Archive for the ‘Conservatives’ Category
Diamond Geezer say Labour Candidate Andy Newman.
“Stalin was great says Red Ed’s man.”
So sayeth the Sun.
The Daily Mail helpfully adds,
Red Andy, the Labour hopeful who says Stalin improved living standards and the Berlin Wall was ‘a great success’ (but Ed says the party HASN’T lurched to the Left).
At first glance, Andy Newman would appear to be a good fit with the affluent Wiltshire seat, held by Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames.
Educated at a private school (Editor’s note I didn’t know that – another reason to hate Newman) and Oxford University (same as previous) Mr Newman’s CV bears the hallmarks of a modern Labour politician.
However, a delve into some of his recent writings suggests the union official is determined to keep the Red Flag flying over the West Country.
He has called the Berlin Wall ‘a great success’ and praised the ‘significant improvement in working class living standards’ during Stalin’s Great Terror.
He described the attacks on Pearl Harbour as the ‘opening salvo in a war between two rival imperialisms’ – equating America with wartime Japan under Emperor Hirohito – and branded the Dalai Lama a ‘figurehead for slavery’.
In the run-up to his selection last month, the telecoms engineer set out some of his uncompromising beliefs in articles in ultra-left-wing publications.
Paying tribute to Stalin’s character, whose brutal dictatorship led to the deaths of millions of citizens, he wrote earlier this year: ‘We should recognise how Stalin was the creature of his times; and not alone in culpability.
‘What is more, the character of Stalin, who almost through a feat of sheer will industrialised and militarised the USSR to defend itself against the Nazi threat, was also the character that ruthlessly regarded people as expendable. It did give Stalin the attributes needed to be a great war leader’.
And in 2009, Mr Newman, who is the local branch secretary of the GMB union, used a piece in Socialist Unity to put a positive gloss on the tyrant’s rule
Describing him in apparently respectful terms as ‘the Stalin’, he wrote: ‘Free market capitalism had seen worldwide depression in the 1930s and had led to fascism and war.
‘Meanwhile the USSR’s economy had achieved staggering success in the same period, including a significant improvement in working class living standards, despite the Stalin’s terror’.In the same article, he wrote warmly of the Berlin Wall: ‘If we set to one side the issue of personal liberty, the [Berlin] wall was a great success.’
Thursday Lower Brook Street Ipswich. (Photo JB)
Members of the National Association of Probation Officers are joined by trade unionists and supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly.
Probation workers across the eastern region have taken to the streets today in protest at the government’s decision to privatise the service.
Across the country members of union Unison, along with colleagues from the GMB and National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), held their joint protest to coincide with advertisements being placed by the Ministry of Justice in OJEU – the Official Journal of the European Union – inviting private sector bids.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust workers outside the offices in Palace Plain, Norwich said privatisation would axe services designed to keep communities safe, as well as introduce potentially dangerous cost cutting measures in the relentless pursuit of profit.
They also warned that among the list of likely bidders were Serco and G4S, both currently under investigation for alleged fraud in the running of previous MoJ contracts. EDP 24
Thousands of probation workers will join nationwide protests today to claim that public safety will be jeopardised by the Government’s plans to transfer the community supervision of most former offenders to private companies.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is to signal his determination to push ahead with the £800m privatisation of the bulk of the National Probation Service, which traces its roots back to 1907. He will publish advertisements today inviting bids to take over around three-quarters of the service’s current workload.
Under the moves, the 35 existing regional probation trusts will be replaced by 21 government companies which will tender out the work of supervising more than 200,000 offenders each year considered to present low or medium risk. Those regarded as high risk will continue to be monitored by a slimmed-down national probation service.
Ministers insist their plans are essential to drive up standards in probation and to reduce reoffending levels. Six out of 10 people who leave prison are reconvicted within two years.
Potential bidders include such firms as G4S and Serco, which are both being investigated over alleged fraud in Ministry of Justice contracts. The sums paid to the successful companies or voluntary-sector organisations will be linked to their success in reducing offending rates.
Bidding has begun for probation service contracts worth £450m across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has announced.
Payment-by-results contracts are to be split between private companies and charities in 20 English regions and one Welsh region, officials said.
They will supervise 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year.
Senior probation officers have condemned the plans as “a disgrace and total failure”.
The competition will continue through 2014, with contracts awarded by 2015.
Under a system of 21 contracts, the voluntary groups, charities and private companies will only be paid in full if a certain proportion of offenders do not commit further crimes.
Not for Blue Labour.
Mukul Devichand opened with this,
These voices are the gurus of a new circle at the top of the Labour Party. They’re highly influential: in charge of writing the policies for Labour’s next manifesto and crafting Ed Miliband’s key speeches. And if you thought Labour would simply tinker around the edges of welfare, and reverse some of the cuts, you’d be rrong if this group had its way. Labour long ago jettisoned the idea that the central government could run industry. In this week’s Analysis, we’ll explore how this group also wants the central state to walk away from a top down model of welfare.
Following this Maurice Glasman opined, “The state is necessary, but as a external administrative neutral force it undermines relationships. It can undermine humanity.”
If that is an indication of the quality of New Labour thought we socialists on the dole can rest easy in our beds, till late afternoon if we wish.
The state is a relationship that can undermine humanity, might have been a more coherent idea.
But we let this pass.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham then took another step backwards.
Here are his thoughts on the Welfare state,
I think the problem has been we forgot what it was originally set up for. It cuts people’s legs off. It rewards people the more need they can demonstrate. It does things for people and that’s a mistake. So for example on housing, if you come in and say, “I’m homeless, I’m in need,” we’ve rewarded in the past, we’ve rewarded people. The more need they have, the more likely it is we’ll support them. So you’ve got to show, you’ve got to prove that you can’t do things. That’s the wrong way to do it.
Perhaps Sir Robin has found a way of abolishing need.
He began by stating,
The Soviets learned in 89 that it didn’t work. We still think we should run things centrally and we’re one of the most centralised states and a democratic state in Europe. It’s nuts. We need to do more in terms of pushing power and responsibility and opportunities down locally, and I’d argue that if we’re going to make the welfare state work there needs to be a much stronger local element where the community and the values of the community can be put to work. You cannot put something that meets an individual’s needs, you cannot structure that from the centre.
As Devichand wryly observed, the Soviets are not around to answer back.
He by contrast has set up Workplace, a local alternative to Job Centres,
The government’s Work Programme is a disaster, and it’s a disaster because it’s designed by civil servants to be run nationally and you don’t start with the employers. We go to the employers and say could we present people to you who are job ready, who are the right people you want? And the result is that not only do we get five thousand people into work; half of them are long-term unemployed, a large number are young people.
The Work Programme is in fact thoroughly decentralised.
It is delivered, in scores of different ways, by private providers, mostly companies, but including ‘social enterprises’ and charities.
This is the result of extensive lobbying by these providers (who’ve become the ‘unemployment business’) as first encouraged by David Blunkett, closely linked to one company (he served on its Board after setting the system up), A4E).
The system is unemployment business driven and nobody knows exactly what they’re going to get.
It is also news that Workplace is unique in going to employers, since that is exactly what all Work Programme providers do.
The root problem is deeper and simpler: there is not the work for the unemployed to be fitted into.
To test the success of Newham’s scheme we got people saying that they agreed that graft should be rewarded and skivers left out. This was not ,
a gathering of the local chambers of commerce; it was a crowd of the recently unemployed in East London, albeit hand-picked for us by Newham Council….
We are reaching the realm where the inhabitants of Cloud Cuckoo Land go to get away from their mundane lives.
It is a sad indication of the ‘debate’ set up by Blue Labour that it was up to the Fabian Society General Secretary, Andrew Harrop, to talk some sense.
That the reasons why welfare is ‘centralised’ (that, is we all have the same rights and benefits are aligned to need) is that Beveridge,
wanted a uniform, consistent system, so that it was based on your citizenship rather than more arbitrary factors, and there’s still a lot of truth in that insight.
Polly Toynbee pointed out that if we decentralise welfare in the way Blue Labour want
In the end you might get some councils who say actually we care more about our municipal flowerbeds.
This is not a joke.
A percentage of Council Tax benefit has been made payable by those on benefits and decentralised under the Liberal-Tory Coalition.
Those in Liberal or Tory areas can pay twice or event three times what you pay in Labour ones. Poor areas have high charges, rich right-wing ones, despite their reserves, still shift the burden as far as they can onto those on the Dole.
Toynbee later observes,
I think Labour MPs know so well, they are so rooted in their own communities, many of which are very poor, what can’t be done. They know very well that you can’t take money away from the very weakest and very poorest and they won’t let it happen. So I’m pretty confident that this will end up being a creative policy with a lot of good ideas, that it will spark all sorts of things off, but don’t let’s imagine it’s a new 1945 settlement.
A creative policy?
The Analysis programme did not go far into this.
But the rest of Blue Labour’s ideas, about contributive benefits, are equally askew. They would create a gap between sections of the unemployed. They would (and are) be hard and expensive to administer.
Countries that operate these schemes , like France, have had to introduce minimum levels of benefit to all, regardless of contribution, and still suffer from continual deficit crises in their systems.
The Living Wage is equally no panacea for low pay. With rents still rising, and the inflation rate on goods that the less well-off buy going up, it does not mean the good life for all.
Jeremy Cliffe, of the free-market Economist concludes,
The Attlee government, Labour’s perhaps most venerated and mythologised government, set in place a Welfare State which involved the benevolent state pulling levers, transferring wealth from those that had it to those that didn’t, and this involves moving on quite dramatically from that. And I think there are many in the labour movement, perhaps understandably those who have worked in the Welfare State, who see their constituents dependent on support in various forms from the Welfare State, those who are close to the trade Union Movement which is obviously rooted in the last fifty or so years of British political economy who are not comfortable with this.
Dropping the reference to the “benevolent state” (Cliffe just couldn’t resist saying that, could he? Still who can deny that a 1st Class Degree from Oxford teaches you things) and what do we have at fault?
That there is a “transfer of wealth“.
Is this something Blue Labour is against?
In Holland Not Everybody Waves Back.
This morning the media is full of the ascension to the Dutch Throne of the new King.
It was suggested this morning on the Belgium French-speaking radio le Première (which as a neighbouring country, takes a keen intrest in this) that opponents of the House of Orange were isolated cranks, even right-wing homophobes (???).
e Christian Science Monitor reports on another side of today jamboree in Holland,
But just a few days ago, some 500 yards away from the Dam Square in central Amsterdam where the abdication and inauguration will take place, a small group of Dutch republicans met to discuss how best to call for the abolition of the country’s 200-year-old monarchy and instate a true republic.
The workshop was organized by the movement #HetIs2013 – Dutch for “It’s 2013″ – which was started in February when a student protester named Joanna was forcibly removed by police from an event in Utrecht that the queen attended.
Joanna had been holding up a sign that read “Away with the monarchy, it’s 2013″ – which the policemen took to be a violation of the Netherlands‘ lese majeste law, which still prohibits insulting the royal family despite the country’s general support of freedom of speech.
Willem-Alexander later said during a TV interview that the policemen had made “a mistake” by removing her.
The plucky Dutch republicans are organised in the Nieuw Republikeins Genootschap.
Wikipedia has an English entry on them.
Their main demand is to reduce the King’s salary and have launched a petition to this end.
With around 1,200 members the republicans are small but determined.
Polls, cited on the Belgium radio, indicate around 10% of the Dutch agree with them.
May 68 in Reverse?
French religious and right-wing agitation against legislation for gay marriage (‘le marriage pour tous’) is reaching a new pitch as the law is due to be voted in.
Last night France’s Parliament, l’Assemblée Nationale, nearly descended into violence.
The debate lasted all night, only finishing just before 8 o’clock this morning.
In a scene described on France-Inter today as worthy of the Russian Duma, right-wing deputies approached the government seats screaming and ready for a fight.
Libération reports this morning,
Scène surréaliste : l’hémicycle avait échappé de peu à une bagarre. Dans la confusion et sous le regard interloqué des journalistes en tribune de presse, des députés UMP, excédés par une mimique d’un collaborateur du ministre de la Justice - ils l’ont expliqué ensuite - se sont précipités au bas de l’hémicycle. Aux cris de «dehors, dehors», ils se sont approchés des bancs du gouvernement. Des huissiers et le ministre chargé des Relations avec le Parlement Alain Vidalies se sont interposés pendant plusieurs minutes.
A surrealist scene: the chamber nearly descended into fist fights. In a confused state, and journalists looking askance from the press box, UMP MPs, enraged by being made fun of by an associate of the Justice Minister, (that is, their version) – rushed to the lower half of the room. Shouting “Out, Out, Out!”, they approached the Government benches. Ushers and Alain Vidalies, the Minister in Charge of Parliamentary procedures, stood in their way for some minutes.
According to the Libération report blows were exchanged.
Outside around 3,000 demonstrators, many from the extreme-right “Printemps français” vociferously voiced their opposition to gay rights.
This movement believes the time has come for a “May 68 in reverse” (see La jeunesse prête pour un Mai 68 à l’envers !).
French President Francois Hollande hit out at “homophobic” acts by opponents of a same-sex marriage bill following violent protests that included an attack on a gay bar.
The interior minister asked protest organisers to throw out members of far-right organisations who have been involved in the violence, as opposition intensifies ahead of the bill’s expected final approval.
On Wednesday, a several-thousand-strong protest in the streets of Paris turned ugly with cars and public property vandalised and police officers and journalists attacked. Several people were detained for questioning.
In Lille, three employees of a gay bar were injured late Wednesday in an attack by four men who smashed the building’s windows. The owner linked the incident to “tensions” over the parliament vote.