Monthly Archives: October 2013

Who is play political games with consumer bills


imagesWho remembers this person see image and I will say no more as this person was the one who was responsible for the the sell off of many of the services during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A new poll finds 80% of the public think there should always be a public sector bid when a public service is contracted out. The public rejects default privatisation by 10:1.

The poll was carried out by Survation and commissioned by We Own It, a new organisation committed to “Public services for people not profit” which launches today with a report calling for a Public Service Users Bill, which would require public ownership to be considered before privatising or outsourcing services, as well as in the bidding process. Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It, said:

Despite what the government might think, people aren’t sold on the idea of privatising and outsourcing public services. We hope that this report, and the clear public support for public ownership, will spell the beginning of the end for privatisation-as-usual. In the future, public services will need to be owned by and accountable to the people they serve.’

We Own It’s new report ‘Better in Public Hands’ says public ownership is making a comeback, and includes examples of effective public services from across the UK and the rest of Europe. Damian Lyons Lowe, Chief Executive of Survation, said:

A clear majority of the general public, including Conservative voters, reject automatic privatisation of public services; 80% want to see public sector bids for all public service tenders, showing a clear desire not to see services simply privatised by default.

For public services that are operated by the private sector, the public would like to see far higher levels of transparency and accountability, with 88% both wanting higher transparency levels and an early end to contracts in case of poor service provision.’

Public Service Users Bill would require that private companies be transparent about their performance and financial data and answer Freedom of Information requests. Currently, private companies can hide contract details behind a cloak of ‘commercial confidentiality’­.

We Own It’s report follows outrage over the recent tagging scandal, where private companies G4S and Serco were accused of charging taxpayers tens of millions of pounds for electronic tags on criminals who were dead, in jail or had left the country.

 KEY POLL RESULTS – FULL RESULTS AVAILABLE HERE

 

  • 80% believe that when a public service is put out to tender, there should always be an in-house bid to see if the service could be provided publicly at better value (87% of Conservative voters)
  • 79% believe citizens should be consulted and have their views considered before any service is privatised or outsourced
  • 69% of Labour voters believe the public sector is more accountable than the private sector when running public services
  • 60% think local and national government should run public services in the public sector as the default, and only consider contracting out if this fails
  • 90% of Conservative voters believe the government should be required to end private company contracts early when they are found to be doing a poor job of running public services, following public complaints
  • 88% believe private companies running public services should be required to be as transparent about their performance and financial data as the public sector
  • 48% (mistakenly) believe that private companies running public services are obliged by law to respond to Freedom of Information requests

Do have a look at the new site, which is excellent, complete with 5 reasons why public ownership is better for you and 5 reasons why privatisation is bad for you

The question is are any government prepared to buy back the shares from the shareholders came to mind and its about time that the Tories should revisit their past mistakes and answer the question before it gets out of hand so lets have a public debate on it.

photo(1)Fuel poverty campaigners told Prime Minister David Cameron he needs to act now on the national crisis of cold homes.

Britain is second only to Estonia among European nations for the number of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills, according to research by the fuel poverty alliance Energy Bill Revolution.

The warning came as the government urged people to use their heating this winter as part of a plan to prevent some of the 24,000 avoidable deaths that occur each year.

Energy Bill Revolution, which includes charities Age UK, Barnardo’s and

National Energy Action and quango Consumer Futures, says the government is advocating quick fixes instead of getting to the root of the problem.

Energy Bill Revolution campaign director Ed Matthew said: ”Our political leaders are falling over themselves to come up with headline-grabbing ways to cut energy bills yet they fall woefully short of a true solution to the energy bill crisis.

”By far the biggest opportunity to cut energy bills is to fully insulate the UK’s leaky homes.

“No other investment can do so much for so many. If the government is serious about solving this crisis it must make insulating homes the UK’s number one infrastructure priority.”

The alliance said the wholesale cost of gas in Britain was much lower than in most European countries but households paid much higher bills due to the amount of heat lost from homes.

There are more than five million British households living in fuel poverty, defined as spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.

I’m sure many in the Labour movement will concur with Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze gas and electricity prices is overwhelmingly backed by the public, but some voters are sceptical about the Labour leader’s ability to deliver on his promise once in office, a new poll for The Independent reveals.

His pledge to freeze energy bills for 20 months if Labour wins the 2015 general election was the centrepiece of his party conference speech, and propelled the issue to the top of the political agenda.

The ComRes survey found 80 per cent of the public supported his idea of prices being pegged while the “Big Six” energy companies are reformed, with just 17 per cent saying they opposed the move. A freeze is backed by voters of all political persuasions, with approval from 90 per cent of Labour supporters and 69 per cent of Conservatives.

But only 41 per cent of voters believe Mr Miliband will live up to his words if Labour forms the next government, compared with 52 per cent who forecast he will fail. Executives from the Big Six will be challenged today by MPs on the Commons Energy Select Committee to justify recent increases in charges of up to 10 per cent.

Labour has relentlessly highlighted its price freeze promise, shrugging off David Cameron’s accusation that it is unworkable. In bruising exchanges with Mr Cameron last week, Mr Miliband seized on the former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major’s call for a windfall tax on energy firms’ profits as evidence of widespread support for state intervention to curb suspected profiteering by energy firms.

The ComRes poll, the first conducted for The Independent since the party conference season ended nearly four weeks ago, found Labour has doubled its lead over the Conservatives to eight points despite a one-point fall in support to 36 per cent since last month.

Support for the Conservatives has dropped to 28 per cent, the party’s equal lowest since the Coalition was formed, suggesting that the issue of energy prices is beginning to cost the Tories votes. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) edged up one point to 12 per cent, narrowly ahead of the Liberal Democrats, who remain unchanged on 11 per cent.

Support for other parties is up five points to 13 per cent, partly driven by a two-point increase for the Green Party, which is now on five per cent and a one-point rise for Plaid Cymru. Repeated at a general election, Labour would win a convincing overall House of Commons majority of 90 on those figures, with the Conservatives losing 87 seats and the Liberal Democrats 25 seats. Ukip would remain without a single MP.

Bill quote graphicLabour is in the lead among all social and age groups apart from the over-65s who still lean towards the Conservatives, ComRes found. The slump in support for the Tories will disappoint party strategists, who had hoped for a bounce in the polls after their conference.

But they will draw some consolation from continuing evidence that they retain their lead on the crucial question of economic competence, even if the voters are sceptical about the ability of any politician to improve their well-being.

One third of the public (33 per cent) say they back Mr Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne, to make the right decisions on the economy  (up from 29 per cent in March), while 25 per cent think Mr Miliband and the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, can be trusted on the economy (up from 22 per cent). Forty-three per cent of people who voted Labour at the last election said they did not trust Mr Miliband or Mr Balls on the economy.

photo12Somehow some Senior Conservatives are willing to stick two finders at us all and are more keen to move the focus to economic recovery, encouraged by last week’s growth figures. The Prime Minister underlined the message with a visit to a car plant in Oxford to highlight an initiative on apprenticeships which still does not help with the cause of how many on low and middle incomes are still seeing a high raise in the energy prices of which some has to depend on token meters to get both their electric and gas whilst the coalition still continues to play a dangerous game of politics by telling low paid to wear a jumper to keep warm surely we all have not done back to WW2 in order to save on fuel.

spitYet Britain has fallen down a global league table of prosperous countries, with countries like Denmark and Iceland now deemed better off.

The Legatum Prosperity Index, which annually assesses 142 countries on their “path to prosperity”, concluded that the UK had fallen from 13th to 16th place, leaving it behind Austria (15th), Germany (14th), and Iceland (13th). Norway maintains its position as the most prosperous nation for the fifth year running.

The findings will not be welcomed by the coalition, after George Osborne recently declared that the UK was on the “path to prosperity”, while David Cameron has repeatedly warned that the country needs to win a “global race” against other major economies.

This comes after a report by the World Economic Forum found that the UK had fallen from 8th to 10th as a globally competitive nation.

According to Legatum’s report, only 30% of Britons believed the economic situation was improving and just 10% think it is a good time to enter the job market.

Jeffrey Gedmin, President and CEO of the Legatum Institute, said: “The UK’s politicians must take action now or face the very real prospect of falling out of the top thirty most economically prosperous nations in the world.”

The report warns that the UK has faced similar economic problems to the US, but it is enjoying a weaker recovery.

“America’s future may be far brighter than the United Kingdom”, the report reads.

download“Both Britain and America have slid down the economy rankings for many of the same reasons; underinvestment, decreasing export competitiveness and high unemployment. Their decline reflects the fact that economic growth has been largely absent from Europe and North America since 2008.

“Compared with some other developed countries the US’s economy is beginning to look healthier than it has in the past. Despite some recent improvements in economic indicators, it is less certain that this is the case for the UK.”

Government Ministers have tried to justify the undervalued sale of the Royal Mail as a return to popular capitalism. It has been nearly thirty years since the Government’s “Tell Sid” campaign helped launch the privatisation of British Gas. We will never know if Sid bought any shares but one thing is for sure, if he is a UK resident he will certainly be paying the price as we continue to experience inflation busting year on year rises in the cost of gas and electricity.

While allowing people to make a quick profit may well prove popular, any short term gains can quickly evaporate, as prices rise, investment falls and shareholders seek to maximise their profits.

I am appalled at the annual energy price rises, three of the Big Six have already announced price hikes of around 10%, with the other three expected to follow shortly. However, we cannot sell off vital public assets and then complain when private companies act like private companies. The popular capitalism of the 80s has turned into a nightmare for the vast majority of ordinary families.

While the Big Six energy companies are running a public service, they are not public services, their sole purpose is to maximise profits, not look after the health and welfare of their customers. When wholesale prices rise, the energy companies pass on the costs to consumers, but when they fall, bills remain high, generating excessive profits and bonuses for company executives and shareholders.

The Government’s solution is more competition, but this has failed to deliver any savings to the public, as energy prices have risen by over £300 since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

Labour’s energy price freeze would help hard pressed families save £120 on a typical bill, while providing the opportunity to reset the market. However, high energy prices are a symptom of market failure and the cartel like behaviour of major energy companies. I fear the real cause of high energy prices is the market itself.

The Government are hailing the development of the next generation of nuclear power plants as a triumph for the private sector. However, these stations will be built by French and Chinese state run companies, with EDF leading the consortium.

While taxpayers will offset any upfront costs the consortium has been guaranteed a price for electricity at twice the current rate. The Government are essentially locking in price rises for the foreseeable future, to the benefit of foreign owned energy companies, and the detriment of the British public.

The privatisation of gas, water, electricity, and rail has now proven to be unpopular capitalism, as prices continue to rise and Government is seemingly powerless to act.

I fear we will see the same failings after the Royal Mail sell off, with price rises and service cuts to maximise profit.

Basic utilities and infrastructure are too important to fail, they are vital to the health and wealth of the nation. I believe we all deserve a share in these industries, and the government should start to listen to the majority of taxpayers wanting publicly owned and run public services, starting with gas and electric.

They should “Tell Sid” – we want our energy back.

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Coalition friends of big businesses(Energy Companies) Vs foe(Consumers)


photo (1)

I never thought I’d have to use a credit card to pay for my weekly shop, but that’s how things are now.

My wife and I are lucky  I know there are people far worse off than us — but I feel like there are a lot of people in our boat. Both of us work, but still every month we drop into our overdraft about a week before payday.

It’s wrong: we’re working hard and yet we’re struggling to keep the lights and heating on.

Recently I came across an article in Leftfoot which in my opinion sums up some concerns which people should heed. See below:

The failures of Britain’s industrial policy record loom large in the collective memory and continue to be invoked by some at the merest suggestion that a more interventionist approach is now essential.

The creation of British Leyland was certainly a mistake: industrial policy should never mean favouring monopoly over competition.

But we have been too quick to forget the many productive government interventions which laid the groundwork for manufacturing success stories from which we continue to benefit as a nation to the present day.

It is time politicians and policymakers re-appraised the advantages of an activist industrial policy and woke up to the dangers of the laissez faire fundamentalism that has become the default setting in Whitehall.

In a new report for Civitas, I’ve described the various ways in which governments have successfully supported industry since 1945, but which are regarded by many today as old-fashioned and naïve.

941828_443046015796006_1363037734_nGLLNot only were these interventions successful, but we continue to reap the benefits. The aerospace and automobile industries, our two biggest surviving manufacturing sectors, supporting tens of thousands of jobs, would not be where they are today if it had not been for the active support of successive governments – both Labour and Conservative.

Without the direct public investment in commercial aircraft development after the Second World War, the aerospace hubs of Filton and Broughton would not be what they are today. Airbus would not even have a UK presence if Margaret Thatcher’s government did not subsidise the UK’s initial investment in the A320 aircraft in the 1980s.

Thatcher’s government would go on to provide total support for BAe’s Airbus programmes of £700 million. This is a trivial sum compared to Airbus’ annual revenue of £1 billion and the economic activity its UK presence now generates.

If government intervention helped Airbus UK, it has been essential for Rolls-Royce. Today the company is a massive global success, yet the firm was almost bankrupted when developing the RB211 engine which has been the foundation of its subsequent growth.

Edward Heath’s government nationalised R-R in 1971 after it went into administration. Nationalisation and government funding allowed Rolls-Royce to keep developing the RB211 engine. Thatcher’s government continued to support the firm in 1980s, providing £437 million worth of launch aid between 1979 and 1988.

By contrast, one of the first acts of the coalition was to withdraw a mere £80 million loan – money the government would have got back anyway – to the engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters.

Bill quote graphicToday, the coalition’s aerospace strategy does involve a range of useful policies from greater R&D funding from government to improve domestic supply chains; but there is no scope in the strategy for the direct investment in new technologies we had in the past and we so badly need now.

This, however, is exactly what countries like China, Japan, Brazil and Canada are doing.

The danger is that this state-backed overseas competition will lead to the further erosion of jobs and production in the UK which, once lost, are very difficult if not impossible to re-establish.

There is a similar lack of ambition in the coalition’s approach to the car industry which, despite its recent successes, suffers from a weak supply chain. More than a third of the value of UK automotive output is imported. Yet the government’s automotive sector strategy lacks any substantive measures to strengthen domestic suppliers, which is held back by a shortage of finance.

1004652_10202505341820590_694403033_nMinisters should consider introducing a nationwide public finance scheme designed specifically for automotive suppliers, modelled on the launch aid scheme that has been so successful for the aerospace sector.

The reason we are successful in aerospace and car manufacturing today is that previous governments proactively carved out a  comparative advantage for British companies in these sectors.

What is required now is a similar ethos, not of ‘big’ or ‘all-knowing’ government, but of bold government, prepared to take the steps necessary today to ensure economic success tomorrow.

Until people learn to listen carefully with the hearts, as well as their minds, to recognise sincerity and integrity, and to value those qualities, to listen to the content of dialogue, instead of being distracted by a superficial notion of “style”, and to think critically, they will continue to be led by any old narcissistic, for-hire mouthpiece for the powerful.  Choose your representatives with care. Learn that charisma has all of the depth of a cardboard cut-out, and will only serve to fulfil the one who has it, and never you

GHRGNHow many activists from all the three main political parties ever go door knocking and faced some challenging questions whilst they go out campaigning like:

“There is no difference between Conservatives and Labour”

“All the politicians are there to line their pockets”

“I don’t vote because politics is Haram”

“They tell you one thing and do the opposite and don’t see the point in voting”

“None of the political parties are for us poor people”

“There is no working class politicians they are all posh people who come from very rich families”

“I read the daily mail, and Express you know”

“All those foreigners are taking over the country and we can’t get any housing. I’ve been on the housing list…”

“The only time that we see politicians is during election times”

Any of the above rings or strike a core with you?

photo (2)It is alleged Russell Brand is right in the bigger picture. What if you don’t like any of the candidates? None of them represent you at all and you don’t trust them because they come from a group of people who say one thing and do another? And at the top they just come across as narcissistic self-servitude double dealing fraudsters no matter the party they are from? Are you to just like that and lump it? Or are you to try and encourage them to change and provide real alternative? By saying nah at the moment none of you are worth my vote?

photo (5)If politics does not change in this country at the moment you may as well be voting on X factor, oh he’s got a good face, she wears nice clothes. They’ve still all got the same boss Simon Cowell. And no matter who wins they are still going to release the same shit song at the end of the year, singing from the same script just with a slightly different tune. What we need is a revolution. The British revolution is long overdue.

There are many reason for their answers to the political parties which unfortunately they respond to quick enough to counter their argument and could it be some activists are quite happy with the status Que and are content being a foot solider and not getting back with the feedback to their elected members become so complacent or is it over their heads to comprehend.

There is a familiar ring to some of the answers when you go on the doorstep when some MPs and Councillors accompanied by activists does face some of the questions asked by the electrets whilst on the other hand some residences don’t see their elected representatives from dust to dawn.

Whilst this is taking place it suits the coalition to cause discontent and disarray to push their right-wing policies coupled by the right-wing press promoting the coalition agenda I kid you not some example the cost of living down, energy prices up, low wages, house prices, welfare reform, and blaming Labour.photo (6)

It’s good to know that David Cameron is under pressure to do something about the big six energy suppliers. However it is not good enough for David Cameron to say that he wants a big 60 energy market with greater choice for consumers and healthy competition keeping prices down.

Its alleged ministers are set to meet firms to discuss claims some direct debit consumers have overpaying. Well I’ve got news for you Coalition this still not good enough as not many people can afford to go on direct debit to pay their bills as some are on very low wages which they have no choice but to pay their bills via token meters for their gas, and electric it’s about time the get off their high horse and start to smell the coffee and stop looking after their fatcats friends who continue to fund their political parties.

photo12Yet it’s further alleged that three million elderly people fear they will not be able to stay warm in their own homes this winter, following the recent steep increases in the cost of heating, according to research published today.

downloadThe plight of many older householders emerged as the Government faced renewed calls to offer immediate help to lower-income families struggling to pay energy bills. Four of the “Big Six” energy companies have raised their prices before the winter surge in demand, with the average combined electricity and gas bill now standing at £1,267 per year.

Executives from the firms, which have been accused of acting as a cartel, will appear before MPs tomorrow to defend the sharp rises. Yesterday their trade organisation dismissed calls for a windfall tax on the Big Six, insisting their profits were not “particularly big”.

Over the weekend it also emerged that energy companies have been using tax loopholes. Although he declined to comment on individual companies, Danny_Alexander_MP_at_Bournemouthr, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said yesterday: “People are rightly livid about companies and individuals avoiding paying the proper amount of tax. I’m livid about that. It is something which is not acceptable at any time, but particularly at a time when we’re going through tough spending choices.”

He was speaking after The Independent on Sunday reported that three companies – Scotia Gas, UK Power Networks and Electricity Northwest – had saved £140m between them by using legal tax loopholes to minimise their liabilities. With  gas and electricity prices continuing to dominate exchanges between political leaders, a survey for Age UK found that 28 per cent of pensioners said their main concern for the coming cold months was ensuring they could heat their homes. The charity said the figures suggested the problems could affect as many as three million older people across the UK.

Checkout this youtube and decide if its true or false:

Age UK also raised the alarm over the health dangers to the elderly people, warning that cold weather and poorly heated homes increased the risk not only of influenza but also of heart attack and stroke. There are about 24,000 excess deaths in a typical British winter, many of them preventable.

Age UK said more than 40 per cent were caused by heart attack or stroke. Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said: “It’s vital for older people to keep warm, both inside and outside their homes in the winter months. Being cold, even for just a short amount of time, can be very dangerous, as it increases the risk of associated health problems and preventable deaths during the winter.”

Senior executives from the Big Six will be challenged to justify the recent price hikes when they appear before the Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. Simon Hughes, the Deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said Chancellor George Osborne should use the Autumn Statement in December to announce emergency help for families struggling with bills.

“I would like people to have a rebate on energy bills that would help the poorest most and would mean that there would be immediate relief this year, not waiting for the post-election period,” he told BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has said an incoming Labour government would force energy firms to freeze their prices for 19 months, while the former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major has called for a levy on their profits.

But Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, which represents the companies, said their profits were not large enough to justify a windfall tax. “The profits here are, what, four to five per cent, four or five pence in the pound. That isn’t particularly big,” she said. She added that the companies were also making large investments in the UK and therefore had to have an “operating margin”.

The Government has invested an extra £500m in A&E services in a bid to avoid another winter crisis on emergency wards. A&E units have been under increased pressure for several months. MPs warned in the summer that the system may struggle to cope in the event of a major winter flu pandemic.

Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “In colder weather, keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic condition such as heart disease and asthma. There are a range of health problems associated with cold housing and winter weather, but, in particular, a cold indoor or outdoor environment can make heart and respiratory problems worse and can be fatal.”

PHE said living-room temperatures should ideally be kept at 70F (21C) and above, whereas bedroom temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 64F (18C).

Health leaders have also urged all at-risk groups – including the over-65s – to have a flu vaccination.

PHE will work with the Met Office between 1 November and 31 March 2014. Low temperatures of 2C or less or a spell of heavy snow will trigger cold weather alerts, which require hospitals, social care systems and GP surgeries to ensure they are prepared for spikes in demand.

THE WATCHDOG set up to oversee the energy market is paying its executives six-figure salaries and dishing out large bonuses even as household fuel bills soar.

Some top brass at Ofgem are being paid more than £200,000 a year with the senior board sharing out bonus payments of more than £70,000.

Ofgem’s bosses saw their combined pay and bonuses go up last year as hard-up families were left to cope with ever-increasing energy bills.

Alistair Buchanan, the former chief executive who stepped down in June after 10 years at the helm, was paid a total of £224,715. On quitting Ofgem Buchanan went back to the City, as a partner with auditors KPMG.

The quango’s outgoing 70-year-old chairman Lord Mogg received £210,000 for three and a half days a week as well as £6,000 in travel expenses.

Another six executives at the organisation were paid salaries that ranged from £105,000 to £185,000, with bonuses of between £10,000 and £20,000.

The executives run the Government’s regulatory body, which has seen average fuel bills go up from £913 in 2007 to last year’s record £1,336.

A further rise in prices will mean this year’s bills will be even higher with more hikes predicted in 2014.

Yet 448 staff at Ofgem shared £633,000 in bonus payments last year, the average being £1,413, enough to cover the cost of their own home energy bills.

Ofgem is now headed by interim chief executive Dr Andrew Wright who was paid £180,000 plus a £15,000 bonus last year while second in charge. He said he hoped to make life easier for customers by letting them move to a cheaper provider. He is expected to be given a pay rise if he is confirmed as the new CEO.

But critics say Ofgem has allowed the Big Six to dominate the market and raise prices with too little scrutiny.

Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, said: “Ofgem has serious questions to answer about why it is paying out so much in bonuses, while it let these energy companies get away with ripping people off.”

Jonathan Isaby at the TaxPayers’ Alliance agreed. He said: “It’s outrageous that Ofgem is splashing out on huge bonuses for staff, especially when people are facing massive fuel bills.”

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Senior management salaries are set in accordance with Cabinet guidance. This has included a three-year base pay freeze and the scope and level ofperformance related awards being reduced.”

Several of Ofgem’s senior executives have long earned big salaries on various quangos.Sarah Harrison, who used to help regulate premium rate phone lines, is a senior partner in charge of Ofgem’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. She received £135,000 plus a bonus of £15,000.

Meanwhile Ian Marlee, senior partner and director of communications, earned £130,000 plus £10,000 bonus, while senior partner Hannah Nixon, in charge of distribution networks, earned £130,000 plus a £15,000 bonus.

Robert Hull, the new managing director of Ofgem E-Serve received £130,000, while Stuart Cook, who he replaced, was on £155,000.

Well here is my two cents worth:

The CEOs of Europe’s 10 largest energy companies met earlier this year at the Brussels museum of Rene Magritte to lobby the European Union on energy matters.

Magritte was, of course, a surrealist well known for his paintings of umbrellas raining upon us.

Given the surreal policy objectives of the group, which wants to slash funding for renewables, the venue might seem appropriate.

Yet hardly a day goes by without an attack on renewable energy in the British media.

With electricity and gas bills climbing, the energy sector is keen to blame “green taxes” for rising energy bills, while suggesting that environmental energy will lead to the lights going out.

In Con-Dem Britain, where wages are often falling compared to inflation, most of us are having trouble paying the bills. Ed Miliband’s demand that energy bills be cut has, for once, wrong-footed his opponents, both Blairites in Labour and our present neoliberal government.

The energy companies deny that they are fat cats and some blame their 10 per cent energy bill increases on environmental costs.

UKIP and a variety of reactionaries claim that wind turbines are the most dangerous form of energy and that there must be a war against environmental charges.

The Conservative Environment Minister Owen Paterson – famous for claiming the badgers have moved the goal posts – is a climate sceptic who wants to smash environmental protection. He has argued that climate change may bring benefits and is said to have a phobia of wind turbines.

So there are some powerful forces arrayed against renewable energy, but is the claim that it is pushing up bills correct?

There certainly are an array of complex charges that have environmental implications.

The objection of the energy corporations, especially the Magritte group, is that they will put prices down and cut their profits.

How can we be in a position where energy prices are rising but energy companies claim that their industry is uneconomic?

Adam Smith, despite being an advocate of the “free market,” cautioned in The Wealth Of Nations that businesspeople would always like to get together to work out how they could rig markets for their own benefit.

He noted: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

European energy corporations have invested heavily in fossil fuel-based energy plants. But subsidies for renewable energy have pushed down wholesale prices and they are suffering. The more that energy policies work to promote renewables the less profit they will make and the harder they will find it to remain in business.

Increased wind energy generated by community groups and solar from individuals’ roof tops have the potential to put their business model under threat.

The array of supposed “green taxes” have had a modest effect on bills in the short term, but in the long term, as even the Daily Mail has admitted, will cut bills and thus cut company profits.

A good example is the “smart meter,” which all homes will be required to have by 2020.

This will add a shocking £3 to the average bill but will make it much easier to see where we use electricity and so allow us to cut our bills.

Likewise subsidies for insulation and solar power are problematic for energy companies.

If you install a solar panel and get a grant for insulation, this cuts your bill. Over the long term all these measures will lead to significant cuts rather than rises in your bills.

Many sources of renewable energy have large fixed costs for installation but once set up can run virtually for free.

A solar panel gets the sun for free, a gas-powered station requires a constant supply of costly gas.

There is some truth nonetheless in criticism of green charges. In the short term they raise bills and could be funded in other ways.

The religion of the market means that we have to pay for ecological and other reforms.

Why not fund energy policy out of general taxation and raise corporation tax or the top rate of income tax?

A long-term shift from tax on corporations to taxes on individuals shifts the burden on to the poorest.

This clearly is unacceptable. And why even make power generation a source of corporate profits?

The new power station at Hinkley will see the French and Chinese state-backed companies that will build and run it guaranteed a price for their electricity which is above the market rate for decades into the future.

The mania for privatisation has meant that a number of textbook examples of natural monopolies, where competition doesn’t work, have been sold off to fat cats.

Royal Mail, water, rail transport – all of these industries would be better nationalised.

All investment which is expensive in the short term will be ignored by private owners if they can, and issues of social justice and environmental quality will be ignored too.

While it is good that Miliband is challenging rising energy bills, he won’t dare call for nationalisation. Yet privately run energy just does not work.

We need and are on the road to a renewable energy future.

Fossil fuels are rising in price over the long term and are the cause of climate change.

We need a different kind of energy supply system. Private corporations won’t invest, but if the system was state-run and the richest started paying their fair share of tax it could easily be funded.

More and more energy will be produced by individuals and communities. In Scotland, for example, villagers in some projects collectively own wind turbines and feed into the grid.

The grid needs to be modernised. “Smart grids” work by balancing energy inputs over large areas.

Methods to store electricity need to be enhanced and funded.

State ownership and planning of larger power stations and the grid is necessary, but diverse local energy suppliers can feed in too.

The energy corporations are dinosaurs and sadly, rather than recognising that they need to be replaced with a system that works, Miliband merely wants to shave their profits a little.

A green solution involves evolving our energy system so that it is more sustainable. We musn’t be fooled by the climate sceptics who use populist rhetoric to fatten profits for corporations and ignore the needs of future generations.

Conservatives gives us more desperate times


photoAfter the defeat of a Labour Government in 2010 many saw a coalition formed between Conservatives and LibDems which left Labour in the cold. Many are wondering has Labour regained its mojo to win in 2015 General Elections given the negative press against them.

Whilst some people are revisiting the 1992 elections quoting that Labour was defeated and this may happen in 2015 again. My view is everybody is entitled to a view from all the political persuasions as I continue to maintain that opinion polls will go up and down.

It’s a known fact that any political party(s) in government will be unpopular but what will make a big difference is policies given the circumstances after all the post conferences all three parties have given a good talk but what many wants to know can they do the walk.

Let’s begin with LibDem they make claims that they are better in Government as a coalition. Hmm I have mix views on this given their track record they broke their tuition fees and they will not be in government in their own right so they will sleep with any party provided their leader remain as deputy prime minister. So in a nutshell more of the same which Nick Cleggs is aware of which saw his membership down as some of them crossed over to Labour.

photo (1)Conservatives are in direr straights they saw some of their members and donors cross over to UKIP as they were not right-wing enough over immigration and Europe. There is a strong sense in the Conservative campaign if David Cameron does not perform then there will be a strong leadership challenge from three heavy weights after the 2015 if they don’t win outright. But before we go down this road let’s not forget there is a number of issues that are stacked up against the Tories with their Welfare Reform such as universal credits, Independent Living Allowance, Bedroom Tax, Go Home vans, Free Schools, Referendum, Big Society, Economy, and the Land of Opportunity most of which have failed under their flagship.

Since the end of Labour Party conference we have witnessed that Ed Miliband has champion the political agenda by leading on the cost of living, raise of energy price from the energy companies which has dominated in all the press and social network, and media which continuing to be a sticking point for David Cameron which saw his face gone from red, lobster red to bright red in which the Speaker of the House had to intervene by asking David Cameron to withdraw the comment of conman an attack towards Ed Miliband.

photo (2)If people think everything is fine just because of a tiny amount of growth then they need to wake up. The suffering since 2010 was not caused by Labour, it was caused by George Osborne’s incompetent economic failure and it’s still hurting now and will continue to for years to come.

When Osborne took over from Labour there was already growth in the economy Labour created, yet in just three months he sent us into a recession, one that is still going on in most of the country. It’s crazy for people to buy into the lie that Labour caused the financial crash, they did not. The banks in the US did and then UK banks followed.

Yet Labour turned round the economy and the recovery was going well. the message Labour put out in the run up to 2010 was vote Tory and risk the recovery, well that is exactly what happened because the Tories destroyed millions of lives, destroyed jobs, colleges and the ability to go to UNI, left 1 million young people on the scrap heap. Created and environment for low pay that does not cover the bills and have done not one thing ever to actually help the economy.

If there is a tiny amount of growth in the economy what you can bet it has nothing to do with the Tories.

Recently I read somewherein the Labourlist  that there are certain truths in politics that are held to be self-evident. The electorate doesn’t like divided parties. General elections are usually a battle between “time for a change” and “don’t let the other lot ruin it”. And, of course, “it’s the economy, stupid”. This last golden nugget first appeared in the US presidential election campaign of 1992. If it wasn’t actually unearthed by Bill Clinton’s “ragin’ Cajun”, James Carville, then its directness certainly evoked his personality perfectly. Campaign staffers were not allowed to forget what the key election issue was going to be. Never let any voter contact end without reminding them about the terrible state of the economy under Bush/Quayle, and how much better it would be under Clinton/Gore. The phrase has become a cliché among political campaigners. Only a fool would ignore the importance and centrality of the state of the economy to an election campaign.
So, it’s the economy, stupid. Friday’s third consecutive quarter of GDP growth, this time up 0.8% between July and September, should have been good news for the government and the Conservatives in particular. Friday morning’s YouGov poll gave Labour a six point lead over the Tories. But after that day’s positive economic news from the ONS, Sunday’s YouGov poll showed that Labour had a six point lead.
Two days are not long enough for good news to sink in, perhaps. The government will hope that 18 more months of growth will be recognised and felt by voters. But there is a bit of a problem here. Official aggregate data – GDP, levels of employment – may look good on paper. Ministers, their civil servants and advisers may get quite excited about them. But people do not live in a world of aggregate data. They live, as it were, as a “data point of one” – that is, as individuals and as members of a family. A quarter of 0.8% GDP growth is neither here nor there for most people. It is almost meaningless, in fact. What matters to individuals is their job prospects, their pay and their cost of living. It is a question of how they feel, not how much they believe in the abstract numbers they hear on the news.
Even the apparently positive jobs data need unpacking. Yes, record numbers of people are in work. But then, the population is bigger than ever before, too. Around a fifth of all part-time workers would rather work full-time – that’s roughly 1.5 million “under-employed” people. And unemployment figures themselves are doubtless flattered by the rise in self-employment over recent years (up by more than 10% since Jan ’09, to 4.2 million). Meanwhile, productivity remains low (another reason why unemployment is not higher, perhaps). It is not a healthy mix. As David Smith, economics editor of the Sunday Times, wrote yesterday: “A rise in employment alongside weak productivity is neither healthy nor sustainable.”
We all know what is happening to wages, and prices. Without higher productivity wages will not rise either, even with continued employment growth. Voters know about this stuff. They know that while economists may detect good news in technical terms, their lives are not improving. The link between that aggregate GDP number and their daily reality has been broken. Put it all together and you can see why one weekend’s good statistical news is not enough to shift many people’s views.
photo (5)The Conservatives have a difficult balancing act to pull off. If they overclaim on the strength of economic recovery they will sound hubristic and appear out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters. But if they sound too sheepish or tentative about economic recovery voters might wonder just how convincing or sustainable economic recovery is. I wonder if, paradoxically, continued flatlining (or worse) might not have formed a better election-time backdrop for the Conservatives. This would have allowed them to blame Labour even more aggressively for the difficulties they had inherited – “It was much worse then we thought, we’re going to need more time.” Slow and gentle recovery, on the other hand, may make changing government seem less risky.
photo12I’m sure like many would partially agree that growth has returned, and things are starting to look a bit better. But then, when you stop hitting your head against a wall you tend to start feeling better too. Maybe one of those timeless, “iron laws” of politics is changing as well. It’s not “the economy”, stupid. It’s people’s lives. It’s not GDP, it’s the cost of living. It’s not abstract pronouncements, it’s reality. The party that is seen to understand this will win.
Intriguingly the government’s flagship welfare reform – Universal Credit – is starting the next phase of its national launch but far more slowly than intended. Yet the The National Audit Office has warned that the programme suffers from poor management and lack of planning, and David Cameron this week appeared to raise doubt about the 2017 timetable.
photo(1)The National Audit Office  also found that £34 million spent on computer systems and services for the project has been written off because it delivered no value for taxpayers.
Margaret Hodge, the committee chairman, savaged Robert Devereux, the DWP’s top official. “You yourself were not in sufficient day-to-day overall control in monitoring this process,” she told him. The committee identified what MPs said were extremely lax spending controls on the project. In one case, a senior civil servant gave a junior personal assistant the authority to sign off large IT contracts.
The criticism of officials follows claims made by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, that civil service failures are the main cause of problems with Universal Credit.
When I visit council estates and some social housing associations I have the opportunity to speak to many tenants who lives there they always say that all the politicians are there to line their pockets and they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s why they don’t have any confidence with the three main political parties in a nutshell they break their promises when they get into office. Politicians will have to find new ways of rebuilding the trust with their constituency to regain the trust of the voters

 

What sweeteners has Scottish Government given Grangemouth dispute for it to remain open?


safe_imageThere isn’t a day goes by see all read in the daily rags of increase of energy companies add an increase in their prices whilst low and middle incomes suffers the most and the fatcats rub their hands all the way to their off shore bank accounts.

Here is another example with the Scottish case the owner of the company in my opinion used bully boy tactics by telling the union it’s either my way or the highway as there is plenty of fishes to do business with so I can stick two fingers at you all.

Let’s not forget that a defeat to one is a defeat for all in a nutshell an attack on one is an attack on all of us no matter how small or big. Many will recall of the Thatcher years when she went on an all-out attack on the trade unions via coal miner strike which saw in the long term of their terms and conditions being torn up and closers of coal mining pits. Now compare it to the attitude of Jim Ratcliffe and you will see the link.

ratcliffe-580_13197aHey dudes checkout why he was given the nickname ‘Dr No’ by union chiefs due to his constant refusal to comprimise.

The 57-year-old is the founding member of Ineos, and owns two thirds of the group.

He is an avid fan of running, and was reported to have completed the London Marathon in 2007.

It was in 2006 that he made the move to purchase BP’s assets in Grangemouth, and brought the Scottish refinery into the control of Ineos.

His fortune peaked in 2007, when he was 10th on the Sunday Times Rich List, with a his annual earnings believed to be in the region of £3.3 billion.

In the 2010 list his fortune had fallen to £150 million after being hit hard by the recession and strikes at the Grangemouth plant.

He has previously lived in an £8 million house in Hampshire.

However, in 2010 he moved to Lausanne in Switzerland along with the Ineos Company. The move saw Ineos save around £100 million a year.

This came after the chairman had previously stated his commitment to Ineos’s UK operations.

scottish governmentUnfortunately there were thousands of jobs & a whole community riding on this & there was absolutely no other option. The Scottish Government have however been deeply impressive in the way they have dealt with this and its alleged Len McCluskey played a blinder yesterday. Bitter pill to swallow mind you. Roll on getting the power to ensure we can’t be held to ransom like this again!

How is this folks a £134million fortune has been offered to Ineos boss Jim “JR” Ratcliffe by the UK and Scottish Governments to keep Grangemouth open.

Workers at the plant have also agreed to accept drastic cuts in their pay, conditions and pensions in a bid to keep their jobs.

Now, all that stands in the way of a deal to save 800 jobs – and the future of Scotland’s biggest industrial site – is owner Ratcliffe.

The billionaire tycoon last night refused to say if he would accept the multi-million pound Government investment to help fund a massive revamp of the site.

But an insider said the operation would die if there was no deal settled within 24 hours.

The future of the shutdown plant remained uncertain last night – despite the Unite union “going the extra mile” to save 800 jobs at the petrochemical plant by accepting the Ineos survival plan.

After a day of talks, workers spent another night not knowing if they had a job or not as Ineos managers
reported back to majority shareholder Ratcliffe.

Meetings were held throughout the day, with Unite saying they were accepting the survival plan without any pre-conditions to persuade Ineos to reverse their shock decision to close the petrochemical complex.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the union decided that they had to embrace the survival plan – “warts and all”– in the wake of the closure decision.

Ineos managers were said to be discussing “everything that has been said” – with an announcement from the company expected today.

Westminster and Holyrood ministers joined forces yesterday to make it clear that a multi-million pound deal to refit Grangemouth to deal with cheap US shale gas was still on the table.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Scottish Government Finance Secretary John Swinney said
Grangemouth had “a great future”.

Carmichael and Swinney held joint talks with the company at Grangemouth yesterday.

On the table was an agreement, in principle, for £125million of UK Government loan guarantees and more than £9million of industrial grants from the Scottish Parliament to convert the plant to shale gas.

The funding would assist Ineos’ £300million plan to invest in the plant – but they have demanded that workers accept lower wages and conditions.

Swinney and Carmichael stood shoulder to shoulder outside the plant yesterday.

I am glad that 800 people continue to have jobs. But I cannot celebrate. Both the UK Government, and the Scottish Government, have allowed Jim Ratcliffe to blackmail them and to humiliate Unite, and we, all of us, now have to further subsidise his profits, paying him tribute and bow our heads in acknowledgment that corporations are sovereign and omnipotent, and we are worthless.

thumbWell it gives me  great pleasure to say our activists will be supporting Labour position on freezing energy bills and this what Toby Perkins had to say:

It is great to be here with you today as part of our dialogue with small business with Toby Perkins, our shadow minister for small business.

I want to thank the FSB for putting together this event.

And for all the incredible work you do for British business all the year round.

I also want to thank all the business people here today for giving up your valuable time to be here with us to discuss the future of small businesses in Britain.

Let me say something about my party:

It hasn’t traditionally been so, but I am deeply committed to us being a party that stands up for small businesses in this country.

You create huge amounts of wealth, and you will create the majority of the new jobs in the future.

The future of the British economy depends on small business.

You invent the products that we sell at home and across the world.

You provide the jobs that our country so desperately needs.

You nurture the skills of our young people.

And you create the wealth without which our country cannot thrive in the years ahead.

When you succeed, Britain succeeds.

But so many small businesses are facing the same cost of living crisis that affects families in our economy.

We are determined to do something about it.

Let me suggest some ways we can make a difference.

First, taking action on business rates.

I know that for so many small businesses, business rates are a cost that just seem to grow and grow, and are now often greater than your rent.

We are determined to do something about this ever escalating bill.

This Government plans to cut taxes further for large firms in 2015.

In tough times, we would use those precious resources instead to cut business rates after the next election and freeze them in 2016.

Our tax cut and freeze will mean an average saving of nearly £450 for 1.5 million business properties– shops, workshops, start-up businesses.

Second, we are determined to get a grip on the energy costs that are such a problem for so many small businesses.

Annual energy bills for small businesses have gone up by an average of £10,000 since 2010.

We would freeze prices until 2017 if we win the election.

And reform a broken energy market.

With proper competition and a new, effective regulator after that.

To keep prices as low as possible for the years ahead.

There is no solution to the cost of living crisis which tiptoes around taking on the energy companies and reforming a broken market.

You have seen the debate that this proposal has started.

Yesterday in weakness and panic, the government made up a new policy on energy.

Today, Nick Clegg has revealed their true intentions.

To shift the burden from ordinary bill payers, like you, to ordinary taxpayers, like you. Governments have always looked at this balance but this Government wants you to pick up the tab for its failure to stand up to the energy companies.

That won’t offer the real help that business and families need.

They propose a panicked wheeze paid for by taxpayers.

We offer a real freeze paid for by the big energy companies.

Third, we want to get you the finance you need to survive, grow and prosper.

It is why we will establish a network of new regional banks: banks that can lend in your region and in your region alone.

So that they have a legal duty to support the small and medium-sized businesses in their own part of the country.

That means that under Labour we will have banks that work for you, rather than you working for the banks.

These are just three changes that will make a real difference.

We will cut business rates, freeze energy bills and sort out our banking system.

And that is just a start.

I want a dialogue about what more needs to be done.

Let me end where I began: with Labour, and why we can stand up for you.

Because of our belief in enterprise.

But also because it is time to deploy one of our great traditions in the service of small business, standing up for those who need someone on their side.

Helping you, to help our country.

We want to develop a comprehensive offer coming from One Nation Labour for small businesses.

My ambition, our ambition, is to make our party, the Labour Party, the champion of small business at the next election.

george-osborne-bullingdon1On a more serious note let’s not forget that ‘It was just six months ago that many economists feared the UK would suffer a triple-dip recession. Now, after estimated growth of 0.8% in the third quarter, the economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2010. Output is still 2.5% below its pre-recession peak (in the US, by contrast, it is 4.6% above) and the recovery has come three years later than promised, but George Osborne has been the beneficiary of low expectations.

Yet as Labour will repeatedly point out today, for most of the public this is no recovery at all. In the most recent month, average weekly earnings grew by just 0.7%, a real-terms cut of 2% and the lowest figure on record. Incomes are not expected to rise until 2015 and and will not return to their pre-crash levels until 2023. The minimum wage is worth no more than it was in 2004 and 4.8 million workers are paid less than the living wage. If there is growth, the voters will ask, why aren’t we feeling it? 

The charge that this is a recovery for the few, not the many, is one the Tories are particularly vulnerable to. It was Osborne who chose to cut the top rate of tax at the same time as presiding over the longest fall in living standards since 1870. The Conservative response to Labour’s cost of living offensive is to deride it as a distraction from the primary task of fixing the economy, but this message is ill suited to a time when 11 million people have had no increase in their real earnings since 2003. Rising GDP is no longer a guarantee of rising wages. By successfully framing the debate since the conference season, Labour has positioned itself to take advantage of this trend.

The Conservative hope remains that higher growth will feed into higher wages in time for the election, but before then they need emblematic policies to convince voters that they are on their side. On the fringes of the party, there is much good thinking taking place. The Conservative campaign group Renewal, which aims to broaden the party’s appeal among northern, working-class and ethnic-minority voters, recently published a pledge card calling for the building of a million new homes over the course of the next parliament, a significant increase in the minimum wage, a “cost of living test” for all legislation and action against “rip-off companies”.

But by deriding intervention in the market as “Marxist”, the Tories risk positioning themselves as the defenders of a failing system. When Margaret Thatcher assailed her left-wing opponents in the 1980s, she did so in the confidence that her free-market policies retained popular support and were delivering rising living standards. Cameron does not enjoy that luxury. To avoid being repeatedly trumped by Labour, the Tories will need to replace dogma with action.’

photoDavid Cameron is saying people die needlessly every winter because of the cold . He’s telling people to turn on their heating!! HOW CAN THEY TURN THE HEATING ON IF THEY CAN’T PAY THEIR BILLS, plus AN INCREASE NEXT MONTH? Many of us on low and middle incomes will say to David Cameron Come down to earth and see how the real people live.

Coalition Amageddon Time


_70700919_caraCongratulations to Cara Hamiltion our Labour candidate who won the Dunfermline Byelection seat to beat the SNP in her victory speech she said deserves better and I will ensure that we will be better

“Today Dunfermline has sent a message to Bute House and Alex Salmond: it’s time for you to focus on the real priorities of Scots, not your constitutional obsession.”

The by-election campaign centred on contentious local issues, including proposed school closures, while the SNP focused on its national policies such as the council tax freeze and the decision to remove the tolls on the nearby Forth Road Bridge.

Not long to go before gloves will be off from all the political parties for those important votes of ours in European and Elections. 2014 already so activists are dusting off their campaign gears in preparation for the whistle to by blown for the big ship sail on the ocean. I’m really looking for Labour outright win 2015 like many of us will do a bop on the night with this I will say no more. Lol.

ming-campbell-resi_1572117cI read with intrigue in some of the daily rags on a daily basis that certain quarters are calling for Sir Ming Campbell to resign over his handling of Royal Mail but hold on I’m sure he gave a interview recently with the view to retire in 2015 just before the General Elections could this be one of the legacy that Sir Ming Campbell had been waiting for to claim credit on his retirement as a member of parliament by sticking two fingers to his own party and trade union (CWU). 

There has been on many occasions many of us have said “When Ed Miliband gets it right we will praise Labour” well this time around since the ending of political conferences season the party has been on the attack against the coalition I’m sure like many who have read and saw on Prime Minister Question Time(PMQs) David Cameron‘s face went from red, lobster red, to bright red over cost of living, wages down, economy flailing, increase in food banks, bedroom tax disabilities issues, and energy prices increases as David Cameron lost control of the coalition. It’s no wonder that the coalition is cracking up with their bed partner in crime disagreeing with CONsevatives.

Hey it’s no wonder why Conservatives members (donors) are flocking over to UKIP, LibDems crossing over to Labour and some Labour members flocking to Tories embracing conservatism. Yet the lost souls of the conservatives continue to embrace UKIP immigration policies, UKIP embracing Labour policy over Bedroom Tax followed by the LibDems and Oh SNP continue to embrace Labour position on Bedroom Tax wow how strange but true.

Families across the country are feeling the impact of decisions made by Ian Duncan Smith, some people are even going through the horror of being evicted from their social housing because of housing and council tax benefit reductions introduced as the BEDROOM TAX.

British people are having to go to Food-Banks and children are going hungry whilst Smith and his band of robbing MPs will munch away on their TAXPAYER FUNDED evening meals.

People are filled with dread at the thought of XMAS because they cannot afford to buy their children the presents they will be expecting, friction between couples will end in separation because of their financial position.

How many people have already committed suicide because of the poverty thrust upon them by Smith and is accomplices and how many more is it going to take before this coalition stop and listen to the screams of the people affected ??

385294_195107567306966_1850351962_nAttached is a photo of a man who will have none of the financial concerns which many British people are facing, so why does he look like he has all the worries of the world on his shoulders ?? could it be that he now knows the misery he and his coalition have created for a large number of the citizens of Great Britain ??

Who would have thought it? Cutting people’s benefits, when there are almost 14 times as many jobseekers as jobs, hasn’t sent them all rushing back to work and is causing misery for those families at the sharp end of austerity.

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s report into the impact of the benefit cap in one area of London confirms what any reasonable person would have guessed. But the headline, that the cap is struggling to meet its aims of encouraging people into work and saving taxpayers’ money, is I think rather generous.

First, perhaps understandably for the charity, it accepts they are the aims of the policy. Yes, they are the stated aims. But I believe the cap is more about demonising those who are out of work and turning communities against each other instead of, say, the bankers or the political elite who caused the recession.

Also, it underplays some of the findings. The lack of people moving into jobs was inevitable, and many warned that costs would simply shift from central government to local councils – true Tory localism. But reading what is a detailed and harrowing report you get an insight into how this pernicious policy is turning people’s lives upside down.

It says mass evictions and relocations have not yet happened but “are visible on the horizon” and that there was “a flurry of pre-emptive evictions” before implementation in what looked like “a planned campaign” by landlords; it says, shockingly, women are having to stay with abusive partners rather than leave and face being hit by the benefit cap; that mental health problems are being exacerbated; children are in danger of being taken into care, and there are fears some child protection cases could fall off the radar.

One arresting revelation is that a school reported seven children had already left as a result of the benefit cap, and it expected more to follow. Seven children from just one school in the initial stages of a now national policy. Seven children ripped from their friends and having their education disrupted at the whim of a bunch of privileged Tories.

None of these circumstances is likely to improve. Quite the reverse. The report notes the measures families are taking to mitigate the worst effects and keep a roof over their heads are unsustainable.

The researchers did find one “positive consequence” in improvements in joint working between agencies and voluntary groups. This is, of course, always welcome, but we’ll be forgiven for not celebrating the fact that in 2013 we have a government causing such hardship in our communities that council staff and jobcentre workers have to work ever harder while their own budgets are being cut.

These are dedicated public servants, forced to implement not only this destructive policy but many others as well. From the benefit cap to the hated bedroom tax, and the vicious regime of sanctions that treats as criminals those who have nothing, instead of offering them the support they so desperately need.

These policies must be defeated, I urge people to do what you can by getting organised speak to other people and but we cannot act alone; these are much bigger issues than can be resolved by lobbying your local MP(s). On the other hand why not get your CLP to invite Labour’s new work and pensions spokeswoman Rachel Reeves to your CLP to discuss the issue of Welfare and the damage it is doing to disabled people and the Bedroom tax.

We know these policies are built on lies. There have been many who have previously written about the myth that anyone is better off on benefits, trotted out by politicians and their friends in sections of the media alongside the lie that hordes of people are choosing to live a life on benefits.

We cannot say it often enough. There are currently almost seven million people out of work or looking for more hours; there are half a million job vacancies in our economy. The massive peg does not fit into the tiny hole and never will, no matter how hard you try.

This reports shows that if we cut the support for those who need it most their lives will be thrown into immediate turmoil, but it also serves as a warning that we are storing up trouble for future generations. This is not how a civilised country should be treating its vulnerable citizens.

Who would have thought it? Cutting people’s benefits, when there are almost 14 times as many jobseekers as jobs, hasn’t sent them all rushing back to work and is causing misery for those families at the sharp end of austerity.

Oh what wonderful week we’ve had coalition rife over green levies yet again they can’t seem to get their own house in order. I stand by Labour policy over green levies which has made a big difference no sooner had coalition formed it did not take them long to wanting to dismantle it.

I would like to see Labour policy on HS2 carry on as it has  been long over due but I don’t believe if the next government should sign a blank cheque as the price continue to raise.

Intriguingly the recent scandal of the press over phone hacking the press wants their cake and eat it when their proposal failed at privy council decides to mount a legal challenge now that’s what I call  double standards.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over free schools which has Amageddon between the coalition bed partners on who teach and be headmaster without any qualifications and LibDems and Labour has called on the Tory to introduce qualified teachers and headmasters.

Then there is this incompetent Government which has two policies working against each other: (1) the government wants to have a free market model for the higher education sector by making the universities compete against each other in the UK and at the international level and also licensing more for-profit providers (2) Capping immigration numbers by capping international students’ recruitment. The home office is in conflict with the business department on these two policies.

Labour’s position should be to break the link between immigration numbers and international student numbers ie exclude international students from the immigration issue. International students provide a vital income stream to our universities, make our universities more competitive and produce incalculable soft and long term returns to the UK economy.

Long term policies no longer exist from all the main political parties


Checkout this Youtube then make up your mind:

Its alleged 2009 audit debt equal 510 percent of GDP accumulated through bad management of the economy by politicians too scared to face the truth. Then there is the issue of Price Rises Under Tories Gas 45% Stamp 56% Water 20% RailFares 27% BusFare 22% Electric 39% Rent £1100/15% Food 19%

dwpLong term policies no longer exist. The under 35s will have to pay for the disasters of PFI a hand to mouth state pension close to collapse and massive debts incurred by both present and previous governments. The generation muddling through this mess will be the least well equipped for that work of any in centuries.

Detailed closely argued and lucid Howker and Malik’s analysis of UK is very worrying as can be and the figures shock.  At a time of austerity when both low and middle incomes are struggling to put rice and cabbage on the table to feed their children and cloth them, pay their mortgage or rent(s) then they come across headlines like Bank has room to raise UK rates which has a knock on affect which plays into the hands of payday loan and loan sharks encouraged to borrow from them at rates which they cannot afford to pay back.

photo (1)Whilst all this taking place with the coalition I have been consistent to inform my readers we continue to witness high levels of poverty from all quarters such as small businesses have to chase up other companies to pay up to only learn that they have gone into administration and they can’t pay their workers.

So far we all have read the announcements from three of the six energy companies of price rises in both electricity and gas on top of what they have to pay. Nor have we not forgotten train and bus fares have increased whilst this coalition sits on their bums and rub their hands all the way to their fatcat friends to say ” Oh great one look at we have done for the rich frack the low and middle incomes so continue to give us your large donations and forget about UKIP”

photo(1)UK Government debt always highest under the Tories don’t take my word for it, read the Tory supporting Spectator who (correctly) point out that under the Coalition of slathers and strippers will have borrowed more in 5 years than Labour did in 13 years #sameoldtories

Blind Tory Ideology, Bedroom Tax, Benefits Cap, Youth Employment scheme – none work and none have saved money but are driven by blind ideology and desire to stigmatise poor but they have no problems with tax dodgers and spivs like Jim Radcliffe the tax exile owner of #Grangemouth Refinery. Lynton Crosby‘s dog whistles are all over PR Dave’s “performance” today- they have had to import an immigrant to put the Nasty back into Nasty Party? Great PMQ for Labour – yesterday John Major tried to rescue the Tories from their political incompetence but the Bullingdon Boys were too far up to notice? #PMQ #sameoldtories

photo12We are seeing the return of absolute levels of poverty which have not existed on this scale since the Victorian age over a century ago. Relative poverty is when people can’t afford the comforts and enjoyments which most people have, but absolute poverty is when people haven’t the money to pay for even their most basic needs.

The evidence is all around us. There are now over 300 foodbanks in Britain, and the number is rising every week.

The Red Cross is setting up centres to help the destitute, just as they do in developing countries.

385294_195107567306966_1850351962_nA new study published this week shows that even in prosperous areas of the country such as London more than a quarter of the population are now living in poverty.

And a new scary fact is steadily emerging – an increasing number of these poverty households are not dependent on benefits but have people in work.

In northern England the first of the Northern Housing Consortium’s surveys, just published, presents a devastating picture.

It is based on 74 households, a small sample but one which broadly reflects all households living in the social rented sector.

It reveals that after paying for rent, food and other essential bills, two-thirds end up with less than £10 left each week while more than a third end up with nothing left at all.

photo (1)A quarter can only afford £20 or less on food per week. How many of the rest of us could survive on that?

Four-fifths of them are in debt, and not small levels of debt either – it averages nearly £2,500.

Some of the responses to the survey are heart-rending.

Take this one. “Hate the system. I have worked all my life and because work is so hard to find, I have been taking anything. I had a phone call one night and was offered three days work starting the next day.

“I did it, then went to the jobcentre to tell them I had earned three days money. They fined me for not telling them sooner, but I couldn’t as I’d had to start at 7.30am the next morning.

“Then I put a new claim in, then got another three days work. This has been on and off for months. I hate not working and will take what I can, but now this has messed all my benefits up and I’m getting fined.

“They stop my money and I have to sell things to pay bedroom tax and council tax. I am going to have nothing left at this rate. How can this be right when all I am trying to do is find a job?”

What makes this so gratuitously cruel for the victims is that it isn’t even necessary.

The pain is enforced, but the budget deficit is not being reduced.

The right way to cut the deficit is by public investment to stimulate the economy, cut the dole queues – it now costs £18 billion a year to keep the current 2.5 million unemployed out of work – and kick-start growth to turn the economy around, which the present fragile so-called “recovery” is certainly not doing.

Then, and only then, will the bitter scourge of absolute poverty be removed from this land. British Gas has joined SSE at the energy suppliers’ trough, imposing rises of 10.4 and 8.4 per cent for electricity and gas, but consumers must not despair because David Cameron is on the case.

Keen on reinforcing his reputation as upper class twit of the year Cameron suggests that unhappy consumers could switch suppliers for the best deal.

Why did no-one ever think of this before and advise us to undermine energy privateers’ efforts to impoverish us all by shopping around?

For the simple reason that SSE, British Gas, and Npower are just the first of the big six suppliers to announce their annual ransom demands. The other three won’t be long in following suit and, since the six dominate 99 per cent of the market, there is no escape.

Households need electricity and gas, so everyone is over a barrel, held hostage by a greedy oligopoly.

Only someone seriously hard of thinking would imagine that forensic investigation of a rigged market to get the best deal could throw up a viable alternative to extortion by private suppliers.

If Cameron really believed this, his family would be justified in demanding a refund from Eton in compensation for a wasted private education.

Of course he doesn’t. The Prime Minister, like all politicians who back privatisation, does so in the full knowledge that it is a tried and tested means of enriching the rich by further impoverishing the poor.

When he calls the British Gas rise “disappointing,” he is voicing his fear that voters might view him as somehow to blame for no other reason than he claims to run the country.

The electorate might look around other major parties to see if anyone is prepared to do anything about this daylight robbery.

Could it be Ed Miliband, who talks the talk, accusing Cameron of “standing up for the energy companies not the consumer” and of these firms “overcharging people in a market that’s not working and has broken?”

Unfortunately, the Labour leader won’t budge beyond his promise of a temporary tariff freeze before allowing the oligopoly to return to its old tricks. Gas and electricity used to be owned by all of us. Now it belongs to tiny wealthy elite who have bought the right to print money.

It is a symbol of division in society between those who set their own incomes through domination of the economy and those who scrabble around trying to make ends meet.

These are the people highlighted by Alan Milburn, who moved seamlessly from new Labour minister to the board of Pepsi Cola and then coalition hireling as the preposterously named “social mobility tsar.”

Alan Milburn, who had a previous honourable existence as a grassroots labour movement campaigner in Newcastle, is right to point out that work is no longer a cure for poverty because wage levels are too low.

But his targeting of pensioners’ winter fuel allowance and free TV licences to supposedly bridge Britain’s “fairness deficit” is way off the mark.

Setting better-off pensioners against hard-pressed younger families with children to overcome a supposed “intergenerational injustice” is irrelevant to the real division within society – class.

As long as the labour movement’s political representatives refuse to consider taking key areas of the economy, including the privatised utilities, into pubic ownership, working people will continue to be treated as poorly paid pawns by the ruling class.

The Nasty Coalition wants more hard times to hit low and middle incomes


office-for-national-statistics-logoI welcome the unemployment rate continues at very slow pace with reservations as I look through my living room window I continue to see more people being unemployed and have to queue up for food parcels from all backgrounds, race, creed, sexuality from low and middle incomes.

Many are seeking answers to where are the jobs for the youths and long term unemployed as the coalition has cut the budget for the unemployed for training to regain new skills. It’s understandable that there are those who have skills that have been outdated and are in urgent need to be offer new updated skills from some employment providers which have also seen their funding to the bare minimum coupled by collage funds have faced more of the same in regards for funding to retrain the long term, and youth employment.

In the last few years there has been some acknowledgement by politicians that there are problems but tackling them appears to be further from their minds than ever.

Debts are on the increase, jobs scarcer and life is getting tougher for young people. The free market and failed policies of political parties have undermined future generations entering or trying to the work force and there’s scant hope of future prosperity.

Short term British democracy, eye watering debts, part time and short term contract jobs, unaffordable and unsuitable homes are piling up problems for tomorrow.

They are obstacles to be surmounted by a generation already ruined by successful governments who have sold off our collective inheritance and legacies. It’s a generation crippled by personal debt with poor or no jobs prospects which is caught in the benefit trap.

Its no surprise when I say A lot of people wont get no supper tonight, A lot of people going to suffer tonight, Cause the battle, is getting harder with this coalition. A lot of people wont get no justice tonight. So a lot of people going to have to stand up and fight But remember, to fight for what you believe in by get rid of this coalition at the ballot box in 2014-2015 both in European, Local and General elections.

photoI’m very intrigued to learn that David Cameron is under a lot of pressure to answer questions why has the sudden tenfold of increase of food banks in most regions whilst the cost of living continue has fall whilst real wages are going down at an all-time low whilst hurting the pockets who cannot afford to heat their flat or home in fear of paying more in heating bills instead of coming up with solutions the coalition are saying in a nutshell wear a woolly hat, jumpers and gloves to keep warm with a hot water bottle.

More than 350,000 people received a three-day food package from the Trussell Trust between April and September, three times as many as the same period last year. They have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the “scandalous” problem of food poverty, warning some food bank recipients are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up.

Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould said: “We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.

“It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks.”

photo (1)Earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne suggested food bank use had increased “because people have been made aware of the food bank service through local jobcentres”.

But the Trust has echoed concerns that some households will have to choose between eating and heating this winter as they struggle to cope with the rising costs of food and energy.

It also highlights the impact of welfare reforms that came into force in April, reporting an increase in referrals as a result of the so-called “bedroom tax”.

Mr Mould said: “We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons, or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed.”

Chris Johnes, Oxfam’s UK poverty programme director, said: “These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK.

“It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to food banks has tripled.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady described the figures as “shocking”.

A Government spokesman said: “The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them. They also agree that awareness has helped to explain their recent growth.”

Ed-Miliband-1024_261355kEach time when Ed Miliband seek answers to the question on the cost of living has gone  down and whilst the low and middle incomes are hardest hit and increase of the six energy companies to which David Cameron supported at Prime Minister Question Time(PMQs) it’s more of the same old scratch record answers with no changes. Yet public are siding with Ed Miliband’s stance from the opinion polls which continues to annoy the coalition.

boris-and-theresa-may2Somehow I feel if David Cameron does not win the General Elections outright I can honestly see a challenge from Teresa May for the conservative leadership to oust David Cameron and his chummy buddy George Osborne. Don’t be surprise if Boris Johnson starts to looking for a parliamentary seat sooner than we all think then we all can kiss our NHS good bye as if it’s not bad enough already with PFI funding I’m convinced that they NHS will do more damage than how it is by heading for private health insurance on a large scale and using the US model of selling our NHS to the highest bidder so in a nutshell no health insurance no treatment.

Pensioners, workers and home-seekers got another nasty Bullingdon-style clobbering from David Cameron’s government of millionaires yesterday.

New official figures showed a relentless surge in the cost of living, with house prices soaring to a record high.

Pensioners learned that they are in for a further mugging next April when they receive an “up-rating” of just 2.7 per cent – even though the retail prices index (RPI) increased by 3.2 per cent up to September.

This is because the government has moved the goalposts, so that next year’s pension uprating will be based on September’s 2.7 per cent rise in the more narrowly based consumer prices index (CPI).

Basic state pension will go up by a measly £2.95 per week from next April.

The real value of welfare benefits for people of working age will also slump because Chancellor George Osborne has already decreed a three-year benefits cap of just 1 per cent per year.

Labour shadow Treasury minister Catherine McKinnell complained that the relentless upward surge in prices has left working people nearly £1,500-a-year worse off since the Con-Dem government came to power. “With prices still rising much faster than wages, the cost of living crisis under David Cameron continues,” she said.

dennis-skinnerDennis Skinner declared: “Let’s have no more silly nonsense talk that things are getting better. “In the real world, away from the London millionaires’ highlife, people are suffering even more.”

The annual rise in the CPI remained unchanged at 2.7 per cent in September, while the RPI rose by 3.2 per cent compared with 3.3 per cent in August. But average wages rose by only 1.1 per cent over the same annual period and food price inflation was 4.8 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics also announced that average house prices have risen to record levels. Average price of a house or flat now stands at a crippling £247,000. House prices rose by 3.8 per cent in the year to August, up from 3.3 per cent in July. The official house price index stood at 185.8, overtaking the previous 2008 peak of 185.5.

House prices are increasing most rapidly in London and south-east England. They also rose in Wales by 1 per cent, but were still falling in Scotland by 0.7 per cent. Soaring house prices would have a knock-on effect, pushing up rents charged by private landlords.

Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris said: “Cameron and his fellow millionaires are ratcheting up the misery for millions of ordinary people on low and fixed incomes.”

National Pensioners Convention general secretary Dot Gibson said: “Over the last few years, the decision to change from RPI to CPI has effectively robbed older people of a proper increase in their pensions.” She added: “Many older people are struggling with the rising costs of living and our pensions are simply not keeping pace.”

Over six million older people in Britain were trying to live on an income of less than £10,500 a year, she said. “Britain has one of the least adequate state pensions in Europe.”