Voices on the Left: 5 blogs from the left you need to read this week

A roundup of progressive news…

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1.Liz Truss met with US lobbyists who tanked Obama’s Clean Energy Act-openDemocracy

OpenDemocracy has an important piece on how Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss has endorsed think tanks which ‘made it impossible for Barack Obama to pass climate laws’, with a US government adviser warning that the UK should be “concerned” about their links to the Tory leadership favourite.

The piece reports that the ‘foreign secretary held secretive meetings with think tanks pushing for the UK to adopt a hardline free market agenda while on a visit to the US as a treasury minister in 2018 to drum up interest for a UK-US trade deal’.

The hardline free-market groups allied with Truss also said the NHS should compete with US corporations.

Jonathan Phillips, who advised the US House of Representatives’ climate committee, told openDemocracy: “One of the reasons that the politics around climate change in the US is different to the UK right now is because of this powerful force of right-wing think tanks funded by fossil fuel interests.

“You should be concerned if the tactics used by those groups are applied in the UK, because they have polarised the issue of climate change to the point that there is zero space for political debate, negotiation and compromise from the Republican Party.”

2. Tory-Linked Climate Denial Group’s New Advisor Called Environmentalism ‘Satan’s Trick’-DeSmog

DeSmog reports on how a charity with links to senior Conservative MPs has appointed a professor who said protecting the environment was an “innovation of the Devil” and has dismissed the science of human-caused climate change.

The website reports: “Samuele Furfari, a former EU energy advisor, this month joined the “academic advisory council” of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – the UK’s main climate science denial group, which has ties to several of the politicians who ran to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The move follows a resurgence of the group in recent months and comes as record-breaking heatwaves have struck many parts of the world.”

Furfari wrote in 2010: “Putting our hope in environmentalism is the latest innovation of the Devil to keep man from the love and grace of God. Should C.S. Lewis have written Screwtape Letters today he would probably add ‘environmentalism’ to the list of Satan’s tricks.”

Yet more evidence of just how influenced the Tory party is by climate scepticism.

3. Flagship Levelling Up Project Won’t Materialise for Decades, Report warns-Byline Times

The government’s levelling up plan is nothing more than rhetoric. A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the north of England will have to wait nearly 20 years to see the full benefit of one of the Government’s major ‘levelling up’ projects, Byline Times reports.

The TransPennine electrification of rail services from Manchester to York won’t be completed until between 2036 and 2041 and that is without any further delays to the project.

And whenever the government boasts about levelling up, it’s also worth pointing out that the most deprived secondary schools in England saw a 14% real-terms fall in spending per pupil between 2009–10 and 2019–20, compared with a 9% drop for the least deprived schools.

4. Why I have launched the West of England good employment charter-LabourList

Dan Norris, the Labour mayor of the West of England, has written a piece for LabourList on why he has launched the West of England good employment charter.

To protect workers’ rights and to ensure healthy and happy staff, Norris outlines ‘two tiers to the West of England good employment charter.

Norris writes that these are: “Supporters’, where the West of England authority I lead works with aspiring organisations to help them raise employment standards; and ‘members’, where employers prove they are exemplars. The tests are about secure work – so people know when the next shift is coming – paying the real living wage and making sure that workers are listened to and can get training and promotions. It’s also about making sure people stay healthy. Every company that signs up as a charter member or supporter receives bespoke support and training.”

The charter shows how attacks on workers’ rights by the government can be resisted, bringing together ‘trade unions, employers and employees’.

5. Internships increasingly unaffordable as costs soar-Morning Star

Unpaid internships are one of the main mechanisms through which social mobility is hampered for those from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds and the Morning Star reports on how the minimum costs of a one-month internship have increased by 15 per cent since before the pandemic.

New analysis by the Labour Party reveals that interns would have to pay £160 more to do a one-month internship in London with the higher costs of essentials considered, while in Manchester interns would have to pay £127 more a month.

Shadow employment minister Justin Madders said: “It’s a disgrace that under the Tories, today’s young people are still being shut out from certain career pathways because they can’t afford to work unpaid for weeks on end.

“A fair day’s work should mean a fair day’s pay.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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