The deceit that made the Tory coup possible

Brexit is a deceit.

Following the largely unexpected Tory victory in the May 2015 election, the Labour party decended into disarray after Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader. Although Corbyn had the support of party ‘members’, most of them hastily recruited, he failed to get the support of the majority of Labour MPs. The Labour party had rediscovered its self-destruct button. Effective opposition in the House of Commons came to an end in 2015. And the Tories? They couldn’t believe their luck. With no effective opposition, life was suddenly, and unexpectedly, sweet.

It can’t have been long before the strategic thinkers in Conservative Party Central Office realised that this situation gave them a unique opportunity. A huge prize loomed before them, one that would give them the chance not only to unite the party, but to command the heights of British politics for the foreseeable future. All they had to do was to hold the EU referendum early – and lose it! Gone forever would be the bickering and mithering of the right wing Eurosceptics. A united party, what a prize! The Brexit deceit was born.

Cunning plan or conspiracy theory? That isn’t clear yet, but the evidence that there was a cunning plan is mounting. Tory strategists are very clever and should never be underestimated. If they had the foresight and cunning to plan and implement the destruction of their Libdem coalition partners over tuition fees, they were more than capable of finding a way to take advantage of this new opportunity.

So what was the plan? Running scared of the UKIP threat, in January 2013 David Cameron had pledged to hold an ‘in – out’ referendum by the end of 2017. This pledge was repeated in the Tory election manifesto.in 2015. However, having won the election there was certainly no rush to hold a referendum, in fact had he so wished he could have probably delayed it indefinitely. Instead, and a mere eight months after the election, he announced the referendum would be on June 23rd 2016.

His haste to announce the referendum date surprised many including the Cabinet who he didn’t bother to consult. Strange that he didn’t have the courtesy to consult others before he announced something as important as the date of the referendum. And surely, if you were planning to win the referendum, you would do whatever you could to stack he cards in your favour, wouldn’t you? Of course you would, but Cameron did exactly the opposite.

He started by refusing to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote. The Scottish independence referendum gave him the precedent to include them. Most 16 and 17 year olds, about a million and a half people, would have voted to remain a part of the EU. He then decided to hold the referendum before the ‘Votes for Life’ Bill received Royal assent, and by doing so excluded 1 million expats who would have been eligible to vote and would have supported Remain. With household voting registration coming to an end, he allowed no time for individuals to register and sent out no warning that the law was changing. This excluded approximately 700k voters. He purposely excluded over three million potential Remain voters. David Cameron may be a fool, but he’s not stupid. Are these the actions of a man determined to win a referendum? No! Are they the actions of a man trying to lose one? Yes!

And then there was the last-minute Damascene conversion of Boris Johnson. Was it blind ambition that persuaded him to support the Leave campaign or brilliant Tory party choreography? His celebrity certainly did a huge amount to legitimise the Leave campaign and give it a huge boost. It now looks likely that there was a distinct possibility that Johnson was in on the plan. He was recently seen having dinner with David Cameron in New York. Bullingdon pals or not, would you have dinner with the man who effectively lost you the most powerful job in the land? Highly unlikely.

And the Remain referendum campaign? Tories of all people know how elections are won. Emotions win elections better than facts. The Remain campaign was lack-lustre, it lacked energy and enthusiasm and it traded on facts, not emotions; and David Cameron? He seemed less than ehthusiastic about the whole thing.
Remain lost, and the Tory party won a very sweet victory. The final irony being that they were gifted victory by their arch enemy UKIP, and by some of the many millions who had been worst affected by six years of mean-minded Tory austerity.

The downside to the cunning plan? David Cameron lost his job, which was always a possibility, and there had been no preparation for Brexit. Brexit was going to be a huge challenge, but Brexit would be the ultimate in distraction politics. For years to come everybody’s attention would be focused on the Brexit negotiations. The Tories would now have endless opportunities to slip whatever legislation they chose under the radar. Best of all they could now command the heights of British politics for the foreseeable future, and from behind the Brexit smoke screen, introduce the low-state, low-welfare, libertarian state they had been dreaming of.

But what of David Cameron, would he really have given up his premiership for the party? Well, he had already said that he wanted to stand down before 2020, he said nothing about timing. If he was prepared to put his party before his country, it’s probably fair to assume he was probably prepared to put his party before his premiership.
David Cameron was succeeded by Theresa May, a Remain supporter. Well, we all thought she was, but like Boris Johnson she too had a convenient Damascene conversion, and on first day as prime minister vehemently declared that ‘Bexit means Brexit’. A clever, well considered phrase that gave Brexit an air of inevitability. Here was a woman who clearly had only one political sign post, political expediency. Here was a prime minister who had only one over-riding loyalty, the Tory party. From day one she made her determination to deliver Brexit very clear. She would use what she repeatedy called ‘the wishes of the British people’ to secure the spoils of the cunning plan for the Tory party regardless of the consequences that Brexit might have.

At the time of Mrs May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit’ speech, the country was still reeling from the referendum result, which had not been expected by most commentators and certainly not by Europe. In retrospect, the ‘Brexit means Brexit’ statement now seems suspiciously hasty and more than a little clumsy. What sort of prime minister would immediately commit herself to Brexit without taking advice and considering all her options? May knew full well that the referendum was not legally binding. The European Referendum Act 2015 stated only that a referendum had to take place. She had every right to treat the referendum result as advisory, particularly as Cameron had carelessly agreed to a simple majority referendum on such a major constitutional issue – and because the result had been so close. If she had wanted to act in the national interest, her first speech as prime minister in Downing Street would have been very different. However, like her predecessor, Mrs May put her party before her country. Nothing was going to get in the way of party unity and years of uncontested Tory rule. Brexit was not only a deceit, it was a well orchestrated Tory party coup.

As each day passes the sheer lunacy of Brexit becomes more apparent. It is a real and present threat to the peace and security of Europe, and it will have catastrophic economic consequences for Britain for decades to come. What rational, sensible prime minister would follow such a calamitous policy? Absolutely nothing about Brexit is in the national interest. It is being pursued only because it is in the Tory party’s interests to do so.
But how long can this deceit go on? The idiocy of Brexit is becoming more apparent every day, and more difficult to defend. The cost of living has increased significantly directly as a result of the government’s commitment to Brexit. Companies are lining up to move to mainland Europe. Uncertainty is mounting. Slowly the tide is turning. Opinion polls now show a majority of British people now want to remain part of the EU.

Soon the Tory decit will be revealed. The party that authored the mean-minded malice of unnecessary austerity, the conscious cruelty of welfare cuts, that deliberately ignored the housing crisis, undermined the NHS, shredded public services, and stripped the public realm bare, will get its comeuppance. When the British people realise the scale of the Tory betrayal, Brexit will be dead in the water.

When Brexit is dead in the water, the Tory party will be dead in the water too. And British politics? It will be a total shambles. It is already dysfunctional, corrupt and in need of reform. Could the demise of Brexit be the catalyst for polital change, for a new beginning, for a new Britain? Absolutely! It’s time to clear out the old and bring in the new, no Tories, no Labour. New parties, new prople, new rules. Maybe every cloud really does have a silver lining.

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A future for Europe and for Britain, a European Union of Nation States

What’s in a name? One hell of a lot! A ‘European Union of nation States’ is not just playing with words, it’s what the current European Union needs to become, and it is a union that Britain should be a part of.

As Europe struggles to understand the lunacy of the Brexit decision, and Mrs May desperately tries to come up with a plan, there needs to be some fresh thinking before Britain reaches a point of no return. The disaster that is Brexit needs to be transformed into a catalyst for a new Europe, one that includes Britain.

European leaders are very aware, much more than they ever have been, of the rumblings of discontent about the current European Union within their own countries. Even the bureaucrats who pull the levers in Brussels have had a very rude shock, one, many will say, that is long overdue.

All talk of a federal Europe ended many years ago, but the Brussels machine, which was designed with a federal outcome in mind, has not changed. There has been no driving force for change, no new ideas to keep the European ideal fresh.

Isn’t now the time for Europe to make the adjustments it needs to make, and to rebrand itself as a European Union of Nation States? I believe it is, but what Britain needs right now is for European leaders to start talking along these lines and to invite Britain to be part of this new Union. Britain needs a lifeline, Europe needs Britain.

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Brexit, a very British coup

A tale of deceit and betrayal.

Ask practically anybody in any country in Europe and they will tell you that they love Europe but they hate the EU. It’s the Brussels bureaucracy and the lack of transparency they hate, and so do we, but unlike some of us, they have no wish to destroy the Union. Being a part of the European ideal means something. A united Europe in the minds of most Europeans is about peace and security; about the creation of a safe, mutually beneficial environment that allows European nations to bond, to grow and to prosper.

The European ‘ideal’ is a big idea a hundred years in the making, something few in Britain understand or want to understand. In modern Britain we don’t do ‘big ideas’. We find big ideas difficult, difficult to conceive, difficult to implement. We are a country that no longer has a vision, a country with no desire to be a leader in Europe, to contribute to the success of the ideal. Our desire to even promote our own national interest sometimes seems barely lukewarm. We have become selfish and insular, a mean, callous small-minded state. How has this come about? Because of a failure of politics.

Our politics is both dysfunctional, and corrupt, morally and financially. Our politicians have become political technocrats, their parties political corporations, and both funded by corporates and the wealthy elite – to do their will. The primacy of parliament has been deliberately diminished, our political leaders choosing to sideline parliament and govern through the media. The consequence is a major transfer of power to media proprietors who are now able to set, or certainly influence, the political agenda for their own benefit – or amusement. And the electorate? To careerist politicians set on self-enrichment and a pass into the ranks of the ruling elite, a necessary but annoying embuggerance.

The consequences of all this? A divided nation with the dubious honour of having the second highest rate of inequality in the Western world. A nation where social mobility is a thing of the past and whose working people have been marginalized and ignored by an incompetent, divisive and selfish political class; where working people have become so cowed by the neglect of successive governments that they have turned their backs on politics; for them, no matter what political party is elected, nothing ever changes. Millions of British working people have been left powerless. Well, that was the case until David Cameron, the man responsible for visiting upon them a cruel and unnecessary austerity, asked for their help to win his ill-conceived referendum.

A supreme act of political folly, the referendum, had very little to do with Britain’s membership of the EU and everything to do with placating troublesome Tory Eurosceptic MPs, and fending off an imagined threat from UKIP. David Cameron put his party before his country – and it backfired.

Millions used the referendum as an opportunity to be heard. Their protest certainly helped to seal Cameron’s defeat, that and a totally uninspiring and lacklustre Remain campaign. Leave on the other hand, pressed every emotional button they could find with little regard to the truth, perfectly happy to deceive the nation to achieve the outcome it wanted, their campaign driven and orchestrated by a handful of personally ambitious celebrity politicians.

The fact that a referendum on such a major constitutional issue should have been decided on a simple majority vote shows just how little thought went into the decision to hold a referendum. The risk was huge, but Cameron was so certain he would win, and so detached from reality that he had no idea of the amount of pent-up frustration and anger in the country; no idea that it would rise up and bite him – hard.

But what of the referendum result, what choices did Parliament and the new prime minister, Theresa May have? She did have options because the referendum was NOT legally binding. The European Union Referendum Act 2015 said nothing about implementing the result of the vote. It just provided that there should be one. The reality is that a referendum will only have the force of law if the Act setting it up says so, the European Referendum Act did not. The High Court made the point that “a referendum on any topic can only be advisory to the law makers in Parliament”

So how did Theresa May react? In the blink of an eye she transformed herself from a supporter of Remain to a hard-line Brexiteer, declaring on the first day of her premiership that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, that she would respect ‘the will of the people’; perfectly happy to declare her intention before the consequences of Brexit had been fully evaluated. Like her predecessor, she had decided that the interests of the Tory party were more important than the national interest.

To leave the EU is a major constitutional decision. It will have huge economic implications as well as threatening the peace and security of both Britain and Europe. It is inconceivable that any major country in the world would consider taking such a decision if it was only supported by 37% of the population. However, this didn’t deter Mrs May. She decided, purely in the interests of her party, not her country, that she was going to ignore the option to treat the referendum result as advisory, and drive through Brexit, whatever the cost.

She had no plan for Brexit, no clue as to what it might mean, no idea of the long-term consequences. But with the Labour party in total disarray and no effective opposition in Parliament, Mrs May was astute enough to realise that with the help and support of Rupert Murdoch and Dacre of the Daily Mail, she had a degree of absolute power that few, if any, prime minister has ever enjoyed. Effectively, she could do what she liked.

One of the first things May did was to skilfully direct the conversation not to the pros of cons of Brexit, but to one of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit. She changed the language to normalise the acceptance of Brexit. Soon Parliament and the people would be talking as if Brexit was inevitable – and they have.

So successful was she that 498 MPs voted to support the triggering of Article 50 so convinced were they of the inevitability of Brexit, and terrified to be seen to go against the ‘will of the people’. Surely one of the greatest betrayals in British political history.

Nine months after the referendum, there is still no plan for Brexit. Confusion and uncertainty grows by the day. The purpose of Brexit? There is still no identifiable benefit, and the question remains – ‘Brexit, what for?’ The downside of Brexit is becoming clearer by the day. Prices are rising, living standards are falling and companies are packing their bags and leaving. Very soon the hard reality of Brexit is going to hit home.

What is also slowly emerging is the realisation that Brexit poses a real threat to peace and security, not only to Britain, but to the whole of Europe. This has hardly been discussed. Brexit could be the catalyst for the disintegration of the EU. The potential consequences? A return to conflict and the destruction of the peace and prosperity that has existed in Europe since the end of World War 2.

And Mrs May? She continues to doggedly pursue Brexit despite the fact that it will deliver no real benefit to anything or anybody. And she is doing everything she can to hustle everybody past what she considers a point of no return. She’s having some success. In Parliament the language now is of the inevitability of Brexit. What we are witnessing, what she and her party have brought about since the referendum, is nothing short of a coup, a very British coup, but a coup nonetheless. Its purpose? To keep the Tory party in power for the foreseeable future. If ever there was a betrayal of the British people, this has surely got to be the worst.

But things are changing. Whether Mrs May’s political antennae have picked this up remains to be seen, but March 2017 is very different from June 2016. The Article 50 vote demonstrated just how great the disconnect between Parliament and the people had become. The ‘alternative facts’ and the half-truths peddled by the Leave campaign have been exposed. The currency of the Leave campaign’s celebrity politicians has been seriously devalued. The penny has dropped. There are no Brexit benefits, only huge risks and disadvantages. The polls are now reflecting a change in mood. More people want to remain part of the EU than leave. The tide has turned. Brexit is being seen as the lunacy that it is.

Where does this leave Mrs May? Described by Ken Clarke as a ‘bloody-minded woman’, she is living up to her name. Having come so far, she will never change her mind, never put the Tory party behind the interests of the country unless she has no alternative. It is now up to the British people to put her in a position where she has no alternative.

On 25th March, Unite for Europe’s March to Parliament is going to get the ball rolling. It will be big, but it will be ignored by Mrs May. It’s almost certain that further more drastic action will have to be taken. The blockade of ports and airports and perhaps even a general strike. The people must now act if they are going to get the Mrs May’s attention.

But, is there an alternative? Is there a way out of this Brexit mess? Yes, there is.
There has been little comment about Brexit from major European countries. They are unlikely to comment before Article 50 is triggered, and anyway both France and Germany are involved in elections, so meaningful comment is unlikely for some months. What has become clear though is that since the Brexit vote, politicians throughout Europe have become acutely aware of the growing anti-EU sentiment within their own countries. They have previously swept EU reform under the carpet, filed under ‘too difficult’, but not anymore.

Now, there is an appetite for reform In Europe. Few countries in the Union want anything to do with the old concept of a ‘federal’ Europe. They want to retain more of their own identity, to see the Brussels bureaucracy tamed and reduced, and much greater transparency, but they also want to be part of a ‘European Union’, not a federal Europe, but a new ‘European Union of Nation States’. Isn’t that what Britain wants? Yes, it is! Isn’t that something that could be sold to the British people? Yes, it is!

We need to start talking about EU reform and about a ‘European Union of Nation States’. We need to drown out the pointless gibberish of Brexit and start voicing something positive, something that will be supported by our friends in Europe, something we all want to be a part of.

As the lunacy of Brexit becomes more and more apparent, the brakes need to be applied before we head over the cliff. We need time for some fresh thinking, and then we need a new referendum. Mrs May has an opportunity to save face, to avoid going down in history as obdurate and stupid. Will she take it? Will she have an epiphany or will she remain blinded by the absolute power her coup has given her? We’ll see.

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Everything is Labour’s fault!


No no, it is, believe me! We are where we are today because of the behaviour of the Labour party. Where does it start? Well, you could go back to Tony Blair’s failure to sack Gordon Brown. He might have done his job at the Treasury adequately, but everybody in the party knew Brown was mildly psychotic, and his disruptive behaviour did nothing to contribute to good government. Blair did nothing. The Labour Party did nothing. When the Brown premiership eventually arrived it was a total disaster. David Miliband who could have challenged him for the leadership, did nothing. Labour was booted out of office in total disarray.
And then there was the famous leadership election when, with the help of the Unions, Labour elected the wrong Miliband. Ed Miliband who unfortunately looked as if he’s been plucked from the Aardman Animations studios, was a characterless political technogeek. He inspired nobody. His blank sheet of paper remained blank throughout his time as leader. He spoke in McKinsey speak, and bored the pants off the nation. The Tory dominated coalition delivered a cruel and unnecessary austerity, it imposed a conscious cruelty on millions of Labour voters, and still this Labour wunderkind couldn’t beat the nasty Tories. The fact that Labour failed to crush the Tories after what they had done, and failed to deliver an alternative government that the country so desperately needed, is surely one of the greatest failures in modern political history.
Labour’s failure resulted in a majority Tory government, a government that then went on to hold a referendum on membership of the EU, not because the country wanted it, but to placate the right wing Eurosceptic wing of the Tory party. David Cameron committed the ultimate sin and put his party before his country. His act of political folly has now delivered the biggest political challenge, the biggest constitutional crisis in modern times. We now have an obdurate, bloody-minded prime minister in Theresa May, who is intent on delivering Brexit no matter what cost to the nation. National interest in her eyes must take second place to the interests of the Tory party, regardless of the consequences.
And what of Labour? In their ultimate wisdom the ineffectual Miliband was replaced with the equally ineffectual, but well-meaning Corbyn, a man who would find organising a good night out in a brewery beyond his capabilities. He went on to support the triggering of Article 50, part of the right-wing Tory agenda. And his MPs? A large slice convinced themselves that they must pander to the right to save their seats. A betrayal if ever there was one.
So, when the country really needed a strong opposition, Labour failed. The party is in disarray. There is no effective opposition. This, with the help of Messrs Murdoch, Dacre and Desmond, has allowed Mrs May a degree of absolute power that probably no prime minister has ever enjoyed.
There is now a dark dynamic driving the country which is being cajoled into renouncing its best instincts and best interests. The lunacy of Brexit is just part of the mass stupidity that has engulfed our politics. Everything is Labour’s fault. Tell me it’s not.

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National March to Parliament

It’s time to rattle the cage! Time to give Mrs May and her Brexiteer cohorts the fright of their lives. Please march on the 25th March. This needs to be the BIGGEST march ever seen in the United Kingdom. I’ll be there, hat and all!

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I’m back!

It seems such a long time ago since I put up a blog post – and it is! I have been occupied writing and marketing a book which has taken up most of my time. I have been active on Twitter – as you may have noticed, but the world seems to have got itself into such a mess that I feel it is my duty to add a little sanity and common sense to the proceedings! Enjoy!

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The wealthy and powerful have no fear and fear no consequences


Handcuffs smallToday, in magistrates courts throughout the land, ‘justice’ will be meted out to ordinary folk for what are probably best described as minor misdemeanors or low level crime.

Ordinary folk, our fellow citizens, live in a world where fear is ever present. The fear of not being able to provide for a family, the fear of there not being a pay packet at the end of the week, fear that benefits will be withdrawn, fear that they will be criminalised for being unable to afford a television licence. They understand fear. They also understand consequences.

Bankers, over-paid CEOs and wealthy folk inhabit a different world. They have no fear and fear no consequences. The only fear they have is losing their wealth or fear of failing to recognise something that might threaten it. They may not be above the law, but they have the ability to distance themselves from it, of dimming or redirecting the spotlight. They use their wealth to influence lawmakers to enact laws that protect and promote their interests ahead of the majority.

With wealth and power should come responsibility. To act responsibly and to take responsibility.  Responsibility to act in the best interests of their less fortunate fellow citizens. To carry the can when things go wrong and not try and escape sanction by blaming subordinates. Unfortunately the understanding of what responsibility really means has been lost.

Until the clink of handcuffs is heard in boardrooms across the land, until those who have ultimate responsibility know fear and comprehend consequences, nothing will change. How to bring about change? Until corporate power is addressed and political party funding is reformed, there will be no change. A political party that does not have these two vital things in its manifesto is not worth voting for.

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750 Years and Now a Democracy Betrayed.

 

Big BenToday is the 750th anniversary of the first elected parliament in 1265. It laid the foundation for our current political system.

It wasn’t perfect, it still isn’t, but over the ages it has evolved. Change has often been slow, those who have been ‘in power’ have been reluctant to embrace change. So it is today. Today we have a political class which has little interest in giving the people what they want or what they need. Inflated with self-importance and captured by the ego massaging trappings of their ‘position’, politicians are set on a course of self-enrichment and determined that nothing shall stand in their way. It’s party before people and ‘me’ before anything else.

The main cause of this malaise is corporate power: the political class have been bought by corporations and vested interests. Their corrupting influence has prevented political parties from connecting with the public, it has distorted spending and tax decisions and become a cancer metastasizing at the heart of our democracy. It explains the drive to privatisation so loved by Friedman’s Chicago School, a light touch to banking regulation which nearly led to our ruin, a disastrous dalliance with PFI which has left the country with huge debt obligations, and the ability of the very wealthy few to get even wealthier at the expense of the majority. Parties accept ‘funds’ and favours follow. How has this been allowed to happen? Because the political class have refused to reform the political party funding system which has effectively allowed big business and multimillionaires to buy political parties. The distortions caused by the corruption of our politics are many, but our sizable and growing inequality must rank as being the worst. The cost of the waste of human talent, of shattered expectations, of lives lived in poverty and hopelessness, the huge social costs of this appalling neglect of duty are unacceptable in a modern society. There has to be radical reform.

This may be a day to celebrate, but it should also be one to pause and reflect on how we achieve change. If we don’t address the problem, social unrest will follow – sooner than many people think.

I wrote this ‘Agenda for Reform’ earlier this year inspired by the Chartists. Perhaps it’s time we started a ‘New Chartist’ movement to speed up reform?

In 1832, voting rights were given to the property-owning middle classes in Britain. This meant that less than 18% of adult males had the right to vote. The British people felt betrayed. Four years later the Chartist movement was started, demanding political rights and influence for every man. Chartism got its name from the People’s Charter which proposed six fundamental reforms. It became a powerful irritant to the established political class, with a rally in Kennington attracting 150,000 people. Three petitions were presented to Parliament containing 1.5 million signatures, a later one had a total of 3.5 million – 15% of the population! In every case, the politicians in Westminster voted not to hear the petitioners. Despite these setbacks, by 1918 all but one of the Chartists’ petitions had been accepted.

Chartism was a continuation of the 18th century fight against corruption and for democracy. Today we need to fight for the restoration of our democracy, and for an end to the corrupt practices that have been allowed to undermine it.

Our parliamentary democracy has been reduced to a farce by politicians who refuse to reform the corrupt system of funding political parties. They have made a mockery of the voting system. Corporate capital and the wealthy elite have bought our politics and our politicians.  Personal and party interests now come before the interests of the electorate. Parliament no longer works for the common good but for the interests of the few at the expense of the many. 

            BRITAIN WANTS ANSWERS! BRITAIN WANTS CHANGE!

Why should we tolerate politicians and political parties who don’t work for the common good?

Why should we tolerate a corrupt political system that allows corporations buy and bully politicians to do their bidding?

Why should we tolerate politicians who allow corporate capital to bypass our democracy and control our politics?

Why should we tolerate a system where corporate lobbyists are free to pressure and influence politicians without any checks and balances and without our knowledge?

Why should we tolerate a system that allows billionaire media owners to determine the political conversation and manipulate public opinion?

Until we confront corporate power, and reform the party funding system, politics is a waste of time!

 

Is it right that we have to endure crippling austerity when the well off enjoy billions in tax reliefs and billions are doled out in corporate welfare?

Is it right that the poor are punished through swingeing indirect taxation for the excesses and mistakes of a wealthy few?

Is it right that those we elect to represent our best interests have failed to address the appalling level of inequality in our society, and who appear content that the United Kingdom has the second highest level of inequality in the western world?

Is it right that senior executives cream off millions and the state pays to supplement the appallingly low wages they pay their employees?

 Is it right that we should have to tolerate a political class that has failed to prioritise investment in the country’s infrastructure, allowed the country’s industrial base to wither and engineered an end to social mobility?

Is it right that the British people have to suffer a system that allows the richest to become richer while three million children in our country are brought up in poverty and hundreds of thousands of people, despite being in work, have to resort to food banks to survive?

The level of inequality in our society is unacceptable!

For too long we have suffered the creation of too many rentiers, people who live off investments. They have been allowed to feed off our stagnant economy and become staggeringly wealthy. Britain’s rentier capitalism rewards those who contribute least towards the common good.

For too long we have suffered from politicians who refuse to reform the tax system which lacks transparency, is unnecessarily complicated, and unfair.

For too long politicians have refused to address the chronic housing shortage. Four million people are on housing waiting lists and house building is at an appallingly low level. Meanwhile council houses continue to be sold off at a discount, and no new council houses are being built.

For too long we have put up with a financial sector that has chosen to put personal financial gain ahead of fulfilling its proper role of fuelling and oiling the greater economy.

For too long we have endured an outmoded form of local government. Local party politics an impediment to progress. More importantly, the country has no efficient means of devolving power to the regions and the development and prosperity of the regions has suffered as a consequence.

For too long we have put up with a political class who have failed to reform the anachronistic and undemocratic House of Lords. It needs to be abolished. It should be replaced by a House of Representatives representing all regions within the Union.

And yes…

For too long we have suffered a political class who put their interests and the interests of their party before the interests of the electorate, who deliver empty promises not action, glacial change in a world of accelerating change.

 

Without a new vision and fundamental reform, we’re heading for social conflict!

 

Is it not time we had a NEW CHARTIST movement?

 

 

Here are six demands!

 

  1. We want honest politics and honest politicians. We demand that the corrupting influence of money is removed from politics.
  2. We want a more equal society. We demand immediate action to reduce the level of inequality.
  3. We refuse to have corporations and wealthy individuals influencing government policy without our knowledge. We demand proper reform of the lobbying system.
  4. We want to be properly represented and to be part of the political conversation, not just impotent spectators. We demand political and constitutional reform.
  5. We have had enough of a tax system that is biased towards the well off and penalises the poor. We demand total reform of the tax system.
  6. We want the financial sector to fulfil its proper role of fuelling and oiling the economy and working for the common good. We demand reform of the financial sector

 

More about the demands…

 

We demand the corrupting influence of money is removed from politics. We demand an end to the corrupt and corrupting system of funding political parties that has destroyed our democracy. A system that has allowed the wealthy elite and corporate capital to purchase politicians and political parties, to influence legislation to their advantage, and to seize the nation’s wealth. We must reclaim our democracy! We demand fundamental reform in the way political parties are funded. How? By limiting the total amount allowed to be donated to a political party in any one year to £2000.  By ensuring that only those on the electoral register are qualified to make a donation. By banning donations from companies, corporations and organisations of any sort. By ensuring donations to individual politicians, in cash or kind to their campaigns or causes are outlawed. The state should support political parties but that support should be geared to the number of members they recruit, forcing political parties and politicians to engage with the electorate.

 

We demand a more equal society. We demand an end to corporate welfare and the restoration of a welfare state that protects the most vulnerable in our society. We demand that the wealthy make a proper contribution to the society which supports their lifestyle and their endeavours. We demand that there should be no laws or taxes that favour or benefit the wealthy. We demand the minimum wage is a living wage. We demand an end to the inequality that is destroying hopes and aspirations, crippling social mobility, condemning millions to a life of poverty and hopelessness, suffocating the talents of our children, and dividing our great nation. The personal cost to individuals and the financial cost to the nation of this obscenity are not acceptable.

 

We demand proper reform of the lobbying system. The lobbying system is not open and transparent. Recent attempts at reform were used as a front to attack trade unions and charities. Nothing has changed. The system remains opaque. Rich and powerful individuals, corporations and institutions remain free to lobby ministers, government departments and politicians, to buy access and influence. The electorate are deliberately kept in the dark. It undermines the political system and distorts our democracy. We demand that all lobbying is transparent and open, and carried out within a lobbying forum: a forum which allows a complete record to be kept of all meetings, documents and discussions.  All this information would be available online, with lobbying requests notified in advance to inform, and to enable opposing views to be expressed.

 

We demand political and constitutional reform. We no longer have an effective way of devolving power from central government to the regions. Our current system of local government is outmoded and inefficient . We need an effective means of devolving power to the regions and for them to be able to govern efficiently, and for their interests to be properly represented.  We demand the regionalisation of England within a federal United Kingdom.  Each region should have an elected assembly that would join with the assemblies of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in sending delegates to a new House of Representatives, a constitutional body which would represent the regions of the Union at the heart of government. These regions would participate in legislation alongside the House of Commons. Votes in the House of Representatives would be be by region, not by individual. The House of Representatives would replace the anachronistic, unelected House of Lords.

 

 We demand total reform of the tax system. We demand a fair and transparent tax system, a simplified system that works for the common good. We demand an end to senseless complexity. We demand a system that maximises transparency, minimises tax avoidance opportunities and that gathers tax revenue effectively. We demand the scrapping of taxes that are directed towards the wealthy, such as reliefs on pension contributions, and investment income.  Taxes on health and education should be hypothecated and progressive. Corporation tax should be abolished and replaced with a progressive trading tax. We demand support for the introduction of a global wealth tax and the closure of all tax havens.

 

 We demand reform of the financial sector. After the crash of 2008 politicians promised us a reform of the banks and the financial sector. Little has changed, little has been delivered. Another crash is as likely as it ever was and the effects on us all would be as great, if not greater, than in 2008. Banks are still able to socialise their losses and privatise their profits. Intensive lobbying and political ‘donations’ have ensured that there has been no fundamental change in the way they operate. Retail and investment banking have not been separated, and this remains a threat to us all. The half measures that have been proposed have not sufficiently removed this risk. Banks remain self-serving. They are not fuelling and oiling the economy by providing investment and supporting enterprise, nor are they directing credit where it is needed. The market freedom they enjoy still delivers short-termism, guarantees low investment, works against building and supporting business and inflates house prices. They are managing our democracy for their benefit and to the detriment of everybody else. They are working against the common good. Banks are unique businesses, they have a social responsibility. We demand legislation and proper oversight to ensure banks honour that responsibility and along with all financial institutions, they act in the best interests of the economy and  society. They have to serve the economy rather than be its master. We demand fundamental reform that delivers real and lasting change. 

 

We need to work together and confront power with ideas that can change our nation for the better!

 

 

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Passé political popinjay breathing death into the life of Labour

Who he? He Peter Mandelson. Perhaps the description of this ex Labour grandee is a little harsh, but I despair at the twaddle that the political class of both main political parties, both past and present, are spouting about the economy and about austerity in particular.

Mandelson has been imploring the Labour shadow cabinet to come clean about the Labour version of austerity, to be honest and ‘speak with a single voice’ about their version of this ludicrous and wholly unnecessary policy. Does he think we will love Labour more for dressing up austerity in a new suit of clothes? If he does then someone must have cut the connection to his ivory tower.

Labour politicians seem to be totally hung up about being seen to be ‘responsible’ about the economy. They are fixated about convincing us that they will maintain an iron discipline over spending and exercise financial probity. That this will grab our imagination and persuade us to vote for them. But if this means that Labour are intending to try and sell us a sexier version of Tory austerity then they are heading for a fall. Who are they trying to sell this half-baked policy to exactly, themselves or the Murdoch press? If it’s the electorate they’ve got it seriously wrong.

The electorate are not blind to the fact that Osborne deliberately trashed growth in 2010 in order to install his austerity Trojan horse. A policy disguised as a means to ‘deal with the deficit’ (which it has failed to do), but with a deeper, nastier purpose, to shrink the state, trash the welfare system and consolidate the corporate dictatorship that now rules Britain. If Labour honestly think the electorate are going to buy into more of this nonsense, they are mightily mistaken.

What the electorate want from Labour is an alternative to cruel austerity. They want new, fresh ideas, not re-hashed, dressed up Tory policies.  How about addressing the £100 billion given away each year in tax reliefs? (£20 billion is given away in pension contribution tax relief for the already well off). How about insisting companies pay their taxes first and dispute them later…at least the delaying tactics would be reversed. And then there’s the annual £35 billion in uncollected taxes, why not recruit more tax inspectors to sort the problem rather than cutting the numbers at HMRC? And for a really innovative idea, what about a ‘solidarity tax’ similar to the one the Germans introduced to pay for reunification? It’s a specific tax for a specific problem. Our specific problem is the deficit and it would be paid for by those who can afford to pay not by those who cannot. (It is a tax levied on taxed income – between 5 and 7%. Since the Germans introduced it, it has raised over £130 billion)

Governments have to get out of the habit of penalising the poor for the errors of the few, of introducing taxes that cripple consumption. They need to address tax distortions caused by a ridiculously complicated and divisive tax system and institute reform.

Unless Labour do something new, come up with exciting, innovative ideas that capture our imagination, the electorate is going to speak with a single voice and give them a good kicking.

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Luvs, Labour’s Lost!

Is the mistake is ours? Maybe we assume that our so-called ‘leaders’ are exceptional people, that their ordinariness is just a mask, and that buried deep inside their unimpressive forms  there’s a Churchillian spirit waiting to be unleashed. I wish it were so!

The reality is that our leaders are clever, but they are also really very ordinary and very unimpressive. Leaders? Mmmm…they have the responsibility of leadership, they understand what it is, but have very little idea of its practice. The reality is that our leaders are political technocrats. They work to predetermined party formulas that are meant to give us the impression that they are in control and have the measure of things – and that they are working for the common good, which they are not. Their prime motivation is personal and political survival. They work harder at this than anything else…until….well, until circumstances lay bare their inadequacy and they have to deliver something big to survive.  That’s where we are now.

Today, Miliband cuts a rather pathetic figure. Everything is catching up with him. His technocratic instincts tell him that he must fight his political opponents point by point. (Blind to the fact that his agenda is being set for him!) Viewed from inside his Westminster cocoon that might seem the right thing to do, but from the outside it’s a very boring, uninspiring spectacle. And the worrying thing is that he doesn’t seem to understand why we find it so unutterably boring and uninspiring.  Even more worrying is that it appears he doesn’t know what the answer is…and it’s really not all that difficult!

Swingeing austerity should have been a gift to a Labour opposition. They should be fifteen points ahead in the opinion polls. Loyal Labour supporters have been waiting in anticipation for big new ideas, but they have failed to materialise. As the election draws closer it’s becoming more apparent that there are no big ideas, no radical new policies. All that Labour supporters are going to get are technical ‘tweaks’ to existing coalition policies. To be blunt, Labour has been more than useless, they have been utterly, utterly wet, and they are about to pay a heavy price…actually, we are about to pay a very heavy price, which hurts – a lot!

Is there still time? Just, but the dead weight of the party machine and the ‘cleverer than thou’ Hampstead Labour elite will probably sink any new initiative or any new big idea. Look what happened last weekend when Ed announced that he was planning to scrap the House of Lords and introduce some better form of regional representation. A big idea if ever there was one! The announcement happened on a Saturday and hardly anybody noticed. Reason? Because it was a hastily dredged up ‘big idea’ that Ed had been frightened to voice.

We are witnessing a race to the bottom of the political mini-talents. What the country needs is a new political order, new political parties and new big ideas. Too much to ask? Just wait and see!

 

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