Saturday, 19 June 2010

Savage Cuts ignorant of regional needs

 To see the map through Tory eyes, ignore the black shaded regions.

Well, quite turbulent times we're in.
The emergency budget was announced yesterday by Gideon, and to be frank it was ignorant, smoke and mirror, damaging and ideological.

It's quickly becoming the rule of thumb that whatever Dave and Gideon tell you, believe the opposite. Apparently raising up to 20% is a fair thing to do....where as the poorest fifth of the population pay about 12% of their disposable income in VAT while the richest fifth pay about 4%.... so raising the VAT means that poorer people are paying more....that sounds fair right? I mean, after all, this is a 'progressive coalition' in Gideon's own words!

It's becoming a cliche on this blog, but.... it's just the same old Tories. Employers favoured over employees - Employers won't be paying the NI rise...however despite their earlier claim, employees will. How clever of them, only mentioning the employer so as not to draw attention to the issue.

But what worries and angers me the most is the utterly absurd claim that the load bearing for cutting the deficit will be spread evenly across the country. In the North-East 1 in 3 work in the public sector. That's a large figure, consistent with Northern Ireland and Wales. These three regions are also going to be the three to suffer most. Northern Ireland accounts for only 2% of the economy, and the North East only 3%. Cameron can encourage business all he wants, but the North East largely relies on the public sector, and is not an attractive place for investment. On top of this by throwing out Regional Development Agencies (in the North East's case - One North East) he is scrapping the very organisations that have been building and developing the private sector.
Consider this in light of the average full-time salaries in 2008:

Top three:

  • London £46,462
  • South East £32,819
  • East £30,318
Bottom three:
  • Wales £25,677
  • North East £25,551
  • Northern Ireland £25,550
We can see the striking difference there. When you tally up the facts; that these three regions are poorer, receive less funding, have a lower household income, suffer much higher rates of social deprivation, much more reliant on the government and public sector amongst many other things - then we can begin to see why the economic output per person is around 25% less than the UK average. Freezing public sector pay is therefore unfairly hitting the regions most dependant on public sector for jobs.

A £500 million 'super-hospital' in the North that had been in planning for 5 years and on the eve of fruition, was scrapped by Gideon, despite life expectancy and health in the north being again lower than the national average, whilst in London and the South, the wealthiest areas, two such hospitals are going ahead.

These emergency budget was aimed at striking down the poorer, and the more deprived regions. It was aimed at bolstering the private sector where the private sector flourished, and cutting the public sector where it's needed most. The budget is ignorant of regional inequality and indeed will exacerbate the problem, whilst pushing for further inequality in the distribution of wealth, tax breaks for the richer, and sly cuts in services and tax hikes for the poorer. All employers will be better off receiving tax breaks...whilst their workers are paying more and receiving less.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

University for the rich, by the rich, of the rich.

Over the course of 13 years, Labour extended the franchise of higher education to everyone.
They improved the quality of teaching and the quality of Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Colleges. Opening up higher education by increasing the amount of young people entering Sixth Forms and Colleges with new courses whilst improving old ones. But most importantly, Labour opened up universities.
A university degree opens more doors in life than GCSE's or A Levels, in other words, it permeates class boundaries.

David Willetts has expressed today that university fees will rise Considering the average student debt is £22,000 upon leaving university, David Willetts words that students should consider university fees "more as an obligation to pay higher income tax" than a debt, are completely ignorant and misplaced. It is perfectly clear that Condem don't understand students and student struggles, their mummies and daddies paid for their education so I'm sure it must have been a terrible plight for them.

The "Liberal" Democrats come across as little more than weak, whipped liars. They gained votes among students (the student vote is a core section of their vote) on the promise of no tuition fees, so to then say that not only will it take 6 years (which, I should remind you, is longer than the maximum life of the current government) but that they will simply abstain from voting on the issue and let the Tories raise tuition fees shows a complete betrayal of progressive values. The wishy washy liberals strike again.

As a direct result of Labour's actions, more women are attending university than ever before, outnumbering men. University is now seen as the obvious next step for college students, regardless of race, gender, background or household income, as well as now being a viable option with support available for mature students.

What cannot be ignored is the implications of raising tuition fees. Do the Tories really expect people from lower income families and working class backgrounds to foot the bill for university if it's going to be hiked up? The answer - No, they don't.
And that's the point. Raising tuition fees excludes more and more people from university education. In other words, keeping the poor out and the rich in. Labour turned university into a right, and the Tories are turning it back into a privilege, for the privileged. The Tory party are preparing to oversee a return to an income based class system, re-initiating the cycle that stops people young people from low income families from breaking out of low incomes.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Electoral Reform

Well, after a late surge, Diane Abbott did receive the 33 necessary nominations to be a leader candidate, largely thanks to the John McDonnall dropping out of the leadership race last minute and urging his supporters to back Abbott (as well as several high profile MP's such as Jack Straw and David Miliband pledging their nomination to Abbott).

However, what I want to talk about is electoral reform.
Yes, in 1997 there was this 'promise' that electoral reform was on the agenda. And yes, some felt betrayed by Blair's lack of action on this. But if we keep looking at what he didn't do, we forget what we can and must do now. The Liberal Democrats have little choice, even if they decided they no longer wanted electoral reform as their heads swell uncontrollably because for once they're not a complete joke, many of their long term supporters want electoral reform, and they want it now. Lib-Dems are still the smallest party, in seats and membership, so they wouldn't dare risk betraying their supporters.

But what I fear is that they'll settle for scraps from the Tories, and there's no evidence to suggest they'll put up any real resistance to savage right wing policies.
AV is scraps.
When I say electoral reform, I mean a real proportional system, and I mean reform in the house of Lords, reform to factor in new forms of participation, reform on representation.
I want reform on spending, so that no longer does spending mean that Scotland and Southern/middle England receive too much money while the likes of the North and Wales receive far too little.

This kind of reform is unheard of in the Tory ranks, and spoken only in whisper from a brave Lib Dem in the Condem coalition government.
Labour needs to stand tall and commit to reform, regardless of the past and regardless of other parties positions. I want to see a Labour led left wing alliance in government, and a proportional system will nurture the conditions to allow other parties to grow, and not to Labour's detriment, but to Lib-Dem and Tory detriment, because the left's main weakness is it's multitude of divisions.

And when the UK embraces electoral and governmental reform, we can stand in the EU and UN knowing that we're a true democracy, and not a military superpower like the US (I say this because the only reason they are a superpower is their missiles and the ease with which their president can launch them at any time).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Cuts , cuts and cuts! ....same old Tories.

Well, we're just far enough in for the Tories to reveal their actual policies, i.e. not the ones David Cameron talked about.

For those of you who didn't take a look at the budget, it's looking grim. Talk of 'efficiency savings' by lowering public sector jobs equates to freezing employment in the north-East, where 1 in 3 are employed in the public sector. The cuts are harsh and in some cases ruthless (Wales, for example, is already massively underfunded). They say we must all tighten our belts, but cutting regulation in schools is not something parents want to see.

They say something that on the surface sounds good, like they want to give more power back to head teachers, but what they actually do is just take power away from the likes of Ofsted and abolish the General Teaching Council - both of whom keep uniformity in education, trying to keep schools to a good standard. Organisations such as these have been hugely important in Labour's turning education around, for the Tories to now come and unpick Labour's 13 years of hard work.... they can claim they have a mandate to provide change of direction, but not to undo 13 years of progress.

And Academies are the Tories way of cutting state schools without technically cutting education..... The Condem government stated recently (via Michael Gove) that they would not be opposed to the idea of businesses who back the academies making a profit on children's education. This is disgustingly absurd!

After what I said in my last post about how government should not be treated like a business, they are now deciding that children's education is something that can be auctioned off to the highest bidder to try and make money from.

When we talk about investing in children, we didn't mean put them on the stock exchange.

I already disapprove of this privatisation of education ideologically and morally. It is simply wrong, and there are no two ways about it.

So to summarise;
  • Condem making cuts sneakily by disguising them -  Same old Tories.
  • Privatising education as a way of saving money at the cost of children - Same old Tories.
  • Lib-dem ministers whipped by Cameron, or just playing the nodding dog. - Same old Libs.

Blog News

November 2nd
Yup, still going, and hopefully November will be a return to regular blogging as I settle back into things.
As always, feel free to comment, I WILL respond.

Thanks, Tom.