How the Tories plan to cut school budgets to fund new grammars

by Naomi Fearon

The Tories, not content with waging their ideological war on education through the turbocharged privatisation of schools and education in general, have continued to show their true colours through their recent budget announcements. The current ‘Funding Freeze’ on education coupled with the National Funding Formula will see mainstream schools face sweeping cuts of £3bn from the overall budget. Never ones to be socially divisive in half measures, the Tories have also decided to set aside £320 million for new grammar schools and free schools. This is at a time when many state schools are in a state of disrepair, and when the National Audit Office estimates that £6.7 billion is needed for repairs and refurbishment.

Back in 2015, the Conservative Party pledged in their manifesto that they would continue to protect school funding, but as usual nothing is quite so straightforward when it comes to Tories and their promises. What it actually means for schools is that the budget will not increase with inflation leaving schools, many with budgets already ‘on the floor’, unable to cover costs. Continue reading →

Britain isn’t booming – it’s in a crisis

by Tom O Leary

Chancellor Phillip Hammond

The latest UK GDP data confirm that the British economy remains in a crisis. As government spokespersons never tire of telling us the opposite, and are dutifully echoed by the majority of the media, then it is important to set out the factual case on the economy and to explain where the discrepancy between rhetoric and reality arises.

Once the factual analysis is made the following points are clearly established:

  • The UK remains in a crisis
  • On key measures of the living standards of the population, the UK is in the worst position of all the advanced industrialised economies
  • Fundamental economic factors mean that this crisis is set to deepen
  • The project of austerity will be resumed with a vengeance in response to Brexit

The UK economy grew by just 1.8% in 2016. This is below the average growth level since the recession, which itself has been miserably weak. On a calendar year basis, the recovery began in 2010. Since then GDP growth has been an average of 2%, so 2016 was among the slower years in a poor recovery. Continue reading →

Why the Right fears the four-day week

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

I’ve got a guilty secret. I subscribe to CapX‘s mailing list and occasionally, I like some of its output. For those of you who don’t know (or don’t care) what CapX is, it’s a fancy ass blog that styles itself as the home of some of the best politics writers going. And Daniel Hannan. It also happens to be firmly on the right somewhere between Cameroonism and the batshittery of so-called libertarianism. In many ways, its stock-in-trade in contrarianism, albeit not as strident or as obviously stupid as your average Brendan O’Neill missive. No, their niche in the comment landscape is the provision of middle brow arguments bigging up Uber, applauding Tory economic policy (well, until this happened), and blindly, blithely cheering on the anarchy of market fundamentalism. Still, lefties used to the thought-free rantings that normally passes for right wing thinking should check it out if they want their conservatism a touch more substantial. Continue reading →

The Tory budget fails to address any of Britain’s economic woes

by Matt Willgress

Chancellor Phillip Hammond

You wouldn’t have known it from Theresa May’s laughs and Chancellor Philip Hammond’s boasts, but the Budget this week failed to address the key issues and underlining problems facing the British economy.

This Tory complacency in terms of economic policies and planning, alongside their ideological commitment to austerity makes a toxic mix that will damage the living standards of the majority of British people. The reality of Tory Britain today is that we have a low productivity, low wage economy and even the jobs that are being created are insecure and often poorly paid. 900,000 workers are now on zero hours contracts, 55 percent of whom are women. Continue reading →

Hammond’s National Insurance Nightmare

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Chancellor Phillip Hammond

George Osborne may have been the worst chancellor of modern times, but he understood one thing. Subordinating the national interest, i.e. those of British business-in-general to the narrow concerns of the Conservative Party, allowed for good press and the accumulation of political capital. It didn’t matter if these actions weakened the economy or made life worse for millions just as long as it helped secure the next election, which it duly did. “Call me” Philip Hammond, is a very different kind of chancellor. As he got up at yesterday’s budget statement, he entertained the chamber with a handful of zingers at Labour and the SNP’s expense, but effectively he did the anti-Osborne. His was a thin, technocratic position that didn’t pay too close an attention to politics, and as a result the politics played him. Continue reading →

Meet the next Tory leader

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Let’s leave behind the argy-bargy and speculations surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership, and turn our attention to the Conservatives and who will succeed Theresa May. It’s not exciting anyone at the moment because the issue is beyond settled. May convincingly took the farce of the Tory party leadership contest and now rides high in the polls. And yet, as everyone obsesses about Labour’s difficulties we have a tendency to forget that May possesses a sliver of a majority, and adding Copeland to her tally does nothing to change that. Brexit is a destruction derby’s worth of car crashes waiting to happen, little of which is going to reflect positively on her. The backbenchers might start getting restless, especially if sense is imbibed and a hard Brexit avoided. And there are those pesky events – the economy, NHS, schools, disability cuts – threatening to throw a spanner in the works. Oh, and lest we forget, the Tory electoral fraud story is menacing the outer edges of the problems piling into the PM’s in tray. Continue reading →

No, robots are not going to take all the jobs

by Andy Newman

One of the underpinning arguments behind those arguing for a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), alternatively known as the Universal Basic Income, is that automation is creating a new technological paradigm, where, as Paul Mason describes it:

Information technology is preventing the normal adaptation process, whereby capitalism — as a complex system — reacts to crisis, to the exhaustion of old business models, to the low profitability of old businesses and old sectors.

As the argument is very coherently put by Mason, I will concentrate on his presentation of it. Continue reading →

There is no ‘People’s Brexit’

by Tom O Leary

The certainty that Brexit will push living standards lower is not really a forecast- it is already happening. Fundamental economic forces mean that Brexit can only have a negative outcome.

Immediately following the referendum the pound fell sharply and has more or less stayed at that lower level since. The 13% decline means that CPI inflation is moving remorselessly higher and will continue to do so. Higher inflation means lower wages and incomes in real terms.

People are already worse off, and Brexit has not even begun. On the current timetable negotiations are supposed to be concluded in early 2019. Only at that point will the massive disruption caused by Brexit really begin to take effect. Continue reading →

The other trade union march

by Andy Newman

Danny Glover, Bernie Sanders and NAACP president Cornell Brooks participated this weekend in a march with Nissan factory workers trying to unionize in Canton, Mississippi. It is worth watching the film below, and Brooks is particularly eloquent about why workplace rights are civil rights. Continue reading →

The UKIP campaign in Stoke Central

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Time for a little talk about UKIP. Oh not, not another one. Yah, I’m afraid so. I want to talk about their campaign in Stoke-on-Trent, the character of its vote and their relationship to the Tories and, more significantly, Tory voters.

What Stoke definitively showed was UKIP is something less than a political party. As a 30,000-strong army of Nigel Farage groupies, re-orienting themselves as a “proper” force without a domineering personality to cling to was always a big ask. Such formations tend not to attract strong people. It’s a club for careerist losers, lickspittles, and human-shaped voids. Anyone with an ounce of talent and ability, such as the unlamented Steven Woolfe, tend not to last very long. And why vacant oafs like Paul Nuttall can rise without a trace. When the big daddy figure of these one-man populist parties (and it’s almost always men, Marine Le Pen and Pauline Hanson notwithstanding) depart from the scene, which is what Farage is doing with his LBC/Fox News/White House stints, what is left behind is a shell, a simulacrum of a political party. It looks like a party, campaigns like one, complies with legislation (well, in UKIP’s case, after a fashion), but there is no substance. Only crisis. Continue reading →

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