Friday, 30 September 2016

Beatle songs in an economics article!! Message is clear.

Not often do we see an attempt to write a serious article on economics, with Beatle song titles hidden in the text (How to fix the gaping hole in Britain`s finances,19.09.16). Larry Elliott`s comment, that the "summer of love in 1967 included a song by the Beatles called Fixing a Hole", was the clue, and there duly followed multiple mentions of the title-song from the group`s second film, "Help", the track from Abbey Road, "Because", and the last track from their second album,"Money"!
   It won`t be long before a Guardian writer admits something simple can be done to bring about the end of many of the problems of the British economy in a day. In the life of this parliament, the taxman can be called upon to find out what goes on in business finances, and then act. Naturally he would make them pay billions more, because at the moment their profits are for no one but the shareholders.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Fighting "burning injustice" the May way

How typical of a giant financial consultant, with a far from satisfactory record in social responsibility, to see the solution to the slow progress being made in reducing the gender pay gap, as getting more "girls studying Stem subjects" (Gender pay gap will take half a century to close, says study, 24/09/16). Deloitte`s idea to push females towards jobs where the pay gap is smaller, and the government`s requirement from next April "for bigger employers to publish pay gap details", ignore the fundamental problem of pay which is far too low for female-dominated jobs like caring and cleaning, and the ridiculously unfair gaps in starting salaries in professions such as health and education.
 If May really wants to fight "burning injustice", as she so publicly declared back in July, she should stop pussy-footing around with proposals that are little more than tried-and-failed, naming and shaming policies. Legislation is clearly needed to force employers to pay men and women the same pay for the same work. Anything less, I`m afraid, reveals that her Downing Street pledges are only fit for the Tories` "rhetoric file", along with their determination to end tax avoidance and evasion, and to reduce inequality.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

May`s appalling refugee message

Anywhere but Britain, or anywhere near Britain, is May`s refugee message to the world, and the whole nation should be thoroughly ashamed. People fleeing their home countries "should seek asylum in the first safe country reached", our compassionate, Conservative prime minister told the UN refugee summit, yet this disgraceful example of passing the buck receives scant media attention in Britain; do we really think we are contributing enough to possibly the world`s greatest refugee crisis ever? (Morning Star,22/09/16)
    But there is worse; May`s "humanitarian" policy also includes encouraging Somalis to return home to a country where thousands of al-Shabab terrorists are based, and which is under severe threat of famine, with an estimated five million people already suffering because of acute food shortages. Disasters in the Mediterranean show how desperate such people are to leave their home countries, where bombimgs, executions and torture are common; the report on Eritrea by the UN Human Rights council concluded the government there was committing "gross human-rights violations"!
    May would defend her policy by stating it was in line with the Tories` 2015 manifesto commitment of spending 0.7% of gross national income on international development, but for anyone with an ounce of decency, her refugee proposals are simply callous and inhumane.


Friday, 23 September 2016

"Theresa May" to the tune of Rod Stewart`s "Maggie May"

Theresa May: Music; Stewart; Lyrics; Evans
Wake up, Theresa. You know that I`ve got lots to say to you.
Your claims to be a "compassionate Tory" don`t ring true.
You keep blathering on, about helping everyone
But Theresa, we don`t believe you any more.
You want to privatise the NHS,
Social mobility? You couldn`t care less.
Your Downing Street lies are what really hurt.
The Murdoch press, when it`s on your case, supports your deeds.
Yet you window dress, couldn`t care less about corporate greed.
Think your hero`s Disraeli,
Who might have passed laws daily,
But Theresa, that PM didn`t change a thing!
You force doctors to resist,
With teachers next on your list,
You`ll shrink the state, and that`s a crime we can do without.
All we needed was a state to hate that laissez-faire,
But you clearly are its lover, and mother, how you love to see tax avoidance grow.
All you did was name n` shame,
And list all the companies to blame.
Oh Theresa, make them pay the living wage.
You went on holiday,
Leaving Boris in charge, totes amaze!.
You must be mad. It`s "Have I got News" for you!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Attacks on Corbyn`s leadership acts of desperation

Ken Loach rightly says that the right wing of the Labour Party is determined to "keep control at any cost", which explains their recent tactics (Morning Star,17/09/16). Attacking Corbyn`s left-wing policies as too radical, making the party unelectable, became unsustainable when polls revealed widespread popularity of these policies; the fact that Corbyn`s opponent in the leadershio contest has adopted all of his domestic policies is testament to the idiocy of the tactic in the first place.
Having failed to remove Corbyn from the leadership ballot, there was nothing left for them but to launch an offensive against his supposed lack of "strong" leadership qualities, without, of course, any agreement in the country whatsoever, as to what such qualities are. Cameron demonstrated his strength with the decision to attack the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, whilst reducing the tax burden of the rich!  May appears to think that imitating Thatcher at her most evil shows leadership!
    Miliband also gets off lightly, despite the fact that his leadership qualities excluded  the ability to veto such crass ideas as the pink mini-bus, and the "Ed Stone". Then there`s Brown and his failure to hold a winnable early general election, Blair and war, and Kinnock, one of Corbyn`s most outspoken critics, who decided to lose the 1992 election single-handedly at the Sheffield rally.
   Attacking Corbyn for lacking the necessary leadership qualities demonstrates how desperate the right-wingers are!


Monday, 19 September 2016

Lack of TUC coverage

As the Guardian has frequently attributed the UK`s growing inequality problems, in part, to the decine in importance of trade unions, endorsed May`s sudden support for industrial co-determination, and even acknowledged the role played by "tiny unions such as the admirably scrappy Independent Workers` Union" in prompting HMRC into taking action against rogue employers, its less than adequate coverage of the TUC conference appears perverse (The gig economy isn`t as groovy as it sounds but it must be made fair,14/09/16). Admittedly, ninety or so words were writen about the vote on workers wearing high heels, but nothing appeared on the same day`s debates on racism, blacklisting, the Tories` disgraceful Trade Union Act, education and the loss of 10,000 firefighters` jobs,
     If workers are to be encouraged to join unions, if employers are to be punished, and if this government is to tackle inequality, reporting on the annual unions` conference is surely worthy of inclusion, especially in a left-leaning newspaper like the Guardian. There was, after all, sufficient space to devote three quarters of a page to Rupert Murdoch`s "devastation at marriage breakup", half a page to a film about Jackie Kennedy, and almost a whole page to a television programme, about baking, moving channels (Bake Off presenters "refuse to go with the dough" to Channel 4,14.09.16).


Sunday, 18 September 2016

May`s teachers failed her

Andrew Rawnsley is deluding himself with his view  that his so-called "multi-environment" education gives him a "bit of insight into how the protagonists" about grammar schools are thinking (The psychology of Mrs May and her grammar school crusade,11/09/16). Having never attended, or taught in, a non-selective secondary comprehensive, he will have never experienced schools where pupils of all abilities are given the opportunity to maximise their potential, and where the teaching staff are committed to the cause of raising standards for all pupils.
     The skill of being able to evaluate evidence, and reach unbiased, valid conclusions is one which most educationalists, employers and parents value highly, but clearly, Theresa May`s grammar schools teachers failed with her on this one; sadly, it looks as though those same teachers did indeed make the prime minister "the woman she is today", as she says, because she obviously doesn`t appreciate how specialist evidence must never be ignored.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Of course Postman Pat was happy

With the concept of a worker being happy clearly so distant from our times, which are characterised by falling real wages, zero-hour contracts, and pension funds depleted by greedy company owners and shareholders, it`s little wonder Lawrence Scott has difficulties comprehending Postman Pat`s contentment (Why was Postman Pat so happy?9th September,2016). 
 It must not be forgotten that Pat will have felt none of the insecurity associated with impending privatisation and the quest for greater "efficiency", and, whilst climate change had reached Greendale, the news that "there is no such thing as society" clearly had not. A mid-round tea break was always on offer at Thompson Ground, repairs would always be attended to by Ted Glen, and summers would always be marked, not only  by Pat`s bowling exploits for Greendale`s cricket team, but by the generosity of Mrs Hubbard with her home-made rhubarb wine. His son Julian was destined for the non-selective community comprehensive, where teacher shortages were unheard of, as property prices had not yet been inflated by silly City money, and teacher salaries had not been held down year after year by austerity-obsessed governments. There  was no threat of closure of the post office in Pencaster`s high street, let alone the one run by Mrs Goggins in Greendale.

       It`s difficult to imagine a children`s book about the life of a public servant,  today, becoming popular; can anyone see children or parents settling down to a quiet night, after stories abounding with strikes, obscene bonuses, exploitative private landlords, profit-at-all-costs replacing principle, and a government dominated by a laissez-faire approach

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

May`s easy ride,changing definitions,powerhouses and UK`s secret files

Thursday`s Leader column pointed out how May`s government has enjoyed "a relatively easy start" and has a "comfortable 41%-27% lead over Labour" (The prime minister has made the call that will shape her leadership, 01.09.16). Perhaps this would not have been the case had the media made more of the Tories` "claim that ministers had assessed Saudi Arabia was not in breach of international humanitarian law" to justify their sales of arms for use in Yemen, and then, the day before parliament`s summer recess, admitted no such assessment had taken place, yet there had been no "attempt to deceive" (UK in denial over Saudis arms sales being used in Yemen, claims Oxfam, 23/08/16). An unbiased press would have lambasted the government for lying to its people.
     We are frequently informed how this government will get "tough" on irresponsible capitalism, but far less so, if at all, about the the biggest Tory donor in the second quarter of 2016 being a certain Gerardo Lopez Fojaca. He is naturally, based in Luxembourg, so that his capital gains tax is 0%; he is the CEO of a company with links to Russian banks sanctioned by the EU and US, and he owns companies named in the Panama Papers.

   Giving £20m of taxpayers` money to help a firm provide decent railway services when its profits are £100m, is equally squalid. If the British people were given the facts, opinion polls would not be so depressing, and even Labour MPs might realise change is possible. 

Paul Mason`s article on the entry requirements for Britain`s investment banks reminded me of the Barclays` then CEO, Antony Jenkins, back in February, 2014, saying how payment of, what the majority of us view as "obscene", bonuses was the only way to "attract the best people"(G2,Fancy a job in finance? 06/09/16). Stephen Hester over at RBS had made the same point two years earlier.
    It seems it`s not only the shoe colour which changes crossing the "demographic faultline", that is White Kennett Street; definition of the most simple of words clearly undergoes serious re-interpretation too!

I cannot believe John Crace omitted this from his "new lexicon" (G2, Brick truthers, "facts" and ultrashambles, 07/09/16).
Northern Powerhouse (n)
A political wheeze dreamt up by George Osborne weeks before the 2015 general election, A promise that the Tories would spend billions on ultra-fast railways to boost the north of England`s economy, after five years of decimating government grants to northern councils. With opinion polls pointing, at best, to the Tories sharing power in a coalition, it was a pledge, Osborne believed, which would be dropped at the earliest opportunity.

Ian Cobain`s excellent "long read" highlighted Britain`s secret and "undeclared" wars, brutalities committed by our troops obeying orders such as the need to "show a ruthless disregard for civilians", and the many examples revealing profit to be a far more important determinant of foreign policy than principle (Britain`s secret wars,08/09/16).
  Sadly, such revelations are presumably merely the tip of this historical nightmare; as the Guardian has reported in the past, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has repeatedly failed to obey the thirty year rule, with the result that an archive containing 1.2 million files going back in British history as far as the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Crimean War in 1856, exists under lock and key, unavailable to the prying eyes of historians (Academics consider legal action to force Foreign Office to release public records,13/01/14). Such manipulation of history is disgraceful, and all MPs should be urged to do their utmost to get those files released. Until they are, students of our history will only be studying the establishment`s biased view of our past, and the involvement of our soldiers in unreported wars, like the current one in Yemen, will continue, as will the duplicitous behaviour of government ministers. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Guardian Review letter on Attlee

What a pleasant change to read an article about Clement Attlee, albeit a review of the recent biography by John Bew, which mentioned the Labour PM`s modesty and lack of charisma, without including the ubiquitous, and completely unfunny, "joke" from Churchill, that he had "plenty to be modest about" (Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee, reviewed by Chris Mullins, 03/09/16).
  Mullins does mention the fact that he faced "almost incessant criticism from his own party", including "four attempts to force him out of the leadership". What he does omit, however, is that seven weeks prior to Attlee`s famous 1945 landslide election victory, which heralded a government providing the welfare state, nationalisation of key industries, and the NHS, the Labour party chairman, Laski, sent the leader a letter stating that he should consider resigning, as his leadership was a "grave handicap to the hopes of victory"!


Friday, 9 September 2016

Proof: May does not mean what she says

Is it not rather surprising that your political editor appears to believe that Theresa May "defies the trend" of politicians "saying one thing and doing another" (Politics,2nd September,2016)? If she really "means what she says", as Eaton clearly believes, she will already be planning to put into action her declaration at Downing Street, that when it comes to taking "big calls", she will "think not of the powerful", nor listen to the "mighty". Strange how one of her first acts was, in fellow-Tory Sarah Wollaston`s words, to "put the interests of the advertising industry ahead of the interests of children", thereby ripping up the anti-obesity strategy! Her support for grammar schools means that the "talents" of 75% children will take them to a secondary modern; so much for a government that "works not for the privileged few, but for every one"!
     On the penultimate day of the last parliamentary session, May`s government issued a statement admitting that no assessment of Saudi Arabia`s use of British-bought arms in Yemen had taken place, despite insisting it had earlier in the year. The biggest Tory donor in the second quarter of 2016 was a certain Gerardo Lopez Fojaca, based in Luxembourg, so that his capital gains tax is 0%; he is the CEO of a company with links to Russian banks sanctioned by the EU and US, and he owns companies named in the Panama Papers. Presumably, Eaton believes, not only that May is serious in her claims about attacking tax avoidance, but also that she will create the "northern powerhouse", despite Tories repeatedly decimating the grants to the north`s councils?
  Of course, the Labour MPs should be making these points, instead of committing hari-kari over leadership preferences, but it would help if so-called "left-leaning" political correspondents were not so gullible. The evidence so far is clear; May does not "mean what she says"!


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Today interview with Jeremy Hunt, as it sadly never happened

I had a dream about the Today programme:

John Humphrys: Welcome Health Secretary. Isn`t it your job to oversee, and protect, the health of the people?
Jeremy Hunt; Of course, and I feel proud and privileged to hold the position.
JH: So why have you deliberately put people`s health at risk by forcing on over-worked and over-stressed junior doctors a new contract?
Hunt: Now look, John, you and I both know that..
JH: You are constantly claiming that you want a "seven day health service", but are unwilling to put in the extra essential funds; the five day service is under huge financial pressure already, so why don`t you admit that there is another motive for this?
Hunt: Now look, John, as you know perfectly well, our government has pledged an extra £10bn for the Department of Health`s budget, and that..
JH: What I know is that the real figures are that, by 2020-21, health funding will only have gone up by £4.5bn, a paltry amount, given the urgency of the situation. Furthermore, rather than increasing spending, you have already made, as yet, secret plans for cuts to essential services and units across the country.
Hunt: Now look, you and I..
JH: We know that a seven day service is in the Conservative manifesto, but so what? In the introduction Cameron stated that the people will "always be able to rely on our cherished National Health Service", and that`s the important point, isn`t it?
Hunt: The truth is, John, that..
JH: This government is deliberately creating a crisis situation, when it, or you in particular, could easily stop the strike by postponing the new imposed contract. You don`t want to do that because, by creating doubt in the people`s minds about the NHS`s sustainability, you can then proceed with more privatisation.
Hunt: The country cannot afford to..
JH: Rubbish! Of course it can. Fair taxes on the rich would create billions, and ,,
Hunt: Oh golly, is that the time?

Told you it was a dream!

Letter on Tory promises on NHS and n/powerhouses

The news that two mayoral candidates have accused the prime minister "of preparing to abandon the government`s much-vaunted northern powerhouse policy" is hardly surprising, but it does suggest that Labour actually believed the Tories` promise (Morning Star,02.09.16). Their accusation should be that it was never a serious idea in the first place, but a last minute wheeze, devised by Osborne, to win some votes before the 2015 election; at that time no-one expected an outright Tory win, least of all the then chancellor, so such pledges could easily be forgotten in a coalition government. Everyone should have realised the Tories investing in the north of England was a non-starter, especially after five years of making draconian cuts to northern councils` budgets.
 The same applies to the NHS, and the Tories promising a "seven day health service"; for them it was a no-lose situation. Election defeat or coalition would mean the idea could be dropped; victory, on the other hand, could lead to the situation we have today. Jeremy Hunt would enforce new contracts on over-worked and over-stressed junior doctors, leading to inevitable strikes, so that he could claim more privatisation of the NHS was essential. A seven day service, but with the same funding for the current five day one, is an impossibility, and Labour shoud be shouting it from the rooftops!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Unpublished letter criticising biased article on Cameron

A less biased analysis of Cameron`s leadership would almost certainly include mention of his austerity policies, with, at least once, a description of his decision to hold an EU referendum as "arrogant" (A fatal insouciance,26th August,2016). The whole Brexit calamity he brought on himself, not merely the initial go-ahead, but the very nature of the debate. Sandbrook`s verdict that posterity will "not remember him at all" ignores both the millions of lives Cameron damaged with the most callous austerity measures seen in modern times, and also the fact that his governments` legislation  was based on false premises.
        Financial institutions did not need to change their practices, or be forced to endure external regulation, because the whole economic crisis had been caused by Labour`s profligacy; the next generation should not be faced with the unpaid debts of this one; only by shrinking the state to unprecedented levels could the books be balanced; a wholesale reform of the assessment system was the only way for education standards to rise. More recently, we were expected to believe that the Tories were intending to spend billions on a "northern powerhouse", even though government grants to northern councils had been halved! Aided by the tabloid press and the Tory propaganda machine, the British public was, to put it simply, conned.
      With the political-truth bar set so low, is it any wonder that, not only did Johnson and fellow Brexiteers fuel their campaign with outrageous lies, but Remain`s retaliation was also based on a complete disregard for evidence and facts.
   Cameron will be remembered for more than his "Brexit bungle", provided, of course, the historians are a little less selective with their evidence than Mr Sandbrook.