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Sunday, 27 November 2011

quick thoughts on wednesday's strike

it's said that pensions are so much better in the public sector than in the private sector and so they should be made worse.
how about let's have better pensions in the private sector? that should be answer.

all of those on the right saying that the deficit came about by spending today and pay on the never never tend to be those arguing against good public sector pensions. But insuffuicient private sector pensions is just saving up problems for the future. If people don't save for their pensions then the state will have to bail them out later and it'll be MY generation's problem. We need to get this sorted now rather than the current lot thinking it'll be someone else's problem when it hits the fan.

on the strikes - i think that changes to make pensions more affordable and more in line with people's life expectancy is right in and of itself. I'm not convinced this strike is needed, and will have to make an uninformed judgement about the conduct and negotiating of the government and the unions. won't hold my breath then

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The democratic deficit: The removal of democratically elected leaders and their replacement by technocrats

in Greece and Italy, this week has seen the removal of democratically elected leaders who have been replaced by unelected technocrats. To me there are issues around this, in no particular order:
Firstly – these governments are representative governments. There are the result of indirect democracy, not direct i.e. they are elected to represent those who elected them. Therefore, they should have the power to take even the most significant decisions without having to refer back to their electors.
Secondly: something as huge as what's been going on with regards to the austerity measures should have democratic backing. It might even get the people on side
Third: if they hadn't screwed up their economy in the first place they wouldn't be in this situation at all.
Fourthly: elections take time, decisions are needed now.
Fifthly: the needs of the financial markets and ratings agencies are being put above the democratic desires of the populations of these countries. But, at the end of the day the reason for this is that their economy is up the creek and they need to borrow money on someone else's terms.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ed Miliband's Conference Speech 2011

from this article here, i think that's properly brilliant.
He coverse the right topics and strikes the right tone. I'm worried about costs of living: energy and food prices, employment prospects and wages. He's covered all those, i'm impressed

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tacking established, vested intersts

Now people have finally started to question Murdoch's power. Now I hope that people start to tackle the power other institutions have, like finance and the city.
It's time that the elected government was truely in charge, and no politicians should be scared of following the truth, living in fear of revenge if they tackle some interests.





Friday, 15 July 2011

Rebekah Brooks

On the radio it's said that very few details are known about Rebekah Brooks' private life.
I wonder how many people private lives' she's exposed whilst keeping hers private





Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Giving Cameron the benefit of the doubt

I'm actually giving Cameron the benefit of the doubt.

It seems to me that he asked Coulson if there were any general issues he should be aware of, Coulson said no. I'd imagine Cameron asked specifically if there were any issues relating to phone hacking etc. I imagine Coulson said no.

Cameron saw a man who probably swore on his word that he had not been involved in wrong-doing but who had done the decent thing and resigned.

Cameron's background checks probably found no other faults, and so he was employed.

If the above scenario is anywhere near correct then I find no fault on Cameron's part, other than being trusting, which is no great fault.
In that case, Coulson comes off very badly.

If this was not the scenario then I think Cameron may have questions to answer





Friday, 8 July 2011

Tory questions past behaviour of Tom Baldwin

"A Conservative has attempted to highlight Ed Miliband's appointment of a former News International journalist as his director of strategy, claiming that Tom Baldwin had hired private investigators to hack into his bank account."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/08/tory-past-behaviour-tom-baldwin

Bad if true, and further sinking into the mud.

i wonder if Ashcroft is able to slip libel laws as he is taxes




Wednesday, 6 July 2011

More on phone hacking.

If this is true it's fair to say that some media organisations have too much power, they target people who oppose them. Very bad.

"The first thing News International did was try to have me removed from the committee," he claims.

"I realised then that these people were never going away. Something had clearly gone wrong with newspapers an...d somebody had to get to the truth.

"There weren't many MPs who were prepared to do that for fear of being targeted, so I decided I had to do it.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14043436






Saturday, 2 July 2011

supermarkets

raise prices or squeeze vested interests, or leave things as they are.
sadly, looks like things will stay the same
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/02/supermarkets-derail-bill-protect-suppliers

it's long been a problem that boring geeks like me have had an eye on, and there is talk of doing something.
what will come of it all? it looks like nothing is the most likely outcome.

it's possible that it will come down to a choice between raising prices or tackling vested interests.

raising prices could have the result of people being unable to afford food if the minimum standards are compulsory or a two-tier system developing of protected and unprotected food produce, which could well result in a race to the bottom and the top tier going under pressure from business which then outweighs pressure from the bleeding hearts






Thursday, 30 June 2011

Chav and ageing goths

To me, chav is a sub culture like goth or heavy metal rather than purely a class thing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0124nty

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A boost for the hard right of the party?

http://www.labourlist.org/a-boost-for-the-hard-right-of-the-party?utm_source=taomail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=113632+Is+Ed+a+slave+to+Labour%27s+hard+right%3F+%2F+Is+Miliband+a+shark%3F+%2F+Punishing+the+innocent+%28LL630%29&tmtid=113632-13888-13888-162-12-832-91650


i do't agree with the anti-right rhetoric, but i like some of the ideas.

the bad:
Ed Miliband is not - as some of his enemies would claim - on the left of the Labour party. He would, traditionally, have been seen as a fairly conventional old Labour right-winger. But for those who wanted a shift away from New Labour, it was crucial he defeated his brother in the leadership election, because David Miliband would have ideologically resisted pressure from below - no matter how strong - for a change in position. His team (who included people even more right-wing than he is) would have relished defining their man against the party and the wider labour movement.

the most representative members of Labour's electoral college: rank-and-file trade unionists.

In the speech, Ed Miliband put so-called "benefits cheats" in the same category as the bankers who nearly brought the entire global economy crashing into a 1930s-style Great Depression, and who caused a crisis which we are still stuck in after nearly four years


the good:
The government estimates that £1.5 billion a year is lost through welfare fraud, compared to £70 billion a year lost through tax evasion. The amount of benefits left unclaimed - "welfare evasion", if you will - is about ten times the amount lost through fraud.

There are 2.5 million unemployed people in Britain today, and another 1.5 million in part-time jobs who want full-time work. That's excluding those on incapacity benefit who the government wants to push into work. And yet there are only around 500,000 vacancies - and generally not where they are most needed. When Iain Duncan-Smith suggested the people of Merthyr - a Welsh town battered by deindustrialisation - get on the bus to find work in Cardiff, it was subsequently pointed out that there were 9 jobseekers for every 1 vacancy in the Welsh capital. As Ed Miliband himself highlighted in his response to the Budget earlier this year, there are 10 people chasing every 1 vacancy in over 130 constituencies.

Ed began Monday's speech with an anecdote about a man on incapacity benefit who, in his view, could work. I'm not sure about the wisdom of playing amateur doctor, but in any case, the anecdote misses the point. There are not enough jobs to go round, a statement we would all be wise to repeat again and again.

It is true that, as Iain Duncan Smith has admitted, Tory governments in the 1990s manipulated unemployment figures by encouraging those without work to be transferred to incapacity benefit. But, as research by Dr Christina Beatty and Professor Steve Fothergill has revealed, many incapacity benefit claimants are those who are least able to work in areas with the least amount of jobs. When there are large numbers of people competing for a small amount of work, those with ill health are least likely to get work: hence they concluded that "the UK's very high incapacity claimant numbers are an issue of jobs and of health."

And they are right. If you are scraping by in life, working hard in a job that you don't enjoy, and you think that there are those enjoying a higher standard of living at your expense - that will rile you more than anyone else. Right-wing politicians and journalists know this, and exploit it ruthlessly.

But it will backfire. The strategy will fuel prejudices that the Tories will be best placed to satisfy





Tuesday, 14 June 2011

David Lammy in brilliant shock

We believe that responsibility cuts both ways. Ed criticised the ‘take what you can' society. The alternative is a society of built on give and take - if you put in, then you can take out. Of course we protect the vulnerable, but everyone who can contribute should.


Full text:
Yesterday Ed Miliband gave his best speech yet as Labour leader. Not simply because it came after another round of tired, boring, irrelevant, repetitive, backward-looking carping about the Blair and Brown years. But because it was a speech of real substance, with the beginnings of an argument good enough to win the next election.

There is a fundamental difference between the Labour and Tory view of what true responsibility means. When we talk about responsibility we put the word ‘mutual' before it. Tories claim the moral high ground as eighteen millionaires in the cabinet wag the finger at the poor and slash services. Politics by the powerful for the powerful.

We beg to differ. We believe that responsibility cuts both ways. Ed criticised the ‘take what you can' society. The alternative is a society of built on give and take - if you put in, then you can take out. Of course we protect the vulnerable, but everyone who can contribute should. Labour voters are offended by the idea that anyone should be allowed to manipulate the benefits system. But we will also not stand for those who exploit their workers or customers in the market place or don't pay the taxes which are legitimately demanded of them. Politics by the mainstream majority, for the mainstream majority.

The Labour Party was born because the ruling class demonstrated no responsibility towards the workforce. Working people first came together to form trade unions because they believed that work should be safe and rewarding, not dangerous and exploitative.

The co-operative movement has always represented mutual responsibility in action, whether sharing the gains of a successful business among the workforce, or the sorrows of death with the cooperative funeral. It is a movement built on solidarity, one to another.

The welfare state was founded on the same principles of give and take. Beveridge's vision was founded on the idea of social insurance. We all put into the system. We are all protected during periods of ill-health, unemployment or in old age. Ed's speech Ed's speech tapped into these deep-rooted ideas in our tradition: it worked because it was Labour to the core.

These values matter as much today as they did in 1900 or 1945. People feel nervous that others are abusing the welfare state. Many are angry at greed, exploitation and excess in the market place. Follow the argument through and it could lead us to some big reforms.

It would mean a welfare system that is more helpful and more demanding. People would be guaranteed a job rather than thrown on the scrap heap, but also expected to take work when it was on offer. There would be a future jobs fund, in other words.

It would mean a more ethical position on how people make money. Just as exploiting workers is wrong, so too is exploiting customers. You shouldn't be able to get rich by preying on the vulnerable. So alongside policies for a living wage we would clamp down on loan sharks with a cap on interest rates.

The debate about tax would be different. We would rely more on taxing unearned wealth, and less on taxing the wages that people work for. Empty speculation, whether in the housing market or in the City, would be discouraged in favour of productive work and genuine enterprise. This is one reason why I favour a land tax. We are, after all, a party of labour - of those who want to work hard and contribute something to society.

Britain has a government acting deeply irresponsibly. Our first job is to oppose. But the price of criticism is a constructive alternative. Yesterday Ed demonstrated that we have one. More like this and come the next election the Tories will have a real fight on their hands.




What is Labour for?

To me it's all about equality, help for poor and badly off, social justice, aspiration, liberty, human rights, collectivism




Ed Miliband: even pandas need to pander

personally want Ed to do well. I really want him to do really well. It's a good point about whichever brother got in, people would be wishing for the other. I've been doing that myself, but thinking about it I'm less sure.
Ed Miliband can usually do a good job in substance, so long as he's not pandering to bad causes, and his presentation needs some work but he's young. but that's my whole problem with this love for the young in politics, they are still a work in progress.
anyway, i enjoy Michael White as i think he's fair and balanced so always worth a read.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/jun/07/ed-miliband-even-pandas-need-to-panda






Voters want tough responsibilities agenda, Ed Miliband told

I think that's very interesting. I also think there's a fair bit of scope for a lefty agenda in there.
things like employment protection regs coming down on the side of the workers through the more moderate and reasonable bits of the trade unions would definitely be something to consider, and if working people, "squeezed middle" or not, can see that these help them, they might support them.
Ed Miliband needs to put his analysis of immigration into a good strategic direction and some philosophy before the detail comes.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/08/voters-tough-agenda-ed-miliband

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The knives are out for Ed Miliband at the moment

I've been fairly critical of Ed Miliband's leadership of Labour, and I'm not the only one.

One bit from that article that resonates with me is "Nine months into his leadership, few in the party are clear about even the broad strategy".
That to me is a problem. It's not a policy issue, it's a 'broad strategy', a 'high level' thing as they say at my work.
Thing is, i want the lad to do well. i want him to be good. i want him to be the leader i voted for, even though i regretted voting for him over his brother before the result was announced, because i voted early.
i want him to do well, and it is a mixed picture. I'm interested in this Blue Labour idea, and one i think could work and take us forward as New Labour showed. I think we (Labour) have to appeal to people who may vote for us rather than talking to ourselves and having policies we think people should want rather than ones people do want.

For me, give the guy some more time.




Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Balls leaks

I really don't see why Brownites would leak against Balls unless it was just purely to bring him down a few pegs.

I can see why any number of people would want to get at Ed Balls, he's well and truely made that bed so he has to sleep in it, but why Brownites? He is, after all, the number 2 to Brown. Unless there's something there I don't know, which is very possible



Thursday, 9 June 2011

Brilliant analysis of Labour's election prospects

So good i've just put it word for word


http://www.labourlist.org/we-must-answer-the-question---or-we-lose?utm_source=taomail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=113525+Thanks+Rowan%2C+but+no+thanks+%2F+Should+Labour+back+a+35+hour+week%3F+%2F+Of+%27Trots%27+and+%27Tories%27+%28LL626%29&tmtid=113525-13777-13777-162-12-832-91113


We must answer the question - or we lose

The Paul Richards column

One of the more important meetings of the shadow cabinet took place on Tuesday, when Liam Byrne presented the early findings of the ‘listening exercise’ which presages the review of Labour’s policies ordered by Ed Miliband. Over 20,000 submissions have been received, and six thousand people have taken part in 70-odd meetings. Lest you think I am abusing my privileged position as a part-time shadow cabinet factotum to reveal secrets, it was all in the Guardian on Wednesday.

The findings of the listening exercise would be surprising only to anyone whose sole exposure to politics is via a think-tank, pressure group or political party. Anyone with on nodding terms with the electorate would recognise the top-lines as an accurate representation of majority British opinion: tough on crime (and to hell with the causes), a preference for money to be spent in the UK’s roads and schools before those of India or Nigeria, a crackdown on benefit cheats and lazy arses who don’t want to work, and a strong desire to see the NHS and school system work properly. Add in a little mild xenophobia towards the continental Europeans and a visceral loathing of MPs and bankers, and you’ve pretty much got an accurate snap-shot of the opinions of the people we need to vote Labour at the next election. The shadow cabinet didn’t need 20,000 submissions to find that out; they could have spent the evening in a pub in Hemel Hempstead, Crawley or Dartford chatting to the regulars.

The challenge for a socialist party seeking the votes of a non-socialist electorate has been the same down the ages. It is about persuading non-Labour people that their self-interest is served by voting Labour. It may be that we didn’t come into Labour politics to help affluent voters in Essex; it may be that we came into politics to end homelessness, tackle poverty, end the scandal of poor children being written off before even going to school. But the truth is that unless affluent people back us in vast numbers, we can offer the poorest people nothing except charity. When Labour has recognised the true nature of the electorate, electoral success has never been far behind; when Labour has mythologised the electorate, or projected its own desires onto them, it has failed miserably.

In 1978, Eric Hobsbawm famously warned that Labour must reach out to a changing electorate:

"the future of Labour and advance of socialism depends on mobilising people who remember the date of the Beatles’ break-up, and not the date of the Saltley pickets; of people who have never read Tribune and who do not give a damn about the deputy leadership of the Labour Party."

He was ignored. Labour instead chose to follow the path of bitter internal strife over meaningless slogans and bonkers policies, personified by Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone. Benn’s bid to be deputy leader of the Labour Party was backed by, amongst others, the Posadists who believed socialism would be brought to earth by aliens (because only socialism could deliver the higher stages of development required for interplanetary travel). I was reminded of those far-off times this week with the launch of something describing itself as ‘GEER’ which is ‘all about putting the third way behind us, by renewing our focus on Gender, Environment, Equality and Race’ which is another way of saying ‘putting our electoral success behind us, and focusing on things we care about, but the voters don’t.’ It’s probably too early to judge ‘GEER’ but I’m going to anyway: if Labour listens to the advice implicit within GEER’s mission statement, that we can win with some kind of rainbow coalition of oppressed minorities and people interested in recycling, then we will cease to exist as a major political party within a decade.

I don’t believe Labour will lurch to the left. The far greater danger is not that we become wholly out of touch with the electorate, but that we become slightly out of touch with the electorate. I enjoy, but do not share, the ranty excesses of my old friend Dan Hodges who wants to divide the party up into flat-earthers and round-earthers (the former being anyone who disagrees with his Chicken Licken analysis of Labour’s prospects). No, the greater danger for Labour is to fall into the various policy traps being laid by Cameron ahead of the election: to be on the wrong side of the public’s attitude towards NHS reform, tackling Islamist extremism, reforming parliament, or providing council houses for people on £100k. On each issue, Labour must be pitch perfect, not slightly discordant. Like the difference between madness and genius, or ugliness and beauty, the calibration between Labour being in or out of touch is tiny but vital.

Liam Byrne’s presentation on Tuesday made clear that Labour’s defeat in 2010 was not some minor or temporary falling-out between Labour and the electorate. It was a massive rejection of the party, its policies and its leaders. As we write our programme for the next Labour government, we should remember that the voters won’t ask about the environment or foreign aid at the 2015 election. They will ask a far more searching question ‘what’s in it for me?’ That’s the question that requires a compelling answer. Without it, we lose.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Are The Press Out Of Control?

a journalist is now claiming that phone hacking is a vital way to hold public figures to account (BBC1, the Big Question)


Politics day

Since I got up it's been politics all day, nice.

Can't say I am moved to believe in the human right to celebrity gossip which seems to be what the media people are arguing




Thursday, 2 June 2011

Lansley ready to accept 'significant changes' to NHS reforms

and another thing...

Lansley has been keen to say that he will accept these 'substantial changes' but keeps very quiet about what they will be.

personally, i am not against more diversification of providers in theory. i think as long as the treatment is delivered then i don't really care who does the delivering, my worry on this is a longer term one as highlighted by the financial difficulties companies are facing at the moment, so care providers might not have the money to carry out their services. if that's case, they may need a bail out or subsidy. if there is a profit, they should have no recourse to government money as pumping public money into private pockets is wrong (banks).
therefore, charities fine, public sector fine, but a private company would have to show they could profit without the need for state bail out or subsidy.



http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/02/lansley-ready-accept-changes-nhs-reforms

Why the health service needs surgery

the case in favour of some re-ordering of the current system is well made and true.
but the case in favour of the particular reforms that he is spelling out is conspicuous by its absence, save a little empty rhetoric about putting patients in the driving seat and devolving power.
personally, i don't see how ever greater care is going to be possible within the funding arrangement, so i think it's all a smoke screen. i think harder choices need making, like capping the drugs budget and saying that certain things will not be available on the NHS. this may lead to a two-tiered system, and that's unfortunate, but the funding problem is real.
unless it gets a lot more funding, it's going to over-reach.
firstly, tax the rich, but after that, we may not be able to keep people living ever longer



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/8551239/Why-the-health-service-needs-surgery.html




Monday, 23 May 2011

Rant

Good evening,

And now, for the ranting.

Firstly, footballers shagging and getting super-injunctions. I don't care. The right to celebrity gossip is not a fundamental human right.

Secondly, Jedward.
They do nothing. They contribute nothing. They don't write, play or sing, yet they are star acts. that's what's wrong with this country today, the two above outrages (more may follow)


Saturday, 14 May 2011

MP demands details of deal to let Goldman Sachs avoid tax

something sounds a little odd here.
I'm very willing to take a pragmatic stance here and listen to the Treasury's reasoning, but it would be nice to be able to hear the Treasury's reasoning:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/may/13/mps-demand-details-of-deal-to-let-goldman-sachs-avoid-tax

"Umunna said Goldman avoided £10.8m in unpaid tax when the case was dropped last year. The satirical magazine Private Eye, which has written extensively about the case, claims to have seen documents that show HMRC boss Dave Hartnett failed to follow standard guidelines applied to other tax disputes when he settled the dispute with Goldman.

Umunna said: "It is clearly in the public interest for HMRC to put more information into the public domain in relation to the Goldman Sachs case and settlement."




"The lack of disclosure in the long-running dispute with the US investment bank meant there was a danger the public would think there was "one rule for some companies and another for individual taxpayers", said Labour MP Chuka Umunna."



Monday, 18 April 2011

Lib Dems sleaze‏

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/join-cleggs-leaders-club-ndash-for-16325000-annual-fee-2269225.html

the Lib Dems are a proper governing party now, they even have their own sleaze.
If this was really about debate and all high minded things like that they wouldn't be auctioning off access to the highest bidders. It's not exactly cheap. So only the rich's voices should be heard?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Labour leadership's reaction to the Budget 2011

I have to say I think Ed Miliband has been quite impressive in his response. His soundbites are good, setting out the difference between Labour's policies and Tory actions, then linking them to the lack of growth is, i think, very well done.

I haven't so far been able to find a video of more than 2 minutes, but i've just come across the "Del Boy economics" soundbite which is pathetic.

I would like to hear Ed Balls more on this, he's out Treasury spokesman afterall.

On the actual Budget, I'm not mad keen. It is, again, very much a philosophical Tory budget: tax cuts, deregulation. Corporation tax cut, but not national insurance. not enough measures to help working people, a bit of populist fluff at the richer, esp bankers and oil companies. some tax rises, as stealthy as can be with index changes and personal allowances and that.

get people into work, grow the economy. that's what it's all about

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Clegg defiant despite Lib Dems' slump in Barnsley poll‏

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12645090


I personally think this line is hurting rather than helping Clegg:
""In government, nationally, we will continue to do what I think is absolutely vital for the long-term benefit of the country. Namely sort the economic mess we inherited from Labour for the long-term benefit of Britain.""

Monday, 28 February 2011

New disability test 'is a complete mess', says expert

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/22/new-disability-test-is-a-complete-mess/

"During the preliminary roll-out of the test, people with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis and serious mental illnesses have been found fit to work."

Disgusting isn't it. And I wonder how many of those stories made the front pages of the news papers in the same way as 'benefit scroungers' stories do. Bloody Tories

Tebbit advice to Merthyr unemployed 'move to get jobs'‏

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-12526733

Same Tories, softer spin

Monday, 21 February 2011

Cameron public services plan is 'classic nasty party stuff'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/21/david-cameron-public-services-private-bidders

"Unions reacted furiously after he outlined his plans to "completely change" public services by bringing in a "presumption" that private companies, voluntary groups or charities are as able to run schools, hospitals and many other council services as the state."
I personally don't think there should be a "presumption", there should only be a matter of who is most able to provide the service.


"Unison, the country's largest public sector union, warned that the proposals would result in a "postcode lottery" of services and a mountain of bureaucracy generated by a welter of private sector contracts"
These found fair enough objections, it's just a matter of whether they're true.
I have to say that I'm inclined to think he has a point with this:
"Barber said Cameron's suggestion that the plans would reduce bureaucracy was "particularly laughable".
"Privatisation replaces democratic oversight and accountability with a contract culture that is a job creation scheme for lawyers," he added.
"Voters and service users lose their say in what will be a get even richer quicker scheme for the companies that win contracts."

Youth unemployment: finding your first job is the toughest task

I think there is some really important stuff here.
My fear is of a lost generation, and primarily from my own point of view. My fear is that having started looking for work around the time of the economic fuck up, younger people will soon have more experience and overtake me in my search for a good job.
This situation is made worse by those more privileged than I, far from unfortunate myself, who are able to work for free. I need to pay my bills, and during university had to work to pay my bills. That some people are able to work for free being subsidies from elsewhere makes this situation worse when many people are seeing experience, but the little experience that is available is monopolised by those who can afford to work for free and, on that count alone, need it least.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/feb/20/youth-unemployment-first-job-ema

Gloom over household finances dents recovery hopes

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/21/household-finances-markit-index

"He said an unhealthy combination of high inflation and job worries caused households to report that their financial outlook has slumped back to the levels seen during the worst part of the recession."

Sums up my position exactly

David Cameron to end 'state monopoly' in provision of public services

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/21/david-cameron-public-services

Now, personally I've long believed in that. unlike many of my lefty mates, I don't believe that the state should have a monopoly on the provision of services. I think that the best provider should provide it, I don't really care who it is that provides it so long as it is there. In my view, the role of the state is to ensure that those most in need are provided for, and to provide that service if it is the best provider, but I don't think it should be the only option.


But, as ever, the coalition government under Cameron makes plans and outlines them in purest conservative philosophy and dogma. Personally, I think his statement that "The state will still have a role in ensuring "fair funding, ensuring fair competition, and ensuring that everyone - regardless of wealth - gets fair access" is as much bollocks as David Willett's promise to ensure that poor children can reach the best universities. The problem was that the key question was the last asked and he ducked it without being held to account.

Omar al-Bashir will not stand for re-election in Sudan

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/omar-al-bashir-sudan-no-reelection

Wow, we live in amazing times.
Dictatorial bastards the world over are falling. Let's hope that what follows is an improvement. I dearly hope that those who are able to take advantage of these democratic reforms are themselves democratic reformers and not the type who make those they replaced look decent, honest and soft-hearted.

Libya uprising

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/feb/21/arab-and-middle-east-protests-middleeast

"Hague spoke to Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif last night, "warning him of global disapproval of the regime's actions", PA said. The use of sniper fire, automatic weapons and heavy artillery against unarmed protesters is "dreadful and horrifying", Hague said."

Sadly, to me the idea of 'global disapproval' being the only sanction against sniper fire, automatic weapons and heavy artillery (heavy artillery for the sake of fuck) is a bit pathetic

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Official statistics hide true increase in cost of living

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/15/official-statistics-hide-severity-uk-inflation

I think there's some truth in that. certainly housing costs are huge, especially lower down the scale. But I wonder how much the general public are really a part of this debate. I mean, I don't sit down and compare my costs of living against the government's official measure then tut at key differences, and I'm the sort of person who would. So I wonder how much people care. I think people will care if inflation is said to be at 2% but felt inflation is up nearer 5%, for example. That would have me pissed off as all the policy decisions would be made with a 'never had it so good' time in mind when in fact times are tough.
Let's hope that doesn't happen, inflation is a worry for me, but then so are my low wages

Big Society: volunteering in government‏

I got an internal email today about how great it would be to volunteer and all that. how civil servants get up to 3 days off to go volunteering.
My boss tells me that this has existed for ages, but now has 'Big Society' stuck on to it

Nick Clegg blocks housing benefit cut for jobless

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/17/nick-clegg-housing-benefit-cut-dropped

I wonder if this was a genuine victory for Nick Clegg or he's just borrowed a competent spin doctor to get some support back from Lib Dem supporters.

The rest of the article is outlined by the nastiest elements of Tory philosophy

A rotten sort of recovery | John Harris

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/17/rotten-recovery-low-pay-job-insecurity

In amongst all the lefty outrage is one nugget that I think could be really important in years to come: "What that means is obvious enough: for millions, the same deepening insecurity they experienced under the last government, and then some."

I think people are right to fear the lost generation of which I fear I may be a part, and a deepening inequality in terms of security. More and more people are going to have job insecurity, which when added to increasing financial pressure could well be a recipe for social disquiet. I'm certainly not advocating it, but that's what happens when you come down too strongly on the side of private sector employers and harsh supply side reforms.

"week's inflation figures showed prices rising twice as fast as average pay." This can only continue for so long
"To everyone I speak to, the combination of stagnating pay and rising cost of living seems cruel and increasingly unmanageable." Quite.


"the workforce is made anxious by ever-increasing numbers of agency workers, employed on inferior terms, who come and go at speed"
It's not nice being one, I tell thee that

I do wonder if all this will see a re-rise of union membership. It would certainly seem a logical solution to poor pay and job insecurity.

Same-sex marriage cannot be the same as heterosexual marriage | Michael White

Having read this, it seems that some people get all worked up about something when I personally don't care. As far as I'm concerned, if people want to marry, they can. Gay, straight or whatever I couldn't care less. My own form of religious tolerance: couldn't give a shit

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/feb/14/same-sex-marriage-heterosexual-marriages

Curveball's confession: another dent in the Iraq conspiracy theory | Michael White

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/feb/16/curveball-confession-dent-iraq-conspiracy-theory

The stuff at the start of the article is a bit boring. I mean, we all knew the Iraq war was dodgy. Well, the grounds for it were both there entirely and not at all. Going to war on one bloke's say so show the war had long been decided on.
What I find interesting is a military man criticising the military and the patriotic paradox something like the Sun finds itself in. hero attacks heroes, a military man (or 'hero' as they're all now called) has criticised the military. Criticising the military is treason and he's therefore evil. But he's a hero but can't be, but criticised the heroes so can't be a hero etc. etc. etc.

The more hard headed stuff at the bottom is of more interest to me, how China and America worked together and all that. very interesting.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Innovation: Britain's other deficit | James Dyson

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/31/invention-deficit-engineering-exports-growth

I certainly agree that innovation, R&D etc. are important. When my lot were in office they invested too much time, effort and money in the city to the detriment of a balanced economy.
It comes down to investment. Investment in education, skills, graduates, engineers. Even the author Mr Dyson acknowledges that, even while saying government should be cut back. He means cut back in the other areas. At the end of the day we need to be investing in education all the way through, and incentivising areas such as engineering. But that costs money, as do the tax cuts he's calling for.

And one last thing: it's all very well and good having an export-orientated economy, as everyone now wants to, but in order to export, someone has to buy it. Who will that be? USA, China, India, EU?
Upon that may rest a great deal


http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/feb/03/investment-the-mother-of-invention/print

Interestingly, the first letter is pure protectionism. Is that the path our government wants to take? I have no doubt there would be tit-for-tat reprisals if it did but it's always worth considering

" James Dyson calls for "patentable exports" in his piece. Is this the same James Dyson who closed the Dyson factory in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, in 2002 to move production to Malaysia, resulting in the loss of 560 jobs? Sack British workers, move production abroad, still made £190m profit last year – no wonder he is one of Cameron's advisers.

Alan Quinn

Manchester"

Very interesting that. ouch

Charlie Brooker: Ed Miliband, the Labour leader now known as CUBE DX-9

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/ed-miliband-rebranded

oh it's funny coz it's true.
I can't help but feel that we've got another Michael Foot as leader, but without the flair and personality.

I like the bit about the German chancellor at the bottom:
"a German chancellor who consists of nothing but a runic symbol flickering on a monitor accompanied by a vaguely menacing drone."

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Does the government need a 'Plan B'?‏

A lot of this is clearly speculative, but I did tell (everyone) so.
Taking demand out of the economy has seen a slowing of the economy. The stimulus package kept the economy going reasonably but the cuts have begun to hit it, and hard. Another problem is confidence as if people think there will be a recession then it is far more likely to happen.
Aside from my gloating, there are some pretty serious issues here. I feel the economic problems with my inability to get a decent job or even security in the shitty one I have.
The political bits of this really are not as important to me as the effects on my life and prospects, but this would be hugely damaging to both coalition parties if the economy tanks. If that's the case Labour will have an open goal for 5/10 years. And given Ed miliband's performances I think we might need it. Ed Balls is a heavy weight so might add something there but has the potential to fuck everything up and piss everyone off.
What matters to me is my job and lively hood, my prospects in the short, medium and long term. The inside of the Westminster bubble does not greatly concern me at the moment

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2011/02/does_the_govern.html

Monday, 31 January 2011

priorities

I'm just listening to the Guardian politics podcast and they went from talking to the economy to talking civil liberties. in all honesty, the economy is far more important. at the end of the day, i care about having a job and a decent standard of living far more than the civil rights of suspected terrorists. i would imagine most people are the same.
with growth stallling and inflation rising i'm worried about my job, i'm worried about my medium to long term prospects too and the idea of getting blown up doesn't help on that.
as someone who thinks terrorism is a terrible thing i'm not entirely sympathetic even though i'm a big believer in personal freedom and liberty

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Pat McFadden

I thought Pat McFadden has just been very good on Pienaar's Politics. He made some very good points without being off-putting, good work.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Inflation hits 3.7% after record monthly increase

I find this interesting because as a working man I am feeling the effects of this on my day to day living rather than just from an academic point of view. My monthly travel card is up by 5%, and with food costs rising too my wages are coming under greater pressure. The thing is that my wages have not increased to compensate for the rising costs of living. I hope that the Bank and government get a handle on this because it's a worry. As a saver I am also concerned about the low interest rates which would have some small compensatory pressure by helping my savings. There is clearly a moral hazard issue here, but I am far more concerned about the money in my bank account than the moralities, but when the actions of some well rewarded financial services types adversely impact my living standards it's not abstract

"I'm sure we'll be advised that holding wages down while the cost of living rises is the highest form of social responsibility. But with CEOs' salaries rising at record rates, with the Forbes Rich List collective value rising by a record 40% last year, it doesn't sound as if this advice is being applied universally.

In fact, it sounds like outright economic class war: senior posts in all institutions now are being paid top-rate salaries in return for reducing costs and salaries among the lower-paid. I work in a university and the above applies there in spades"

Excellent point
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/18/inflation-december-2010-record-monthly-increase

Baroness Warsi says Muslim prejudice seen as normal‏

I think she may well have a point about it being the last acceptable prejudice.
For me personally, I don't care much for any religion. I do, however, believe that people can be divided into moderates and extremists. But for me the most important division is into terrorists and not, those who use violence to gain their political ends and those who don't. I'm on the side of those who use democracy to reach political goals and against those who use violence. In that case, faith doesn't come into it.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12235237

The Speaker: Bercow's boundaries | Editorial

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/20/the-speaker-bercow
"Some, like Lady Boothroyd, regret his informality of dress"
I personally see that as a positive. I personally think all the pomp and ceremony of parliament really detracts from the work it does.


"It would not be hard to be better than Speaker Martin - but Speaker Bercow has made a consistently positive difference to the standing and work of the Commons. He is a reformer at a time when a reformer has been needed. He is a good communicator."
I agree with these. I think he's pretty decent, and the fact that Nadine Dorries hates his guts means he's probably doing something right. Aside from the enemy of my enemy being my friend, I think he's doing well and making a stand on issues that are important.

"On what subjects should a Speaker be heard if not on the role and credibility of the chamber he chairs?"
Can't argue with that

NHS reform: 7 in 10 pen pushers will keep jobs despite 'biggest shake up ever'

Some very interesting bits in the comments section. I thought they were anti-Labour at the Daily Heil, but it seems they are opposed to these reforms. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if they were just anti-everything

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1348613/NHS-reform-7-10-pen-pushers-jobs-despite-biggest-shake-ever.html

Reality bites for coalition government

The vast inequalities are really quite staggering, and I'd like to think that people won't stand for them. But I don't hold my breath, Jordan's on the front page somewhere.
The huge bonuses and huge cut to charity go against one of the things I was often told in favour of right-ist solutions: that letting people have their own money means they will give more to charity. Now this is a one off case, but it's pretty fucking disgusting none the less
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/jan/20/reality-bites-coalition-government-promises

Alan Johnson's resignation

I obviously don't know any details but it's sad to see him go.
I thought he did a decent job in the face of the most incredible snobbery about his background and education.
All the best AJ

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

UK unemployment inches below 2.5m

I now believe unemployment to be an issue of the highest importance. It's a personal tragedy to be unemployed and government, for me, should do all it can to try to ensure people are in jobs.
It is by having people in work that the economy will be strong, in addition to any things about personal development or stuff like that. money in the pocket, stability and security flow from having a job and for that it is vital.

Also, it shows how badly the Tories botched up our economy in the 80s with 3 million out of work. The population is higher now yet we have less people out of work than we did then
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/19/uk-unemployment-claimant-count-drops-ons

House of Lords in stalemate over voting reform

"Labour says the bill is so rushed it will leave 3.5 million off the electoral register. They insist that if the government separates the two pieces of legislation, then legislation paving the way for a referendum on the alternative vote system would go ahead."


"The Labour party's commitment to cleaning up politics, to political reform, is a complete and utter farce."
Nick Clegg is showing himself to be a wanker and the very worst of politics by constantly using emotive and provocative language rather than reasoned debate.


"Sources were not ruling out that a guillotine motion could be used in the Lords. Though this would be unprecedented, coalition peers already deployed the highly rare procedure on the first all night sitting by moving a similar sort of motion - a closure motion.
A guillotine sees a government stipulate in advance of how long parliamentarians debate an issue the time by which it needs to be resolved. This has never been done in the Lords."
So the coalition government is willing to stop the debate and force its legislation through. That's a bit bad really. If ever anything in modern times showed the need for reform of the Lords it's this. The Lords exists to be a check on and balance against government, but with a majority in the Lords the coalition has unchecked power, which they are enjoying and showing what they think of those who stand against them.

I myself am in favour of AV on the Roy Jenkins model. The closer the coalitions AV proposals are to the AV+ that Jenkins came up with the more I support it. The other part of the proposals about constituency sizes I will not support (not that it matters what I think or support)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/18/house-of-lords-voting-reform/print

NHS cuts: Scale of shakeup took No 10 by surprise

No 10 has been so surprised by the radical nature of Andrew Lansley's NHS proposals that David Cameron has ordered a strengthening of his own policy unit so the centre is better equipped to challenge departmental plans in future. Government sources admitted that Downing Street simply did not have the specialist expertise in-house to challenge plans put forward by cabinet ministers.
If true that's all a bit odd for someone who's constantly going on about devolving power from the centre
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/19/nhs-cuts-scale-shakeup-surprise/print

Ed Miliband attacks 'arrogant' David Cameron over NHS reforms

"The statistics will fuel fears that Britain's young people could become a "lost generation" who cannot find work despite the recession ending a year ago."

That's my own fear, that I will be surpassed by a younger generation and be stuck in dead end jobs with no prospects. And I'm one of the lucky ones with an education and some small experience behind me. There is a real issue here and not one that can be improved by making political capital out of it.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/19/health-edmiliband/print

Inflation: Up, up and away | Editorial

My personal worry is the bit at the bottom, about the squeeze on my money from the price rises. With my own travel costs having gone up 5% January to December I can see problems unless it stays still for a year at least
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/19/inflation-up-and-away-editorial/print

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The death of rock | Sam Leith

"Who are the iconic rock fans in popular culture? They are Beavis and Butthead, Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth, and Jack Black's character in School of Rock" that, I think, says more about the bloke writing the article than about the genre of music.

Now, I don't think rock is dead, and having someone from the guardian talk about it is not a good way to breath life into it. But I go to gigs and festivals, and it's very much alive and thrashing.
And if it's not in the singles charts, and paul gamberchini thinks it's dead? Well, I couldn't give a shit

David Cameron: Andy Coulson deserves to be given a second chance

It sounds as if Cameron knows that Coulson was in the wrong and has accepted that privately without wanting to admit publicly. Sounds dodgy to me.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A letter to Nick Clegg from alarm clock Britain

Many good points are made. I think clegg is on to something in some ways. I am probably low to middle income, I have a job I hate and I'm worried about my cost of living. I would count myself at the more fortunate edge of this analysis but I can certainly see here he's coming from. but I'm afraid that the author's attempts to paint herself as an ordinary everyday person is absolute bollocks

Nick Clegg plays down Labour victory

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/14/oldham-byelection-nick-clegg-labour-victory

I had a feeling he might, much as I'm sure Labour are playing it up. Yvette Cooper disappointed me a bit this morning being evasive and a bit wafty