With a whimper

big brother is watching you

There’s a sinister element to the way governments are acquiring emergency powers to keep us safe during the public health crisis. It’s a fact that nearly all governments do this. A comrade Simon Hannah has listed the problems with the UK Emergency Powers  and the civil liberties concerns have been highlighted by Big Brother watch while the data management and privacy threats have been identified by the EDRi and the open rights group (ORG).

The UK powers give the Police unprecedented powers of arrest, although where they’re going to put them I don’t know;  we should be aware that the Courts are now shut and that Parliament has adjourned for a month without even putting any interim measures in place. We may be about to find out the minimal difference between orders-in-council and decree. Strangely for me, it’s the Tory back benchers who’ll be missed as the self-employed support package has massive holes and will disappoint many; and the change in line of the Tory Party is self-generated. Is this fascism? AS Orwell said,

“When I speak of Fascism in England, I am not necessarily thinking of Mosley and his pimpled followers. English Fascism, when it arrives, is likely to be of a sedate and subtle kind (presumably, at any rate at first, it won’t be called Fascism)”

Who knows? We are a different society but the Tory Governments over the last nine years have attacked the constitution, the judiciary, our legal protections i.e. legal aid and retrospective legislation and suspended parliament twice, while being now led by a buffoon.

More worryingly, in Hungary, Victor Orban, has passed even more restrictive laws and is seeking to extend them without a “sunset” clause. Hungary has already adopted  a series of anti-democratic measures due to various so-called threats which have been criticized by the EU Commission and EU Parliament to the extent that the EU is considering sanctions against Hungary; I wonder if they would do so against the UK where our historic reliance on convention is being stretched beyond breaking point by the 21st Century Tory party with its alt-right entryists, consisting of Cameron’s “fruitcakes, loonies & closet racists”.

The collapse of democracy in Weimar Germany came as a result of the Reichstag Fire, when the Nazis burned down the German Parliament Building and on the passage of two Laws. Wikipedia says,

The Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (“Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”) was an amendment to the Weimar Constitution that gave the German Cabinet — in effect, the Chancellor — the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which had abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler’s government into a legal dictatorship.

Is it too far fetched to consider this a realistic precedent? As a final thought I leave you with Elliot’s quote,

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 …

Compromise?

Parliament is putting itself in isolation by not meeting for another month and so yesterday was Jeremy Corbyn’s last PMQs in the House of Commons. He spoke about the corona virus and it started up a spat on twitter which led me to think about Wilson, the Referendum on the EEC (1977) and how he managed the Party. He put the issue to bed in the Party for 39 years.

Was it because the SDP, whose politics on this issue had won left the Labour Party or that the Left in the Party granted loser’s consent? Also on the Left, many of those that could not compromise with the Party consensus left and joined the extra Parliamentary left.

However the divisive nature of referendums and the idea that MPs could campaign against the Party on referendum issues bedded down and  was shown by Labour’s divisions over the Alternative Vote Referendum in 2011.

But Corbyn will be remembered as an almost man; he saw off two Tory Prime Ministers, but we failed to jump the 2017 hurdle. The 2016 coup against his leadership will be seen as an act of treachery against the Party on the same scale as the SDP split and there are some who will see the mismanagement of Labour’s 2017 campaign as an act of sabotage; in my view it’s a charge to be answered.

Meanwhile, Corbyn’s legacy will be a programme that seeks to create an economy that works in the interests of the majority and not just a plutocratic minority and their servile minions, rejecting Britain’s imperial legacy and its role as America’s Gurkhas will take a little longer. …

QE 2020

QE 2020

Goodness, here’s the Bank’s page on Quantitative Easing. The last tranche is £645bn. It’s a shit load of money and I find this an important quote,

Suppose we buy £1 million of government bonds from a pension fund. In place of the bonds, the pension fund now has £1 million in money. Rather than hold on to this money, it might invest it in financial assets, such as shares, that give it a higher return. And when demand for financial assets is high, with more people wanting to buy them, the value of these assets increases. This makes businesses and households holding shares wealthier – making them more likely to spend more, boosting economic activity.

The italics and underlining are mine. This is not a plan, it’s a dream. More likely!

If this is designed to boost aggregate demand, then it does so through the lending market and is mitigated by peoples expectations and animal spirits. Poor people spend more of what comes in and are also more debt adverse or will be excluded from borrowing [more] and there’s more of them. If it’s defending aggregate demand that’s needed then we should be pumping this money out through the benefit system nc. the in-work benefit payments; SSP and Redundancy should be state paid/underwritten benefits, not paid by employers nor underwritten by loans. If it’s about protecting the poor inc. the in work poor and vulnerable, then doubly so.

See below/overleaf for a chart showing its size compared with both the fiscal deficit and balance of trade deficit. …

The Govt. and public health

The Govt. and public health

To deal with the coronavirus crisis, the Govt. wants more powers and it wants them for a long time. I wonder why because they don’t seem to be making any decisions and they pretty much have the powers they need. They have a page on Gov.UK describing what they think they need, and Big Brother Watch have published their take on it, as have Inclusion London. The proposed laws reduce the standards for staff in the NHS, make changes to i.e. reduce duties under the Mental Health Acts and Social Care laws, they make it easier to dispose of the dead, postpone the May elections, take powers to close events and venues, and give the police & immigration officers powers to detain people. It also abolished the three day waiting period for SSP. We should consider their failure to offer security to those in work who may lose their jobs, fall sick or have to stop work to look after children or elderly relatives. This will also highlight the appallingly low levels of statutory sick pay and redundancy payments, not to mention the 2 year employment longevity requirement for redundancy payments. No-one is talking about those living on savings who will be hurt by the reduction in the BoE interest rate to 0.1%, by the collapse in the stock market (the FTSE 250 is down by over 40% in the month), and even their business support programme is based on loans and not grants. (This blog is based on one written yesterday and has been published before I have read today’s announcement offering an income for those not working.) …

Solidarity with the UCU

Solidarity with the UCU

The UCU have just gone back to work after a strike campaign in which they would seem to be in dispute with their management over most things but there is a particular dispute about pensions. However the Twitter commentary offered me the thoughts of an account known as University Wankings, which I felt I had to follow and they pointed me at the @THEworldunirank from the Times Higher Education supplement. I had a look at the ranking systems 10 years ago while I was helping my kids decide which universities to go to and I had been pointed at the best known ranking system of the time by my work on NESSI.

While I consider the measured quality of the UK’s Universities to be based on the fact that they all have English as a first language, the quality of research, innovation and teaching are an important, if not critical part of building an economic future worth living in, that and worker’s control.

Solidarity with the UCU! ✊ …

Ideas, alliances and promises

Ideas, alliances and promises

I was pointed at, “If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars” by Rory McQueen who compares the state of the UK’s Left today with that in 1983, arguably the last time Labour was in this situation; he conducts a balance sheet on the balance of class forces, and then explores the issues of alliances and programme. He takes “The future of the Left”, an anthology written after the 1983 election as his historic benchmark.

I think this is incredibly well written and beyond my ability to summarise. i.e. you should read it. He provokes some thoughts in me, which is why you should read the rest of this. I talk, briefly, about the power of the Left in the country, it’s much weaker today, the need for and paradox of political alliances, and the failure of Labour’s policy & manifesto development programmes. I conclude by repeating the question, what’s the point for socialists in restricting alliances to exclusively to Labour’s right and how can Labour build a policy development process that delivers a realistic, popular and transformational programme for government. For more, see below/overleaf …  …

Card Votes on Demand

The LP platform stitched up Conference over Brexit by refusing a card vote. I think this power needs to be taken away, and so have drafted this rule amendment. It is interesting that the old rule no longer exists and has been transferred to Conference Standing Orders.

C3.III.G

Insert before These standing orders will be presented ……

The Conference Standing orders are to state that voting will be by show of hands except a card vote will be undertaken as decided by the CAC who shall in their report to conference determine which votes must be resolved by a card vote. Card votes may additionally be invoked by the Chair of Conference and shall be so invoked if called for by 30 delegates.

ooOOOoo

One thing to be noted is that Conference still has the last word on the contents of the Programme (C1.V.2). For inclusion, the Programme, it needs to be approved by Conference by a ⅔ majority. Policy cannot be included in the manifesto without this approval, so the Brexit position, free train fares and free broadband would seem to be promises we should not have made. I am equally unclear where the Faith and Culture manifestos came from. (I don’t even know if they were approved by the Clause V meeting.) Policy votes where not overwhelming should be counted by a  card vote to ensure that it is accurately recorded as meeting the necessary thresholds be it ½ or ⅔ majority. …

Cash in Hand

Amongst my discoveries while reading Labour’s 2018 Financial Report was the cash in hand figure which led me to post this!

Doesn’t seem to have caught, so I have reposted it here. …