Saturday, 26 July 2008

Gordon's Glasgow Kiss

New Labour lose in Glasgow East. Well I am going to say I told you so. New labour will not be re-elected. Its not just Gordon - who has to go if Labour are to have any chance at all - but 'New' has to go as well. Will this sink in? I don't think so. So effective has the Blair/Brown coup been that the upper reaches of the party is stuffed with New Labourites who wouldn't know a centre-left policy if they fell over it. In order to get back to Labour you would have to sack the entire government which just isn't going to happen.

So what will happen? I expect that Brown will go sometime in the next six months - if only because the desire for self preservation amongst New Labour MPs will be outweigh any other considerations. Who will take over is hard to call at the moment. Milliband is the media's pin up boy. I suspect Alan Johnson would be a good bet. Simply because he is a 'regular bloke' who would contrast well with toff Cameron.

Where does this leave the unions? Still looking for a party I'm afraid. There is going to be no swing to the left in the Labour party in the near future. The unions need to make a decision whether to ditch the party and start again or cling on in the hope that things will improve. But as far as New Labour is concerned - the party's over.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Its the environment stupid!

David Cameron is wrong - we don't live in a broken society. We have poverty and pockets of great deprivation but the vast majority of people and families live in neighborhoods which are safe, and not plagued by anti-social behaviour.

One thing that Cameron is right about and that is that people should take responsibility for their own lives - but no one disputes that! The thing is that Tories talk about this as if it was a concept that they have invented and have a copyright on. One of the things the
left have to do is slay this myth.

Buts lets talk about the people who Cameron thinks are part of this broken society. He is obviously not referring to his own family and Notting Hill chums. So who does he mean? Er.... well the poor. Except that Tories can't bring themselves to admit that these problems are caused by poverty - because that would be admitting that their rotten economic system not only fails a substantial potion of the population but actually causes the poverty that these people suffer from.

Lets continue by slaying the two great Tory (right wing) myths:

1. The rich are rich because they are talented and they deserve the money they have. Not true. The overwhelming majority of rich people inherit their wealth - a fact which was well known in the 1960's but now has been conveniently forgotten. Not only are the wealthy rich because mummy and daddy were, but the Middle Classes are well off for the same reason. I've used capitals because I'm talking about the real Middle Class here - not you and me. We are the middle class. They commonly earn £100,000 or more. Call them Upper Middle Class if you like. These are the largely Oxbridge educated crew who dominate the media, arts and professions. Some of them are genuinely upwardly mobile but the is only because of the expansion of higher education in the 1960's - a door which has now been firmly shut by New Labour.

2. The poor are poor because they are feckless scroungers: Not true. But it plays very well with the Daily Mail readers and tiny minded Tories who can only feel good by thinking they are better than somebody else. The poor are poor largely because their parents were poor. Notice a pattern here? Poor people live in poor areas. They are deprived compared to their rich compatriots. They are going nowhere. Why? Because its almost impossible to break out of that kind of situation. Its the environment that they live in that determines their future. Of course a few do escape. The lucky ones and the very clever ones. But the rest are stuck in their ghetto. Those that do escape are held up by the right as shining examples - if they can do it anyone can. No, once again, not true.

Socialists have always recognised this. Socialists have tried to improve the environment to help the poor but this has largely failed and there are two main reasons: Firstly most of the attempts have been imposed top down by the state - to help people you have to empower them and that's something that governments (of every hue) hate doing. They like to talk about it but make damn sure it never happens. Secondly to end poverty you have to create some wealth. Governments have really had no answer to this because they rely on capitalism and capitalists to do this. So, companies are bribed to move in, business units are set up and it doesn't work. If people are genuinely going to be empowered they have to create the wealth themselves. Absolutely no point in giving millions to companies that are going to pocket the money and move on as soon as possible. The money needs to go direct to the people. But what kind of capitalist government is ever going to do that?

The only way we can end the curse of poverty in the world is to move away from capitalism to a co-operative economic system which empowers individuals and stresses need not greed. And no this doesn't mean living in communes or 5 year plans. It means doing the kind of things that they did in Argentina recently when, during an economic crisis, the bosses bailed out, leaving their factories behind them. The workers refused to accept unemployment, took over the factories and businesses and ran them themselves. Now that's the way to end poverty - cut out the capitalists.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Nuclear Power? thanks ...yet again!

In a week that we heard of accidents at French nuclear plants its time to make it clear that we don't want more nuclear power. How did we get here? Ever since climate change, and the need to reduce our carbon outputs became accepted, the nuclear industry has cynically jumped on the bandwagon and has been pushing nuclear as a 'green' or even clean option. It hasn't helped that people like James Lovelock have endorsed the use of nuclear power.

But there is nothing green or clean about nuclear power, and in the UK there has been a culture of deception.
In 1957 there was a serious accident at Windscale which was hushed up, we were told that nuclear power would be too cheap to meter - yet it has only been viable because of subsidies, and still nobody knows what to do with the high-level radioactive waste. Then there is the cost of nuclear waste disposal which has been estimated recently at £73 billion. Sir Walter Marshall, when he was head of the Atomic Energy Authority and the Central Electricity Generating Board in the 1980s, admitted that the public had been kept in the dark about accidents and the real costs of nuclear power. Should we expect things to have changed?

Of course we shouldn't expect New Labour to do anything other than pander to the wishes of big business. New Labour have dragged their feet over renewables and tried to sabotage the renewables directive on behalf of their chums in the energy companies. The fact is that they don't want sensible green solutions that would enable us to generate our own energy, they want high tech, big business solutions like nuclear because that would enable their chums to make an awful lot of money for a very long time - at the expense of us and the environment.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Free market failures

This blog has followed free market failures which have caused misery to millions. The free market failure known as the 'credit crunch' has been of particular interest because of its effect on he UK. Now we hear that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two giant corporations providing 50% of mortgages in the US, are in deep trouble. Of course in a free market these corporations should be allowed to go bust.

But we know that won't happen because that would be a disaster, a disaster not because of the misery it would cause to millions - since when has that ever been a concern of the 'market' - but because it would truly expose the dark underbelly of capitalism and the dodgy banking system which underpins it - and it would turn millions in the west against the free market system. That is the real reason why it cannot be allowed to happen.

En vacances

Juste retour d'un grand vacances en France. Nous sommes allés à l'île de Ré et la Vallée de la Loire pendant dix jours. Sur l'île de Ré, qui est reliée à La Rochelle par un pont de 3 km, nous sommes restés à La Flotte. L'île a une histoire intéressante avoir été battu par les Anglais et les Français, et qui ont été bien connue pour son vin et le sel. Il est un superbe XVIIe siècle, ville fortifiée à St Martin de Re et quelques belles plages. Dans le Val de Loire nous sommes restés à Montsoreau, un village sur la Loire, qui se situe entre Samur et Chinon. Nous avons rendu visite à Chinon, l'Abbaye de Fontevraud, le château Montgeoffroy et le village troglodytique de Rochemenier. Juste à côté de Montsoreau est le charmant village de Candes-Saint-Martin qui a une belle église en son centre (voir photo). Nous avons terminé la holday par passer la nuit dans la ville de St Malo et la visite de notre bar favori à l'Hôtel de L 'Univers (voir photo).