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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.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A boost for the hard right of the party?

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.

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.

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

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.

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