More’s the pity. There has been some talk (or is it wishful thinking?) that UKIP are a busted flush. They’ve had their moment, but shit’s getting real. As people with lives and interests outside of politics start thinking about who should form the next government, the purple barmy army aren’t going to get much of a look-in. So, the argument goes, expect their polling numbers to fall steadily between now and May. It’s only February, but most polls might be indicative of a trend about to set in. Continue reading →
One of the scams highlighted by the HSBC Swiss bank scandal, and then quickly ignored, is the continuing absurd anachronism of the non-dom rules. Stuart Gulliver, the shamed CEO of HSBC, though living in London in order to run the second largest bank in Europe and routing his bonus through a Panamanian company to escape tax, is perfectly legally allowed to avoid tax on all his overseas income because he is technically domiciled in Hong Kong. Even more incongruously, since most non-doms inherit their status from their father, it is possible for people who have been born, educated and lived in Britain for 50 years or more to have non-dom status, even is they hold British passports. All that they have to do to keep all offshore income and capital gains out of the British tax net is to show that they retain strong links to their home country and to show some intention of returning there. Continue reading →
Although most Labour Party members are now focused mainly on working for a Labour victory in the general election, there are some important internal party elections shortly after 7 May. Since the closing date for nominations in those elections is 10 June and many constituency parties won’t even have a cycle of meetings before that date, many are considering their nominations now and readers of Left Futures need to know who is standing from Labour’s Centre-Left for the positions up for election.
There are three important national committees on which constituency party representatives are up for election: Continue reading →
If ever for one second a doubt appears in your mind that the Tories aren’t the party of wealth and privilege, all you need to do is read the Tory speeches in the second jobs debate on Wednesday 25 February. In the meantime here is my speech from the debate:
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): This has been an interesting debate, although it has not always been of the highest quality. A number of contributions stay in my mind, but I will not have a chance to deal with them all.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) pointed out that £67,000 is a full-time salary and that this is a full-time job. That was a recurring theme. I remind those who say it is not that much that we are in the top decile. Nine out of 10 people earn less than us. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) reminded the House that almost four out of 10 people in her constituency earn less than the living wage.
My hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), who I am sure is on his way back to the Chamber, reminded the House that there are Members of Parliament who are earning £1,000 an hour in addition to their salary. These are staggering amounts of money. The hon. Member for Wells (Tessa Munt) used extravagant but accurate language to describe the horror that many people will feel when they discover how much money is earned by some Members of Parliament. Continue reading →
Osborne boasts interminably about success with his ‘long term economic plan’, but even the slightest scrutiny of the evidence shows that his claims don’t remotely stand up. Labour should be eating him alive.
1. After the 6-7% collapse of output brought about by the financial crisis, output per head has grown by less than 2% from 2010-13, whereas in the recovery from two previous recessions during 1981-4 and 1992-5 growth was over 8%. That difference between those 2% and 8% figures, largely caused by Osborne’s cuts, means that his austerity policies have cost the UK conservatively at least £100bn in lost production, equal to a loss of £1,500 for each adult and child in the country. That is a monumental failure of policy. Continue reading →
The recent pastoral letter of the Church of England bishops (Who is my neighbour?) is an effort to inject ethical considerations into a pre-election process in which they are seen to be in short supply. Jon Cruddas, head of the Labour policy review, wrote an article in the Guardian welcoming the letter in glowing and entirely uncritical terms as a “profound contribution” to political debate.
The bishops regret the sanitised, on-message and evasive talk which dominates current Westminster politics (and beyond). Instead they want a “… trajectory for a new kind of politics – one which works constructively with a ferment of different ideas and competing visions”:
- They say that political life would be enhanced if we discussed openly not only the creative potential of markets but also their tendency to entrench inequality and diminish human sympathies.
- They argue for the decentralisation of power where this leads to greater efficiency but add that it depends on the facts of the matter and should not be treated (as it is in Labour and Tory documents) as a panacea.
- They want an adult discussion about immigration that recognises both our obligations and that there are legitimate concerns.
- The time has come, the bishops say “to move beyond mere ‘retail politics’, where parties tailor their policies to the groups whose votes they need, regardless of the good of the majority” – and we can all think of examples of that.
Whistle-blowers are worth their weight in gold, though governments certainly don’t think so. Some of the most important things we’ve learnt about the nature of the societies we live in have come exclusively from whistle-blowers, without whose help the democratic holding of governments to account in critical areas of policy would have been impossible.
The Wikileaks release of classified diplomatic and military data, mass surveillance of Western populations, systemic tax evasion via establishment banks, the MPs’ expenses scam, and now the leaking of hundreds of dossiers and cables from the world’s major intelligence services – let alone dozens of smaller leaks by principled individuals scandalised by the behaviour of superiors – have all exposed a shocking misconduct by State institutions which would have gone unaddressed but for the bravery of a few honest persons who are then rewarded for their pains by being hounded out of a job, threatened, and even prosecuted. Continue reading →
This is a translation of a blog by Costas Lapavitsas who was Professor of Economics at London’s SOAS until he was elected as a Syriza MP this year. He is known as a Eurosceptic critic of the more Europhile stance of the Syriza leadership, though his criticisms are more reserved than those of Syriza’s 92-old resistance veteran Manolis Glezos, and we reproduce it here to help understanding of the debates now taking place within Syriza.
The agreement of the Eurogroup is not completed, partly because (at the time of writing) we do not know yet what ‘reforms’ will be proposed by the Greek government today (Monday, February 23) and which of them will be accepted. But those of us who have been elected on the basis of SYRIZA program and regard the Thessaloniki programme as our commitment to the Greek people have deep concerns and we must express them. Continue reading →
One year after PM Renzi came to power and three governments since Berlusconi, Italy is still depressed, thanks to unending austerity programmes, writes Leopoldo Nascia (translated from the original Italian by Tom Gill)
Seven years of crisis and three and half years of the political shocks they have brought, in succession, the governments Mario Monti, Enrico Letta and Matteo Renzi and have failed to pull Italy out of its depression. Austerity policies imposed by the European Union remain central to Italy’s economic policy, remain the rule despite the rapid changes at the PM’s offical resident in Rome’s Palazzo Chigi. Continue reading →
Doing okay in the polls … has some popular, left wing policies … yet there are questions surrounding the leader’s competence. We’ve heard the story many times before, but on this occasion it’s the Green Party and Natalie Bennett under the spotlight. In late January there was the Andrew Neil interview where she had certain difficulties outlining her party’s position on the citizen’s income. And today was her train wreck with Nick Ferrari on LBC, which you can listen to here if you’re yet to hear it. The thing is, as awful as Ferrari is, his tone was measured (some might say gentle) throughout, and it’s precisely that that made it so devastating. And as we know from Lord Fink and Malcolm Rifkind, the fashion in politics at the moment is to make a mistake and then compound it. Here’s Baroness Jenny Jones helping make Natalie’s day that little bit worse. Continue reading →