Britain is the only G7 country where inequality has got worse this century

by Michael Meacher

We are not your slaves (pic by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty)The amount of UK wealth controlled by the richest 10% in the population increased to 54.1% this year, a rise from 51.5% in 2000, according to the annual Credit Suisse global wealth report. Most of this rise has actually occurred since the financial crash since in 2007 their share of wealth was 52%. They have become wealthier because financial assets such as shares have risen strongly in value as investors sought higher returns with interest rates at all-time lows. Another factor was the pre-eminence of London with its soaring property prices and its position as the UK’s financial powerhouse unmatched by other European countries, including Germany. As a consequence Britain now has 44 dollar billionaires, a 5-fold increase in just 14 years from 2000 when there were only 8. Similarly the number of people in Britain whose net worth (a market euphemism for often ill-gotten gains) is at least £30 million almost quadrupled to 4,660. If the value of equity in houses is included, Britain now has 2 million dollar millionaires. Continue reading →

Four days of predicting a Blairite leader & poll points to Scottish Labour meltdown

by Jon Lansman


Ipsos-MORI poll

The latest poll from Ispos-MORI is a devastating blow to Labour which underlines the desperate state in which the New Labour years (as well as the failure of Ed Miliband to put them behind us) have left the Scottish Labour party. The poll shows a 30% swing across Scotland from the 2010 general election, leaving the SNP with a 29% lead over Labour (52/23) compared with a 22% lead for Labour in what was the best result across the UK for Labour in 2010 (42/20). Labour would retain only 4 seats on this basis, a loss of 37 seats.

This poll demonstrates that the SNP clearly represent a significantly greater threat to Labour in next year’s general election than UKIP in England (where today’s YouGov has Labour inching into the lead again). Whereas UKIP could perhaps take a tiny number of seats such as Great Grimsby off Labour if its current surge is maintained in the real contest where a British government is at stake, the SNP could take large numbers. But whereas UKIP might actually help Labour win some marginals (though not all), in Scotland there’s no upside. Continue reading →

The special relationship – what’s a new missile system between friends

by Kate Hudson

No Trident Replacement BadgeIn a globalised, increasingly multi-polar world, the ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK might be expected to diminish, as twenty-first century reality supersedes Cold War imperatives. Nothing of the sort, it seems, when it comes to nuclear weapons.

In 1958 the US and UK signed the ‘Agreement between the UK and the USA for cooperation in the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes’. Also referred to as the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA), the treaty established a modus operandi between both countries to exchange classified information to develop their respective nuclear weapon systems. Originally, the MDA prohibited the transfer of nuclear weapons, but an amendment in 1959 allowed for the transfer of nuclear materials and equipment between both countries. This amendment is extended through a renewal of the treaty every ten years, most recently in 2004. Continue reading →

The monstrosity of management speak

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

5724099_sI’m writing a wee piece about the sociology of management speak, which should arrive tomorrow. To help me out, I asked Facebook folk if they could give me some examples. A few came in but chief among them all was this, this … abomination. I don’t know if thanks is the right word, but props to @gareth_snell nonetheless.

I can sense the synergy of your post but you probably ought to drill down into the real nuts ‘n’ bolts of the issue to pick the low hanging fruit. Once you’ve done that, we can touch base offline and reassess your strategic staircase to ensure that you’re reaching maximum exposure because the contents of your idea cloud really need to be cascaded down, perhaps through a thought shower, into the wider workplace. Once complete we can action a stakeholder engagement session to really push the envelope and explore some proper out-of-the-box thinking that can ultimately lead to a win-win situation.

Somebody shoot me.

Image copyright: spaxia / 123RF Stock Photo

Labour should make inhumanity of Tories a key electoral issue

by Michael Meacher

Tories laughing at Food bank BritainThe Tory government’s decision to withdraw from the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean where tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing their war-savaged homelands is an act of pitiless inhumanity. Already this year alone some 25,000 people have arrived in Italy, and similar numbers from Eritrea, with thousands more from Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia. The numbers who never got there and drowned on the way are not known, but they certainly run into thousands.

To back out of this humanitarian mission is callous and despicable, especially when the motive is plainly to compete with Ukip in being hostile and harsh to migrants. It is made even worse when the Home Secretary hides behind the disingenuous pretext that saving lives only encourages more persons to risk this treacherous escape route. It is a shameful indictment to Britain’s reputation as a haven to the persecuted that the UK has resettled less than a tenth of the number of Syrians taken by Germany and Sweden and is now washing its hands of a fundamental humanitarian duty. Continue reading →

Support Neil Findlay’s campaign to lead Scottish Labour in pursuit of social justice

by Jon Lansman

Neil Findlay MSPNeil Findlay, shadow cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing in the Scottish parliament, today announced that he will stand for the Leadership of the Scottish party. Neil can expect the support of many on the centre-left of the party and within the trade unions in the expected contest with Westminster MP Jim Murphy from the Blairite wing of the party who has yet to announce his candidature and fellow MSP Sarah Boyack, shadow cabinet secretary for local government and planning who announced hers yesterday.

Neil had recently made clear his belief that, in order to win the elections Scottish Labour faces in 2015 and 2016, they must outflank the SNP from the left, and he proposed a range of policies necessary to do that. Announcing his intention to stand at Holyrood, Neil Findlay said: Continue reading →

France’s ‘rigid’ labour market: Manuel Valls should get his facts right

by Tom Gill

Manuel VallsThe French Prime Minister has revived the idea that the French labour market is overly protective of permanent employees. However, international comparisons show that this is not the case, argues Duval Guillaume

The functioning of the labour market is not satisfactory because it is not creating enough jobs, it generates significant inequalities between highly protected employees on permanent contracts and very precarious workers on fixed term  and agency contracts. We need to take action on this.”

So French prime minister Manuel Valls told France’s weekly magazine Nouvel Observateur on 22 October. Continue reading →

On the SWP and “uniting the Left”

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

SW front pageI was looking at my watch the other day and I remember thinking “it’s been a while since the Socialist Workers Party issued a ‘unite the left’ call.” And whaddya know, they’d already done it. My lefty trainspotting isn’t what it used to be.*

From time to time the SWP like to go on unity binges. In 2009 when the RMT/Socialist Party/Communist Party electoral vehicle No2EU contested the European elections after the SWP had been specifically excluded from participating, they duly produced an open letter to the left in which they proclaimed “Unity is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”

The problem for the SWP, of course, is this not long followed their stupid wrecking of Respect and the embarrassing adventurism of the Left List. And their turn to founding Respect came off the back of dumping the Socialist Alliance – a vehicle that, at least for a time, united the principal organisations of Trotskyism for the first time since the 1940s. Far be it for me to suggest that if you’re going to do the talk, you should also be doing the walk. Continue reading →

People need hope, not more of the Tory austerity fairytale

by Michael Meacher

Austerity Stops hereHa-Joon Chang in the Guardian is right that “the country is in desperate need of a counter narrative” to the Tory story on the economy. I believe it should go like this.

First, Labour did not leave behind an economic mess; the bankers did. Labour was not profligate: the biggest Labour deficit in the pre-crash years was 3.3% of GDP; the Thatcher-Major governments racked up deficits bigger than that in 10 of their 18 years. So who was the profligate? It’s a no-brainer. Continue reading →

The Gove legacy undermines exams

by Trevor Fisher

school examsThere is a broad consensus on education policy across the main parties at Westminster, which has only cracked in two areas: (i) Labour is demanding qualified teacher status in state schools and it does so with solid parental support; (ii) less immediately controversial is a split over exam reform.

Despite cross party support for exam reform, the planned decoupling of the AS and A Level exam systems, has destabilised the consensus with Labour opposing the split. Michael Gove’s planned return to traditional end-of-course exams was intended to build support among academic traditionalists and the wider public but criticism has mounted. The GCSE pass rate has dropped from 59.2% to 52.6% focussing attention on the GCSE reforms – still supported by Labour, unlike the AS reforms. Continue reading →

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