Category Archives: Poverty

Labour Party Split

Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz KendallJeremy Corbyn is the kind of MP who’s not afraid to stand up against cruelty to pigeons or to say openly that he opposes renewing Trident.

Being pro-pigeon and anti-Trident may be popular stances, but it’s a truism in professional political punditry that serious candidates don’t stand up for that kind of thing. Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Liz Kendall are too professional as politicians to have that kind of thing in their political record.

I’m no longer a Labour Party supporter. I decided, a couple of days before Corbyn joined the leadership contest, that the Labour Party had become too right-wing for me to tolerate any longer. The May 2015 election was the first election in quite a few years where I didn’t vote Labour.

I became a socialist in a business studies class at Napier many years ago. The lecturer didn’t know he was making me a socialist: he was explaining company structure. A company is run by its CEO, who is appointed by the company shareholders. The CEO’s first responsibility is to the shareholders: this is in general expressed as a legal obligation to keep the value of the shares rising. Because the value of the shares is usually dependent on the company profits rising quarterly, a CEO’s goal is to have each financial quarter show more profits than the last.

In small-scale companies, with few shareholders all of whom take a personal interest in the doings of the company, the CEO can be instructed to make the profits of the company secondary to other things which are more important to the shareholders than seeing the value of their shares go up and up: their good name in producing quality goods for sale, their desire not to exploit or discriminate against their employees, their belief in climate change, their desire to own both an ecologically sound as well as a profitable company.

But in large-scale companies, where the shareholders are themselves corporations, there is no such human check. The CEO representing the corporate owner of the shares has the overriding legal obligation to see profits go up. And because this is the overriding focus of the business, they frequently expect their employees – whose wages may have been frozen or cut in pursuit of that goal – to share their focus in making profits go up.
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Children should suffer

Aneurin Bevan: Tories lieOne of the basics of civilisation is that children don’t have to suffer for their parents’ mistakes or inadequacies.

Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance,

Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,

Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,

Considering that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity…

A good welfare state is the culmination of civilisation. Whether a parent is able or willing, unable or unwilling, to earn enough to meet their child’s needs, the needs of all children should be adequately met. Otherwise we are not civilised.
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Strip Greece

Bread and milkPrivatisation of national assets. Deregulation – grotesquely, bakeries and milk are specifically mentioned as no longer to be subject to pesky government interference. Bread and milk. Removing workers’ rights to strike, to collective bargaining, to their legal rights in the wake of mass redundancies. No matter what the Greeks voted for, no matter what they wanted their government to do to help them: no democracy allowed.

This is a replay of another war: but not seventy-five years ago, only twelve.

GreekDemand_1One of the plans for the conquest and plundering of Iraq that went awry for the Bush administration was that all Iraqi nationalised assets were to be privatised. Saddam Hussein’s government had nationalised about 30% of Iraqi industries: the plan post-conquest was for the Coalition Provisional Authority to pursue policies that, as Donald Rumsfeld said in the Wall Street Journal in May 2003, ‘favour market systems’ and ‘encourage moves to privatise state-owned enterprises‘.

Eurogroup Demand page 2But, as the Bush administration discovered, their planned timetable of conquer, plunder, then hold elections, made the selling of the plunder unlawful: only a properly-elected government can lawfully sell national assets. A government established by foreign conquest explicitly can’t do so. Bush declared victory in Iraq on 2nd May 2003. The first post-conquest democratic elections were held 30th January 2005. One certain reason for the 18-month delay was that the Bush administration was trying to find some legal loophole that would let their planned mass privatisation go ahead.
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“Well, this is bad on so many levels.”

Alexis Tsipras - not wearing a tie

“One clue that the leader of Greece gives no f$$cks about his country defaulting: not wearing a tie as he addresses his government.” Rob Lowe, on Twitter, 29th June 2015.

Rob Lowe is an actor. Sam Seaborn is a character on the West Wing who played a lawyer who was also a Deputy Communications Director in President Bartlett’s White House.

Rob Lowe, 2012No one expects someone whose education began and ended in a US high school to understand or think or even care very much about the Greek and EU economy. But even so, Rob Lowe’s assertion that it’s all to do with Alexis Tsipras’s failure to wear the correct gentleman’s haberdashery must be in the running for Silliest Comment Made.

“We wear sweaters. It’s a Tommy Hilfiger ad.”

However, Owen Jones’s riposte was … not good.

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Voting Matters: 7th May 2015

The polls open in a minute, and I’ll be on my way to vote. You’ve got til 10pm tonight to vote. You don’t need a polling card or ID: you just need to be registered and to know where your polling station is. (The doors of the polling stations close at 10pm, but anyone inside at 10pm is entitled to vote. Queue properly.)

I’m voting Scottish Green.

There are five men and two women standing in my constituency, and here’s why I chose Sarah Beattie-Smith to vote for.

There were three easy rejections: UKIP, the Tories, and the LibDems.
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Filed under Benefits, Elections, GE2015, Poverty

Did the Mail tip off Cameron?

Cameron didn't wear the shirtWhen the story broke that David Cameron had refused to wear a t-shirt that said “This is what a feminist looks like”, ELLE professed itself surprised:

When ELLE asked him, along with Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats (and other influential men including Benedict Cumberbatch, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Tom Hiddleston) to wear the Fawcett Society’s iconic ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like’ t-shirts for ELLE’s inaugural feminism issue (on sale October 30), he refused.

Not once, but five times.

It’s possible, of course, that Cameron refused because he knows he isn’t a feminist. Not only is he known for telling the Shadow Chief Secretary of the Treasury in the House of Commons to “calm down, dear” (six times), his government has since 2010 imposed austerity cuts that place a disproportionate burden on women.
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Filed under Corruption, Poverty, Women

The deaths at Tuam: a voiceless testimony

Tuam Babies unmarked graveThere is an unmarked mass grave in Galway which has become briefly famous by the work of historian Catherine Corless, who spent years tracing the death records of each child whose remains may have been buried there. (You can hear her being interviewed about her work on the mass grave here.)

Timothy Stanley, a Telegraph blogger who converted to Catholicism from the Anglican church, argues that the mass grave is “a human tragedy, not a Catholic one”. At more length, Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Catholic Voice, explains that first of all, this wasn’t really so bad, and anyway, everyone except the Catholic Church is probably lying. (I note for the record: the sheer quantity of misinformation and distortion provided by both Stanley and Farrow is quite astonishing.)
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Filed under Children, Human Rights, Poverty, Women