The latest ONS Quarterly National Accounts tell a very significant story. For the media it was immediately a matter of Osborne likely not being able to provide a pre-election giveaway in a big new tax break to be announced in his Autumn Statement on 3 December. But that isn’t the real point at all. A far more significant issue is that it spells the end of Osborne’s case that austerity is necessary to cut the deficit. If the deficit starts to rise rather than fall, the case for continuing with austerity and perpetual spending cuts collapses. That is exactly where we now are, although no-one, including the Labour Party, is saying so. This is now the opportunity for Labour to say loud and clear that Osborne’s policy has hit the buffers and is now intellectually and politically bankrupt and that the alternative policy of expanding the economy, as opposed to endlessly contracting it, is now the only viable game in town. Continue reading →
The annual conference of Plaid Cymru starts tomorrow. Here their leader, Leanne Wood, talks about the Scottish referendum and devolution, questions EVEL (English votes for English Laws) and opposes the evils of austerity. She is interviewed by Socialist Resistance
SR: You were a very high profile and active supporter of the Yes campaign in Scotland. Why did you think it was important to do that?
LW: Scotland’s Yes movement had a clear aim – they wanted the future of their country in their own hands. They wanted to end Tory rule they didn’t vote for and they wanted to be free from the shackles of the broken Westminster system. Had people in Scotland voted yes, an opportunity to break with the 30+ year long neo-liberal consensus would have opened up for many of us outside of Scotland too. While the vote was a matter for people in Scotland, there were wider implications. When I went to Scotland I was able to talk to people about the potential impact for Wales. Continue reading →
The Bank of England’s Andy Haldane is a fine economist. He occupies an ideology-free zone. This is highly unusual in central bank circles. He made a particularly skilful and nuanced speech last week. Many gushed over it. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times suggested that it was good enough to qualify Haldane as a journalist.
But Haldane is not a journalist. He is a central banker. And that makes his ‘Twin Peaks’ speech particularly ominous. For while he bows to his political masters in the Treasury by acknowledging the growth in UK employment, his speech tilts definitively towards gloom. Let’s analyse it more carefully than I was able to do in a brief BBC Newsnight interview (eleven minutes into the show). Continue reading →
Calling it support might be a bit of a stretch but nevertheless this graph is interesting.
Here’s your source. The professional pundits are probably right. This is a backlash of sorts against UKIP. The greater their presence is felt, the more their backwardness is plastered all over the media the stiffer the resistance to their blandishments becomes. Continue reading →
On Monday 13 October, MPs voted by 274 to 12 in support of the following motion:
That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.”
The vote has symbolic significance, but does it amount to anything more than that? The decision is non-binding and David Cameron made it clear from the outset that his coalition government would not change its policy. More MPs—364—stayed away than voted, so even what seems like an overwhelming expression of parliament’s opinion is, in reality, only a partial view. Nevertheless, symbolism should not be gainsaid, especially when it reflects the very origins of the conflict and Britain’s role in it. Continue reading →
The government’s Recall of MPs bill which was debated in the Commons on Tuesday, a flawed version of Zac Goldsmith’s private member’s bill, states that 10% of constituency members (about 8,000 persons) can trigger a ballot for a by-election if an MP has been given a jail sentence or if Parliament agrees a recall petition is appropriate on grounds of ‘serious wrongdoing’ – though what constitutes that is not spelt out. This is unacceptable for two reasons.
First, the decision shouldn’t lie with Parliament, but with the electors. The government position is like saying ‘You can only make a complaint against the police if the police agree to accept it'; if that were the rule, there would be public outrage. Second, the Commons debate dodged the question of the main reason why in the worst cases MPs should be subject to recall. That is where MPs are patently failing to hold the government of the day to account, which is their raison d’etre for being elected there in the first place. Continue reading →
The North East has a long and proud connection to the railways. In 1825, George Stephenson’s engine – locomotion, became the world’s first steam locomotive to carry passengers, and the public railway was born. In the years following thousands of miles of rail track were laid connecting every part of the UK, as the industrial revolution became driven by steam.
The railways today remain an essential part of our national infrastructure and their success or failure inevitably has an impact on the strength of our economy. However, too many people have been priced out of rail, and those with no option but to commute by rail face excessive year on year fare rises, overcrowding and little sign of improvement despite billions of pounds in subsidies provided to the train operators. According to the report Rebuilding Rail, the cost of a privatised railway has been £1.2 billion a year more, than had it remained in public ownership. Continue reading →
Last night the Labour Students and Progress block on the Young Labour national committee accidentally wrecked their own wrecking amendment, thereby wrecked (for them) the overall motion, and then voted it down – despite their amendment having been carried. The bizarre spectacle was the climax of a shoddy episode which once again revealed that Labour Students believe education is a privilege, and that citizens should be charged for being educated.
A motion in support of next month’s free education demo had been tabled by Rida Vaquas – as Left Futures reported yesterday. The motion was not a policy motion – the Young Labour committee isn’t allowed to discuss policy, remember? – but was about taking a position on an event in the near future. Consequently, whereas motions generally are split into “…notes”, “…believes” and “…resolves” sections, Vaquas left out “believes” so there was less chance of the motion being voted down on these (equally spurious) grounds. Continue reading →
The evidence piles up that the private sector auditors of banks have manifestly failed in their duties. All the major banks received unqualified audit opinions from Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, and Ernst & Young. Private sector auditors have a history of silence and are immersed in too many conflicts of interest.
The evidence is their silence at Barings and Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), as well as at other debacles. Accounting standards for banks are set by the International Accounting Standards Board, but astonishingly this is a private limited company in London funded by the Big 4 accounting firms who audit the banks and major corporations – a nice cushy cartel whereby the accountancy companies control by their funding the body that is supposed objectively to set their standards. The rules have enabled banks to publish opaque annual accounts, and vast amounts of assets and liabilities have not been shown on their balance sheets. Continue reading →
At present energy is a largely reserved matter to Westminster. Specific reservations in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 include the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity; the ownership of, exploration for and exploitation of deposits of oil and natural gas; Coal, including its ownership and exploitation; Nuclear energy and nuclear installations. However, secondary legislation has devolved aspects of these powers including the Renewables Obligation in Scotland and consent for power stations greater than 50MW onshore and 1MW offshore. Continue reading →