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April 17, 2010

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The market cannot be relied upon to deliver everything that the country wants. An acceleration of corporate dominance or easing of the constraints to allow the wealthy and powerful to become more wealthy and powerful would not be in everyone’s interest. Putting all the advantages into the hands of shareholders if it is at the expense of employee’s is not in everyone’s interest.

Kay Tie

"Of course they don't. You've got this idea of Labour voters as Marxist revolutionaries or something."

State ownership of the banks is widely proposed on the left, and not for bail-out reasons. A number of Labour MPs started to sing the Red Flag in the Commons after Northern Rock was taken into state ownership.

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'No they don't. They favour state ownership of all large companies.'

Of course they don't. You've got this idea of Labour voters as Marxist revolutionaries or something. Silly really. A mixed economy is basically what capitalist countries have today including America, Britain, France etc.

Kay Tie

"It is a fact that the government subsidises the railways, and does so to a greater extent than before privatisation"

The railways are carrying more passengers than before privatisation.

The railways have better safety systems than before privatisation.

The staff are paid more than before privatisation.

These are all facts too.

"Not everything can be delivered by making a profit for businesses. Public infrastructure being a case in point. In fact public money in many cases is needed to prop up or bail out businesses as it had to when the financial markets got out of control. "

No neoliberal would deny this: public provision is often better when the markets are structurally unable to provide an alternative. But note the word "unable". It doesn't mean "ooo, those nasty Americans are buying our companies, it must be state-owned!" It doesn't mean "ooo, people are losing their jobs, it must be state-owned!"

"Most traditional labour supporters favour a mixed economy."

No they don't. They favour state ownership of all large companies, particularly the ones around when Labour first came to power (iron, steel, coal, shipbuilding, steam engines, cars, aircraft). We know what happens: loss-making businesses that produce shoddy goods that can't compete, become a drain on the state and the country ends up unable to carry the burden and goes bust.

Why do you think that doing it all over again would lead to a different result? Why do you think the state-owned utilities, trains, steel, coal or whatever else will lead to a different outcome? Has something changed since the 1970s? Are Labour politicians smarter than the ones then? Are they more honourable? Do people work harder now? Are they now prepared to put the interests of the state ahead of their own and their families? Is the state more able to run things efficiently now?

The answer is "no", of course. Things are just the same as before. The difference is that there is a new generation of young, inexperienced and intellectually-weak people who don't remember the past and have the arrogance to believe they can succeed where greater minds failed. And the outcome will be just the same, although it might take less time to wreck the economy and cause widespread misery and injustice (it took Labour from 1945-1979 for all to see the futility of the "mixed economy").

"is not going to convince anyone who sees themselves as to the left of mainstream politics in this country. "

Of course it won't convince them. How could it? Only with experience comes wisdom, and few people have enough experience to see the folly of the Left. So the same superficial ideas of "equality" and "fairness" (usually so nebulous as to practically mean "shut up and do what I say") run aground on the harsh rocks of reality. Every time.

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'And the moon is made of cheese. Saying something doesn't make it so. Unless you believe in Marxist theories of reality.'

It is a fact that the government subsidises the railways, and does so to a greater extent than before privatisation. This is largely spent on the infrastructure which is publicly owned, but also a significant amount is given to the privatised train operators. In many cases some state intervention in the economy is necessary, and in other cases desirable. We can’t have everything based on markets and expect it to be a guarantee of personal welfare for employees, the environment etc.

Not everything can be delivered by making a profit for businesses. Public infrastructure being a case in point. In fact public money in many cases is needed to prop up or bail out businesses as it had to when the financial markets got out of control.

Most traditional labour supporters favour a mixed economy. This constant preaching for de-regulation, less government, more privatisation and championing of neo-liberalism as some great advance for ‘freedom’ and attacking anyone who disagrees as ‘Marxist’, ‘communist’ etc. is not going to convince anyone who sees themselves as to the left of mainstream politics in this country.

Kay Tie

"No matter what changes have taken place in the industry it is still true. It is a more complex and less efficient system now."

And the moon is made of cheese. Saying something doesn't make it so. Unless you believe in Marxist theories of reality.

"I'm talking about the fact that energy bills have risen considerably in the past decade, and so have levels of 'fuel poverty'."

So what? Are you saying that the Government should step in, own all the energy production, buy what we can't make, and sell it cheaper than it costs? Is that your idea of welfare?

Mad.

"It illustrates the fact that it is not an all or nothing choice (as you pretend) between an outright neo-liberal economic system or 'go and live in Cuba if you like communism so much'."

It does indeed illustrate what happens when socialists get the keys: they spend other people's money until it runs out, then they borrow money (promising to repay it with other people's money) until no-one believes the promises, either. Greece is leading the way, Gordon Brown's Britain isn't far behind.

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'That's not actually true because you can't compare the train system now with then.'

No matter what changes have taken place in the industry it is still true. It is a more complex and less efficient system now.

'It's just blah blah with you, isn't it? The facts don't matter, just throw that "it was bad under Thatcher" tripe about. Even you aren't stupid enough to think that the price of energy hasn't varied over time.'

Its you who mentions Thatcher Kay Tie. I'm talking about the fact that energy bills have risen considerably in the past decade, and so have levels of 'fuel poverty'. Your the one who can't seem to have a reasonable discussion for some reason.

'Oh, I didn't realise we had to copy what our "neighbours" do. '

It illustrates the fact that it is not an all or nothing choice (as you pretend) between an outright neo-liberal economic system or 'go and live in Cuba if you like communism so much'.

Kay Tie

"The railways cost more to subsidise now than before they were privatised."

That's not actually true because you can't compare the train system now with then. For example, the Government has heaped a bunch of health and safety regulations on to the industry since privatisation. These costs have put up the subsidy requirements.

"It does nothing for those who can’t afford to keep up with their rising energy bills. "

It's just blah blah with you, isn't it? The facts don't matter, just throw that "it was bad under Thatcher" tripe about. Even you aren't stupid enough to think that the price of energy hasn't varied over time.

"coincided with huge increases in numbers of people in ‘fuel poverty’ were they struggle to heat their homes yet the energy companies make record profits"

So energy companies are responsible for the welfare state? Interesting. Perhaps Tesco's should be responsible for "food poverty"? Perhaps I can ask my landlord to forgive my rent because I'm in "rent poverty"?

"These industries are publicly owned in many countries. Britain has gone further down the road of privatisation than many of our European neighbours. "

Oh, I didn't realise we had to copy what our "neighbours" do. If Greece jumped off a financial cliff, should we do the same? (Oh, wait, we are..)

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The railways cost more to subsidise now than before they were privatised.

As I say Kay Tie, it is great system for allowing the wealthy and powerful to become more wealthy and powerful. It does nothing for those who can’t afford to keep up with their rising energy bills. Rising energy bills have coincided with huge increases in numbers of people in ‘fuel poverty’ were they struggle to heat their homes yet the energy companies make record profits. Electricity and Rail infrastructure has deteriorated, yet it has been profitable for shareholders.

These industries are publicly owned in many countries. Britain has gone further down the road of privatisation than many of our European neighbours.

Kay Tie

"Or the privatised companies which we used to own but now only subsidise?"

Yes, all that money we spend on Corus, Jaguar, Rolls Royce. Oh, wait. We don't.

"Its driven by corporate greed and the chase for short term profits."

Like Jaguar? Ford invested billions, and it never made a profit for them over the 20 years they owned it. Evil nasty Ford, chasing short-term profits. And an American company too, oh the horror!

If you want to live under glorious communism, pop over to Cuba and ask to live there. Apparently they have a brilliant healthcare system. You get to meet visiting Labour MPs too.

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‘As many jobs as they cut by running round Liverpool in taxis handing out redundancy notices to teachers?’

Yes because they were not made redundant in the end as I’m sure you know. The houses certainly got built though. It was urgently needed and it got done. I’m sure the extra jobs were welcome in a depressed economy.

‘And the customers and the tax-payers. And the employees who ended up in a viable business rather than a dead one.’

What like the now redundant employees of Corus, Jaguar, Rolls Royce etc.? Or the privatised companies which we used to own but now only subsidise?

Less job security, underemployment, lower wages and speculative bubbles. When it goes bust the workers bail the system out. Its driven by corporate greed and the chase for short term profits. In essence give corporations everything they demand and allow them to concentrate wealth and power into the hands of the wealthiest. Nations are not important to neoliberalism, only markets and corporations.

Kay Tie

"I'm not sure where the 'blue bits' Britain are going to have their capital now."

I am sure the good burghers of Tower Hamlets can run their comprehensive schools as badly as they wish. Just don't expect their neighbours to pay for a bunch of Trots masquerading as teachers.

"As for Liverpool of the 1980s, at least the militant council got much needed new housing built. And provided jobs to build them."

As many jobs as they cut by running round Liverpool in taxis handing out redundancy notices to teachers?

"Great for the bosses and shareholders no doubt"

And the customers and the tax-payers. And the employees who ended up in a viable business rather than a dead one.

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'I do want regional autonomy where possible. People who vote for socialist policies should be made to live with the consequences themselves, not predate on their rich neighbours (who are rich because they don't follow socialist policies).'

The 'red bits' Britain gets to keep London then:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/region/3.stm

I'm not sure where the 'blue bits' Britain are going to have their capital now.

As for Liverpool of the 1980s, at least the militant council got much needed new housing built. And provided jobs to build them. So ironically Liverpool was and would likely have remained a ‘cess pit’ as you term it if the council hadn’t acted to replace sub-standard housing.

Thatcher hate is common throughout all the former industrial areas. The terms of neo-liberalism demand that everything be privatised. Great for the bosses and shareholders no doubt, not so great for the people who lose their jobs and now have to compete with Indonesian labour.

Kay Tie

"Do you want to cut off South Wales, the North West and the North East too?"

I do want regional autonomy where possible. People who vote for socialist policies should be made to live with the consequences themselves, not predate on their rich neighbours (who are rich because they don't follow socialist policies).

Mrs Thatcher took the approach of removing power from councils to deprive people like Derek Hatton of power. So to thus day she gets the blame for poverty in Liverpool. I take the view that the voters of Liverpool should live with the consequences of having Derek Hatton in power. Those that can't bear it can leave: and when Liverpool becomes a stinking cess pit then the voters will only have themselves - and Derek Hatton - to blame. Of course, pigs might fly from John Lennon airport and Hattonism might be the model for a utopian future, in which case it will be copied.

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Do you want to cut off South Wales, the North West and the North East too? Instead of helping the post-industrial working class areas to improve housing, attract investment and create jobs we should tell them to 'get wealthy, or get lost'? After all, they don't even vote Tory!

Kay Tie

"If that upsets the south east wealthy I'm sure Scotland can ask for its oil back."

Fine. Just as long as it takes over its share of the national debt. Which, given that a Scot followed by a Scot in the treasury borrowed huge quantities to spend on Scots, that's rather a lot.

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'where they will just spend other people's money on their power base (just look at how much money we send to Scotland, and how many Labour MPs they send to rule over us).'

Again this 'other peoples money' bit, meaning the south east presumably. Is say Glasgow (poorest city in country) not allowed to benefit unevenly from the world economic powerhouse that is London? Is it not to be expected that the capital city, by far the largest, and able to attract investment from all over the world, the brightest graduates from all over the country and I assume successful businesses from all over the country to re-locate their headquarters will naturally raise a disproportionate amount of tax revenue? Or is it as the Daily Mail says that the scrounging Scots are not being 'enterprising' enough and living the life of Riley in their tenements? Lets prescribe a dose of Bullingden Boy style 'tough love'. Turn off the money, everyones a winner! (well maybe the conservative power base for a short time)

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'Simplest way to achieve that is to keep socialists away from the treasury, where they will just spend other people's money on their power base (just look at how much money we send to Scotland, and how many Labour MPs they send to rule over us).'

If you substitute authoritarian tendencies, inefficient, gimmicky etc. for socialist I agree with you. Its less to do with socialist or neo-liberal but rather wastefulness, inefficiency or as you said earlier recklessness.

'where they will just spend other people's money on their power base'

I've read this one in the Daily Mail yesterday already. To some extent this tends to be true of any political party, not just the big bad 'socialists' as you like to call New Labour. Scotland, is pretty poor in many areas, which might explain the difference in comparative tax revenues and spending. If that upsets the south east wealthy I'm sure Scotland can ask for its oil back.

Kay Tie

"The financial industry benefited from recklessness. We have bailed them out. Now they dictate."

We bailed out banks who invested in property. We didn't bail out the entire finance industry. It is the international bond market that dictates terms to deadbeat countries. If a country doesn't want to borrow the money, it is perfectly free not to.

Simple lesson: don't be a deadbeat. Simplest way to achieve that is to keep socialists away from the treasury, where they will just spend other people's money on their power base (just look at how much money we send to Scotland, and how many Labour MPs they send to rule over us).

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Well yes, these would all be welcome losses. Symptoms of Tory and Labour overbearing.

'The austerity burden should be borne by those who benefited from the recklessnes'

The financial industry benefited from recklessness. We have bailed them out. Now they dictate.

Kay Tie

"How about if Britain was to face the same austerity measures"

We will.

The austerity burden should be borne by those who benefited from the recklessness: the highly paid non-job public sector managers, the useless PFI schemers, the quango staff. We need to stop talking about "front-line" and decide what we want to spend money on. An I'D card scheme? The ISA database? The bin inspectors? There are hundreds of bodies and agencies doing things that actively harm society and cost money. Instead of looking for "efficiency" in (for example) Ofsted we should close it down.

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How about if Britain was to face the same austerity measures, or perhaps measures that hit the wealthy more than the already poor? (never going to be part of IMF chastening and profiteering). After all YOU borrowed the money, now YOU have to give eveything up to the IMF?

Basically what you said about the Greeks.

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Of course I think the firebombing of a Greek bank was a stupid and thuggish. I'm not sure what that simpleton outburst was for Kay Tie?

And I could keep repeating what I said earlier about the Greek government (main culprits etc) but this discussion seems to have reached a logical ending.

Kay Tie

Yeah, it woz the Greek bankers wot did it. Yeah. Nothing to do with the Greek government running a structural deficit for a decade. Like another country closer to us. No, it woz them bankers. Bastards. Burn them all. Well, three of them.

The Greek government is going to default: bet on it.

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I think there are enough parasites on the Greek workers, the huge majority hard workers AND tax payers without jacking up interest rates precisely BECAUSE they are having economic difficulties due in large part because the bankers THEMSELVES blew up great big profit making schemes whilst telling everyone else it will all be fine and carry on borrowing.

I'm not talking about writing off the loans. As I said most of the protest is aimed at the government. The question is what good will all this do for the Greek economy in the longer term? Drive it downhill until paying back becomes impossible on whatever terms. Next they'll take all the national assets and flog them to Enron 2 and you will be demanding that these 'parasites' quit whining and stop stealing from the rest of world when they protest against it.

Kay Tie

"This must be done because the banks demand it? "

If you're a borrower, it's best not to spit in the face of the people you hope will lend you money. If you don't like your lenders making conditions on their loans, don't borrow so much money.

The Left rail at "democracy" being undermined by the financiers. What do they want? To just steal money from the rest if the world? That's what many of the rioters want: to default on loans and confiscate everything owned by foreigners. It's just one more example of why socialists are parasites that always bleed the host to death.

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‘To riot against international lenders is ridiculous: if you don't want lenders to dictate terms, don't be a borrower. Pretty simple rule that's held since before Antiquity. Still true today.’

I think the popular outrage is mainly directed at the government and the proposed ‘austerity measures’. At a time when the Greek economy is shrinking, the government want to make all sorts of cuts, raise taxes etc.

It’s a harsh system. Reduce living standards, increase unemployment, increase taxes. This must be done because the banks demand it? This will all have a destructive effect on the Greek economy leaving it even worse off. What then?

‘All Greeks are to blame for the Greek situation: everyone is complicit in tax-dodging, bribery and corruption as a way of life. ‘

The fact that Greece has come to this point is the fault of Greeks to a large extent. It is not ALL Greeks who avoid paying taxes, but a sizeable minority of them. These are problems that can be fixed. A series of governments that have not tackled these problems whilst mounting up the national debt are the biggest culprits. Corruption, misgovernment and the global economic recession have all contributed. The results for the Greek people are harsh. So I can sympathise with the protesters.

Patrick

Thursday's result in Newport West really is a triumph (for you personally and your whole team) considering the national unpopularity of Labour.

You are blessed with a spirited , dedicated , and hard working team that yet again put their hearts and souls into this campaign.

I spoke to a lady at the count who said
" If paul loses it will be a disaster for Newport West"
She was wearing a blue rosette.

Congratulations.


dave

congratulations paul on retaining your seat.

was there really any other party fighting for the seat.
i only saw labour reps on my door step and i must say the fella that came to my door spoke passionately for labour and you as an mp.
there were only 2 of the newport west candidates from newport which must have lost them votes.2 were from cwmbran and 1 from london.
did anyone see other than a few conservative posters any other party election posters etc.

i just hope you forget about sitting on quango committees and concentrate your efforts on high tech jobs for newport and supporting private enterprises.

brown and the majority of the labour cabinet have been a liability so i hope the party reshuffles and we see traditional labour mp's running the party than the neo-cons that have been running the party.

i would like yvette cooper as labour leader she comes across as a listening,caring and honest person.it is about time labour had a female leader.

i hope we see the milliband idiots and ed balls out of labours leadership.
david milliband comes across an arrogant know it all and his brother a stuttering fool.

best of luck in your efforts and lets hope you can make a difference in the coming years to newport becoming more prosperous.

Kay Tie

"And yet, the ordinary greek citizens of low or moderate means have the temerity to object"

Ah, the noble honest toiling Greek peasants, oppressed by the rich.

If you look at the austerity measures being put in place they are aimed at the corrupt civil service and property owners. The poor are being manipulated.

HuwOS

"everyone is complicit in tax-dodging, bribery and corruption as a way of life"

Oh for sure, the poor are undoubtedly complicit in tax dodging, bribery and corruption.
The rich probably just got dragged along with the flow.

And yet, the ordinary greek citizens of low or moderate means have the temerity to object to receiving their equal and therefore fair share of the pain that the cutbacks and austerity budgets bring.

Utterly inexplicable why that should cause unrest, civil disorder and rioting.

Kay Tie

It's a tragedy when people are killed by the police. I was sickened and angry at de Menezes death (and the cynical police spin post facto). I can make common cause with the most ardent leftie on this topic (George Galloway in particular).

What I cannot make cause with is the left-wing Greek anti-austerity protests. All Greeks are to blame for the Greek situation: everyone is complicit in tax-dodging, bribery and corruption as a way of life. To riot against international lenders is ridiculous: if you don't want lenders to dictate terms, don't be a borrower. Pretty simple rule that's held since before Antiquity. Still true today.

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'On the contrary, I care very much. Unlike the complacent Left here.'

Again you use the most tenuous of opportunities to bitch about the 'left'. Demented nonsense.

I suppose you could dismiss a general strike and a huge demonstration as just a few 'lefties' if you like. Makes it nice and simple. How about the socialist Greek government? What about when police kill protesters? Who has the moral high ground Kay Tie? The bankers? The government? The police?

Or shall we just come up with simplistic one liners and rant about 'righties' and 'lefties'?

Kay Tie

"To put it another way you don't care about what is happening in Greece or to the Greek people. So don't bring up the tragic deaths of 3/4 people in such a flippant, disrespectful and offhand manner."

On the contrary, I care very much. Unlike the complacent Left here. And your pedantic retort about the specific manner in which people were killed by political activists rioting shows you to be sort of callous person we could do without in this country.

HuwOS

Well Paul's election is over and this is his official blog again I guess.

I expect congratulations are in order, much lower swing to the Tories from Paul than Labour is experiencing in most places.

I was disappointed his party colleague on the other side of Newport held on against a substantial challenge from the Lib Dems.

Lembit Opik seems to have managed to turn a Lib Dem surge into a loss, presumably entirely due to himself and his slow motion car crash of a mid life crisis that he has treated the country to over the last few years.Perhaps his local party should have thought again about not deselecting him.

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To put it another way you don't care about what is happening in Greece or to the Greek people. So don't bring up the tragic deaths of 3/4 people in such a flippant, disrespectful and offhand manner.

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It does. It underlines the fact that your comment was idiotic.

Kay Tie

"Nobody 'burned to death' in Greece Kay Tie. The deaths were caused by suffocation from smoke fumes."

Oh. That's all right then. Makes all the difference.

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I am saying that Brits are as likely as anybody else to riot in the right circumstances. If grievances build up sufficiently then it becomes more unpredictable. The consequences of the economic turbulence could well lead to strikes, protests etc.

DG

Sorry Ad, I'm having trouble pinning down your point - are you saying Brits are *likely* to riot (if there's a trigger, like in Athens), or that Brits are *unlikely* to riot (because the situation in Greece had been building for a while)?

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'I doubt there'll be much in the way of rioting in Britain, we're not culturally inclined towards spontaneous outbursts of anger.'

Things have been bubbling away in Greece for while so the situation is different. Sometimes a single act of police brutaility can change the whole climate as it did when a 16 year old boy was shot dead a year or so ago in Athens:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7769710.stm

As Kay Tie says the real financial crisis is still to come. Hopefully the next government will be capable of dealing with it.

DG

They died in a fire - can we agree on that?

I doubt there'll be much in the way of rioting in Britain, we're not culturally inclined towards spontaneous outbursts of anger.

I hear it might be late Friday before we get a proper result too, because of the increase in postal voting. And then the wrangling begins, unless there's a clear majority.

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Nobody 'burned to death' in Greece Kay Tie. The deaths were caused by suffocation from smoke fumes. Still I don't suppose the details matter to you, its just an excuse to have a cheap pop at 'lefties'.

Kay Tie

Oh well. It's nearly over. Then the financial crisis can really start. Let's hope rioting lefties don't burn to death too many bank office workers.

D.G.

I don't think the Tories are keen to try out PR - David Cameron specifically ruled it out in the Guardian in May

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/25/david-cameron-a-new-politics1

Unless he's changed his mind since?

Gaz

Both Labour and the Tories blocked the Liberal Democrats from initiating Proportional Representation, they've wanted a fairer democratic system for years, but both Labour and Tories wouldn't have a bar of it.

Yet, now that the proverbial has hit the fan, both parties are more keen to try it. The harsh public spotlight makes politicians wriggle in fear.

The LibDems wanted the public to have the right to fire any politician that wasn't fulfilling their civic duty and meddling in corruption and scandal.

Surprise, Surprise Labour and the Tories blocked it.

Check this out to see it in action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxn-ylPxUqE

I for one, like many people, especially the young and disenfranchised will be voting LibDem, it's time to get off this nauseating
merry-go-round of Lab-Con-Lab-Con

HuwOS

I'm finding the arguments against coalitions particularly interesting.
Apparently, they mean backroom deals.
So sort of like any government then, except between two different parties instead of purely internal.
I mean, okay you have conferences where policies are suggested and sometimes agreed upon, and then you have some of those make it into manifestos around election times and then some but definitely not all of those get implemented and sometimes a government will decide to do something completely different from what they said in their manifesto, which to put the best light on it can depend on the practicalities of getting legislation passed and an ever fluid setting in events.
Which says to me, there is no difference between what happens with a single party in government or a coalition in government except two sets of policies are changed by political realities rather than one, behind closed doors.
Coalition can be done right or wrong, wrong is when the number of parties in coalition don't reach an understanding of what their programme for government is going to be and how the jobs are going to be divided up between them before forming the government.
Wrong is how the Tories and probably New Labour would do it if they cannot get their heads around the fact that they do not command a majority on their own.
If the parliament is hung after the election, then I expect the Lib Dems to have a particularly hard time getting either party to deal sensibly with them, perhaps they should suggest a Labour-Con coalition, after all there's less to set those two parties apart from their slightly less right wing on some issues, upstart challenger.

Kay Tie

Rather too many "have you stopped beating your wife?" type questions to be truly useful.

HuwOS

For comparing views people may find useful

http://politicalcompass.org/index

at the very least to have a common reference to indicate more general positions rather than the somewhat ineffective generic, misunderstood and perhaps overly simplistic left right definitions.

http://politicalcompass.org/test

Can't help but wonder what Paul's scores would be on that.

Here they give at least their perceptions of the positions of the parties involved in the general election.
http://politicalcompass.org/ukparties201

Kay Tie

"At least the Lib Dems say torturing muslims is wrong, for example the American's 'rendition' programs."

I think that comes under "civil liberties". I certainly intended it to when I used the phrase.

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At least the Lib Dems say torturing muslims is wrong, for example the American's 'rendition' programs.

For that alone they are more reasonable and just than the others. And what about the millons of dead Iraqis? Labour and the Conservatives supported that war.

So those are some other things to like about the Lib Dems.

Kay Tie

"Anyone know what (if any) policy LibDems have on welfare reform? "

None of the policies have been worked out in detail, because no-one expected them to have to deliver on them.

I expect it'll all be worked out on the hoof. But then, isn't that going to be the case anyway? After all, none of the parties has disclosed how the overspend is going to be cut, but cut it they will have to.

In the end, you have to vote with someone who has an attitude that best reflects your position. There's lots to like about the Liberal Democrats (in particular the attitude to civil liberties). There's lots to dislike too, particularly the half-baked populist economic policies (apparently all our troubles are over if we just lash out at "bankers" randomly).

DG

They couldn't replace 3/5 of those reasons with "won't do as he's told."

Anyone know what (if any) policy LibDems have on welfare reform? All I can find is a conference speech from 2008 that mentions "Single Working Age Benefit"

HuwOS

Now Clegg is being attacked from the other side of the Atlantic.

Five Reasons Why American Conservatives Should be Worried about Nick Clegg

http://bit.ly/a5AErt

And they do give 5 reasons, bizarrely none of them notes that he doesn't believe in god. Wait until they find that out, I foresee heads exploding.


Kay Tie

"We may be coming to the point where if the Tory supporters really don't want Labour involved in the next government, they will have to start thinking about voting Lib Dem."

Of course. Getting Labour out is the priority. It's like moving bank accounts: you know the new bank is going to be bad but if you don't move how else can bad behaviour be punished?

HuwOS

I can't imagine why Sky haven't paid any special attention to the voting intentions poll that ComRes announced this evening.
Given that it has Labour support on possibly the lowest level it has been in this election campaign and the Tories showing 35% but it might be something to do with the Lib Dems leading with their highest showing so far (ever?) with 36%

http://bit.ly/aV3wvc

We may be coming to the point where if the Tory supporters really don't want Labour involved in the next government, they will have to start thinking about voting Lib Dem.

On the other hand it also shows that the Lib Dems desperately need to start taking more support from the Tories as I doubt much more can be taken from Labour, there must be a core vote in there somewhere after all.

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The fact is that New Labour/ Conservatives will tell you that there are thousands of job vacancies which 'proves' people claiming benefits are lazy. A lot of these vacancies are for zero hours contracts at Macdonalds as DG says. Or for things like cleaner, lollipop person etc which are for a handful of hours a week.

Another problem for the unemployed is that job agencies will bin an application if it doesn't have several years of work history without gaps and provides references. Which says to me at least the economy is not desparate for workers. The Tory campaign is saying the unemployed are refusing to work and are refusing reasonable job offers, therefore lets get tough on them. Perhaps it isn't so different from Labour but the Conservatives would be harder on the unemployed, determined as they are to be 'cruel to be kind' or deliver some some Bullingden Boy style 'tough love'.

dave

working 40hrs for £40 is happening already for unemployed people.
companies and the job centre are using unemployed people as a cheap labour with no chance of a full time position.
they are used until they get fed up of working for peanuts with no chance of a full time job.

why is someone who will work for an agency 16 hrs or as long as they need them having to reclaim jsa which takes weeks to get.

what do they live on until the benefits start .which will be many weeks.

unskilled honest unemployed people are being let down by the job centre and chucked on any scheme that lowers the unemployment figures.

making people who cant get work dig ditches as is happening and stopping their benefits if they dont do so is immoral.

if you promise training it should be so the person can get a job.not just to massage the unemployment figures for a few months.

more people work part time these days and even with both partners working you still need credits to survive.

why do most people have to claim benefits/credits to survive.

being paid a fair wage has to be answered and the majority will work.

as has been said when you have 90% of your wages going on bills and no money for luxeries or you cant save . why work?
i think many people dont work because of this. i am thinking that way ,i am self employed and times are hard.i dont earn anything some hours.
do i keep working hard for no or very little pay or give up and claim benefits.

the system is wrong and politicians havent had to use the new system.
so how can they understand how it affects the people claiming its benefits.

Kay Tie

"I'm not sure that tax levels are that much of a barrier to returning to work."

I meant de facto tax rates: clawing back benefits is still losing money. Clawback rates are huge (90%+ in many cases) for people returning to work. A massive disincentive.

I agree with you on the risks of returning to work due to the gap in starting a claim.

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'Which is also current policy

Voting Tory would definitely mean change
Just so long as change means more of the same.'

Thats true, the Conservative proposals for incapacity benefit are very similar to current policy.

I think the idea of 'work for welfare' would be a definate change for the worse though. At least it would be for those who will be forced to clean up refuse in their local communities without being payed. If this work needs doing then they should be payed at least minimum wage to do it. Otherwise this is just expoitation. And under such terms it would also count in my view as a humiliating punishment. A case of kicking people while they are down.

DG

Sorry Kay Tie, re-reading the above I realise it sounds like a bit of a rant at you - please be assured that Mr Cameron is my intended target, I think you and I agree a lot on this.

DG

I'm not sure that tax levels are that much of a barrier to returning to work.

I think it's more the fear that you could sign off for a job in McD's for example, hoping that you'd be given 40 hours a week - which would cover your rent and bills. But then a month down the line you might only get 16 hours for 2 weeks and none for 4 weeks after that. At that point, you have literally nothing to live on - you have a job, so you can't claim JSA (and couldn't anyway since you only signed off 8 weeks ago) or any other benefits and you've got no income.

With no savings, and no wealthy friends or family to help support you, that means no money for food; no electricity, gas or water if you're on a meter system (and threatening letters when the bills go unpaid if you're not); the rent and the council tax go unpaid so you have the threat of eviction and bailiffs; you have no bus fare to get to useful places like job interviews or alternative McD's branches that might offer you a couple of hours; no credit on your phone to call anybody (official or otherwise) for help.

Nobody sane would take that kind of risk, especially if they have kids to think of. But I guess they won't have a choice if Dave "Compassionate Conservative" Cameron gets his way and takes their benefits. I'm sure the Big Society will look after them, though, just like it did in the good old days.

Kay Tie

" The devil makes work for idle hands and the devil's name is Depression."

The Devil has many names. This is only one.

"the reason most long-term claimants don't go out and get any job they can is because there's a very real chance of absolute disaster for them.

You won't find me supporting the current system that erects enormous barriers to getting work. It's a scandal that the poor pay incredibly high effective marginal income tax rates when trying to get back into work, particularly part-time work. It is no wonder that the incentive is not to bother to work when the Government takes 90+% of the result (I might add that this applies to the rich as well as the poor).

"How would you cope with no savings and no income for 12 weeks?"

Again, I won't disagree. Don't you think it's funny that the Government fails to provide support for 12 weeks, but won't fail to tax for those 12 weeks? So much for national "insurance" eh?

DG

"Yeah, and doing no work and getting paid is preferable to going to work and getting paid. So what?"

No, going to work in a secure job and getting paid enough to cover the bills - especially rent or mortgage - is 1000% better than mooching around all day wondering if this is what the rest of your life is going to be like. The devil makes work for idle hands and the devil's name is Depression.

Sure there may be a couple of bone-idle scroungers, but the reason most long-term claimants don't go out and get any job they can is because there's a very real chance of absolute disaster for them. How would you cope with no savings and no income for 12 weeks?

HuwOS

"'Testing every current claimant of incapacity benefit and putting any who can work on the lower rate Jobseekers’ Allowance.'"

Which is also current policy

Voting Tory would definitely mean change
Just so long as change means more of the same.

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The Conservatives want to get tough on the unemployed at a time of rising unemployment. They propose forcing all long-term claimants to 'work for dole' on 'community projects' for well below the minimum wage. This seems like a punitive measure, treating people who can't find work as scroungers and making them work for a pittance.

Plans also include:

'Testing every current claimant of incapacity benefit and putting any who can work on the lower rate Jobseekers’ Allowance.'

No doubt the definition of 'who can work' will be based on tough and unrealistic criteria.

Kay Tie

"a low-but-secure income in the form of benefits (especially housing benefit) is infinitely preferable to trying to make ends meet on a minimum-wage, zero-hours contract."

Yeah, and doing no work and getting paid is preferable to going to work and getting paid. So what? You think we didn't know that already?

In your former example, everyone going to work (INCLUDING those on minimum wage, who pay tax!) has to pay for those who choose not to work. Why on Earth should people who work pay for people who choose not work?

If the situation persists then then self-evidently fewer people will work and more people will choose not to work, tax revenue will fall, expenditure will exceed revenue and eventually the government cannot borrow to cover the permanent difference. This probably has already happened.

DG

I can't imagine anyone who's had recent experience in their local Jobcentre looking at one of those posters and thinking "Yeah, the problem with this system is that people are lazy and no mistake!"

Of course it won't occur to the Tories that a low-but-secure income in the form of benefits (especially housing benefit) is infinitely preferable to trying to make ends meet on a minimum-wage, zero-hours contract. They have neither the intellect, the empathy nor the experience to resolve these kinds of problems.

HuwOS

The Tories now attacking those shirkers on the dole with a bizarre poster that suggests a move from the big society back to old tory values of blaming the poorer members of society by saying let's cut benefit for those who refuse to work.

That achieves the dual benefit of looking tough and mean while actually saying nothing, given that they are simply stating the situation as it exists right now.

Were they worried that people might have thought they were genuinely no longer the nasty party and sent this little reminder?
What on earth do they hope to achieve with that?

I know it plays well with the Daily Mail readers, but to be fair they weren't looking at either of the other two main parties to vote for anyway, were they?
To attack unemployed people as the unemployed numbers are rising with people losing their jobs due to this financial crisis seems like it could only negatively impact the Tories come election time.
Still I'm sure they must know what they are doing, they've had 13 years to prepare after all.

Kay Tie

"Tories would do it (pardon my lefty bias), by mainly being hardest on those who are not their natural constituency anyway
Old Labour would do it the same way, just to the other side of the equation."

That's just very sad. We need a constitution that protects people from predation by any colour of government. We should agree some basic principles of freedom, which must include some kind of fiscal restraints to prevent the country being saddled with enormous debts, or the currency being debauched by money printing, so that no government can wreck the future.

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I see what you are saying but the Lib Dems would be delighted to grasp at any opportunity to become important.

Reform of the voting system is a Lib Dem priority. Therefore it becomes somewhat irrelavant to think of future elections in terms of the first past the post system.

HuwOS

I'm just saying that the Tories or Labour would generally be able to please their own natural supporters by at least appearing to be tougher on the the natural supporters of the other party but the Lib Dems would have no such wiggle room.

Naturally they'd all upset people, but the danger for the Lib Dems would be that they'd not get another chance to please people for who knows, another 100 years or so.

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By that logic anyone who wins loses?

The fact is that whichever party wins gets to govern the country for several years.

HuwOS

Mind you, as I said on the other blog site.
It would probably be better for the other 2 and disaster for the Lib Dems if they did pull off the miracle and win.

We know whoever is in power is going to have to make massive cuts and pull in as much tax as possible.

Tories would do it (pardon my lefty bias), by mainly being hardest on those who are not their natural constituency anyway
Old Labour would do it the same way, just to the other side of the equation.
And those groups would each hate the party that did it.

But the LibDems don't exactly have a natural constituency and therefore no natural enemies in the electorate, most have really not thought about them at all because they haven't needed to.

Whatever they might do, therefore, would only make enemies.
They'd be booted out after one term and never come near to power again, leaving the field clear for the old 2.

HuwOS

Given the polling today alone
4 polls
yougov
comres
populus
and
angus reid

they aren't all that far off agreement if
allowing for margin of error.
Suggestion is tories and libdems neck and neck.

Which is still stunning, mainly due to all the what ifs it raises.
Like
what if, the only way to ensure that New Labour do not form the next government is for tory supporters to vote for the libdems
But of course there's no real reason why libdems couldn't do a coalition with the tories so the opposite applies there.

What if those who say they would vote libdem if they thought they could win, decide to do so.

I almost don't care what happens on election day now, this change in what people are saying to pollsters alone makes it possibly the most exciting election campaing that I've experienced and much more interesting than it looked like it would be.

TBH I had thought it was going to be the New Labour equivalent of the 1992 election for the Tories.
And nothing about that excited me in any way.

HuwOS

I know I know (and that is always the case)
but part of me now wants it to be true
for numerous reasons
primarily
1 being vindication for what I've always said, that the only thing needed to change the 2 party paradigm is the willingness of the electorate to do so.
and 2
to show that money doesn't buy elections unless the electorate treat the election as being much the same as buying cola or pizzas.

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/news-and-media/news-releases/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/party-donations-and-borrowing-in-first-week-of-general-election-campaign-published

Based on the first week of registered donations

Party no. donations Amount
Conservative Party 33 1,455,811.86
Labour Party [The] 7 783,159.17
Liberal Democrats 2 20,000.00

Total 2,258,971.03 42


Mainly though, I just keep being baffled and bemused mixed with some being stunned and quite a lot of shock.

Kay Tie

"The polls have been crazy for a while."

And as if to prove me right, ComRes today says Con 35%, LibDems 26%, Labour 26%. Compare that to the YouGov results quoted above. Crazy. The polls are meaningless.

Kay Tie

"Are we actually seeing the Libdems within 6 points of overall majority?"

The polls have been crazy for a while. I think we're going to have to wait until 7th May.

HuwOS

This is just crazy
Yougov today have the LibDems on 34%
Tories 31, Labour 26
http://today.yougov.co.uk/

This is just a blip right?
Are we actually seeing the Libdems within 6 points of overall majority?

dave

well brown has done himself no favours regards britains stuck in france/spain,where he promised coaches,supposedly already inplace to return our stranded citizens.

the coaches havent even left the uk yet.

he cant even organise a coach trip must be on most people minds so how can he lead us out of this recession.

one more nail in labours coffin.

HuwOS

http://www.today.yougov.co.uk/commentaries/peter-kellner/could-lib-dems-win-outright

"One reason why the Lib Dems could, just possibly, achieve this is revealed by YouGov’s latest daily poll. We asked: “How would you vote on May 6 if you thought the Liberal Democrats had a significant chance of winning the election”. The responses: Lib Dem 49%, Conservative 25%, Labour 19%. On the – admittedly unrealistic – assumption of uniform national swing, there would be 548 Lib Dem MPs, 41 Labour MPs and just 25 Tories."

It's an unknown landscape out there.

DG

Vince Cable for chancellor may be great, but you cast your vote for a person, not a party. I'm pretty sure my local Lib Dem candidate ain't Vince Cable, though they may be identical twins for all I know.

Agree Kaytie, the anti-Lib Dem electioneering is pretty sickening. I hope they do really well but I doubt they will.

The Sun's going after them with headlines like "Voters Reject Clegg's Loony Policies." From what I could tell from the comments section (it's hard to read when you're trying not to retch), the readers were left with the impression that Clegg's region-based immigration policy going to put illegal asylum seekers in every street in every town - especially theirs.

Kay Tie

"Well, placeholder or not , if the Lib Dems got in we might get Vince Cable as Chancellor and that seems a good idea .. "

It's all too depressing for words. Worst is seeing the hasty rewriting of the campaign battle plans to attack the LDs. The "Clegg's a toff" one - initiated by the Tories - is risible (yes, he is a toff, but the who Tory campaign is based, correctly, on this being irrelevant and bigotry).

What a torrid time we are in for. The only good news is that Labour might self-destruct and become just a Celtic fringe party.

Tony

Well, placeholder or not , if the Lib Dems got in we might get Vince Cable as Chancellor and that seems a good idea ..
..as Brown's economic management skills come to the fore this morning as inflation hits 3.4% driven by currency depreciation and raw product costs ? So while its not a tax if you got a 1% rise in pay last year then your income has declined by 2.4% .. even bigger than the NIC increase ..
Of course it'll be a cold day in hell before a politician might admit this affect

DG

I like a lot (not everything) that the Lib Dems say, but they don't seem to be campaigning in Newport West, so my vote stays with Paul. Don't want some poor dab who only put their name down as a placeholder representing me at Parliament.

Kay Tie

"Does anyone actually seriously believe that Brown will survive long as Labour leader after the election?"

Gordon Brown does.

Alastair Darling doesn't (he's apparently already emptied his flat in Number 11).

Perhaps Paul Flynn could tell is whether he does believe Gordon Brown still survive or not?

HuwOS

Does anyone actually seriously believe that Brown will survive long as Labour leader after the election?
Only a resounding victory and a Labour majority in Parliament would give him any chance at all.

Kay Tie

"he will be a lame duck PM"

Doesn't stop him passing laws and ruling over you. Labour MPs would spinelessly acquiesce to such an outrage. After all, they did nothing about the most outrageous expense fraud.

Tony

I'd have to agree here because IF the Lib Dems poll the most there they should form the government - but they can't because the way the boundaries are drawn it takes approx twice as many votes to elect a Lib Dem as it does a Labour MP
Mind you this hoo haa is good for
a) wiping that smug look off Cameron's face
b) making Brown realise that for everything he says he's done I don;t think the audience believed him

BUT, if he stays as PM because of the voting system he will be a lame duck PM because I think in my eyes, he got the job once without a vote then again with a minority of the electorate - just won't do for a country that boast's of having the 'mother of parliaments '

Kay Tie

Huw, the complaint is that we live in a particular type of system that approximates democracy. When it fails to even approximate, it cannot be tolerated.

I agree with you on PR options: AV would be bad, party lists even worse.

HuwOS

People getting upset by the disparity between seats that may be won and the notional national preference is a little bizarre.
We do not have one nationwide vote, there are 650 constituencies, each with their own range of preferences, the share of the national vote is a guide, a rule of thumb, something to give a gist of the entirety which is quicker and easier than going through each constituency one by one.
Surely these upset people don't think that the thing that upsets them, this notional national vote has any actual meaning or that it ever should be more important than the results in the constituencies themselves.

Even with a decent Proportional Representation system, the national share of the vote concept could be just as far off the mark as under FPTP, because the actual results would still come from many constituencies not one notional national one.

It is weird to look at the polling results and think that on the basis of their share at the moment, the Lib Dems would still be the smallest of the three parties, but even weirder to realise that they don't need that much more support to transfer to them to turn the big two parties, into the small 2 also rans.
This week they gained in these polls by about 12 percentage points, now they would only need the same gain as the tories need (about 8 percentage points) to actually be the next government.
That is based on the Mail on Sunday, BPIX Poll which had LibDem 32%, Tory 31% Labour 28%.

Chances are, their polling bump is a phantasm, but I do like the idea that just seeing it has made some realise that absolutely anyone or any party are in with a realistic chance, if the electorate want them to be.

Quite frankly I hope the Lib Dems polling holds up until at least Wednesday, might give a chance for cameras in both Labour and Tory HQ's to catch some extremely worried faces.

I'm not wild about the Lib Dems, but as everyone here knows I utterly dislike the tweedles of New Labour and the Tories.
So while I don't get thrilled by the Lib Dems (although they did at least oppose the Iraq invasion and have now promised to repeal the Digital Economy Act) I utterly adore the misery of the Tories.
New Labour, unfortunately, still think it will work for them, so please let the next poll show them that it could be a Lib Dem government next (after all it would take a bump of less than they had in the last 3 days to get them to majority government figures) and I will be happy in the knowledge that both of the nasty parties are sick to the stomach and with any luck, wetting themselves, embarassingly, on national tv.

Whatever happens, as long as neither New Labour or the Tories get a majority, we should get a better electoral system which means from then on we could have better representation of our views.
Just please don't let it be AV or AV+.
If the Irish could figure out and successfully work a PR system involving multiple seat constituencies and no lists back in the 1920's then surely Britain can manage it in the 21st century.

dave

both labour and the conservatives dont want electoral reform and both dont care how they win.
having less than 50% of the electorate voting shows how much the lab-con parties have turned off the people to politics.

your predictions for newport paul could be very different if the liberals have inspired the people to turn out and vote for change.
i dont think anyone expected nick cleggs preformance but he has given people an alternative choice.
people are fed up of the arrogance of labour and the conservatives assuming they have seats in the bag and saying a liberal vote is a wasted vote.its not a 2 horse race as labour and the conservatives arrogantly thought.
this could have been the position until we had the live leader debates but not now.

the majority of people dont follow politics and their vote could easily be won by these presidential style debates.

style over substance could win the election for one of the parties but that could be labours downfall. gordon brown has no style or charisma and his cabinet are disliked just as much as him.

personally the resurfacing of the torie old guard has turned me off the conservatives.the thought of thatcher politics once again ruling us is frightening.cameron isnt a leader he's a puppet of the old torie guard which is becoming clear for all to see.

not in my life time has the election looked more exciting and not as clear cut.

Kay Tie

"Sorry it did put Labour behind the Libdems also. I should pay more attention."

None of this matters much anyway: May 6 will be the test. And the country will have to lie in the bed of its own making. What's sad is that so few people have the slightest inkling of the financial crisis that awaits. All of this campaigns petty squabbles will pale into insignificance.

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It was very boring though. Perhaps it will get more rumbustious as the 3 candidates will surely have to have a proper argument at some point. As it is there is little between them.

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Sorry it did put Labour behind the Libdems also. I should pay more attention.

Perhaps I was wrong to dismiss the TV debates after all.

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'You gloated how Labour with the fewest votes would win this election. That is a socialist's idea of democracy.'

Labour didn't have the 'fewest' votes the Lib Dems did.

Kay Tie

In recent history the party with the largest number of votes nationally formed the government. You gloated how Labour with the fewest votes would win this election. That is a socialist's idea of democracy.

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