by Martin Odoni

Sorry for forgetting to get all excited over the last year or so, but it hasn’t been easy to. We’ve been told repeatedly over that time how the thrifty ingenuity of the Conservative Party has rescued and revived the British economy. We have had some growth in the economy since the summer in 2013, I suppose, but somehow, looking at it just doesn’t get me going.

But then, what I can never quite grasp is why the Tories expect everyone to have an orgasm about it. I mean, when have somewhat positive economic performance figures ever had that kind of effect on people?

Still, having said that, have you read the romantic tale of the year, about our delectable heroine, Edith Connie Mee? You haven’t? Well boy, are you missing out! Here’s an excerpt from the – mysteriously-not-bestselling – novel E. Connie Mee’s Diary; –

She stepped into the soft, candle-lit accounting office, the promise of indiscretion ever hanging above the balance-sheet print-outs. Then Gideon put his strong, masculine hand on her arm, well-practised and toned by the writer’s block brought on from endless filling in stationery-requisition reports in triplicate, and then with a romantic flourish, he leaned close and whispered a few sweet annual-debt-divided-by-quarters-and-recalculated-deficits-as-percentages-of-GDP in her ear… and then he… OH YES!!! YES-YES-YES!!! He nibbled seductively on her disability benefits, biting away just enough for her to really feel it. He ran his nimble fingers over her welfare-history file, uncladding all her papers and letting the folder drop to the floor between them. Then, he brought her to the height of ecstasy with the revelation that increased commercial sales from private borrowing had resulted in the satisfying elongation of the activity column of the graph for the year by three per cent! OHHHHHHH!!!!

“Oh Gideon,” she simpered, “Gideon! This has never happened to me before!!!!”

Well actually, that last sentence may even be true. George Osborne getting good performance figures out of the economy is something that has probably never happened to any of us before. And, in terms of figures that will give us something to get excited about on a personal level, no, we are still waiting.

Now, the BBC are reporting that the lukewarm economic ‘recovery’ of the last year-and-a-bit is already slowing down, which is not really a surprise given how unbalanced it is. It might improve again before too long if we’re lucky, but even so, the growth for this year was expected to be the aforementioned three per cent, but has already been downgraded by a significant margin, to two-point-six per cent (thus invalidating projected figures from the OBR that were only published at the beginning of this month). Certainly a long way from recessionary news, but still, a bit of a rushed, damp, premature withdrawal from the recent throes of heated economic passion.

Let’s get back to that book though! About two-and-a-quarter, rather short, paragraphs later…

“Oh dear, Gideon, was that it?” Connie asked, disappointed. “Never mind. We can try again next Parliamentary term.”

“I’m sorry, Connie, I’m not sure I can get my voting slip into your ballot box again that soon…”

It would seem that Tory economics really are a little like reputed Tory sex-lives. A lot of tedious, clumsy foreplay that reduces stimulation much more than it increases it, a much-delayed enlargement finally getting half-into-effect, a brief burst of boisterous, boastful bragging, and other even less eloquent grunting noises as the Tory imagines he has everything ‘turned-on’, and then the whole process just completely runs out of steam much too early for all the people left flat on their back to get any pleasure or benefit out of it.

Oh well, that’s Tory economic recoveries for you. It never feels like they last longer than ninety seconds.

How was it for you, everyone?

As I’ve been saying for some time, and even the Spectator of all magazines is now pointing out much the same horrors, Tory Austerity means, “From now on, we only spend public money on the things rich people like.”

Politics and Insights

Editorship of The Spectator has often been a step on the ladder to high office in the Conservative Party – past editors include Iain Macleod, Ian Gilmour and Nigel Lawson, all of whom became cabinet members – or a springboard for a greater role in public affairs, as with Boris Johnson (1999 to 2005), the Conservative Mayor of London. The Spectator is a weekly British and staunchly Conservative magazine.

So when we see articles from right-wing commentators that are extensively critical of a Conservative-led government, indicating deceit and lying to the public and highlighting the sheer hypocrisy of Cameron’s ideologically-driven policies, it’s worth paying some attention to it. Especially when those articles echo some of our own criticisms.

This week, Fraser Nelson wrote  “the Prime Minster and his Chancellor are scurrying around the country misleading people. Never mind the national debt, the deficit has not been cut in half over…

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If you don’t believe in facts, vote UKIP.

A New Place Of Exile

Dear Sirs,

I write to commend this newspaper for its bold reporting on the UK Independence Party. Of all publications, it is the only one to have the courage of its editor’s convictions.

I am a simple man, as those who know me often remark; with no pretensions to understanding these things. However, I can only applaud. Despite being a traditional sort of fellow, I can see that we need a new, trouser-hoisting politics; with true hair-on-the-chest politicians. I believe the country has found this in Nigel Farage.

Not a moment too soon, I might add. England is no longer the same country that my parents grew up in. Admittedly, they were born and largely raised in Belfast; but this is hardly the point. Things have changed beyond recognition. It’s not in my nature to be judgmental (I’ve rubbed up against all sorts), but political correctness has taken leave of…

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by Martin Odoni

Oh my, but it is dark out there! I am writing this in the early afternoon of the shortest day of 2014, and as is the case almost every year on 21st December, it is gloomy and dingy outside. That can only mean Christmas is dead ahead, and immediately following on from that is the New Year. (“Oh no!” I hear people cry. “Not another year, we’ve only just got this one out of the way!”)

The year ahead is 2015, and that will be the eight-hundredth anniversary year of the signing of the first Magna Carta at Runnymede, by King John and the English Barons he had been at war with.

Now Magna Carta was certainly not what many people, looking from a modern perspective, seem to imagine it was. The notion that is put about for it is that it is an early, primitive form of Constitution or Bill Of Rights for the general population of England, in the a priori traditions of the US Constitution. But it was awfully early in history when the Charter was drawn up, and many of the ideas we associate with ‘liberty’ and ‘human rights’ today had still to be thought of in any coherent way at that point. If you were to study the Charter’s own texts, instead of the American Declaration Of Independence, you might be a little startled to discover how limited and even how uninspired much of it sounds. Most of the concessions extracted from King John were about tax-relief for the feudal land-owning elite.

Indeed, unnecessary tax was seen at the time as one of the few transgressions of the ‘liberties of the people’ that a despotic King could be capable of. Most other actions he might take were seen as his divine right. But those who had money – in those days that would have been the aristocracy itself – were quite desperate to keep it, so any King taking any of it away from them had better put it to good use. John’s tendency was to impose harsh taxes whenever he felt like it, while at the same time he tamely surrendered the French lands of his Norman/Angevin ancestry to King Philip of France, which was emphatically not a way of putting the cash to good use. Hence the real reason for the Barons’ revolt against him; it was not a fight for the rights of all men, but a fight against heavy taxes that led to no pay-off. This is further the root reason that there is a Parliament in Westminster today; the power to demand taxes was taken away from the reigning monarch, in theory at least, and in future he could only ask for them, with Parliament giving or withholding permission on behalf of the people the taxation would be levied on. This may sound a very long way from ‘democracy’ to our modern ears (but then we still have some way to go before we have a democracy worthy of the name even today), but in British history it was unprecedented and very radical. For the first time since at least the end of the Anglo-Saxon line of Kings, and possibly for the first time in England ever, the law had ceased to be the will of the monarch alone.

It is perhaps money, alongside religion, that has driven most of the revolutions of the Western World since that time, especially the British-or-‘British-offspring’ ones. The Wars Of The Three Kingdoms (more often known misleadingly as ‘The English Civil Wars’) of the Seventeenth Century were probably a religious conflict first and foremost. But many other factors were contributing to growing tensions across the British Isles, and there is no doubt that the biggest trigger-point within England itself was money, when the monarch, Charles I, attempted to raise taxes without Parliamentary approval. The US War Of Independence over a century later was really just an extra round of the Civil Wars of the 1640’s, with taxation once again – rather than a more general desire for ‘freedom’ – being the spark that lit the fuse. Stamp-duty and a variety of other taxes imposed by Westminster on British colonists in North America, all without the colonists having any say in the matter, gradually led to them turning against their motherland, and eventually forming a separate state.

Today, taxes are still seen by many, especially in conservative circles, as an ongoing form of oppression. Many of the most bitter opponents of taxation style themselves as ‘right-wing libertarians’, and their feeling is that no Government has the right to take any amount of money from its civilians, even when consent is given by the majority of the civilians’ representatives. Today, taxes tend to be imposed across all of Europe and North America only with the approval of elected representatives. Furthermore, it is usually representatives themselves, instead of a reigning monarch, who request them to begin with. Taxation therefore can only happen with representation – again, at least in theory. Certainly taxation can be a nuisance to people, especially when levied disproportionally to income and ability-to-pay, but there are checks in place to prevent its abuse.

No taxation will be allowed without representation – one of the lessons of Western history.

An occasional nuisance, as I say, but it is certainly not oppression. To prove that, we need only look at one of the most heavily-policed and unaccountable states on Earth; Saudi Arabia, governed by the absolutist monarchy of the House of al-Saud. It is one of the most repressed nations in the world today, with human rights of any description being largely an abstract concept. Partly theocratic, partly governed on the whims of the ruling House, movement is restricted, women are effectively the possessions of their fathers or husbands, and some of the most harmless and unremarkable behaviours, in Western eyes at least, are illegal and punished by corporal and capital means that seem almost medieval in their barbarity.

That is oppression beyond all doubt. But the interesting thing is, taxation seldom plays a role in it. For all the dreadful things that Saudi Arabia does to its people, it only occasionally levies taxes on its general population. By the right-libertarian understanding of the concept, and especially by their fixation on money, Saudi Arabia is not a particularly oppressive country.

But the reason why Saudi Arabia undoubtedly is an oppressive country but can get away with it is precisely because it does not need to tax its population in order to get funding very often. It is a nation with enormous reserves of petroleum oil that all of the richest nations on Earth desperately, hungrily need a constant supply of, and pay obscene quantities of money for. Thus, the House of al-Saud does not need money from its civilians very often when it can obtain all the funds it needs from outside. In the main, the Saudi Government simply places taxes on the corporate firms that extract the crude from the ground and export it. As the ordinary populace are not needed for much other than labour, their wishes can largely be ignored.

In short, theocracies in the Middle East teach us that the reverse lesson is equally true; no representation will be allowed without taxation. (There was even a parallel in British history, not long after the Civil War period, when the Restored Stuart monarch, Charles II, tried to abandon the use of Parliaments and taxation altogether, and to fund his personal rule exclusively through monies provided by King Louis XIV of France.)

Therefore, it follows that some measure of taxation is not only not oppressive, it can effectively act as a safeguard against oppression, as it makes Governments more dependent on their peoples. For the most part therefore, when they belly-ache for the total abolition of taxation, the right-libertarians are talking complete nonsense, of a type that has the potential to make people more powerless than ever. As more modern history has demonstrated, tax-and-spend that is focused correctly can liberate people in more immediate ways, as redistributing wealth lifts many of them out of poverty, and poverty is the worst oppressor of all. Only when taxes are being levied disproportionally to the ability-to-pay can they contribute to oppression, and even then they do not need to be abolished, merely recalculated.

Now in recent times, I have become something of a student of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), and as an ‘MMT-er’, I am aware that, in the digital age, no Government with its own currency is anywhere near as dependent on taxes for funding as it probably imagines it is. Money is not a resource, therefore a Government can have as much or as little of its own currency as it likes. The delusion that taxes are required for public spending does a lot of needless damage (especially under the ignorant command of the present British Government), but it has its uses too, and my one note of reservation about MMT is that, if everyone understood it, taxation would no longer be as likely to secure representation in Government. The correct purposes behind taxation are to create a demand for the currency, and to control inflation, not to obtain funds. Therefore, a Government that was fully aware of this fact would find it easier to ignore its population’s wishes, at least every so often, as it would realise that it does not require taxation in order to spend. I do want Governments to keep taxing, and not just for reasons of inflation-control.

Many of those who say that taxes are oppressive are well-off. So when they say it, they are usually trying to project their own self interest onto any public body that has better priorities than protecting the fortunes of the fortunate. Hence why I rarely pay much attention to right-wing libertarians. Their obsession with money means they have trouble seeing the difference between keeping money and actually being free, thus making their outlook little advanced from that of the feudal barons of the Middle Ages. It is a simplistic, obsolete position, taken by people who do not see where freedom ultimately comes from or most of the qualities it embodies.

The only ‘freedom’ they really want is therefore a very sad one; the right not to care about anyone other than themselves. While I would defend their right not to care, I feel no impulse to defend their ridiculous attempts to rationalise selfishness by calling it ‘freedom’. Selfishness is not freedom, and anybody who practises the one without interruption probably does not deserve the other.

by Martin Odoni

An occasional joke about voting for the old Liberal/SDP Alliance back in the 1980’s was that it was a vote for firm, concrete indecision. Perhaps a little unfair, but it has to be said there was an echo of truth in it. The two parties couldn’t decide whether they were right or left. They couldn’t decide whether they were the same or different. They couldn’t decide whether their leader was David Steel or David Owen. They couldn’t even decide whether they were the same party or a marriage of convenience between two parties.

 After dithering over these questions for seven full years, the parties finally merged into one in 1988, whereupon they couldn’t decide what name they would have. They started out deciding to be known as ‘The Social & Liberal Democrats’, but couldn’t decide whether they liked people calling them either that or ‘The SLD’, so decided not to make a decision on that, then after a few months, they decided that they hadn’t decided that after all, and instead decided that they would be decidedly happier if they decided that they would prefer it others decided simply to call them ‘Liberal Democrats’. Or ‘LibDems’, that would be okay too, but they couldn’t really decide which of the two names they liked best.

Nick Clegg, the current, decidedly unpopular, leader of the LibDems, has turned this record of indecision into an art-form. I’m pretty sure he never decided to, but it’s what he’s done anyway. As leader of his party at the 2010 General Election, he was decidedly opposed to almost every aspect of Conservative Party policy. And in the spirit of firm indecision, he therefore decided, after the Election resulted in an indecisively Hung Parliament, to form a Coalition with the Conservative Party. Well, he eventually did, after initially being unable to decide whether he wanted to form a Coalition with Labour instead; he probably wanted to side with Labour, but couldn’t decide, so for a few days he decided not to make a decision.

Having been made Deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition Cabinet, Clegg then showed all the decisiveness and consistency he was now legendary for, by supporting the Conservative policies he had spoken out so bitterly against, and helping to implement them against the students who had made up the core support that the LibDem vote had been built upon. This included deciding to help push through a rise in tuition fees that he had promised never to support. He might have apologised to his supporters for doing it, but couldn’t really decide whether that might just make them even angrier.

Clegg’s party also helped push through the notorious ‘Spare Room Subsidy’ or ‘Bedroom Tax’. This was because the LibDems realised that the Government needed more money, but they couldn’t decide whether it would be more effective and morally-better to try taking that money from people who actually possessed some, e.g. rich people, or from people who didn’t have the two proverbial ha’pennies to rub together. Being unable to decide what the correct answer would be to such a knotty conundrum, Clegg decided to let the Tories make that decision for him. So when the Tories came to the ‘wholly unexpected‘ (NOTE FOR THE HARD-OF-THINKING: we are now in the wildest throes of satire) conclusion that people without money are patently the most lucrative source of cash, Clegg appears to have said, “Well, who’d have thought the Tories of all people would make a call like that? Still I’m sure they’re doing it for totally unbiased reasons…” and from there he just let the Tories decide for him which policies to vote for.

Doggedly refusing to be diverted from his unswerving course of 180-degree turnarounds, Clegg broke new grounds in the cause of indecisiveness when he decided that he could continue to be indecisive even about policies that had already been decided upon and enforced. To this end, he put forward opposition to the Bedroom Tax he had helped implement as party policy, and then decided that he had not decided any such thing, but had merely put the idea out as a speculative question – one he then decided to answer himself with ‘no’. He then publicly spoke out vehemently against the Bedroom Tax, stating emphatically that it should be repealed. Then only yesterday, when Labour put forward a motion in the House Of Commons to repeal the Tax, Clegg once again impressed everyone with his capacity for not making up his mind about policies that he eagerly enforces while speaking out against them; he and his party quite naturally voted to keep the Bedroom Tax in place for the remainder of the current Parliament.

I’ve written before that if you vote for the Tories you vote for petulance. But the strange thing is – and it’s a painful lesson I have only learned myself during this Parliament – if you vote for the LibDems, you’re not really voting for anything in particular at all. This is because, in doing so, you vote for a party that claims to be centrist, but in fact doesn’t really know how much radicalism it is prepared to stomach. This means that in a Coalition, the LibDems can be dragged to quite shocking extremes, even though their rhetoric appears to be opposed to them. The hope when the Coalition was formed in 2010 was that the LibDems would function as a ‘drag-factor’ on Tory extremism and cruelty. In practise, they have scarcely caused the Tories pause for thought, and have shown a frightening willingness to sacrifice almost anything to get an agreement on a Referendum for a fairly minor electoral reform – a Referendum that ended in a ‘No’ vote in any event.

On the one hand, it could be seen as a symptom of maturity in British politics that the two parties were able to come to an agreement and form a Government; certainly that could never happen in the tribally-polarised USA, a fact so painfully evident there at the moment with one party holding both Houses, while the other party has the Presidency. Further, I am quite prepared to concede that the Coalition, for all of its amorality and ineptitude, has managed to hold together far longer than I was anticipating back in 2010. One could even argue that Clegg has shown a measure of loyalty by staying in Coalition and fulfilling his promises to support Tory legislation, even after the primary goal of electoral reform became plainly unachievable.

But on the other hand, it has come as a horrible shock over the last four-and-a-half years to learn just how much Nick Clegg and his party were prepared to concede in order to get a few seats in the Cabinet. So much, in fact, that none of their supposed principles of fairness and progressivism appear to have left any real mark on any of the more significant policies of the Coalition at all. Loyalty to Coalition allies is one thing, but loyalty to the voters who put their trust in Clegg in the first place has been painfully notable by its absence. By facilitating, where in the past they had voiced opposition, the LibDems have allowed themselves to be part of a Government more extreme and hard-right than even Margaret Thatcher’s administration had been when it had a comfortable single-party majority.

If being too quick to make decisions can cost you a lot of votes, letting someone else make all the decisions for you can cost you a lot of seats – especially if those decisions are immoral and incompetent – and this is why there is a real danger of the Liberal Democrats having a single-digit presence in the House Of Commons by next Autumn. They have been ineffectual on the issues people voted for them for, and have been dominated by the policies those same people voted against. So the Liberal Democrats have looked both treacherous and ineffectual, offering people nothing to vote for.

Centrism is not meant to be a synonym for indecision, nor one for ‘manoeuvrable’ loyalties, nor even one for blindly following someone else, but the LibDems have let it become all three. In so doing, and in allowing that indecision to become a tolerance of astonishing social cruelty by Government, they are now as morally-bankrupt and as unelectable as the Conservatives.

There is no trick, no matter how dirty or illegal, that the current DWP will not stoop to, to cut off people’s benefits.
This woman is pregnant, and the Job Centre in Ashton sanctioned her for *telling* her Workfare employer. (She didn’t in fact. They noticed she was pregnant, and so put her on light duties, that was all. It is quite intolerable enough that B&Q uses the Workfare scheme at all, but at least the company has just enough morality to know not to make a pregnant woman move heavy goods around.)
Actively keeping it a secret would have contravened every moral, ethical, and even legal consideration anyway, including Health & Safety laws. But the fact that the employer became aware of it is nevertheless being treated as ‘punishable’.
There can be no possible defence of this conduct by the Job Centre in Ashton.

The poor side of life

20140820_133540

23 week pregnant woman sanctioned.

The above woman (wearing costume so the Jobcentre staff don’t recognise her) was sanctioned when 23 weeks pregnant. The reason you may ask…. for attending a work fare interview (work for nothing) at B&Q.

Whilst at the interview they noticed that she was pregnant and they said yep we will put you on light duties…. The jobcentre decided otherwise… in their words “we are sanctioning you because you told them that you were pregnant”.

So in other words she was meant to break all health and safety laws in the uk and not declare that she was pregnant. How on earth can this be right? It isn’t. She was heartbroken. She had walked a few miles to this workfare interview and she saw it as her last hope of not being sanctioned.

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre knowingly target pregnant women. On one of our demonstrations…

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Iain Duncan-Smith’s “earnest beliefs” are what everyone else would call craven lies.

jaynelinney

Still Believe #IDS ought Not to be Investigated for Lying ??

READ the section below from SPeye Joe

Then SIGN – IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES  – You KNOW He Deserves It:

Why the bedroom tax has cost more than it has saved – IDS go figure!

Iain Duncan Smith has knowingly and deliberately lied to parliament.  He is a liar as can so easily be proven.  I make no bones either about calling him a liar and a deliberate and knowing one and I refuse to use euphemisms such as being economical with the truth and the like – he is a liar as the figures below highlight and in just a simple 10 minute blog using official figures that he produces!!

He lied over the bedroom tax as Hansard recalls from yesterday in the following question and answer:

Under-occupancy Penalty

Mr John…

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