Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who is having the last laugh now


senior labourI have to declare a very strong case of  interest I have more time for the following Members of Parliament  Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey, and Patricia Hewitt than  the Tories let alone a coalition between LibDems and Labour. Conservatives say they want to be known as the “workers’ party”. Yet for working families across the country this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can’t pose as the “workers’ party” when you’ve made working people £1,600 worse off while cutting taxes for the wealthiest. A re-brand with no substance won’t fool anyone  the reality is that David Cameron’s record speaks for itself:

Working people are on average more than £1,600 a year worse off under David Cameron.

bombshell-2-1GLThe Tory-led Government have cut taxes for people earning more than £150,000 while everyone else is worse off.

The number of young people claiming unemployment benefits for over a year has doubled.

Under David Cameron, for the first time more than half of households in poverty are in work.

More than five million people are paid less than the living wage. With a record like this, how can the Tories claim to be the “workers’ party”? It’s clear that David Cameron has made his choice: standing up for a privileged few, not for working families.

Check out this youtube:

labourlogoIt is the Labour Party that has always been the workers’ party the clue is in the name. That’s why we’ll strengthen the minimum wage, increase free childcare for working parents and introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people unemployed for over a year.

The Tories have never had the interests of working families at heart. Funded by millionaires and then cutting their taxes: with David Cameron’s record as leader they’d be better off renaming themselves the millionaires’ party.

hatedimagesIt’s not surprising that the coalition has purposefully forgotten that our social security system evolved to address poverty and huge social inequality. It was never intended as a punitive, patronising Tory “moral crusade”. The system does not benefit the poor any longer, and we need to look at the fact that the Tories have turned what was meant as a sensible, civilised, well meaning system of support for anyone that may need it into a tool of class warfare, which is no longer fit for its original purpose.

Not only have the Tories perpetuated deception on a rather grand scale, which encourages a deeply patronising attitude to those who live in poverty, and justifies their punishment and persecution of us, they have caused absolute poverty, pain, suffering, loss of dignity and death.

Only Tories could stamp their corrosive brand of elitism on civilised social support mechanisms and turn them into a “survival of the ‘fittest'” game.

I’m sure many will recall the New Deal for Communities was another of the previous Labour government’s flagship policies a national regeneration scheme. It had a “re-democratising democracy” aim built into these policies, and New Deal was closely overlapped with their flagship Every Child Matters, too. Joined up thinking at its very best. It was launched in 1998. The main goal of the programme was to reduce disadvantages in the poorest areas- increase social inclusion, and it placed an emphasis on a commitment to involving local people in a wide range of policy decisions, including regeneration – by focusing on four issues: unemployment, poor health, crime and education. Local participation was a key to achieving positive outcomes in these areas.

Other issues such as improvement to the physical environment were secondary to these main priorities. My own post was on various issues  and about tackling the risk of crime and social exclusion, which meant a lot of inter-agency work, such as in schools, and with the police, and group work with young people, it required acknowledge of the key cause of crime, and building our project provision for young people around that. Just the fact there WAS provision for them in itself made a massive difference to their lives, and significantly reduced crime and “ASB” at a local level. In a way, by focusing on needs in the community, and inclusion, the reduction in offending happened by itself, as a consequence of a broad and participatory approach, in my own and other people’s experience.

Labour’s neighbourhood renewal policies achieved a great deal, and made a big difference to deprived communities and those who were socially excluded under the previous Thatcher and Major governments. They established a better- informed and better co-ordinated approach to tackling both spatial and phenomenological inequalities. Outcomes improved in priority areas that were targeted employment, crime, health, education, housing and physical environments. The trend towards widening neighbourhood disparities was reversed in many areas. In general, evidence strongly suggests the programmes offered outstanding positive social outcomes and excellent value for money.

‘When Labour created the NHS, in the face of austerity and Conservative ­opposition, we placed on the Statute Book a legal duty requiring national government to provide a comprehensive health service free at the point of delivery for all British citizens.

It was a foundation stone of ­political accountability. And it was abolished by the very first line of David Cameron’s Health Act last year.

This duty to provide health services is now left with “local commissioning groups”, organisations of which few people have ever heard and no one can vote out of office.

Instead of having responsibility to provide services, ministers are now expected only to “promote” them. And we’re now beginning to see the consequences – David Cameron and his ministers routinely dodging responsibility for the problems they have created.

The crisis in  A&E? Blame the GPs. Ambulance queues doubled? It must be the fault of the local hospital. Rationing of vital treatments like cataract operations and hip ­replacements? It’s a matter for your local commissioning group.

This is the Government’s ABC of blame anyone but Cameron.

The next Labour government will start to put NHS values, not Tory values, back at the heart of it.

We would repeal David Cameron’s Health Act and reinstate the ­Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service.

We will stop the fragmentation and the privatisation of our NHS so we keep it as a truly national service and begin rebuilding the ethos of our NHS – so that its first 65 years are not the last.’ Ed Miliband.

‘When Labour created the NHS, in the face of austerity and Conservative opposition, we placed on the Statute Book a legal duty requiring national government to provide a comprehensive health service free at the point of delivery for all British citizens.

It was a foundation stone of ­political accountability. And it was abolished by the very first line of David Cameron’s Health Act last year.

This duty to provide health services is now left with “local commissioning groups”, organisations of which few people have ever heard and no one can vote out of office.

Instead of having responsibility to provide services, ministers are now expected only to “promote” them. And we’re now beginning to see the consequences  David Cameron and his ministers routinely dodging responsibility for the problems they have created.

The crisis in A&E blame the GPs. Ambulance queues doubled? It must be the fault of the local hospital. Rationing of vital treatments like cataract operations and hip ­replacements? It’s a matter for your local commissioning group.

This is the Government’s ABC of blame Anyone but Cameron.

The next Labour government will start to put NHS values, not Tory values, back at the heart of it.

We would repeal David Cameron’s Health Act and reinstate the ­Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service.

We will stop the fragmentation and the privatisation of our NHS so we keep it as a truly national service and begin rebuilding the ethos of our NHS – so that its first 65 years are not the last.’ Ed Miliband .

Nick Clegg has been branded “patronising” by one of his own MPs over his support for benefit cuts. Sarah Teather, a former minister, said the system was leaving people “destitute”. Her criticism comes after Clegg accused the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, of exaggerating the effects of the coalition’s welfare reforms. Teather said Clegg’s intervention was not “very helpful” or “well informed” as she backed the Archbishop’s stance.

Oh lets not forget Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has encouraged his followers on Twitter to retweet an image of Ed Miliband in which the Labour leader is mocked for being the “millionaire son of a Marxist academic, whose entire life has been spent in political jobs”.

Given Miliband is indeed the son of Marxist academic Ralph, does live in a multi-million-pound property in north London and did serve as a special adviser to Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown prior to becoming a Labour MP, you could argue that it is a legitimate, even canny, line of attack from the Tories. Especially given how most polls suggest the party is vulnerable to the charge that it is ‘out of touch’ with the concerns of ordinary people.

But did Shapps check with his superiors before tweeting – specifically, the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer?

The Conservative Party leader has had little life experience outside of Conservative Party politics. David Cameron (who is worth almost £4m) landed his first job out of university with the Conservative Research Department (CRD) in 1988 (allegedly with the help of Buckingham Palace).

He went on to work as.. wait for it.. a special adviser (spad) for the then Tory chancellor, Norman Lamont, and was caught on camera standing behind his boss on ‘Black Wednesday’ in 1992. After Lamont lost his job, Cameron became a spad to another Conservative cabinet minister: the then home secretary Michael Howard. The only job the prime minister has had outside party politics is as ‘director of corporate’ affairs for Carlton Communications, between 1994 and 2001 (when he became a member of parliament). That’s real world experience, eh?

Cameron, incidentally, isn’t the son of a Marxist academic – his late father was a stockbroker.

As for George Osborne (who is worth around £4.5m), he had a handful of part-time jobs after graduating from Oxford – including re-folding towels at Selfridge’s – before joining the Conservative Research Department in 1994, later becoming head of its political section. Osborne went on to work as… yes, you guessed it.. a spad for Douglas Hogg, John Major’s agriculture secretary during the BSE crisis. Next, he became a speechwriter and political secretary for then Tory leader William Hague, before quitting to run for parliament in 2001.

Osborne’s dad, incidentally, wasn’t a Marxist academic either – Sir Peter Osborne is the multimillionaire founder of upmarket wallpaper designer Osborne & Little and a baronet, too.

So has the Conservative Party chairman unwittingly legitimised attacks on politicians’ parents, finances and career backgrounds? And do the Tories have more to lose on this than Labour?

A Labour Government would streamline local public services to save money, Chris Leslie, the shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, will pledge today.

Options include “leaner” commissioning deals for health and social care; locating magistrates and county courts on the same site; greater collaboration between the emergency services; merging police forces; scrapping elected police and crime commissioners and councils “sharing” senior staff and services such as street cleaning, recycling and ground maintenance.

“We are looking not only at where efficiencies are achievable, but how services could be reconstituted to release the cashable savings that are now required,” Mr Leslie will tell the Social Market Foundation in his first major speech in his post.

“Reform is worse than pointless if it does not improve the experience of the user and ends up costing money rather than saving money.”

Accusing the Coalition of wasting money on “botched reforms” such as its top-down NHS reorganisation, he will say that the centre-left must embrace the goal of balancing the nation’s books because “the foundation of successful public service provision is the sound stewardship of public finances”.’

“We MUST vote these vile creatures out in 2015” (Conservatives and LibDems) Vote Labour in 2014 in European, and Local Government Elections and 2015 Local Government and General Elections 

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Welfare reform backfires on coalition


Just clarify to why I’m continually bashing the Tories that’s exactly what it means. Obviously I’ve discuss things we either agree or disagree with but when the Labour Party gets its policies right I’m sure many party member will praise them but when they get it wrong like many other Labour Marty members we will criticize in any way that the leadership will understand.

On Thursday 27 February, MPs will take part in a debate on a motion relating to the effects of welfare reform on sick and disabled people. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following representations from John McDonnell and Grahame M. Morris.

photo1“That this House calls on the Government to commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers, drawing upon the expertise of the Work and Pensions Select Committee; requests that this impact assessment examine care home admissions, access to day care centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, provision of universal mental health treatments, closures of Remploy factories, the Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare, IT implementation of universal credit, human rights abuses against disabled people, excess deaths of welfare claimants and the disregard of medical evidence in decision-making by Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tribunals Service; urges the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Education jointly to launch a consultation on improving support into work for sick and disabled people; and further calls on the Government to end with immediate effect the work capability assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association, to discontinue forced work under the threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits and to bring forward legislative proposals to allow a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.”

It is purported that Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

I bet you all that David Cameron conveniently forgot to mention that  half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

I’m sure many of us will call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Here is another example that the coalition forgot to say the future of the Government’s major £2bn welfare reform was thrown into fresh doubt on Wednesday night after it emerged that just a handful of claimants have been enrolled into the new system.

IDSThe Department for Work and Pensions disclosed that only 3,200 people had been signed up to receive Universal Credit – a fraction of the original target – at a cost of nearly £200,000 per person.

The figure emerged amid claims the next government could be forced to pull the plug on Universal Credit, which has already been seriously delayed following IT problems.

The new credit, which combines six working-age benefits and credits into a single payment, has been championed by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, as a way of ensuring the unemployed always have an incentive to find a job.

Under his original timetable, 1 million people would be receiving the payment by April, rising to 1.7 million a year later.

But the DWP admitted that only 3,200 had been enrolled for Universal Credit by the end of November, nearly all of them as part of a pilot scheme in four job centres in the North-West of England. The vast majority are young single jobseekers, the least complicated category of claimant.

As the Government has spent £612m getting the scheme off the ground, the spending so far equates to £191,250 per head. Government sources insisted David Cameron and senior ministers remained committed to Universal Credit. Labour also said it supported its principle, but believed the Coalition’s roll-out was seriously flawed.

However, Whitehall officials were yesterday reported to fear the whole project could be scrapped after the general election, whichever party is victorious in May 2015. According to the Financial Times, officials believe it “must start delivering results by the next election or risk being drastically scaled back or even abandoned”.

Mr Duncan Smith has faced criticism for spending money on an existing computer programme to support the pilot projects at the same time as developing a digital system sophisticated enough to allow Universal Credit to be rolled out nationally.

The latter will be tested in 100 households in November; if it is judged unable to cope with the pressure of handling up to 12 million claims, the welfare reform could be in jeopardy.

A DWP source said the department had “strong, safe and robust plans” for introducing Universal Credit, adding: “It’s on the ground now, people are claiming it, people are moving into work.”

takeaguessIm sure many of will congratulate  Anne Begg, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, said the “jury is out” over its future.  “The big claim for Universal Credit is that it will always make work pay and it will be simple for people to realise that work pays.

“I’m beginning to think it will be equally complicated under Universal Credit to make those kind of judgements when you start to factor in free school meals, child care and housing costs.”

An independent review into Universal Credit is due to report in April.

Many of my friends are convinced that with the revelations coming out of the Phone hacking trials, it’s demonstrating that the only decent politician we have at the top at the present is Ed Milliband. Little wonder he is being attacked by all sides of the gravy train passengers, Tories, Media, British Gas and so on. As we get closer to the Election it is becoming increasingly obvious that he has been calling the shots on what is responsible capitalism and how we can best live with it in this post Thatcher/Reagan age of free market economies.

It may not be perfect but at least he offers a start out of this morass of intrigue and big business interests before those of the countries citizens. There will always be those among us who , for reasons best known to themselves will want him to move more quickly to the left. His Qualifications are impeccable with his upbringing. Can we say that about any other leader in our midst?

timthumbMany will remember the words of  Jack Dromey MP when he said Two thirds of the 660,000 hit by the #bedroomtax are disabled. 60,000 are carers. The most vulnerable are the hardest hit by this cruel tax.

Like her or loath her  Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to David Cameron’s claims that his welfare changes have given people ‘hope’, said:

“David Cameron’s so-called ‘moral crusade’ on welfare has been a disaster.

“There’s nothing moral about working people paying more and disabled people being hit hardest.

“Under David Cameron’s government, for the first time more people in poverty are in work than out of work. More than two thirds of the people hit by the one per cent cap on working age benefits and tax credits have a job. The Bedroom Tax has hit hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their carers, and the number of young people on unemployment benefit for over a year has doubled since 2010. Meanwhile, the Government’s flagship welfare reform, Universal Credit, has cost an astonishing £225,000 per person using it. No wonder David Cameron has presided over a tenfold rise in people relying on food banks.

“This Tory-led Government’s welfare reforms have penalised, rather than helped, those doing the right thing. The idea that disabled people hit by the Bedroom Tax, young people desperate for a job but stuck on benefits, and working families struggling to survive on low pay have been given ‘hope’ by David Cameron is preposterous.

“A Labour government will introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to ensure those that can work do so, strengthen the minimum wage and scrap the hated Bedroom Tax.”

Ten facts you need to know about David Cameron’s “moral crusade”:

1.   Two thirds of the 660,000 people hit by David Cameron’s hated “bedroom tax” are disabled (1), and 60,000 are carers.

2.    The number of young people left on unemployment benefits for over a year has doubled since the election

3.    The number of adults left on unemployment benefits for over two years has quadrupled since the election.

4.    Millions have been wasted on David Cameron’s flagship welfare reform Universal Credit, with £225,000 spent for every person receiving it at the end of last year.

5.   Child poverty is set to rise by 400,000 under David Cameron’s government, and 900,000 by the end of the decade.

6.   Women have been hit twice as hard as men by changes to benefits and tax credits under David Cameron’s government.

7.   More than 500,000 people were referred to food banks for emergency help between April and December last year – more than ten times as many as in 2009-10 (8). The Trussell Trust have cited benefit delays and measures such as the bedroom tax as key causes, along with rising in-work poverty

8.  For the first time since relevant records began more households living in poverty are in work than out of work . 68 per cent of the people hit by David Cameron’s one per cent cap on working age benefits and tax credits are working

9.  Changes to rules on working tax credits have left some families with children better off out of work and cuts to childcare support mean that families have lost up to £1,500 a year.

10.  The number of people who want to work full time but can only get a part time job has risen by 350,000 under this government (14) and the number of people earning less than a living wage has risen from 3.6 million in 2010 to 4.8 million in 2012 (15) and is now more than 5 million.

Universal Credit IT package not fit for purpose 2014


Here is something to keep the debate going feel free to watch:

Well folks, it comes as no surprise to learn that the introduction of the Government’s universal credit scheme has suffered from another embarrassing IT setback, after it emerged that claimants in a region piloting the new system had vanished from official statistics on unemployment.

Following disputes with auditors in recent months over computing problems that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds, civil servants in the Department for Work and Pensions have realised that the new system is incompatible with current methods of counting the number of jobless people in the country.

pissoffIDSIain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is trying to simplify the benefits system by merging jobseeker’s allowance with other payments, such as housing benefit and child tax credit, into a single payment called universal credit.

But statisticians currently measure the level of unemployment by recording how many people are receiving jobseeker’s allowance – and counting universal credit claimants within the numbers of those seeking work would inflate the figures, because the recipients include people in employment who are receiving what was previously income support or working tax credit.

Iain Duncan Smith is hoping to spread the introduction of universal credit across the North-west during 2014, and across the whole country by 2016. Unless the latest hitch is solved, it would mean that from 2016, there would be no way of telling how many people are in work.

Officials at the Department for Work and Pensions point out that only a tiny difference was made by the problem to January’s published unemployed total of 2.32 million. The most recent figures available are that there were 2,720 people on universal credit by the end of October.

The figure is small because universal credit has so far been introduced only as a pilot scheme in a few jobcentres in the North-west. But opponents of the Government were quick to highlight the potential for chaos in the system unless a solution is found quickly.

“How can we have any confidence in their ability to deliver this flagship project?”

A DWP spokeswoman emphasised that the department had not tried to cover up the problem, and that the missing figures would not alter the general picture that unemployment is falling.

“We have been fully transparent in publishing the number of people claiming universal credit. To ensure consistency the Department released these figures alongside the employment statistics,” she said.

224Universal credit is the centrepiece of the Government’s reforms, which are intended to give claimants a financial incentive to take up paid work, though it has several technical problems, which have forced Mr Duncan Smith to abandon his original plan to apply universal credit to every new claimant from April this year.

The charity Gingerbread has written to the Chancellor George Osborne alleging that the rules covering universal credit discriminate against single parents.

Under new rules, parents earning £10,000 a year or more will be able to reclaim 85 per cent of the cost of childcare, while those below the threshold will be entitled to only 70 per cent.

“Extra childcare support for families is very welcome – but government plans will leave the lowest earners behind,” Gingerbread’s chief executive Fiona Weir warned.

A DWP spokesman said: “The reality is that under universal credit parents with low incomes will face much more generous childcare support, with people working fewer than 16 hours becoming eligible for this help for the first time.”

I’m sure that I am like many others are beginning to think that the system is not working and Iain Duncan Smith should take the blame are scrap the over budget of Universal Credit scheme is £225,000 for each person on it, it was claimed.

The project has already cost the taxpayer £612million and has been dogged by delays and IT blunders.

Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, had promised one million people would be receiving their welfare payments under the scheme by April this year.

But figures show only 2,720 claimants have been transferred onto the Universal Credit so far – a cost of £225,000 per person.

homelessThe universal credit bundles together the six main benefits – jobseeker’s allowance, income support, employment and support allowance, working tax credit, child tax credit and housing benefit – into a single payment.

In September 2103, Mr Duncan Smith told Parliament it would be delivered “on time and within budget”.

But the roll-out has been delayed three times and is now only available under a small number of pilot schemes.

The Department of Work and Pensions has had to write off £130million in IT costs and it emerged this week that the executive brought in to rescue the project, Howard Shiplee, has been off sick for a month.

It’s no wonder Shadow Welfare Minister Chris Bryant MP said: “Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship policy has been plagued with delay after delay from the outset and millions of pounds have been wasted.

“We were once told Universal Credit would be on time and on budget and that a million people would be on the system by April this year, but this has come to nothing. It is staggering that the Government has spent £225,000 per person on this project.

“With poor initial decisions by Ministers and endless indecision from Downing Street putting the whole scheme in jeopardy, it is increasingly difficult to have any confidence in the Government’s handling of welfare.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on software for its flagship welfare project that may not be fit for purpose.

Hundreds of millions has been spent on software to support the government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme, which may not be able to support administering the benefit. Sources close to the DWP’s Universal Credit project, which seeks to streamline and automate benefit payments and tax credits for 12 million people, indicate that upwards of £270m has already been spent in government contracts with IBM, Hewlett Packard and BT. Accenture is understood to have received the lion’s share of the work, winning more than £110m.

However on taking his post a little over three months ago, insiders say that UC’s new project director Howard Shiplee has ordered a complete rethink and ordered a thorough redesign of current software. Senior staff have warned that even after two years systems to prevent fraud and breaches of very sensitive financial data, categorised as “incredibly critical” to the project, are yet to be completed.

Other essential pieces of software including a calculator for staff to advise clients whether millions of their claimants will be financially better off doing more work, have only been ordered from Accenture in the last few weeks. “Without that they can’t calculate when someone does go into work, what their top up should be,” one source said.

By December 2012 total spend on the project, which has been rolled out in a very limited fashion to just a handful of jobcentre offices in the Greater Manchester region, had topped £340m.

Before the publication of a national audit office report, Shiplee said the project had faced a series of problems. Staff have been told to be braced for heavy criticism.

“There is no doubt there have been missteps along the way. But we’ve put that right,”. Admitting that old IT might have to be junked, he said: “We’re planning to take the best of the existing system and make improvements using GDS [government digital service] support.”

As part of his project overhaul, Shiplee wrote to staff in July to tell them that at least a third of his 600 staff would be moved off the project.

“As a result of the new ways of working we are introducing, particularly in the way we design and build processes and systems, I expect a managed reduction in the number of people we will need to deploy in the Universal Credit Programme by around 200-250,” he wrote.

Staff have also warned that £350m in welfare savings will now be lost because the roll out of the pension credit plus programme has been delayed.

The cost saving is understood to have been part of the original business case that the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith used to persuade the Treasury to fund his vision of 21st century welfare provision. Extra costs, internal auditors warned, will also be incurred because of the much reduced timetable for the national rollout.

In one assessment, a member of staff said that overall funding for the flagship project would be “very tight” by the time of the election. One source said the current software was useful for the current pilots but it couldn’t be replicated at scale because “the current model requires lots of man-hours and micro-management of claims.”

“Shiplee’s come in and said ‘look, lets start this with a blank sheet again’ they’re re-designing level zero, level one business processes – they’re doing that all again. After two years we’d already built to level two.”

The DWP said it was misleading to characterise money already spent as having gone to waste. “No one has said we’re starting again … we’re looking at enhancing not replacing [systems],” it said.

It said it did not recognise the £350m figure being lost in savings due to the slower roll out of the programme.

A DWP spokesperson later added: “The early roll-out of Universal Credit is allowing us to develop the new benefit in a safe and controlled way. This is the responsible approach.

“We have a plan in place that is safe and achievable along with the right leadership to ensure Universal Credit is delivered on time by 2017 and within budget.”

The shadow welfare secretary of state said it was time his counterpart reached out for cross party rescue talks. “Iain Duncan Smith has sworn blind to parliament that universal credit is on time and on budget. Now we hear it is actually an IT disaster.

“Duncan Smith has an awful lot of explaining to do and it is time for him to reconsider our offer of cross-party rescue talks. We cannot and must not take risks with billions of pounds of working peoples’ tax credits.”

Well how many times have we all heard the saying “We’re All In It Together”. Er united we stand, to say not in our name”.

No 2 LibDeMs Coalition deal


Please listen to the political song and broadcast below:

Intriguingly I read in the press that Nick Clegg has set out the first demand that the Liberal Democrats would make if they were asked by Ed Miliband to form a coalition government with Labour: “Don’t break the bank.”

NotoLIbLabdealsHis words are likely to annoy the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, who would challenge any suggestion that government finances would be unsafe in his hands. They will please Labour MPs and many grass-roots Liberal Democrat activists, however, showing that the Deputy Prime Minister is making public overtures to Labour, while accusing the Conservatives of having changed “dramatically” – for the worse.

In an interview to be broadcast on Monday night on BBC Radio 4, Mr Clegg said: “There is just no doubt in my mind that if there were a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition, we the Liberal Democrats would absolutely insist that government would not break the bank.”

He implied that the Labour Party now looks more like a potential party of government than it did three years ago. He said: “I think they’ve changed. I think there’s nothing like the prospect of reality in an election to get politicians to think again and the Labour Party, which is a party unused to sharing power with others is realising that it might have to.”

fuckfacecleggMr Clegg also suggested that the Liberal Democrats are finding the Conservatives increasingly hard to deal with. He claimed: “The Conservative Party has changed quite dramatically since we entered into coalition with them. They’ve become much more ideological, they’ve returned much more to a lot of their familiar theme tunes.

“I think it would be best for everybody if the Conservative Party were to rediscover a talent for actually talking to mainstream voters about mainstream concerns.”

LabourvictoryThe Liberal Democrats have suffered a run of disastrous opinion poll findings, and their candidate in last week’s Wythenshawe by election lost her deposit, which suggests they will lose seats in next year’s general election. But they have a track record of holding on in places where they have a strong presence, as they demonstrated when they won to Eastleigh by-election after Chris Huhne resigned.

Here the famous song that Nick Clegg did which really cuts no ice with anybody:

Here are a few examples of the work practices of the LibDems working in partnership with their bedroom partners Conservatives:

Can somebody remind us who help to push through the dreaded zero hour contacts?

Well if you are not sure then look no further as many can tell you it was the Conservatives bedroom partners:

The government has run out of ideas and failed to tackle the scourge of zero-hours contracts, unions and the Labour Party claimed yesterday.

Tory-Scum1They sounded their warning as Business Secretary Vince Cable prepared to launch a consultation on the controversial contracts but ruled out an outright ban, claiming they offer “welcome flexibility” for some workers.

Mr Cable insisted the contracts had a place in the labour market even though there had been evidence of abuse.

The 12-week consultation will include the possibility of banning “exclusivity contracts” which offer no guarantee of work and stop people working for another employer.

Mr Cable said: “A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero-hours contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security.

“We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.

While business groups welcomed the announcement and the decision against a ban, union leaders said it showed the coalition was “desperately short on solutions.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The growth of zero-hours contracts is one of the reasons why so many hard-working people are fearful for their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, in spite of the recovery.

“But while the government has identified some of the problems faced by those with zero job security it’s desperately short on solutions to curb the use of these contracts.”

GMB national officer Mick Rix added: “This snail’s pace reaction to what is clearly an urgent problem will not bring any Christmas cheer to exploited low-paid workers on zero-hours contracts and similar contracts offering employment insecurity.

“It is regrettable that the government is not outlawing the use of zero-hours contracts even though it admits there is abuse.”

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “Ministers have failed to act on this worrying rise in zero-hours contracts.

“Having spent months saying they will investigate, all that has emerged is a consultation on proposals which do not go far enough to tackle exploitation and bad practice.”

Oh dear me another reminder who helped the conservatives to implement the dreaded Bedroom Tax again. If you want further reminder then look no further:

LET’S hear it for David Nuttall, the only Tory MP with the guts and rhinoceros skin to match to attend the debate on Ian Lavery’s bedroom tax Bill and vote against it.
The Bury North MP was the lone voice opposing Lavery’s Housing Benefit and Universal Credit in the Social Housing Sector Bill while 226 voted in favour.

Unfortunately, the Bill has no chance of becoming law because the massed ranks of Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs will be deployed against it.

The conservative coalition that voted as one to cut income tax for the richest 1 per cent will display similar unanimity in supporting the government’s dishonest and brutal tax on some of the poorest people in Britain.

Two-thirds of those affected are disabled, which explains the mass booing of George Osborne last summer when he had the front to turn up to award prizes to Paralympic competitors.

The tax is dishonest because it is based on the false premise that tenants can downsize to smaller properties and refuse to do so.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) reported last year that 180,000 tenants were “underoccupying” two-bedroom homes while only 70,000 one-bedroom flats were available.

In fact, the idea of underoccupation is faulty since it takes no account of the circumstances in which households live, especially when one or more members has a disability.

Had the government been seriously perturbed about a shortage of larger properties being available for families, it would have agreed with housing campaigners that there should be a concerted initiative to build council homes.

The same applies to the very real dearth of one-bedroom accommodation needed by growing numbers of single homeless people as well as those living in homes too big for their needs who would like to downsize.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats have not considered personal circumstances or personal wishes.

They have hunted for ways to dispossess people in social housing and to impose punitive taxes on them as part of an austerity agenda designed to further skew the division of national income towards the rich minority.

The tax has had the effect its opponents forecast before pro-government MPs pushed this measure through Parliament.

It has claimed the lives of tenants driven beyond despair to commit suicide. Others have been plunged into severe depression as the result of escalating debt and the threat of eviction.

According to the NHF, two-thirds of households affected by the tax are now in rent arrears while one in seven have received eviction risk letters.

Labour has pledged to repeal bedroom tax legislation if it wins next year’s general election.

In Holyrood, the Scottish National Party government has said that it will fund the £50 million bedroom tax shortfall, effectively axing the tax in Scotland.

The Department of Work and Pensions admitted last month that a legal loophole meant that social housing tenants who had lived in their homes since January 1 1996 and claimed housing benefit since then would not be subject to the bedroom tax.

It has since announced that this loophole will be closed as of March 3, but the writing is on the wall for this unjust measure.

The bedroom tax has so many similarities to Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax, not least in the nature of its victims and their inability to pay up even if they chose to.

The sooner it is killed off the better.

Here is another Tory policy in partnership with the LibDems voted:

The government’s assault on the poor includes abolishing council tax benefit. This is just as pernicious as the bedroom tax but has received less publicity. It came in on May 1.

Prior to this, council tax benefit was means-tested and administered by local authorities.

If you were on employment and support allowance or jobseeker’s allowance, or your income was at that level, you received 100 per cent council tax benefit, leaving you with nothing to pay.

Slightly higher incomes were means-tested, so that you could still receive some council tax benefit.

In place of council tax benefit, the government introduced a “council tax-reduction scheme.”

The name suggests lower council tax bills. It is nothing of the sort.

It is simply a subsidy from government to local authorities to replace council tax benefit.

But the big difference is that the “council tax-reduction” subsidy is only 80 per cent the amount that a local authority used to receive in council tax benefit.

So claimants who were receiving 100 per cent council tax benefit now only have 80 per cent of their council tax bill reduced, leaving them to pay 20 per cent. Around two million people are affected.

The difference between 100 per cent council tax benefit and 80 per cent council tax reduction is £400 million – that’s the amount cut by the government.

It never ceases to amaze me how this government can believe that someone who receives what the state decides is the bare minimum required to survive – and pay for food, heating, lighting and other essentials – can suddenly be asked to find extra money from that subsistence amount.

Jobseeker’s allowance was not calculated to include a 20 per cent contribution towards council tax, just as it was not calculated to include the bedroom tax.

The government’s intention is to blame local authorities for this cut.

By simply giving local authorities a pot of money equivalent to 80 per cent of the amount that they used to receive in council tax benefit, it can claim that if local authorities pass the 20 per cent shortfall onto each council taxpayer, that is their choice.

The government can say that local authorities could choose to reduce council tax by 100 per cent – on a means-tested basis – but have decided not to.

Of course, it is a fake choice. If a local authority decides to retain 100 per cent reduction of council tax, it will have to find the extra 20 per cent from its budget. So will be looking at making cuts elsewhere.

It falls to local authorities to collect council tax, and so we are suddenly back to the days of the poll tax.

Brent and Southwark councils have each issued thousands of applications for liability orders in the magistrate’s court, predominantly against people who previously received 100 per cent council tax benefit and are now being asked to find £2 to £5 per week towards council tax, even though their other benefits have not increased accordingly.

The method of challenging a council tax bill is immensely complex.

Each local authority has its own “council tax-reduction scheme,” which it should publish on its website.

That scheme sets out how the council tax will be reduced, on the basis of means-testing etc.

If you receive a council tax bill and you want to challenge it, you have to check your circumstances against the scheme published by your council.

If the council has got your details wrong and you should be entitled to a higher reduction, first of all complain to the council.

If the council refuses to change its decision or fails to reply within two months, you appeal to the valuation tribunal.

The appeal can only be on the basis that the council has wrongly applied its own scheme and your circumstances mean that you should be entitled to a greater reduction under the scheme.

The tribunal will not hear appeals arguing you cannot afford to pay the council tax.

Each council must also operate a council tax discretionary relief scheme or council tax hardship scheme and details should be in the published council tax-reduction scheme.

These are little-known provisions which give councils a discretion to reduce council tax liability in particular circumstances, usually applied to war pensioners or the very seriously disabled.

These discretionary relief schemes can help in the short-term to reduce council tax bills for those in real poverty.

If you simply can’t afford to pay your council tax but are not entitled to discretionary relief and you can’t argue that the council misapplied its own scheme, then you will eventually receive a summons to the magistrate’s court so that the council can obtain a liability order.

There are some technical arguments here – is the amount on the summons the correct amount, has the council applied the right time limits?

But, again, if the only reason why you are not paying your council tax is because you can’t afford to, the magistrate’s court has no discretion but to make a liability order. Poverty is not a defence.

In many ways, this is the new poll tax. Its aim is that everyone, even the poorest, should contribute to council tax.

It is implemented by local authorities – which may or may not have agreed with the cut depending on their political composition – and so local authorities take the political blame.

But, unlike the poll tax and much more like the bedroom tax, it is a tax on the poor.

It is a tax on people who were previously assessed as being so poor that they should receive 100 per cent discount on their council tax, through council tax benefit.

Garden Court Chambers, where a colleague work, has launched Legal Action on Council Tax.

The website contains detailed legal information as to how to appeal to a valuation tribunal and what happens when you are summonsed to the magistrate’s court.

No legal aid is available and so applicants have to represent themselves. Our hope is that the dissemination of information will give applicants the tools to make the argument and do just that.

Perhaps the best hope is that, like the poll tax, the collecting authorities and the courts will become so overwhelmed that government has to give in.

I’m sure many will continue to remember that the LibDems continue to vote for cuts to Legal Aid remember:

 

Who is the coalition is fooling


How many rivers do we all have to cross for the coalition to realise they just don’t get that many people will not get any supper tonight coupled by lack of heating to keep warm and a hot bath.

I like the sound of the Prime Minister who said money is no object in the flood relief which is a welcome relieve. Let’s see if it is just posturing like it was like last year when money was promised but never materialised. Where is the money coming from to fill the gap given that there have been many people who have lost their main source of income and have to depend on Foodbanks on the so-called slow recovery of the economy whilst all the conservatives front benches are at loggerheads with each other over who should get more funding but continue to play the blame game its Labour fault. Well done coalition for blaming Labour for the floods which was caused by climate change.

Whilst the Archbishop of Westminster claimed there was now a “real dramatic crisis”.  Archbishop Nichols, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in England and Wales, said the welfare state was becoming “more punitive”.

“I think what’s happening is two things”, he said.

“One is that the basic safety net, that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart. It no longer exists, and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance – I am told – has become more and more punitive.”

“So, if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait and they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks – with nothing, with nothing. And that’s why the role of food banks has become so crucial for so many people in Britain today.

“And for a country of our affluence that quite frankly is a disgrace.”

The attack comes just days before Archbishop Nichols will be one of 19 new cardinals from around the world who will be appointed by Pope Francis at the Vatican.

photoFriends of my mine summoned it up nicely when they said:

  1. That we all know that MANY Tories are linked with private health companies and that such blatant corruption is rife amongst them. Hence the health and social care Bill, and the fact it was hammered through the legislative process, also, we have YET to see the risk register, despite a court ruling, and several orders from the Information Commissioner in Parliament ordering its release.
  2. This marked the beginning of the end of democratic process in this country, along with the “financial privilege” that Cameron invoked simply to hammer through the much opposed welfare “reforms”.
  3. The public should have recognised back then that a government hell bent on only fulfilling its own dogma without any due concern for the consequences of that is devastatingly destructive and overtly authoritarian.
  4. Our social security came about precisely because we evolved to recognise a need for a social safety net, to protect vulnerable citizens, because we learned last century that we are all potentially vulnerable, and that it isn’t anything to do with a person’s characteristics, they are not to blame for socio-economic circumstances, or becoming ill and disabled.
  5. The Tories have demolished that net, and their rhetoric is about erasing that civilised approach from our social memory. We are being steadily de-civilised, our learning is being deleted from history and the tories would have us turned into a society of dog eat dog psychopaths if they get their way.
  6. Every single Tory policy is about nothing more than diverting public funds to profit the already wealthy. The evil tories have justified this by viciously attacking and stigmatising the most vulnerable citizens to divert your attention from this truth. They have also quietly edited your fundamental human rights, designed to protect us from precisely this kind of government. This is the truth.
  7. They don’t care about the economy, our society, human decency, the law and human rights: they just want your money, and at any cost to us. They don’t care as they get their fair share of donations from their donors.

 

Here is a flavor of the interim collins report


lord collinsI’m sure that most will have heard or read about Labour Party reform of the trade union links which in some quarters would have said that it is the best thing since slice cake by saying that it is a bold move by Ed Miliband and some people may have read the Interim Collins Report for your perusal I have decided to enclose the full documentation and decided to add a few concerns at the end of the report from various sources that I have been receiving and would like the National Executives of the Labour Party to clarify:

1. THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LABOUR PARTY AND INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF OUR AFFILIATE ORGANISATIONS.

Trade unions and affiliated organisations hold a special place inside the Labour Party.

They founded the party over a century ago. Indeed, until 1918, Labour was entirely composed of affiliated organisations – individual membership was not possible. That changed after the First World War, when individuals were welcomed into the party’s ranks for the first time. But recognising the continued importance of the trade unions and socialist societies, the party adopted a federal structure which amalgamated the individual membership, organised around Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), alongside an affiliates’ section.

The federal structure remains in place today and already, during this consultation, a number of party members and affiliates have said to me that while it should remain so it also has to change. There is a recognition that the connection, particularly as it relates to trade unions, must become more transparent.

Trade union affiliation fees are paid to the Labour Party out of trade union political funds.

These funds are comprised of the political levy payments of individual people who chose to join a trade union. Margaret Thatcher’s government established a legal right for all trade unionists to contract out of paying that levy. We do not believe there is any need to change the laws around the right of trade unions to hold political funds.

Trade unions that affiliate to the Labour Party are required to pay fees on behalf of each of their members who pay into the union’s political fund. On this basis the trade unions are collectively affiliated to the party and have representation within the party’s structures in proportion to the level of their affiliation.

The individual levy paying trade unionists are in turn connected to the party through their trade unions, and have the right to select trade union delegates who participate in Labour’s structures at a local and national level. Individual trade unionists also have the right to cast a ballot in the election of the Labour Party Leader. They do not have the right to take part in local or parliamentary selections.

Ed Miliband has now said this process should be changed, so that instead of trade union levy-payers being automatically affiliated these individuals are instead able to make an active, deliberate choice on whether to be part of the Labour Party.

He wants them to have a real choice about affiliating to Labour – and then a real voice as individuals within the party. This new relationship is intended to transform Labour into a much bigger party of working people while also putting the link with trade unions on a modern and more secure footing. The prize is a party more rooted in the lives of working people with many more thousands of trade unionists given the opportunity to be an active part of the Labour Party at a local level.

Ed does not want this individual relationship with trade union members to damage the collective relationship and the institutional links between the party and the union organisations. Ed wants to mend – not end – the link.

I want to hear your views on how we meet Ed Miliband’s objective that “Individual

Trade Union members should choose to join Labour through the affiliation fee, not be automatically affiliated” – and also how we meet the need for a collective voice inside the party.

We also recognise, and wish to learn from, existing schemes that already give trade union members the ability to make positive choices about affiliation.

The objective would be to convert as many as possible of the levy-payers of affiliated unions into individual membership of our party. The corresponding aim is a party that is stronger in the workplace, our communities and neighbourhoods, in real contact with working people from all walks of life.

I now wish to consult Labour’s members, supporters and members of our affiliated organisations on what this means.

It clearly means a potential new cohort of party members. But what would their

membership mean – what rights would they have, would they get all these rights immediately, and how similar or different would those membership rights look in comparison to existing CLP members of the party?

As the party Leader has acknowledged, moving to this new system of affiliation has big and historic implications for both the trade unions and the Labour Party which need to be worked through. Changes to the nature and scale of affiliated membership inevitably throw up questions about the way affiliated organisations are represented in the party and participate in its structures.

For instance, currently affiliated organisations have a 33 per cent share of the Electoral College for choosing leaders and deputy leaders along with MPs and members.

Each member of those organisations is balloted. Trade union members must tick a box indicating their support for Labour’s values before voting. There is already a plan to introduce a new section for registered supporters worth up to 10 per cent of this college, reducing the other three to 30 per cent each. We will need to consider what implications there are for the Electoral College over time, as we move to a different system.

A clear question that should be addressed during this consultation is what are the consequences for the Electoral College used to elect our Leader and Deputy Leader, in particular the Trade Union and Affiliates section.

It would be very helpful to have views in relation to the following questions:

• What kind of relationship with the party do you think those individuals who choose to affiliate want or expect?

• What rights should they receive? Should their rights differ from CLP members and if so how?

• What ideas do you have for how members of affiliated organisations might have a closer individual engagement with Labour and a real voice inside the party, particularly at the local level?

• How do we ensure that the collective voice of trade unions is still heard in the Labour Party?

• Once individual affiliated members have had an active choice about whether to be part of the Labour Party, do you believe that we would need to consider the consequences for other party structures including conference and the rules for electing leaders?

• What views do you have about the practical timeframe for agreeing and implementing changes to affiliation and related issues?

• Do you have any other ideas you wish to contribute to this review about how to deepen the relationship between Labour and working people.

2. STANDARDISING CONSTITUENCY DEVELOPMENT PLANS.

Since the Nolan Report on party funding in the late 1990s, which formed the basis of the regulatory system we have today, Labour has moved away from the old practice of sponsorship of MPs towards the current one of support for constituency organisations.

This was introduced so as to remove any question that financial support could be used to exercise influence over elected representatives, whilst recognising the legitimate and healthy role that trade unions and other organisations can play in funding local political parties.

Ed Miliband has underlined the value of local agreements between Constituency Labour

Parties and trade unions, saying they help to keep parties connected to the needs of working people. However, he has also said that such agreements need to be properly regulated and overseen so that nobody can allege that individuals are being put under pressure at a local level. It is therefore intended to establish standard constituency agreements with trade unions.

• What ideas do you have about the form that such agreements should take?

• What do you think should be the process for signing off and registering such agreements?

• Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

3. USING PRIMARIES TO ENGAGE A WIDER PUBLIC IN LABOUR’S SELECTIONS OF CANDIDATES.

Labour members are the lifeblood of our party. It is essential that the rights that come with membership are recognised and understood. Party members play a crucial role in holding their MP to account, selecting their parliamentary candidate, selecting the Leader and Deputy Leader, picking delegates for annual conference, and much more besides.

No-one knows better than the thousands of activists who spend their time knocking on doors that our party must always be reaching to Labour voters and potential Labour voters.

Ed Miliband has already opened our party out to people on the outside who do not want to become full members by introducing a registered supporters’ scheme. Now he has identified the next step in opening up our politics.

Ed has proposed that, for the next London Mayoral election, Labour will use a “primary” to select our candidate. Any Londoner should be eligible to vote in that selection provided they have registered as a supporter of the Labour Party at any time up to the ballot. This draws on experience in other countries, which have seen an enormous outreach to new supporters in the course of a primary process.

He also asked for an examination of this idea in other internal party selections, such as in future parliamentary selections where a sitting MP is retiring and where the local party has dwindled so that the choice of who represents such constituencies is not limited to just a handful of people.

It would be helpful to have views and suggestions in response to the following questions:

• Should individuals who register as supporters in London ahead of the mayoral selection be charged a small sum to finance the administration of the primary? In

France this was One Euro.

• Should the Labour Party consider the use of new methods of voting, including voting on-line, in undertaking the London mayoral selection primary?

• Do you agree that primaries should be used in certain parliamentary selections? If so, what criteria should the party follow in deciding when a primary should be used?

• Who should be eligible to take part in a constituency-based primary selection?

• Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

4. ENSURING FAIRNESS AND TRANSPARENCY IN LABOUR SELECTIONS.

Ed Miliband has stressed that he wants to ensure that every candidate selection in the

Labour Party happens in the fairest way. To that end, he has said that there will be a new code of conduct for those seeking selection and new spending limits in those selections, including for outside organisations as well as individual candidates. The objective is to create a level playing field for individuals who wish to become Labour candidates which is not distorted by money and resources. Similarly, election to be the Leader and Deputy

Leader of the Labour Party should be a battle of ideas and ability, and never descend into an arms race over who has the money to pay for the most leaflets or the resources to make the most phone calls.

• What proposals do you have for a new code of conduct for use in candidate selections?

In particular, how would you amend or add to the existing code of conduct for selections?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and their supporters, in a parliamentary selection?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and their supporters, in a mayoral selection or a European selection?

• What do you believe would be a fair level at which to impose a spending cap on candidates, and supporters of candidates, in elections for the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party?

• How do you believe that the code of conduct and the spending limit could best be policed and enforced?

• What activities should be banned during a selection?

• Are they any activities that the party should help to facilitate?

• What sanctions do you think should apply where the rules are breached? Do you have any other suggestions about issues raised in this section?

Now here is some concerns from some quarters of the labour movement  Perhaps the wildest inaccuracy in Ed Miliband’s plan to distance Labour from the trade union movement is his claim that it will “let people back into our politics.”

Labour, in common with the other major parliamentary parties, has increasingly squeezed out democratic decision-making and entrenched power in the leadership.

Annual conference decisions are routinely brushed aside as irrelevant, with their general purpose to provide an uncritical audience for front-bench speakers.

The major role for party delegates is to applaud or, if considered young or diverse enough, to form the backdrop for the leader’s set piece.

No wonder Miliband has been quite happy to leave the trade union movement with 50 per cent of the conference vote. It makes no difference.

Conference can overwhelmingly pass a motion backing renationalisation of the railways only to be told that this is not party policy, indicating that real decision-making remains the preserve of a small coterie that does not even feel compelled to explain its stance.

So much for the nonsense spouted by Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps who spoke of “union barons” being able to “buy Labour’s policies and pick Labour’s leader.”

If trade union leaders really did contribute to party funds dependent on policies being acceptable to them, Labour would not be wedded to the austerity-lite agenda espoused by Miliband and Ed Balls.

The reality is that trade unions and their members invest to secure a Labour government.

The unions play their part in the formal democracy that remains within Labour, but they accept that working out policies is a party responsibility.

Unfortunately, Miliband’s actions over the past half-year exemplify the paucity of accountable democracy within the party.

He made a personal announcement that he would change the relationship between Labour and the unions in a panic response to hysterical media coverage of events in Falkirk.

In the event, despite vilification of Unite and its members, investigations by the police and the party discerned no wrongdoing, but by then the die was cast.

The relationship would change even though the details were up in the air.

Labour members have had no meaningful input. The entire process has been kept within a small leadership cabal and their decisions will be placed before the March 1 party conference on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

How many of the hundreds of thousands of trade unionists who pay the political levy will feel motivated to pay £3 to involve themselves more closely in Labour Party business?

Most trade unionists pay the levy because they support their union’s involvement in the political sphere and want a viable electoral alternative to the employers’ parties.

The accumulated payments contributed by levy-payers are used for union political campaigning or direct donations to Labour, according to membership-answerable decisions by the leadership.

It is the most honest and democratically accountable of all methods of party funding.

Miliband is now intent on ending Labour’s federal relationship and substituting party leadership for union.

This could only work if trade unionists were genuinely fired up by Labour’s plans for government, which is doubtful.

Talk from Miliband and Balls about “tough” decisions, further cuts in public spending, a pay freeze and private good, public bad will not generate a head of steam for higher party membership and healthy finances.

Miliband and company will regret the decision to dance to a media-orchestrated anti-union tune. The unions remain Labour’s greatest strength.

This nothing more than grandstanding to the Tories to say to them look we are dealing with the trade unions and what are you doing to deal with your fatcats donors and we are putting the challenge back to you do you support a cap on donations to political parties.

Stop cutting local services


Hey Boris Johnson stop playing politics with peoples livelihoods in London

Hey Boris Johnson stop playing politics with peoples livelihoods in London

What’s all intriguing about this is times are tough. When bankers caused the credit crunch the amount of tax collected by the Coalition fell hugely. That caused a debt which we as a country are paying off.

I’m of the opinion the burden should be shared equally. The Coalition have other ideas by letting Boris Johnson hang himself as they fear him as one of the strongest contender to beat Theresa Mary May and then taken on David Cameron should either one fail at the next General Elections in 2015.

For this is the reason why Boris Johnson can get away with his so called wit by playing the fool to apply the pressure on the unions and by playing mind games to get the unions to submit to his demand whilst forgetting the wider picture.

Like many like-minded Tories they want to abolish the right to strike which may appear in their election manifesto hoping that they can reinvent a step further than their dear friend Maggie Thatcher who went out of her way to smash the unions.

Recently many people witnessed two days of strike action which was called by two unions over reduced service or a closure of ticket offices which I have to say yes I can understand where those union members are coming from as I understand it that a breakdown in communication between the mayor of London and the union(s) involved. I have seen many strikes over the years over pay, terms and conditions coupled by very aggrieve disregards from the employers by compromising their employees’ health and safety by cutting corners in the name of profits.

More to the point given that London is the most popular attractions where tourists descends and most likely to take both buses and tubes to their destination surely by closing down ticket offices creates more problems to the millions of workers and tourists as not many people like using a machine to purchase their tickets as there is no customer service involved or face to face contact with the general public for this reason I have to concur with Bob Crow when he has action what his members has asked of him to do in order to protect their livelihood. So I put it to those who has never been in a trade union to find out move about the trade union moment before engaging before knowing the full facts of the case.

If I’m totally honest enough there is and will always be two sides of the coin to any discussions over disputes from both sides. One of my expectations is if I pay my union dues I would expect a first class service from the trade union that I have signed up for like anything else workers have the right to withdrew their labour from a workplace if their terms and conditions are not been fully implemented by their employers and still have not got anywhere then if the trade union(s) have done everything that they could to negotiate and things has come to a head and the trade unions have the right to ballot their members for strike action.

On Thursday 6 February after been on the campaign trail I came home to watch BBC Question Time once I saw the panel of people I instantly thought here we go again what a load of boring old farts but I have to admit I really enjoyed it this time around how would of thought that I of all people who have to give a hat tip to George Galloway with his response which most of the nation would understand and the cheek of Matthew Hancock MP, and David Starkey, Professor Alison Wolfs comments over the tube strike to imply that the trade union bosses are there to line their own pockets and to go on all expense holidays paid for from union subs. Well some members of the panel need to remember that union bosses have the right to a private life too and let’s not forget the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Instead of the parties in concern  with the strike should be at the negotiating table I find it in very bad taste that Boris Johnson decides to do his negotiating from his office phone to the RMT leader(Bob Crow) via mobile.

Lets face it Boris Johnson is noting more than a poodle of big business who has no interest for the people of London but to him and his cums of the  Bullingdon club.

London Underground passengers understand where the blame lies for their inconvenience during the current strike and it’s not with the unions.

Two-thirds of those polled are not only perturbed by the prospect of a reduction in station staff and ticket offices but also believe that industrial action against Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans is justified.

Tory efforts to paint the strikers and their unions as irresponsible don’t sit well alongside the heroic example shown by such staff during the 2005 terrorist bombings of London’s transport system.

They confuse them with their family servants and cannot understand why orders peremptorily issued are not carried out unquestioningly with a simpering grin.

So when RMT and TSSA react to their members’ anger by balloting for strikes and authorising such action after the mayor’s Transport for London people refuse to negotiate, all that Johnson and Cameron can do is scream foul.

Cameron demanded that Ed Miliband condemn the Tube strike, which to his credit he refused to do.

The Labour leader’s declaration that there should have been a negotiated solution is entirely correct and the only obstacle to a reasonable compromise has been the mayor’s instruction to his “negotiators” not to budge an inch from his “close them all down” diktat.

What did the Prime Minister hope to gain from his “condemn the strike” demand to Miliband?

Even had he done so, this would not have advanced progress towards a solution one iota because workers have grown used to politicians showing little understanding of the conditions under which they operate.

Parliamentary front-bench unity in condemnation of workers in struggle would have confirmed for many the gap between rulers and ruled.

Tony Blair boasted after retaining most Tory anti-union laws that legislation in Britain under new Labour remained the “most restrictive” in the western world, but it’s never enough for the Tories.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles suggested that it might be necessary to classify the Underground as an essential service and require maintenance of a minimum level of service as a means of outlawing democratic workplace rights.

Johnson noted that, although 76 per cent of RMT members who voted backed strike action, the turnout had been 40 per cent, equating to just 31 per cent of the electorate.

With TSSA, it was 58 per cent in favour on a 49 per cent turnout, working out as 29 per cent of those entitled to take part.

He should appreciate that his re-election as London mayor was with 44 per cent of those voting in a 38 per cent turnout, adding up to just 17 per cent of Londoners eligible to vote.

If Bob Crow and Manuel Cortes have no democratic mandate for their actions, the same applies in spades to Boris Johnson.

Instead of flying kites about the possibility of moving the goalposts to make it legally impossible for trade unionists to challenge ill-thought-through demands by their employers, the mayor should be looking for a way to bring this dispute to an end.

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