It is the Tories who have a 30% strategy

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It is the Tories who have a 30% strategy by Michael Burke

First posted on Socialist Economic Bulletin 20.05.14

Ed Miliband is accused of having a ‘35% strategy’, meaning that he is banking on doing only just enough to win an overall majority at the next general election.  Polling models suggest that 35% would be enough for Labour to achieve an overall majority in Parliamentary seats.  This is because the Tory vote is increasingly concentrated, while Labour’s is far more widely spread geographically.
Since Labour’s electoral strategy has not been divulged to SEB, it is idle to speculate on it, although this has not prevented others from doing so.  Instead, it is possible to demonstrate that the Tory policy is based on an electoral strategy that is focused on an even narrower section of the electorate.  It is the Tories who have a 30% electoral strategy.

The map below (which the present author first saw published by Ian Wright MP) shows the cumulative effect in English constituencies of cuts under the Coalition government during this parliament.  The Tory Party is a fringe grouping in Scotland and is headed in that direction in Wales.  Despite repeated attempts it has also failed to resurrect Conservative Unionism in Ireland.

Chart 1. Cumulative effect on change in spending power 2010/11 to 2015/16

The areas in beige have been barely affected by government cuts (although these are averages, there will be many people living in those areas who are badly affected by austerity).  The areas in green have experienced no net cuts at all.

By contrast, areas coloured in red have seen a fall in living standards of between 15% and 20%.  Those areas coloured deepest red have seen falls of greater than 20% and take in all the large cities, including London.

The economic map almost precisely coincides with the electoral map of Britain.  The Economist and others are keen to argue that this is a North-South divide in British politics.  To that end, they are obliged to perform some logical contortions.  In order to make the main divide in British politics North versus South, The Economist excludes the Midlands from the North and excludes London from the South!

In reality, the Tory Party has been forced out of Ireland, Scotland, the cities, Wales and the North in succession.  It is retreating to its birth place and stronghold in the English shires.

The economic response of the Coalition government led by the Tories is to protect and promote those Tory heartlands, as shown in Chart 1 above.  SEB has previously shown how a minority of society, the owners of capital and the rich, are benefitting from the ‘recovery’ in which most people’s living standards continue to fall.

Perhaps the most flagrant policy in this regard is Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy Scheme’.  The entire policy of increasing demand for housing while doing nothing to increase supply inevitably leads to higher prices.  A number of commentators and economists from the Right have attacked the scheme as an absurd policy, designed solely to boost property prices rather than housing availability.  It is a ‘help to get re-elected’ scheme.  The resulting property price bubble is concentrated in London and the South-East, and even here there is growing resentment at the unaffordability of housing, not a feel-good factor.

Politically and economically, the Tories are pursuing a core vote strategy.  This may not amount to much more than 30% at the next general election, and will certainly be less than the 36.9% they received in 2010.
As a result, support for the LibDems has collapsed as this does not at all coincide with the interests of their electoral base, higher-paid workers, professional classes and small business owners.

Labour’s winning electoral strategy should be equally clear and substantially broader.  In terms of political geography it should embrace the democratic demands for greater national rights within the British state, as well as finally ending the British presence in Ireland.  It needs to have a programme of economic regeneration for the North and the big cities.  It should adopt a very large scale programme of council house building with London at its centre-piece.  Socially, it needs to be a champion of equality and democracy, tackling the huge inequalities faced by women and tackling the endemic racism of British society, which cannot be done while promising to be tough on immigration.

Above all now, it needs to reverse the policy of austerity which is lowering the living standards of the overwhelming majority and will continue to do so.  The Tory policy, of government spending cuts and inducements to the private sector to invest has not worked.  A policy of government-led investment is required, combined with other policies that will directly lift standards.  The Tory party is pursuing a narrow electoral strategy to shore up its support.  Labour can offer something better.

The single most devastating reason NOT to vote Tory or Lib Dem at the next election

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First posted by Tom Pride on 23.06.14

(not satire – it’s the Tories and the Lib Dems!)

The NHS has been severely damaged by the coalition government over the last 4 years.

But don’t just take my word for that.

Dr Mark Porter, the head of the BMA, thinks so too. That’s not just some lefty anti-government think-tank – that’s the British Medical Association, which represents 153,000 doctors, GPs and other medical specialists and staff across the country.

Dr Porter gave a devastating speech today to the BMA Annual Representatives Meeting in which he astonishingly said the coalition government must “face up to the damage that they have done” to the NHS.

In his dramatic speech, Dr Porter specifically listed the ways that the NHS has been damaged over the last 4 years by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats:

  • The coalition government have imposed policies that “force us to do the absolute opposite of what our patients need”.
  • The coalition government have made cuts to frontline services in the NHS that “eat away at the fabric of care and destroy innovation”.
  • The coalition government have “imposed in England a new NHS without evidence, without mandate and without support”.
  • The coalition government have spent “at least £1.6 billion” implementing their top-down reforms to the NHS which continue to “consume the energies of thousands of NHS staff who never even wanted it, just to stop it unravelling”.
  • Since the coalition government passed their NHS reforms, there has been “a bumper year for the multinationals”- especially for their “armies of lawyers and accountants who find the curative so lucrative”.
  • The coalition government – through their “misguided legislation” – have been “doing the exact opposite” of “working to make it better for patients”.
  • NHS commissioning managers “are being driven to distraction by the madness of the market”.
  • The coalition government’s agenda on the NHS is “to override any investment, suppress any incentive, erode any service, in the single interest of bleeding every penny it can out of the system”.
  • The coalition government have spent billions on “fragmenting care by forcing the NHS to open up to private bidders” and on “droves of management consultants with their pointless flipcharts”.
  • The coalition government have wasted money on “untested policies, not hard-working public servants”.
  • There has been a chronic lack of investment in “emergency medicine, in general practice, in public health, in mental health, across the NHS”.
  • The coalition government’s “blanket refusal to invest” is “economic illiteracy”.
  • There have been “four years of waste and cuts and missed opportunities”.

And finally this gem:

  • The only single cause for celebration about the coalition government’s reforms of the NHS is “that most of it doesn’t apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

So there you have it – straight from the horse’s mouth.

The Tories and the Lib Dems have done their best to destroy the NHS in England over the last 4 years.

So if you know anyone who still needs a reason not to vote for either of the coalition parties at the next election?

Tell them to take their pick from any of the above.

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You can see the full transcript of Dr Porter’s speech here:

BMA Chair of Council Dr Mark Porter’s Speech

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Related articles by Tom Pride:

The two surprising NHS surveys the government hopes you don’t see

Daily Telegraph uses death of baby and outright lies to smear NHS

Meet the Telegraph journalist on a one woman campaign to smear the NHS

Thinktank proposing monthly fee for NHS is funded by private healthcare companies

UK today: 40% of cancer patients can’t afford to heat their home properly

UKIP deputy leader calls for end of NHS

Shirley Williams’ bare-faced lies to her Lib Dem colleagues on the NHS

Meet the NHS patient representative who seems to have a problem with women

For just a few moments, phone hacking and Leveson drew the curtain aside on Corporate contempt for ordinary people.

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Peter Oborne doesn’t hold back from nailing the arrogance of the political/media class – a picture of which only came to light because of Guardian journalist Nick Davies’ relentless pursuit of the phone hacking story.

The phone hacking affair has displayed the Prime Minister at his worst – a shallow, amoral, conniving careerist, determined to secure high office at any cost. Nevertheless, in Westminster yesterday, the general opinion seemed to be that David Cameron had got away with it, in the wake of Tuesday’s court verdicts.

…Three years have now passed since the revelation that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of the murdered Milly Dowler. It is essential to ask whether British politics has got any cleaner in the meantime.

Tragically, the answer must be no. The phone hacking scandal exposed a louche, selfish, privileged metropolitan elite at the heart of British public life. That elite still exists. Incredibly, the Chipping Norton set, of which the British Prime Minister was such a leading ornament, still flourishes.

…. The scandal has been a shameful episode that has revealed the presence of an arrogant political/media class who have been habitually contemptuous of ordinary people.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/10925485/Prime-Minister-and-his-gang-havent-learnt-their-lesson.html

 

However, Peter Oborne doesn’t go the whole hog and also finger the collusion of the police, which should be the next big question. Why didn’t the police push the investigation further?

Was News International another ‘too big to fail’ organisation? No wonder, press bosses considered themselves to be untouchable if both police and politicians felt the advantages of keeping them onside.

However, an even bigger and more over-arching picture emerged during the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking.

It addresses the conundrum…

How has a shallow, amoral, conniving careerist with an equally unimpressive cabinet (see Martin Rowson’s assessment of Osborne below) been so successful in dismantling the NHS, state education and what remains of the post-war consensus for the profitable benefit of the transnational corporations and the financial sector?

Martin Rowson’s assessment of Osborne in 2010:

‘… we need to understand various things about George Osborne, this Government’s economic vandal-in-chief. First, he’s almost a victim of his own ambition…. Second, he’s actually a bit of wimp… If you combine these two aspects of his character, Osborne suddenly becomes both more and less terrifying. He’s less terrifying because it’s just an act, the calculated malevolence purely there to cow the rest of us into compliance with his programme of Thatcherite orthodoxy. However, where he becomes more terrifying is when you realise that … he really and truly doesn’t know what he’s doing ….’ 

http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2010/10/martin-rowson-3/

 

How can it be that these shambolic, careless, arrogant individuals were able to supervise, let alone devise the immense sophistication of the Health and Social Care bill, the Welfare Reform bill and the Education bill?

Sophisticated?

Not only were these bills profoundly (deliberately) complicated but they were also deviously tailored to facilitate the ongoing privatization of public services… intentionally wrecking the state provision to justify the intrusion of the private sector.  In addition, there has been accompanying legislation such as the not much discussed ‘Henry VIII’ powers to abolish the quangos and the Legal Aid bill which together largely prevent challenge through the courts.

There was also an impressively synchronized timetable orchestrating the passage of these major bits of legislation, getting them swiftly in place, before the first cuts in the benefits system began to be implemented. Unarguably, the intention was to get them onto statute well before the public or MPs had a chance to fully digest their implications.

Additionally, ‘distractions’ were often choreographed to coincide with contentious legislation.  For example the proposal to sell off the forests, which was bound to cause an outcry, coincided with the first reading of Lansley’s Health and Social Care bill. Notably, the floated proposal was totally unnecessary because the Public Bodies bill, which allows the selling off of the forests without recourse to Parliament, was simultaneously going through the House of Lords.

The government’s reputation for incompetence belies the ruthless efficiency with which the policies were implemented and dovetailed seamlessly.

However, every instinct questions whether it is plausible that Lansley, Gove or IDS were the primary movers in devising their respective bills?

Can we really believe that Oliver Letwin, the dumper of official mail in a public park waste-bin, was the brains coordinating the strategy?  The last 4 years of continual ministerial ‘cock-ups’ screams that it is impossible.

Furthermore, civil servants were not the architects and can have had very limited input, because the bills were up and running so quickly after the general election.

The obvious truth is that global management consultants, such as KPMG and McKinsey, and the transnational corporations, were simply allowed free-rein to write the legislation to suit their needs … with no apparent safeguards to secure and protect the best interests of UK citizens from vested interests.

In this scenario, government ministers become simply the front men, the PR…  which would fit with why the Coalition ministers peculiarly focus on the inadequacy of the way that a criticized policy is presented. As Douglas Alexander said:

George Osborne is apologising for spin of the budget, when he should be apologising for the substance.

In fact, the incestuous relationships and carousel of jobs for politicians, civil servants, think tanks, lobbyists, donors and corporate advisors has been widely documented outside of the mainstream media (including Think Left articles such as Welfare Reform and the US Insurance Giant Unum ; Lobbyists are destroying the democratic process. ; Transnational Corporations have not let a good crisis go to waste. )

It was this incestuous web of relationships that was inadvertently revealed in the course of the Leveson Inquiry.  Gary Young summarises:

‘Britain’s political class in particular and ruling class in general collude, connive and corrupt both systemically and systematically…. The evidence has laid bare the intimate, extensive and insidious web of social, familial and personal ties between the political, corporate and legal forces that govern a country: a patchwork of individual and institutional associations so tightly interwoven that to pick at one part is to watch the whole thing unravel.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/06/leveson-murdoch-cameron-brooks-privilege

Furthermore:

… these interactions mock the very notion of democracy on which the nation’s illusions are based…. With the culture secretary described by Murdoch’s lobbyist as a “cheerleader” for News International, it seems as if the takeover was to all intents and purposes a done deal, prevented only by the fallout from the hacking scandal. All the kinks ironed out on horseback and settled in time for the main course. Parliament would have been a mere rubber stamp. Oversight reduced to an afterthought in a House of Commons…. 

Similarly, commenting on the Leveson evidence, Anthony Barnett concluded:

The scandal has now clarified a far more breathtaking question: is Britain governed by a big lie?

Of course there was not a “deal” in the narrow sense of a written contract…. It was a partnership … between people who decided to get into bed with each other and help each other obtain their interests at the expense of public life in Britain.

… no person of sound judgment could conclude anything other than that there was indeed a grand collaboration worked out before the election by the Murdochs and Cameron and Osborne and then implemented after it….

Any government whose duty is to secure and protect its citizens would necessarily seek to ensure that NewsCorp’s power is limited, checked by regulation and competition.

Today, how can Leveson pass judgment on the nature of the understandings reached by Rupert’s Rebecca when she went horse riding with David Cameron beyond the reach of judicial standards of proof? Without the clear evidence of the metaphorical ‘smoking gun’ to make a verdict of a conspiracy against the public interest simply unavoidable, it becomes his judgment-call to force the Prime Minister and Chancellor from office, for selling out the country with their utterly inappropriate relationships with team Murdoch. It is a power he’ll naturally resile from using….

But the bigger issue remains… It is one thing to kow-tow, to cultivate, to grant some concessions to (to seek not to make an enemy of) a man who controls 40 per cent of the press. This may be revolting but it is – or was – political reality in Britain. It is quite another to agree to reshape the all-important media environment of our democracy for the advantage of a player whose coverage is not only notorious for bias and the dishonourable destruction of people’s lives but who is also known to bribe the police and break the law.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/murdoch-and-big-lie

So extrapolating from the Murdoch empire to all transnational corporations, Barnett’s words could be re-written:

But the bigger issue remains… It is one thing to kow-tow, to cultivate, to grant some concessions to (to seek not to make an enemy of) the transnational corporations and the financial sector. This may be revolting but it is – or was – political reality in Britain. It is quite another to agree to reshape the all-important public services of our democracy for the advantage of players whose primary concern is a ready, stream of profits which will doubtless end up untaxed in some offshore secrecy jurisdiction.

Without the clear evidence of the metaphorical ‘smoking gun’ to make a verdict of a conspiracy against the public interest simply unavoidable, it becomes a judgment-call to force the Prime Minister and Chancellor from office, for selling out the country with their utterly inappropriate relationships with private health providers, private employment insurers, global management consultants, private education providers and so on.

This raises fundamental questions about the nature and power of government (such as those raised by julijuxtaposed in Can we sue the Government?)

Shouldn’t there be a responsibility on political parties to spell out their intentions before they are elected?

Shouldn’t there be transparency about the authors and genesis of legislation?

Shouldn’t there be a capacity to challenge governments who have misled the electorate prior to election?  For example ‘No top down re-organisation of the NHS’ and ‘No Tuition fees’.

Shouldn’t there be a legal duty on governments to secure and protect the best interests of their citizens?

Doubtless this list is not exhaustive but the point is, that without this sort of transparency and accountability, in what way can any UK government be said to be democratically elected?  What protection is there for the electorate from a sanctioned coup d’état?

And funnily enough, just such a coup d’état is being perpetrated.

Tories plan to wipe out state services

A leading Cabinet minister has admitted that the Conservatives aim to eradicate the state provision of public services in this country. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister and a former banker, in an extraordinary gung-ho speech to Policy Exchange to mark 10 years of the centre-right think tank, said the Government wants to end state provision – even if it means they end up being run by private equity companies from tax havens…. The speech comes as David Cameron’s Government is embarking on a controversial programme to extend privatisation way beyond Margaret Thatcher’s wildest dreams – to Britain’s road network and even the police.

http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2012/03/tories-plan-to-wipe-out-state-services/

 

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said: “Far from being done by mutual consent, the Government’s plans rest on imposing unpopular ideas on an unwilling workforce.”  At the same time, Professor Prem Sikka reports that Britain’s rate of wealth transference from employees and the state to corporations is unmatched in any developed country.

And the cherry on top of the cake, is that the Tory/LD coalition is desperate to push through the EU-US trade agreement (TTIP or TAFTA) before May 2015 – an agreement which is intended to lock in future governments so that they cannot reverse any of those privatisations… a charter for the corporations which places their rights above sovereign nations and the democratic process.

Are we already in the Post-democratic era?

Nick Davies’ investigative zeal did not just uncover the perfidy of the phone hackers. It led right to the top and even went global – the neoliberal aim of replacing democracy with corporatism – the merging of state and corporate power. Or as most people call it fascism.

Related posts:

Recipe for Ruin: TTIP the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

EU-US FTA, TAFTA, TTIP – whatever its name, it means bad news for 99%

The Top Secret Deal You Need to Know About

 

Updated and amended from original post in 2012

Can we sue the Government?

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First posted 23.06.14 by Julijuxtaposed

 

Can we sue our government?  I don’t know how feasible this is.  There is no research in this post.  This is because, not only am I no expert – not on anything actually (though I think I have more inkling than I’m allowing in this post) – but I am sensible enough to know that I could research until the cows come home and it will still come down to the will and authoritative arguments of those who are actually qualified – and maybe a jury.  This is just a layperson putting an idea out and into the ether.

Unless one lives on another planet, is one of the deliberately deaf and blind Alright-Jacks or the I’ll-only-pay-for-mine Brigade, one can’t fail to register the growing inequality of treatment, wealth/prosperity and opportunity perpetuated by this Government.  For those with eyes to see, the march towards a fascistic system is clearly in view.  With mass subjugation by serfdom, corporate control and media-politico doublethink, many woken people have been rightly growing increasingly concerned for some time.  And angry.  So very angry.  And so justifiably so.

We have no mechanism as a citizenry, to hold our governments officially to account, aside from elections.  They fixed parliamentary terms with no counter-balance to get rid of an administration before a General Election and tell us they think an election every five years is sufficient, as though we should think ourselves lucky to get that.  They don’t even think we need a proper power of recall when it comes to individual MPs!  It’s just not good enough, is it?

Can’t We, the People, bring a class action against an entire government?  Here, through our own British Justice system.  Obviously I have this government in my mind, specifically but, absent the parliamentary will to write such a vehicle into Law as would rebalance our power, I’d also like us to try and set a precedent.  Let’s face it: this Coalition is not the first and, unfortunately, probably won’t be the last to abuse us through abuse of office.  Can’t we sue them for:

Breach of contract/merchantable quality
Reckless endangerment
Negligence/Malpractice
Extortion/Slavery
Fraud/Insider trading/Accepting bribes
Fiduciary incompetence
Oppression of legal, human rights

Obviously we can’t sue them just because we don’t like government policy, albeit that we don’t like government policy.  It has to be grounded in more than mere opposition to political colour or the failed aspirations of a manifesto, particularly when the respondents are a Coalition.  As I said, I’m no lawyer or constitutional expert but surely there must be at least one valid charge on that list, (whether or not they are all correct legal terms) or a charge I haven’t thought of, that entitles us to seek criminal or civil justice within our own legal system.  Scare the pants off ‘em I say!  The whole damned lot of them!  Surely there is a range of ‘expert witnesses’ on whom we could call and there must be organisations, lawyers, economists, anthropologists and other relevant academics who could help us build a case?  Perhaps We, the People, need our own version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement… 😉