TTIP free trade deal hit by fresh blow


Momentum against TTIP is building on both sides of the Atlantic

TTIP2 ncrjProgress on the path to the US-EU Free Trade Deal, known as TTIP, was hit with another blow this week, when 550 US organizations* sent a letter to US Senate finance chairman Ron Wyden firmly rejecting the fast-track trade promotion authority and calling for a new system for negotiating and implementing trade agreements.

‘Fast track’ is the US system previously used to push through trade agreements on an ‘up and down vote’ with no line by line scrutiny. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , | 1 Response

Review: One nation: Labour’s political renewal by Jon Cruddas


After previous general election defeats Labour has tended to lapse into self-criticism and recriminations. Not this time

One Nation ncrjLabour has always sought to challenge the status quo. From Keir Hardie being a pioneer of workers’ rights against an establishment desperate to protect its privileges, to Ed Miliband championing the rights of consumers above the interests of energy companies, a sense of dissatisfaction with the established order is in our party’s DNA.

Labour has always sought to use the institutions of power to change things for the better. But the levers of power that ministers pull in Westminster are increasingly being exposed as rubber levers; the patriarchal sense that whatever is good for everyone in the country can be decided behind a desk in Whitehall makes progressive democrats cringe. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses

Cutting our massive fees is bad for you, say estate agents


And the Tories believe them

Housing for sale signs JPEGIn Scotland, tenancy fees have been abolished and, should Labour win next year’s General Election, Ed Miliband would like to do the same this side of the border.

Good news for tenants then, eh? No more eye-watering £250 ‘administration fees’ for five minutes of paper pushing.

Unsurprisingly, some estate agents don’t like the prospect of the abolition of these highly profitable levies, and have reacted to the prospect of them coming to England by complaining to a receptive right-wing media. Read More »

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Too few people in Britain have a private pension


New figures show that almost half the population aged below retirement age had no private pension savings in 2010-2012

Money no copyrightjFew people in Britain today are able to enjoy the quality of life they would like in retirement if they have to live on the state pension alone.

And, despite the ‘triple lock’ that guarantees the state pension will increase in line with whichever is the highest – average earnings inflation, price inflation and 2.5 per cent – that is likely to remain true in the future.

If people want to live a comfortable life in retirement, they will need to save into a private pension. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , | 7 Responses

Labour (finally) grasps the nettle on employment tribunal fees


The latest set of quarterly tribunal statistics confirm the ongoing evisceration of workers’ access to justice by the Coalition

Employment tribunal ncrjAs if further proof were needed, the latest set of quarterly tribunal statistics – released by the Ministry of Justice this morning – confirm the ongoing evisceration of workers’ access to justice by the Coalition’s hefty, upfront employment tribunal fees, introduced in July last year.

For the third quarter in a row, the number of new cases is down by some 65 per cent, compared to a year ago. Over the nine months October 2013 to June 2014, just 15,750 employers had a case brought against them, down from 44,000 in the nine months immediately prior to the introduction of fees. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

The British left must wake up to TTIP


For Labour, TTIP should be a red flag: it’s the one element of the EU over which the Tories aren’t tearing themselves apart

TTIP ncrjLord Livingston, trade minister, has attempted to diffuse criticism of the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), the planned deal between the EU and USA. The former BT chief executive belittled opposition, labelling the protest movement misguided and driven by ‘anti-American sentiment’.

Next the minister claimed the deal could bring up to £400 to each household. Of course, this is the upper estimate, and only for 2027.

If this was a cost-free boon nobody would be complaining. Plenty of people are complaining that TTIP threatens education, the NHS, environment and labour rights. Read More »

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David Cameron ‘significantly misrepresented’ statistics on foreign workers


The prime minister David Cameron has been caught telling porkies.

David Cameron ncrjAccording to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), in an article for the Daily Telegraph earlier this year, David Cameron ‘significantly misrepresented’ statistics about the number of British jobs going to foreign workers.

In an op-ed for the paper on 29 July, the PM claimed that ‘while most new jobs used to go to foreign workers, in the past year more than three quarters have gone to British workers’.

However a complaint in relation to the article was made to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) by Jonathan Portes, directer of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, on the basis that the PM’s claim was inaccurate – a claim which was upheld today by the PCC. Read More »

Posted in Media Integrity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Responses

‘If at first you don’t succeed, you don’t succeed’ – How the government is failing adult learners


Two new reports show that educational opportunities tend to coalesce around those who have already benefited the most from education

Students ncrjTwo important reports, published this week, highlight both the intractable nature of poor literacy and numeracy in the UK and the increasingly polarised nature of our education system.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) annual ‘Education at a Glance’ report, while noting what it describes as a ‘quantum leap’ in the expansion of higher education, also reports that growth in HE has not been accompanied by a rise in literacy and numeracy skills – with only a quarter of graduates reaching the highest level of literacy skills – nor has it had significant impact on social mobility. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Responses

The EU-Canada trade deal is a Trojan Horse for corporate power


It is a direct threat to any future British government’s ability to fully renationalise the NHS

TTIPjOn Friday 12 September, Vince Cable has the chance to preserve a remnant of our democracy from the clutches of big business. Unfortunately, there’s little sign he will take this opportunity.

In an obscure European Union committee, representatives of the different European countries will approve the text of a ‘free trade’ deal between the EU and Canada.

If it weren’t for a series of leaks, very few Europeans would have seen this treaty – and the vast majority of MPs and MEPs still don’t formally have access to the text. Read More »

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Better Together’s panicked response plays into Alex Salmond’s hands


A combination of a despised ConDem Government in Westminster and a Labour Leader who has failed to connect with the party’s Scottish grassroots points very clearly to today’s visit being a waste of time

Alex Salmond ncrjIf Scotland votes for independence next week, today’s panicked response from the UK party leaders could prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the Union as we know it.

Following the weekend’s YouGov polling putting the Yes camp ahead for the first time, the first response from those seeking to keep Scotland within the UK family was not promising, with the chancellor, George Osborne, rushing onto the Andrew Marr programme to declare, like a startled rabbit in the headlights, that the UK parties would be announcing a firm timetable for further devolution in the event of a No vote. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Responses
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