Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ed's Hat Trick Of Own Goals


The following is from today's Sunday Times (well from a piece you can get free from their web-site). 

ED MILIBAND’S policy chief has launched a coded attack on the Labour leader for creating “cynical” policies designed only to “chime with focus groups”. 

Jon Cruddas accused Miliband’s inner circle of wielding a “profound dead hand at the centre” to stop the party adopting bold policies. 

He attacked Labour’s plans to cut jobseeker’s allowance from those aged 18 to 21 unless they undergo training as “punitive” and suggested welfare cuts had been adopted only to placate the media and floating voters. 

At a meeting of the left-wing pressure group Compass last weekend, Cruddas complained that plans drawn up by Labour’s policy working groups had been “parked” by the leadership and replaced with “cynical nuggets of policy to chime with our focus groups and press strategy”. 

We now have had (1) the fiasco of Ed Miliband's support for the Sun Newspaper (see here),  (2) his attack on welfare provisions for 18-21s (see both here and above) and now (3) the "parking" of Labour's review procedure for something entirely counter-productive.

So we now have a hat-trick of own goals by Ed being unearthed in the past week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Labour : Will We Now Get A Hat-trick Of Own Goals?

 Ed Miliband

The latest employment figures show an increase in self-employment of 8% in the past year, compared to an increase of only 1.8% amongst employees. This has been presented as being an "entrepreneurial boom", showing the residual strength of the free market and its ability to overcome the economic collapse of 2008; with the Coalition's economic policy being firmly based on public service cuts, wage restraints and the removal of constraints on the operations of a capitalist market system.

Unfortunately, single person entrepreneurial activity is not a sign of the growth of economic prosperity at all. Quite the opposite. It is a sign of collapse. Even if we ignore agriculture, single person entrepreneurship is 88.7% in Benin, 75.4% in Bangladesh and 66.9% in Ghana; whilst it is only 6.7% in Norway, 7.5% in the USA and 8.6% in France. The move to becoming single person entrepreneurs, is a move to desperation. What we need is a boom in paid work at a level which can provide decent living standards. (See pages 158 to 160 of this book). 

But when we turn to Labour what do we get? They wish to force the young unemployed into dubious training schemes at the threat of losing their benefits. Never mind about losing even further electoral registrations and votes amongst the working class and the young. And certainly never mind about justice and equity.

After Ed Milband's debacle over the Sun newspaper (see here) and now this benefits' blow, what will he do for his hat trick of recent own goals? And how much more can the Labour membership take? We should not be trying to catch up to and surpass the economic and social programme of the coalition. There is an alternative approach - for justice, equality, an active democracy and the advance of socialism.      

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ralph Turns In His Grave

Ralph Miliband turns in his grave. I turn my stomach. Does it also mean that Ed has given up on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - as well as Liverpool?

 Miliband The Sun

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unbalanced Britain

On 28th June, Independent Labour Publications are holding a one day seminar in Sheffield entitled "Unbalanced Britain".  The programme for the day can be found here.

There is no charge for the event, but pre-registration is required here. The deadline being 20 June.

See you there.

Which British Values?

Michael Gove says that all schools must promote British Values - see here.

Will these values include the imperial exploitation of an Empire upon which the sun never set, young children working in the mines during the Industrial Revolution, excessive bonuses for top bankers who helped to create an economic crisis, the rise of inequality and impoverishment over the past 30 years and military adventurism such as the invasion of Iraq?

For an era of positive British values we need to draw from the post-war establishment of full employment, a massive council house building programme, a mixed economy, the NHS and the Welfare State; when people overwhelmingly turned out to vote. Unfortunately, these achievements have all been undermined by moves to allow capitalism a free hand. Michael Gove is up to his neck in this great failure.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

What Happened To Democracy?

what happened to democracy?"

A feast of the practical alternatives being developed, by people and by governments around the world, to put people before profit with seasoned top campaigner


new director of World Development Movement
Thursday, 19th June
Quaker Meeting House
St. James Street, Sheffield, S1 2EW
Prompt 7.15pm. start. Tea/coffee from 6.45pm
All welcome. No charge (donations to costs requested)
Twitter: @WDMSheffield

Tel.: 01142 655 896

Thursday, May 01, 2014

What Are Labour's Policies For The Elections On 22 May?

Today,  Ed Miliband made a speech at Redbridge which was said to be the launch of Labour's joint campaign for both the European and the Local Government Elections.

The peculiar thing about his presentation is that he concentrated almost entirely on matters relevant to the 2015 General Election. He said little about Labour's policies for Europe nor about how Labour Councils will act in the immediate future. In his speech he referred to "Ten Ways that a Labour Government would make a difference".  The ten points he was referring to seem to be those that are shown below and which have been issued separately. These are points related entirely to next year's General Election and not to the European nor the coming Local Government Elections.

So just when will Labour issue its manifesto for elections which are due to take place in just three weeks time? It is two months since it signed up to a European Manifesto issued by the Party for European Socialism (PES), to whom it is affiliated.  Why is it not pushing nor (seemingly) even mentioning this document? It can be found via this link?

Much of what follows is worthwhile. But of more immedate significance, so is most of the PES Manifesto. Labour should not fight the coming elections without confronting the relevant issues.

Labour's Cost-Of-Living Contract With You

We Will:
  1. Freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and reform the energy market

  2. Get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020

  3. Stop families that rent being ripped off and help them plan for the future with new long term predictable tenancies

  4. Cut income tax for hardworking people through a lower 10p starting tax rate, and introduce a 50p top rate of tax as we pay off the deficit in a fair way

  5. Ban exploitative zero-hour contracts

  6. Make work pay by strengthening the Minimum Wage and providing tax breaks to firms that boost pay through the Living Wage

  7. Back small businesses by cutting business rates and reforming the banks

  8. Help working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds

  9. Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages by banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and pressing for stronger controls in Europe

  10. Back the next generation with a job guarantee for the young unemployed and more apprenticeships
This is our contract with you. Vote Labour to make Britain better off.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Labour's Trade Union Charter

 Ed Miliband with Durham Miners Gala in background

The ten points below are taken from pages 6 to 8 of the Labour Party Consultative Document "Work and Business" which will shape Labour's General Election Manifesto. For the procedures in use to seek to influence the development of such documents, see here.

"1. Labour will protect working people from their wages and conditions being undermined by strengthening the National Minimum Wage. The minimum wage should rise in real terms to at least catch up the ground it has lost under this Government, and Labour will investigate whether certain sectors can afford to pay more without risking jobs.

2. We will also establish ‘make work pay’ contracts, giving a tax rebate to those companies that sign up to become Living Wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament. Firms that sign up will be eligible for a tax rebate, paid for from the actual exchequer savings from higher tax receipts and lower social security payments.

3. Labour will increase transparency on pay, by requiring companies to publish the ratio of the pay of their top earner compared to the average employee, and the pay packages of the ten highest paid employees outside the boardroom. The next Labour Government will also look at how to simplify executive pay packages, and we will ensure that there is an employee representative on remuneration committees to ensure that the views of ordinary staff are heard when decisions to award top pay packages are made. We will require investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote on pay and all other issues, and ensure that shareholders approve remuneration packages in advance.

4. Labour will help make work pay by extending free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents, paid for by an increase in the bank levy. We will ensure parents of primary school children have access to ‘wraparound’ childcare from 8am to 6pm.

5. Success will be built by the many, not the few, and the next Labour Government will take action to increase security in the workplace and protect workers’ rights, including the internationally recognised rights of freedom of association.  We will also ensure that health and safety in the workplace is a priority, and will explore ways to ensure workers have access to justice.

6.. ... the way the law is currently implemented in the UK allows employment agencies and companies, in some circumstances, to pay agency workers lower rates of pay than directly-employed staff. That simply isn’t fair, so the next Labour Government will take action to ensure agency workers are properly protected and that there is no exemption from equal treatment on pay.

7. Labour will extend the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to cover different sectors of the economy, such as construction, hospitality and social care, giving better protection to those workers. The next Labour Government will also look at what more can be done to ensure agricultural workers are properly protected.

8. Labour will also increase security in the workplace by acting to end the unfair practices and abuses associated with zero-hours contracts. We will ban employers from being able to require zero-hours workers to be available on the off-chance that they will be needed, stop employees from being required to work exclusively for one firm if they are on a zero-hour contract, and ban the use of zero-hours contracts when employees are in practice working regular hours.

9 ... if the current Government will not launch a full inquiry into the disgraceful practice of blacklisting in the construction industry the next Labour Government will.

10. Labour is clear about the positive role the trade union movement plays in delivering fairness, safe working conditions and supporting productivity in the workforce, and we recognise the important discussions around the role of collective bargaining in boosting pay and promoting pay equality, as well as employee representation in the workplace."

Hat Tip for photo : Left Futures.