The NPF Economy, Business and Trade Report – some progress made, but a long way to go

In contrast to most of the other NPF Policy Commission reports the Economy Report proposals are more reflective of the new “Corbynite” Left Keynesian agenda than the poor quality material it produced prior to the General Election. This is obviously good in itself, but peculiar in policy development process terms. Thus, this latest report “touches base” on pretty much every key 2017 Manifesto commitment on the economy, and overall has a mildly Left Keynesian anti-austerity content and flavour throughout. Whilst those of us who have contributed to the NPF processes all year on this report obviously hope this improvement is partly based on our contributions, the marked Left Keynesian shift of this document is mainly due to the need to play catch-up with the hugely successful 2017 Labour Election Manifesto. A Manifesto which so confounded the massively dominant narrative within the PLP and Party bureaucracy according to which a reforming anti Austerity Left leaning approach could only spell electoral disaster. Continue reading

It’s time for the Left to take defence policy seriously

LabourDefenceReview The recent, empty point-scoring, hoo hah over the misfiring UK Trident missile test, and the flag-waving, posturing in Parliament and the mass media last year over the, up to £100bn, renewal of the Trident ballistic missile system, has highlighted yet again the ideological vulnerability of the Labour Left on defence issues.

Quite understandably, the left, working within a capitalist state with a major colonial/imperialist past, and now a junior partner, in the global structures of “Pax Americana”, has tended to respond with “nothing to do with me guv”, or an outright pacifist, approach to problems of the UK defence strategy and capabilities. The exception to this lack of interest being the Left’s almost universal hostility to nuclear weapons, from the moment Labour’s Attlee government established the UK as a nuclear weapons state – without informing the full Cabinet, never mind Parliament! The spirit of that decision has been well-described: Continue reading

Why Theresa May is lying to you 

5733835918_0276881b3c_qIn her party conference speech Theresa May promised to transform the Conservatives into the ‘party of the workers, the party of public servants, the party of the NHS’. She declared: ‘it’s time to remember the good that government can do’. Journalists on both right and left have been queuing up to announce a new era in British politics. Allister Heath has written in The Telegraph of May’s “repudiation of the Thatcher-Reagan economic world-view” and her apparent recognition that government is “the solution, not the problem”.

Meanwhile, John Gray in the New Statesman has claimed that May “has broken with the neoliberal model that has ruled British politics since the 1980s”. So where’s the evidence for all this? Gray finds it in May’s tax reform pledges, her plans for a national industrial strategy and her promise to reassert the role of the state as the final guarantor of social cohesion.  Continue reading

Our understaffed underfunded NHS is the result of government ideology

Disaster-looms-for-NHS_large-e1308062563878-2Jeremy Hunt had few answers from the barrage of cross bench concern this week’s parliamentary debates on the NHS funding and the impact of Brexit on the NHS.

When asked what he was doing to ensure that the NHS gets the £350million a week that it was promised during the Leave referendum campaign, the Secretary of State said “I am a little stumped, because I was never really sure whether we would see that money.”

The government’s health policy is utterly incoherent. The Leave half of the government is promising millions of pounds to the health service while the Remain side knows full well that that money will be unavailable in the economic chaos wrought by Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

Financial problems may only be the half of it. The vote for Brexit and Tory talk of an Australian-style point system leave question marks over the status of the 100,000 EU nationals that work in, and prop up, our health and care system.

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The scandal of privatised aid

Privatisation of UK AidIf you thought energy privatisation was bad for UK consumers, take a look at Nigeria. The result has been up to 45% higher prices, regular blackouts, workers made redundant and the companies involved being bailed out by the central bank. The process is part of a £100 million project being run by consultants Adam Smith International (ASI). Around half this money was put up by the UK government in the form of “aid”.

A recent report from Global Justice Now, The Privatisation of UK Aid, reveals that in 2014 alone the Department for International Development (DfID) spent £90 million through ASI. This is more than the entire amount spent on human rights and women’s equality organisations, and the latest slice of the £450 million of aid-funded contracts awarded to ASI since 2011. It’s a lucrative business – ASI directors are on six-figure salaries and made £14 million in after-tax profits in 2014. Continue reading