’s terribly ‘woke’, you see, and somehow it’s all the fault of the University. Well, certain parts of the city are very left-wing. People joke about the ‘People’s Republic of Stokes Croft’, for example. Other parts are more moderate or Conservative. And the various initiatives taken by Bristol University, such as lowering admissions for Black and Asian applicants in order to encourage more of them to apply don’t come from a long history of left-wing activism. They seem to be initiated in order to dispel criticism that the university is too elitist and White. But of course, there are left-wing lecturers there, just as there are Tories and others, who keep their political views quiet.

As for theatre in Bristol general, the city has a number of excellent venues. The Hippodrome tends to stage West End musicals like Cats, Return to the Forbidden Planet and even, every so often, the Rocky Horror Show. The Theatre Royal in King Street is one of the oldest in the country, and has produced many of this great nation’s leading thesps. It’s had everything from one man shows by Michael Bentine and John Mortimer, to performances of Into the West, from the film starring Ron Moody as a villain. It also staged more challenging performances about the Vietnam War and its legacy. Another theatre venue, Quaker’s Friars, has staged great plays, one of which was by one of the great 18th century French playwrights, as well as a production of the Hollywood classic Key Largo. And before it decided to put on A Small Family Sex Show, the Tobacco Factory had also put on several excellent plays, including puppet shows for children.

I think it’s excellent that the show has been cancelled, but I’m also acutely aware that children do need proper sex education. There was a time when it was not taught in school, and so children were really ignorant about their bodies, the changes of adolescence and reproduction. We should very definitely not go back there, whatever opposition there is to it by right-wingers like Peter Hitchens.

I’m also not entirely convinced that there’s been this controversy about it just when Bristol is facing a referendum over the elected mayor. At the moment it’s Marvin Rees for Labour. Now the mayor and city council generally have had nothing to do with the show, and no-one has said they have. But I’m afraid that the controversy over the play and the constant statements by the right about it being the product of the ‘woke’ left will lead some people to mistakenly connect it to Labour.

Bristol’s a great city, with great theatre. A Small Family Sex Show isn’t one of them, and shouldn’t have been booked.

Children do need proper sex education, given at suitable ages and using appropriate material. They cannot be left ignorant, but should not be exposed to material that is too explicit either. Especially when there is the danger that real abusers could use to approach children, no matter how well-intentioned the people behind such material are.

Richard Burgon’s Petition for a Wealth Tax Not National Insurance Increase

March 16, 2022

I’ve just had this email from left-wing Labour MP Richard Burgon for a tax on the superrich one per cent to be imposed instead of the Tories’ increase on National Insurance, which will affect the working class.

‘People are being hit by a cost-of-living emergency from soaring energy bills, high inflation, falling real-term wages and cuts to Universal Credit.

Yet next month the Tories are going to make this even worse by hiking National Insurance on ordinary working people.

I’ve launched a campaign to scrap this tax rise on working people and to replace it with a Wealth Tax on the richest 1%.

I’ve put down a parliamentary motion calling for this – already backed by over 60 MPs from 8 parties.

Next week I’ll be presenting a public petition in parliament calling for the Tories to scrap this National Insurance rise and replace it with a Wealth Tax.

Will you back my campaign by adding your name to the petition I am presenting in Parliament next week?

Sign the petition to tell the Tories: we want a Wealth Tax not a National Insurance rise

I’ve absolutely no problem with signing the petition. Since the election of Thatcher, the Tory party has given massive tax cuts to the rich, which has been offset by shifting the tax burden onto the working class. The proposed National Insurance tax hike is part of that policy. It’s time it was ended and the rich were made to pay their fair share.

We Own It Petition to Nationalise the Energy Companies

February 11, 2022

I got this email from the pro-NHS, pro-nationalisation organisation We Own It Wednesday night. It’s a petition appealing to the government to nationalise the energy companies as a response to the massive rise in electricity bills. The email runs

Our energy system is broken. 

Your energy bills are expected to go up by nearly £700 in April. While companies like BP are reporting eye watering profits of  £9.5 billion! 


But energy could work in public ownership for people and the planet – not profit. 

We are calling on Rishi Sunak as the chancellor and Kwasi Kwarteng as the minister for energy to end the chaos in our energy system and commit to bringing energy into public ownership by the 1st of April.

By signing our petition you can tell Rishi Sunak and Kwasi Kwarteng to bring energy into public ownership now.

SIGN THE PETITION

There are news stories everyday about the energy crisis we are facing. 

These are the solutions. 

1) Introduce a permanent windfall tax on oil and gas companies like Shell and BP, at the same rate as Norway

2) Stop wasting money bailing out failing energy supply giants – set up a publicly owned energy supplier instead

3) Bring the privatised monopolies of the National Grid and regional distribution into public ownership

4) Set up a new state-owned renewable energy company to help tackle climate crisis

Lots of voices are calling for a windfall tax and we agree!

But the government should go further.

This petition will highlight what should be done and help push for action on energy bills right now.

The deadline for this petition is the 1st of April when energy bills are expected to rise. 

Now is the time to push the debate as far as possible. Add your name and join the voices calling for a genuine fix for our broken energy system. 

I’LL ADD MY NAME

The eye watering profits of companies like BP are an outrage.

Since 2010 BP has handed out almost £200 billion pounds in profit to shareholders while right now 6 million households in the UK are facing fuel poverty.

It really doesn’t have to be like this.

In countries like Norway, oil and gas companies pay a corporation tax of 22% AND a special tax at the rate of 56% upwards! 

The Norwegian state owns Statkraft, the largest renewables generator in Europe. While Denmark owns 50% of Ørsted which is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power.

These are sensible, tried and tested solutions that we know can get to the root of the problem. 

You can join the thousands of others calling for urgent action instead of more government sticking plasters.

Sign and share our petition and tell Rishi Sunak and Kwarsi Kwarteng that now really is the time to bring energy into public ownership. 

I’LL SIGN

Thank you for your support with this campaign and let’s start the fight to bring these essential public assets back into our hands.

Solidarity’ 

I’ve signed it, as this is further proof that the Thatcherite privatisation of the utilities has been a massive failure. It hasn’t brought the investment Thatcher expected it would and has, as this email shows, led simply to massive profiteering. The energy companies also know they are extremely vulnerable to this criticism, as an executive from one of them was on TV the other day blustering about welcoming government regulation while fervently denying that the government could run industry. Anyone who believed that, he sneered, was stupid. If so then 50 per cent of the British population were stupid even under Thatcher, as the support for her privatisations never went above that level. And since then more people want to see the utilities renationalised. It was a central plank for Corbyn’s programme and remains extremely popular. Which is why the Blairites and the Tories could only combat it by smearing him as a Communist anti-Semite.

Thatcherism is zombie economics, a shuffling, putrefying corpse whose dead hand is holding Britain back and its people in poverty. It’s long past time it was consigned to the dustbin and reversed.

End privatisation; end energy poverty; renationalise the utilities!

The Magic Money Tree Exists for Private Healthcare But Not the NHS

January 18, 2022

A number of the great peeps who comment on my blog have said that the current fuss over Johnson and his wretched parties is a distraction, and I completely agree. His partying the nights away in 10 Downing Street while the rest of the nation had to obey the lockdown is insulting and shows a deep hypocrisy and disregard for the problems and situation of ordinary people. Especially those folks who were cruelly kept away from being with their loved ones, their relatives and friends, in their final moments. But there are far worse things being done by Johnson and his wretched cronies. Mike put up a list of them a few days, courtesy of one of the left-wing peeps on Twitter. One of them is the continuing privatisation of the NHS. A few days ago the government passed some measure to give private healthcare firms something like £127 million of public money to treat Covid. They will keep this regardless of whether they treat anyone or not.

Now contrast it with the state of the NHS, which is in crisis because of persistent government cuts and soaring bureaucracy and administration costs thanks to its piecemeal privatisation. The Tories have cut and kept cutting it for decades, all the while smarmily lying to the public that they’re just cutting unnecessary waste and making it more efficient. Or fiddling the statistics to try and show that they’re putting more money into it than the last Labour government. Or just simply lying, as Johnson did when he told the British nation that they were going to build 40 new hospitals. In fact the real numbers six, and those are only being refurbished. In fact an official report in 1979 said clearly that rising costs in the NHS could easily be met through taxation. And whatever else you can say about Blair, the lair and war criminal did keep the health service properly funded. And his government did have some success tackling poverty.

When it comes to funding public services and the welfare state, the Tories have this refrain ‘There’s no magic money tree’. Except there is, when it’s private enterprise or otherwise affects the superrich. Then suddenly millions can be found. It’s the same here. Money which should be spent on the NHS is given to private healthcare firms. If the same amount was given to the NHS under the same condition, the Tories would be choking with outrage and howling about how nationalisation causes waste and inefficiency and rants about the need to cut government expenditure. No doubt there would be gibe about ‘high spending Labour’. In fact the NHS even a few years ago gave excellent value for service. Government expenditure on it is actually lower than that of other nation’s healthcare systems, such as America’s, and the results were comparable or better. Which is why the Tories want to destroy it.

Private healthcare, compared to state provision, simply isn’t competitive. The point is made very well in Ray Tallis’ and Jacky Davis’ NHS – SOS. Private hospitals are smaller than NHS hospitals, the administrative costs are actually higher and to remain profitable they have to concentrate on treating people who are largely fit and well, which means ignoring the disabled or long-term sick. And it’s because they’re uncompetitive that the private healthcare firms like BUPA etc want a piece of that juicy NHS action, as well as funding from the government.

And that’s the real reason Johnson has given the money, with apparently no strings attached, to the private healthcare sector. It’s part of the Tories general plan to privatise the NHS completely and transform it into an American-style system funded by private health insurance. Oh yes, and something like a hundred Tory MPs also have connections to private healthcare companies, so there’s more than a little personal interest in it.

Johnson’s parties are a massive insult to the country, but the real injury is what they’re doing to the NHS and the welfare state. And it’s because of that Johnson and his wretch gang of profiteers should go.