Archive for the 'Labour' Category

29
Jun
12

Not popular, but important

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Last month I attended the 2012 young Labour conference. I spoke at the podium once, in favour of only one motion. This was the only motion (to my knowledge) which was voted down. But it was close…

69 members voted for the motion that “prisoners should have the right to vote”, with 71 voting against.This overly-simplistic motion is full of holes, I know. It’s also not massively important how a young labour conference votes (however much we kid ourselves), I know. It is the principle that needs to be carefully considered and we must realise that, however unpopular this may, as a matter of human rights, some prisoners should be given voting rights, for a number of reasons.

I don’t see this as merely a detached argument about rights that may or my not be fundamental in the case of prisoners who have been convicted of less serious crimes, but as a practical one regarding the rehabilitation of prisoners towards being citizens within a positive society.
If you are seeking to aid someone on the path to rehabilitation through education, training and substance cessation, there is a definite aim for this process. The aim is that a prisoner should enter the world at the end of their sentence and from that time on function as positive members of the societies they re-enter. I am not a vindictive, swivelled-eyed right winger who believes in punishment purely for the sake of it. Punishment should have a clear purpose and stopping prisoners re-offending should be one the main ones.

Another (and less popular) argument is that we should take the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. If I get comments on this post that the ECHR is a “foreign court” and should be ignored I will have to have a very very long lie down in a dark room. Britain and its European compatriots set up this court and the European Convention on Human Rights in order to further and protect Human Rights in the whole of wider Europe. After using the court as powerful tool in bringing other countries up to better standards, why should we be immune from its rulings when we are found to be wanting?

If I were to commit a crime and go into prison just as an election is called, why should I not be allowed to vote against a government who would plunge the country into a second recessional dip and cause myself and my family pain once I am figuratively purified by my rightful punishment and looking to give back to the community I have harmed.

It is clear that those who commit violent, disgusting or dishonesty crimes should be barred from voting and judges could also pay attention to this when sentencing those convicted, however we should not stop all prisoners in all circumstances from voting.

12
May
12

Just don’t spill your gin yet…..

I was very kindly asked by Harry to pen a few thoughts on the whole political field we find ourselves in at this moment in time. I was naturally delighted, and have done my best…

So then, the Queen’s Speech was lacklustre in a legislative manner and has been decried from all corners of the political sphere… This is nothing new. Don’t spill your gin just yet!

Despite this Coalition’s first Queen’s Speech just over 2 years ago to the day – having paved the way for the most vicious Thatcherite parliamentary session this country has had to put up for nearly a hundred years: this one was remarkably unambitious, even by their particularly low standards. It is thus no surprise to see that it had been widely panned across the entire media sphere: irrespective of ideology.

Perennial brown-noser Louise Mensch apart, the criticism of it was universal from left to right. The Daily Mail screamed in anger as to the missing plan for jobs and growth: ‘the I’ were rather polite in noting how it was just “lacklustre”, but its fine columnist Steve Richards then lambasted it as a “ragbag worthy of Blair”. Unlike Redblog’s otherwise fine guest poster Alex Hylan’s take on Blair, I am no New Labour apologist. Personally, they owe the nation, and our party, an apology, for by and large wasting 13 years of possibilities on transforming Britain.

Even as an avid republican, you almost felt sorry for ol’ Liz sat there in her big golden chair as she read out this most incredibly vacuous, hollow and pompous plan – as if she was somehow about to take the blame for it.

The critique of the whole sorry farce that I laughed at most came from all places – of the Economist’s front cover, (courtesy of avid Tory, Sunday Politics regular and George Osborne biographer Janan Ganesh). Dave is stood in hunting gear on the left side – blissfully unaware of the fire behind him. It was poetically captioned “Crisis? What crisis!?”  

Do not mistake this Queen’s speech as a veiled intent of moderation from the coalition’s powers that be; we’ve got more chance of finding Lord Lucan on Shergar than this. Frankly, I’d rather have the latter running the country!

With Labour comfortably clear in the polls, Jeremy Hunt’s head being demanded on a plate, the Leveson inquiry in full pelt, double-dip recession returning for the first time since the 1970s, unemployment being abhorrently high – you’d almost think that the Coalition would be desperate to recapture some of the initiative. After all, as incumbents they have the ultimate advantage of the system, and quasi-authority to boot. It’s yours to lose. Indeed, Britain hasn’t removed a first term government since Ted Heath picked a fight with the miners and lost!

Yet – seemingly: Nero & co are rather too comfortable fiddling whilst Rome burns, and no pathetic Kim Jong-il-esque, stunt in an Essex tractor factory will change that.  With Dave’s texts to Rebecca, (lol!), revealing that he’d long since recognised that the horse had bolted – you’d think that they would try to usher the wee creature back home. Rather: the door has been slammed shut, so should the horse ever wish to return – it wouldn’t get in!

Sympathisers with this current, intolerable mob may point to such fond, cuddly measures as more flexible post-natal parental leave. Indeed, this is admirable: but on its own – fundamentally spineless and pathetic.

Not only is it increasingly unlikely that either, (let alone both!), will have jobs thanks to austerity and ideological neo-liberal libertarian fantasies, but if this is the best a government can do in a year – then it is not worth the urine I wouldn’t release if they were on fire…

As members of the British public, we all ought to mourn this scandal. For our government are indifferent to our plight, and actively worsen it with outrageous fabricated links to the likes of Greece and Ireland. No wonder a rather large slab of Scotland would like to go its own way. Frankly – with Labour up to 43, (Yes – 43!), points clear of the rest of the rabble in the North: it seems a fair few of us would rather join them!

But if I were a Labour strategist – I’d be quietly smirking to myself. Incompetence always trumps whether or not a government is seen as fair or otherwise: but lazy incompetence – which is increasingly becoming the by-word for this Coalition government. Quite right too. The Tories’s own backbenchers increasingly despair, and the civil war at the 1922 Committee is beyond hilarious. A change of government is easier to sell to the public if they believe that the government have been sat on their hands for a large part of the 5 years.

Also, the less damage there is for any future Labour government to reverse – the better. We will have our hands rather full from removing all profit motives and vested interests from the NHS, and returning our public services to anything like acceptable in a civilised society. A jolly full plate you might say.

This all follows an absolutely excellent night for Labour at the local elections – with comfortably north of 800 council seat gains defying all daft targets and demands set on us by the unsympathetic outsiders in hopes that we would fall at the first hurdle. Quite rightly, when Ed M was busy touring the newly-gained councils of Exeter, Southampton & Harlow et al – he was pleased but not complacent. Need I mention William Hague and his baseball cap?

But there is extremely good reason to be optimistic, and nothing that this current coalition of the damned is set on doing, looks like coming close to reversing that. 2015 is a long way away to say the very least, but all lights in the distance look green.

I hate to mimic Neil Kinnock, but onwards to government comrades… Just make sure you don’t mess it up now Ed.

09
May
12

The Living Wage needs to be a central plank of Labour’s economic narrative- Darrell Goodliffe

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Labour needs a strong and coherent economic narrative which tells a story of a new economy, one built out of the ashes of austerity and the financial crash. Of course, it is not enough to string pretty words together, we must practically show how we will do this through eye-catching policies which encapsulate and embody the vision we want to put to the electorate. If you look at the French election, Francois Hollande did this well by pushing the 75% top-rate of tax on earnings over  1 million euros. This embodied his insistence that the rich shoulder the burden of rebuilding France’s shattered national economy.

Ed Miliband has already expressed the view that it is the toiling mass of people who are society’s real wealth creators and therefore they are the ones who should be most rewarded. Ed is correct in this point of view but he has yet to substantiate it with a policy that makes his point in a clear and unequivocal way. However, the living wage fits the bill perfectly, coupled with real controls on top incomes it would send a clear signal that Ed is prepared to back his fine words with equally as fine deeds.

We will be assailed with all the traditional arguments against, ‘it will lead to unemployment, it would be bad for business’, etc, etc. However, put lightly, these arguments are economic hokum. J K Galbraith deals with some of the arguments here in a US context:

Would prices go up? Some would. But rich people can afford it — and workers would have extra income to pay the higher prices, so most of them would come out ahead. Women in particular would benefit because they tend to work for lower wages. With more family income, some people would choose to retire, go back to school, or have children, making it easier for others who need jobs to find them. Working families would have more time for community life, including politics; Americans would start to reclaim the middle-class political organization that they once had. Because payroll- and income-tax revenues would rise, the federal deficit would come down. Social Security worries would fade.

Not only that, but households would be able to, slowly but surely be able to make headway into the personal debt mountain which blights our economy; here Ed will need to offer other support, like the extension of Debt Relief Orders and action against high prices (something he has already muted). However, a living wage would be a huge boost to struggling households and therefore to our flagging economy.

Up to this point, Ed has only mooted a ‘voluntary’ living wage (in return for which companies would receive tax incentives) however, this is pointless and misguided. If it is voluntary it would introduce two-tier wage system (with a clear division between companies that only offer minimum wage and those that offer a living wage)  which would run the risk of increasing rather than tackling social inequality. Also, the benefit to the state would be limited because it would be paying out money to the private sector in the form of tax breaks (as well as presumably footing the bill of increased public sector wages).

Simply raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage, which is what Galbraith advocates, therefore is more economically sensible and beneficial all round as opposed to a half-baked voluntary scheme. Ed needs to be brave and not fight shy of the ideologically motivated but economically illiterate opponents of a living wage; he needs to take them head-on and make the living wage a central plank of Labour’s narrative which espouses a bold and radical vision of a new economy created out of the ashes of the old.

Darrell is an ex-intern and Labour activist and blogger and a candidate for NEC.

26
Apr
12

Stealing a March on the Green Agenda – Guest Post, Alex Hylan

A friend recently told me how, now that the local elections are fast approaching, the Green Party have suddenly reawaken from their slumber and started leafleting him again. Presumably the Greens, like the flower, only blossom when the bees come out to play.

I’ve always found the Green Party quite curious because, like the Labour party, they identify with the centre-left and it’s messages of sustainability, investment and fairness, but yet seem occupied with attacking Labour in the many leaflets that, wastefully, tumble through letterboxes up and down Britain every election time.

But despite this I’ve always had a lot of sympathy with the party. I think they’ve got a really good message and I do worry that the politics of the 21st Century are becoming the politics of maintenance; an accusation that is frequently levelled at the three main parties. Whatever you think of the Green Party, you can’t say that they lack a compelling vision for the future.

The fact is that sooner or later our existing sources of energy are going to run out, and when this starts looming on the horizon it’s going to become increasingly economically viable to pursue green sources of energy. But these changes don’t just happen; their needs to be strong political leadership to make the brave decision to invest in these new technologies.

This is where the Labour party comes in, a party with a track record of striving towards a sustainable economy for the future, not just for now. With today’s figures showing our economy tumbling back in to recession it is clear that we are crying out for investment; to get people back in to work, to readdress the way we harness our energy and to build for the future. This could be the first step in building a new, high-tech green economy that will help to secure our future. It’s just a dream, but maybe one day soon we can stop burying our heads in the sands of Saudi Arabia and work to secure our own energy security. Sure it would cost money, but don’t tell me there’s no money when you’re able to give a tax cut to millionaires.

There has always been an ethical argument for the green agenda, but increasingly there’s an economic argument too. Why can’t Labour be the party that brings that change to the mainstream?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex is a 19 year old Labour party activist and member of Sheffield Labour Students; studying Politics & Sociology at the University of Sheffield.

06
Apr
12

Round up of the week!

This has been a more sedate and less insane week (partly due to the parliamentary recess) with the only real interest being in the London election campaigns, with a rather one-sided grilling on Newsnight and a radio interview which led to Boris Johnson screaming  at Ken Livingstone in a lift; calling him “a Fucking Liar”.

With the election stress escalating, how long is it before one of these candidates blows his top?

Thanks to the very talented @DocHackenbush for another great ‘photohack’!

HB

(hopefully we’ll actually write some posts on here in the coming week, uni-work permitting)

30
Mar
12

Round up of the Week 30/3/2012 with 2 Photohacks*!

It has been a week which has swung from the sublimely ridiculous to the abhorrently ridiculous.

We began the week with some fall out from the frustrating but unsurprising “Cash for Cameron” tory donation scandal.. This means we can have our first amazing “photohack*” from the venerable @DocHackenbush!

…after that, there isn’t much more we really need to say on that subject.

 

The fallout from the Budget got a really silly this week when this became the week twitter went #pastytax mad! It turns out there is a change in the budget that means heated snack items are now subject to a tax, which means both leading Tories were asked when they last ate a pasty.. the answer seems to be “errr do caviar aperitifs count?”

This meant Labour wasted no time in running to a pasty and tweeting pictures of them eating the cornish delicacies.. oh dear oh dear. With this and the Tory donors story, Cameron is panicking…

 

More bad news for the government involved Francis Maude pissing off firemen (fire officers?), worrying the public and entertaining the rest of us by suggesting we each keep a Jerry Can of petrol in our garage in case of a tanker-driver’s strike…

 

All in all pretty bad for the Government this week with labour being able to capitalise..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, however, this man became an MP again rather than an incredibly well qualified labour candidate..

 

 

 

A very strange week in politics, we’ll blog about the last piece of news more next week…

Have a more settled weekend, and thanks to @DocHackenbush for his Photohacks*!

 

 

HB

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*photohack is our new name for the Doc’s creations as cartoons don’t do them justice!

14
Feb
12

Guest Post – “You have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

Dr Éoin Clarke the Chair of the LabourLeft thinktank and has his own fantastic blog you can access here. This is another one of his recent posts that we found particularly inspiring.

“You have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

The words above were spoken by Winston Churchill in his first HoC speech when he accepted the role of Prime Minister in 1940. I think they sum up what each member of the public can do over the next 10 days to kill this NHS Bill. If everyone who opposes the Tory NHS Bill did half of what I lay out below, Lansley’s bill will fail. On the 22/02/12 Labour have secured a debate & vote on the Risk Register. We will fight and we will be right. See the 10 things you can do yo help below.

1. Pressure your closest MP to signing the EDM 2659 which calls for the publication of an NHS Risk Register. The Labour leadership have cleared all MPs to sign it (see here). This Register, if published, will help persuade Tory MPs to oppose the bill as its warnings play to their fears about the soaring costs as a result of the bill.

2. Email MPs who live in marginal seats to explain to them that 23 million oppose the NHS Bill (here) & if they don’t vote with Labour on 22/02/12 then we will contact their constituents every day to polling day in 2015 to highlight the damage the new bill causes to the delivery of healthcare in their seat. You can get their emails (here)

3. 27% of the UK voters do not understand the contents of the NHS bill. They do not know that their taxes will go to foreign private shareholders who will take over the running of parts of our NHS. Please just take out the time to educate your fellow ‘man’. It might be sufficient to simply post them the NHS song that communicates it well. You can see the song (here)

4. This Bill is a matter of trust in David Cameron. Thus far people have wrongly applied their pressure to Lansley. Henceforth, bring all your topline pressure, attacks and argument to bear upon the PM. He lied to voters. If it is made clear to Cameron that this bill will rest on his head, his desire for self preservation may get the better of him.

5. You can contact the House of Lords Peers who will be voting on the Bill this week. The Lords under the Salisbury Convention could feel justified in blocking this bill on the grounds that there is no mandate for it since it was omitted from Manifestos, and the coalition agreement is for want of a better word ‘bastardised’. Plea with the Lords to heed the cries of the voiceless, implore upon them the need to fulfil their moral duty. We have seen before that the Lords are prepared to take on this coalition. Contact the lords (here) & (here)

6. This is also a matter of corruption. Take a look at the funding Tories have received from private health companies including overseas ones. If you know lawyers, seek their advice on making formal complaints about the ethics of Tory healthcare funding. It is not important if your complaint succeeds, much more important is the stink it creates & the bad publicity that comes with it. Bloggers will help draw your attention to Tory corruption over the next 10 days to make this task easier for you.

7. Avoid other political distractions. The amount of tittle tattle I read daily from good UK socialists about the American election makes me sad, simply because in this dark hour it drains focus and energy from the goal at hand. The US election coverage will still be here in 10 days time. If you could put it to one side in your effort to fight this NHS bill, you will not regret it.

8. Single-mindedness will win the day. The Tories will try to distract and split the opponents of the bill by asking contingency questions. For example, “which bits are most unpalatable?”, or “how will we cope with the chaos if the bill fails”. Do not enter into dialogue on this basis. Our bottom line is that we want the bill defeated. Once we succeed, those considerations can follow afterwards. So, stay united on the main goal. We want the Bill halted.

9. Many of you have signed the NHS petition. It was actually the first petition I think I have ever signed on the government website. I thought it would be complicated but it takes about 15 seconds. You can ask others to sign the NHS petition from this link. If we get 100,000 votes we might be lucky that the Bill receives another day of debate in the House of Commons. But Sunny Hundal is right to advise that we place most focus on the Risk Register publication.

10. Most important of all, divide and conquer will help us beat this bill. Heap praise on the thirteen Lib Dem MPs who signed the EDM to publish the Risk Register, shower them with positive publicity. Say kind things about those who risk their career to block this bill. A lot of MPs secretly oppose this bill but are too scared to break ranks. If we in Labour reach out the hand of friendship to people who ordinarily would not be our allies then we can create the new alliances necessary to win this fight. Nobody likes to be disliked, least of all Lib Dems. Turning the vote into a popularity contest can sway MPs more than they would care to admit.

Let’s do this! Future generations will speak of the men & women who saved their NHS if you can stand with us this once, together, and defeat this Goliath of a Coalition. We have democracy & righteousness on our side, all that is left of us is to fight.