Feb 24th, 2017by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Having a wee break from blogging tonight. Here’s a piece I did last week for work on, um, the future of work. As it was for the powers that be I had to tone down and be less forthright. Still, writing for different audiences is good discipline …
There has been a lot of concern recently that millions of jobs are due to be automated out of existence over the coming decades. Of course, this is nothing new.
Since the Luddites undertook the very first acts of machine breaking, capitalism has sought to replace living labour – workers, by hand or by brain – by what Karl Marx called dead labour, or machines. And this has been the pattern of economic development since the end of the 18th century. Continue reading →
Feb 23rd, 2017by Huda Elmi
Labour Campaign Against Prevent
Why the Labour Campaign Against Prevent must be the cornerstone to combating the Trump effect in Britain
The weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration have already heralded a hideous acceleration of sexist, homophobic, racist and xenophobic rhetoric and legislation. This has emboldened the populist far right and created a palpable sense of fear and uncertainty for vulnerable minority communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
However, as the headlines centre on Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ it is imperative that we remember the new President and his Islamophobic policies did not materialise in a vacuum. Muslims across the Western world have been increasingly subject to abuse, scapegoating and state surveillance for over a decade now. And whilst the spotlight has focused on the US in recent weeks, less attention has been paid to the racism that runs deep within our own institutions. Continue reading →
Feb 23rd, 2017by Phil Burton-Cartledge
The Prime Minister managed a double whammy of the unexpected yesterday. First, she visited Stoke, which is something PMs rarely ever do. And second, her presence and parade in front of the local media means she’s effectively campaigned for a Conservative candidate who doesn’t stand a realistic chance of winning, which is usually a no-no when it comes to playing the Westminster game. How to explain this most unlikely of high profile interventions? Continue reading →
Feb 23rd, 2017by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Has this week been decisive for the by-election campaigns in Stoke-on-Trent Central? Paul Nuttall must be nursing a cracking hangover. Having been so thoroughly exposed hasn’t done his campaign any good at all, to the point where he cannot really go door knocking again – not that he did much except hang around campaign HQ and have a few photos taken. And the lies keep on a-coming. He got rumbled over false claims that he served on the board for a North West skills charity. Michael Crick’s digging has discovered that Nuttall was on the local election register before he moved into his house – yet another offence to chalk up with all the others. And the dishonesty is spreading as UKIP supporters at their Spring conference pose as activists in Stoke. I know fibbing and politics are bedfellows, but Nuttall and co are something else. And this is without mentioning his yes-I-would-waterboard-a-10-year-old gaffe. Continue reading →
Feb 22nd, 2017by Jenny Clegg
Tom Watson, in a recent speech at the Cooperative Conference to launch his new Future of Work Commission, suggested that it is imperative for Labour to keep an open mind about Trump. In doing so he seems to have taken on board some of the anti-globalisation sentiment of America’s protectionists, setting the Commission off on the wrong foot.
Firstly, he falls into the error of seeing America’s ‘left behind’ rust belt workers as victims of cheap imports from China. Yet study after study has shown that new technologies have had a far, far greater impact on US job loss than trade. If the problem is not identified correctly, how is it possible to develop a sensible strategy for future employment? Continue reading →
Feb 22nd, 2017by Phil Burton-Cartledge
It’s been a few months, so we were due another return of Tony Blair. And so we had today’s intervention in the Brexit debate, fulfilling his earlier promise that he was going to get more active in British politics again. Naturally, and it couldn’t have escaped His Blairness’s notice even as he moves among the higher planes, is that there are a couple of by-elections on. In Copeland, the big issues are the local NHS and Sellafield. In Stoke-on-Trent, lying Paul Nuttall, aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, are trying to make it about Brexit. Continue reading →
Feb 20th, 2017by Chris MacMackin
If humanity is to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change, developed countries must take aggressive steps to decarbonise as quickly as possible. This will mean not only replacing existing fossil-fuel power plants, but greatly expanding electricity production to replace gas and petrol. Such a task demands not just an energy policy, but a comprehensive economic plan.
For reasons discussed in Part 1, decarbonisation is not achievable in Britain using only renewable sources. Investments should certainly be made in wind, and (where feasible) hydroelectric, tidal, and geothermal power, but even combined these are unlikely to provide more than half of the current supply. The remainder must be made up by nuclear power. This is broadly in line with what energy analyst David MacKay proposed as “Plan E” in his book Sustainable Energy—Without the Hot Air. This was the plan which he deemed to be the most economical of those he proposed.
Continue reading →
Feb 17th, 2017by Newsdesk
“Force of conservatism” in the Labour Party will not be defeated until the left wakes up to the importance of structures, a former CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes told the Morning Star this week. Hayes is standing for election to Labour’s influential conference arrangements committee.
He said the party’s policy-making structures should empower members and “not officialdom.” His comments came after Labour rightwingers won key positions at the London Young Labour conference last weekend, due to being better organised that their left-wing rivals. Mr Hayes, who is standing alongside north London party activist Seema Chandwani on the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance slate, warned that the right had upped its game following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. Continue reading →
Feb 17th, 2017by Phil Burton-Cartledge
Coming away from The Sentinel-sponsored by-election hustings at Staffordshire University, I spotted a blood moon hanging low over Stoke. For whom did this augur an ill omen? For Gareth Snell and the Labour Party, or Paul Nuttall and the United Kingdom Independence Party? If what happens at hustings matters, I’d have to say it doesn’t bode well for our Tranmere playin’, PhD totin’, compulsive fibbin’ UKIP leader. It’s not that Nuttall was totally dreadful from a presentation point of view, apart from a catastrophic gaffe at the end, but that he commanded hardly a presence. For the hustings was effectively the Gareth show, with Jack Brereton of the Tories as the supporting act. Nuttall played little more than a walk-on part and had to compete with the also-rans for attention. If he is a national figure, which he kept reminding us, then it’s a position achieved in the absence of discernible talent and charisma. Continue reading →
Feb 17th, 2017by Ann Pettifor
This week the New York Times reports that the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank will buy an American private equity firm, Fortress Investment Group, that oversees $70 billion in assets. Fortress specialises in dealing with ‘distressed assets’ – i.e. assets procured cheaply because of forced sales, bankruptcies or other misfortunes. As the NYT explains, Fortress is “an entity that is regulated – if relatively lightly compared with, say a bank.”
As a result of this purchase, SoftBank will oversee assets under management of $170 billion, “making it one of the largest private investors in the world after the Blackstone Group, which manages about $330 billion”. The paper goes on to explain that while “private equity firms have performed poorly as publicly traded stocks, they are attractive in part because of their ability to lock up money for multiple years and charge high fees.” In other words, they are attractive because like parasites they are able to gouge rent from ‘distressed assets’ over many years. Continue reading →