“The savage rules of the almighty Market have created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”: Paul Halas
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”.
This welcome addition to the six policy documents has been posted belatedly, due to an overload of good material.
Getting to work, going to school, going on holiday, visiting friends and family; transport is a part of our daily lives. The problem is, on buses or trains, it’s often too expensive, over-crowded, with too few staff, or the funding has been slashed so the service is under threat.
The privatised railways of our country have made Britain the rail rip-off capital of Europe. We need affordable fares, and railways integrated with bus routes to save money and improve services.
An expansion in public transport capacity is essential if we are to tackle climate change, and we will make sure that every pound we invest creates jobs, improves infrastructure and boosts the economy. So:
- Bring Britain’s railways into public ownership.
- Raise enough money from public ownership to cut rail fares by as much as 10%.
- Create an integrated rail system, which is more accessible, more easily understood and in which passengers and staff have a real say.
- Shifting from the expensive and wasteful rolling stock leasing system to buying trains outright and using government purchasing to support UK train building.
- Greater public control over new train orders can ensure better value train manufacturing in the long run as well as enabling a more strategic approach to rolling stock that supports UK manufacturing.
- Give all councils the power to set up publicly run municipal bus companies.
- Unlock more than £500m every year to invest in increasing bus routes and capacity.
- Save 2.8bn over the next decade which would otherwise have gone directly into dividends for private shareholders in private bus companies.
These are not radical policies; in Germany, 88% of local public transport is run by publicly owned companies.
A large proportion of Britain’s railways are already run by the state – just publicly owned Train Operating companies from other European countries.
Just a few years ago East Coast Rail – having failed drastically in private train operators’ hands, was run more successfully, more efficiently, and with higher passenger satisfaction levels as a public company. This public rail company also returned record amounts of money back to the Government compared to the previous private operator. Until the Tories re-privatised it.
So, it’s just common sense, with a pragmatic, tested model used around the world, that means we can have a People’s Railway our country deserves and which we can all be proud of under a future Labour Government.
Read more on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyforlabour/posts/337837429938614
Highlights from an article by the General Secretary of the TSSA (transport and travel industries union)
A summary of Cortes’ article:
Jeremy has seized the moment with his opposition to austerity and economic policies such as privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy which have seen inequality rise to Victorian levels. This masterstroke delivered him a resounding victory.
Across Europe, anti-establishment politics of both left and right varieties are growing. Social Democratic hegemony among the working classes is broken and its standard bearers within the Party of European Socialists (PES) are in varying degrees of crisis having failed to engineer an alternative to neoliberalism.
Ordinary people, bruised and bloodied by an economic crisis that wasn’t of their making are demanding that politicians develop new narratives which put them back at the heart of politics and policy making.
PASOK in Greece and Labour’s catastrophic collapse in Scotland indicated the real danger of simply continuing with politics as usual but last year, our party’s elite didn’t go beyond the old sound bites – never mind provide the boldness required to face the challenges of our time and prevent our party from suffering the fate of the dinosaurs.
This leadership contest is being fought completely on Jeremy’s political terrain
- Austerity is now acclaimed as a political evil choice not an economic necessity.
- Labour is now committed to bringing our railways back into public ownership.
- And, across our party, we are now committed to scrapping anti-union laws, redistributing wealth, increasing taxes on the rich and corporations
- and building a new economy which works for the 99%.
Jeremy has transformed our Party and shifted the entire centre of our country’s political gravity to the left and he hasn’t even been in post for a year! Not a small feat for someone criticised for his so-called inability to lead.
Jeremy’s leadership rival may now portray himself as a candidate liberated by socialist values but in reality he is hell-bent on becoming the jailer of Labour’s new found freedom.
Team Smith’s problem is that, at best, they appear either opportunistic or insincere. It is Jeremy who is once again making the political weather this summer. It’s why the crowds turning out to see him are even bigger than last year. He is not just growing our Party. He is growing our movement and most importantly, he is activating our grassroots.
Jeremy will win big again this summer and we should all get behind him and play our part building the pro-prosperity movement that will see us gain the keys to 10 Downing Street!
In February Jeremy Corbyn quoted Einstein: “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies.”
Highlights of his latest address in the EU referendum campaign follow:
EU membership has guaranteed working people vital employment rights, including four weeks’ paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, limits to working hours, protections for agency workers and health and safety in the workplace. Being in the EU has raised Britain’s environmental standards, from beaches to air quality, and protected consumers from rip-off charges.
In the coming century, we face huge challenges, as a people, as a continent and as a global community, serious and pressing issues which self-evidently require international co-operation:
- how to deal with climate change,
- how to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes,
- how to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism,
- how to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation,
- how to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world and
- how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.
We need to make the case for reform in Europe – democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people
Mr Corbyn is critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services. Europe needs to change, but that change can only come from working with allies in the EU. Changes include:
- economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity, putting jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy,
- labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe and
- new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.
The crisis in the steel industry
A global problem and a challenge to many European governments, the European Union – 28 countries and 520 million people – could have made us stronger, by defending our steel industries together. The European Commission did propose new tariffs on Chinese steel, but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping. Germany, Italy, France and Spain have done much better at protecting their steel industries, because they acted within EU state aid rules to support their industries; whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.The jobs created under the Conservative Government are too often low skill, low pay and insecure jobs. If we harnessed Europe’s potential we could defend high skill jobs in the steel industry and in others.
The Conservatives are committed to protecting the tax avoidance industry
The Prime Minister in 2013 personally intervened with the European Commission President to undermine an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts, and even now, in the wake of the Panama Papers, he still won’t act. On six different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted down attempts to take action against tax dodging. On Tuesday, the EU announced a step forward on country-by-country reporting. We believe we can go further. But even this modest measure was opposed by Conservative MEPs last December.
Labour has allies across Europe prepared to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to clamp down on those determined to suck wealth out of our economies and the pockets of our people.
Some argue that we need to leave the EU because the single market’s rules are driving deregulation and privatisation. They certainly need reform. But it was not the EU that privatised our railways. It was the Conservative Government of John Major and many of our rail routes are now run by other European nations’ publicly owned rail companies. They haven’t made the mistake of asset stripping their own countries.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also a huge cause for concern, but we defeated a similar proposal before in Europe, together when it was called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, back in 1998. Labour MEPs are rightly opposing the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism opposing any attempt to enforce privatisation on our public services, to reduce consumer rights, workplace protections or environmental standards.
Working together in the European Union is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share
Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. And Britain cannot tackle it alone. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless. Labour brought in the Climate Change Act, John Prescott played a key role in getting the Kyoto Protocols agreed. Labour has led the debate within Europe.
Regulations agreed in Europe have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025, unless we act.
Jobs and migration
We live in an increasingly globalised world. Many of us will study, work or even retire abroad at some point in our lives. Free movement has created opportunities for British people. There are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in the EU as a whole. Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home.
Failure to train enough skilled workers means we have become reliant on migration to keep our economy functioning. This is especially true of our NHS which depends on migrant nurses and doctors to fill vacancies. Enough skilled workers should be trained to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth.
There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union and for reform and progressive change in Europe. We need a Labour government, to stand up – at the European level – for industries and communities in Britain, to back public ownership and public services, to protect and extend workers’ rights and to work with our allies to make both Britain and Europe work better for working people.
The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative Party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole.
Left to themselves, it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator or rogue corporation. They believe this tiny global elite is what matters, not the rest of us, who they dismiss as “low achievers”.
I appeal to everyone, especially young people – who will live longest with the consequences – to make sure you are registered to vote to keep Britain in Europe this June, to build a better world engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The EU, despite its failings, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that.
Read the full text here