They are corrupt to the Fracking Core – Cameron’s aide Crosby linked.

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 They are corrupt to the Fracking Core – The Coalition Government

The Coaltion Government is corrupt to the very core – the Earth’s core. The short termism of their policies is evident, plunging from disaster to disaster with no care for the damage inflicted to individual people’s lives as the welfare state, our NHS and public services are being demolished. They look no further than their own self interests.

The Independent reveals why, against all warnings, they choose to pursue a policy to release shale gas from fracking. The industry bosses have infiltrated our government ensuring the policies work to their own best interests.

Cuadrilla, which is chaired by Lord Browne, is searching for shale gas in Lancashire, but suspended operations there in 2011 after its drilling was found to be the likely cause of tremors in Blackpool.

The Government has signed up to the potential of shale gas after it transformed energy policy in the United States, despite severe criticism from environmentalists.

It is very timely that Ed Miliband is bringing party funding onto the agenda. Also, that members of parliament should not have other paid employment or interests which conflicts with their parliamentary role in representing their constituents and the best interests of the British people – and those abroad. The independent questions whether the Coalition can be trusted to serve our interests or their own or their cronies.

Conflicts of interest? 

Lord Browne

The former BP boss is chairman of Cuadrilla, which is exploring for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex. He is lead “non-executive” across Government, meaning that he helps recruit other non-executives to Whitehall.

Baroness Hogg

The non-executive for the Treasury sits on the board of BG Group, which has significant shale gas assets in the United States.

Sam Laidlaw

The non-executive to the Transport Department is also chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, which recently bought a 25 per cent stake in Cuadrilla’s most promising shale gas prospect.

Ben Moxham

A former executive at BP when Lord Browne was at the helm, he followed the peer to Riverstone Holdings, which owns 42 per cent of Cuadrilla. Moxham was energy adviser at No 10 but quit in May.

Lord Howell

George Osborne’s father-in-law is also president of the British Institute of Economics, whose backers include BP and BG Group.

BREAKING NEWS:  

The latest revelation is that Mr Cameron’s own aide, Lynton Crosby, has been linked to the fracking industry, renewing pressure upon the prime-minister to sack his party elections adviser.

Enema of the State

Enema of the State (Photo credit: billb1961)

Mr Crosby’s lobbying firm, Crosby Textor, represents the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, an oil and gas lobby group campaigning aggressively for fracking. The association’s chief operating officer, Stedman Ellis, has made headlines in recent months for his outspoken criticism of anti-fracking campaigners, telling one Australian paper: “The opportunity provided by shale gas is too important to be jeopardised by political scare campaigns run by activist groups.”

The association’s members include Dart, the company behind coal-bed methane extraction in Scotland, which holds a fracking licence. George Osborne announced tax breaks for the oil and gas industry just weeks after Mr Crosby’s appointment as a Conservative adviser was announced.

The same old Tories …. perhaps you recall this scandal when Greenpeace’s undercover reporter has taped senior Tories openly acknowledging the ‘plot’ to undermine the coalition agreement on tackling climate change.  In the recorded interview, Peter Lilley is clearly heard recommending that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, should be the focus of anti-windfarm attacks, and agreeing that George Osborne would sanction such undermining.

Now, fracking is dangerous, and scientists warnings are clear. Just days ago, it led an explosion in Doddridge County

At least seven people were injured, four of them very seriously, after an explosion at a hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas well drilling pad in Doddridge County early Sunday morning, according to emergency officials.

The media’s insistence that renewable energy would not satisfy our needs literally fuels the thirst for fossil fuels, and nuclear, while denying the dangers of climate change and nuclear contamination. The financial argument in favour of fossil and nuclear fuels is heavily biased, distorting political and public confidence in renewable energy.

Why is George Osborne insisting on commitment to dirty, carbon producing gas-fuel for years to come? Ed Davey has been pressured by George Osborne to adopt gas or face deep cuts to any renewable subsidy. (Friends of the Earth, ) Furthermore, there is evidence that the energy companies manipulate markets, Libor style by fixing prices. The Guardian reports on how gas prices have been fixed.

Guardian: Libor-Like manipulation of Gas Markets see video clips

Why is the government prepared to invest in fracking  and shale gas, with known dangers, whilst cutting the feed-in-tarrifs for micro generation projects?

Whether fracking to release shale gas in the UK is a realistic option ( and Greenpeace has its doubts), there are a number of factors which should be accounted for:

  • Why has investment in renewable energy in the UK been curtailed?
  • Why has investment in gas been expanded?
  • Why has the price of gas been manipulated?
  • Who is benefitting from increase in the global gas prices?

Rather than questioning whether Ed Miliband is weak or strong in considering whether MPs should have multiple jobs, and whether union members should opt in to Labour, we might ask to whom David Cameron is answerable, to the British people or the gas corporates and the bankers. We might wonder even if he had any integrity as the acting prime minister, whether he holds power to overcome the plutocratic powers that impose their will on the world’s people.  

Damage to the country, damage to the world’s climate, the planet itself… none of this is at the forefront of this coalition. It is time for this government and their short termism, blinkered view to be put aside and a new government replace them leading a new Green recovery with investment in renewables, and jobs for everyone. This time, there really is no alternative.

References and Further Reading

From Think Left

Becoming a Member of Parliament

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Becoming a Member of Parliament.

By Pam, (with Debs, and Malcolm.)

Sitting in the armchair and grumbling at the News, exasperated, frustrated at the injustices, and depressed at the prospect of a future where our children’s lives will offer fewer opportunities than our own is not unusual. When election time comes along, many do not go out and vote at all. At the General Election in May 2010, voter turnout was around 65%. If the remaining 35% had voted, we could be living in a very different world today.

You may have heard people who don’t vote say…

… or perhaps you have said or thought that yourself?

If we are going to turn this country round, we need to listen. The electorate can see that a Party which was founded by the Trade Union movement in order to represent and improve the lives of working men and women has deserted them.

They see that the Neo-Liberalist policies brought in by Margaret Thatcher persisted with the Labour Party led by Tony Blair,  and this the party the country had overwhelmingly put its trust in, to overturn injustice. Labour, while introducing a minimum wage, and investing more in education allowed the gap between rich and poor  to grow, so the greedy capitalist system, like a cancer eating away at the living body of the country, like a parasite succouring its energy and reserves, left devastation and decay behind. The people who suffer are the weak, with nothing but their labour. Those with work were weakened as ever by the dismantling of the trade unions by Thatcher. Many now know  of no escape from the prison that their life has become. They have lived their whole lives under this neo-liberalism-led-super-consumerism and know of no other way.

It is hardly surprising therefore, that they feel alienated from those that represent them, perhaps  you are thinking, “I feel it too.”

The people see no difference between the parties, they see Ashcroft’s millions, hear Murdoch’s lies, but do not discern any difference between the parties. They may be right to question whether those elected to parliament are representing them, or the banks or pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, The Big Six energy companies and many with so much power and secrecy that is so sinister, so that it is a wonder anyone trusts anyone any more.

Those that did still hope, perhaps believed Nick Clegg, who enticed the voters by a promise of new politics, of a new way forward against corruption and sleaze. The people discovered all too quickly that they had been duped yet again.

If we are to turn people’s lives around, and, we must – their lives, this country and others, then we are not going to do it grumbling in our armchairs!

We would be wise to remember how the working class  fought  and demanded their vote. We would be wise to remember that when working class men were enfranchised in The Representation of the People Act 1867, women were left to fight on until 1928 when all women over the age of 21 were given the vote. We would be wise to remember why they fought then, as we must fight on now. There will be no narrowing of the wealth gap between rich and poor, while there is such “a failure of political will”. (Guardian, C-i-F),

Forcing the rich to pay their share is perfectly possible, but it will never happen while there is such an egregious failure of political will.

We need to be heard, to exercise our voice and lead. We need politicians who will lead, like Nye Bevan, like Dennis Skinner -perhaps like you!

Skills for an MP.

So, who wants to be an MP?  How do you they go about it?  What skills and education are needed? Who can afford it?  Who can bring up a family too?

If we look for instance at the Liberal Democrat Party, I would say you have to be white (100%), you have to be male (78%), middle-class (73.7%), university educated (90%), maybe Oxbridge (31%).  Other attributes are perhaps possessing a PhD in how to feed a family when you are destitute, or maybe a professional knowledge in mental health to recognize the signs of potential suicide in desperate constituents.

There are many positions in life where one can really make a difference, and for some people a career in politics may be inspired by a desire to work for a fairer society based on their life’s experiences, while others plan it as a profitable career while choosing their courses at Oxbridge. The vast majority of MPs enter parliament with very different life experiences that those they look to represent.


Profile of Conservative MPs                     Profile of Labour MPs
Secondary Education                                Secondary Education

        

  • Over half of Conservative MPs have attended private schools.
  •  Over one third of Conservative MPs have been to Oxbridge.
  • Less than 40% of Conservative MPs have served as a local councilor compared with 52 % of Labour MPs.
  • Women make up over half the electorate and are under-represented by all political parties, as shown in a Think Left study:

                      See:(Women as Voters and MPs) 

We may ask:, if these MPs have no personal experience of state education system, of the lives of the majority of the people in this country how they are qualified to make decisions, which affect us? The vast majority of MPs from both major parties have benefited from a university education, in most cases likely funded by the state and in receipt of grants.

 Yet many of these MPs and those from the Liberal Democrats have voted for the increase in tuition fees of £ 9000 per year for most students studying for a degree. As a direct result of this vote, many skilled people in this country will no longer be able to afford a university education, which they may well have put to far better use than the MPs who put such study out of their reach.

 As with all women shortlists, Labour should be leading the way, and we need to look at making it possible for ordinary people to become an Member of Parliament. Nye Bevan and Dennis Skinner did not need  Oxbridge and a Politics and Philosophy degree. Indeed, there is something to be said for the abolition of this course altogether, as it is the source of the corruption and Old Boy’s Network which frankly, will not do!

Profile of Conservative MPs          Profile of Labour MPs
Tertiary Education                          Tertiary Education

                

There are some MPs that have gleaned useful experience in public service as local councilors, others appear to have very little connection with their constituency at all, selected and granted a “safe seat.”

Easing the way to become an MP

As things stand, the run up to becoming an MP is an expensive affair for anyone standing in a constituency away from home.

For an average Labour prospective parliamentary candidate it means:

  • Travel to the constituency a number of times over a six week period,
  • Two mailings to the CLP membership
  • Many many phonecalls,
  • Days off work,
  • Travel expenses, subsistence, and lodgings.

Once selected, there is the long campaign – often two years leading up to the general election, with sporadic visits to the constituency but a constant study of local media and pre-emptive casework, with attendant travel and postage costs.

And then, just before the general election, the short campaign. It requires candidates to take unpaid leave from work, and to support themselves for a couple of months, away from home. Quitting work, or moving to the constituency would be unwise at this stage as an election victory is rarely assured.

All these costs exclude anyone in low paid or insecure jobs, people with unsympathetic employers, students, the unemployed, or younger working class people.

These are the very people that are under-represented in Parliament (only 1 in 20 MPs comes from the working class), and effectively, the vast majority of the population, are de facto barred from even considering becoming an MP.  Westminster is very close to being a plutocracy.

It is apparent that a variety of backgrounds would help the legislative process.  If only in that, MPs would be more likely to hear about the potential impact that their lawmaking would have on all the various sections of society.

For some Labour Party candidates, the path to Westminster is smoothed somewhat by union sponsorship.  But this is by no means the norm; only a quarter of the workforce has union membership, although the percentage is somewhat higher amongst Labour Party members.

 According to a Guardian report :  

(Guardian, Cap on Union Funding, August 2011)

Labour could face financial ruin under plans being developed to cap the biggest donations to political parties, a Guardian analysis shows.

The independent standards watchdog is said to have agreed to recommend a new limit on donations, introducing an annual cap with figures ranging from £50,000 to £10,000 being considered. Such a move, in an attempt to clean up political funding, would end the six- and seven-figure donations to the Labour party from its union sponsors, as well as the Tories’ reliance on the richest city financiers.

An analysis of five and a half years’ worth of donations to the parties reveals the move would most dramatically affect Labour’s funding base. If the £50,000 limit had been in place over the period, Labour’s donations would have been reduced by 72%, the Conservatives‘ by 37% and the Liberal Democrats‘ by 25%.

A source close to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which has been reviewing the party funding system and is due to report in October, said it was trying to find a way to impose a cap without bankrupting any one party

To help change this adverse situation and open up the path to Westminster, to a much wider slice of the population, some kind of state sponsorship could be provided. The Tory Party is in receipt of millions of pounds of sponsorship from those who hoard their cash off-shore as residents, and as mentioned by Michael Meacher, August 2011 , the Tories are pursuing an approach which attacks Labour disproportionately, and this is undemocratic, hurting Labour most. While unions are capped, companies, which are in fact conglomerates, must justifiably be treated also in being capped in the same way as Trade Unions rather than each consituent part being allowed to contribute £50,000, as clearly individual trade union members ( should they be able to afford to!)

What is sauce for the union goose is sauce for the company gander.

There could be some form of statutory pay for people on democratic duties, such as we have for jury duty.  I believe that the employers of elected councillors are required to give time off to attend committee meetings; something similar could be mandated for potential Westminster candidates.

Or perhaps we could have a candidate’s fund, akin to the German party-financing system, in which a political party is funded according to the vote received at an election. In this instance, the money would subsidize the candidate’s expenses, proportionate to the previous election’s vote. The system could be administered by the Returning Officer’s staff. At £1 per vote, the scheme would cost about £40m, and £1m to administer. Travel and cheap ad hoc accommodation expenses could be paid every couple of months directly to candidates.

Each of these suggestions is imperfect, as public money would still be ‘wasted’ on no-hope, publicity-seeking candidates, who will gain few votes. However, I hope that they initiate thinking about different ways in which to widen access for more diverse representation in our democracy.

Data from Malcolm, . Malcolm from over the Pond

Neo Liberalism Open Democracy.net

 Nick Clegg, MP May 2010  

 Ashcroft, The Plot Thickens, Michael Meacher

 The Pfink Tank, Think Left 

 Britain Under Siege, Think Left

 Margaret Thatcher,  Conservative PM Decline and Fall Socialist.net 

 Red Labour must address the elephant in the room, Think Left

 Aneurin Bevan  MP (1897-1960)

Dennis Skinner, MP  (Bolsover) 

 Guardian, How should political parties be funded? August 2011

 Guardian, Cap on Union Funding, August 2011 

The Big Six, Michael Meacher 

Political Corruption, Exeter University

Why does PPE rule Britain?

1928 when all women over the age of 21 were given the vote

Women as Voters and MPs, Think Left

Women in the commons Document

Representation of the People Act 1867

 The Political Divide Tory MPs and their Class background

 Getting into Politics without an Oxbridge Degree? 

Unison Active: If it wasn’t for the Unions

Political Funding, Michael Meacher (MP)  August 2011 Stop the Tory Scam