Thursday, 30 July 2015

Socks, fervid fantasies, forces of darkness, and ... socks!

Michael White on the Guardian is just one of the many snipers at Jeremy Corbyn, the leadership favourite for the Labour party. So here's a response.

Jeremy Corbyn: is the world ready for his sandals and socks?
Michael White

Socks? Who cares! Is that how Michael White makes political decisions – based on SOCKS? He then rightly refers to Ewan MacAskill’s comparison of Corbyn with the packed revival meetings of the SNP, which built a landslide win. Well done, that’s a good parallel for the landslide Corbyn win we’re about to see, but unfortunately it’s only used to make White sound like he is open minded when he is not.

Apparently a democratic majority is a ‘herd mentality’ presumably when it doesn’t agree with Michael White. He’s in good company. Plato thought democracy was rubbish too. He wanted kings bred as a special group from babies taken away from their parents and programmed for the job. Bit like Brave New World.
Oddly White admits he does not comprehend the meaning of ‘Establishment’ and ‘political elite’ which are standard political vocabulary (except among Tories). He snipes at ‘fantasies of fervid populist imaginations’ so presumably he prefers the fantasies of the elite he doesn’t know about?  

White ‘is grateful for a cabinet which has half a dozen smart enough members with their feet on the ground most of the time.’ A Tory then, so not surprising he is frightened of Corbyn. They’re sloshing out so much hostile comment on this ‘unelectable’ Corbyn, we can only conclude they are terrified. If they really thought he were ‘unelectable’ they wouldn’t need to say much about him, would they?  

White lists major challenges facing Britain then asks ‘Do you think Corbyn has the answer to much of this troubling agenda?’ Odd question when we are seeing so many saying a resounding Yes. Ah, not so odd, because that’s just that silly thing, the ‘herd mentality’ and ‘fervid fantasies,’ that contemptible thing, democracy.

 # To the meat of the matter at last, Michael White claims Corbyn is -
 – anti-Europe. WHAT? Corbyn has said just as Cameron has, that providing a better deal is negotiated, he favours staying in. 
– pro-Hamas. WHAT? Corbyn said ‘I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.’

# Then Corbyn, says White, doesn’t have the money to fund his policies. Not right now on an MP’s salary and not even using his expense account, no! But Corbyn’s Economic Plan shows there is about £200bn in unpaid tax, evaded and avoided tax, and tax allowances to big companies. That’s before we get to raising the top rate on incomes of a million, which the public enthusiastically backs.

# He ‘s old. Catch up mate – 60 is the new 40 and all that. Seeing the lean, fit Corbyn in action you have to ask how many 50s or even 40s today could match him. Interestingly recent research shows the age we are is not our calendar age but a mix of genetics and lifestyle. Can cut 20 years off, or in the case of some in Government on rich expense account dinners, booze (and worse) it can add a lot too.

 Ye Olde Comforte Blankete is waved again. Michael, anyone who thinks that becoming the target of constant hostility from Tories and Blairites alike is COMFORTABLE needs a drastic reality check.

After a quick look at socks (again, would poor Michael like some nice ones sent to him? they do seem to be bothering him) we come to the doom filled warning of ‘forces of real darkness.’ Oh dearie dearie me, fantasy time. Broomsticks and demons? But I thought it was us masses who indulge in ‘fervid fantasies.’

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Jeremy Corbyn economic plan

Corbyn's economic manifesto is pretty good, much better on being clear and free of jargon than almost any other politician. But I think it can be shorter, simpler, comfier without losing its information. So here's my rewrite, very close to the original which you can get HERE.

In a nutshell Corbyn proposes an economics of investment, a ‘National Investment Bank.’
This is aimed to invigorate hi-tech and innovative industries, and train necessary skills.
The view that taxes are a burden must shift to taxes as a subscription we pay to live in a civilised society, and one which can support a strong economy.
Corbyn aims at a modern, rebalanced economy based on growth and high quality jobs.
He says Labour must become the party of economic justice AND economic credibility.

Corbyn’s economics for Labour:

Wealth creation is a shared process between workers, public investment and services, and innovative and creative individuals.
Corbyn aims at a modern, rebalanced economy based on growth and high quality jobs.
Our current tax on corporations (20%) is already the lowest in the G7.
It’s lower than China (25%), and half USA (40%).
At the same time we offer £93 billion in huge tax reliefs and subsidies to the corporations.

Osborne’s giveaways will lose £5 billion revenue for the Goverment: £2.5 billion in inheritance tax on the 4% richest households, and £2.5 billion in corporation tax, by 20120.
This is twice as much as the benefits cap will raise.

There is money available.
Instead of getting money from those that have lots of it Osborne is running down public services, slashing the welfare state, selling off public assets.

We see that austerity is about political choices, not economic necessities.

Osborne promised he would reduce the deficit by 2015 but he was wrong. He only halved it.
He is now promising again to remove the deficit by 2020.

People are still worse off today than they were in 2008.
The average household is still awaiting recovery.

Britain has had the longest period of falling real wages since the 19thC,
– a disastrous investment and productivity record.
– a swelling balance of payments deficit,
– a new army of low-paid, low skilled, insecure, zero hours, and bogus self-employment jobs.

The deficit does not need an artificial plan of 5 or even 10 years.
Labour will close the current budget deficit through building a strong growing economy that works for all. We will not do it by increasing poverty.

Instead of removing spending power from the economy which damages growth and prosperity, Britain needs an expansion led by the public sector to rebuild the economy.

Faster growth and higher wages are key to bringing down the deficit.
Increased tax receipts and lower benefit demand are a better way forward.
In a tough choice we will always protect public services and support for the most vulnerable. We will ask those who have been fortunate to contribute a little more, and fund a sustainable investment plan.

Large parts of our country have been neglected for decades, with no real industrial strategy.
The Northern Powerhouse is largely southern hot air:
It devolves only slashed budgets, leaving the real power at the centre.

Our infrastructure, our economic basis, is about modern housing, transport, digital and energy networks. We need to ensure they are among the best in the world for a strong economy.

But UK infrastructure (energy, housing, transport, digital) lags behind other developed economies. Britain’s economy is outdated.
Privatised markets are failing and holding back the economy.
Osborne’s Budget will actually cut investment further.
You cannot cut your way to prosperity. We need to invest in our future.

We need to drive investment and lending to rebuild the economy.
We need to promote hi-tech and innovation to generate customers for private companies.
We need to move away from finance towards high-growth, sustainable sectors of the future.


The Bank of England can be given a new mandate to invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects.
Richard Murphy and many other economists have been making a case for quantitative easing serving people instead of banks.
The huge £93 billion in tax reliefs and subsidies offered to the corporations can be reduced, and the funds raised used to establish a ‘National Investment Bank.’
This would be invested into hi-tech and innovative industries.

Construction, manufacturing, and engineering skills are required to support this plan.
We will invest in adult education and further education to get the high skill, high pay, high productivity workforce.

Richard Murphy has estimated that nearly £120 billion in tax revenues is not paid.
Enough to double the NHS budget.
There is £20bn in uncollected tax debt, £20bn in tax avoidance, £80bn in tax evasion.
This is money taken from us all.

We need to shift the view that taxes are a burden, to tax as a subscription we pay to live in a civilised society.
We all benefit from schools, hospitals, libraries, street lights, pensions etc.
Labour must make the tax system more progressive.
Those with the most must pay the most, not just in monetary terms, but proportionally too.

We will:
– Introduce proper anti-avoidance rule into UK tax law.
– Ensure country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations.
– Reform small business tax to discourage avoidance and tackle tax evasion.
– Enforce proper regulation of companies in the UK so they file their tax returns, and pay tax they owe.
Reverse the cuts to HMRC and Companies House staff, taking on more staff so taxes can be collected which the UK badly needs.

Ordinary people can’t ask to be paid in fine art or vintage wines to avoid tax.
Ordinary people can’t pay accountants to put their income through foreign banks to avoid tax.
How can a small local coffee shop which pays proper taxes compete with the big chains that use these avoidances?

We have a deeply unbalanced society, and a deeply unbalanced economy.
The state plays a vital role in that to increase it or reduce it. It cannot opt out.
Without a responsible government we suffer the chaos of debt bubbles, underinvestment, grotesque inequality between rich and poor, and a widening regional inequality.

Our vision is of an economy that works for all,
provides opportunity for all, and invests in all
– rich and poor, north, south, east and west.
Billionaires are not the sign of a healthy economy: fairness and equality is.
Labour must become the party of economic justice AND economic credibility.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Osborne's dinner

Osborne can afford to pay as much for a single dinner out, as a benefits family eats on for a week. Isn't that a pretty sight as he wipes his mouth clean with a starched white napkin, and reaches for his wine glass? Oh sorry I got that wrong. He doesn't pay for it out of his income, silly me, it's on expenses. Isn't it a pretty pretty sight seeing all the little children following their mummies to the foodbanks? Aw, so cute. END OF POST.

Jeremy Corbyn hope and pride

I just got back from seeing Jeremy Corbyn speak - WHAT a guy!
Who he?
Jeremy Corbyn is one of a small group of Labour MPs standing as candidates to be Leader of the Labour Pary. The others are much younger than he, far less experienced in politics, and they follow the recent line of timid Labour talking. Not Jeremy.

Jeremy calls for us to be proud of Labour. Proud of the NHS, proud of building houses with moderate rents, proud of paying benefits so kids don't starve and people down on their luck can survive with dignity. He voted against Iraq and supports world peace. He fought racism before that was fashionable. There's hardly a worthy cause in Left politics he hasn't worked for.

He points out that we have a deficit which is 60% of GDP, but after WWII it was more than double our GDP (225%). Yet by investing in the nation's resources, building houses, roads and railways, establishing the NHS and filling pockets with welfare money to spend, the government got the economy healthy again.

It worked then and it can work now. But austerity won't work. It is already not working as we see businesses laying off staff and going bust. When public services are cut, bang go the contracts with private companies and they close or cut staff. Less tax for the Treasury ... who cut more public services! You couldn't make it up.

Corbyn is a plain speaking bloke who doesn't blah jargon yet has all the facts at his fingertips. Never condescending, he actually listens to what people say. The room was packed tonight, twice as many people came as expected. The applause was heartfelt.

This man has a message people want to hear.

Of course he'll be blanked by the news and slagged by Blairite Labour. But such is the rush to join Labour to support him, by people who thought hope was lost, he's in with a chance.

Either he becomes Leader of Labour, or the new Leader will know that Corbyn represents a BIG movement of people: a voice that has to be respected. Oh, and he says 'we' a lot, and means it.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas is jolly - isn't it?

Apparently 51% of Americans think of Christmas as Christian. I'm really surprised. But then away from the coastal cities America is quite an oldfashioned place and still very dominated by Christianity.

Quite simply there's nothing Christian about Christmas except the name. The date, the birth of the Son, the maiden Mother, the Star, the Magi, shepherds, angels, stable/ cave, the animals ... all of it is Pagan. So are Tree, gifts and feasting.
It's fine for Christians to share though. there's plenty for everyone.

It always amuses me the fuss every year about Christmas being "commercial."
This is the Earth quarter of the year. It's all about material survival. So we eat, drink, and are merry because very soon the death rate will peak. Some of those faces around the jolly table won't be there when Spring comes. Making a big display of how strong, vigorous, rich and well fed we are is a great way to reassure ourselves against the coming strain on our bodies.

Gift giving is also an exchange of bonds, about survival. Those we exchange gifts with now are those who we hope to call upon if things go badly wrong in the coming months.

So raise a glass. Smell the piney aroma of the Tree. Eat a treat ... and another. Let the shiny wrappings litter the floor for the cats to chase and crackle.
For tomorrow is another day.

Ignore READ MORE link.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Changing the World

An Australian journo has written a delightful (though disapproving) account of Assange's quasi-religious charisma. (Brendan O'Neill, The Australian)This was something I was already observing with interest too so I thank Mr. O'Neill for collecting the data so industriously.

Oxford English Dictionary: CHARISMA n. compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others: ...from Greek kharisma, from kharis 'favour, grace' (OED online)

The Australian article however mistakenly writes as if Assange does his work alone. He doesn't. Wikileaks was actually more active while he was helpless in solitary confinement.

Assange has explained his personality cult very neatly. “It is my role to be the lightning rod," Assange said. "That is a difficult role. On the other hand, I get undue credit."
(Oct. 2010 CNN)

Agreed Assange has a quasi-religious messianic image but I would say this operates with both his admirers and his attackers. To one side he is a rescuing angelic force to the other a destructive demonic force.

Mr. O'Neill declares "Strikingly, it shows how utterly degraded the idea of truth has become."

Indeed so. For Assange admirers the political process you recommend "political engagement, public debate and critical thinking" have failed. These have little or no influence on the ruling class of each nation.
Instead we have deadly secrets like war crimes, lies about WMD, and enquiries or consultations that merely serve to distract or whitewash. Western societies are more unequal than ever especially the USA and UK.
As a result those who support justice, fairness, equality, who were in despair at the destruction of all these values, now find a blazing inspiration in Assange and Wikileaks.

Should Assange be assassinated as some American leaders have demanded, his messianic myth will never die but grow to haunt Governments for centuries. But if he lives he remains a mighty rallying call. What a dilemma for the ruling classes.
Later edit: Assange has referred today to being a messiah without dying. He says this is a positive way to do it! (BBC interview Humphreys)

On the other side they see him as demonic. A techno-wizard superman villain who suddenly whips his cloak aside to reveal their nastiness. How scary. They got used to neatly hiding their foul doings and suddenly it’s not so easy.

The ruling class for now and some time to come is under pressure to take responsibility for what they have done.
When that includes 20,000 ordinary people including children, killed illegally in war crimes, it is difficult to see the downside. Except for the rich ruling class.

Who have not yet managed to point to one death caused by Wikileaks’ exposures.

I'll end this with an excerpt from the BBC interview.

Q: You want to change the world?

JA: Absolutely. The world has a lot of problems
and they need to be reformed. And we only live once. Every person who has some ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they're in.

That is a value, that, yes, comes partly from my temperament. There is also a value that comes from my father, which is that capable, generous men don't create victims, they try and save people from becoming victims. That is what they are tasked to do. If they do not do that they are not worthy of respect or they are not capable.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Health - or a new trainset?

The NHS is facing cuts of £20n billion.

Pain clinics are closing. Hip and joint ops are cut. Diagnostics cut so you find out too late what's wrong. Women are giving birth on the floor or alone, screaming in pain and at risk.

The new high speed rail ink London Birmingham will cost £17 billion.
That's its estimated cost so it will come out more in the end.

The train will save just 30 mins journey time.
Only it won't, because you'll arrive at a new station outside the centre of Birmingham and have to get a shuttle into the centre.
Green benefit is uncertain or negligible.

Which would you rather have - one high speed train connection or thousands of hip replacements, pain clinics, diagnostics and nurses?

Remember those who decide these cuts don't use the NHS. Ministers and MPs have private medicine paid for by our taxes in their pay packets.

Our taxes also pay to train most of the doctors, nurses and other staff in private hospitals. Private hospitals should pay an extra income tax by the employer on all their staff, to go straight into training NHS nurses doctors etc.

But do think about how we'll benefit from a shiny new train with so many more people being crippled and in great pain. The two projects cost around the same.