CoFoE, Climate Change, environment and health.

Those of you following me, know that I have been following the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe. I have been mainky tracking Citizen’s Panel 2 on Dempocracy and values, but also reviewed ECP 4 and their recommendations on Migration. I have had a brief look at ECP3’s Climate Change and Environment proposals; I looked at these in January and the proposals that made the final plenary will differ.

I made a word cloud of the proposals other than health. Carbon should read carbon reduction, but the generator wouldn’t work with such a long phrase. I have created summary keywords for each proposal, this would be better if I had crowd sourced this allocation stage, but I didn’t.

Word Cloud, ECP3, Climate, environment & health

The Citizen’s panels full proposals are published by the Conference. The panels work in sup groups and so can produce multiple, very similar recommendations.

My highlights are that the panel recommends, the reinforcing of the health care system and the assumption by the EU of competency for health with equal access for all. It also takes a powerful stand for a sustainable energy economy, together with transport system reform: more public transport, particularly buses and trains.  …

No to offshoring!!

No to offshoring!!

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have finally pressed the button on their plans to ‘offshore’ asylum processing, Labour’s Yvette Cooper, labels this shameful, unworkable, unethical & extortionate. The Independent reports on previous countries attempts to ‘offshore’ refugee reception their failure, cost and disgraceful conditions applied to people who have done nothing wrong. It also seems the Government plan to use the military instead of Border Force. This is truly outrageous.

Labour Campaign for Free Movement have called for a demo outside the Home Office tonight.

No to Offshoring Demo 14/4/22
No to Offshoring

And some campaigning comrades, have started a petition,  Stop Priti Patel’s offshore refugee camps – Ripples

And then there’s those who think it’s a dead cat to distract from the partygate fines.  …

Natural Justice in the Labour Party

Natural Justice in the Labour Party

Skwawkbox has been reading the new rule book and reports on the new rule (C2.I.4.D/P14) which seeks to protect the expulsion process from judicial interference and a duty of fairness.

D. Neither the principles of natural justice nor the provisions of fairness in Chapter 2, Clause II.8 shall apply to the termination of Party membership pursuant to Chapter 2, Clauses I.4.A and C.

Labour’s Rule book 2022

Chapter 2.II.8 guarantees the right to dignity and respect and a right to be treated fairly by officers of the Party 😊

Clauses 2.I.4.A and C are new rules and create an offence of a proscribed act (A) which are listed in …(B), and the evidence which is deemed to prove these acts (C). The acts are related to standing against the Labour Party, or pursuing a vexatious law case against the Party.

It seems to me that the rule may have the opposite effect to its design.

The exclusion of the right to natural justice is only applicable to auto-exclusion on the basis of grounds listed in C2.I.4.B; these do not include being a member of a proscribed group, nor committing the acts defined by NEC resolution proscribing them such as selling a newspaper, writing for it or being interviewed by it.

The attempt to exclude the duty of fairness and the language used, while refusing to accept the constraints of the Nolan principles is shocking. It’s so bad that I was asked if it had actually gone through conference, and the answer it has. It was listed in CAC 2 for Conference 21. Conference was asked to debate and pass 37 pages of amendments with 4 hours notice of the text. I have drafted a rule change to prohibit this abuse.

I add, that given the current NEC and General Secretary’s view of the rules, there are only three,  (or on Medium) which count.


 …

The Budget 2021, the highest tax burden in 70 years

The Budget 2021, the highest tax burden in 70 years

I wrote a short piece on the potential need for the EU to acquire direct taxation powers which led to me checking how much the UK government raised from income based taxes vs. VAT. The article reproduced some charts from Parliament but I was surprised to discover how low a share of government revenue it now represented. The article was written after the budget, which had not really made an impact in my consciousness; it just seemed ‘meh’ to me. It is however yet another turning of the screw in a largely successful attempt to make the working classes pay for the crisis in national income and wealth facing this country.

John Crace reviews the speech and budget in this article on the Guardian, A mini budget full of lies from Rishi Sunak, the people’s millionaire , and says,

[He can ] deliver a spring statement – AKA a seismic budget in any other year – that offers nothing to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society while sobbing on their behalf. Who can tell the chamber with a straight face that he is committed to cutting taxes even when the Office of Budget Responsibility is saying that the tax burden is set to go up to 36.3% by 2026: the highest level since the 1940s.

John Crace

I recommend you read Crace’s article in full.

It also reports on the budget, in an article by Philip Inman, their economics editor, Rishi Sunak ‘protecting Treasury from inflation at families’ expense’ | Spring statement 2022

Critics of UK chancellor’s spring statement say it prioritises debt reduction and fails to provide support to lower-income households

Philip Inman

This despite the sub-headline concentrates on the macro-economics, reflecting the argument that since the Govt has borrowed on variable interest rate bonds,  as inflation kicks in, they argue they need more money to service the debt. The article concludes by observing that inflation may fall, that soaring energy costs are a drag on prosperity, and that the real reason for increasing tax revenues is to be able to give it back in the run-up to an election.  

Despite being under pressure to minimise the effects of the cost of living crisis, driven by Brexit and energy cost inflation and help households across the country who are being forced into poverty, all the budget did was announce a cut on fuel duty, Labour are asking for a VAT cut on energy bills, although instructing Ofgem to implement a price cap would be more effective. He also raised the threshold at which people start to pay National Insurance, which is a means of alleviating the fiscal drag created by freezing the tax free allowance.  

From Inman’s article, I also note that Sunak has frozen the income tax free relief for the next four years, together with the IHT limits. The effect of this is that before, people could expect the tax free allowance to rise in accordance with inflation, giving them small amounts of extra disposable income, even if they did not get a pay rise. This has now gone. It will also have the effect of raising the share of income tax paid by the low paid.

He also, in contradiction, to the Tories election promise suspended the pension link with earnings for 2022/23 although he claims to be willing to reintroduce it next year. He has also cut the amount the poorest in our society get by clawing back the uplift paid in 2019-2021.

My segue into this piece was the low proportion of government income attributed to Income Tax vs VAT. The House of Commons Library  produced a report called, Tax Statistics: an overview, and my previous article reproduces some charts from it while making the point that treating NI as separate category minimises the impact of employee contributions, which are levied at 12% until one begins to pay higher rate tax and allows Income Tax to be described as more progressive than it is. NIC’s also are paid by employer’s and so clarity on corporate contribution to the exchequer is also reduced.

Chart, line chart

Description automatically generated
from the HoC Library Report : Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

VAT is 20%, for the less well paid more than they pay from Income Tax. This needs to be rebalanced.

I finish with Statista’s charting of the Gini Coefficient over time., which measures the level of income inequality in our society,

Chart, line chart

Description automatically generated
Statista UK Gini Coefficient over time , used under Statista Terms of Use

We have the lowest social security net in Europe, the lowest pensions and amongst the most strongly regulated Unions. Something’s got to give. …

Govt money

Govt money

I was considering the EU’s NextGenerationEU and the idea that this was the tipping point into a fiscal union. I am not sure because the EU’s tax raising powers are as pre 16th Amendment United States; it cannot tax people or companies. This led me to consider the proportion of Govt. income rasied through income tax and other sources. This is a blog in two part, the first on the EU & the 16th amendment, the second on UK income tax and income equality. I comment on direct taxes and and the 16th by writing the following,

While looking at EU common tax policy, I thought about the need of the US to pass a constitutional amendment to allow federal direct taxation since previously the US required direct taxes to be apportioned to the States. The amendment is the 16th, and was designed to permit Income Tax an overcome a Supreme Court ruling which prohibited it; which came in two years later and has never been repealed. The Constitution Center has a review of the amendment arguing that the 16th only authorises income tax and the court has for instance constrained capital gains taxes. The Atlantic, also comments although the latter is more a history.

Dave Levy

The obvious development of income tax within the US led me to have a look at just how much of the UK Govt’s income is raised through income tax, the most progressive tax we have. The House of Commons Library has described the 2020/21 tax revenue sources, it seems that they’re no longer posting it out to everyone.

from the HoC Library Report : Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

The report landing page also has a chart showing the proportion by source over time, and its remarkably consistent. I also note that Income Tax is separated from NI and while some NI is paid by the employer most is paid by the employee. The Govt gets 43% of its income from these two sources and on top of this charges 20% of what one spends. There is also a compulsory private sector pensions levy on workers too, which does not appear in this chart. No wonder the low paid are struggling.

made by Dave Levy, from the HoC Library Report : Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

The separation of NI from Income Tax also permits them to claim that “The 10% of income taxpayers with the largest incomes contribute over 60% of income tax receipts”.

If you want to look at income inequality, Statista have the Gini Coefficient over time.

Statista UK Gini Coefficient over time , used under Statista Terms of Use

We need more income tax, less NI & VAT


This article contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0. The featured image is from Images of Money, on flickr, via wikimedia.org and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence.  …

The end of fortress Europa?

The end of fortress Europa?

This is a commentary on the CoFoE proposals on ‘Migration’. CoFoE is the European Union's hybrid citizen's panel on the future policies and structure of the Union. Migration is often the issue where racism within the state and population expresses itself most strongly. Debate has become very polarised. If you’re interested, in the issue, you’ll remember the stories and pictures of the Greek refugee camps, and deaths in the Med and in the Channel together with the EU’s payments to Turkey, and the prosecution [ also here ] of rescue ship captains by Italy. Let’s hope this is the opportunity to bury “Fortress Europa”. .... for more, "Read More" ...

Let’s have an enquiry into Russian Money in British Politics

I received this email yesterday; The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Hold a public inquiry into Russian interference in UK politics”.

Government responded:

The UK has a robust process to protect against foreign interference, led by the intelligence and security agencies. There are no plans to alter this approach or initiate a public inquiry.

It is, and always shall be, an absolute priority for the Government to protect the UK’s democratic processes against foreign interference. The Intelligence and Security Agencies produce and contribute to regular assessments of state threats, including potential malign interference. We keep those assessments under constant review and, where necessary, update them in response to new intelligence. As new information emerges, the Government will always consider the most appropriate use of any intelligence received, including whether it might be appropriate to make that intelligence public. Given this long standing approach, there are no plans to initiate a public inquiry into Russian interference.

Interference in democratic processes is an international issue, affecting not only the UK. That is why the UK Government will continue to call out and respond to malign activity, including any attempts to interfere in our democratic processes, alongside our international partners including the Five Eyes countries and NATO.

Protecting and promoting a flourishing democracy is a cross-cutting challenge and requires coordinated action. That is why the Government is bringing forward a package of legislation that delivers ambitious reform. Our National Security legislative proposals will give the intelligence agencies and law enforcement the tools they need to tackle the diversifying and evolving threats we face. Our Online Safety Bill proposes a range of measures that will help protect democratic discourse, such as forcing companies to tackle illegal misinformation and disinformation, and by tackling online abuse. Our Elections Bill contains a range of reforms, including strengthening rules on ineligible foreign campaign spending. All of this legislative work is supported by the cross-government Defending Democracy programme, which brings together expertise and capabilities from across Government departments, the Security and Intelligence Agencies and civil society to ensure UK democracy remains open, vibrant and secure.

Cabinet Office


😲 😨 😡

Words fail me; although I could have saved them a lot of words by just saying “No!”. …

The economics hurdle for rejoining!

This was published on the London 4 Europe web site, arguing that the Euro and “Banking Union” are potential political obstacles to rejoining. I just observe that the author has not caught up with the change in macro-economic management, the Stability and Growth Pact has serious credibility problems given the numerous breaches. We can hope that with a new coloured government in Germany the deficit fetishism of the EU will be weakened. Secondly, banking regulation is global and emanates from the G7 and BIS in Basel. The EU has little room for manoeuvre, although of course, should it be in a position to join BIS that would change things. This is an article designed to show how clever the author is and fails in that goal.

The ECB, Frankfurt CC DFL 2011 BY-SA

I note the article focuses on Sweden, which has agreed to adopt the Euro and not Denmark which has an opt-out. When we get to negotiating re-entry, the size of the UK economy and the sterling zone will be issues which may lead to us being given an opt-out or a Swedish deal, although I was interested to note that Nordea, Sweden’s largest bank has moved to Finland to locate in the Eurozone.

A serious analysis will come later, when both parties need an answer dealing with transaction volume, prudential regulation and fundamentally macro-economic policy. Let’s note that we had an opt-out of the compliance clauses of the SGP, we doubt we’ll be getting that back.

Macro-economics will be a problem if we have a left led Labour Govt., that wanted to pursue a policy of full employment but more importantly will be the need to meet the democracy criterion of the Copenhagen Criteria, where parliamentary sovereignty, the House of Lords and first past the post together may be seen as obstacles. Starmer’s Labour lacks the will to confront the issue of rejoining the EU but would probably welcome the shackles of today’s Stability and Growth pact. Actually, the Stability & Growth Pact is a serious barrier to rejoining for the Left; perhaps the sterling zone will save us from that too.  …

Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

I find it hard to believe that Transparency International, the world's premier anti-corruption campaigning organisation have marked the UK as having improved on 2020 in their most recent Corruption Perception Index and have the UK as within the top 15 countries. So I ask why might this be? This article looks at the issue of lags, TI's focus on the public sector, press bias via ownership, and some private sector scandals. I finish by asking, if they mark the UK so well despite the evidence, how much worse are the others?, ...

The buck stops … over there

The buck stops … over there

Not all is happy in the Labour Party in Westminster & Southside. It seems that people are not happy with David Evans performance as GS. Personally, I agree, but in this tweet, and the politico article it quotes, “Labour Sources” identify his speed on implementing change, inability to raise private funds and the mishandling of staff cuts. It interests me that the response and culpability for the data breach is not on the charge sheet nor the complete administrative balls up at Conference 21.

I have two things to say. On fundraising, it is not David Evans who has driven people or Unions away and the idea that the Labour Party can run on large donations alone is a fiction that has never been possible.

When Blair’s people tried it, despite adopting a pro-business position on Trade Union reform and selling other policy positions such as the attempted exclusion of Formula 1 from tobacco advertising ban, they ended up illegally hiding donations as loans, and selling peerages. They finished up by borrowing tens of millions of pounds from banks to fight elections, a debt that was only finally paid off after the Corbyn surge. Such largesse from the banking sector is unlikely to be forthcoming for an opposition party, except possibly from abroad which is equally illegal. …