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Labour indifference laid bare - LQD

by Helen Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 11:55:05 AM EST

Polly Toynbee laments that Cameron is sounding like he understands the problems, while Brown remains silent in his lair. I imagine Brown still fondly sees himself as a caring individual; however his entire worldview is still so poisoned by the idea that the economic growth of the country depends on the City that he cannot bring himself to criticise those aspects of the City's behaviour that do most damage to the economy, especially as he himself encouraged them.

Guardian - Polly Toynbee - The winds are growing bitter. Labour has to bare its teeth


Yesterday David Cameron made the speech Gordon Brown should have made months ago...
[....]
Speaking amid Canary Wharf's glass banking towers, Cameron laid into the irresponsibility of those in the City who caused the crisis, calling for a "day of reckoning". He compared Britain's soft approach to the US where the Enron fraudsters and Wall Street cheats get long sentences: the FSA has prosecuted only four people in the last year, only one connected to this crisis. Accusing Gordon Brown of "a failure of moral leadership", he called for a bigger levy on the City to better fund FSA investigations, and for irresponsible bankers to face professional consequences, just as bad doctors get struck off.
[....]
"Some people working in the financial services industry paid themselves vast financial rewards - salaries and bonuses beyond the comprehension of most of us." Well, not actually beyond his comprehension at all. Or this: "On behalf of the cleaner on the minimum wage, on behalf of working families worrying this Christmas like never before about what next year will bring, I say it is fair and reasonable that those responsible are held to account for their behaviour and that we show clearly that in this country there is not one rule for the rich and a different rule for everybody else."
[....]
Of course there are different rules for the rich and the poor - and everyone knows it.

Why else has the Department for Work and Pensions paid a small fortune for a massive television, newspaper and poster campaign with "We're closing in" on benefit thieves plastered all over bus shelters in poor areas? There are no such posters in the City, Canary Wharf, Notting Hill or Mayfair suggesting "We're closing in" on insider traders, bonus-fuelled reckless risk-takers or those purloining monstrous pay and private jets from the shares of everyone else's pension funds. The DWP's blurb for the campaign says sanctimoniously, "Stealing from the benefit system takes money from the pockets of hard working taxpayers." It certainly does - but not a fraction of the sums stolen, squandered, tax-avoided in tax havens or pilfered in unjustified perks by the directors and CEOs of public companies, now paying themselves 75 times the pay of their average worker. Each HM Revenue and Customs tax fraud investigator brings in a great deal more than each benefit fraud investigator. That's just one example of one law for the rich and another for the poor.

But does Labour have any recognition that the City is the source of our problems, or have they allowed the Tony Crosland dream to blind them into thinking that the country is so absolutely dependent on keeping the City happy that they are willing to collude with the population's impoverishment ?

Guardian - George Monbiot - Even in this crisis, the government still offers refuge to pinstriped pirates

There is a standard British procedure for dealing with problems like this (tax havens) - by which I mean problems that generate bad publicity but which you don't want to address. You commission a review and you choose the right man to conduct it. Confronted with a vocal international campaign and a new US president determined to tackle this issue, the government has selected a man called Michael Foot (not the former Labour leader).

Until last year, Foot was the inspector of banks and trust companies for the Central Bank of the Bahamas in Bermuda, a British tax haven. Though the review was launched only a fortnight ago, he already seems to have decided what it will say. Speaking about tax havens to the magazine Accountancy Age, he claimed that they had been given a clean bill of health by the IMF, and observed, "I can't see where the regulation failure is supposed to be." The Tax Justice Network maintains that throughout his long career in Bermuda, at the Financial Services Authority and elsewhere, he has never raised any public concerns about systemic problems in the financial sector. The identity of the person the government appoints is an index to the outcome it desires. Foot sounds like just the man for the job.

Even as it was commissioning this review, Brown's government tried to undermine international efforts to address the problem. Teaming up with that revolting little monarchy Liechtenstein, the UK sought to strike out a paragraph from the Doha trade agreement that aimed to eradicate tax evasion. Thanks in part to British lobbying, the draft commitment was substantially weakened.

Were Britain to release its remaining colonies, they would quickly succumb to pressure from the Obama government and the European countries trying to stamp out international evasion and organised crime. We hold on to the Falkland Islands for their oil and fish. We hold on to the other territories for something far more valuable: secrecy

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To mangle von Clausewitz:

New Labour is Tory rule carried on by other means.

(Or perhaps that should, in true CiF style, be "ZaNuLab".)

It's the tragedy of the UK that the political system favours the two main parties and that both are currently so similar.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 12:31:07 PM EST
I blame an electoral system that makes them both seek the same 20,000 votes spread across 50 constituencies.

They have to be similar cos they really only need that demographic to tip the blanace, everybody else is marginalised by this.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 12:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely. I've never had the opportunity to cast a meaningful national election vote.

It's actually an interesting philosophical debate. Some claim that the "marginal constituency effect" is an emergent property of the system, where I see it as basically gerrymandered in.

I contend that it's the way rural constituencies are drawn up that tends to give the Tories more safe seats than you would expect.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 01:37:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never been a fan of first past the post as the more parties you have in a any particular contest, the more you end up with electing the least unpopular person instead of the most acceptable.

You cannot afford to vote for what you want, you must simply vote most tactically against what you hate. the lib dems have always been under-represented in parliament for their share of the vote because of FPTP and it would be nice to see a different system that took voting preferences into account


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 02:10:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a tragedy, it's a feature.

Most people think that as long as they vote, they're living in a democracy.

The fact that all of the representatives they're voting for represent the same interests - either overtly and covertly - is a subtlety which is getting less and less easy to miss.

Besides, policy isn't set by MPs - as if - it's set top-down by the PM and by Whitehall 'advising' ministers, most of whom are clueless and few of whom have time to get up to speed on their temporary specialities before they're moved on.

Whitehall is infested by lobbyists and revolving door special interest groups, and I'd guess the culture isn't what you'd call proletarian.

So - the peasants think that the four year pageant cycle means the pretendy Wendy House parliament matters. But real government is happening elsewhere, and it's both defensive towards and contemptuous of the wishes of the unwashed - even though once in a while it throws them a bone to keep them quiet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 07:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not counting the large part of governing that isn't done by government, but by, say, head of large companies.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 07:40:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shades of Galbraith...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 07:57:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
theres the old Anarchist poster that has the following text on it

National election
XXXXXXXXXXXX

Local election
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This is your lifetime supply of democracy
please do not steal the pencil.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 05:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have the same pursuit of the marginal here in the US.  It creates a sort of regression to the mean, and gods have we regressed.
by rifek on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 09:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It's the tragedy of the UK that the political system favours the two main parties and that both are currently so similar.

Thought you might be talking about the US.  Same crap, different country.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 04:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Monbiot is spot on. Cameron... Well, he may be reacting to what he knows of the polls:

Tories' poll lead cut to five points as voters turn back to Labour | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Labour has cut sharply into the Conservatives' lead as voters turn to the government to protect them from the economic storm, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll. It shows a seven-point drop in Tory support since last month, narrowing the gap between the two main parties from 15 points to just five.

Today's poll is in line with other recent surveys, making it clear that the opposition has crashed back to reality after a triumphant summer, and David Cameron is not seen as the man to revive the economy. The results will inevitably fuel talk of an early election next February or in the spring, although Labour is still well short of the sort of support needed to retain its majority.

The Tories remain ahead in terms of votes, but can no longer be confident of picking up more seats than Labour.

Conservative support has fallen to 38%, from 45% in last month's Guardian/ICM poll. Labour has climbed three to 33% - the highest in an ICM poll since April. The Liberal Democrats are on 19%, up one - a more resilient performance than in some other surveys. Other parties account for 10% between them, up two.

Somehow Broon seems to manage to persuade voters he's the man of the moment. (? No, that can't be right, can it?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 04:29:11 PM EST
Now I see your reply to this here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 04:34:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Paul Krugman is a fan of Brown...


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2008 at 04:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Theres a rumour going round press circles that Tory central office is worried that the Front bench of Cameron, Osbourn and co look too wel fed and posh for them to succeed in a recession, and as a result their planners have put round a demand that all senior politicians in the Conservative party should diet to look more men of the people in the current climate.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 05:40:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't make this shit up.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 05:51:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, Recession Tories! Ill-shaven hollow-cheeked cloth-cap wearers?

Cameron:
I were down at t'mill t'other day, and they was sayin' as 'ow they'll be layin' t'lads off!


Osborne:
Aye, bloody shame innit, we'll 'ang t'bosses by t'balls when we get in!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 06:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Osbourne is reported to have said after a trip to the north east "You know some of the people up there dont even have central heating"

Man of the people.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 06:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not the place for this rant, perhaps... but has anyone mentioned to him that JSA is £60.50 a week?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 06:35:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't afford central heating on that.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 06:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No way.  You'd have a tough enough time covering rent and food.  And in the Southeast, forget it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 03:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well there was one in the house of lords back in the seventies who got up and said in the 70's that it was amazing that because of benefits, even his maid could afford a television...

conveniently missing out that he had to be paying an absolutely pitifull wage for his maid to be able to claim benefits.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 06:48:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Similar article in the WaPo here this morning on Florida, talking about how unemployment benefits had been eroded by inflation and were still basically the same as in 1993.  I kid you not: $303 per month.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 02:24:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG!  $303 per month?  Why do they even bother?

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 02:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because even Massa Gingrich didn't have the balls to be explicit about letting them starve?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 02:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems really terrible to say so, given the plight of people all over the world, but in the US it is not easy to eat nutritiously for 300 bucks a month.  

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 02:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To say nothing of the fact that you'd be lucky to rent a parking space in Miami for $300/month.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 03:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 02:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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