Now Alistair Darling has predicted ‘green shoots’ and the UK to come out of recession – where did we hear that before, and did it happen?
I just learned on Conal McDevitt’s twitter feed that Ted Kennedy, the Irish-American Democratic senator and brother of JFK and Robert Kennedy and the last of Joe Kennedy’s boys, has died of brain cancer. According to ABC News:
The man known as the “liberal lion of the Senate” had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to.
“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the Kennedy family said in a statement. “He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it.”
Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy brother who was left to head the family’s political dynasty after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.
Kennedy championed health care reform, working wages and equal rights in his storied career. In August, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — by President Obama. His daughter, Kara Kennedy, accepted the award on his behalf.
Although I did not agree with all of his views, as a fellow member of the Irish race, it is difficult not to be moved by the passing of someone who was a political giant. Equality, a “living wage”, and an improved health care system in the US may yet come.
Considering the mess our public finances are in, the threat of rising taxes (and the impact of ones that are definitely risen or have risen, e.g. 10p to 20p; or 40p to 45p to 50p), here is a shocking stat from the BBC:
The UK’s net contribution to the European Union will rise by almost 60% next year, the Treasury has said. The cost of membership will rise to £6.4bn – equivalent to about £260 per UK household – from £4.1bn in 2009/10. The Treasury said it was right for the UK “to share the burden of membership with new accession countries”.
At a time when so many British people are tightening their belts and even suffering job losses, £260 per household is an awful lot of money to be wasted on a vanity project like the EU. It is ironic also that the less well off in the UK are handing over money to the wealthy oligarchs of Central and Eastern Europe, with their low tax burden, e.g. the flat tax in Estonia, and subsidising emerging economies, many of which are actually doing very nicely thanks to inward investment etc. It is, indeed, a sad and sorry mess which Labour should be ashamed of.
Dan Hannan MEP (an acronym that is short for “Muppet”) appeared on Fox News, saying the following, and worse,
We have 1.4 million people employed by the National Health Service. It is the third biggest employer in the world after the Red Army in China and the Indian National Railways. Most of those 1.4 million people are administrators, that the managers outnumber the doctors and nurses. And that is the electoral bloc that makes it almost impossible to get rid of.
Contrast these words with what David Cameron said:
The Conservative Party stands four square behind the NHS …. We are the party of the NHS, we back it, we are going to expand it, we have ring-fenced it and said that it will get more money under a Conservative government, and it is our number one mission to improve it.
While I do not intend to get into the healthcare debate in the US (that is for Americans to debate and decide, after all), one thing that this debate on the NHS that Labour stirred up after Hannan’s unfortunate interview is that it has shown the public that the Tories – not Labour are the party of the NHS – as the latest Guardian/ICM opinion poll shows the Tory lead widening and, staggeringly:
While 48% think healthcare would be better under a Tory government, only 41% agree with Labour warnings that it would be worse. Even 24% of current Labour voters think the Tories would improve the NHS.
So Hannan can *really* boil his head, as his outburst on Fox News was not representative of the policies of the Conservative Party’s leadership. It again confirms that Labour has well and truly lost its raison d’etre.
When people were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that “The NHS would be safer under Labour than the Conservatives”, only 39% agreed and 47% disagreed.
That raises the all-important question, if Labour is not better for the National Health Service than the Tories (which it traditionally is), then just what is the Government for? What is the point of the Labour Party any more?
Under Gordon Brown it continues to fail and fail, and fail again, even on the NHS that it created and has failed to reform.
And Dan Hannan can, as we say in Ulster & in Scotland, boil his head.
As a supporter of state education and as someone who, when I am a dad, would never educate my children privately (which will, obviously, rule out me ever marrying a woman who is ideologically supportive of independent education), I am appalled to learn that those the kids of those who buy private education are jumping the queue. Naturally, the best resourced independent schools will provide the best A level results.
Labour has created a system, by abolishing grammar schools, where the wealthy and many people from the aspirant ‘coping class’ within the middle class can buy better education and, therefore, a place in university for their children. As a result, many kids in state schools, disproportionately working-class and lower-middle-class, are being refused a place at university.
If Labour really stood for social mobility, this fiasco would not be happening. But its socialist ideology has damaged our education system to such an extent that many kids are being denied the ladder of opportunity that I and many other working-class people were fortunate enough to be able to climb.
Not content with creating through its incompetent policies a generation of 18-24s who do not work and are not engaged in any form of education or training, the Government has denied 10,000s of young people the opportunity to go to university at the height of a recession. As my favourite newspaper The Guardian rightly points out,
University admissions tutors said they had been forced to reject thousands of “exceptional” students with clutches of A and B grades because they had no more space.
By midday yesterday, 5,205 students who had missed their grades or not previously received offers had secured a university place. This is almost 2,000 more than this time last year and accounts for about a quarter of all the 22,000 places that were available in clearing.
At peak times, more than six students were battling for every place. On Thursday, when students opened their A-level results, the university admissions service, Ucas, took 18 calls each minute and had more than a million hits on its website.
While 377,658 students had confirmed their places yesterday, more than 140,000 were still seeking courses – 26,621 more than at the same time last year.
No vacancies: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham, York, Edinburgh, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, Loughborough, Surrey and St Andrews
This fiasco truly breaks my heart; there are tears in my eyes as I write this. But for the grace of God, I too could have been one of those refused a university place and denied the ladder of opportunity that university offers.
In 1985 when I was 10 my family was devastated by the industrial decline of the Thatcher years as my father lost his engineering factory job, and I was one of those kids on “free school meals”. But I worked hard, got a place at grammar school in 1993 when I was 17 (after a year out on youth training) and, armed with a GNVQ Advanced Business and an A level geography, went on to a “new” university where I achieved a First Class Honours degree and later a PhD.
Old Universities are currently in a financial mess, as my Russell Group employer is not renewing my 18-month teaching contract on 4th June. Fortunately, a new university has shortlisted me for a Senior Lectureship and I hope to be able to move to pastures new. At last I may be able to return to my nature home, a former polytechnic with a great social mix and also many ethnic minority students. Aston University, where I worked until last year, was a delight, but my first employer – Durham – and my current university were much more elitist.
But now many more students, whether they are endeavouring to enter a new or an old university, are being turned away. “No room at the uni,” could be another epitaph on Labour’s tombstone, just as Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn.
We need a new progressive politics as a replacement to this morally bankrupt Labour Government, where ministers don’t just shrug their shoulders when confronted with a “Black Swan”. They should have the decency to release the funding and unshackle the bureaucracy so that these young people have a chance in life. But then decency is something that has long deserted the Government, I’m sorry to say.
The UK healthcare debate is essential, because what Hannan has done is to put the NHS on the political agenda. Conservative policy is to support the NHS tooth and nail (no dental reference there intended), but to reform it to make a national institution better. After all, the poor, working class and lower middle class depend on the NHS; and they’ll trust the Tories on it, while Labour has done nothing to improve the system but has just overbureaucratised and politicised it.
Maybe what right whingers who have been attacking the NHS, just as they have been less than respectful for young people who are suffering hard times (e.g. by calling them ‘NEETs’), need to have “just a little respect”:
Indeed, calling the NHS a “60-year-old mistake” is more than a little disrespectful to the NHS staff and the millions of people, including the late Ivan Cameron and the survivors of 7/7 and many other past terrorist atrocities (not to mention knifings, gun wounds, car accidents, etc), who have relied upon the National Health Service to provide essential care.
It’s time for politicians to have “a little respect” for the NHS and not, as Labour has done, try to use it as a political football, when the Government has certainly not respected the NHS staff, because it has forced targets and other politically-motivated measures on them, which do not accord with clinical priorities.
What the Tories must, therefore, to is to love the NHS but also to reform it (but not to copy the absurdly irrelevant and out-of-context Singapore voucher model espoused by Mr Hannan), so that 12 years of Labour paralysis on healthcare can be put right at last. Mr Cameron’s support for the NHS is, after all, from the heart and is based on the radically-innovative progressive conservatism that will transform the quality of life and opportunities of all people in this one nation. Don’t forget; we’re not the US and never will be.
After his notorious attack on the trades unions in the “British Jobs for British Workers”, or no British need apply, scandal at the Total factory at Lindsey, Lord Mandy has now told the postal unions to “wake up”. Union leaders have rightly highlighted how Ministers have been “sulking” and, in return, Mandy – who met Qadaffi’s son while on holiday at Rothschild’s villa this summer – has attacked the Communication Workers Union.
But who engineered the decline of the Royal Mail? Why, that would have been the European Union of which Mandy was once a Commissioner. And now, after his stint running the country from the Rothschildodopoulous Estate in Corfu, and being “PM as PM” (what a joke), he has now decided to have a go at the salt of the earth postal workers who deliver our mail despite Government animosity and hostility. Mandy is trying to make the postal workers Brown’s mineworkers, thinking that will somehow win back Middle England.
But the EU, by semi deregulating the industry, allowed private companies to cream off the best of the postal business, leaving the Royal Mail in a crisis. Of course postal workers should strike, given the way that they have been treated by Labour, which once would have stood up for them. But then big business, which David Cameron rightly promised to stand up to 4 years ago when he became leader, call the shots in the Labour party now, not the unions.
Labour is so determined to please its corporate cronies and pals that it will run yet another important British industry into the ground. It is Mandy , Brown and the rest of them in the Cabinet who need to wake up and smell the cappuccino, not the unions. After all, no self-respecting union man would mistake mushy peas for guacamole; but then Lord Mandy is so detached from the real working-class people of this country, despite once being the MP for ‘Poolie, that there is no chance of him waking up any time soon.
We need rid of this Labour rabble (which is again betraying its own people ), so that social and economic progress can be resumed at long last.
George Osborne has rightly criticised excessive bonuses for bankers in state-bailed-out banks and John Redwood has highlighted some excellent solutions to dealing with these:
1. Many of us find it unacceptable that senior executives working in loss making state controlled business are being paid mega bucks out of our money. Why is Stephen Hester being offered a £9 million package, when there would be someone good out there who would do it for one tenth of that sum and still be well paid?
2. I also agree with George Osborne that someone senior working for a bank not controlled by the government could be offered mega bucks for taking extreme risks, only for the bank to seek a government guarantee or other assistance if they get it wrong. That too must of us find unacceptable.
The easiest way to tackle type One excessive pay is for the government as majority shareholder to refuse to sign contracts containing such payments. They should call in all the top executives of their heavy loss makers, and negotiate a new deal with them, deferring or cancelling bonuses until their banks are genuinely profit making and have provided for or sorted out all the loss making activities these executives have helped build up in recent years. These new contracts should be a condition of taxpayer support. They should be made to pay for what they have done wrong in the past by forgoing the bonuses they think they have earned. They should not be allowed to dump all the unprofitable business on the taxpayer and carry on as if nothing had happened.
Type two excessive bonuses are also best tackled in this way. There should be a general statement of government policy, that if any bank gets into trouble in future and needs taxpayer guarantees or cash, it will automatically trigger a retrospective revision of all senior executive contracts with a view to cost cutting as a contribution to sorting out the bank’s cash and profit problems. The Regulator can go further and say that in cases where they judge that large institutions that could cause damage to the system are offering excessive remuneration for excessive risk, they will require the institutions to carry more capital to undertake such business. Shareholders will then see that their generous remuneration policy imposes a further penalty on them in the form of lower returns on capital and the need to put up more money.
Let’s hope that the Government acts quickly to implement some of these suggestions, rather than continuing with its “bad bonus” rhetoric, without actually doing anything about it. This just proves again that it is Labour that is the “Do Nothing Party”, while the Conservatives would sort out Labour’s city cronies once and for all.
Some years back the EU notoriously left Wales off a map of the UK. But the London-based BBC is just as bad. Professor Jones-Evans will not be pleased; nor will I, as an Irishman who is also British and therefore a fellow Celt, because I am fed up with the metropolitan elite forgetting about us folk on the ‘fringe’ (except when it comes to the Edinburgh festival, or where they can send their children to university, e.g. Cardiff, Edinburgh, Queen’s).
So the BBC, as I just tweeted, thinks that the Wyre Forest MP Dr Taylor is the only current MP elected as an Independent.
My immediate reaction was, “What about Blaenau Gwent’s Dae Davies? Doesn’t Wales count?”
Doesn’t his 2,488 majority over Labour count? What is worse is that I could understand if the BBC had checked the 2005 election results only (which they clearly haven’t as the late Independent MP Peter Law was elected for the constituency then) and forgotten about the by-election results. They clearly haven’t checked either Wales or Scotland, and wouldn’t even had my home country of Ulster on their radar (after all, it’s not even part of GB).
Excuse me for saying this, but I thought it was the British – not the London or English – Broadcasting Corporation. Clearly not any more.
Watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers the other evening, the following line caught my attention:
TREEBEARD: The ents have not troubled about the wars of men and wizards for a very long time. But now something is about to happen that has not happened for an age…
As you know, the ents keep discussing what they are going to do, and then finally do something about it. The parallel with new Labour is irresistible, except that Labour is still discussing what they are going to do about child poverty, entrepreneurship, job creation, and many other important policy matters. Socialist ideology has a lot to say about these issues, and yet its insistence upon massive public spending, the oversized state, and therefore high taxation (disproportionately on the less well off, i.e. the poor) means that Labour can never deliver.
Labour was once progressive. It was once a party that stood for something, and stood up for the working man or woman. Yet now, it is empty ideology and failed policies, that have led to one of the worst recessions that the UK has experienced since the 1920s.
Two years ago I started this blog, angered by the state of our country, and was particularly vexed by the murder of Rhys Jones and the lawlessness and the impunity with which perpetrators committed crimes. The torture and murder of Peter Connelly, or Baby P, who was recently named, and his pathetic mother and her coven of vicious men also highlights the social – and, in effect, socio-economic – failures of the New Labour project. And so have many other tragedies over the 12 years of Labour, from Blair to Brown.
Now while I admit that I have had some concerns about the Tories’ (and Mr Osborne’s) reactions to the recession, the Conservatives are in opposition and, arguably, would have reacted better if they were in Government. However, Mandelson’s attacks are groundless – Tim Montgomerie has already debunked them thoroughly.
I read Mandelson’s article and the front cover of Tuesday’s Guardian (it being one of few British newspapers available in Finland where I am until early September), but let me make this comparison. Why is it that, after 12 years of New Labour, a child born and brought up in Haringey fares so much worse than a child born and raised in one of the most socially deprived areas of Helsinki? Why is it inconceivable that the Baby P tragedy (and atrocity) would happen in Finland, and yet it happens again and again in Broken Britain?
Why indeed. If Labour set out to deal with the (socio-economic) causes of crime and to eradicate child poverty through its “Third Way” policies, that Lord Mandy constantly trumpets, why is it that these policies have been abject failures? What is the point of 12 years of Bliarism and Brownism when vulnerable families are being evicted daily, in their droves, from their homes due to repossessions by state-backed mortgage lenders? And, elsewhere, because they cannot afford the rent?
The truth is that Labour has had over a decade and yet has been too busy entertaining Cool Britannia to bother about doing what it said it would do in its 1997, 2001 and 2005 manifestos.
It is really Labour, of which Mandy boasts about being a major architect, that is the “Do Nothing Party”. Labour has not been a progressive party “for an age” and Mandelson’s article is yet more empty rhetoric to try to act as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” over a Government and Labour Party that is embarrassingly naked of delivering on its many broken promises.
- Alistair Darling
- animal welfare
- Bank of England buffoons
- Child A
- general election
- Gordon Brown
- gun crime
- intellectual idiocy
- Jacqui Smith
- Labour Party
- Northern Ireland
- older people
- opinion polls
- public sector
- Reg Empty
- Rhys Jones
- Royal Mail
- Shannon Matthews
- social breakdown
- social services