UK Election 2015

Friday, 30 January 2015

CAN YOU TELL NEW STORK FROM BUTTER?

On 7 May the British electorate will be making the choice of what kind of nation they want ours to be. One road runs to a low wage low skill economy of job insecurity, continued austerity and more cuts to create a bare bones state.The other leads to an attempt to get back to growth, boost demand by more spending raise pay and get back as near as we can to full employment.

That's the inevitable-and desirable difference between the party of wealth and the classes and the party of the masses. Sadly it's well disguised. Labour has toned down it's policies, though not hopefully it's principles to appear respectable and not to frighten the middle classes-though as I pointed out yesterday- they are frightened because they're as much threatened by big money and big business as workers. Both parties set out to appeal to business whose lethargy is a national problem

Both spout neo-Liberal rubbish so that as the Tories commit more and more enormities they can always argue that Labour did it first. Private sector in the health service?-we did it. PFI millstones? We handed them out everywhere. Tax cuts and tough on benefits? We did both. Even worse we're both making the deficit the major issue, both promising to reduce it and to avoid borrowing (which is in fact inevitable) and both promising to balance the budget.Which is daft in a recession.


Result? Labour's alternative is lost sight of and our failing main parties both look the same to a jaundiced electorate A large section of the electorate is fed up of both of them because both have destroyed their world.They're fed up of politics too particularly after the expenses scandal. The choice is between a lesser and a greater dose of misery when what the people want is HOPE. Is it too late for Syriza to put up candidates?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

REVOLT AGAINST THE BIG BEASTS

Labour's desire to show itself respectable and safe by cosying up to business is based on a misconception of popular attitudes in the new politics. We're thinking of the old days when the middle class were pro business and "enterprise" but the state protected and helped the workers. So to win middle class votes we had to be nice to business and not frighten it by socialist horrors.

Those days are gone.The state has been so weakened that it hardly frightens anyone. In fact it needs rebuilding so that it can do its job, a need the middle class users of libraries, universities, culture, and all things civilised feel particularly strongly about. The new enemy is big business , big wealth, and big scale. It frightens both working and middle classes. Now they're in it together. 

Who caused the recession? Big banks .Who mistreats customers? Big utilities. Who cheats and cuts corners? Big business. Who buggers everyone about? All the above-on a big scale. Who sheds staff, pays low wages, goes for zero hours contracts, and generally treats its employees like morons? Big firms. Who's pushing up house prices beyond the real of real people? Big money. Who gets paid far too much and lavishes money on themselves? Big bosses.

Everyone's fed up of all that. In begging for the approval of business Labour is aligning itself with the big boys not the people they trample on. Big mistake.In the American congressional elections those Democrats who took a populist line ,"the few the loud and the proud" who were aggressively populist and who attacked wealth and Wall St did well, Those who didn't didn't. In France the National Front is as anti-big as UKIP is here because it strikes a popular chord. In Greece Syriza won by attacking big EU and big austerity. In Spain Podemus shouts up for the same reasons. 

Why doesn't Labour learn the lesson ? An election isn't about how much they'll love us at the Lord Mayor's banquet. The better you do there in your stuffed shirt the more the rest will hate you for selling out. A party of the side of the people must attack the big beasts, not try to befriend them. They're the enemy of all. 

Populism pays. Brits may not be kind enough to the needy but they certainly hate the greedy and when greed rules it's not OK with them. Particularly is the majority lose out while the few enrich themselves. 


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

UNDISCOVERED BRITISH DISASTERS, Part 23

Will the election reveal and more details or views about TTIP? Sorry I can't tell you cos it's secret. The Transatlantic trade and investment partnership is a secret agreement being negotiated between  The US and EU which will give multinational corporations a level playing field to operate and gave access to markets among signatories and overrule any restrictive rules and regulations. It will have its own disputes procedure independent of any of the nation states and able to overrule and national measures, discriminations or tax arrangements the corporations object to.

It's a monstrous infringements of national powers and regulations making the big corporations a protected species with more power than parliaments and governments, gives them access to health service contracts and allows them to demand compensation if they lose them or are restricted in any way. Trade unions of course are given no reciprocal rights

What's involved is ominous but secret. We have no role in the negotiations: the EU acts for us. It's predicted to bring millions of jobs but with no indication how, particularly in Britain where Multinationals will serve our market from afar and we'll have no power to compel them to manufacture (or even pay their taxes.) Amazingly the Labour Party supports it. Why ?

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GREXIT AND EUROFUDGE

Don't expect any immediate drama on the Greek vote against austerity. It will take months to mix the eurofudge on this one. The Greeks don't want to leave because they'd have to default on their huge debts and print money. Germany won't want to water down the debt because if the Greeks get it everyone else is going to want it.

So my guess would be an extension of the debt at lower interest and easier terms and permission to relax austerity. Trouble is the austerity has killed the business sector. Greece's real problem is corruption and the public sector which the new government wants to expand. Right wing partners are strong defenders of the flabby public sector  and easing the pressure on public sector workers who've suffered far less than the private sector won't be popular.

Best guess though is that they'll fudge through and keep the Euro show limping along the road until the next crisis.Which may take the form of a right wing surge in France or Italy. God bless the Euro. I won't
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YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD 


Disastrous polls in Scotland. Electoral calculus indicates  a Labour loss of 30 seats. Plus a few Lib Dems and the lone Tory (even rarer than panda's in Scotland.) I'm having my kilt dyed black. I'm even hearing Tory talk of a Grand Coalition.

Monday, 26 January 2015

TIME TO TURN THE HEAT ON THE TAX AVOIDANCE INDUSTRY

When Britain was the workshop of the world the key industry was making things and selling them to the world. Now that we've become the financial service centre of the world the key industry is inventing fiddles and selling them .Our most profitable industry is now the tax avoidance industry which saves corporations £120 billion in tax by selling them schemes for tax avoidance and evasion. If HMRC collected a quarter of that there'd be no need for austerity

The Big Four accountancy houses are the  aristocrats of fiddle.They make profits of around $115 billion a year and between 30 and 35% of this comes from tax advice, say$40 billion. We should impose a tax surcharge on that but they pretend to be multinationals in their sales talk but sell their schemes  through offices in other countries such as Luxembourg when accused of doing Britain down

But the industry is bigger than them. It includes all the big City law firms who advise corporations  and the wealthy how to pay less tax as well as the big consultants and advisers and of course the in house experts most corporations have. Tax dodging doesn't support a huge number of employees, as manufacturing once did, but it does make them much wealthier than manufacturing ever did

The fees are big the risks small. Dodgers Inc will sell schemes which it knows are likely to be struck down because it knows that HMRC will take a long time to catch up, it may never do so, and if it does strike a dodge down it's the users who have to pay. The sellers escape scot free

No sanctions. No threats. The Chief of HMRC is from KPMG and others from the big houses sit in the board or advise HMRC on tax matters so it would be a bit difficult to distinguish between poachers and gamekeepers if the gamekeepers weren't paid so much less

Isn't it time to deal with an industry which makes the few rich at the cost of robbing the many? Why not start by requiring all companies to publish their tax regimes and announce any schemes they are using to reduce tax and how much they paid who for them. Then require  every multinational to publish country by country accounts so that everyone can see how much profit was made here and how much tax was dodged on it. We must shed light on this murky world before we can deal with it.



Sunday, 25 January 2015

Deadlocked democracies

DEADLOCKED DEMOCRACIES

For a generation brought up with strong leaders and big men, the world is becoming a much sadder muddled place. Churchill, De Gaulle, Kennedy, LBJ are gone (you may have noticed) to be succeeded by lesser figures muddling through. Now it's got worse. Every western democracy is hopelessly deadlocked in a way that stops leaders,big or small, good or bad,doing anything at all.

In the U.S. Obama is deadlock led by Republican control of Congress .Which is why he's now preaching equality. Sounds good but he can't do anything about it.

Here we're deadlocked by the close balance between Labour and the Tories neither of which is likely to get a governing majority  in the election so looming problems can't be dealt with by string action and both main parties mumble misery offering depressing policies of dealing with debt and maintaining austerity.

Europe has managed to lick itself into an even bigger mess with the Euro. It will never work unless they have a common budget and economic policy which France won't agree to and a strong regional aid policy which the Germans won't finance. So they're stuck: Can't mend.Wont end.There'll be fudges life Draghi's quantitive easing which will ease the pain for a bit and export some of the problems through a lower exchange rate but otherwise the future is prolonged deflation and high unemployment which will alienate electorates and turn them to extremism big time 


It's being so cheerful that keeps me going. But where?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND


What an unholy mess the combination of Cameron's cowardice and OFCOM's strategists (frit and fumble) are managing to make of the TV leader debates

Let's get one thing clear.It's our right to see our leaders debate, trade hashtags and lock brains together. It's basic to democracy however much it might disrupt the carefully laid plans of the strategists to keep leaders on safe autocue scripts and if it shows leaders with feet, or brains,   of clay too bad. Every democracy has them and even in Uzbekistan the President talks to himself for two hours with Tony Blair as interlocutor

The problem is only what combinations we fry the fish in. First essential is a debate between the two leaders whose parties can form a national government and offer a full team of candidates for that purpose.Two or three head to heads are essential. Cleggie of course will want to come in but he doesn't fulfil the conditions.Indeed he may not even be an MP and he certainly can't pull last time's trick of making all the easy promises because people now know he doesn't deliver on them.

Then comes the rag-tag and bobtail debates which should exclude the big two but include all the gang of  five (a lakh of leaders as they put it in India)  to wrestle in organic mud, tell us what they stand for (mostly anything for a job) and which major they'd do business with and how-coalition or confidence and supply.One programme will do but it should be replayed regularly during the following year of negotiations and uncertainty.


All this would be national but supplemented by regional and local matches between regional figures and constituency debates in tightest local marginals so the rest of us can see the calibre of those we're electing and give a thought to emigrating.

Reste a liquder


Just a thought. As the EU commits under pressure to cut spending in the way its members have, there's an increase in spending promises not backed by money. Reste a liquider they call it, building up ever greater unfounded future bills. A cynical MEP claims that this is so they can demand their own taxes to pay them. Could they really behave so.dishonourably?


Friday 23 January Bouncy Brussels

As I trundled my wheelie bin of papers and reports from one marble monument to EU pretentiousness to another  I detected that Draghi the Deliverer has boosted Europe's flagging self confidence by getting the Germans to agree ( through gritted teeth ) to his big programme of Quantitative Easing. Sixty billion Euros a month until September 2016 which is rather like giving a kid a million quid to buy the sweet shop.

My guess is that it will work and boost even the weakest economies like Greece. But not us, because it could begin a war of currency devaluations. To make national economies more competitive and that's something Britain is very bad at because the pound is our phallic symbol and we're proud when it's hard but filled with post imperial triste if it softens.

The intention is not only to check deflation but to bring the Euro (which is already falling) down to a still more competitive level. Keeping their exchange rate down to boost exports stops their enormous trade surplus from pushing it up. It has always been a central object of German policy and the Euro helped them to do this. Not now, as their economy stalls, because Southern Europe can't afford to buy the BMWs and Mercs because of the austerity the Euro has imposed on them. So they need to sell more to the rest of the world and a fall in the exchange rate is the best way of doing this.

Which will hit us, making our exports to the EU less competitive and facing us with tougher competition in other markets. It will hit far eastern economies too, so expect turbulent times and more devaluations. But not from us. Our government (whichever it is) will announce that the pound is high because people have so much confidence in Britain.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

BRUSSELS? EUROPES GREAT WEN

I am in Brussels, Europe's parasite paradise  where fat Eurocrats live on the fat of the land by sucking money talent and taxes out of the  member states. Particularly us. A city of marble palaces built as a mausoleum to house  a dead dream of a European unity which no one much wants nowadays and to protect the European bureaucracy from the slings and stones of outraged electorates. It's an escapist world well hidden from the rest of the EU which has become the high unemployment low growth  stagnant blackspot of the advanced world. Thanks to the Euro.

I'm not here for QE day  when Draghi the Deliverer turns on the money printing presses in the desperate hope of boosting the Eurozone out of despondency. I'm here to find out  why they can never manage to issue unqualified accounts and why they keep demanding ever more money from us (£11.3 billion this year) and wasting it on projects like Galileo the satellite guidance system that leads nowhere.

Europe's whore house  has fine restaurants and pleasure palaces where the Euro parasites live in a dream world far removed from the reality of youth unemployment,forced austerity and miserable deflation .In their splendid insulation worship the Euro and ignore the damage its doing to the weaker economies. Better  to dream dreams of ever closer union than face up to the reality of fractious falling apart as misery builds the strength of the extreme right and anger against immigrants

Two weeks ago I watched a session of Europe's play way Parliament. The UKIP leader made a brilliant sustained attack on Jean Claude Junker. Le  Pen followed with a more bitty tirade. No one else made a clear cut indictment of his record in robbing the other states by letting companies pay their taxes in Luxembourg. Junker sat there throughout with a contemptuous smile said everyone was doing it. Not though on a scale so great that little Luxembourg has turned tax fiddling into its major industry and made themselves rich in the process.

Very Europe. How fitting that this ramshackle mess should be presided  over by Europe's biggest  tax fiddler,the man who's robbed them all to make his country rich. Enjoy Brussels Mitchell. You're paying for it.



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

GET REAL ABOUT BRITAIN'S ECONOMY

As the election approaches we're getting more claims that we'll soon be overtaking Germany and even the USA.  Ignore them. We're doing badly. The prospects ahead after the election are gloomy.

British manufacturing has declined, is continuing to lose markets and must be revived.  Its share of the economy is down from 20% to 10%, we're importing far more manufactured goods than we sell.  We no longer make what the World wants to buy.  Services, and particularly financial services, can neither support as many jobs nor pay our way in the World.

So we lose jobs and skills to become a low paid economy.  Growth is lower because it`s manufacturing which generates it and that isn't attractive to the best brains.  They go into Finance and the City to make money.  Investment falls because the banks lend for mortgages not business. 

The result is to make us a poorer less equal society. The rich can protect themselves but the people depend on jobs.  So they're less able to provide for themselves.

We can`t pay our way in the World and are forced either to borrow overseas or sell off assets, property, houses, land, companies, anything that moves to pay for imports.  So an increasing share of our productive capacity is owned by foreigners: the major car companies, the steel industry and an increasing share of the media, the banks, the chemical industry, the railways and property companies.  Britain is fast becoming the first foreign-owned nation as the City earns fat fees by selling us off.

In some cases, such as cars, this has been healthy, but in most it`s damaged the ability to export and profits are now exported rather than invested here.  Indeed the biggest corporations like Google, Facebook and Amazon which exploit the British market, fiddle profits through tax havens to avoid corporation tax on their British profits.

That way lies relegation and decline.  The only answer is to rebuild, revive and expand manufacturing.  Increasing it from 10% of the economy to 15% would allow us to balance our trade books and more would mean that we could generate the economic growth and the surplus to restore the public services an advanced society needs.

How do we do that?  By getting the pound down to a competitive level. A substantial devaluation would make it profitable to export, sensible to invest and stimulate the growth of new industries. It can be done.  In my view it must.  Our competitors all started out with a very competitive currency which made exporting profitable.  We now have to do the same

Because the City of London wanted a high exchange rate and governments wanted to fight inflation our exchange rate has long been too high. This subsidised imports and taxed exports.  Our occasional devaluations, like that of 1992, boosted the economy but then petered out as the pound went back up. 


Other countries have always used devaluation as an economic weapon.  The euro is coming down now and will fall further but we've seen the pound as a phallic symbol: proud when it's hard, even though the consequences have been disastrous.  We need a 25% devaluation to become an effective nation again.  The alternative is a long, whimpering decline into a low wage, cheap-jack economy, exporting skills and people.  I see no political party prepared to face that challenge.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

BRITAIN'S PROSPECTS. THE GREAT DIVIDE



If you want to be cheered up,or deeply depressed,take sides in the great argument now emerging between the politicians,chirping with cheer as the election approaches and the economists gloomily warning of disasters to come after the election. A difference of opinion is becoming a gulf

The best economists,meaning those who're not Tory Soothsayers like Doug Macmillan and the press pundits warn that we're a failing economy which can't pay its way in the world and is having to sell off companies property businesses and anything that moves to finance the deficit, which is consuming not investing ,can't raise the revenue to finance public services .

The consequence will be a rude awakening after the election when the house price bubble will burst,our low wage economy can't sustain demand,taxes will have to be raised to cover the deficit and the prospect of further cuts looms in a suis tem whose cloth can't be stretched far enough to make its suit. Beware the Ides of May

The politicians on the other hand ,even those who've been claiming that the government's management is disastrous,must claim that better times lie ahead,particularly if they win the election and can't say that we're up shit creek with neither paddle nor deodorant.Hence the claims that people can be paid more, that we're growing so well we'll overtake France,and even America,that we can increase investment and spending without borrowing or new taxes.

Which side is right? Well economists are professionally a miserable lot,politicians will lose votes unless the exude hope but now I'm retiring I can be more honest than if I was fighting an election so I can admit that in my view the economists are nearer the truth and that taxes must be raised after the election.


If we don't get the pound down to a competitive level,borrow more to spend and stimulate ,invest more and pay our way in the world we're sunk What a pity we don't have an informed debate on this with intel event arguments set out in books.There's not much time left between now and 7 May but we should use it to think and have a debate on the real issues instead of party political debating points and lots of "you did it first"

Monday, 19 January 2015

FRIT ,FROTH and FOLLY


 The argument over whether David Cameron should appear in Leader debates and whether or not we should have them illustrates the range of views,most of them wrong, about democracy and television among our political class.

Of course we should have leader debates. The Prime Minister has almost presidential power and a presidential role and the nation should see them and make it's own judgement on who they want as PM.They should also be able to see Osborne and Balls head to head and Hunt versus Burnham

But that's it. Like it or not ,and an increasing proportion of around a third don't ,electors will be choosing between two parties which can form a government, and that choice needs to be informed by their perceptions of the people who'll be governing. So leader debates must be head to head and restricted to parties which are contesting all seats and which can rule.

That's what Cam really wants to avoid because he's quick and smart but can't resist a knee to the groin and he knows that kind of nastiness doesn't come over well on television .So he needs an excuse to wriggle out.So he's seized on the greens for that

Good excuse for the Greens should appear and OFCOM is wrong to rule them out but they should appear in a second round of debates in which all the leaders of all the parties put their case.

We should have learned the lesson in 2010 when for some strange reason Cleggie was allowed to play with the big boys and won the match because it's so easy for a third party to hold out glittering prospects, be all things to all men and more to women, and look exciting as opposed to the stodgy compromises of power .

The result was Cleggmania. Next time it could be Farage frenzy But look where Clegg mania  got us. And him. And the Lib Dem party which will now have to pay the price of five years of posing in power and breaking its promises.In their own interests third fourth and fifth parties should be kept away from that.It might give them delusions of competence, even in his case omnipotence.

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THE EURO FROM WHICH ALL BLESSINGS FLOW (No 187)


Watch for more turmoil in currency markets this week as Greece moves nearer to its election and Draghi tries to get his quantitive easing over Germanopposition.Down for the Euro up for the Swiss franc .Andt the pound? If the government  doesn't manage to bring it down the march of the makers becomes a hobble of the hopeless.Manufacturing revival needs a competitive pound

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Je ne suis pas Charlie




Je ne suis pas Charlie because I see no point of childish attacks on religion of any kind, on Mohammed or Jesus, on the Pope or archbishop. What's the point? What's the relevance? British cartoons have been savage  since Gilray and Martin Rowson's new book The Coalition Book is both brilliant and savage, but savage about power, politicians and their abuses not about religion  which is a solace not a crime. Pedantic huh? 



The sterile politics of ed"itting



My dad's favourite joke was to hit me on the head with a rolled up newspaper saying I'm the ed'itter. (Geddit?) It's now the favourite pastime of the Tory media. Indeed they clearly see it as their best hope to help the party they serve so slavishly.

It's a monotonous chorus of denigration. Can't eat a bacon sandwich like a normal person. Killed his brother,weak,tyrannical,incompetent,indecisive. I've never known a Labour leader treated so badly. Not even Harold Wilson. They must be really scared.

Just to set the record straight Ed is doing well at PM's question time where the Prime Minister usually wins. He's open to new ideas and the changes Labour must make to escape the Blair failures. Person to person he's a nice bloke open, honest and frank and charming to meet. Get out among the people and he's a winner.

Perhaps the press critics fear that given a choice between an honest young likeable leader who's got a plan for change and one who's changed policies broken promises and always responded to criticism with lies and abuse people might go for Mr Nice-Guy.




Saturday, 17 January 2015

PORN FOR CONS


Note how the Porn Barons back the Tory Government. That's why their Porn Queens are being held up as examples of business enterprise and leadership,


GET CLOSER TO THE GORILLA


The latest Fabian Pamphlet echoes a lot of Tory advice in urging Labour to be nicer to business. Cosy up to brutal greedy selfish overcharging accountancy fiddling tax avoiding short sighted incompetent business sector and stop them failing the country because they're so nervous about being made to behave better.

It's all code of course for move to the right, give up any idea of responsible capitalism, cut taxes on the higher paid and scrap any regulations to make companies treat their workers and customers better.

And it's nonsense. If business can't flourish, conquer markets and pay the nation's way in the world now when interest rates are at record low levels, large sections of public sector work are being handed to them, regulations are being slashed,while EU competitors are strangling themselves with the Euro, then it's never going to. British business is better at leaching on the state and crying out for socialism ((but only for themselves) in the form of government help, aid finance and support, than it is at competing in the world.

Besides the prophets never tell us what kind of business we've got to do selfies with. Is it the small businesses being created in record numbers to go slowly bankrupt just to get people off social security? Is it the big multinationals cheating on their tax obligations by shuttling their affairs through Luxembourg or Dublin? Is it bloated supermarkets fiddling their accounts or the banks cheating and over charging their customers, or the privatised utilities overcharging? Pray tell....

Business will only flourish in a mixed economy with a supportive state, effective regulation which forces them to behave responsibly and Keynesian economic management which stimulates the growth they need to prosper.What business doesn't need is cuts, depressing demand, low wages depressing living standards and a state which imposes austerity as a means of social discipline.

What Labour needs is businesses which are national champions not wee timmering cowering beasties we see around us failing the nation and loosing out to foreigners even in their own home market..British business isn't even smart enough to see its own interests.

Think again Fabians.

GET CLOSER TO THE GORILLA

The latest Fabian Pamphlet echoes a lot of Tory advice in urging Labour to be nicer to business.. Cosy up to brutal greedy selfish overcharging accountancy fiddling tax avoiding short sighted incompetantly business sector and stop them failing the country because they're so nervous about being made to behave better.

It's all code of course for move to the right, give up any idea of responsible capitalism cut taxes on the higher paid and scrap any regulations to make companies treat their workers and customers better.

And it's nonsense. It business can't flourish,conquer markets and pay the nation' sway in the world now when interest rates are at record levels large sections of public sector work are being handed to them regulations are being slashed ,while EU competitors are strangling themselves with the Euro then it's never going to.Brithish business is better at leaching on the state and crying out for socialism ((but only for themselves)in the form of government help aid finance and support than it is at competing in the world.

Besides the prophets never tell us what kind of business we've got to do selfies with. is it the small businesses being created in record numbers to go slowly bankrupt just to get people off social security. Is it the big multinationals cheating on their tax obligations by shuttling their affairs through Luxembourg or Dublin? Is it bloated supermarkets fiddling their accounts or the banks cheating and over charging their customers or the privatised utilities overcharging? Pray tell

Business will only flourish in a mixed economy with a supportive state,effective regulation which forces them to behave responsibly and Keynesian economic management which stimulates the growth they need to prosper.What business doesn't need is cuts depressing demand,low wages depressing living standards and a state which imposes austerity as a means of social discipline.

What Labour needs is businesses which are national champions not wee wicket cowering beasties we see around us failing the nation and loosing out to foreigners even in their own home market..British business isn't even smart enough to see its own interests.!!!

Think again Fabians.


Friday, 16 January 2015

REVENGE OF THE FOLK WE LEFT BEHIND

The great imponderable of the next election is what will the growing tribe of fed up Britons do. Once over 90% of electors voted either Labour or Tory Next time that will be less than 60%. Over a third of the electorate are pissed off with both major parties.

Why? Because both parties have destroyed their world without asking them and created a society in which they feel left behind. Up to the seventies their world was one of job security, full or near full employment, pay rising ahead of inflation,a mixed economy,cheap social housing and an effective welfare state.

Mrs Thatcher began rolling back the state and destroying that world in the name of free market economics, globalisation, and neo liberalism. We maintained all three and then George Osborne began the final assault on the state, the last protector of the people.

They don't like this colder harder world. Neither do I. They're older, poorer, less able to keep up, and in debt. They're angry and fed up and the big question is how will they vote.? Some will go to UKIP, whose policies suit their prejudices, as a protest. Many won't vote at all .In Scotland they may well go to the SNP, which offers more hope than the other party.

They won't come to Labour unless we offer hope and the prospect of rebuilding the world they once had. A strong nation with a powerful industrial base which can provide jobs, pay the nations way in the world, and support the decent services people want. Why don't we?


Thursday, 15 January 2015

THE LONG TERM ECONOMIC CON

There's more Tory talk of their "long term economic plan" than sex in the Sun.The difference is that the latter exists.There isn't and never was a long term economic plan merely a series of cruel improvisations designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the rest. We were all in it together but some were more together than most.

At the start in 2010 the plan was cut ,slash and roll back the state to punish the poor for not working and let the private sector flourish. It didn't because the consequence was to depress demand increase unemployment and therefore reduce government revenues and require more borrowing This produced four years of austerity and economic flat-lining.

We were rescued from this folly by two things. With the election approaching Osborne began to back track,loosen the purse strings and restore the investment plans which had been junked in 2010 .More important the Bank of England came to the rescue by printing £375 billion of money  which it shoved into the banks.It also kept interest rates flat to the floor as Labour had put them.That in turn produced an unsustainable house price rise but it also stimulated recovery and allowed people to take on more debt to sustain it-mostly by buying imports.

Result? Folk felt better though the improvement was unsustainable because investment didn't rise, too much of it went into house prices and personal debt burdens grew.If it works,and the Tories win the election  all of this will require a rise in interest rates which will be crucifying, an increase in taxes, (probably , VAT) and more. Cuts in welfare to get the deficit down. Yet winning is all and a Tory victory will allow the slashing of the state to continue The world will at last be made  fit for wealth to thrive in.Which is the real long term plan.


That's the plan. Don't let Labour ruin it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

P OFF TTIP

Don't believe any of the hype that's pouring out about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.There may be more jobs in it for American Corporations and big multinationals but there's nowt in it for Britain except an increase in corporate power and a further drain of jobs and investment from an economy which has a higher degree of foreign ownership and control already than any other country.

Not only does Britain have more to lose because it's more open than the rest of Europe but it has fewer national champions who'll benefit from the increase in corporate power.

The worst part is the disputes resolution procedures which give big corporations the power to remove national regulations even revoke national legislation passed by Parliament .They have enormous power in the courts already with their highly paid teams of clever lawyers who make it very difficult to take on a multinational and win.

This power isn't enough. They now want an international disputes resolution system accountable to no one with enormous powers to overrule national regulations which threaten their future profits.So if the government wants to revoke a bad contract, nationalise a provider of services, protect a section of the population,close the NHS to American Medical Corporations,impose price controls or levy profits as Labour did with the utilities and should do with the banks , it's decisions can be contested and probably revoked..Democracy will no longer rule.Not OK

Why does the Labour Party supposedly committed to stopping capitalist brutality support this monstrosity? Why does the Tory party,supposedly committed to the rule of the law have so little faith in our courts.? Why should we make the power of big corporations greater than that of the nation state?

Stop TTIP before it's too late.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

JUNKER UBER ALLES

In their effort to show Labour as respectable and cautious the people's Ed and Dapper Douglas are now setting to our stall as the Euro enthusiastic party: Je suis Jean Claude.

Sauf moi.Vacuous euro-enthusiasm does us no good .The EU isn't a very salient issue but most people are pretty sceptical about it .Now that it's turned itself into the Hugh unemployment low growth black spot of the world economy no one really likes it.

Nor is it sensible when the costs of the EU remain so high - our annual net contribution is now £11 billion and ,the cost of the CFP which steels all the fish we should be catching and processing here and the C a p which forces us to buy their overpriced food add another £12 billion all of it paid across the exchanges by a nation whose trade deficit is running at 6% of GDP. Exporting money to Europe to depress demand and economic growth at home is a marvellous way of expressing our devotion

We haven't even thought of the difficulties EU regulations on state aid will put in the way of our industrial policy and the effort to support and expand manufacturing. Who will invest when there's every possibility of developments being struck down as illegitimate stare aid? And who will pay their taxes when the EU allows them to pay a much lower rate in Luxembourg or Ireland. Greater love hath no party than that it shove so much money into Europe!s pockets as a compulsory voluntary offering instead of thinking about how difficult the EU will make it to rebuild British strength we burbles on about the three million jobs which are always trundled out as threat end  unless we join the Euro or if we Criticise the EU in any way.

Labour stands forth as Europe's praetorian guard protecting it from the slings and arrows of outrageous UKIP. Uncontrolled immigration forcing down wages? let me come. Stupid regulations ?Lay em on. Give the people a vote?Can't do that .They may vote to come out and frighten Jean Claude our mate.


E U if you want to. I don't.

ALL THE MONEY THAT'S FIT TO PRINT

After a weekend of Je suis Charlie the Euro elite must now revert to their real role of proper Charlies to face up to the Euro mess .Should they print Euros by the billion? Can they? Will they? Or will they just try to get through with more extruded Euro fudge?

Germany wants the Euro to work because it keeps their exchange rate lower than it would be if they didn't have other currencies to hold it down like guy ropes from the heights to which Germany's big trade surplus would push it. But they don't want to pay for it. They've already paid the huge cost of integrating East Germany with the west and the cost of financing the weaker economies of Greece, and the other Club Med countries which they regard as lazy corrupt and in need of a bit of Deutsch discipline would be far far higher.

So they insist that the layabout countries make themselves fit for the euro by deflation and cuts. These produce pain and unemployment and have turned the Euro into the world's low growth high unemployment black spot

Draghi and the European Bank have managed to prevent collapse by promising to do "what it takes" and talking of printing money by a big dollop of quantitive easing as the US and UK have done. Now the situations still deteriorating  they have to put their money where their mouth is. But can they print to float the Euro off the rocks?

The Germans don't like the idea even though it will bring the a euro down further. Their constitutional court has referred the issue to the European court .Now that court must  decide whether the constitution gives the ECB the right to print money by buying back public debt-including presumably Greek public debt which will never be paid back anyway


If the court says no then the Germans will have to throw good money after bad by loaning more for the Greeks not to pay back. Or we'll see a Greek default and departure. Life's never boring in the Euro madhouse. Facile descencis Avernis.Via the Euro.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Labour - never knowingly unconventional

Labour. Never knowingly unconventional. Conformity is the safest policy for a nervous party. That's why even though fixed, five-year terms have proved to be at least a year too long, we're not proposing to scrap them.

It's also why the people's Ed supported the Clegg alternative vote referendum - a useless system which would have benefitted only the Lib-Dems. It's why we supported the Barry proposal to reduce the number of MPs which would have made a redistribution damaging to us inevitable.

Finally, it's why we've committed to reducing the debt and eliminating the deficit, damaging as both processes will be to economic growth.

Boldness isn't our friend any more. Don't want to frighten anyone do we?

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Grandson ventured to tell me I was wrong to oppose more anti-terrorist controls. "Shut up", I gently explained. The people who indoctrinate these petty crooks to kill want to create a fear and hatred of Muslims and a gulf between communities and repression plays into their hands.

These manipulators present themselves as religious prophets, because that's the best way to get murderers to kill and kill themselves without pay like trainee suicide bombers - happy to go to heaven with 72 hijabless virgins as their reward for criminal killings (offer restricted to male applicants only. Terms and conditions apply). A better prospect for credulous fools than life alternating between prison and the ghetto.

Grandson didn't agree. He's very New Labour.

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Can't David Cameron think of a better excuse for dodging his democratic duty than hiding behind the Groins of the Greens? Bit feeble, that one, when he told us in 2010 that TV debates were here to stay.

Forget Vote Blue, get Green. It's Vote Blue, get nought!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

No election-winning trend emerging


No election-winning trend emerging so far. Political activists perhaps 10% of the electorate are getting hysterical already, but nothing stirs the third who are the left behind trade, fed up of everything and no powerful issue pushes the rest to Lab or Con because nothing is clear cut.

The mess in the NHS helps Labour, because it's a bit difficult to blame it on them after four years of Tory cheese paring. The economy helps the Tories, but not much because people feel worse off and are in debt. No other issue has traction.

A big dose of hope might stir things, but that's not available on party prescription, so the future is reduced to an argument about who'll make it most miserable. Osborne winning on that so far. As for a fairer, more equal society forget it.

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Note that they're now claiming that Sir Nosey Parker head of the Insecurity Service wrote his speech demanding more powers (in addition to the £100 million he's just had) before the Paris killings. How could he be expected to anticipate them, much less use them politically?

Don't worry. Sir Malcolm (anything else you require sir?) Rifkind will protect us by ensuring that whatever Nosey wants, Nosey gets. Rabbit too will help the war effort. I'm perfectly happy to let them read my blog. Someone has to.

Friday, 9 January 2015

PARIS, TU AS TROP CHANGÉ, MON VIEUX


Grieve for France, but learn too. You can't banish a large, alienated immigrant population to pools of poverty and deprivation in poisonous banlieux without storing up trouble. In the US it's riots, in France it's killer kids inculcated into a culture of petty crime, drugs and sex who think (despite all appearances to the contrary) that they're religious saints defending a God they are, in fact, defaming.

The worst result would be to widen and deepen the gulf between the two nations by creating fear and hatred of the immigrants they've alienated in the first place. Be warned. Free markets and ghettos make martyrs when they fail.

But whatever happens, it's no longer 'douce France, cher pays de mon enfance'.

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Don't let this become an excuse for yet more powers for the security services, yet more restrictive legislation and yet more armed police on the streets. It isn't. It's a reason for more competence and care. People on watch lists weren't watched. No flyers were allowed to fly and no-one saw the indoctrination of credulous criminals. What's the use of more powers if the existing ones are used so incompetently? After the event they pieced everything together. Within minutes they'd brought out all the connections, but several deaths too late.

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Observe the greater number and the smaller circulation of French newspapers and the greater frequency of their editions. Observe too the greater circulation of intelligent news mags (Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Point, LExpress and, particularly, the harsh satire mags like Le Canard (circulation 600,000) and Charlie Hebdo (60,000).

Our political system is becoming a two-party system


Our political system is becoming a two-party system, here each party has much the same economic policy. Neo-liberal, free-market economics have become the ideology of both main parties. Mrs T began it. New Labour carried it further and it reaches it's culmination in Osbornism: elimination of the deficit a process which Labour proposes to take more slowly, but without any dollop of Keynes to make things better.

The most depressing thing is how little dissent there is from both idiocies. A few crazed Tories want to move further and faster to stateless heaven, but they're of no account. While on the Labour side the left is pathetically small and getting smaller as processed peas replace retiring lefties. John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and Kelvin Hopkins will keep sense alive. But will they be heard above the chorus of bleats?

Si froid que le Lapin va rester dans son trou


EXCLUSIVE Lapin can now reveal the Tory plan for winning the election. Things may be tough we've had to be cruel to be kind lately, but our long-term plan is working and the road ahead leads to a better future in which hard-working families will get the benefits of the sacrifices we've all made to pull Britain out of the mess Labour left. Dont let Miliband ruin it.

Miliband's an odd-looking fish who's not competent to run a whelk stall. Funny fellow. Looks a bit foreign doesn't he? Some one as naive and inexperienced as him is certain to flood the country with immigrants who're filling our hospital beds, draining our social security funds and taking all the social housing to run brothels and kebab houses. You can't trust him like you can trust us.

That's the formula that's worked in Canada, Australia and New Zealand to re-elect bookish Prime Ministers. Their experience indicates that electors are now so fed up of parties and politicians they'll accept any lies, dirty tricks and nastinesses on the basis that things may not be good but the other lot will be worse. That, plus more abuse of Miliband may be enough to let the Tories sneak home.

Never underestimate the stupidity and masochism of the British people.

The days of one party rule are gone


Now Britain has multi-party politics it's going to need proportional representation to make them work. The old days of one party rule are gone. The only way to get strong government now is with proportional representation and a coalition of the like minded come together on an agreed programme. Not what an old party hack would want, but the best we're going to get now the majority parties have fouled up their own nest by failure.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HOPE?


Ask why the people are so fed up, the twitter anti-politicians and the whole political class so hysterical and so many people prepared to buy UKIP snake oil? The answer is that they see Britain failing, an incompetent political class which feeds them lies and their living standards falling with no end to the fall in sight.

What do they want? They want hope. And they want it not at the end of a German autobahn, but now. Yet both parties offer only versions of the neo-liberal orthodoxy which has brought everything down to this mess in the first place. Their choice is between Tweedledim and Tweedle-slightly-less-dumb each offering a diet of austerity and a greater or slightly smaller obsession with eliminating the deficit. Exactly the formula for a hung parliament and a weak grad-grinding Government 
after it.

If Labour continues down that road, after all the hard work of the policy review, it fails in its duty to its people who've been hardest hit and in its duty to a nation that needs an alternative to promises of prolonged misery. Britain deserves better than a hydra-headed deficit defeater pursuing policies which won't ever work.

To put the fiscal deficit at the centre of policy is to accept the neo-liberal economics which gave us the deficit in the first place. Deficits don't matter if the economy grows and only more borrowing and spending can get it to grow again so that more people in work pay more taxes and need less public spending.

We've created the mess by allowing the banks to create 97% of all credit and then charge us interest on it? They've shoved the money into mortgage lending to drive house prices to unsustainable levels and credit card spending to put us all in debt, but very little into investment and the productive industry which can pay the nation's way in the world. Labour's answer must be to create public credit and use it to finance social housing, public investment, infrastructure work and an industrial policy to reboot manufacturing and exports. If the private financial sector won't do it the state should and must.

Business will moan but it's failing the nation. Bankers will cry "inflation", but it's unnaturally low and we need a degree of it to lift us off the rocks. The orthodox will say it can't be done, but they'll soon be doing it in the EU and they are already in Japan. The media will protest, but they do that at everything Labour suggests. The people will see it as hope. Folk may not understand Keynes but they do want an alternative. Put the peoples credit into the peoples pockets.

Cowards may flinch while traitors and New Labour sneer. But there's nothing else to hold us back.

Basic economics - it's all the exchange rate stoopid



Don't gloat at the fact that the Euro is falling in value because of the strains it's under and the possibility that Greece may leave the Euro (or be chucked out). The Euro will fall even more if the Germans let the European Bank go in for quantitative easing and start printing money to buy back debt in the way we have because, that too, is a process of devaluation. The Germans may grumble and complain about the unreasonableness of all the others in not squeezing the pips of their people with austerity. They'll attack the Greeks for being corrupt and lazy. But behind the scowls. they want it that way. They need the Euro to be a mess because that keeps the Euro down and that's the whole purpose of this stupid exercise. If Germany had its own currency it would be uncompetitively high, damaging their industry and their trade surplus.

On the other hand, because lots of the more feeble currencies are involved in the Euro, the exchange rate is lower and a cheap Euro (and a devaluation which is now going on) lower the price of their exports outside the EU and make their highly competitive exports even more competitive.

Germany built up it's powerful exporting economy by keeping the Deutsche Mark as low as possible despite the pressure from the USA to put it up. France and Italy kept up with it by regular devaluations. The British, being more stupid, tried to keep the pound as high as possible, partly because it was a national phallic symbol and partly because the City of London wanted it that way. So we declined. They prospered.

The development of monetary union meant that France and Italy couldn't devalue as much in the ERM while Britain, as usual, entered at too high a rate, couldn't hold it and was forced out in the 1992 devaluation.

Gordon Brown saw the dangers of a fixed exchange rate and kept us out of the Euro, but then kept the pound far too high to "fight inflation", something best done by destroying British manufacturing. Germany, however, welcomed the Euro because it helped keep their exchange rate much lower than it would otherwise have been. Not daft these Krauts. Had they they kept the
Deutsche Mark, with their enormous trade surplus, their exchange rate would have been cripplingly high that's how the market works and they couldn't let that happen. Big reserves über alles. But now France, Italy and the other members could no longer devalue to stay competitive, so they were forced to deflate, impose austerity and cut wages to compete with Germany. This turned the Eurozone into a high unemployment, low growth black spot and Germany the only country that really benefitted from the system declined to share its benefits by giving aid support and money to the areas which were suffering because they couldn't compete with Germany. Via Dolorosa is the way if you're not German.

So the Euro staggers on. It won't work. It can't without one budget, one finance minister and one system of redistribution. But they won't give up on it either. Greece may leave or they may agree to write off debts it will never repay. The tension will keep the Euro low on the currency markets and that keeps Germany's exports to the rest of the world competitive. That, in turn, will hit our exports both to Europe and to other markets and make our growing trade deficit worse until eventually we'll be forced into a massive devaluation too. It's a gloomy prospect all round. But not for Germany. Gehts gut danke.

Moral: watch the exchange rate. It's all that matters.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Cameron is all about the survival of Cameron


Huggy Behr in The Guardian asks what ideological legacy Cameron will leave. Daft question. Cameron is a public relations man not a political thinker. PR men leave smudges, some of them on underpants, not ideas or policies.

Cameron's basic principle is the survival of Cameron. To ensure that he's happy to chuck overboard everything he once appeared to support but really didn't. So hug a hoodie becomes hit their benefits. Hug a huskie becomes green crap. Euro enthusiasm becomes flirting with Brexit. No top down reorganisation of the NHS becomes the biggest ever. And so it goes on, but don't assume that the new principles are Cam's real views either. Like his earlier effusions they'll all change again if necessary, because the basic rule in political PR is "Here are my principles. If you don't like them I'll change them".

Perhaps it's better now to change the man than have him find another set of principles.

Pressures on A&E


Just a thought about the excessive pressures on A&E. The replacement of NHS DIRECT BY THE 111 service is partly responsible for sending more people to hospital. But another failure is the closure of most of the Dhazi Walk-in Centres set up by the Labour government for the convenience of those who didn't have a doctor or couldn't go in surgery hours. Why did they close the Walk-In Centres? To save money of course.

But I've forgotten the usual warning. It's all Labour's fault, of course. Due to the wage settlement we gave the doctors in 2002. Thanks to The Daily Telegraph for reminding me of that. And to The Mail for reminding me that it's also due to Labour's hypocrisy.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Some bitter financial truths

Don't judge the Government's dodgy dossier on expenditures the next Labour Government plans by the eighty pages of detailed spending increases the Treasury has been coerced into producing. They're clearly the products of a fevered imagination (though of course, in my view they're not enough)   
Judge it merely as a heavy handed way of creating fear of tax increases in the same way as "Labour's tax Bombshell" did in 1992.

The antidote should be a dossier of things that should be cut if we're to reduce the deficit but which  both main parties support whatever the cost. HS 2 is a white elephant which will probably have to be abandoned in the long run but will cost at least £7 billion to get businesspeople thirty minutes earlier to Birmingham at the cost of enormous environmental damage. The extension to Leeds and Manchester at let's say another £10 billion ( these things over-run of course) is an even worse burden but despite that government is now envisaging HS3 underneath the Pennines.

Then there's replacement of Trident, a weapon we don't need, have never used, and which imposes a crippling burden on defence budgets. And  the SNP wants it out of Scotland. Government admits that the bill will be between 15 and 20 billion pounds. More realistically, Greenpeace says it will cost at least £34 billion but which both main parties are apparently committed to.

The parties insult the intelligence of the electorate by quibbling over the cost of keeping Libraries open while ignoring these expensive white elephants lumbering across the political landscape.

Accident and Emergency crisis: Don't blame the patients.With hospitals declaring "major incidents" and performance  (and waiting times) at A&E  at the lowest level for a decade, government is rushing to blame the public for being too fat, too lazy to go to the doctor too drunk or too worried by trivial problems. Apparently they're not "proper poorly" or not poorly enough.Take up your bed and walk Jesus might have said. Hunt probably puts it differently but points in the same direction.

Balls. Sick people need help where they can get it  and the A&E crisis is caused by staff shortages and closures.The answer is more staff and more money not lectures to the poor old patients. Frank Field is right. The NHS needs more money and the  only way to provide it quickly is to increase  National Insurance contributions A rise of 1% would bring in 15 billion over five year. Add to that an increase in the higher earnings charge to make it less regressive and we're on the way to  deal with shortfall of £30 billion the NHS by 2020. No one has found better proposals to tackle this shortfall. But disaster faces us if we don't.

Of course if they hadn't scrapped NHS Direct people would have had access to expert advice from qualified nurses which in many cases would have made it unnecessary to go to hospital in the first place. scrapping NHS Direct has made the whole thing worse.