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Tamasin Cave’s article – which may be read here – ends:
The UK’s commercial lobbying industry expanded beyond the back streets of Westminster to become an estimated £2 billion industry today, the third largest in the world. For decades, undisturbed, it has helped business influence the decisions of government.
Except glitches are now starting to appear in this system.
- Fewer messages are landing with the public (see the campaigns for HS2 and fracking).
- The power of the press to influence opinion is far from broken, but it has been shaken by scandal and an apparent tin ear for public opinion.
- The recent downfall of the most notorious of London’s lobby shops, Bell Pottinger, brought about by its secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa, is a symbolic victory too. For decades, it laundered the reputations of some profoundly anti-democratic clients around the world.
- The current Labour leadership is also a disrupting force.
Lobbyists, whose business relies to a large extent on relationships – often built over years, or shortcut by hiring former colleagues of the target politician – didn’t bother with Corbyn. They are now. Don’t misunderstand me: there are legions of corporate persuaders with links to the Labour Party and some industries – property developers, the for-profit healthcare industry, nuclear power – appear as if embedded in it.
But, in the words of one industry insider, lobbyists with strong links to Team Corbyn “can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and you might still have five fingers spare”.
Perhaps the most powerful change, however, is the demonstration of how things can be different. The World Transformed in Brighton last month was a place to participate in policy debates, which was open to all. The Institute for Free Trade, by contrast, is a women-free zone, funded by hidden corporate backers, which presented a persuasion campaign as its response to public dissatisfaction with the form of capitalism currently on offer.
The UK needs to open up the activities of lobbyists to public scrutiny as a matter of urgency. As important, though, is showing that an alternative exists to the “cosy club at the top”.
Tamasin Cave is a lobbyist for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, a campaigner with Spinwatch and co-author of A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain (Vintage, 2015)
From the archives: Jeremy Corbyn writing in the Times: ‘Power to the people can tackle climate change’
Britain must empower citizen suppliers and direct private investment into green technology
In December 2015, Jeremy Corbyn wrote about the final phase in world leaders’ attempt to reach a deal to keep global warming below 2C. He agreed that such a deal would be an important step in the fight against climate change, even if the targets and mechanisms don’t go far enough. He continues:
But we need to look beyond Paris and ask ourselves more fundamental questions that the problem of global warming raises.
I believe that climate change is a problem of imagination — of the limits to our imagination. It cannot be solved unless we open up our imaginations, unless we begin to think, talk and act as if we cared about the future. This means we must use our imaginations to ask: what would our world look like if we allow global temperatures to rise by 2-3C? It would be a world with a hostile climate: more of the storms, flooding and droughts we have begun to see over the last few decades. Events such as the flooding in Cumbria this week will become more frequent — these are entirely consistent with scientists’ predictions.
Moreover, if we do not turn back this government’s austerity drive, our weakened public services will not be able to cope with the consequences of such events. Despite Cameron’s pledge that “money is no object” in dealing with flooding, savage cuts to public services and flood defences have left people vulnerable.
A world 2-3C warmer would also be a world of war, in which millions will be displaced and forced to migrate in search of peace and security.
However perilously close we may be to this world, we must also imagine the world we want to create. That world is a more equal world, a more just world, and a world in which where you live is based on the quality of the air you breathe. It is a world in which businesses are producing products and services we cannot yet imagine, but with lower energy and operating costs.
We want a world where governments shape rules that promote public goods — where they protect the ultimate public good of a stable climate in which humanity can survive and prosper. To do that, we need a state that invests.
We need an entrepreneurial, nimble state that neither wages war with markets nor bows in their presence, but shapes them. It is the rules set out by the state that allows markets to flourish.
This means we can shape competitive markets and shape the goods they produce, so that we can all start making the right choices for our future. We need carbon budgeting to be the centrepiece of trade and commerce, taking the planet back to sustainable levels of CO2 emissions.
Reader’s comment: Those with coal, nuclear, oil and gas interests will naturally dislike Corbyn’s approach and their pain during the transition process should be alleviated – though not at the expense of those experiencing the current costs of climate instability and dreading future displacement.
We can choose to follow Germany’s lead, transforming an energy market previously dominated by four big corporations into one with two million citizen-suppliers. Democracy in developing energy jobs: three quarters of all jobs in Germany’s energy transition are now involved in turning homes into “energy-zero buildings”.
Reader’s comment: A welcome change from the usual negativity about the Labour leader. True, Corbyn is no technician, but neither are his counterparts in the House. Industry experts will supply the substance and hope for a thriving renewable energy sector – see Germany, Denmark and other countries – notably Uruguay.
In the world we want, ordinary people, trade unions and businesses will have the power to shape the future they want, not just through government but because democracy is meaningful and real. How do we get to this world?
First, the transition must be just. Environmental politics must include people working in today’s economy. Governments must invest in the skills and technologies we need to take advantage of the millions of new jobs that the low-carbon sector can create, protecting working families in the transition.
Second, we must resist measures set out by our government that take us backwards. The Conservatives simply do not understand the huge opportunities that the low-carbon sector offers, or that investment and borrowing can enable future generations to contribute to the upfront costs of a fairer, greener world. They are blinded to simple economic logic: that now is the time to invest, when the cost of borrowing is as low as it ever has been.
Third, governments must not only commit public investment to cleaner energy and infrastructure, but channel private trillions too. They must use a range of policy levers to direct investment and shape markets.
Fourth, all of us — towns and cities, businesses and investors, activists and trade unions — must localise the production and consumption of energy. Already 6,500 towns and city regions in Europe have committed to becoming tomorrow’s sustainable cities. We must follow their lead. We must get organised, harnessing the extraordinary powers of connectivity humanity has developed for itself.
I was elected on a message of hope. Call for the world you want; do not accept the one you have. This is a world we can create for ourselves: through our collective efforts, through democracy and investment.
With thanks to Felicity Arbuthnot for this link
It was satisfying to watch David Dimbleby elicit praise for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and results from Labour MPs like Tom Watson, John Woodcock, Yvette Cooper Chukka Umunna who ultimately had to ‘eat their words’ – most reluctantly.
Then came these news items about the vote in Corbyn’s constituency, Islington North:
- It had the highest turnout (73.3 per cent) since 1951,
- the Labour leader won 40,086 votes
- His majority was 33,215.
This despite the attempt to manipulate public opinion – a Times/ YouGov poll last year found that 97% agreed that the “mainstream media as a whole has been deliberately biasing coverage to portray Jeremy Corbyn in a negative manner” and earlier this year the BBC Trust upheld a complaint against the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, ruling that one of her early reports on Jeremy Corbyn breached accuracy and impartiality guidelines.
Laura Kuenssberg has now lost that round and rapidly found a new target to taunt.
Making Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister of the U.K. would do more for the world and everyone in it than either of the two available outcomes of any recent U.S. election could have done. Here in the U.S. I always protest that I am not against elections, I think we should have one some day. Well, now we have one — only it’s across the pond.
Corbyn’s record is no secret, and you don’t need me to tell you, but I have met him and spoken at events with him, and can assure you he’s legitimate. He’s been a dedicated leader of the peace movement right through his career. He had the decency last week to point out yet again that invading and bombing countries and overthrowing governments produces terrorism; it doesn’t somehow reduce it or eliminate it or “fight” it.
Britain is the key co-conspirator in U.S. wars. One real-life Love Actually refusal to bow before Emperor Donald, and the facade of super-hero law enforcement will begin to crumble, revealing a rogue serial killer standing naked in his golden hotel suite.
The world needs an actual popular elected response to U.S. aggression against the world’s poor and the earth’s climate. A ho-hum housebroken Frenchman who’s not a fascist isn’t the same thing. Corbyn supports successful Scandinavian socialism, demilitarization, environmental action, and aid to those in need. He works within the government and is held back by his party. But he doesn’t lie. He doesn’t sell out. He makes the case for wise and popular policies as powerfully as he’s able.
Want people to believe representative government is compatible with capitalism? Want well-behaved voters the world over to imagine that the corporate media can actually be overcome? Stop grasping at Congressional candidate gun-nuts who happen to be Democrats. Stop telling vicious lies about Russia in an attempt to travel back in time and cause a corporate militarist hack to win the White House. We actually have an election between an actually good candidate and one of the usual monstrosities we’ve become so used to.
Contact every young person you can who can vote in this election. Contact every possible organization and entertainer who might help spread the word. Get every Hollywood star who ever tried to rock the vote but didn’t have anyone to promote who people actually wanted to vote for to notice this golden opportunity. Telling young Brits to get out and vote for Jeremy will do more to spread democracy than destroying Syria, starving a million children in Yemen, or occupying Afghanistan for another 50 years.
Young people, sadly, have seen through our scams. They’ve heard us cry wolf too many times. Yet if you ask them who they would have voted for, they tell you the better candidate. Now here’s an actually great candidate, and their televisions are telling them that they are powerless to do anything. And they refuse to see through that scam. You have to help them see through it! You have to find somebody hip enough to help them! Young British people are our last hope, and it’s your job to encourage them.
We could have a world in which a leading wealthy “democracy” has a government that responds to majority opinion. We could have a world in which London says to Washington: “You want another war, we won’t help you pretend it’s legal. In fact, we’re drafting a brief for the prosecution and will see you in court.”
The people of the United States need that fig leaf torn away, need the pretense that mass murder is legal and necessary ended in our own minds. The peace, prosperity, sustainability, and friendship awaiting us is too much for us to even imagine. What might help us do it, what might make us believe that “hope” and “change” and other concepts we’ve almost come to despise could actually be possible would be making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.
Richard Murphy writes “As I have predicted the question “how will you pay for it?” is being asked of Labour”. He refers readers to his earlier explanations of how current spending commitments can be paid for from tax revenues: the spend creates the capacity to pay – made here and here. He continues: “The only real question is how Labour will pay for nationalisation” and cites precedents:
- How were the banks were bailed out?
- How was £435 billion was found for QE?
Answer: “Neither, directly, cost the taxpayer a penny. The money was created to achieve both out of thin air”. Murphy advises that renationalisation could also be done in the same way: “Issue bonds for fair value. Make them redeemable in not less than thirty years, and maybe longer. Make the interest rate the very low ones on offer now. In net terms these are likely to be negative throughout that thirty year period. And what is the net cost of renationalisation? Next to nothing. Or less. Problem solved”.
Mike Parr comments on the same website – as others have pointed out – that there is no need to pay anything for the train operating companies, merely do not renew the /operating licences as they lapse, but no doubt there will be other expenses and a need for investment.
- and provides help for the disadvantaged.
“The necessary condition for building a successful economy is that people must have sufficient purchasing power as without that they cannot buy goods and services”.
Sikka notes that due to wage freezes, low national minimum wage, never-ending austerity programmes and zero-hours contracts, people’s purchasing power has been severely eroded. Between 2007 and 2015, the real wages of UK employees fell by over 10 per cent, almost the largest fall among major industrialised nations.
In a comparatively rich country, 40% of the working-age population has less than £100 in savings. Millions rely on food banks to secure their next meal. The poor become victims of the payday loan industry and end up paying exorbitant interest rates. Personal debt now stands at record £1.529 trillion and ordinary person’s ability to stimulate economic demand and investment is severely eroded. Under successive government wealth has percolated up, leaving a few crumbs for many
In recent years, Sikka points out, public investment has been sidelined, adding that the Labour Party is now making a decisive break and offering the key to rebuilding: redistribution of income/wealth, decent wages and state intervention in the economy.
The Labour manifesto promises:
- an annual stimulus of £48.6 billion, current expenditure: investment in education, the NHS, social care, the police, firefighters and border guards
- to abolish all tuition fees and relieve the debt burden on many young people
- to protect the real value of state pensions
- to restore Housing Benefit for under 21s
- to abolish bedroom tax and employment tribunal fees
- to lift the one per cent cap on the wages of public sector workers.
Expenditure will be matched by revenues of £48.6 billion – not achieved by a rise in VAT, income tax or National Insurance contributions for 95% cent of workers. Measures include:
Reversal of recent corporation tax cuts, raising £19.4 billion.
£6.4 billion from increases in income tax for the top 5% of taxpayers, lowering the threshold for the 45p additional rate to £80,000 of income and reintroducing the 50p rate on earnings above £123,000.
£.13 billion raised from a levy on companies (not individuals) paying out megabucks to few.
A 2.5% levy on earnings above £330,000 and 5% on those above £500,000.
A Robin Hood tax on speculative transactions, raising £5.6 billion and another £6.5 billion will be raised from various measures to eliminate tax avoidance opportunities.
VAT on private school fees will raise £1.6 billion.
A novel feature of the manifesto is unprecedented transparency. Each pledge of expenditure and revenue-raising is carefully costed and shown line by line in the manifesto. Each line is then supported by further background papers.
In addition to the above, Labour has a programme of investment in social infrastructure and nationalisation of key industries, such as railways, gas, water, electricity and Royal Mail. This will be over a period of time. Contrary to the propaganda, some of this has little cost – see earlier comments and Sikka’s article: Corbyn promises a Britain ‘for the many, not the few’ at manifesto launch.
Richard Murphy, yesterday: “I have had my differences with Jeremy Corbyn, but this is a good manifesto for the UK . . .
In summary these increases make complete sense. Labour proposes to increase GDP by Government spending on health, education, social care, education and the result will be growth, creating the capacity to pay the tax that funds the growth
The downside? None at all for most people, Murphy suggests – only for those in the top 3 or 4% of income earners or are a large company or bank: “And let’s be clear, these groups have the capacity to pay”.
The one massive underlying theme is that of bringing to an end the neoliberal era. And that – Murphy says – is good enough.
Joshua Chaffin, a European Union correspondent for the FT, who writes about trade, environment and energy policy, reports on the official launch of the Corbyn campaign in an auditorium on the outskirts of Manchester. The following are positive extracts from his article.
He met Stan Webster, a retired teacher from Wigan, who left Labour while it was led by Tony Blair; Stan recalled the sensation when he and his wife first listened to Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader of the Labour party. “For the first time in my adult life, we were beginning to hear policies that resonated with our daily lives.”
Mr Webster disdained “the window-dressing of infrastructure spending” and said industrial communities did not want mere support schemes. “You want independence. You want the right to work.”
“Brilliant!” Jan Smith, a woman with an anti-fracking pin in her lapel, said afterwards. “This is the core of our values,” her friend Lin Partridge, a retired National Health Service worker, enthused. “This is the proper Labour party!”
For many such supporters, Mr Corbyn feels like the first real alternative they have been offered after a generation of lookalike centrists whom they view as milder shades of the Conservatives.
“What’s the point of being in power if you’re just doing Tory policies?” one asked. That attitude is also a result of the shallow legacy — as they see it — left by Mr Blair’s New Labour, particularly among many northern voters who felt their lot did not meaningfully improve despite increased public spending and urban regeneration projects.
In Mr Corbyn they have selected an unapologetic socialist who, according to a leaked draft of the party’s manifesto, wants to renationalise the railways, postal service and parts of the power industry, restore the sway of once-powerful trade unions and abolish university tuition
Paul Longshaw, a local Labour councillor, said Corbyn policies such as shoring up the health service and boosting the minimum wage appealed to many voters when they heard them without the filter of a hostile media.
Maggie Smith, a retired teacher at the Salford rally, said Mr Corbyn “brought me back to Labour. I left because of Tony Blair”. Surely New Labour had accomplished something, she was asked? Eventually, Mrs Smith cited the Sure Start programme — introduced in 1998 to improve health and early education for children — but then noted the Conservatives had demolished it.
Standing nearby was James Butterworth, 30, a teacher from Prestwich. He said he would vote for Labour for the first time after shunning the party “because of Tony Blair” and his participation in the Iraq wars — an issue that still festers in the party.
He was not interested in supposedly practical alternatives, saying: “If you feel passionate about something, you have to stick to your principles.
Jeremy Corbyn: standing ovation from hundreds of head teachers for his speech about Labour’s education policy
The mainstream press will give Corbyn’s speech minimal publicity, and hardly any of the scant coverage that does appear will frame the speech in terms of the rousing ovation that it received.
Lesley Docksey draws an article in the Guardian to our attention: in it we learn that George Monbiot has decided to vote Labour in the general election. He trounces the Blairite MPs who have been so disloyal to their elected leader: “Those who tolerated anything the Labour party did under Blair tolerate nothing under Corbyn. Those who insisted that we should vote Labour at any cost turn their backs as it seeks to recover its principles.
“They proclaim disenchantment now that it calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
“They proclaimed undying loyalty when the party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protest, detention without trial, the kidnap and torture of innocent people and an illegal war in which hundreds of thousands died”.
He sees these Labour MPs helping to grant Theresa May a mandate to destroy what remains of ‘British decency and moderation’ – refusing to see the good that a government implementing Corbyn’s policies could do.
The popularity of Corbyn’s recent policy announcements leads Monbiot to believe he has a chance, albeit slight, of turning this around. His pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour is supported by 71% of people, according to a ComRes poll; raising the top rate of tax is endorsed by 62%.
He cites Labour’s 10 pledges, placed some time ago on this website, which could – incorporated in its manifesto – appeal to almost everyone. They promote the theme of security:
secure employment rights,
secure access to housing,
secure public services,
a secure living world.
Compare this with the attitude of the major funder of the Brexit campaign, billionaire Peter Hargreaves: ‘Insecurity is fantastic’.
Those who question Corbyn’s lack of experience and competence should remember where more ‘credible’ politicians led us:
Blair’s powers of persuasion led to the Iraq war.
- Gordon Brown’s reputation for prudence blinded people to the financial disaster he was helping to engineer, through the confidence he vested in the banks.
- Cameron’s smooth assurance caused the greatest national crisis since the second world war.
- May’s calculating tenacity is likely to exacerbate it.
A progressive alliance/tactical voting?
Much advice follows; the most congenial is that Labour should embrace the offer of a tactical alliance with other parties:
“The Greens have already stood aside in Ealing Central and Acton, to help the Labour MP there defend her seat. Labour should reciprocate by withdrawing from Caroline Lucas’s constituency of Brighton Pavilion.
Such deals could be made all over the country: and as the thinktank Compass shows, they enhance the chances of knocking the Tories out of government . . .”
Monbiot (left) ends:
“The choice before us is as follows: a party that, through strong leadership and iron discipline, allows three million children to go hungry while hedge fund bosses stash their money in the Caribbean, and a party that hopes, however untidily, to make this a kinder, more equal, more inclusive nation I will vote Labour on 8 June . . . I urge you to do the same”.
Against Corbyn: five right-wing billionaires, anonymous Tory strategists running the country and Labour MPs worried about future employment
- the five right-wing billionaires who own the printed press,
- the small group of anonymous Tory strategists running the country,
- the state broadcaster flirting dangerously close to charter compliance
- and about 170 Labour MPs worried about future employment
A study by the London School of Economics found that three quarters of newspapers either ignore or distort Corbyn`s views and comments and act as an aggressive “attack dog” rather than a critical “watchdog”.
A second study by Birkbeck University and the Media Reform Coalition found “clear and consistent bias” against Corbyn in both broadcast and online news feeds with his opponents being allowed double the coverage than his supporters.
The study described a “strong tendency” within the BBC for its reporters to use pejorative language to describe Corbyn and his chums with words such as hostile, hard core, left-wing, radical, revolutionary and Marxist.
Hippo adds: “With my very own ears I heard a senior BBC radio correspondent describe the Labour leadership election as “a battle between Marxists and moderates”. And the strange conclusion is:
“After a year of astonishing negativity, utterly preposterous smears, brutal personal attacks, nasty digs, front bench resignations and a vote of no confidence from Labour MPs who accuse unelectable Corbyn of disloyalty and fracturing the party, the bloke was re-elected as party leader increasing his share of the vote to 61.6 %.
“Unelectable? maybe not if the electorate actually has a full rather than half a brain”.
Read the Plastic Hippo’s article here: http://www.thebrummie.net/strong-message-here/