David Miliband was on right track trade union reform


ed-miliband-david-miliband-12096473To all my followers I would like to clear the air which has caused many divisions during and after the leadership challenge to succeed Gordon Brown. Let me begin with that this article is NOT about which of the Milibands would have made the best leader of the Labour Party. Instead of going on the doorstep on Sunday 14 July I decided to stay in with the family to watch some telly instead of going doorknocking with my Labour family which I have to say many of them said it’s about time you did Gordon.

Chineese New Year004I had a rare discussion with David Miliband before he stood down as Member of Parliament at an event interestingly it was in regards to trade union link with Labour. Whilst in his deep thoughts he mentioned what many of us in the trade union movement was thinking in the same lines that its been great for the trade unions as they help to pave the way for the National Minimum Wage, SureStart, and Health and Safety, securing more funding NHS to name a few.

He mentioned that he was glad to see UNISON had long argued for trade union reform with GMB supporting the changes hence union 21at Century via TUC had been transformed the way how the trade unions engaged with its members and UNISON was the first trade union to introduced a opt in to Labour. Lets not forget that union has two funds general and political. Members can opt to be in both or they can choose to be in between funds.

I believe I’m right in saying that UNISON is the only union to have this system in place whilst the other trade unions just have one political fund. I’m sure that some of my followers will correct me if I’m wrong.

Blow me over when I was watching Andrew Marr Show on 14 July 2013 this was the very subject that David Miliband briefly touched on. Three years on after this discussion never in my wildest dreams did I thought this would pave the way for the trade union reform from Ed Miliband setting the challenge to both the trade unions and the coalition to put a spending cap on political donations.

I concur that Ed Miliband has changed the course of debate in parliament which caught out David Cameron and his cronies which he has them on the run. The underline tone from David Miliband is spread the message to our core voters let’s give the Conservatives and Libdems a bloody nose at the ballot box in 2014-15 European, Local and  General Elections. Now that I have got this off my chest I call on all Labour Party members and supporters to enjoy your summer with your families and the campaign will begin with a vengeance after all the party conferences be warned Conservatives and Liberal Democrats

ids2face1Today benefit cap comes into force from age 16-64 can receive has begun rolling out across the UK.

Couples and lone parents will now not receive more than £500 a week, while a  £350:00 limit applies to single people.

Key Payments including Jobseeker’s Allowance and child and housing benefit count towards the cap.

securedownloadA third of Britain is effectively off limits to lower income working families because private rents are unaffordable, a new report alleges.

Here comes the bombshell Tories in most marginal seats in Parliament are urging David Cameron to bring in tougher conditions on housing benefit for teenage mothers.

At a time of austerity it has been noted with concern that pay rise for MPs has been branded about which is very annoying to the public at a time when public sector workers have had a pay capped at 1% while people who have to depend on food banks this coalition knows how to get people backs up and the economy is still stagnating.

There are many people have lost their jobs they are forced to downsize their accommodation and move to different parts of the country though no fault of their own. How does this coalition repay the public by telling us about the Big Society and We’re all in it together does not help to put food on our table, pay our bills let alone our mortgage or rent.

photo(1)Intriguingly George Obsorne says that will need to raise taxes to meet deficit reduction targets after the next election.

He was speaking at the Treasury Committee he will be able to cut borrowing through spending cuts alone.

The original plans to cut the deficit with 80% spending cuts and 20% tax rises were only ever “a guide”.

Well I’m still not convinced that the plan A is working as there is still child poverty, unemployment and a shortage of skills in leading industries.

What have we witnessed from the coalition they have involved the Serious Fraud Office to investigate G4S over alleged over charging for tagging criminals in England and Wales the figures seems to be tens of millions of pounds. I call this mismanagement of tax payers’ money.

David-Cameron-NHS-posterThen there is the NHS funding gap in the range of 30 billion pounds. So much for coalition ring fencing which sounds like more cuts will take place to our beloved NHS. I would not be surprised if this coalition will introducing a private health insurance in a nutshell no health insurance, no treatment.

There has been an increase of criminal damages to mosques across the UK. There is a feeling that the police force not doing enough to bring those to justice fast enough.

Whilst there has been some work done but it seems to be a long and hard process which is playing into the hands of racist and fascist organizations who have decided to have marches across the UK to the cause of the EDL and BNP.

nhs-2-stgeorges-2-unisonjan2011-cohseThe coalition may be promoting the controversial practice of fracking for gas because senior figures from that industry sit in the heart of Government, campaigners have warned.

The former BP boss Lord Browne, Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw and BG Group director Baroness Hogg have all been accused of the potential for conflicts of interest, as they hold senior advisory roles at a time when the Government is heavily promoting fracking. This involves fracturing tightly packed shale rock with a high-pressure water and chemical mixture to release oil and gas.

Cuadrilla, which is chaired by Lord Browne, is searching for shale gas in Lancashire, but suspended operations there in 2011 after its drilling was found to be the likely cause of tremors in Blackpool.

The Government has signed up to the potential of shale gas after it transformed energy policy in the United States, despite severe criticism from environmentalists.

Last month, George Osborne spoke of “tax and planning changes which will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas”. A recent report by the British Geological Survey found that the UK could have trillions of cubic feet of the gas in the North-west alone, but critics argue that it would be difficult to extract from deep beneath the ground even with modern drilling techniques.

Anti-fracking campaigners and industry insiders are concerned that major energy-sector figures have roles that gives them access to ministers in Whitehall. Among those said to be worried is a top executive at EDF, who believes that the Government’s new-found commitment to shale has ended up hurting the French group’s negotiations over building a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

There are more than 60 “non-executives” (Neds) who sit across Whitehall departments, largely drawn from Britain’s most impressive corporate talent. Their job is to help ministries be run in a more business-like manner, and Lord Browne is the overall lead for this group.

Lord Browne sits within the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude’s constituency includes Balcombe in West Sussex, another area where Cuadrilla is drilling. On his website, Mr Maude acknowledges that fracking “understandably rang alarm bells” after the tremors in Lancashire, but argues that “shale gas could help significantly by contributing both to improving our security and independence and to keeping prices down”.

Mr Laidlaw has been the lead non-executive at the Department for Transport. Centrica, which owns British Gas, recently bought a one-quarter stake in Cuadrilla’s most promising licence, which is the one in Lancashire.

Baroness Hogg sits in the Treasury, but she is also a non-executive director at BG Group, which has extensive shale gas interests in the US. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by any of these advisers.

Elsie Walker, a campaigner with the anti-fracking group Frack Off, said it is easy to argue that there is a “line blurred between the shale-gas lobby and Government”. She added that the Government is “littered” with people who have current or recent ties to the fracking industry.

Ms Walker argued: “It doesn’t take a genius or a cynic to realise that those who stand to make a serious amount of money from the success of a particular industry should be nowhere near those who will be making decisions that will influence the future health of that industry.”

A Government spokesman said: “All non-executive directors declare their interests to their departments to ensure there is no conflict of interest, and departments will make the necessary arrangements to manage any potential conflicts in the normal way. None of the Neds named sit on the board of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and therefore there is no conflict of interest.”

Conflicts of interest?

Lord Browne

The former BP boss is chairman of Cuadrilla, which is exploring for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex. He is lead “non-executive” across Government, meaning that he helps recruit other non-executives to Whitehall.

Baroness Hogg

The non-executive for the Treasury sits on the board of BG Group, which has significant shale gas assets in the United States.

Sam Laidlaw

The non-executive to the Transport Department is also chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, which recently bought a 25 per cent stake in Cuadrilla’s most promising shale gas prospect.

Ben Moxham

A former executive at BP when Lord Browne was at the helm, he followed the peer to Riverstone Holdings, which owns 42 per cent of Cuadrilla. Moxham was energy adviser at No 10 but quit in May.

Lord Howell

George Osborne’s father-in-law is also president of the British Institute of Economics, whose backers include BP and BG Group.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith speaks at last year’s Conservative conference in Birmingham.

Iain Duncan Smith has been touring the studios this morning, rather unpleasantly referring to people “being capped”. The policy which he’s promoting – the benefit cap of £26,000 – is introduced nationally today (after being piloted in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey) and is one of the coalition’s most popular. A YouGov [2] poll published in April found that 79 per cent of people, including 71 per cent of Labour voters, support the cap, with just 12 per cent opposed. But while politically astute, the cap may be the most flawed of all of the coalition’s welfare measures. Here are five reasons why.

1. An out-of-work family is never better off than an in-work family

The claim on which the policy rests – that a non-working family can be better off than a working one – is a myth since it takes no account of the benefits that an in-work family can claim to increase their income. For instance, a couple with four children earning £26,000 after tax and with rent and council tax liabilities of £400 a week is entitled to around £15,000 a year in housing benefit and council tax support, £3,146 in child benefit and more than £4,000 in tax credits.

Were the cap based on the average income (as opposed to average earnings) of a working family, it would be set at a significantly higher level of £31,500. The suggestion that the welfare system “rewards” worklessness isn’t true; families are already better off in employment. Thus, the two central arguments for the policy – that it will improve work incentives and end the “unfairness” of out-of-work families receiving more than their in-work equivalents – fall down.

(And it will hit in-work families too)

Incidentally, and contrary to ministers’ rhetoric, the cap will hit in-work as well as out-of-work families. A single person must be working at least 16 hours a week and a couple at least 24 hours a week (with one member working at least 16 hours) to avoid the cap.

2. It will punish large families and increase child poverty

The cap applies regardless of family size, breaking the link between need and benefits. As a result, most out-of-work families with four children and all those with five or more will be pushed into poverty (defined as having an income below 60 per cent of the median income for families of a similar size). Duncan Smith has claimed that “”at] £26,000 a year it’s very difficult to believe that families will be plunged into poverty” but his own department’s figures [3] show that the poverty threshold for a non-working family with four children, at least two of whom are over 14, is £26,566 – £566 above the cap. The government’s Impact Assessment [4] found that 52 per cent of those families affected have four or more children.

By applying the policy retrospectively, the government has chosen to penalise families for having children on the reasonable assumption that existing levels of support would be maintained. While a childless couple who have never worked will be able to claim benefits as before (provided they do not exceed the cap), a large family that falls on hard times will now suffer a dramatic loss of income. It was this that led the House of Lords to vote in favour [5] of an amendment by Church of England bishops to exclude child benefit from the cap (which would halve the number of families affected) but the defeat was subsequently overturned by the government in the Commons.

The DWP has released no official estimate of the likely increase in child poverty but a leaked government analysis [6] suggested around 100,000 would fall below the threshold once the cap is introduced.

3. It will likely cost more than it saves

For all the political attention devoted to it, the cap is expected to save just £110m a year, barely a rounding error in the £201bn benefits bill. But even these savings could be wiped out due to the cost to local authorities of homelessness and housing families in temporary accommodation. As a leaked letter [7] from Eric Pickles’s office to David Cameron stated, the measure “does not take account of the additional costs to local authorities (through homelessness and temporary accommodation). In fact we think it is likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost. In addition Local Authorities will have to calculate and administer reduced Housing Benefit to keep within the cap and this will mean both demands on resource and difficult handling locally.”

4. It will increase homelessness and do nothing to address the housing crisis

Most of those who fall foul of the cap do so because of the amount they receive in housing benefit (or, more accurately, landlord subsidy) in order to pay their rent. At £23.8bn, the housing benefit bill, which now accounts for more than a tenth of the welfare budget, is far too high but rather than tackling the root of the problem by building more affordable housing, the government has chosen to punish families unable to afford reasonable accommodation without state support.

The cap will increase homelessness by 40,000 and force councils to relocate families [8] hundreds of miles away, disrupting their children’s education and reducing employment opportunities (by requiring them to live in an area where they have no history of working).

5. It will encourage family break-up

Duncan Smith talks passionately of his desire to reduce family breakdown but the cap will serve to encourage it. As Simon Hughes has pointed out [9], the measure creates “a financial incentive to be apart” since parents who live separately and divide the residency of their children between them will be able to claim up to £1,000 a week in benefits, while a couple living together will only be able to claim £500.

This Government is cutting the very measures that would ensure not only growth in the short-term, but economic security in the future, too. They are portraying their cuts as eliminating “waste” and “necessary”, when in fact they are seriously jeopardising our future economic prosperity: cuts in funding for Regional Development Agencies; scrapping the Future Jobs Fund, which was a success and supported at least 200,000 people back into work through the recession; withdrawing industrial support, for example.

That is before we even begin to discuss the damning, detrimental economic and social implications of the welfare “reforms” (CUTS), and the Localism Bill (more CUTS), and Legal Aid Bill (even more coordinated and carefully planned Tory CUTS that will serve to keep quiet and hide away evidence of the rising numbers of impoverished, destitute and starving victims of all of the other CUTS and subsequent human rights abuses).

“Who could ever forget the sight of a grotesquely hypocritical David Cameron working himself up into a fit of faux outrage at the fact that the Labour party are mainly funded by the trade unions. There was a man who knows damn well that his own political party is almost entirely funded through vast donations from the wealthy and privileged (many of them “rogues” to put it mildly), ranting on about the fact that the Labour party are funded through small donations from millions of working people.

Cameron knows exactly where the vast majority of Tory donations come from, because he gladly prostitutes himself out to the wealthy like some kind of podgy, shiny faced, middle aged male escort, “having dinner” or “attending drinks receptions” with anyone willing to stump up a few hundred grand in order to attempt to buy some influence.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable is today set to accuse the Tories of being too keen to make further cuts.

The Lib Dem will claim “Conservative politicians seem all too eager” to attack public spending after the next election.

His outspoken attack comes after George Osborne promised to tackle the deficit after the next election through massive cuts alone – without any tax rises.

Experts warned that the Chancellor’s plan may lead to cuts to NHS spending.

But speaking in Manchester today, Mr Cable will say that future cuts could be avoided – if Mr Osborne did more to boost the economy now.

He will say: “Fundamentally, we think that the economy can do much more, and want to leave no stone unturned.

“And if we get it going, then tax revenues rise, unemployment payments fall, and we can avoid the sort of cuts that Conservative Politicians seem all too eager to anticipate.

“That is the vision that Nick and I are trying to push.”

He will add: “But we’re not going to do it just by sitting on our hands.

“The Government needs to take action, because it is clear that matters don’t just improve all by themselves.

“The greatest illustration of this is where the housing crisis and the needs of the community coincide – social housing, or the lack of it.”

The Business Secretary will call for more houses to be built.

He will say “Tory dogma” is stopping a potential boom in new council houses being built – by stopping local authorities borrowing more to invest in social housing.

Mr Cable is expected to add: “The Tories are hiding behind Treasury methodology, saying that more borrowing by councils beyond permitted limits will break the fixed rules.

“So even though freeing up this borrowing space would result in tens of thousands more homes being built, and many times more jobs, they would rather start talking about the cuts they want to make, rather than the houses that we should build.”

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