Tory jobs claims take a hammering

The jobcentreThe Tories’ biggest economic claims (there are only two of them) are that they generated a recovery (after 18 months it’s already fading) and that they created a million private sector jobs. The latter claim is now under fire from all sides.

First, it has just been reported by the thinktank Centre for Cities that 11 of every 12 jobs created have been in southern England and only 1 in the rest of the country. This gap between the best and worst pedrforming towns and cities has now widened so far that it has created a 2-tier economy of dynamism and decline. Continue reading

Tories revert to their age-old policy of stopping the poor breeding

no children allowedOccasionally the mask slips and the truth becomes clear. We had already been told that the Tories planned to limit child benefit to the first two children because it would save money. Then IDS (Iain Duncan Smith) let the cat out of the bag: he said it would promote “behavioural change”. This element in the Tory DNA – that the poor are over-dependent on benefits and should have their breeding excesses curtailed – has quite a history. Keith Joseph made a pitch for the Tory leadership in 1974 with this appeal: “

A high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world… Some are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment….The balance of our human stock is threatened.”

Continue reading

Labour should make inhumanity of Tories a key electoral issue

Tories laughing at Food bank BritainThe Tory government’s decision to withdraw from the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean where tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing their war-savaged homelands is an act of pitiless inhumanity. Already this year alone some 25,000 people have arrived in Italy, and similar numbers from Eritrea, with thousands more from Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia. The numbers who never got there and drowned on the way are not known, but they certainly run into thousands.

To back out of this humanitarian mission is callous and despicable, especially when the motive is plainly to compete with Ukip in being hostile and harsh to migrants. It is made even worse when the Home Secretary hides behind the disingenuous pretext that saving lives only encourages more persons to risk this treacherous escape route. It is a shameful indictment to Britain’s reputation as a haven to the persecuted that the UK has resettled less than a tenth of the number of Syrians taken by Germany and Sweden and is now washing its hands of a fundamental humanitarian duty. Continue reading

The Coalition’s Last Stand

Black RodDennis Skinner summed up the country’s mood when he declared the recent Queen’s speech to be the “Coalition’s last stand.” The Government set out their agenda for the next 12 months leading up to the general election. It was a missed opportunity, lacking the ideas, policy and ambition that is required to meet the challenges we face, neither did it address the clear concerns and disconnect that was present during the local and European election.

We must face facts, our politics is broken when people no longer believe voting can make a difference to their lives. We needed a Queen’s Speech that set a new direction and offered hope but instead there was no policy to tackle the cost of living crisis, make work pay, or rebalancing the economy to allow every to share the benefits of growth. Unfortunately, we got more of the same from a rudderless Government who are planning when it is best to break up the Coalition in order to maximise their electoral chances.

Continue reading

Miliband’s linking minimum wage to earnings could benefit up to 5m low-paid

PeanutLow pay in Britain is scandalous, and it has got considerably lower since 2010. Low pay is conventionally defined as the number of workers paid less than the Living Wage of £7.45 per hour outside London and £8.80 in London, and on that basis workers on low pay have increased by almost 2 millions since the last election. In 2010 there were 3.4 million paid below that level, and now it is 5.2 million, which represents 1 in 5 of all workers and 1 in 3 of all women at work.

But what makes matters a lot worse is that these very low rates of pay are not linked to a moving upper threshold, and are therefore stuck at the bottom of the wage pyramid until raised by some minuscule amount in an opaque administrative process influenced by the CBI. Thus it is proposed to increase the minimum wage later this year from £6.31 an hour to £6.50. Another major flaw in this current system is that, even if it is raised by these tiny amounts, many employers simply ignore it and there is a wholly inadequate number of wages inspectors to enforce it and derisory penalties imposed even in the rare cases where employers are booked. Continue reading