Douglas Carswell’s defection: high stakes

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Douglas Carswell on BBCI know it was wrong, but when Douglas Carswell announced his defection to UKIP and the forcing of a by-election in his Clacton constituency, I couldn’t help but think “brilliant!“. I imagine the prime minister was somewhat less chuffed. His terrible summer has taken a distinct turn for the worst. And as for UKIP it needed something to command the headlines again, and they have successfully captured them with style.

Carswell, however, is not and won’t be your archetypal ‘kipper. Yes, he agrees with the party’s europhobia and wants to see a little Britain paddle out into the mid-Atlantic. But that’s about as far as he goes. He’s a rare beast among the Tories, a politician who actually takes the hard right, libertarian principles he espouses seriously. Never mind that so-called “libertarianism” is the comfy shoe for capital’s iron heel. Still, when Carswell gave his defection speech yesterday and praised modern Britain for its tolerance, diversity and, yes, feminism; you don’t have to be Mystic Meg to foresee tensions somewhere down the line. Continue reading →

Austerity is the cause of the crisis in France. Investment can end it

by Michael Burke

hollande-et-parti-socialiste-300x300The French economy is in a grave crisis, much worse even than the sluggish growth of the OECD countries and almost as bad as Britain. In the 6 years since the beginning of the crisis the OECD economy as a whole has grown by just 4.5%. Over the same period the French economy has grown by just 1.2%. This is closer to the British economy, which was still 0.6% lower than when the recession began. The data is shown in Fig. 1 below.

Continue reading →

Blair should be sacked from his post as Quartet Representative in the Middle East

by Michael Meacher

blair_kennard_640-e1363602340831Following the latest example of Blair’s shameful support for brutal regimes in the Middle East, I have sent this letter to all four members of the Quartet – Ban Ki-moon at the UN, President Obama, President Putin, and President Barroso of the EU Commission:

Dear Secretary-General,

I write as a former Minister in the Blair government in the UK from 1997-2003 and a member of the Front Bench of my party in the UK Parliament for 29 years (1974-2003) to request that you and other members of the Quartet for Middle East affairs should now urgently review the position of Tony Blair as Quartet Representative. Continue reading →

Avoiding charge of racism is a cover for patriarchy and misogyny in Rotherham

by Diane Abbott

reut-miso-e1350497963883The child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham is a toxic mix of race, class and misogyny. And this was not a handful of girls hidden in a cellar by a particular gang. This was hundreds of young women (and some young men), year on year, being victimised in plain sight. Anybody who took a cab late at night, bought a kebab or knew the families of either the victims or the perpetrators would have had an inkling as to what was going on. But something made them blind to it.

There are people who had no excuse not to know. Attention has centered on South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, who was cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Rotherham council from 2005 to 2010, received three reports about widespread abuse but did nothing. Continue reading →

How not to write about Rotherham

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Rotherham Magistrates CourtSexual violence against women and girls comes in all skin colours, all languages, all forms of religious belief. One would hope its tacit acceptance by institutions laying claim to the protection of the most vulnerable lies in the distant past. But the report into the institutional silence, if not silencing of the victims of a Pakistani-descent paedophile gang shows this appalling abuse is not part of our uncomfortable yesterdays. It’s contemporary, it’s here, and lives are still being broken by sexual predators who rape children with seeming impunity. Continue reading →

Unrepentant banks put up two fingers to regulators

by Michael Meacher

Today it is reported that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed a fine of £14m on RBS for deficient mortgage record-keeping and poor advice to borrowers. It has still not imposed any penalty on RBS for its far more serious offence regarding the sale of US mortgage-backed securities. By contrast, only last week the US regulator fined Bank of America $16.7 (£10.2bn) for misleading investors in its mortgage-backed securities – nearly 1,000 times more than the penalty just announced for the British bank.

This colossal difference in the impact of regulation between the US and UK goes a long way to explain why the UK banks are still continuing to get away with impunity after nearly crashing the entire British economy. ‘Light touch’ regulation (a euphemism for its almost total absence) still rules. But it’s even worse than that, with the UK banks now sticking up two fingers at the regulators at every opportunity. Continue reading →

Critics of Eurozone austerity are right and the UK must learn the lessons

by Michael Meacher

merkel and hollandeArnaud Montebourg, France’s economy minister who has just resigned, is quite right. He denounced austerity policies as “absurd” because they had brought about “the most destructive crisis in Europe since 1929″ He rightly attacked the Eurozone’s fiscal stance as “the cause of the unnecessary prolongation of the economic crisis and the suffering of the European population”, and he correctly demanded a major change of policy away from “the extreme orthodoxy of the German right”.

Montebourg is not the only one who has been railing against the absurdity of counter-productive policies which are relentlessly dragging down the Eurozone into deflation. Renzi, the young Italian prime minister, has rightly been demanding an easing of over-tight fiscal policies and a longer timescale to generate the growth to enable his country to overcome its excessive indebtedness. Italy, like Japan before it, has now endured nearly two decades of falling living standards and in the absence of growth will soon find maintaining its interest payments unsustainable. Continue reading →

Time to get your contemporary motions in for Labour’s conference

by Jon Lansman

Conference MotionsThis year, Labour’s national policy forum did not agree to a single minority report. Nor did any policy papers include even a single option for decision by conference. This means that meaningful policy debates at this year’s conference, the last before the general election, can only happen on the basis of contemporary and emergency motions. The deadline for receipt of contemporary motions is Thursday 11 September at 12 noon. The title has a maximum of 10 words and the motion a maximum of 250 words.

Unfortunately, there are a number of hurdles to jump in order to get a motion accepted, including meeting the ridiculously complicated Criteria for determining if a motion is contemporary”, and not dealing with issues already dealt with by the national policy forum — though how are constituency parties supposed to know what these issues are when no report has yet been published? As a service to our readers, we we therefore reproduce a number of model motions circulated by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy below. Please feel free to cut and paste these to take to your local party meetings. Remember that if you add words, you must make sure that the total remains below 250. Continue reading →

The SNP vision of a deregulated Scotland is reason enough to vote No

by Richard Leonard

union flag melts away from scotlandVision is essential in politics. It illuminates the possibility that things could be different, better and inspires people to not just believe in change, but to be driven to do something about it. That’s why it will play a big part in determining the outcome of next month’s referendum on the question of a separate Scottish state.

Yes Scotland’s vision is set out in a new pamphlet called Your Choice. In it we are told how so different things will be six years after independence. Of course, to suit the argument in this “imaginary community” as it is described, some things will remain exactly the same.

Side-stepping the impact of EU membership and Britain’s opt out from the Schengen Agreement, English-born “Scott” will need no passport and pass no border controls or customs posts when he visits his family in Manchester in 2020. Continue reading →

Labour should champion a wealth tax

by Michael Meacher

It is worth remembering that the most popular item in Francois Hollande’s manifesto which propelled him to the French presidency was imposing a high rate of tax on the very richest in the country. Admittedly his popularity has nose-dived since then, but that is for totally different reasons to do with France’s economic straitjacket within the Eurozone.

Taxing the small category of excessively rich people still remains popular in France, as it is in the UK. A recent YouGov poll found that 74% in the UK favoured it, with only 10% against, and actually the the rich were slightly more in favour than the poorest groups. Vince Cable on behalf of the LibDems has been pushing the idea of a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 millions, but Labour has yet to indicate its support either for that or, preferably, a wider tax on the generality of wealth. Continue reading →

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