Blog Archives

How can we bring about change that will irrevocably transfer power back into the hands of the many?

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.

Neoliberalism requires:

  • 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

1982

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:

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?oldid=452727

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

He continues:

“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 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”.

 

 

 

o

Unite through understanding and acceptance of Corbyn Labour Party values

Naushabah Khan, a Labour councillor in Kent and a former parliamentary candidate, was a volunteer at the Glastonbury festival raising money for the local party. 

Naushaben (second left) was amazed, not only by ‘the vast array of music on offer’ (the Foo Fighters, Rag’n’Bone Man and Katy Perry to name a few), but just how much politics was ‘happening – from the sand sculpture of Theresa May attempting to break through a field of wheat to David Beckham opening social housing in Pilton. Support and backing for Jeremy Corbyn was particularly evident – displayed in a manner usually reserved for A-list celebrities.

She continues: “With the crowd taking every opportunity to break out into a rendition of ‘Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn’ and thousands of festival-goers packing out the Pyramid Stage to watch the Labour leader address them, if there were any doubts after the general election of young people’s support for Jeremy, Glastonbury quickly dispelled them. 

“And a year after the vote to leave the EU, a result that I have heard had left a sombre cloud over 2016’s festival, the mood had lifted. Brexit had woken up a generation, and this time the sun was shining and as Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage, there was a sense of hope in the air”.

Agreeing with Billy Bragg that the momentum Jeremy has started is exceptional, she adds that in order for it to continue on its trajectory we have make sure that people are not just ‘buying into’ an individual but also into the values and principles:

“Corbyn’s ability to articulate these in a meaningful and sincere manner is undoubtedly a part of his appeal, but we need to ensure that those who support us (many for the first time) also understand that these are the values at the very core of the Labour Party and it is our ability to deliver as a unified movement that will bring about real change”. (Below, Corbyn calling for unity at the Glastonbury festival)

Putting the Glastonbury phenomenon into perspective Naushaben reminds readers that this festival is known for its socialist roots and the founder, Michael Eavis, is a long-time Labour supporter, having stood as a parliamentary candidate in 1997. Festival-goers tend to be progressive and liberal in their views, with swathes of young people forming the crowds – the very people whom Jeremy has brought into the fold and the very people that helped to deliver exceptional wins in places such as Canterbury and Kensington.

She continues: “We would be naïve to not also consider our decline of support in some traditional working-class heartlands. Seats such as Mansfield recently lost to the Tories, which in the 1980s was the site of many clashes between the police and miners or areas of the South-East, like Medway and Gravesham, which were Labour held from 1997-2010 but once again, have returned Tory MPS with solid majorities. Wins in such areas will be crucial to gain the additional seats — more than sixty — to form a working- majority government . . . there should be an honest appraisal of our supporter base and how we bring back into the fold our traditional voter base while continuing to appeal to the next generation. And just like our election manifesto, the challenge is to ensure that our appeal remains for the many and not the few”.

Naushaben ends: “The task itself is not an impossible one. The world of politics is in a state of flux and the Tories are failing to offer any sense of real leadership, heading a government that is about as far from ‘strong and stable’ as you can get, underpinned by a loose deal with the DUP that could prove to be deeply damaging. It is clear they have no real vision for the country other than the relentless pursuit of power.  There is a genuine opportunity for Labour to take the reins and one that we are close to grasping”.

 

 

 

m

Spoofed! Local election results

Two maps and Lesley’s welcome interpretation

election results spoof mapJohn from Bournville queried the map on the right, happily published on this site yesterday, asking:

  • What do the colours mean?
  • Highest total vote?
  • Highest percentage increase since last election?

After a lot of digging around the explanation in italics was found here:

“Regardless of how it distributes the results, the map cannot possibly represent Thursday’s results, as over 100 areas of England weren’t voting in local council elections last week. The second map is rather more representative of how and where people actually voted last week – but it is definitely less socially shareable”. 

The link to the source of the spoof: https://twitter.com/EtonOldBoys

But it did not add the necessary explanation for its choice of representative map – below. To get the explanation I had to go to the source: Wikipedia.

election results map

Lesley Docksey’s welcome response

  • What one needs to look at is not coloured maps but how few council seats Labour lost, compared with the Tories.
  • Look at the fact that Bristol got its Labour mayor and an overall majority on the council.
  • It is not so much that Labour is gaining traction (which it is) but that people are turning against the Tories.
  • And (we add – whatever may be your thoughts on these developments) the majority of elected mayors are Labour. Out of 18, 1 is Tory, 2 LibDem, 2 Independent and 13 are Labour. 

And we revisited the Indy’s 16 reasons to vote for Jeremy Corbyn posted 9 months ago by Evan Bartlett 

Simon Bullows commented 263 days ago: “I registered to vote for the first time in my life because of this man”.

Jamie Krukowski: “I admire Corbyn a great deal. A number of his policies are ones I agree with and I appreciate the ideas he has but above all its due to his principals and morals. He’s dedicated, I believe he’s a true monument to the adage ‘A government selected by the people, for the people’. It’s also, and this is something I’ve fundamentally believed in for a number of years, about time we had a potential PM who hasn’t been to Eton or Oxbridge. It does often breed a certain mentality that I believe is against working to the best interests of the wider population . . . I would vote Corbyn for leadership and would especially hope he would make it to PM”.