Category Archives: Government
Mervyn Hyde writes: “I feel that in order to get to the heart of our struggle we need to highlight where power lies and the tools by which the powerful maintain their interests”.
If we are to convince people that there is such a thing as a better life, we have to inform them of the past and how things have to come to pass – from the first world war to the present day
It should of course be obvious that neoliberalism is the main tool that took hold in the early 1970s; the other tools are the institutions and language used to propagate the messages that sustain the whole system.
An American description:
Prior to the 1970s a pre-war dispute raged between Friedrich Von Hayek and John Maynard Keynes as to what economic values best served people’s interests. Naturally Keynes won the argument and his policies were broadly implemented post the Wall Street crash and the last world war; they created growth and an expansion of living standards never seen before.
- Greater openness to international trade and investment;
- total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services;
- de-unionisation of workers, lowering of wages and working conditions;
- cutting public expenditure for social services like education and health care;
- reducing the welfare safety-net;
- eliminating the concept of “the public good” and replacing it with “individual responsibility”;
- increasing government subsidies and tax benefits for business;
- reducing government regulation of everything that could diminish profits;
- selling state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors.
“The Golden Age of Capitalism”
Then in the 1970s Milton Friedman (part of the Mont Perelin society of which Hayek was also a member) persuaded us that freedom of expression could only be achieved through free markets, privatisation and deregulation – the main pillars of neoliberalism.
Using crises created by the corporate sector or by political events as outlined in Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine”, they redrew the political consensus that had existed since the war. This process has been in continual flux up to the present day but moving ever forward to return all public property and services into the private sector – aided by politicians, political institutions “Think Tanks” and Lobbyists.
The reasons for their success have been the coordination of all the instruments of state, a corrupt media and stage-managed attacks on working people’s support systems.
This document drawn up by Nicholas Ridley in 1977 shows the kind of planning the Tories drew up long before trade unions ever dreamt of such attacks.
The key proposals are in the confidential annex, showing how they break the power of the unions in order to privatise the nationalised industries.
Following this and the advent of the Thatcher era, the Labour Party had been either infiltrated or through our universities – MPs began to accept greater degrees of private intervention and took neoliberal doctrines as read into the future.
Whilst outwardly objecting to the harsh nature of Thatcherism as it was then known, more and more Labour politicians have become wedded to it. Even today over 100 Labour MPs are still committed neoliberals although would never admit it.
Margaret Thatcher and her chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe were behind a politically toxic plan in 1982 to dismantle the welfare state, Margaret Thatcher’s secret 1982 cabinet papers “the longer term options” released in 2012 are reported to have caused consternation amongst her colleagues and she later disowned them.
Mervyn Hyde adds, “The actual archive link can be found here, noting that it is viewed through archive viewer, so you have to click on where it says Image viewer” – but as yet the writer has failed to see them.
Until now this has been the general trajectory, in essence neoliberal politicians of all colours have collaborated to achieve the same ends, a transfer of power and wealth to the corporate sector.
From here on, what do we have to recognise in order to bring about change that will irrevocably transfer that power back into the hands of the many?
The last election could be described as a text book analogy revealing how, over the last three years, established sources combined to defeat the one and only enemy they have – socialism. Using a fabricated crisis and the perfect divisive outcome of the referendum, they were able to manipulate just enough people and confuse the rest, whilst weakening support for the Labour Party from within. The elements brought to bear to achieve this were: racism, ignorance, and apathy, aided by a complicit media that feeds prejudice and hate as well as confusing information.
Neoliberal doctrine has successfully divided the nation into fragmented parts, creating an illusion that this is how life really is. People have over the last forty years grown to accept the conditions two-thirds of us now see as normal – roughly one-third being dedicated to opposing the illusion.
For this minority ever to break out of the cordon set up by the establishment, they must recognise that those within our movement have to be challenged, as well as those outside it. That means challenging these orthodoxies:
- we can’t afford our public services,
- private enterprise is efficient and will increase the well-being of people,
- competition is no longer relevant,
- deregulation brought about the financial crash
- and the myth that we need rich people and financiers to provide us with wealth to sustain our life style
Apart from the media and its influence we also have to recognise that a lot of people seem not to care about anything except their own interests and it will require substantial efforts to break them out of their mould. When told that the NHS is being dismantled, their eyes glaze over – some would even say ‘oh well it needs changing anyway’ without the slightest knowledge of what they were talking about. Hyde calls this a form of blind faith that either they won’t suffer from these changes or they just won’t happen and things will go on as they have done; he points out that the reality is that the agenda will roll on and possibly over them.
The way to break out of this from his point of view is to challenge power at its source, be that the media or government and change the way members of the party think essentially through educating them.
Rebuild our manufacturing base via public investment, which would make our economy much more stable
Again through general ignorance lots of good people in the Labour party are oblivious to Britain’s real economic position. Some have socialist beliefs on how they can transform our well-being, but they still don’t understand that Britain’s position is unique in Europe, due to the fact we have our own currency and as such can spend directly into our economy, without the need to raise taxation, which would be used as a regulator of the economy.
What this also means is that we do not have to rely on trade to raise income, since Margaret Thatcher dismantled our manufacturing base we are a net importer of other countries finished goods, we could therefore rebuild it via public investment, which would make our economy much more stable and even export some of what we produced. Doing nothing as we are is financially unstable (Ed: also socially damaging).
This video of Professor Costas Lapavitsas (above, SOAS) breaks the EU illusion held by lots of Labour supporters, by describing in detail why getting out of Europe is essential. But after seeing the video readers may also find that we are not likely to get a genuine settlement no matter how hard we try.
Fundamentally the countries in Europe (Eurozone) can only spend into their economies by raising Euros through trade, this causes huge disparity among EU members especially those in the south, and the only real winner in this is Germany with its massive manufacturing base. This creates such an imbalance of trade and power that it can’t theoretically survive unless changes are made, like becoming a federation of states subsidised by the European Central bank, which breaks all the neoliberal trade rules they have put in place. This graph clearly describes the fundamental imbalance that currently exists:
Hyde sees a need to challenge the perception of Labour Party members that somehow Europe is some sort of economic Utopia that will defend our interests and feels that due to the problems facing Europe, sooner or later the whole pack of cards will fall in.
In addition to the economic problems facing Europe fascism is on the rise. Germany is still the richest country in Europe with massive trade surpluses, yet it has consistently produced right of centre governments and coalitions. As in England the left suffered defeats even though wages and living standards were falling under right wing regimes – due of course as here to the perception that the neo-liberal centrist politicians were no better than their counterpart conservatives. Since the war the predominant party coalitions have been centre right. So Hyde feels it would be better to concentrate on attacking the establishment and describing how Britain, with its unique position, can effect change more rapidly than any other.
Within our ranks we have neoliberal MPs dedicated to undermining any socialist advances
“When Blair first took office as prime minister, I attended one of his members’ forums in Reading, and after he gave his speech, a member asked the question, “where was the socialism in his speech” and Blair replied, “socialism is dead”. Judging from some of his old front benchers and their comments over the years I have no doubt they hold the same views and won’t ever change. the Lisa Nandys of this world etc. Our messages have been stifled and diversions such as anti-semitism have been created and not adequately rebuffed; hence we now need a voice strong enough to call out the lies and deceit in the media.
“This is not a full explanation of the need to change perceptions about our economy and relationship with Europe, there are a number of academics that highlight just how bad Europe is and how progressive Britain could become with the right government in place, but trying to change Europe from within as explained by Costas is virtually impossible.
“Changing those perceptions and ridding the Labour Party of those who actively work against us is the priority. Identifying LibDems, New Labour, and the Tories as being the same is essential to growing support, which they are, although they would claim they are not as extreme as Johnson etc., the reality though is no different; they all have the same objectives, just faster or slower time- tables – in fact if you listen to them they all use the same language, which is the big give-away.
“We lost the last election for many reasons, some of which I have outlined here, Jeremy’s only fault as Ian Lavery said, was that he wouldn’t join Johnson in the gutter. Sadly our unsophisticated electorate didn’t comprehend his magnanimity and – if we are to cut through – we need to speak the language they understand, without of course getting in the gutter to do it”.
The future for the planet is dire, with business-as-usual Neros fiddling on either side of the Atlantic
Dec 16-Jan 1st – two Gloucestershire correspondents reflect on the election results
Mervyn Hyde quietly predicted two things to himself after the Conservative victory on December 12 and his depressing predictions were confirmed. He has seen:
- gloating triumphalism on the political right
- the re-emergence of long rejected, nasty right-wing policies, like capital punishment and blood sports,
- and the political right using the election result to claim that socialism is dead and buried, perpetuating a rabid neo-liberalism.
He reminds us that the opinion polls showed – when simply presented with the policies with no party label attached to them – Labour’s policies were very popular. And in the popular vote, yn’s Labour won more votes in 2019 than Miliband’s Labour achieved in 2015.
But despite these facts, commentariat propaganda proclaimed that Labour’s policies had been “firmly rejected” and that they had “the worst election defeat since 1935” – a “disaster”.
Hyde’s verdict: “Wrong, wrong and wrong”
The election result actually showed Remain and 2nd-referendum parties winning more votes than Leave parties – with the Tories only winning an overall majority because of our undemocratic voting system. For well over a year now, opinion polls have been confirming that we are now a Remain country by a comfortable majority – which is why Brexiteers were terrified of having another referendum. His conclusion:
“Our antiquated voting system has to go. The election result actually showed Remain and 2nd-referendum parties winning more votes than Leave parties – with the Tories only winning an overall majority because of our undemocratic voting system . . . However I don’t believe that a form of PR would change the situation politically: the media has a massive influence and affects the outcome, whether under a PR or first-pass-the-post voting system”.
Richard House notes that the establishment commentariat is already hard at work creating a false narrative that the result is a rejection of socialism and Corbynism, rather a triumph for the brilliantly deployed self-preservation instincts of the ruling class and their control and manipulation of vast swathes of the population’s access to information.
Its carefully deployed narrative about Labour’s alleged “biggest defeat since 1935” has rapidly become a taken-for-granted “truth,” even in some Labour circles. But it’s a narrative hopelessly caught up in a first-past-the-post ideology — conveniently ignoring the fact that Jeremy Corbyn won more votes in 2019 than did Ed Miliband in 2015. Like Mervyn Hyde, House advocates a fair, proportional voting system, under which a Corbyn-led government would probably have been elected — albeit, perhaps, one held together by uneasy alliances.
The narrative was at best hopelessly simplistic, and at worst mischievous or just plain wrong. In reality, he continues, the election was lost through a highly complex toxic cocktail which included:
- the Brexit wild card,
- an unforgivingly undemocratic first-past-the-post voting system
- and an unprecedentedly vicious Establishment assault on Mr Corbyn’s Labour.
A relentless, ethics-free Tory machine awash with corporate money, played its populist hand well enough to get over the line using the fortune in their war chest, donated by the rich and the powerful. One arm of the propaganda assault was the Tories’ carefully targeted cold-calling of swing voters. Richard knows voters, for example, who were repeatedly rung up in the campaign and told that if they voted Labour, the country would have a communist government.
He fears that – because lies, deceit and unadulterated propaganda were imported into our electoral system to an unprecedented extent – democracy may well never recover and comments: “The relentless attacks on Jeremy Corbyn constituted the most vile character assassination campaign on anyone in British political history. Goebbels would have loved it”.
But, he adds, Labour made at least three major errors in this campaign
- They didn’t wage a sustained exposure of the establishment media’s propaganda assault on them.
- Labour spokespersons and MPs didn’t receive training on how to spot and deconstruct bias and embedded and concealed establishment narratives in media interviews, then “out” them in live interviews on the media (as Tony Benn famously and brilliantly used to do).
- Labour didn’t include a commitment to a fair voting system in its manifesto. “old-politics” tribalism prevails in the party’s leadership, which seems to prefer a majority Tory government to introducing a fair voting system though that might mean we’d have to sacrifice the chance of ever again having a majority Labour government.
The ritual condemnation of Labour’s leadership by Labour’s centre-right – in its carefully choreographed attempt to drag the party back to being the capitalism-friendly party of old – and the far-right’s appalling, power-at-any-price behaviour, will generate a race to the ethical bottom. Once the “ethically disgraceful behaviour” genie is out of the bottle, the winner will be the party who tells the most effective lies, and who cheats more successfully.
And the wealthy establishment, corporations, right-wing tabloids, and four-fifths of the press owned and controlled by non-dom, non-tax-paying billionaires living overseas, will do anything and everything in order to destroy the possibility of a genuinely left-progressive political party being elected. Richard House ends:
“A demonstrably fair voting system has to be part of the package we put together for attacking neo-liberalism. The times we’re in couldn’t be more grave or dangerous: the future for the planet is now truly dire, with two business-as-usual Neros fiddling on either side of the Atlantic”.
Two days is a long time in pre-election politics
On 28th November Francis Elliott’s triumphalist article in the Times heralded a seat-by-seat analysis based on polling by YouGov for The Times.
But two days later, a BMG poll which questioned 1,663 voters between 27 and 29 November showed that the Conservative lead had ‘narrowed sharply’ (Reuters) – halved when compared with last week’s poll.
Robert Struthers, BMG’s head of polling, said “If this trend continues, this election could be much closer than it looked just a matter of weeks ago.”
Rob Merrick (Independent) points out that the results come at the end of a week when Mr Johnson has faced further criticism on several counts, compounding earlier allegations, including:
- his appalling attitude to single mothers and working-class men
- his unwillingness to face Andrew Neil.
- the early release from prison of the London Bridge attacker and
- his relationship with Donald Trump, who will arrive for a NATO summit in London on Tuesday.
Robert Struthers said there was growing evidence Labour is “starting to build momentum” ahead of the election on 12 December. 73% of those who backed the party at the 2017 election now planning to do the same on 12 December – up from 67% a week ago.
The change in direction is shown above and BMG’s headline voting intention figures take the Conservative lead from a likely majority into possible hung parliament territory. Will this continue and take the Labour Party into the lead?
In an even-handed review of Andrew Neil’s interview with Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Pickard said that Mr Corbyn’s appearance was praised by some of his most loyal supporters: Aaron Bastani, from the leftwing Novara Media, said: “This is like a master batsman at the crease”.
A valued correspondent had earlier sent a message about the interview and said that Jeremy Corbyn came across as ‘an impatient irritable old geezer’.
I have never seen a Neil interview and knew little about him so I read around before seeing the interview. I learnt that he had been:
- chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students,
- employed by the Conservative Party,
- worked for Rupert Murdoch as editor of the Sunday Times for 10 years,
- chair of the Dubai based publishing company ITP Media Group since 2006,.
- has strongly supported all military actions,
- compared Tony Blair to Winston Churchill
- and rejects the scientific consensus on climate change,
The snapshot on the right was taken during the first few moments of the interview, showing a far from cordial or polite Andrew Neil.
After focussing on the usual well-worn accusations Andrew Neil was visibly rattled when Corbyn started to speak about the funders of ISIS (our Gulf allies) who created the dangers now facing many – and quickly cut him short.
My verdict: A few of Jeremy Corbyn’s answers could have been better worded but, despite Andrew Neil’s irritability and aggression, the Labour leader endured the frequent bullying interruptions of his answers with great patience and dignified composure.
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
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”.
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.
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”.
“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.