The success of East Coast shows that another model can work. And that’s why it terrifies the government

The government has pressed ahead with privatisation of the East Coast Mainline precisely because of its success

East Coast ncrIt should be obvious by now that privatisation has become an end in itself for this government. This was demonstrated last year by the rushed privatisation of Royal Mail, sold at a fraction of its worth despite bringing in a significant profit to the taxpayer as a state-owned company.

We are told that we live in straightened times where government money is hard to come by; and yet state-owned companies that are making not insignificant sums for the exchequer are hastily being taken off the books and handed to the private sector. In these supposedly non-ideological times ideology is regularly trumping pragmatism. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , | 27 Responses

The St George’s Cross has become an emblem of the working class

Like a vote for Ukip, to fly the St George’s Cross is as much to declare one’s antipathy to the liberal, metropolitan well-to-do middle-classes as it is a protest against the EU

England flag ncrjIn the wake of Emily Thornberry’s unwise tweet about English flags on a house in Strood, much has been written about the Labour Party being ‘out of touch’ with the provincial, English working class.

There is a case to be made for this, but to me, the central issue is that metropolitan liberals often don’t understand what is meant when people fly the St George’s Cross.

It isn’t so much displayed as a nationalist flag, as one would assume, but as a flag to represent the English working class. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Responses

The Half Decents: Rock and roll across the political divide for Syria relief

Half DecentsSome causes transcend political barriers. The plight of those trapped between the murderers of the Islamic State and the slaughter at the hands of Assad’s forces is one of those issues

About six months ago, a group of bloggers and political commentators decided to put on a charity gig to raise money for  Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) and their vital work in the region.

On Saturday, 6 December, the gig will take place at Theatre Delicatessen on the Farringdon Road.

Dubbed ‘The Half Decents’, our ad-hoc band will perform a familiar blend of rock classics and blues standards, with a sprinkling of indie pop. Read More »

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Universal Credit may be a waste of money, say auditors

New report says the ailing scheme is dependent on assumptions 

Iain Duncan SmithThe Public and Commercial Services union has warned that auditors are unable to say whether the government’s flagship universal credit scheme will be worth the expense.

A report published today by the National Audit Office blames delays and uncertainty for jeopardising the value of the scheme.

It concludes that it is still “at too early a stage to determine if the [Department for Work and Pensions] will achieve value for money in its implementation of universal credit”. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Responses

What exactly does Ed Miliband think it means to be a ‘working person’?

There is no one type of ‘working person’, and it’s an indictment of our politics that such an obvious point has to be made

Ed Miliband ncrjA Labour politician tweets a picture of a house with three England flags and a white van in the driveway. The Labour leader sacks said politician and takes to The Mirror to declare, rather desperately, that Labour is still ‘the party of working people’.

Unfortunately for Miliband, the fact that he thought this was a proportionate and normal reaction to Emily Thornberry’s tweet merely highlights what he wanted to conceal.

It shows his profound disconnection from those who might once have been described as working class (an expression that is now eschewed in favour of ‘working people’, presumably because of its socialist connotations). Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Responses

Migration Watch and the Daily Express are dangerously close to open racism

What’s important to Migration Watch and the Express is not a baby boom as such, but a ‘foreign baby boom’

ExpressAccording to Migration Watch and the Daily Express, my fiance is a ‘hidden migrant’ despite being born in Britain and spending her entire life in this country.

So, in fact, are plenty of other people, including two of Nigel Farage’s children and most non-white Britons.

As the Express reports:

‘New arrivals and their offspring accounted for 3.8 million out of a 4.6 million expansion in numbers in the UK between 2001 and 2012.

‘Official figures hide the true picture because they fail to include births to immigrant ­parents, according to Migration Watch, the pressure group. Unless annual migration is drastically cut, Britain will need 10 new cities the size of Birmingham to accommodate the extra population, its report found.’

Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , | 54 Responses

Corporate power has become a governing institution in its own right

Corporations once lobbied politicians to win approval for their pet policies – now it’s the other way round

Canary WharfjPolitical parties now operate within parameters defined by big business. In a globalised economy, democratically-elected governments are comparatively powerless to curb the excesses of multi-national companies that have grown larger than many countries.

The market value of Shell, the UK’s biggest company, is slightly higher than the GDP of Portugal.

Big business is also afforded a generous platform for its views by the UK media. Most of the newspapers through which people access political news are part of corporations controlled by super-rich individuals with their own economic interests and agendas.

These outlets provide a willing platform for the views of ‘business leaders’, who are usually posited as all-knowing economic sages whose personal interests are at one with those of wider society, rather than self-serving millionaires seeking to preserve their opulent lifestyles in the face of rising concern about inequality and social justice. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Responses

Government blows £3m of Green Deal budget on marketing

The Green Deal is failing despite the huge sums invested in promoting it

greendealThe Department of Energy and Climate Change has spent more than £3m since last October on advertising and marketing for the Green Deal, the government’s flagship energy efficiency policy.

This is despite the fact that the Green Deal has seen a disastrously low rate of take up.

When former energy minister Greg Barker was asked in March 2013 how many people he expected to have signed up to the deal by the end of the year, he gave 10,000 as a minimum figure. Read More »

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Responses

King’s Fund calls for additional £2bn in NHS funding

Even the most optimistic scenario put forward by the NHS’ Five Year Review would require an additional £8bn a year by 2020

NHS EnglandThe Kings’s Fund has called for an additional £2bn in funding for the NHS, in a briefing prepared before the chancellor’s autumn statement.

The think tank, which works to improve health and social care in England, argues that the settlement agreed for the NHS in 2015/16 should be re-opened in order to protect patients from a financial crisis.

It says that unless this money is found, patients will suffer from staff cuts, increased waiting times and decreased quality of care. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Responses

Two stark examples of the lack of appropriate mental health care for vulnerable mothers

Tania Clarence and Fiona Anderson received much attention from health and social workers, but neither received the mental health care that might have saved their children

Last week, two high profile cases of infanticide were brought before the law.

Tania Clarence was sentenced to be detained under a hospital order, after the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to drop her murder charges last month, and accepted her guilty plea to manslaughter.

Clarence had killed her three children Olivia, four, and three-year-old twins Max and Ben last April and then attempted to kill herself.

All three of the children suffered from the the muscle-weakening condition type 2 spinal muscular atrophy, and Tania Clarence had become severely depressed while trying to cope with the challenges of their care. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , | 4 Responses
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