Category Archives: Inequality

Key policies from Labour’s manifesto

Richard House draws attention to a useful breakdown of key policies from Labour’s election-winning manifesto

 

 

 

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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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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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“The savage rules of the almighty Market have created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”: Paul Halas

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Paul Halas: “As we approach the 2020s there’s a growing awareness that we need change and we need change now. Running the country according to the savage rules of the almighty Market has created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”.

In the Western Daily Press (26th April) Paul describes the Conservatives’ genius in persuading millions of long-suffering voters that the national economy operates like a household, so in order for the nation to “live within its means” we all have to tighten our belts.

But this concept – invented by Margaret Thatcher’s think tanks – was directed only at the 99% who always “suffer the destructive effects of austerity” as Halas points out.

The cuts to health, education, transport, disability benefits and other sectors go un-noticed by the I% who can afford to opt out of these systems – symbolised here by one of her ministers.

The household economics concept, Halas continues, ”echoed by every administration since . . . (is) easy to understand yet utterly meretricious”.

He refers us to sources such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, so the writer obediently found the latest report, which certainly did not confirm “the impression that everything in the garden is rosy”. Tax receipts have risen, but there is no indication that “lashings of money are flowing into the Treasury” as had been stated in the same column on 23rd April.

OBR: damned with faint praise?

  • The economy ended 2018 growing a little less strongly than we expected in October. In recent weeks survey indicators of current activity have weakened materially, in part reflecting heightened uncertainty related to Brexit.
  • The Government’s stated ‘fiscal objective’ is to balance the budget by 2025-26 and past forecast performance suggests that it now has a 40% chance of doing so by the end of our forecast in 2023-24.
  • One risk to the public finance metrics that we do expect to crystallise over the coming months is an improvement in the accounting treatment of student loans . . . we estimate that it could increase the structural budget deficit by around £12 billion or 0.5 per cent of GDP in 2020-21.
  • Net trade and private investment were markedly weaker than expected, weighed down by a slowing global economy and Brexit-related uncertainty. Business investment has fallen for four consecutive quarters – its longest continuous decline since the financial crisis.

Halas expands on tax issues and the misdirected quantitative easing adventure:

Although the prime function of tax is to regulate the economy and keep inflation under control, the failure of many of the richest individuals and corporations to pay their dues, thanks to absurdly flabby fiscal legislation, has helped fuel the UK’s runaway inequality and damaged society immeasurably.

It is estimated that 80% of new money created (by the government, via the banks) ends up into the coffers of the financial institutions and their clients, rather than funding investment and welfare as it should.

And ends: “The only sustainable way forward is to invest massively in greener forms of energy and greener transport, to create a greener infrastructure and a greener environment. This won’t be possible without a vast reduction in inequality, more public ownership, more localism, and a far more cooperative approach to economics – all policies the Labour Party is adopting. All those with vested interests will doubtless raise a billion objections, but the consequences of keeping our heads in the sand and trusting the Tories to come up with solutions would be catastrophic”.

 

 

 

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Ruth Steigman: Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to the established order – and that’s why he’s attacked

Richard House draws attention to a letter by Ruth Steigman published in the Independent this week. She writes

In the 2017 general election, Labour gained 40% of the vote, and the largest increase in its share of the vote since the 1945 general election.

Jeremy Corbyn, who started the campaign 20 points behind in the polls, achieved this result following two years of attacks from all sides, and, in the words of the BBC, “in the face of a brutal onslaught from the print media”.

He had, again in the BBC’s words, “changed British politics” and “showed, amazingly, that Labour did not have to move to the centre to win votes but could do so from the unashamed left”.

Does this totally unexpected result explain the extraordinary escalation in the onslaught from the BBC and other establishment institutions since then?

Do the countless absurd smears stem from the fact that Jeremy Corbyn and his policies are now seen as a clear threat to the establishment in this country?

The Labour MPs opposing him see their power base in the party, established over the past 30 years, under attack, but know that with half a million party members behind him, a further challenge to his leadership would fail.

They do not understand that the era of submission to Thatcherite policies is over.

https://newint.org/blog/2017/06/07/uk-general-election-youth-voteforhope

Anyone standing outside a polling station in May 2017 could see what these Labour MPs cannot: instead of the usual trickle of elderly voters, large groups of enthusiastic and optimistic young people turned out to demonstrate that they were not fooled by many of the unfounded smears of antisemitism, espionage etc, and that they understood the Labour leader was under attack from all sides because he stood outside the establishment, and because his policies threatened the political dogma that had prevailed since Margaret Thatcher won power 40 years ago.

Those who hold power naturally want the status quo to continue untroubled: power never cedes without a fight. But the people are eager for change, and want a government that serves the public, not powerful vested interests. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s policies articulate their anger at the failed privatisations of public services, and widespread deregulation. Ordinary Labour Party members want MPs who will not undermine the party’s democratic processes, or sabotage their efforts to achieve a Labour government.

A Labour MP from the left of the party brought us our most treasured institution, the NHS.

Now that the country is suffering in every sphere under Tory austerity – from poverty to knife crime to slum housing – Labour has the policies to prove the BBC correct in their assessment that British politics has indeed changed, and moved, with the Labour Party, to the left.

Ruth Steigman

 

This prompt led to the discovery of Ms Steigman’s signature below the following testimony in the Islington Tribune

 

 

 

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Building it in Britain @ Jeremy Corbyn

2nd August: already has over 55,000 ‘views’; go to https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn

Ten slides, ends:

Peak Corbyn?

No way.

 

 

 

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Wanda Lozinska’s reflections on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

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Who is to blame for Labour’s current problems? Not Jeremy Corbyn, but selfish, self-indulgent right-wing New Labour MPs refusing to do their handsomely paid jobs and continually undermining him – fuelling the flagrant press and TV who are biassed against him, serving a privileged Establishment terrified at the prospect of a Corbyn victory putting an end to their greedy, tax-evading ways.

Blair and right-wing Labour MPs ‘took over’ the party’ in the 1990s, eventually rendering it indistinguishable from the Tories. Labour lost five million core voters – a major reason for the 2010 and 2015 defeats.

Corbyn in York, May 2017

Many are now returning to Labour as they see Corbyn bringing Labour back to the Party’s original values, in a forward-looking way. Corbyn has attracted at least 350,000 new members, which at approaching 600,000 makes Labour Europe’s largest political party.

He has inspired many people, young and old – people with no previous interest in politics, to whom he relates, unlike previous Labour leaders. All are far more likely to vote for a Corbyn-led party.

Non-voters, mostly the poorest in our society, felt the previous Labour Party would be of no help to them. Corbyn is determined that everyone should have a better life.

In Corbyn’s first nine months as leader, Labour provided strong and effective opposition, forcing numerous embarrassing U-turns, defeating the Tories at least 22 times and preventing some of their worst excesses.

A Corbyn-led Labour Party represents ordinary people, ‘the many’, the 99% and won’t give tax breaks to multi-millionaires whilst children go hungry and ever-more working people have to resort to food banks.

wanda el graphic

Wanda urges all to get behind him with all the support we can muster, to help this good man deliver his vision for a better, kinder, fairer and more equal society, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

 

 

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Worth revisiting: the words of 27 economists, “The Labour Party stands at a crossroads”

 Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle

 

In August 2015, the undersigned wrote:

“This is a moment of opportunity for the Labour party and the country.

“A new movement is emerging in British politics; party membership is growing rapidly, particularly among young people who had increasingly given up on politics and politicians.

“There is a possibility that academics who have always felt that their research – whether on social policy, public health, economics, sociology or other disciplines – was ignored by policymakers may now be more in tune with the leadership of the Labour party.

“And rather than a backward-looking “old Labour” approach to politics, this is about recognising the inspiring possibilities for a fairer and more equal society offered by an information economy in an interdependent world.

“We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature for leadership of the Labour party”.

Richard Wilkinson Emeritus professor, University of Nottingham
Kate Pickett Professor, University of York
Steve Keen Professor, Kingston University
Elizabeth Dore Emeritus professor, University of Southampton
John Weeks Emeritus professor, Soas, University of London
Prem Sikka Professor, University of Essex
Alfredo Saad Filho Professor, Soas, University of London
Guy Standing Professor, Soas, University of London
Ozlem Onaran Professor, University of Greenwich
Christopher Cramer Professor, Soas, University of London
Jeff Powell Senior lecturer, University of Greenwich
Christine Cooper Professor, University of Strathclyde
Lawrence King Professor, University of Cambridge
Marjorie Mayo Emeritus professor, Goldsmiths, University of London
Hugo Radice Life fellow, University of Leeds
Susan Newman Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Elizabeth Wilson Professor emeritus, London Metropolitan University
Malcolm Sawyer Emeritus professor, University of Leeds
Jo Michell Senior lecturer, University of the West of England
Susan Himmelweit Emeritus professor, Open University
Simon Mohun Emeritus professor, Queen Mary, University of London
Diane Reay Professor, University of Cambridge
Andrew Cumbers Professor, Glasgow University
Simon Deakin Professor, University of Cambridge
Roger Seifert Professor, University of Wolverhampton
George Irvin Professor, Soas, University of London
Engelbert Stockhammer Professor of economics, Kingston University

And thoughtful contributions from readers:

 

Mike Parr
Bath

Whoever wins the Labour leadership must not disappoint the thousands of party members, affiliates and supporters who have been energised and motivated by the election debate. There is a hunger for change within the party not just for a new vision for the future of the country but for a transformation of the way the party is organised and connects with its members and the electorate. The new leader should re-establish democracy within the party and build trust between members and the PLP. The party is strong when it operates as a community that shares ideas and builds policy from the ground up based on a full understanding of the issues that face all sections of society. There has never been a better opportunity to tap into the energy of new members and supporters and build a strong and successful political force. A leader who reverts back to the top-down focus group-tested soundbite politics of the Blair years will quickly find that the support they had will disappear and supporters will lose faith in politics.

David Thacker
London

There are two crucial points that your editorial (14 August) ignores. First, Jeremy Corbyn will prove to be an extremely popular and effective opponent of a government that most voters opposed. People will respect his straightforward, honest and principled exposure of Tory policies in practice. Second, unlike anyone who’s had power in the Labour party since Tony Blair, Corbyn is a true democrat. He’s not going to impose his policies on anyone. For the first time in decades members will be able to propose, debate, challenge and refine the party’s policies. And of course, “Events, dear boy, events” will play a major role in what transpires. If Corbyn can lead this collaboration of MPs and members, and withstand the onslaught from the media and from within the party, and if he still wants to be prime minister in 2020, the party will have strong policies and be electable. If he decides he shouldn’t be PM, another leader will emerge with policies that have been forged in the furnace of democratic debate by the membership. A better prospect, either way, than certain failure under any of the other three (unelectable) candidates.


Gordon Best
London

With Blair and the rest of the Labour establishment yet again urging the membership to play catch up with the Tories, is it any wonder that members are flocking to support Jeremy Corbyn? At long, long last, they are being offered a real choice.

Walter Wolfgang
Vice-chair, Labour CND

Polls show that most UK voters reject Trident, not just in Scotland. Corbyn is the only leadership candidate to represent this majority view. As Labour leader, Corbyn’s firm anti-Trident stance would win support in Scotland – and in the rest of the country too. He can promise voters to scrap Trident and spend the £100bn on reversing some of the cuts. He’d be backed by the TUC, Unison and many other unions who oppose Trident. Corbyn represents the public’s view on Trident, just as he stood with the public on Iraq. Corbyn has the policies and qualities to win a general election.

Stan Newens
Harlow, Essex

The critics of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election and, now, the Guardian (8 August), have argued that a leftwing programme, when Michael Foot was leader, led Labour in 1983 to “its worst result since universal franchise”. This is totally false.

In January 1981 Labour under Michael Foot was 13% ahead in the opinion polls and it was the launch of the Social Democratic party on 27 March 1981 by Roy Jenkins and three colleagues, followed by desertion by a section of rightwing Labour MPs, which destroyed Labour’s electoral lead. The behaviour of the left may not always have been faultless, but it was the disloyalty of a section of the right which was primarily responsible for our heavy defeat in 1983.

As for Gerald Kaufman’s smear at the 1983 Labour manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”, it might be apposite for the critics to read it. It proposed “much closer control over bank lending” through the then publicly owned Bank of England, the need for which stood out in the 2008 crisis. It also proposed a plan to boost industry, improve training, enhance women’s rights, tackle the housing crisis and the balance of payments problem etc, etc. Was this wrong?

As one who lost my seat in the House of Commons in 1983, I am well attuned to the facts. If Jeremy is elected leader, as I hope, the lesson to be learned from the 1980s is that all sections of the Labour party should support him in that role.

Duncan Holley
Branch secretary of Bassa 1998-2012, Southampton

Labour supporting friends are perplexed why I should be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, it is conceivably true that “annihilation” could happen, but is the Labour party of today worth saving?

Just over five years ago I was one of the leaders of the British Airways cabin crew union (Bassa) which fought a truly bitter dispute with our employer. We were not seeking more money or better terms, just trying to hold on to certain conditions that made our jobs worthwhile. Under the leadership of Willie Walsh, strikers were sacked by BA (myself included, after 35 years), suspended and stripped of promotion. I was interviewed under caution by Heathrow police. It was a very foreboding time to lead a union in a dispute with a blue-chip company.

Against this backdrop, the usual suspects in the media blackened the reputations of union representatives, with lurid and exaggerated front-page stories to ensure, publicly, we had very few friends. It was a lonely place. There was also the 2010 general election looming, when you would have expected, or at least hoped, Labour leaders to keep a low profile, but far from it. In the days leading up to the first batch of strikes (which had been called on an 92% majority, with a massive turnout), I sat in the office of Tony Woodley, then leader of Unite, as he fielded – and to his credit rejected – a series of increasingly desperate phone calls from Labour to call off the dispute.

Perhaps naively, I was shocked at what the Labour party had become. So intent on middle-road power that they would even step on, or over, the very people they were created to protect and represent. There were a few Labour MPs who actively supported us, including, not surprisingly, John McDonnell and yes, Jeremy Corbyn. I will now gladly reciprocate that support given to us in our moment of need.

Do I care if the leader’s election destroys what the Labour party stands for in 2015, in its moribund, forgotten-its-roots, middle-ground-hugging persona? No, not any more. I backed Kinnock when he cleansed the party of its militancy, I supported Blair in those heady days of the late 90s, but any semblance of a decent, caring honourable party that caters for the underprivileged, has long been swallowed up by the unseemly, even sickening quest for power, irrespective of who gets trampled underfoot, on the way.

 

 

 

 

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London Mayor: a democratic decision

London mayor Sadiq Khan sets out his new housing policy on Friday with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He unveiled plans to require councils to ballot residents – tenants, leaseholders and freeholders – on housing estates earmarked for demolition, if they want city hall funding for the work.

The Financial Times account is summarised here – stripped of derogatory adjectives and adverbs.

FT journalists describe this move as ‘a backlash against lucrative redevelopment schemes in the capital’ and one council leader, who declined to be identified, said Mr Khan was “playing to different galleries” because he was worried about his reselection in the summer.

The National Housing Federation welcomed Mr Khan’s plans and pointed out they already speak to tenants about development schemes.

Haringey’s £4bn plans to redevelop estates with Lendlease, an Australian property company, are currently the subject of a legal challenge.  

Several councils in the capital, including Haringey, have encountered widespread opposition to redevelopment plans involving private companies, because of concerns about inadequate levels of social housing.

Last year Jeremy Corbyn, set out plans for all new regeneration projects to involve ballots of residents. He welcomed Mr Khan’s move, saying:

“Regeneration must put local people first, not property speculators. Too often these large projects have led to social cleansing, jacking up of rents and communities broken apart.”

Outlining his policy, Mr Khan said he wanted to make sure people living on housing estates were “at the heart of any decisions from the outset”. Sir Stuart Lipton, a veteran property developer who wrote a report on Tottenham for city hall following riots in 2011, advocated allowing some residents to stay in their homes during estate overhauls, while other parts are redeveloped.

Stuart Lipton agreed: “People like their community and their friendship with their neighbours, and we should be respecting that”. He added that balloting residents of estates before demolishing them was “absolutely the right idea . . . The local community have often been forgotten in London”.

 

 

 

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Three of many reasons for Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity

Three of many reasons for Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity:

  • his care for the ‘ordinary person’,
  • his ‘sufficient’ lifestyle
  • and his freedom from the greed which leads many in the political landscape to ‘milk’ the system and promote decisions needed by moneyed interests.

This graphic is about an MP who was, until May 2015, Justice Secretary, and Lord Chancellor.

It was retweeted by a friend and Greg Foxsmith neatly summarises: “Grayling is an MP who purports to want to cut public expenditure. However, when it comes to his own public expenditure, Chris likes to get as much of it as he can”.

Foxsmith refers readers to the Telegraph for more information. Grayling’s record on cutting access to legal aid and lack of concern about prison suicides adds charges of inhumane conduct to those of greed.

Apart from passing through the revolving door to industry and then returning to aid government’s decision-making process, civil servants feature in the news less frequently than MPs.

Award-winning investigative journalist David Hencke recently re-published information about top bonuses and pay rises for five of the most senior and well paid civil servants at the Department of Work and Pensions over the last two years, which appears in the annual report and accounts of the DWP released last month. Sir Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions; Neil Couling, director general of universal credit; Jeremy Moore, director of strategy; Mayank Prakash, director general of digital technology and Andrew Rhodes, director of operations are all responsible in one way or another for the delivery of Universal Credit.

All but Andrew Rhodes are paid more than Theresa May, the PM, but are, nevertheless, receiving bonuses

This, even though their new Universal Credit programme is said to be in chaos – leaving some claimants without money for up to six weeks. MP Kevan Jones (Durham North) has described the bonuses of £10-20,000 as “a reward for failure”, based on its performance in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne pilot project.

Hencke ends, “What this shows to me is a growing disconnect between the people at the top – who are computer savvy, have nice centrally heated homes, no problems with bills, can afford expensive holidays, and can’t conceive of anyone not having a passport – designing a system for poor, dispossessed, desperate people without any understanding of how the world works for them.

“It was this disconnect between the elite and the poor in the USA that led to the rise of Donald Trump and I suspect this huge gulf between the Metropolitan elite (of which top Whitehall civil servants are part) and the provincial poor, is in the end going to propel Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”.

Will we see a new breed of politicians in such a government? A significant mass?

Many see the need for more MPs who have lived for the public good, even using their basic salaries to do this (such as former Coventry MP Dave Nellist). Ideally numbers would increase to such an extent that they will be able to transform the country. A beginning? Four MPs (three Labour and one Conservative) resigned from the advisory board at the University of Bath in protest against its vice-chancellor’s £451,000 pay package.

 

 

 

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