Tory deregulated market now delivers Rachman-style revenge evictions

by Michael Meacher

new eraThe New Era housing estate scandal in Hoxton, east London, highlighted by Aditya Chakrabortty, tells a poignant and tragic story about how Victorian philanthropic ideals has been transformed into commercial assets in play in the international market with not a shred of concern about the human consequences. Arthur Barsht, the man who built this 93-flat estate, must be squirming in his grave. It was preserved for more than 80 years by the Lever family who ran the estate as a place where low-income workers in teaching, health and construction could live near where they worked.

Now the grandson of the founder, who lives in a 5-bedroom detached house in Northwood, Middlesex, has announced the family is to sell up to an American private equity company which intends to quadruple the £600 a month rents for a 2-bed flat to £2,400. The US company was assisted in the takeover of the estate by Richard Benyon, the Tory MP whose multimillion-pound family estate in extensive parkland near London was a partner to the deal. None of the tenants will remotely be able to afford the new sky-high rents and they will all be evicted before Christmas. Welcome to Cameronian capitalism. Continue reading →

The polls provide clear evidence that Findlay can reach the parts Murphy can’t

by Jon Lansman

SL2014It is true that Jim Murphy has a higher media profile than Neil Findlay, but rarely in a leadership election do we have such good evidence that one candidate in the running cannot win over the voters Labour needs whilst the other has the policies they support. This matters if Ed Miliband is to have a reasonable chance of forming a government and if Scottish Labour is to avoid a further drubbing in 2016.

We know that over a third of Labour supporters went with Yes in the referendum. According to Professor John Curtice, a poll from Lord Ashcroft has this figure at 37% with another poll from Opinium in the last week of the campaign showing it to be as high as 47%. As Curtice points out:

It is certainly the case that less well-off voters, that is the kind of people who might be thought to be Labour’s traditional constituency, were more likely to vote Yes than those in more comfortable circumstances.’

Continue reading →

The way back from Rochester, Strood and austerity

by Michael Meacher

Moving on from flags and white vansMark Reckless’ UKIP victory over the Tories serves notice on all the parties. The Tories, having sworn to “throw the kitchen sink” at retaining it in Cameron’s words he must now regret, see a near-10,000 Tory majority in 2010 turned into a 3,000 (7.3%) UKIP lead. Labour, which never had a chance of winning, loses nearly half its vote. The LibDems virtually disappear with less than 1% of the vote. Of course by-elections are wholly different from general elections, but the result for UKIP in Rochester, 271st in their list of target seats, hardly suggests that the Farage phenomenon, based largely on sentiment rather than policy, has lost momentum. But there are several important implications. Continue reading →

New Labour got Scottish Labour into the hole it’s in. Only Neil Findlay can dig it out

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

Neil Findlay campaign portraitRecall the Scottish independence referendum? Can you remember the panic when a few polls put the Yes camp in the lead? Politics is a fickle business but surely that was burned on every Westminster psyche. Dozens of Labour MPs should remember it. They tramped north of Hadrian’s Wall to tell the fine people of Scotland to stay with us. We’re better together because of reasons, etc. One of those MPs was Ivan Lewis, whose trip to Glasgow was serenaded by the Imperial March of Star Wars fame. I’m sure he looks fondly back on it now. I also suppose he remembers why he went. Scotland leaving the union affected us English and Welsh just as much as the Scots.

Writing for the Sunday Herald, Tom Watson makes the case for Neil Findlay’s Scottish leadership campaign and recommends party members back him. Ivan Lewis disagrees. After Tom’s article appeared, Ivan tweeted:

Tom tweeted back and it went downhill from there. Continue reading →

What do Britain’s private sector firms contribute?

by Michael Burke

investment, pic by 123rf.comThe main factors that account for economic growth are increases in the workforce or in the amount of productive capital in the economy. A far smaller contribution is made by improvement in productivity as a result of innovation.

Since mid-2009 the British economy has grown. But this is wholly accounted for by growth in the workforce, which is made up of both an increase in the number of people in work and in the number of hours they work. As a result the average person in work cannot experience any improvement in living standards as economic growth is simply made up of more people working longer hours. Worse, those on very high pay, senior executives and shareholders, have claimed any benefits of that moderate growth in the British economy. Average real pay continues to decline. Continue reading →

Strip the private banks of the power of money creation

by Michael Meacher

Banking trade screensThe House of Commons held a very important debate this last week on the creation of money, a process which the Big 4 banks have monopolised and thus privatised the money supply.   The abuse of this power over the last 3 decades has been enormous, and I used this debate to propose an entirely different system which would remove this power from the present banking cartel in order to ensure that what was maximised was the national interest, not the banks’ own selfish interests.   I said this: Continue reading →

Tristram and Schools – What can we expect in government?

by David Pavett

Tristram things can only get betterThe People’s Parliament organised by John McDonnell MP recently held a meeting on education under the title Re-thinking schooling: class & education. The panel of speakers included Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the NUT and Diane Reay, a Cambridge university sociologist specialising in questions of class. The contributions were excellent and were followed by an hour long discussion with questions and points coming from the audience. You can find a report of the meeting and audio files of the main contributions on the website of the Socialist Educational Association (SEA).

Frustration with Labour’s policies on education and a lack confidence in Tristram Hunt were both evident in the contributions of virtually everyone (panel and audience) who spoke about them. It was mentioned more than once that the only party with educational policies anywhere near matching what most campaigners for inclusive and comprehensive state education want is the Green Party. Some members of the audience even said that they had left the Labour Party because of its abandonment of progressive educational ideas and policies along with its embrace of neo-liberal marketising concepts. Continue reading →

Emily Thornberry’s tweet – double standards at play?

by Mike Phipps

Emily Thornberrys tweetAm I the only person who thinks that the reaction to the picture of a house in Rochester decked with St George flags tweeted by Labour MP Emily Thornberrry might be a tiny bit over the top? Anne Perkins in The Guardian described it as “stupendous, crass, insensitivity” adding, “It may be the most devastating message Labour has managed to deliver in the past four years.”

Labour loyalists have queued up on news bulletins to denounce Thornberry, who has had to quit as Shadow Attorney General. Sources say they have never seen Ed Miliband so furious, which says a lot about his priorities. But this feverish response feels desperate and reeks of other forces with different agendas telling Labour what to do. The Labour leadership is in a panic, yet it’s clear that UKIP are a far bigger threat to the Tories. Continue reading →

Nuclear power is turning out badly: why is the government clinging to it?

by Michael Meacher

Warning sign with radioactive symbol and nuclear power plant on the coastThe news for nuclear gets worse every day. The latest news is that the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset, the government’s flagship nuclear project is near the point of collapse. After Ed Davey, the LibDem secretary of state (there was a time before they joined the government in 2010 that the LibDems were solidly against nuclear) waved through the most expensive power station in history, and then the EU Commission suspiciously decided that the huge financial concessions (bribes?) offered to EDF did not mysteriously constitute an illegal state aid, it now looks as though Areva, the French designer of the reactor and the only company that can provide the equipment, is in a state of free fall. Continue reading →

Whatever happened to the two party system?

by Trevor Fisher

5689489675_9272fa186e_bThe British political system is based on two parties electing the Prime Minister, who has to command a majority in the House of Commons. The ruling assumption was that there will be only two parties, an alternating government party and an opposition. There has never been much call for proportional representation and a multi party system, and coalitions have been rare. The current Lib-Dem/Tory coalition is unusual: there have been very few coalitions and the first past the post voting system is popular. Yet looking at election results shows that since the 1870s, three parties have been the rule, sometimes four, and currently more than four parties in the House of Commons.

Trying to make sense of the situation for media purposes, the TV companies recently tried to arrange political debates in the election of 2015 on the basis of four leaders, the three main Westminster parties plus UKIP, which has made an electoral breakthrough this year. However other parties at Westminster objected and the Greens threatened legal action if they were excluded, as did Respect and the nationalist parties. While the result of media negotiations remain to be concluded, one thing is now clear. The UK no longer has a two party system, which creates an unstable future. Continue reading →

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