So, Jeremy Corbyn, winner of the Gandhi Peace prize wants us to all come together in solidarity, to support one another, while Theresa May, after the death of poor children, whose lives we still mourning , wants to divide us, frighten us, and put the army on our streets?
Why, when the man responsible was known to authorities did this atrocity occur? Why have police numbers been cut to the bone, when she was a home secretary? Why use hatred to divide us for political gain? Why?
It is despicable that Theresa May seeks to use this for political gain. It is shameful, callous and wrong. Could it be because the Labour Party’s policies are caring and popular? Could it be because people are noticing, and want to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak? Is she trying to stop free speech and discussion? Is she trying to halt the democratic process.
Terrorism will not weaken us. It will not halt our democracy, We want to rebuild society. We want homes, and educated people. We want jobs. We want a health service. We want a clean planet. We want to be secure and safe. We don’t want all our resources going to profits for very rich people, while our people starve. Austerity is a political choice.
We want peace. We don’t want to be inflicting death on children by bombs or starvation.
That’s why we need a new start, and to Vote Labour on June 8th.
Gandhi Peace Prize Jeremy Corbyn
Tom Watson has urged voters to back their local Labour MP in order to avoid a “Margaret Thatcher-style” landslide that would make it difficult to hold the Conservatives to account.
Labour’s deputy leader said the party had a “mountain to climb” over the four weeks until the general election and was lagging behind in the polls with all income groups, including working-class voters.
The subtext is that Jeremy Corbyn is the reason for the ‘mountain to climb’… and that even if they are put off by Corbyn, voters can and should still vote for their Labour MP knowing that they are not Corbyn-supporters. The idea is also that because the Labour anti-Corbyn MPs have ‘sat on their hands’ and kept quiet, Corbyn will have to take responsibility for the catastrophic defeat. (However, I somehow doubt that it’ll work like that…)
To date, Tom Watson has been noticeably absent which is strange for the Deputy Leader of the LP in the middle of a General Election Campaign. However, a number of other stories have also emerged in the last week. The LP manifesto was leaked in its draft form, apparently maliciously. Ben Bradshaw and Frank Field seem to have already rejected it wholesale, and are writing their own.
Chuka Umunna and friends have issued a demand to stay in the single market. The new pamphlet, whose backers include former frontbenchers Stephen Timms, Stella Creasy, Rushanara Ali, Karen Buck, David Lammy, Seema Malhotra and Andy Slaughter, explicitly opposes leaving the single market because it would mean “lower growth and fewer jobs”
And who can forget John Woodcock’s bizarre video saying that he would not vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister.
All this is on top of a Telegraph article reporting that 100 Labour MPs will resign the Labour whip and set up as the official opposition, probably led to Yvette Cooper. There are quite a number of problems with this plan, not least that if that is their intention, they are currently standing under false pretences as Labour candidates.
The respected commentator Squidapedoyt responses to this suggestion are well worth considering in the light of the above:
‘One cannot help wondering just whose side these so-called “Labour” MPs are on. They waffle a lot about “effective opposition to the Tories” but when they are asked to get specific about exactly what that means, they go all vague. This is because it is very difficult to “oppose the Tories” by putting forward exactly the same policies. But hush, we had better be well-mannered and not talk about that.’
‘But hey, let’s take the silly and simplistic way out, blame [Jeremy Corbyn] for everything, and resign ourselves to life under the predators forever, ripped off for everything, with falling living standards and services everyone depends on being shredded, while the wealthy double their wealth at our expense every decade or so. That is what being “realistic” and “moderate” means.’
‘Poor old Corbyn. He has to campaign not only against the Tories but against 85% of the press and many of his own MPs too. This is his punishment for advancing sensible policies which many people long to see. Nobody could win in his place. The task is simply not possible.’
‘Good old PLP, loyal as ever. Can always be relied on for a destructive intervention at a key point. They have been effectively “sitting as independents” for months anyway. They refuse to acknowledge the leadership exists. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or they may do something else, or they may sit on their hands and do nothing.’
‘This story is just smoke and mirrors. it is a piece of propaganda worked up out of the usual unattributable sources just as Labour began to make serious inroads into the Tory poll lead.’
”On reflection, this story has to be a bit of malicious rumour-mongering and nothing else. Consider the position of a Labour MP who had resigned the whip and joined a new independent group. They would instantly be in serious strife with their local party branch. Many of them may feel confident they can carry the local party with them, but they will be in for a shock, especially with the recent changes in the composition of the membership. They would no longer have the help of the anti-Corbyn faction on the NEC and in the party’s apparat to log-roll for them and keep unruly branch memberships in order, because they would have cut themselves off from the party. They would lose access to funding and to research and administrative facilities. They might get expelled from their local branch offices and have to find new physical premises. If they sat as members of an independent group, they could even be expelled from the party for supporting a political organisation other than the Labour party, like those activists who recently got the push for trying to organise a progressive alliance with other parties. It’s too much for them to risk.’
‘Corbyn’s “crime” is he has put forward policies to try to change the direction of this country; “for the many, not the few”. He has been punished by having to fight not only the Tories but most of the media and many of his own MPs. Question is could anyone else have done any better? His policies are actually very popular, but “play the man, not the ball” is very effective, unfortunately.’
‘The other reason is more fundamental. Labour’s right wing (code-named “moderates”, but actually neither their policies nor their behaviour is really moderate at all) may waffle a lot about the need for effective opposition to the Tories. But when they are pressed for specifics about what exactly this means, they go all vague and start to talk in jargon and buzzwords. This is in order to hide the fact that it is very difficult to effectively oppose the Tories by putting forward basically identical policies.’
”There are two reasons why Labour has not been a more effective opposition. One is that the majority of MPs refuse to acknowledge the existence of the leadership. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or perhaps do something else, or perhaps even sit on their hands and do nothing. Then, having made effective opposition impossible, they blame Corbyn.’
The Corbyn-supporting membership are not sitting on their hands but are working extremely hard to help anti-Corbyn MPs be re-elected because for us, it is always better to have a Labour MP than a Tory. It is not asking a great deal to expect that our Labour PPCs should show loyalty (in public at least) to the democratically elected leader. Many of us had to keep our mouths shut during the New Labour years. Unfortunately, the impression left by some is that they would rather that the Conservatives are returned to government with all that that means for the NHS, Education, those with disability, social care, the environment, climate change, children growing up in poverty and more. They should think again about what they are doing.
EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT HOW OUR MONEY SYSTEM WORKS BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK
by Prue Plumridge
At a time of great political and economic uncertainty you may be scratching your head and asking what on earth has this article to do with you as you’ve enough trouble just keeping your job and your finances in order let alone worrying about getting the government deficit down and paying the national debt back! What a temptation it is to shake our heads and defer to the experts who, we believe, must know better. The subject of economics might seem a little tricky but the basic concepts are simpler to understand than you might think at first glance and, rather than being a dull and arcane subject, it has everything to do with your life and your well-being.
So let’s start with a short economics quiz. No cheating now just answer the following questions with a yes or no without peaking further down for the solutions.
- The state money system operates like our own household budgets
- Government spending relies on taxation and borrowing
- The government needs to reduce the deficit, balance the books and save for the future
- The government must learn to live within its means
- The government has to cut public services like the NHS, education or welfare because we can no longer afford to pay for them
If you answered YES to all of those questions you might be surprised to learn that you have fallen into the mainstream trap. This is what mainstream economists and politicians want YOU to believe. But what if everything you ever thought you knew about how the money system works wasn’t actually true but was being used to justify an ideology which includes austerity and cutting the public services we all rely on?
Well that’s exactly the case! YOU have been deceived.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The UK government issues the currency out of thin air via keystrokes on a computer – yes really! Banks create money out of thin air too when a customer takes out a loan but that debt must be repaid with interest.
- The UK government is not like a household or a business where its finances are concerned
- When the UK government spends it creates money by crediting the reserves of commercial banks held at the central bank – the Bank of England. A monetarily sovereign government like the UK can never run out of money and can always meet its liabilities as long as they are designated in the local currency, in this case our British pounds
- The government as the currency issuer spends money into existence and doesn’t need to tax or borrow on the markets to fund its expenditure. Think about it:
- What sense would it make for the government to borrow money it had issued in the first place?
- How can the government spend tax before it has received it? Your tax obligations can only be paid once the government has issued the money and it is deducted at source by the taxman from your salary. (And just to shock you a little bit more do you know what happens to your tax? It gets extinguished from existence.
So, tax is not funding government expenditure. We have just been conditioned to believe it does.
- Tax does, however, have a number of specific functions which include:
- Ensuring that the economy does not exceed its productive capacity and lead to inflation – taxing more if the economy starts to overheat and taxing less if it is slowing down.
- Enabling wealth to be distributed more equitably. So, yes, the rich SHOULD pay the tax they owe but not because it is funding healthcare, education or public services. It does not.
- If our expenditure exceeds our income we will be in debt and it may cause us financial concern. However, a government deficit is far from being the bogeyman it is presented as by experts and politicians. (Just to be clear a government deficit is difference between tax received and the amount government spends and the national debt is the accumulation of those deficits). Deficits are, in fact, normal and necessary. They represent YOUR income. The politicians won’t tell you this (perhaps they don’t know) but in historical terms governments have run fiscal deficits for most of the time and have hardly ever run balanced budgets. Indeed, when it has happened they have occurred just before economic downturns. Think about that. What conclusions might you draw?
- Budget surpluses are not the equivalent of saving to fund future government expenditure no matter what the politicians tell you. As the currency user you can save for that holiday you’ve always wanted but this does not apply to a sovereign government which is the currency issuer, cannot run out of money and can spend when it chooses. When a government chooses to pursue a public surplus what it actually means is removing wealth from the non-government sector -in other words you and me, the currency users. When that happens poverty and private debt increases instead. And that is exactly what has happened.
- When you borrow money from the bank you have to repay the debt with interest. If you don’t the debt collector will be round pretty sharpish. This does not apply to a monetary sovereign government which cannot go bankrupt so the debt collectors won’t be knocking on the door of the treasury ready to haul off its assets any time soon.
- Government funds public services like the NHS through creating money not by borrowing or taxing to pay for it.
But won’t ‘printing’ money create inflation I hear you gasp. After all you’ve heard about all about hyperinflation in Germany and Zimbabwe and politicians keep telling us all about the evils of ‘printing’ money and hyperinflation. As with everything there are caveats – nobody is suggesting for a moment that a government could carry on spending ad infinitum. Money may be infinite but resources are not.
The UK government may not be constrained financially but it is limited by availability of real resources – people, skills, technology, equipment, infrastructure, natural resources and ecological constraints. It is NEVER constrained by money.
We often hear journalists and politicians talk about a government’s financial credibility suggesting that an increase in the debt or deficit is an indicator that a government cannot be trusted to manage the economy effectively. However, this is the wrong measure of effectiveness. We should judge a government on the economic choices it made and whether it advanced public purpose. Did it create the necessary infrastructure to sustain a healthy economy? Did it invest in the health of the nation, in education, transport, food and farming security, renewable energy infrastructure or research and development? Did it ensure that citizens were protected in the event of illness, unemployment and disability or provide good pensions? Did it pursue full employment policies? Did it spend enough during economic downturns and offer a job guarantee for all those who wanted to work? And lastly did it use the available resources in the most effective way possible for the benefit of all?
If the answer to any of these questions is no then a government has failed to deliver in its primary purpose as a servant of the people. “The Government is us”.
Remember, a good government is one which:
- deficit spends enough in relation to the prevailing economic conditions.
- makes choices aimed at ensuring the well-being of the many and not just the few using the available resources as effectively and equitably as possible.
So, when people ask you as they invariably will ‘‘can we afford it’ the answer is yes. The government creates the money and when it spends it benefits the private, non-government sector. In economic parlance, a government deficit equals a private sector surplus.
In short, spending equals income to someone – you, me, public service employees, pensioners, sick and disabled people receiving benefits all of whom will spend that money in the local or national economy not to mention businesses who will invest if they are confident in the government’s handling of the economy.
While we focus on the question of whether we can afford it in money terms we are ignoring the more important question of what the consequences are for the health and economic well-being of the nation if governments don’t spend adequately. Austerity and cuts to public services have been presented as a financial necessity (however erroneous that argument is) and yet at the same time this government has had no problem at all with magicking up money from thin air to purchase weapons, fight wars, repair the Royal Estate, hand out tax breaks to the already wealthy or give public money to private corporations to run public services. It turns out the government is a real handy cash cow for the corporate sector.
Economic well-being depends not on money but governments making good choices which benefit us all and, given the record of the Conservatives over the last seven years, this is the question that should be on our lips not can we afford it.
Some years ago, two good friends died within a few months of each other … M (female aged 63) in the plush surroundings of the private wing of a London Hospital…. the other, P (male aged 56) in a NHS hospital in the Wirral. Their personal circumstances could not have been more different. M had a very comfortable, successful professional life whereas P was one of Thatcher’s casualties, consigned to the benefits scrap heap and unemployed since the 1980s.
I’m write now, because the manner of each of their deaths offer such a vivid picture of why we need to fight for the reinstatement of the NHS and a National Care Service… why privatization and financialisation of our health needs lead to the two tier contradiction of too much for those who can pay and too little for those who can’t.
M became increasingly ill with ‘a mystery’ illness only a few months before her death. Eventually, she was admitted onto the private wing of a vast NHS hospital, in one of the wealthiest areas in central London. When I visited, I waited on leather bound settees, in a plush carpeted area decorated with original art works on the wall and filtered coffee on tap.
I have no doubt that M received state of the art medical treatment in her palatial room, with magnificent views over the London skyline. However, when I last saw her, she was desperately phoning her husband to get onto the private health insurer because they had refused to fund the treatment that her consultant wanted to prescribe.
This was only two weeks before her death. She lay prone in her bed, with oxygen feeding into her nose. Her skin colour perfectly matched that of her white sheets. But, nevertheless, she was forced into worrying about the funding for her treatment because it was above that which the private insurer could authorize and ‘their special committee would not be able to consider the claim until after the weekend’.
I watched on, as she tried to explain over the phone to her husband that he needed to make the health insurer understand the urgency of the situation. Her desperate husband asked if they couldn’t just pay for the treatment outright. ‘No’ explained M. ‘The consultant says that any additional payments would invalidate the insurance plan and the insurers would then withdraw all payments for the hospital room and her care’.
I cannot describe my horror at the situation.
In contrast, P received the most extraordinary surgery and expert care in his NHS hospital without any financial limitation. Through a freak accident, he had managed to dislocate his shoulder and somehow ruptured his oesophagus… I never got a very clear picture of how. Nevertheless, many weeks after 3 hours of surgery and a 3’ long incision spiraling around his torso, he had ‘recovered’ sufficiently to be sent home.
P lived alone, had had major surgery and yet there was no aftercare… no follow up. An extremely elderly neighbour (without a car) did a bit of shopping for him and that seemed to be it.
P was a highly intelligent, well-read socialist… a friend, made online. We never actually met… so I cannot give the details as to why he did not receive help from social services or health checks from his GP… but I know that I made him contact the doctor after a few weeks when he confessed that he couldn’t eat and whenever he drank anything, it burned his whole insides! That was the first time that he’d seen a doctor since leaving hospital.
Unfortunately, his oesphagus had split again and he was re-admitted to hospital for more expensive surgery. He lingered on for a few weeks before finally succumbing to a lung infection from which he eventually died.
I am not for a moment suggesting that either of these two deaths resulted from medical negligence.
But sumptuous surroundings are no compensation for the additional nightmare of exceeding your insurance policy’s spending limits…
And, there is little point in state of the art surgery if there is no aftercare in the community.
Under the Tories (with the help of the LDs in coalition) we are inexorably moving towards the two tier system of the US even though they spend more per capita on health and have worse outcomes.
The truth is that when there is a profit motive, the rich are over-investigated, and the poor are under-treated.
Stuart Hall despaired, in 2012:
“How can millions of people have benefited from the NHS and not be on the streets to defend it? Come on. The NHS is one of the most humanitarian acts that has ever been undertaken in peace time. The principle that someone shouldn’t profit from someone else’s ill health has been lost. If someone says an American health company will run the NHS efficiently, nobody can think of the principle to refute that. The guiding principles have been lost.” https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/feb/11/saturday-interview-stuart-hall
Today’s demonstration may be later than he wanted but the many thousands turning out to march today must have pleased Stuart Hall.
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn pledges:
‘We will end health service privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly-provided NHS. We will integrate the NHS and social care for older and disabled people, funding dignity across the board and ensure parity for mental health services.’
The only question is what sort of health service will we be left with after 10y of Tory asset-stripping?