Oct 21st, 2014by Jon Lansman
Without question, this is the speech of the best, most progressive general secretary the TUC has ever had.
At the TUC march on Saturday, Frances O’Grady started by saying what a tough year it had been for trade unions, having lost “our brother, Bob Crow, and our teacher, Tony Benn“.
She said how proud she was of all those workers who had been on strike that week.
She belittled the idea of there not being enough money for public services and a living wage at the same time as boardroom greed, tax cuts for the rich and tax dodging.
And she attacked the blame and retribution wreaked on migrants, and UKIP’s role in stirring that up.
Let’s hear it for Frances!
Oct 21st, 2014by Michael Meacher
As Osborne has yet again pronounced, the Tory mantra repeated like a broken record is that spending cuts will continue throughout the next Parliament until the structural budget deficit is eliminated by 2019. Labour, to its shame, follows exactly the same line. Yet the ONS Quarterly National Accounts published by the government demonstrate that this objective is fantasy and on current policies will never happen. The reason for this is that the government deficit is only one component of the borrowing and lending by the 4 major sectors which takes place every year in the economy.
The other 3 are all the businesses operating in the UK, all the households or consumers, and the UK’s trade transactions with foreigners. All the borrowing and lending done by all these 4 sectors has to sum to zero, because all borrowing has to be matched in accounting terms by exactly equivalent lending. The ONS National Accounts figures show all too clearly the key problems in cutting the deficit and why on current policies they’re insuperable. Continue reading →
Oct 21st, 2014by Newsdesk
Today (Tuesday 21st October) the Young Labour national committee will be debating a motion on free education and providing support for the free education demo on November 19th, submitted under-19s officer Rida Vaquas and seconded by trade union rep Caroline Hill.
It is likely that right-wing members of the committee will attempt to prevent the motion from passing in its original form. You can lobby your Young Labour reps – to demand the motion goes through unamended. Contact details – email and Twitter – can be found here. Continue reading →
Oct 20th, 2014by Jon Lansman
Readers may recall that last year Nigel Farage was principled enough back in April to refuse to form a group in the European Parliament with Marine le Pen, French Front National leader, because of “prejudice and antisemitism” in her party – although he also said Le Pen had “got some good qualities” and was “achieving remarkable things“. Forming a group that has at least 25 members from at least 7 countries brings the group large sums of Euro cash — the sort of thing you might expect a principled Europhobe to turn down anyway — but both Farage and Le Pen were determined to form separate ones.
Remarkably, Nigel Farage has now done a deal with a Polish far-right party that Marine Le Pen though too anti-semitic for her group (she called him a holocaust denier), as well as too misogynist (for opposing women’s right to vote). Continue reading →
Oct 20th, 2014by Michael Meacher
Despite the recent howls from the City of London about the new criminal offence of reckless misconduct by senior bank executives, little or nothing has been done to curb the very real and big risks associated with derivatives which were at the heart of the financial crash 6 years ago.
It is little understood that whilst banks have little interest in buying or selling commodities, they nevertheless spend vast sums speculating on the change in their prices. This not only drives up the price so that ordinary people have to pay more for electricity, gas, water, copper, wheat or whatever commodity they’re buying, but it also generates huge profits and losses. Continue reading →
Oct 20th, 2014by Len McCluskey
In Len McCluskey’s clear and robust speech to the TUC march on Saturday, he delivered a warning to Labour:
Stop being scared of your own shadow. Don’t shrink what you offer to the British people. The time for timid is past. Be brave. Be inspired by this march today. Believe that people power and working class movements can change our country for the better.
Listen to the whole speech, it’s worth it. Full text below: Continue reading →
Oct 20th, 2014by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Political parties are always coalitions of interests, and nowhere is that truer than in our dear old Westminster parliament: practically the last bastion of winner-takes-all parliamentary elections in the world. All it takes to form a majority government is 325 seats, a feat that can be managed without winning an absolute majority of votes. And so to win our parties have to build up blocs of support, and do so by appealing to certain interests.
The Tories traditionally cornered the market in business, big and small, a managerial section of the middle class and a smattering of working class voters for whom individual, not collective self-interest mattered most. Labour’s core coalition was always a key section of the professional and public sector-oriented middle class, as well as the bedrock of the labour movement. And the smaller parties, the Liberals, the nationalists, they’ve had to get by on those left outside. Continue reading →
Oct 19th, 2014by Jon Lansman
Whilst Ed Balls stuck stubbornly to accepting that the economy was now growing rather than “flatlining“, with his disastrous conclusion that you couldn’t fund spending by borrowing in the up-swing, Ed Miliband was absolutely right last year to focus on the cost of living. “The first and last test of economic policy is whether living standards for ordinary families are rising,” he said. And they’re not. Instead we have payday lenders, low-skilled jobs and stagnating wages. Predatory capitalism. Ed Miliband recognised that “the average doesn’t tell you the whole story.”
In their book on the rise of UKIP Revolt on the Right, the new gurus of the topic, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin explain the rise during the Thatcher and Blair years of the “left behinders” – the crucial group of working class voters who fell behind the average, that once were loyal to Labour and are now moving in their droves to UKIP. Here Ford & Goodwin explain what happened at the hands of Blairite “reformers”: Continue reading →
Oct 19th, 2014by Michael Meacher
Last Tuesday the share price of Chesapeake Energy, one of the leading US shale oil producers, fell 29% in a single day. With internationally traded Brent Crude now trading at below $88 a barrel, a 4-year low and down from $100 only a few weeks ago, and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate at below $85, down from over $107 in June, the fabled miracle of US shale is facing a near-death experience. The oil consultancies estimate that US shale production will break even at $75 a barrel, so there is still some leeway for survival. But the impact of tensions over Ukraine and the gathering conflagration in the Middle East, plus above all the global market fears of secular stagnation kiboshing the world recovery from lengthy recession, are putting the market for unconventional energy production under strain as never before. Continue reading →
Oct 19th, 2014by Conrad Landin
The religion of socialism is for me not so much the language of priorities, as the language of common sense, of right and wrong. So sitting on the Young Labour national committee has been a frustrating experience. At the August meeting, senior members of the committee – including chair Simon Darvill and national executive committee (NEC) rep Bex Bailey – voted a motion on the crisis in Gaza off the agenda. If you’ve read any of my previous reports back from meetings (see footnote for links), you might be forgiven for thinking this sort of behaviour is a Young Labour tradition.
The motion had been proposed by south-east rep Max Shanly to be submitted by Young Labour as its contemporary motion to Labour conference. This is not a secret process – every year, like constituency branches, Young Labour can submit either one topical motion or one rule change. At this time last year, the committee voted to submit a motion on zero-hour contracts. Despite the timetable being plainly evident, committee members moaned that they had not had the chance to consider alternatives, and therefore that the motion should not be heard. Continue reading →