Jul 25th, 2014by Phil Burton-Cartledge
What are we to make of the LibDem’s about-turn on the bedroom tax? Whole-hearted penance or are more cynical motives at work? I’m sure readers won’t be shocked if the truth lies closer to the latter pole than the former, but it begs the question. With up to two-thirds of the Parliamentary party looking to have an abrupt career change after May next year, what kind of strategy should the LibDems pursue to avoid outright catastrophe?
If there is one thing they can take from the coming disaster, next year’s results are likely to be “trough LibDem”. It cannot get much worse. The problem is that the brick wall is coming, the collision is inevitable – but there are things that can be done to ease off on the accelerator. And signalling opposition to the hated bedroom tax is just one of those late-in-the-day things. To detoxify they need to put clear water between themselves and a Tory party whose nastiness is matched only by their determination to drag Britain down the plug hole. Continue reading →
Jul 24th, 2014by Michael Meacher
Osborne’s boast that he would shrink the welfare state to its small scale in 1948 has been definitively scuppered by a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). These official figures reveal that there are at least 6 major areas of public expenditure which are currently escalating rapidly and make it impossible to reconcile with his proposed 35% cuts in all non-protected departments and a further £25bn cuts in benefits in the next parliament.
This is reinforced by the latest news that the deficit (public sector net borrowing), the reduction of which is the ostensibly central objective of Osborne’s economic strategic, actually increased last year by £13bn despite a year of economic growth, whilst in the first quarter alone of the new fiscal year ONS figures now reveal a big increase in Tory government borrowing to £36bn, a worrying 7.3% increase over the same quarter in 2013. This major reversal, if it continues as it shows every sign of doing so, leaves Osborne’s counter-productive deficit-reduction plan in tatters. Continue reading →
Jul 24th, 2014by Michael Burke
Most people in Britain are getting poorer. For obvious reasons, the government and supporters of austerity would prefer not to discuss this fact.
Yet in the strained language of the Labour right, there has also been a clamour for Ed Miliband to ‘change the narrative’ on the economy by no longer talking about the cost of living crisis. This is based on the completely false notion that that the economic recovery under way will inevitably produce higher living standards. This fails to understand the content and purpose of current economic policy. It is also based on a refusal to face facts. Continue reading →
Jul 23rd, 2014by Ann Pettifor and Jeremy Smith
There is much to welcome in Ed Miliband’s address last Saturday to the Labour Party’s national policy forum. For example, his argument that Britain suffers from a low-pay economy. While the number of those in employment has grown, real pay has fallen dramatically over the lifetime of the present government.
At PRIME, we calculated the fall in real pay from May 2010 to May 2014 as 6.1%, using the CPI inflation and total pay stats from the Office for National Statistics. In his weekend column in The Independent on Sunday, David Blanchflower estimates the fall in real pay as 8% over the identical period, using the somewhat higher (but now less “official”) RPI inflation numbers. Continue reading →
Jul 23rd, 2014by Phil Burton-Cartledge
I think James Bloodsworth has been unfair locating the opposition to Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza in the matrix of revolutionary identity politics. Yes, in the fractured universe of British radicalism the Israel/Palestine conflict is an occasion for position-taking, and, as with nearly all positions assumed, be it war in the Middle East, the attitude to Labour, or whether capitalism has been restored in China, they are a locus for identity work. However, it is a mistake to say this determinesopposition to Israel. Their “obsession” derives neither from freaks of character nor unacknowledged anti-semitism: it’s because mainstream politics recognises, treats and privileges the Israel/Palestine conflict as a strategic priority in ways other persistent conflicts are not. It matters to the left because official society says it matters. Continue reading →
Jul 22nd, 2014by Jon Lansman
Never let it be said that Left Futures never has a good word for Labour headquarters and staff in the Leader’s office. Today, we have particular reason to praise their judgement.
At today’s meeting of Labour’s national executive committee, two rule changes proposed by CLPs having been promoted by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, have been endorsed by the executive based on officers recommendations. That’s not unprecedented – for a very short period in the early 1980s it was almost common – but it is not a frequent occurrence. The amendments recommended for approval by party conference are: Continue reading →
Jul 22nd, 2014by Michael Meacher
At least 425 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli blitzkrieg on Gaza, including 80 in the last day alone, and nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, 20% of them children. This is the result of launching the world’s fourth military power against 1.8 million Palestinians already blockaded in the largest open-air prison on Earth.
What is really sickening about this is the attitude of Obama (and Cameron) in blaming the victims for resisting aggression whilst backing Israel with impunity whatever the scale of their utterly unjustified civilian killings. US and UK leaders point the finger at Hamas’ firing rockets into Israel as the trigger for the Israeli attack, without which all this appalling bloodshed would never have happened. That is a concoction of fantasy. Continue reading →