POLITICS CORNER

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tripps » 01 Aug 2013, 13:44

From Michael Crick
"A few months ago I asked Nick Clegg's spokeswoman why the appointment of these new peers was so secretive. Her name was Olly Grender"

I was hoping that Julie Bailey the tenacious whistle blower in the Mid Staffs affair might get the nod. Hoped rather than expected :smile:
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 02 Aug 2013, 03:30

David, the 'honours' system is nothing to do with merit as you well know. We'll know this country is climbing out of nepotism, insider dealing and pure bribery when it is abolished.
I was struck by the Cruddas spat (LINK). No mention of the fact that a system exists whereby donating money to the Tory party gains access to politicians and influence (and titles). Yet they protest against union funding of Labour.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 02 Aug 2013, 14:48

Department for Communities and Local Government:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/s ... _works.pdf
Thus bloggers, tweeters, facebook and YouTube users, and individuals with their own website, should be able to report meetings. You should ask your council for details of the facilities they are providing for citizen journalists

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 03 Aug 2013, 05:08

Eric Pickles continues his assault on councils and car parking. Evidently some council's have been refusing to allow people to let their driveways out for car parking saying that planning permission is needed. The law is to be altered to allow single car parking.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 05 Aug 2013, 04:53

See this LINK for a reliable estimate that over a million workers are on 'zero hour' contracts. Government statistics suggest a quarter of this level. You take your choice but recognise that these people don't appear on the unemployment statistics as they are reckoned to be 'in work'. Add the number of people having to claim Income Support or in part time jobs or others that don't pay a minimum wage and you begin to get an idea of the way statistics are being manipulated to 'prove' that things are improving.
Interesting that there is a growing tide of opinion that statistics like GDP have very little relevance to what is actually happening in society. I can't remember a time when there were so many people suffering on low incomes. You have to go back to the worst years of the inter-war depression to see deprivation on this scale. Who is the country being governed for? Certainly not the p;oor, they have been abandoned. It is a disgrace.
Interesting that the North/South debate has reared its head again. The latest manifestation is the row over fracking. Ollerenshaw, Tory MP for Fylde has jumped into the ring accusing the south of exploiting the north. Nothing new about that if you read your history but there is little doubt that electioneering for May 2015 has started and any opportunity to get a sound bite in is a bonus. Mind you, he did ask a pertinent question about what the level of understanding of the north is in the soft underbelly. Good question. Many people believe that North of Watford there be dragons and the barbarian inhabitants go to bed in their boots with their hats on. Cobbet was about right when hje described London as 'The Great Wen'. (A wen was a boil or other skin eruption)
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tripps » 05 Aug 2013, 10:23

I've got Cobbet's "Rural Rides" somewhere - I'll dig it out.

" In 'Rural Rides' (1830), he wrote: "But, what is to be the fate of the great wen of all? The monster, called, by the silly coxcombs of the press, 'the metropolis of the empire?'"
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 05 Aug 2013, 15:14

Seems the Labour Party are liable for Corporation tax, running into several hundred thousand £'s once they sell the shares donated my Mr Mills of JML fame, according to HMRC

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 06 Aug 2013, 04:03

It's still a good read David....
It looks increasingly likely that one of the major bones of contention in the next General Election could by poverty and erosion of worker's rights. If so I'm all in favour of it. At the moment governance is dominated by the needs of a market economy and our leaders have lost sight of the fact that any 'economic solution' that has as its basis a regression to the laisser faire policies of the 19th century will lead to the same result, a reaction by the oppressed. This is true throughout history, look at the precursors of the revolution in Russia and the history of the Labour Party in Britain. In practice, prosperity and stable government are more likely when all sections of society cooperate in support of common goals. Look at the history of trade union/management relations in Germany from 1950 onwards and reflect that the result was a functioning relationship between management and workers not internecine warfare which crippled the UK economy at the same time. Ask yourself if this had any effect on the German recovery.
I will repeat my conviction that yes, it is necessary to reduce debt, to cut our coat to suit our cloth but to place the burden of this on the poorest in society is ultimately self-defeating. It may be time for our politicians to realise that we are no longer a world power backed by the captive market of the old empire. We are an offshore island to the west of Europe with sufficient resources to be a very wealthy country. We don't need a 'place at the top table', a nuclear deterrent or two aircraft carriers. Retrenchment and concentration on creating a manufacturing sector that can support a living wage for workers with a measure of security should be the goal and the first action must be to stop the erosion in the disposable income of the bottom half of society. These are the people who spend all of their income and recirculate their wages into the general economy.
Could it happen? I doubt it especially since at the moment the large capital holders control government policy. However, the proposition holds, in the end it is the only way to long term stability.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 06 Aug 2013, 09:54

Lib Dems want to ban all petrol and diesal cars by 2040

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 06 Aug 2013, 10:01

Stanley wrote:We are an offshore island to the west of Europe with sufficient resources to be a very wealthy country. We don't need a 'place at the top table', a nuclear deterrent or two aircraft carriers. Retrenchment and concentration on creating a manufacturing sector that can support a living wage for workers with a measure of security should be the goal and the first action must be to stop the erosion in the disposable income of the bottom half of society. These are the people who spend all of their income and recirculate their wages into the general economy.
I look forward to hearing how you will make this vision, to compete with the likes of China, Bangladesh and India, without those at the bottom being paid less. I think the only way is to ensure that those abroad have to be paid the minimum wage because they are human beings too.

We need to accept that our immigration policy allows us to lower taxes because the country does not have to pay the price of educating those people. We have no right to 'rape' these resources from other countries.

Remember that the UK no longer provides even it's own food requirements or energy for transport, so everyone is dependent upon those international commodities markets.

To be free, you must be self sufficient

Maybe the issue is the requirement to consume, and the debate needs to move to a holistic approach rather than the kind of jealous "them and us" type of policy

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 06 Aug 2013, 10:07

Knee jerk politics around dogs
Some campaigners have said Government policies on dogs are becoming too strict. Home owners were warned earlier this year that they could potentially face prosecution if their dog scares a child who strays into their garden to retrieve a football.

Under the rules, an owner whose dog “nips, bites or barks” at a person such as a postman could in theory face court action.

There are concerns that the law could lead to dog owners being threatened with legal action if their pet barks aggressively at a child
No mention in the rhetoric about 'guard dogs'

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 06 Aug 2013, 19:12

Will the law now be modified to include pythons?

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 08 Aug 2013, 07:08

The 'Bongo Bongo land' video clip is useful in that it reminds us that the dinosaurs are still alive and well out there in politics land. He has a history.... see the last paragraphs of this LINK.
On another matter.. Much talk of 'Green shoots' and of course the government will jump on this for justification of their policies. They should be very careful. Many responsible commentators are flagging up the fact that this is a very unbalanced 'recovery' and in any case is only a minor adjustment in what is still a flat-lining economy in many key areas. Mark Carney's report of the BofE committee's opinions is useful but I'm sure he is as aware of the problems as the commentators. There are two major problems, the stagnant domestic demand and the erosion of savings due to interest rates being below inflation. The former is worsening daily as disposable incomes continue to fall in the lower 50% of the electorate. Carney talks about the role of exports in the revival of the manufacturing economy but this seems to be at odds with the global trend towards retrenchment and anyway is only a small segment of the overall UK economy. The length of the haul depends on the return to normal levels in the domestic economy and I'm afraid that it is going to be a long, hard slog. For this reason, our leaders should be very careful about what they say.....
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by EileenDavid » 08 Aug 2013, 10:29

Perhaps UKIP used wrong wording with Bongo Bongo land but where is it this Bongo Bongo land? My political gripe is nearer to home in the state of the roads and this includes motorways I have never seen as many "pot holes". Mostly the problems are with utility excavations not being reinstated properly which councils don't appear to be checking! Or are they using this as a political platform against Central Government by not spending money and so upsetting road users, pedestrians don't fair much better. It's time the councils spent the tax payers money instead of lining their guilt edge pension schemes with it. I am not party political animal but something needs doing before lives are lost. Driving is hazardous enough without being distracted avoiding pot holes. Furthermore another problem on roads are the council not leveling grids. I have just been on a bus and it's a disgrace how you are bumped about I feared for my delicate retina's The roads are bad enough in a car but the bus is worse than being at sea in a force 10 gale. Eileen

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Thomo » 08 Aug 2013, 12:02

Like it or not, there is some truth in his comment, and it is true that well intentioned aid money often goes adrift, a fair slice of it would be better off being spent here!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by EileenDavid » 09 Aug 2013, 08:28

Here Here Tomo Eileen

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 12 Aug 2013, 05:11

See this LINK for news of the 5.5% fall in wages since 2010. Add to this the fact that the decline is ongoing as is inflation and then contrast this with the upbeat pronouncements coming out of Downing Street. Not just a mismatch, it's a con trick.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 12 Aug 2013, 09:19

While trumpeting that the UK has one of the largest declines in wages in Europe they seem to be missing an important point. Looking at wages doesn't tell the whole story. For example, in the data reported, Spain doesn't feature among the countries with a large decline. Why not when it's had such a dramatic crash in the economy? The answer is simple, many Spanish workers have lost their jobs and many young Spaniards can't find work. So, those people are effectively suffering a 100% decline in wages or a total absence of wages and yet they are not included in the study and therefore the Spanish look better off than we do in the UK when in fact they have been hit more badly. Abuse and misinterpretation of statistics again!

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Bruff » 12 Aug 2013, 10:23

At face value it is odd, is it not, that this Government, which has taken an axe to swathes of public spending, have protected the foreign aid budget. Perhaps they know, as others do not, that foreign aid is the area of public spending that above all others and by some distance, minimises the cost burden to the public coffers down the line. That is, if you do not spend your billions now, you'll be spending a few billions more at some stage (unless we retreat into splendid isolation, which admittedly has its attractions in the scope it offers for eviscerating the defence budget for example).

Wages is a vexed issue in that you need to be clear whether you're talking about mean (or average) wages Or the median wage - which is the 50 percentile. Or indeed the mode - the most common wage. It is quite easy for average wages to rise if the 'top' are lapping it up. Great reward at the top also masks a mode that is increasingly reduced.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 12 Aug 2013, 10:30

Impressive Car Crash interview on Today this morning by Chris Bryant

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 12 Aug 2013, 18:51

A friend whose grand child is unemployed (no qualifications) was sent from Burnley to apply for work in Barlick. The questions he asked were.
1 Is there no unemployment in Barlick.
2 Are people from Barlick being sent to Burnley.
Of course if you can’t prove you have looked for work you are struck off the employment register. On the face of it it all appears to be some cynical ploy to reduce the unemployment levels.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 13 Aug 2013, 03:24

Richard, I wondered if they were including the top earners but they did specify 'wage earners'. But I think you're all right about the unreliability of these statistics. Possible that the more reliable figures are those for arrears in repayment of various debts. Interesting that Thames Water included bad debts in its claim for a surcharge on water bills and I wondered when I saw it whether this was domestic users in arrears. My beef at the moment is the mismatch between the financial interests talking up a recovery and the undoubted worsening plight of the poorest. Richard mentioned the future benefits of overseas aid and I agree with him. However, the same argument can be applied to the future costs that will be caused by cutting the incomes of the lowest 50% of the population. One example, it is generally agreed that money invested in primary basic education pays an enormous return in future costs of crime alone. So what is the cost of rearing children in poverty? I don't think that questions like this play much part in policy making at the moment. Like PFI, the politicians would rather kick the problem down the road.
Not Chris Bryant's finest hour but there is no doubt he made a good point.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 13 Aug 2013, 10:22

NHS Ombudsman wrote:“What we found was that there is toxic cocktail - patients felt reluctant to complain, because they can fear it will affect the care they get - and that if they do, they are met with a culture of defensiveness, where they don’t get the explanations they need, and the opportunity is lost to learn really powerful insights, which could improve the NHS.”

Research has found that more than half of those who consider complaining about the NHS do not do so, with many put off because they expect the process to be bureaucratic, while others believe it will make no difference.

She said that patients and carers contacted the NHS Ombudsman in desperation and frustration, because hospital complaints departments had failed to provide the most basic explanation, let alone an apology.

“There are three core things that people come to us about,” she said. “Number one is - ‘I just can’t get a decent explanation, I really don’t know what happened and actually maybe if I had a proper explanation that would sort it for me - I just want to know.’”

“The second is when something has gone wrong, but there is a lack of acknowledgement of mistakes, and inadequate apology. The third is when there is insufficient remedy - I think that has really struck me about why the public complain is they do so because they want to prevent the same thing happening to someone else.”

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 14 Aug 2013, 04:42

Marta sent me this Paul Krugman piece;

August 11, 2013
Milton Friedman, Unperson
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Recently Senator Rand Paul, potential presidential candidate and self-proclaimed expert on monetary issues, sat down for an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. It didn’t go too well. For example, Mr. Paul talked about America running “a trillion-dollar deficit every year”; actually, the deficit is projected to be only $642 billion in 2013, and it’s falling fast.
But the most interesting moment may have been when Mr. Paul was asked whom he would choose, ideally, to head the Federal Reserve and he suggested Milton Friedman — “he’s not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.” The interviewer then gently informed him that Friedman — who would have been 101 years old if he were still alive — is, in fact, dead. O.K., said Mr. Paul, “Let’s just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn’t have much of a functioning Federal Reserve.”
Which suggests an interesting question: What ever happened to Friedman’s role as a free-market icon? The answer to that question says a lot about what has happened to modern conservatism.
For Friedman, who used to be the ultimate avatar of conservative economics, has essentially disappeared from right-wing discourse. Oh, he gets name-checked now and then — but only for his political polemics, never for his monetary theories. Instead, Rand Paul turns to the “Austrian” view of thinkers like Friedrich Hayek — a view Friedman once described as an “atrophied and rigid caricature” — while Paul Ryan, the G.O.P.’s de facto intellectual leader, gets his monetary economics from Ayn Rand, or more precisely from fictional characters in “Atlas Shrugged.”
How did that happen? Friedman, it turns out, was too nuanced and realist a figure for the modern right, which doesn’t do nuance and rejects reality, which has a well-known liberal bias.
One way to think about Friedman is that he was the man who tried to save free-market ideology from itself, by offering an answer to the obvious question: “If free markets are so great, how come we have depressions?”
Until he came along, the answer of most conservative economists was basically that depressions served a necessary function and should simply be endured. Hayek, for example, argued that “we may perhaps prevent a crisis by checking expansion in time,” but “we can do nothing to get out of it before its natural end, once it has come.” Such dismal answers drove many economists into the arms of John Maynard Keynes.
Friedman, however, gave a different answer. He was willing to give a little ground, and admit that government action was indeed necessary to prevent depressions. But the required government action, he insisted, was of a very narrow kind: all you needed was an appropriately active Federal Reserve. In particular, he argued that the Fed could have prevented the Great Depression — with no need for new government programs — if only it had acted to save failing banks and pumped enough reserves into the banking system to prevent a sharp decline in the money supply.
This was, as I said, a move toward realism (although it looks wrong in the light of recent experience). But realism has no place in today’s Republican Party: both Mr. Paul and Mr. Ryan have furiously attacked Ben Bernanke for responding to the 2008 financial crisis by doing exactly what Friedman said the Fed should have done in the 1930s — advice he repeated to the Bank of Japan in 2000. “There is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its citizens,” Mr. Ryan lectured Mr. Bernanke, “than debase its currency.”
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of debasing currencies: one of Friedman’s most enduring pieces of straight economic analysis was his 1953 argument in favor of flexible exchange rates, in which he argued that countries finding themselves with excessively high wages and prices relative to their trading partners — like the nations of southern Europe today — would be better served by devaluing their currencies than by enduring years of high unemployment “until the deflation has run its sorry course.” Again, there’s no room for that kind of pragmatism in a party in which many members hanker for a return to the gold standard.
Now, I don’t want to put Friedman on a pedestal. In fact, I’d argue that the experience of the past 15 years, first in Japan and now across the Western world, shows that Keynes was right and Friedman was wrong about the ability of unaided monetary policy to fight depressions. The truth is that we need a more activist government than Friedman was willing to countenance.
The point, however, is that modern conservatism has moved so far to the right that it no longer has room for even small concessions to reality. Friedman tried to save free-market conservatism from itself — but the ideologues who now dominate the G.O.P. are beyond saving."

I like Paul Krugman's take on policy, he seems to be able to rise above factionalism and take a sensible view. I thought about him when I was having a ponder about the government policy of supporting first time buyers which seems to be having an effect on the housing market with news that property prices are rising and more deals are being done. I wonder what he'd make of what seemed to me to be a sensible comment I heard on the news last night. "It is basically wrong to stimulate the market for something that is under-supplied" This recognises of course that the basic problem with housing at the moment is that there isn't enough of it, particularly low cost social housing. Bearing in mind that one of the key factors in the 2008 melt-down was an overheated property market I wonder if we aren't chasing the wrong hare here.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tardis » 14 Aug 2013, 11:15

I see Norman Tebbit is agreeing with Chris Bryant:
Chris Bryant may be absurd, but he's drawn attention to the immigration problem that his party left us with

For him to now to criticise Polish immigration in terms which, had they come from Nigel Farage, might have been condemned by many on the Left as "racist" or "extreme", would have been bad enough, but to do so by way of an attack on Tesco and Next in which he got the facts wrong and had to back down, is absurd even for a member of Mr Milliband's team

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