The Government has been using ‘self-employment’ status as a bribe to fiddle the jobless figures – the Working Tax Credit is a better support mechanism than Job-Seeker’s Allowance, so they push the jobless into registering, and that makes it look like unemployment has gone down.

In truth, the jobless figures have been fiddled perpetually for over 30 years, and have long-since been meaningless.

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

I take a break for a week or so and lots of people publish stuff about self-employment. Even the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee were discussing it earlier this month, describing it as a “striking feature” of the UK’s labour market while holding a “range of views” as to the possible reasons for it. As Ben Chu noted, this is a polite way of saying that they disagree, which is not surprising given the ambiguous and sometimes contradictory data on self-employment.

Of course, this didn’t stop the government putting its own spin on the MPC’s comments. Ian Duncan-Smith claimed that welfare reforms were reviving Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit, citing the Bank of England in support, even though there was no reference to entrepreneurialism anywhere in its report.

What the MPC did say, however, was that benefit reforms might have been one of the factors leading to higher rates of self-employment…

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How I despise The Mail On Sunday, and the Daily Mail, and everything they stand for. They are the epitome of psychopathic projection – sociopathy that manages to defend itself by assuming every member of the human race is as self-serving, rapacious and manipulative as the sociopath himself.
The happy news is that, a little like the smear against Ralph Milliband in the Autumn, the attack appears to have had precisely the opposite effect from the one the privileged elitist reactionaries at the Mail intended, as donations to Trussell Trust have surged UPWARDS over Easter, instead of drying up.
Among the many aspects of yesterday’s hatchet job by the Mail that stink is the double-standard of it. The Mail neverendingly grails against the ‘evil’ of regulation, objecting that checks and balances are just a bureaucratic waste of time that hampers market/industrial efficiency. But it’s noticeable that they only make that complaint when the regulation is imposed on rich, privileged people of authority.
When it’s a matter of desperate, impoverished people requiring aid just to stay alive, it’s suddenly a ‘scandal’ that the processes for checking how great their needs really are is – supposedly – fleeting and superficial (which it isn’t in reality – the self-contradictory report hugely misrepresented how the process works).
So emergencies that see health and even lives in danger require slow, careful, to-the-letter-of-the-law checking processes, while large-scale industrial strategies that will take ages to implement anyway, should be allowed just to happen without any oversight?
Once again, the neoliberal definition of ‘freedom-of-the-individual’ amounts to “We must never let the state impose its will on me and my friends – so let’s make it push those uncouth, smelly poor people around instead.”


The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today.  Here’s my response.


Dear Daily Mail,

I’ve got a little boy.  His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three.  Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around.  He’s barely ever still.

A few days ago though, he was.  I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank.  It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was.  As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.

This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply.  After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of…

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The thing about reducing the public sector debt is that it ipso facto ALWAYS leads to an increase in private debt – the many people who can’t afford the basic services that are being withdrawn have to borrow money in order to afford them. And then, when they try to pay that off, they have to stop buying other goods or services. The companies they were purchasing from therefore lose sales, and in turn lose profits, and may have to lay off staff to avoid making a loss.
And so, when enough people stop purchasing, unemployment starts to surge and…. CRASH! goes the economy.
It’s really simple, it’s really obvious, but very few people seem to get it. George Osborne is certainly not one of those few.

Politics and Insights

1965037_301820166635705_1502392114_n (1)
The Tories are not “paying down the debt” as claimed. They are raising more money for the rich”
Labour’s social and economic policy was a success, and this is substantiated by the LSE’s definitive survey of the Blair-Brown years:
“There is clear evidence that public spending worked, contrary to popular belief.” Nor did Labour overspend. It inherited “a large deficit and high public sector debt”, with spending “at a historic low” – 14th out of 15 in the EU.
Labour’s spending increased, and money was invested in public services and social programs, and until the crash was still “unexceptional”, either by historic UK standards or international ones. Until 2007 “national debt levels were lower than when Labour took office”.
After years of neglect during the previous Conservative administration, Labour inherited a mess: public services in very poor state, shabby and squalid public buildings and unforgivably neglected human…

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by Martin Odoni

Just a fairly brief murmur from me – probably the last one for quite some time, at least on the subject of the Hillsborough Disaster.

As I assume most readers are reasonably well aware by now, the Coroner’s Inquest into the Disaster has been, as it were, ‘re-booted’, after the original Inquest that Dr Stefan Popper made such a horlicks of in the early-1990’s was quashed in December 2012. The second attempt to establish an accurate cause-of-death began yesterday, under the guidance of Lord Justice Goldring, and for the duration of proceedings, which will probably last over a year, the whole subject of the Hillsborough Disaster and all subsequent events has officially become subject to the Contempt Of Court Act 1981. This makes all media discussion – including social media discussion such as online blogs – a very delicate exercise. As Goldring himself made clear in February; –

[The jury] must decide… solely on the evidence they hear in court… Nothing (whether by way of comment or otherwise) should be published (including by way of online commentary or social networking sites) which could run the risk of prejudicing the outcome of the proceedings.

The Coroner has the power to refer anything published to the Attorney General if, in his view, it may amount to a contempt of court.

The Attorney General Dominic Grieve further stipulated on the 10th of March caution against “commentary which may prejudge issues that witnesses may give evidence about”.  Some might be suspicious of this, especially given the history of murky behaviour by the legal industry following the Disaster, and I must confess it does not sit all that well with me from a freedom-of-speech standpoint. But in the final analysis, I do have to concur with it; the original Inquest was fatally undone by prejudiced behaviours on the part of those investigating the Disaster, and it is therefore essential, for the credibility of the re-booted proceedings, that it be completely unsullied by any form of outside opinion, no matter which ‘side’ it leans towards. There are plenty of South Yorkshire Police apologists out there who take a perverse view that any defence of the victims of Hillsborough is ‘propaganda’, and would eagerly use any excuse they can find to discredit the new Inquest, especially if it reaches a different conclusion from the first.

I do not imagine that any of the jury are at all likely to find my blog anyway – I am under no illusions that I have an ‘audience of millions’ (or even an audience of a thousand, if I am being perfectly honest) – but even so, I must do my bit to help preserve the integrity of the new Hillsborough Inquest; however slight the danger is of this blog having any impact at all on the process, it is best to eliminate that danger entirely. I will leave all material I have so far published fully available for anyone to read, but I cannot continue writing new essays about Hillsborough while the Inquest is in progress, as many of the details I would touch upon could easily intrude on the ground it must study. (And yes, I am perfectly happy to admit that the idea of being tried for Contempt Of Court is rather less appealing than the idea of having a flaming arrow fired through my eye, and then finding it has a copy of a Manchester United/Plymouth Argyle fanzine attached to it.)

But just before The Hillsborough Disaster Index goes into limbo, I would like to express publicly my hopes that, during the gruelling months ahead, the bereaved families of the 96, and the survivors of the Disaster, are able to maintain the exceptional courage, resolve and perseverance that they have displayed in such ample measure for so long, against such terrible odds.

You really will Never Walk Alone.



I’ve just realised that the date of this article may provoke a skeptical eyebrow, but no,  I am not hoaxing, I genuinely do have to suspend all public writing about Hillsborough until the Inquest ends. I have been kindly invited to become a Hillsborough ‘scribe’ on the Red-And-White-Kop forum, and am likely to continue writing about the Disaster there, but the section of the forum I will be contributing to will be kept strictly private until next year. With the other users’ permission, I may publish excerpts from there in the future, but that will not be until at least the spring of 2015.