Sunday, 21 April 2013

Real change is possible if you vote for the Green Party, and now is the time to start

Would you like to see the return of British Rail and the end of rip-off rail fares? How about an end to tuition fees so that young people can go into higher education without massive debt? And what about a Citizen's Income, so that people can live in dignity if they are disabled or become unemployed, and a financial transaction tax and an end to tax dodging? How about investment in housing and a  Green New Deal to end the misery of poor housing, homelessness and unemployment?  These are all things that millions of people in the UK want, a real change to the endless austerity, economic stagnation and pandering to the rich and corporations which is the stock-in-trade of the Coalition government.

But to bring about these changes those people will have to vote for the Green Party locally, and in the European and general elections. Now is your chance to make a start down that road to positive change. Vote for the Green Party in the local elections on May 2nd! Watch our party political broadcast to find out more, and to help us build a better future visit -

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Thatcher is dead: now we must bury Thatcherism!

Where to start? One place could be the excellent article by Ken Livingstone in the Guardian today. Ken summarises the failures of Thatcherism very well, but there is much more that could be added to what is a very long list. I've chosen one telling quote which shows that Thatcherite policies, continued under the governments' of John Major and Tony Blair's New Labour, have lead directly to the crisis we are now in:
"Thatcher's destruction of industry, combined with financial deregulation and the "big bang", began the decline of saving and accumulation of private and public-sector debt that led directly to the banking crisis of 2008. The idea that bankers would rationally allocate resources for all our benefit was always a huge lie. Now the overwhelming majority are directly paying the price for this failed experiment through the bailout of bank shareholders."
I recommend you read Ken's piece and I would like to add a few things he clearly knows about but didn't have space for; the Thatcherite policy of council house sales depleted the stock of social housing and has played a considerable role both in the unsustainable house price boom and the housing crisis we now face; Thatcher trumpeted the 'virtues' of "the great car economy", running down public transport and leading to increased noise and air pollution, which we still haven't dealt with, and increased congestion; the privatisation of the utilities has lead to not only the ridiculous rip off prices we now pay for fuel, and increased fuel poverty, but the proceeds from the debacle are largely transferred abroad and lost to our economy; and during the period of the Thatcher and Major governments there was a chronic lack of investment in schools and hospitals, classroom roofs leaked and hospital patients were left in corridors on trolleys.

Margaret Thatcher: a legacy of social, environmental and economic failure

The reality is that only a small minority really benefited from the Thatcher 'economic miracle', and in the process the revenue from North Sea oil was squandered on tax cuts and paying for unemployment. For the majority of people the 'economic miracle' was built on a house price bubble, and the accumulation of debt. It was a castle built on sand.  Nor was the reality of the 1970s nearly as bad as been claimed by the propagandists of the right. Sure there was industrial strife and rampant inflation but who caused the inflation? - not the workers that's for sure. The horrors of the  three day week? - that was down to Ted Heath's Tory Government. If we continue with Thatcherism, and for this read neoliberalism, inequality will increase, our economy will continue to stagnate, and we will fail to deal with the issues of climate change and build a green economy. We need a real alternative, an economy for all our people, such as the one I have suggested in this post, and we need it very soon.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Peter Oborne lives in Tory la la land

Once, I respected Peter Oborne. I probably shouldn't admit that but its true. I have to confess further that I even bought and read, from cover to cover, one of his books - The Triumph of the Political Class - and I thought it was pretty good. But now I have to draw a line. I thought Oborne was one of those rarities - a decent Tory with a fairly open mind. Having read his article in the Telegraph today I now admit I was mistaken because he is just as bad as all the others.

The cause of Peter Oborne's problems are the same as any other British conservative - he doesn't live in the real world but in an imaginary world of Tory good and evil (the right love good and evil, and they like things to be black and white). The Tory fantasy goes something like this; everyone should know their place just like they used to; workers should work and not trouble their betters (employers) with strike action; Britain should still be great on the world stage; cricket should be played on village greens; gays should remain where they belong in the closet; there are lots of really good chaps in the City (!). I could go on and on but I'm sure you get my drift. This is the comfort blanket of Tory la la land where the market is our friend - because, of course, it works for us, and our families and friends. Tough shit if it doesn't work for the rest.

How do I know this? Becuase Oborne thinks that Cameron is a great leader on the verge of great achievements, and he says so in his article. He must be one of only about twenty people in the UK who thinks this but lets examine why he is wrong. He says;
"......I will demonstrate that, though not without serious faults, Mr Cameron is leading a Government with a reasonable claim to be one of the great reforming administrations."
Firstly, he makes the error that all conservatives make; he misunderstands the meaning of the word reform, which means to change things for the better. But nothing that this government has done has made anything better. In fact things have become demonstrably worse. For example, the key claim of this government was to reduce the deficit and make our economy better. in three years it has done neither. Now lets look at his specific claims for Cameron, noting that his key partner in crime Clegg gets no recognition at all.

Oborne claims the scrapping of the FSA is a great achievement. Really? I was never a fan of the FSA but there have been no serious reforms of financial capitalism made by this government and some economists have predicted that there may well soon be another debt bubble. He also claims the health service reforms are great. Many would be disagree with him on this but the best anyone can possibly say is its far too early to tell. Then, of course, he praises 'Wackford' Grove's education reforms which are designed to return our education system to the delights of the Dickensian rote learning of the 19th century. Naturally he also praises the Tory poverty creation project of cuts in benefits. But where Oborne reveals his truly disgusting Tory nature is his contempt for the disabled when he states that the Disability Living Allowance is "a charter for deceit and recipe for state-sponsored idleness". So there we have it.

When I read his article I noticed there were 400 or so comments. I read the first 20 or so and predictably, they were filled with the usual right wing bile and rantings about UKIP and immigrants. But one caught my eye, and strangely enough it had the most 'recommends' of any that I looked at. It said:
"On the verge of something great? I thought we were heading back to the Victorian Age but with more taxation."
Indeed we are if Cameron and Oborne have anything to do with it, but a correction is needed; more taxation for the 99% and less for the rich.