Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Clause IV

 When I was a member of the Labour Party the membership card (which was indeed made of card) had the text below, known as Clause IV emblazoned across it.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

Sounded good in 1918, sounds good today. Unfortunately Blair came along and in 1995 managed to get it rewritten as the waffle below:

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Now the new leader of the Labour Party comes along and in his maiden speech to  conference says it was right to do away with the old Clause IV!!


Monday, 27 September 2010

IMF backs coalition spending cuts

So says the headline from the BBC. BBC News - IMF backs coalition spending cuts

It does beg the question though as to what would happen if the IMF didn't back the government's financial plans?

Wikipedia describes the IMF thus:

It is an organization formed with a stated objective of stabilizing international exchange rates and facilitating development through theenforcement of liberalising economic policies[1][2] on other countries as a condition for loans, restructuring or aid.[3] It also offers highly leveraged loans, mainly to poorer countries
Which really sums up what the IMF is about. It's not concerned with the well-being of people, of humanity but the well-being of the financial system it is part of. Capitalism. Especially the nasty neo-liberal type.

So if the IMF didn't agree with an elected sovereign government's financial plans then we can assume it would take action to register it's unhappiness. And there are many and varied ways it can do this.

The IMF does have incredible power for an unelected, unwanted organisation. It can and does dictate to sovereign countries what their economic policies have to be. It can demand the access of international capital to internal infrastructures like water supply, sanitation and other things essential to life.

For such a position of power it should be subject to democratic control. But it never will be because this type of capitalism cannot function under democraic control, being subject to the will of the people. A very good reason for any government with the best interests of it's population at heart to untangle itself from this monster. There is another way, this doesn't have to be the way things are. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

As Billy Bragg once sung, No Power Without Accountability.

Billy Bragg - "NPWA"

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dennis Skinner and David Milliband

I did a post a few months ago about how encouraging Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover was. You can read it here. Someone commented that Dennis had become all mouth and no trousers so to say. I was surprised by such a comment.

Now over at Left Futures it's been highlighted that Dennis has put his weight behind David Milliband for the leader of the Labour Party. There's a report of Dennis justifying his position by saying “the big question is who are the Tories afraid of”.

What a disappointment to discover that a hero from my youth now considers the future for the working man and woman and the left best decided by 'who the Tories are afraid of'. Not about fighting for a better way, not about fighting against injustice and a system that heaps misery after misery upon the worker and the poor. But about 'who the Tories are afraid of'. Methinks Dennis has become parliamentarialised if he thinks this is going to change anything. Time to pocket the fat pension I would suggest.

Oh dear.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Didn't know what their spouse did

Tory MP weeps over discovery that his Brazilian wife is £70-a-time suburban prostitute

The shame of finding out your husband is an MP. How will she live it down?

Tony Blair Book Signing

So 'Honest' Tone's cash cow book signing tour seems to be coming off the rails. Protests by those dastardly lefty types seem to be causing problems with his security so he may curtail any more book signings.


However, a little snippet from the site caught my eye.
But Mr Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, said: "To be frank about it, I am concerned. I do not want to put everyone through a lot of cost and hassle on this Wednesday's signing so I am thinking about that."

The Metropolitan Police were "fabulous and they will do whatever we ask them to do" but should not be asked to commit resources unnecessarily, he added.

Given the moaning that certain sections have given to the state visit by the Pope, especially the costs, I've yet to see the same reaction given to Tone's security being provided by the boys in blue. Wonder who's paying?

And if you've had the misfortune to part with cash for the book or unfortunate enough to have read it then feel free to add your review to amazon! Seems he's taking a bit of flack on there as well.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Voting for the next Leader of the Labour Party.

It may be over 25 years since I tore up the yellow folded card with Clause IV printed boldly on it but it seems I still have a vote to influence the choosing of the next leader of the Labour Party. Got an envelope from the Electoral Reform Services today with details on how to vote together with some bumph from Unite. I had quite forgotten about my opting in to the union's political fund.
So what rag-tag buch have put themselves up for 'the job'?

Diane Abbot

Pros: Seems to talk some sense.
Cons: 'That' school issue.

Ed Balls

Pros: Not David Milliband
Cons: Stinks of New Labour

Andy Burnham

Pros: Promises to refocus the Labour Party away from being London-centric.
Cons: Previous govermental positions means he's got a whiff of New Labour about him.

David Milliband

Pros: Erm?
Cons: Iraq, torture allegations, stinks of New Labour

Ed Milliband

Pros: backed by toss-pot Kinnock
Cons: backed by toss-pot Kinnock
So there we go, so who should I be voting for?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Banks forced to write off £40m a day in family debt

More media misinformation from the Daily Mail about the poor old banks.

Apparently the banks are writing off debt from struggling families to the tune of £40M a day. The paper goes on:

Between April and June banks and building societies were forced to 'write off ' £3.5billion, around £40million every day, the largest amount since records began.......

........The largest chunk of write-offs - a record £2.1billion - was credit card debt, with many spending more on the High Street in a day than they earn in a month.

A further £1.2billion came from overdrafts, personal loans and hire purchase agreements. Just £184million was from 'bad' mortgages.

Before you reach for the hankies it might be a good idea to consider the Mail's steaming pile of misinformation and downright lies a bit further.

Firstly, it's only in the case of bankruptcies that debts get 'written-off'. If it's just that you can't afford to pay then the debt will remain with you. The banks take a decision to maintain the debt or to sell it at for less than the value to a bottom-feeding debt collection company. There is no 'writing-off' in these cases. In fact if the bank values the debt at the price they're willing to accept from the debt collection companies then why not just let the debtor pay that back?

Secondly the banks are complicit in the level of debt initially and are doubly complicit in the acceleration of debt that people suffer when they are in trouble. Take the case of credit cards, one of the major sources of debt. You may be on a 'good' (don't laugh) interest rate of say 16%. At the first whiff of gunsmoke the banks will immediately hit you with a punitive interest rate of up to 30%. They say it's to encourage you to change your spending habits but in reality they're trying to increase the rate at which they claw back the debt before you go tits up. The fact that in doing so may be the difference between survival and pushing people over the edge is neither here nor there. When it comes to money the banks have no morals, no shame and no humanitarian spirit.

Thirdly, you'll find that most of the debt is simply compounded interest. If you've ever found yourself in the position of not being able to pay off credit cards and making do with the minimum payment then you'll know what I mean as you see the debt increase. Profit for the bank without it having to do a stroke of work. Genius! This is why the church is, and should be against usury. An activity that should be made criminal.

Fourthly, those parasites owe the masses big time. We've bailed them out by billions and watched them laugh in our faces, waving and taunting their bonuses at us like the Met at a miner's picket line. There's nothing I'd like to see more than the whole system come crashing down. Perhaps this is the way to do it!!

Banks forced to write off £40m a day in family debt | Mail Online