French President Francois Hollande wants us to believe that further European integration would fix the crisis. This is a bad strategy, for there’s no social dimension to Europe, just neo-liberalism. In a translation from the original, Eric and Guillaume Etievant Coquerel of the Left Party say France must stand up to Germany to change the future direction of the Old Continent. Continue reading →
The economies of the European Union and the Euro Area both contracted in the 1st quarter of 2013. The renewed contraction in GDP began in mid-2011 and has now run for 18 months on both cases. But, as Chart 1 (above) shows, the recovery from the depths of the recession in both cases was short-lived and at no point was the previous peak in activity of the 1st quarter of 2008 recovered. In reality, the European economy has been in a slump which stretches all the way back to the beginning of 2008 and is now entering its sixth consecutive year. Continue reading →
Everyone is saying that Labour now urgently needs two or three key themes which will resonate with the electorate and will be recognised by everyone as the party’s distinctive goals.
I believe those three key themes should be (i) reversing austerity by kickstarting the economy and putting a million or more unemployed back to work – which is also the most efficient way to cut the deficit, (ii) recreating a public NHS by repealing the Lansley bill and restoring the ethos of public service, and (iii) launching a major house-building programme to tackle the housing shortage scandal, generate jobs, offer genuinely affordable housing, and hold down house prices and rents. The last of these has received far too little attention, but all of them pinpoint drastic government failure. Continue reading →
Unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs. Obvious one would think, but yet this is a contested and controversial for many of our honourable members down in Westminsterland.
Received mainstream political wisdom has it that if you’re unfortunate enough to be out of work, it’s down to some quirk of your character. You’re too lazy, too indisciplined, too enamoured with a life on social security.
Or, for those who subscribe to a more bleeding heart view of unemployment, combinations of circumstance, lack of education or training, and poor/absent role models means one just isn’t cut out for the jobs market. Whichever way the bones fall on to the ground, you have different interpretations of the same message. Unemployment is an individual problem, an individual failing. Continue reading →
‘Make the multinationals transparent about the money they make here, how they move cash round their corporate structures, and the justification for the tax they pay, as well as their responsibilities for the kind of society we want to create’. Ed’s admirable sentiments with which the vast majority of the electorate would concur.
But the real question is: what are the mechanisms which will be used to ensure that these objectives are brought about? They should be at least four. Continue reading →
Ed Miliband has a significant opportunity to decidedly shift the terms of the debate on the economy, but to do so he will have to turn Labour policy on its head.
The austerity agenda which has dominated the UK’s economic debate since 2010 is increasingly seen as inseparable from a stagnant economy and growing poverty and unemployment. With the case for austerity crumbling, the discussion on the alternative policy required to deliver growth and jobs is now beginning in earnest. Continue reading →
debtIf there’s one thing that haunts Labour, however much the Tories are determined to commit hara kiri, it is the accusation that ‘Labour was responsible for all this mess in the first place’ by gross over-spending. Since this is not true, why doesn’t Labour refute it at every opportunity? Just before the crash in 2007-8, the UK budget deficit stood at just 3% of GDP, low by contemporary OECD standards and tiny by historic standards. At the end of the Napoleonic wars government debt was over 250% of GDP. Just before World War I it was about 30%, rising to 175% by 1918. It was still 125% at the start of World War 2, by the end of which it stood at 230%. It then fell to no more than 25% by 1990, but since then rose to almost 70% by 2010. Following the banking bail-out it has risen now to just under 90%. Continue reading →
Whether Andrew Feldman really called Tory party activists “mad, swivel-eyed loons” matters not. For the repugnant and reactionary in the increasingly depleted Tory associations, it sums up the contempt they feel Dithering Dave and his increasingly dysfunctional leadership has for the troops. The hard right hyperbole around Dave’s supposed social democratic agenda is politically illiterate, but condenses a frustration that the PM just isn’t interested in what the dying grass roots have to say about Europe and equal marriage. Continue reading →
Banging his fist with the smack of firm government, Cameron warned the energy companies yesterday that those who engaged in oil price-fixing will face the “full force of the law”. Oh yeah? They must be quaking in their boots.
Just 4 months ago when there was a huge public outcry at the surge in petrol prices, OFT ruled out a full investigation into petrol price-fixing after it concluded that competition was “working well” and there was “very little evidence” that petrol prices ‘rise like a rocket and fall back like a feather’. Continue reading →