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Fine words are not enough: we hope for more from a Labour government

In September, Satnam Sanghera wrote an article about “freelancers” – meaning “freeloaders” we think – though Simply Business thinks the term refers to SMEs.

He had seen the estimate by the Federation of Small Businesses in Time to Act: The economic impact of poor payment practice that large companies neglecting to settle their bills cause about 50,000 businesses to fail every year.

Research from Lloyds Banking Group, which analysed the companies that reported their payment practices, found that 65% took more than 30 days to settle invoices and 21% took more than 50 days.

And the Small Business Commissioner (SBC), set up in December 2017 to help the UK’s 5.7 million small businesses tackle late payment, adds:

  • a third of payments to small businesses are late;
  • 20% of small businesses have experienced cashflow problems due to late payments;
  • and that if small businesses were paid on time it could boost the economy by an estimated £2.5 billion annually.

James Hurley, Enterprise Editor, had earlier explained that rules have been designed to force large companies to reveal how long they take to pay their suppliers: companies who meet two of three qualifying criteria: £36 million annual turnover, an £18 million total balance sheet or at least 250 staff.

But there is a loophole: where services are contracted and paid for by group subsidiaries that fall below these thresholds, there is no duty to report.

Debbie Abrahams, the Labour MP, said that suppliers would “continue to be unfairly squeezed” unless the loophole was addressed and other MPs, together with representatives of small companies, are calling for the “duty to report” legislation to be rewritten.

One example is that of G4S, the outsourcing group, was criticised by Paul Uppal, the small business commissioner, for “persistent late payment” of a supplier. G4S, a member of the FTSE 250 share index, paid this supplier through a subsidiary that does not meet the threshold.

The legislation has not yet been rewritten, though a report published by the government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee last December acknowledged the truth of these allegations and urged government to introduce a tougher regime to tackle larger companies who treat small businesses ‘disgracefully’ by enforcing long payment terms, paying their suppliers late or using the ‘loophole’ to evade scrutiny.

The subject of late payment should appear in Labour’s election manifesto

 

 

 

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Support for a Corbyn-led emergency government

Opposition parties have been looking for a way to ensure that Mr Johnson is unable to fulfil his stated intention to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

There are concerns the prime minister could seek to circumvent the Benn Act – the anti-no deal legislation that requires him to seek an Article 50 extension, if he cannot get a Brexit deal at the European Council next month.

In August, The National reported that Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National party, said she would be prepared to help to install Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of an emergency government to avert the “catastrophe” of a no-deal Brexit.

Today, Laura Hughes reported that this undertaking was repeated by Ms Sturgeon, whilst speaking to the BBC:

“My point is the opposition needs to act to get Boris Johnson — the most disreputable prime minister in my lifetime — out of office, stop a no deal and then, as quickly as possible, move to a general election.”

Plaid Cymru also said it would be open to supporting Mr Corbyn, or anyone who would commit to delivering a second referendum and, remarkably, last month Conservative MP Kenneth Clarke (‘Tory rebel’) signalled qualified agreement.

The European reported that Green MP Caroline Lucas reiterated her support earlier this week. She said: “He’s leader of the opposition and I think he had every right to expect to be interim prime minister . . . I think we need to come together”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Labour officially backs Green New Deal

Colin Hines, co-ordinator of the Green New Deal group, draws attention to Kate Proctor’s account of today’s vote at the Labour Party’s autumn conference in Brighton, backing a motion by the campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal to set a target to achieve net zero and guarantee green jobs, working with scientists and trade unions to work towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

For the record, the members of this group, who have been working together for at least ten years, are Larry Elliott, Economics Editor of the Guardian, Colin Hines, Co-Director of Finance for the Future, former head of Greenpeace International’s Economics Unit, Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, Richard Murphy, Professor of Practice, City University, Director Tax Research LLP, Ann Pettifor, Director, Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), Charles Secrett, Advisor on Sustainable Development, former Director of Friends of the Earth, Andrew Simms, Co-Director, New Weather Institute; Coordinator, The Rapid Transition Alliance, Assistant Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility and Geoff Tily Senior Economist, TUC.

In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn wrote his Protecting Our Planet manifesto

In it, he said he would stand for Britain providing international leadership on climate change and the socialisation of our energy supply leading an end to the era of fossil fuels. Measures to be taken would include:

  • building a modern, green, resource-efficient economy – creating 1 million new green climate jobs,
  • ensuring everyone has access to a low-carbon, affordably heated home and
  • tackling the air pollution crisis in our big cities and committing to full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollution.

The Green New Deal proposals to retrofit zero-carbon measures on social and council housing and public buildings relate to the first two measures listed and there are many more, which would usher in a green industrial revolution creating tens of thousands of good, green jobs across the country. Lauren Townsend, a trade unionist and spokesperson for Labour for a Green New Deal, said: “It is time for our movement to come together to build a Green New Deal from the ground up in every town, village and city.”

In May, Jeremy Corbyn addressed a rally after Parliament had agreed to take action on climate change following Labour’s call.  After delegates passed the motion today, Labour officially backed the Green New Deal proposition which should be added to its next manifesto. Anti-climate change activists have said it is the most radical set of left-wing policies to be passed by party members in a generation.

 

 

 

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Millennials, unaffected by MSM indoctrination, vote Corbyn most popular leader – now!

Silence prevails about the continuing support for Jeremy Corbyn as a political leader given by millennials or Generation Y (born after 1997) in the 2019 YouGov Ratings data (snapshot, right). 

Instead mainstream media (MSM) are giving the widest possible coverage to dissident MPs at the party conference and the very low ratings for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in recent YouGov polls –

MSM’s anti-Corbyn bias has been well documented by a few gifted journalists, such as Peter Oborne and the Media Lens Davids.

Their charges and the 50,000 earlier complaints of anti-Corbyn bias in BBC programmes are validated by a 2017 Lancaster University study which concluded that ‘some BBC coverage does demonstrate bias and partiality against Corbyn in subtle modes where tone alters the meaning of the script and visuals’ and the BBC Trust’s findings against their political editor Laura Kuenssberg whose reporting broke their accuracy and impartiality rule.

The millennials do not – in general – read print newspapers or MSM online versions, but take their information from a variety of online ’social media’. They are ’media savvy’ and understand quite well the reasons for the campaign against the man who ‘appeals to a generation of young people who feel they have never known an honest, decent politician’ as Rhiannon Cosslett describes him; she adds, ‘Corbyn’s galvanising potential is something I’ve been writing about since 2015 when he stood for the leadership’.

Last year the BBC published this graph about the probability of young people voting Labour

Will they see a Labour leader who has ‘played a blinder’ and ‘risen to the occasion at a time of national crisis . . . a leader (who) has come into his own . . . statesmanlike and strategic . . . His parliamentary performances have grown more confident as Johnson has faltered; he has asked direct and basic questions which he knows the prime minister cannot answer; and he is, for now at least, thinking more strategically and collegially than at any other moment in his leadership . . .’ (Prospect magazine earlier this month).

The result of the next general election will not be decided by careerist MPs but by these young people (apart from a couple found by George Osborne’s minions) and that percentage of their elders who have stood equally firm against the huge indoctrination exercise mounted by the media on behalf of the corporate-political nexus.

 

 

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“Labour is now the only party putting the unity of the nation ahead of narrow calculation and easy headlines”

Comments by Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, flesh out the thoughts expressed by Richard House in his recent letter to the Western Daily Press. Some edited extracts follow and his New Statesman article may be read in full here

He opens: “Let the people decide. What could be clearer — or more honourable — than that? In these divided times, where the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, two parties aspiring for government, have opted for the polarising messaging of the demagogue, Jeremy Corbyn is saying that Labour will not dictate to the voters but instead work for them and with them”.

Summarising Jeremy Corbyn’s offer, he makes five points, Corbyn is saying,

  • elect me into No 10 and the party I lead will honour the vote of 2016,
  • it will do its utmost to secure the best possible Brexit deal,
  • Corbyn will then put this deal back to the people,
  • act for the whole country, honouring the views of the 48% cent and
  • place the Labour deal vs Remain on the ballot.

Corbyn is a good negotiator and well liked by many European leaders, receiving a ‘rapturous reception and a standing ovation in Brussels (Oct 2017) after meetings with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator (below) and the prime ministers of Portugal, Italy and Sweden.

No surprise then that – as Len McCluskey reports – signals have been sent from the highest levels of the EU that the contours of Labour’s deal, which would maintain access to the single market and retain a customs union would be acceptable to the 27 member states.

He points out that no trade unionist would go into negotiations with an employer stating where they will take a stand on any deal before discussions have even begun, so no heed should be paid to calls for Corbyn and the Labour Party to take a position before any deal has been reached adding:.

“The correct position remains that Labour must act for the whole country”

Len McCluskey makes a plea across the party to constituency delegates, trade union delegates, MPs and affiliated society members, trade unionists, socialists and, above all, democrats:

“Do not let us be divided or defined as anything other, either by our enemies or by Brexit. Support Corbyn, support this Brexit position. When a general election comes, we will go to the people with a platform of hope and reform, ensuring that nobody, no community is left behind. We have a programme that will transform this country for the better, healing the dreadful wounds of austerity.

“Amid the heated voices and uncompromising stances, Labour is now the only political party offering an approach on Brexit that speaks in calm tones to the whole country. It is the only party putting the unity of the nation ahead of narrow calculation and easy headlines — because it is the only party that understands that unless we heal this country, our country, our people will suffer”.

 

 

 

 

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Corbyn: though wealth has corrupted our politics, democracy can move power to the voting booth

Elliot Chappell (below, left) reports that in today’s pre-conference policy announcement Jeremy Corbyn vowed to put “people before privilege”. During the conference he will set out plans to build an economy that values the “health, wealth and wellbeing of every citizen”.

Describing vast inequality as a “sign of a sick economy”, the Labour leader will warn against an “broken” economic system that “inflates the wealth of the richest while failing to invest in our future”. He explains:

“This inequality doesn’t just undermine our future prosperity, it’s linked to all sorts of social problems, including violent crime, worse health outcomes and reduced access to education.”

Chappell reminds readers of the Johnson government plans to introduce tax cuts for those on the higher rate of income tax and increase the threshold for national insurance contributions.

An analysis of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggests this would benefit the richest 20% of families at least seven times more than the poorest 20%, and push 50,000 families below the poverty line.

Catherine Neilan (right) in the CityAM website reports that Labour ‘wonks’ have analysed Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, finding that the richest 10% of Londoners own 61% of the city’s total wealth. She interprets Corbyn’s announcement as ‘taking aim’ at wealthy Londoners in arguing the capital’s inequality is a sign of “a sick economy”- adding as an aside that Corbyn’s own ‘net worth’ is estimated at £3m. She adds:

“Corbyn has made no secret of their dislike for the Square Mile, repeatedly making veiled threats towards banks and bankers, and pitting the financial services industry against manufacturing”.

Jeremy Corbyn said that though ‘concentrations of wealth generate unaccountable power, corrupting our politics in the process . . . democracy moves power from the bank balance and boardroom to the voting booth’.

 

 

 

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Only one political party is attempting to find a mature way through the Brexit morass and heal a deeply divided nation

So writes Richard House (below, left), in the Western Daily Press,17 September 2019, p. 18–19. He is a (reluctant) left-leaver who wants “out of the EU” and is not blind to the “hopelessly flawed nature of the 2016 referendum”.

He sees no conceivable argument for leaving being “democratically” supported – with nearly two-thirds of the voters not voting to leave, and “the disreputable Brexit campaign defined by the propagandist manipulation of spin-meister Dominic Cummings, the Cambridge Analytica outrage, a near-hysterical anti-EU right-wing press, etc”. He continues: 

“Ideological Remainers are clearly oblivious to the powder-keg of anger ready to go off across the nation, if by some mischance the Lib Dems were to win the election and revoke Article 50:

“The future of this once-tolerant country is extremely bleak, with many millions of people feeling the referendum result was being ignored by a pro-EU elite determined to drive through the “United States of Europe” political project. I often do political campaigning on the street, and the level of outrage that exists on this issue is truly frightening. The political class will ride rough-shod over it at their, and our nation’s, peril”.

Jim Pickard (below right), once clearly and strongly opposed to Jeremy Corbyn, gives a measured account in the Financial Times, reporting Corbyn’s words:

“I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister”. That pledge made Labour “the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain” and “bring people together”.

Allies of Jeremy Corbyn said his intention was to stay out of the fray if there was a second Brexit public vote and focus on running the country – a stance adopted by Harold Wilson, in the original 1975 EU referendum and David Cameron in 2016.

Though remaining neutral in a future EU referendum held by a government he leads, Jeremy Corbyn would allow senior colleagues to back either side of the campaign, in which there would be a choice between Remain and a new Labour-negotiated deal involving a customs union and close single market relationship.

Richard House advises Corbyn’s team to find a succinct and convincing narrative for conveying this view that appeals beyond people’s primitive polarising instincts – because if they succeed, the election is there for the taking.

 

 

 

 

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Will the next government move more freight by rail and waterways to reduce air pollution and road accidents?

Money Supermarket reports that more than half of fatal accidents on British roads involve HGVs, though lorries make up only 10% of the traffic. HGVs are involved in one in five fatal crashes on A-roads and an HGV is five times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a minor road than other traffic.

Department for Transport figures are quoted, showing that 82% of articulated heavy goods vehicles exceeded the 50-mph speed limit on dual carriageways and 73% broke the 40-mph limit on single carriageways in 2013. Despite this, in 2015 government raised the speed limit for HGVs travelling on single and dual carriageways in England and Wales. An HGV over 7.5 tonnes can now travel along a single carriageway at 50 mph, up from 40mph. The speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes travelling on dual carriageways increased from 50mph to 60mph.

The arrival of even bigger HGVs (double articulated mega-trucks) and ‘platooning’ trials pending with a driver in the first cab, controlling the following vehicles has raised further safety concerns. Last year, the Government announced that trials of partially self-driving platoons of lorries were set to take place on roads in the UK by the end of 2018.

Edmund King, president of the AA pointed out that we have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries – and that platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America.

 

A few recent accidents:

12.9.19

The northbound carriageway between junctions 38 (Huddersfield) and 39 (Wakefield) was closed after an HGV overturned following an earlier collision with a car. The HGV was fully laden with glass bottles that had to be unloaded and diesel that had spilled across all three carriageway lanes had to be cleared.

11.9.19

M6 was shut after lorry crash between J12 and J13, near Cannock. The HGV hit the central reservation and later caught fire. Three lanes reopened southbound just after 12:30. Northbound remained closed most of day.

3.9.19

The M6 northbound between J14 (Stafford) and J16 (Stoke-on-Trent) was closed following an HGV fire.

13.8.19

The A38 was closed in both directions, between the A513 near Fradley and B5016 near Burton on Trent due to a crash and an overturned HGV. Around 40 tonnes of grain were spilled in the carriageway.

9.8.19

Police officers investigate the collision involving an HGV, between J25 and J24 near Taunton.

6.8.19

An HGV driver died following a collision on the M6 when his lorry burst into flames after colliding with a safety barrier.

5.8.19

There were severe delays on the M6 southbound between Junction 16 and Junction 15 due to two lanes being closed following an HGV fire. There was approximately seven miles congestion back to J16.

 

There is an alternative:

 

 

A Route One article reviewed reports by continental researchers who believe that their findings offer some support to policies being developed at Pan-European level to promote new multimodal transport corridors. These involve rail, inland waterways, short-sea (coastal) shipping. The researchers concluded that shifting a greater proportion of freight from roads to rail, boat and/or ship for part of its journey would be a sustainable way of meeting continuing rises in freight demand and reducing numbers of road accidents.

The Freight by Water 2018 conference, part of the Inland Waterways Transport Solutions project, highlighted how switching freight from road and rail to water can compete on cost and cut emissions. Inland waterways across the world have proved to be effective and efficient channels for moving everything from beer to building materials.

The conference highlighted several success stories and discussed several opportunities for freight by water, including the Leeds Inland Port at Stourton, which could take at least 200,000 tonnes of freight traffic off the roads. Its conclusion:

The time is right to increase freight using inland waterways throughout the UK and across Europe as an alternative to road and rail freight.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn fends a question about the Co-operative Bank

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Richard House
A friend sent me this – Jeremy at his consummate best.
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Labour should allow the Johnsonian chaos to unfold, then have an election date of their own choosing

Dr Richard House reasons with those sceptics and wavering loyalists who are finding Labour’s Brexit strategy confusing or inconsistent. Edited extracts:

Successful politics is about being flexible and responding deftly to rapidly changing conjunctures – without sacrificing core principles.

The refusal to agree to Boris Johnson’s desire for an election avoids walking into an electoral trap and risking years of yet more ruling-class assault, it’s surely a no-brainer!”

Ideological Remainers and ideological Leavers are reminded that a rigid adherence to polarised positions, reconfiguring everything to fit those positions, risks five more years of a Johnsonian nightmare, just to cling on to a purist Lexit narrative that dictates leaving the EU immediately.

Johnson and Cummings are manoeuvring to engineer an immediate election fought on their chosen Brexit ground, rather than on nine years of policy-making calamity. Far better, as Emily Thornberry expediently advises, to “let them stay in power for a few more weeks – then people can see how bad they are”.

Far from being “a formula for inaction and indecision”, this is realpolitick and an attempt to maximise the chances of Labour winning next time.

Let’s allow the Johnsonian chaos to unfold a bit, then have an election date of our own choosing, not at an opportunistic date of theirs which might well bury our yearned-for Corbyn project for good.

 

 

 

 

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