Friday, December 30, 2011

Conservatives wanted to abandon Liverpool and the devil take the hindmost.

Of course up here we all new this already. The north of England was just an inconvenience to the Tories in the 80s. Think of that bit in the movie version of The Beach were the dying man is making too much noise so the other commune members just put him in another hut. Thatcherites will argue that the heavy industries prevelant in the north were outdated and innefficient and so needed to be removed like Christo's gangrenous leg but what was put in place by way of "post-operative care"? A Garden Festival? Really?

The documents released today show they thought about cutting their losses on the difficult places like Liverpool and put resources into regenerating areas that didn't need it so much but would show results more easily.

they record Geofrey Howe urging the government "not to over commit scarce resources to Liverpool. I fear that Merseyside is going to be much the hardest nut to crack,"

"We do not want to find ourselves concentrating all the limited cash that may have to be made available into Liverpool and having nothing left for possibly more promising areas such as the West Midlands or, even, the North East."

"It would be even more regrettable if some of the brighter ideas for renewing economic activity were to be sown only on relatively stony ground on the banks of the Mersey.

"I cannot help feeling that the option of managed decline is one which we should not forget altogether. We must not expend all our limited resources in trying to make water flow uphill."

I acknowledge that politicians do need to make tough decisions and discuss options but this confirms what we've always suspected...fundamentally and irrefutably the Conservatives will ALWAYS have the core attitude "The devil take the hindmost". This is in their DNA, it's why they get into politics. The welfare state is an anathema to them, they simply cannot understand the impact economic difficulties have on ordinary people. Think back to the "Get on your bike and look for work" quote...deep down they see being unemployed as a lifestyle choice and being poor as your inescapable station in life.

To them the working classes are just consumers and when times are hard you, like Christo in The Beach, are just an inconvenience and need to either shape up and look after yourself because, put simply, they don't see it as their job.

So there you go, that's the party Cameron and Osborne joined as teenagers...when traditionally you are at your most idealistic and want to go out and change the world...they chose that one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The assault on universalism. Warnings of the conservatives and the welfare state

Brillaint article from the BMJ about the destruction and dismantling of the welfare state

Hope they done mind me re-producing it. Really superb stuff

Christmas is a time to count our blessings, reflecting how they came to be. For people living in England this reflection is more relevant than ever, as the coalition government paves the way for the demise of the welfare state. This statement will be seen by many as reckless scaremongering. The welfare state, not only in Britain but also throughout western Europe, has proved extremely resilient.1 How could any government bring about such a fundamental change?

To answer this question it is necessary to go back to the 1940s, when Sir William Beveridge called for a national fight against the five “giant evils” of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness.2 His call secured support from across the political spectrum. Although he sat in the House of Commons as a Liberal, his plans were implemented by a Labour government, and continued under successive Conservative ones.3 The reasons for such wide ranging support varied but, for many ordinary people, the fundamental role of the welfare state was to give them security should their world collapse around them.

There were good reasons to seek security. The British people had just emerged from a war that had shown that, regardless of how high they were on the social ladder, they could fall to the bottom in an instant. The death and destruction of war were not the only threats; a serious illness could blight a family’s prospects. People wanted to be sure that they would not be on their own if disaster struck, and they were prepared to ensure this through taxes and insurance contributions. They were, literally, “all in it together,” accepting rationing of food and fuel to guarantee that in the face of austerity, everyone had access to the essentials.

In the 1970s, the philosopher John Rawls developed this concept into what he called a “theory of justice.”4 He argued that a fair society was one designed as if from behind a “veil of ignorance,” meaning that class and social forces were removed from policy making. As he put it, behind the veil, “no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like.” Rawls argued that in such circumstances decision makers would create a society that does not privilege one group over another, as no one can know where they will end up. This uncertainty about the future was a fair approximation of what many people had experienced during the war.

The postwar situation was quite different in the United States, for several reasons. The country emerged from the war with a powerful corporate sector, enriched by military spending, that could shape the political discourse in its own interests. In much of Europe, industry was devastated, and in Germany and the countries it had occupied, many major corporations were tainted by collaboration.5 6 However, a crucial and longstanding difference was the role of race in society. In America, the rich could never fall to the bottom of the ladder, because that position was already taken. African Americans faced persistent and widespread discrimination. There was no veil of ignorance. Europeans knew they could go to bed rich and wake up poor, but a rich (and, by extension, white) American could be confident that they would never wake up black.

The consequences are apparent at all levels of American society today. In household surveys, support for welfare among white Americans is influenced by the race of the poor people who live around them: if their neighbours are white they are more inclined to generosity than if their neighbours are African-American.7 Although inequality is diminishing across ethnic groups (just as it is has risen across classes),8 the legacy of racial division continues to undermine support for social welfare. In states with a high proportion of African Americans, welfare payments are much less generous9 (an illustration of the “inverse care law”).10

Thus, one concern in explaining this American exceptionalism11 is that welfare is not seen as insuring one’s family against catastrophe but rather as a payment to people with whom one has little shared identity. In this way, society becomes divided into “deserving” and “undeserving” groups of the poor.

A second difference is that Americans have been much more likely than Europeans to attribute poverty to laziness rather than misfortune (a form of victim blaming).12 If the rich wish to help the poor they are urged to use philanthropy, encouraged by the tax system and facilitated by a strong religious culture and distrust of the state. However, voluntary giving means that the donors can select the beneficiaries of their largesse, rather than leaving the choice to a democratic system. More than a third of social spending in the US comes from voluntary giving, whereas the comparable figure was less than one tenth in the pre-2004 European Union.13

A third factor is the relative absence of a countervailing discourse, reflecting the absence of a strong left wing or trade union voice. The entrenched dominance of the American two party system stymies the development of left wing political parties, while the geographical dispersion of population during the 19th century constrained the ability of a national trade union movement to organise.8 Industrialised countries with a greater fraction of workers in unions, one indicator of the power of the political left, invest more in social welfare

Understanding where the money comes from is only half the picture of the welfare system. The final main difference between the United States and Europe relates to what the wealthy get back from the state. This is much less in the US than in Europe. In every area the US is less generous; from education, to healthcare, to unemployment benefits. On average, the US invests about $3170 (£2031; €2370) per person less than would be expected if it were a member of the pre-2004 European Union, given its national income (authors’ calculations).14 In other words, the state is not there to help the rich and, in many respects, it is doing less than ever—for example, by disinvesting in public universities.14 15 Thus, the state does not offer a system of mutual security. Instead it provides a basic safety net, albeit an increasingly threadbare one. The advantage of the American system, if you are rich, is that you can pay much less in taxes. Indeed, the low tax/low welfare system is so skewed that a billionaire will pay a much smaller proportion of income in taxes than the poorest paid workers, so that effectively the poor are subsidising the rich.16

By contrast, in Scandinavia, taxes are high but, in return, the rich obtain a comprehensive package of high quality benefits either free or at minimal cost, including child care, healthcare, social care, and university education. There is a clear trade-off: you pay higher taxes but you get more back in return (as well as living in a more harmonious, safer society).17

So for those who wish to destroy the European model of welfare state, the structural weaknesses of social welfare in the United States offer an attractive model. First, create an identifiable group of undeserving poor. Second, create a system in which the rich see little benefit flowing back to them from their taxes. Third, diminish the role of trade unions, portraying them as pursuing the narrow interests of their members rather than, as is actually the case, recognising that high rates of trade union membership have historically benefited the general population.18 19 Finally, as Reagan did when cutting welfare in the 1980s,1 do so in a way that attracts as little attention as possible, putting in place policies whose implications are unclear and whose effects will only be seen in the future. All these strategies can be seen in the UK today.

The tabloid press, much of it owned by multi-millionaires, is at the forefront of the first approach. Each day they fill their pages with accounts of people “milking the system.” By constant repetition they create new forms of word association, constructing a cultural underclass. “Welfare” is invariably associated with “scroungers.”20 “Bogus” invariably describes “asylum seekers.”21 They accept that there is a group of deserving poor, whose situation has arisen from “genuine misfortune” (which seemingly excludes refugees caught up in wars), but when these groups appear in their pages it is because they have been let down by the state, which is devoting its efforts to the undeserving. And as a growing body of research shows, this continuous diet of hate does make a difference.22 23 24

Such vilification of the undeserving poor is not new. What is changing in the United Kingdom is the progressive exclusion of the middle classes from the welfare state through incremental erosion of universal benefits. The logic is appealing, but highly divisive: Why should the state pay for those who can afford to pay for themselves? Why should “ordinary working people” pay for “middle class benefits”? The economic crisis has given the government a once in a lifetime opportunity. As Naomi Klein has described in many different situations, those opposed to the welfare state never waste a good crisis.25 The deficit must be reduced, and so, one by one, benefits are removed and groups are pitted against each other, as the interests of the middle class in the welfare state wither away.

The first cut was to universal child benefit. This has been paid to all mothers, regardless of family income. It recognised the importance of children to society as a whole, not just to an individual family. It was also cheap, simple to administer, and free from anomalies. The government will now restrict child benefits to anyone in a family where one person is a higher rate tax payer. The problems were apparent from the start. A family with four children and two wage earners, each earning just below the higher rate tax threshold, would earn a total of up to £84 950 per year, supplemented by child benefit of £3146. A similar sized family in which only one parent worked but earned just over the tax threshold, at £42 475, would get nothing. If that parent was a widower, they would lose a further £5077 Widowed Parent’s Allowance, which is linked to child benefit, resulting in an 18% drop in income. Only a saint would avoid asking why they pay their taxes at all in such circumstances.

The next thing to go was affordable university education. This was more difficult. The government first had to make the case that a university education was mainly a personal benefit, rather than a societal one. Graduates could expect higher incomes, on average, so they should pay for the privilege. The contribution they would make to society, as doctors, teachers, social workers, or in myriad other ways counted for nothing. The government argued that publicly funded education was unaffordable, yet the new system will be more expensive than what it replaced.26 But this is viewed as a price worth paying to remove a universal benefit. Moreover, students faced with years of personal debt know that some of their fees are being used to provide bursaries for poorer students. It is easy to see how, as they struggle to pay back their debt, this generation may also ask why they are paying taxes.

These recent assaults on universal programmes are just the start. Ministers have made it clear that they see railways, which since privatisation have required much greater public subsidies, as “rich man’s toy”.27 We are fed statistics showing that those who travel by train tend to earn above average income, so fares must rise above inflation. Of course, the reason (we are told) that the privatised railways are by far the most expensive in Europe is not because their shareholders are making excessive profits from what is in effect a state guaranteed monopoly but rather because of restrictive practices by trade unions, an argument that helps to erode support for them even further. Why should the ordinary commuter pay taxes to support this undeserving workforce as well as ever increasing fares?

The Mirrlees Review on the tax system, commissioned by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has highlighted what it sees as an anomaly, whereby many of life’s necessities, such as food, as well as things that make life a bit more civilised, such as books, are free from value added tax. It argues that this universal policy should be redressed and, if it causes hardship, then the poor (although it admittedly does not preface this with “undeserving” but by now most readers will get the message) should receive subsidies to help them.28 Once again, the ordinary shopper will ask why they should be paying taxes.

The direction of travel should now be clear. More and more, the middle classes will ask why they are paying into a system that gives them little back. The idea that the state is an insurance system, from which they can benefit if they are in need, is steadily eroded. Even the word “insurance” will be taken out in chancellor George Osborne’s plans to merge national insurance with taxation. There will be ever greater reductions in the funding, and inevitably the quality, of those remaining services used by the middle classes, such as primary and secondary education and healthcare, persuading them that they would be better off seeking private options. Public services will become like public hospitals in the United States, a service for the poor. As Richard Titmuss famously said, a “service for the poor” inevitably becomes “a poor service,” as the vocal and politically active middle class abandon the system.29 The ground rules are already being laid in healthcare, as the health secretary has sought to weaken his responsibility for a comprehensive health system. At some stage in the future any vestigial safeguards could disappear and commissioning consortiums, by then funded from personalised budgets, would become, in effect, insurance companies, with all sorts of ways to limit whom they enrol and what they cover.

Who benefits from this progressive degradation of the welfare state? Obviously not the lower classes. But nor do the middle classes, as the new, complex, and individualised systems are more expensive than what existed previously, often of poorer quality, and invariably far more complicated. The real beneficiaries are the very rich, who no longer have to pay for services they never used anyway.

Will the British people allow the welfare state to be dismantled? Not yet. But the situation could easily change. The experience of the United States shows how easily people can be persuaded to vote against their own economic interests.24 By visualising the stark reality of the future that may lie ahead of us we may be forced to challenge our own complacency. In this way, we can only try to emulate the “spirit of Christmas yet to come” in Dickens’ Christmas Carol and hope that we will have the same happy result.30

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Liverpool Football Club statement on Luis Suarez...and Rosa Parks

Liverpool Football Club have issued a statement about Luis Suarez

Liverpool Football Club and the Montgomery City Bus Company are is very surprised and disappointed with the decision of the Football Association commission to find Luis Suarez and James F. Blake guilty of the charges against them.

"We look forward to the publication of the commission's judgment. We will study the detailed reasons of the commission once they become available, but reserve our right to appeal or take any other course of action we feel appropriate with regards to this situation.

"We find it extraordinary that Luis and James can be found guilty on the word of Patrica Evra and Rosa Parks alone when no-one else on the Bus - including Parks's own colleagues and all the other passengers whilst a journey was underway.

"LFC and the bus company consider racism in any form to be unacceptable - without compromise. It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that James F. Blake did not commit any racist act. It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular bus driver was not credible - certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations.

"It is key to note that Rosa Parks himself in his written statement in this case said: "I don't think that James F. Blake is racist." The FA in their opening remarks accepted that James F. Blake was not racist.

"James himself is of a mixed race family background as his grandfather was probably Irish or something.

"He has driven buses with black passengers and mixed with their families whilst serving with the Army and was part of a bus company with a proud multi-cultural profile, many of whom became good friends.

"It seems incredible to us that a driver of mixed heritage should be accused and found guilty in the way he has based on the evidence presented. We do not recognise the way in which James F. Blake has been characterised.

"It appears to us that the FA were determined to bring charges against James F. Blake, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November. Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that James F. Blake is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide James with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.

"We would also like to know when the FA intend to charge Rosa Parks with making abusive remarks to an opponent after he admitted himself in his evidence to insulting James F. Blake in Spanish in the most objectionable of terms. James, to his credit, actually told the FA he had not heard the insult."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So far so good

Thanking Saint Bernadette, Saint Benet, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Nicholas, Saint George, Saint Edward the Confessor, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Sebastian, Saint John of God, Saint Peregrine, Saint Anthony, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Our Lady of Lourdes and the Good Lord himself plus anyone else you care to mention tonight. Had a lot on my mind recently buts so far so good. Good bless the NHS

Monday, December 12, 2011

UK isolates itself from it's major trading partners

The tories have outdone themselves this time. Somehow they think they've vetoed a major treaty that's actually gone ahead anyway leaving us basically out in the cold.

Our neighbours have gone ahead and done everything without us so all Cameron has achieved is to drive a wedge between us and Europe for no other reason than to appease his own party's xenophobic Tea-Party element. The French and Germans won't forget his selfish obstinance and breathtaking arrogance in a hurry.

So half his coalition site aghast at the line he's taken, the Scot, Welsh and Northern Irish are livid given that they had no say in this stupid pointless stand and for what? Well the Daily Mail are happy and that's all that seems to matter to them.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

In honour of today's public sector strikes. Altogether now...

Soyuz nerushimy respublik svobodnykh
Splotila naveki velikaya Rus'!
Da zdravstvuyet sozdanny volley narodov
Yediny, moguchy Sovetsky Soyuz!

Slav'sya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye,
Druzhby narodov nadyozhny oplot!
Partiya Lenina - sila narodnaya
Nas k torzhestvu kommunizma vedyot!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

George Osborne's autumn statement "We balls it up"

It is quite depressing when it turns out the people in charge aren't cleverer and don't have any secret knowledge you aren't party to. For months it's been massively obvious that the Conservative's austerity policies are a millstone holding the economy back. It now turns out that there will be over 700 thousand public sector workers losing their jobs now and for what? Well it would seem for nothing..."It's hurting but it's not working".

So tomorrow if you see a picket line remember to beep and wave, they are just ordinary people looking after what is rightfully theirs. You won't be alone, there is broad public support for the strikes, a BBC survey revealed this.

Don't let the rich and privileged elite play divide and conquer with the ordinary people of this country.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Tram Experience woman arrested

Get in! Great news (if true) that that vile racist in the my tram experience video has been arrested.

There are few things in life worse than a racist. Great to see that the masses have ganged up on that particular cretin.

I love it when the like of her and the EDL and the BNP get rejected. It's like the good people all standing up and saying "We aren't all petty bullies".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

RIP Gary Speed

Such horrifying, tragic news today. So utterly sad to see someone so familiar and so bright & talented take their own lives. It's really knocked me for 6 today and I don't suppose I can write anything eloquent enough to do the tragedy was heart breaking listening to Robbie Savage choking up talking about him on 606 today but you have to say he did his mate proud.

This is one of the best pieces I have read about the the whole thing and says things better than I ever could:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WTF? Conservative students burn an effigy of Barak Obama

I know the Conservatives are a pretty paltry ever-dwindling bunch in Scotland but was this attempt to gain some cheap publicity or a way of finishing themselves off permanently?

"An effigy of US President Barack Obama was burned over the weekend by members of the Conservative student association at St Andrews University.

The incident is understood to have taken place on Friday evening on the town's East Sands beach.

One of those who attended told the BBC that members of the association had "no input" and were "surprised" to discover Obama was on the bonfire.

The St Andrews Conservative Association apologised for any offence caused."

How utterly KKKish? What were they thinking. Apparently the same Conservative society has burned effigies of Gordon Brown and Nelson Mandela in the past and one of the chairman of the university's Labour society.

Suppose it'll go down a storm with all those Tea Party weirdos the right seem to look up to so much.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Everton return to winning ways

Thank God, I know that was a nightmarish run of games but it was so good to get 3 points under our belt again after so long

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Has Martin Johnson really quit over 2 few drinks in Queenstown

It's difficult to have any faith in the RFU at the moment...they've been abominable over the last year and today Martin Johnson has quit as England manager deepening the crisis.

Basically as far as I can see if no-one had been there to photograph the England players in that Queenstown bar he'd still been in a job. The furore over that night out is amazing and the RFU's inability to control the agenda on it is pretty lame.

What did the players actually do on this "tour of shame"? Aside from Tindall doing something slightly silly they are guilty of posing for a few pictures as far as I can tell. The media have been whipping this up into a scandal ever since....this is the same media who were mortified when the England footy team exiled itself in a remote location in South Africa.

Both teams are probably guilty of not lifting a world cup they were never really had a hope of winning.

So 3 years of hard work for England down the drain, we came within a game of doing a Grand Slam last season and yet the media have focused on one night-out and made the manager's job untenable.

Theresa May minutes away from losing her job?

Have to say she's a very lucky woman after just delegated a huge problem of immigration security and queueing at airports. If the minutes of her meeting with Brodie Clark could prove he'd told her about the relaxation of finger print checks she'd be out wouldn't she? I mean all the other home secretaries were told, would she not have been?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The only shirt to wear today

So impressed that The St Louis Cardinals won the world series. To go from scraping a ropey last-gasp wildcard berth to winning a seven game world series is amazing.

Don't worry though, I have my pink Everton shirt on underneath. Come on you Blues

Monday, September 26, 2011

Some light reading before bed

Loving the Labour Party Conference. Had a great evening/night.

Ed Balls tells it like it is while Rory Weal steals the show

Top speech by Ed Balls (if a little troubled in the delivery possibly because of Ed's stutter). He outlined the problem and gave Labour's answer. Solutions that could get the economy moving again but are getting ignored due to Osborne and Cameron's arrogance.

Ed Balls urges VAT cuts for growth

Just before that I saw Rory Weal speak at the Labour Party Conference and was so proud to be part of the same party.

Rory Weal at the Labour Party Conference & Standing ovation for Rory Weal

Also heard Maria Eagles' speech mocking the transport ministers road sign review ("No Left Turn" being central). Tremendous

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hurrah for the Victoria and Albert Museum

Went for a meeting at the V&A today, wonderful place and lovely, lovely people (we work with the people running their shop). On our way out we got to nose round the Sacred objects exhibits which, as a Catholic, was so special.

Unfortunately this was the only picture I got.

REM split

Sad to hear REM have split as they were one of my favourite bands of all time.  

I have to admit their newer stuff largely passed me by but their older stuff is as good and as fresh as ever. This was from their Life's Rich Pageant album from back in 1986.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A nice night a Goodison Park

Everton 2 - 1 West Brom (aet) - Carling Cup.

Well I say nice, it wasn't a classic but always good to progress. Frustrating in parts but with impressive performances from Drenthe, Velios and Fellaini and lovely goals from the Divine Afro and Phil Neville (superstar, got more medals than Steve Gerrard).

Everton had all the ball in the first half but created nothing then it's fair to say West Brom bossed the second half until the last 15 minutes when the Toffees got going.

Roysten Drenthe in particular looked to be enjoying himself once Everton started playing and the space opened up.

Fenerbahce's Women and children only football match in Turkey

Thought this was a brilliant thing. After they were put under threat of playing games behind closed doors Turkish side Fenerbahce came up with the superb idea of maintaining support for the team by banning men and only allowing women and children into the match.

41,000 women and children turned up for the match against Manisaspor in Istanbul so I think it can be judged a success. Wonder how many of those women had never been the match before?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Liverpool Seamen Gates

Popped down to Liverpool One at the weekend to see a new Merchant Seaman monument. This were to gates of the old Seaman's Hostel situated on the site where John Lewis is now. Such a beautiful piece of work, well worth a visit.

I know a lot of people have worked long and hard to bring them home to Liverpool

Sky on fire over Liverpool

Absolutely lovely sunset over South Liverpool tonight

Radio 5live pro-coalition bias?

Radio 5live Breakfast interview a coalition minister :

"So Deputy Prime minister it's been a tough year for you hasn't it"
"So, Mr Lansley, what would you say to people who are worried about you policy"
"So Mr Cameron are you doing a brilliant job or a very brilliant job"
"Tell me about your kids"

They get a Labour MP on it's :

"Doesn't this alledged in-fighting and back-biting prove you aren't fit for goverment"
"Did Gordon Brown's temp get in the way of goverment"
"This new book proves you were all at it doesn't it"
"Was Ed Balls constantly plotting against his colleagues"
"Scandal, scandal, scandal"

I have always listened to 5live and, let's face it as a sports addict, I always will. I remember getting a call of a radio listeners survey and having a choice of "Up to an hour", "One to two hours" "Over two hours" and worked out I listened to about 6 hours of radio a day. I do like the current crop of presenters but I think they need to have a look at themselves in how they treat the respective parties.

This morning is a case in point...their presenter just gave endless open forums for Nick Clegg to rattle off the party line (eg "When we came into government we had a deficit bigger than Ireland, bigger than Italy", then went on to chat about his kids...Once the interview was over Rachel and John Pienaar got together to wax lyrical about how brave Clegg is and generally saluted his indefatigablility. Earlier Tim Farron had been asked about Vince Cable attack on the Tories as "ideological descendants of those who sent children up chimneys" and was allowed get away with saying that he was actually talking about "Red tape". Compare that to recent grillings Andy Burnham and Ed Balls were subjected to in the wake of Alistair Darling's book.

I switched over to the Today Show on Radio4 and Clegg tried the same "When we came into government we had a deficit bigger than Ireland, bigger than Italy" line and was immediately taken apart. Our economy is much bigger than those countries and Italy is currently getting downgraded because of lack of growth not it's structural deficit.

I wouldn't say this is an institutional problem throughout the BBC (although I'm sure some of you will put me right) but there is a real pro-Coalition bias at 5live and it needs sorting out.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Still obsessing about the colour of Everton's socks

Great result though, you'd have to chalk it down as "Resilient". We battered them in the first half but looked totally leaden in the second (faced with some pretty un-ambitious, time wasting opposition).

Great to see the new boys chip in with goals. Velios and Drenthe took theirs really well and Denis looked lively too.

Given Lancashire winning, Everton's result, Waterloo winning away at Penrith plus England beating Georgia and Peterborough getting 3 points too you can't really complain at that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another McGough Moliere, this time Tartuffe

Off to see Tartuffe at the Liverpool Playhouse tonight. Hope it's as much fun as the last Roger McGough Moliere adaptation. The Hypochondriac was brilliant fun so hoping it's another good'n.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Join Labour's NHS Campaign

Around 7000 cancer sufferers who have done the right thing and have paid into the system, may lose as much as £94 per week

Click below to call on David Cameron to stop this before it is too late 

Ed Miliband on the offensive

Nice to see Ed Miliband MP, going on the offensive again. Stinging George Osborne with a good quip about his lurid past yesterday (A bit undignified but given Cameron's style and Osborne's awful joke at the GQ Awards who can argue with it) and today he has written to David Cameron demanding that he returns to the House of Commons to correct inaccurate statistics that the Cameron used at PMQs. Put simply David Cameron is far to cavalier in the House of Commons...he seems to think it's all beneath him. Arrogantly dismissive whenever anyone calls him to account. Not good enough and we need to pin him on it. The letter from Ed Miliband MP to David Cameron is below: Dear Prime Minister, Yesterday, in response to me at Prime Minister’s Questions, you said that “since the election there are 500,000 more jobs in the private sector. There are more people—300,000 more people—in work than there were a year ago” (Hansard, 14 September 2011, column 1028). This answer is inaccurate. Between June 2010 and June 2011 the Office of National Statistics has confirmed that private sector employment increased by only 264,000 and that net employment increased by just 24,000. The only way it is possible to claim 500,000 extra private sector jobs is by including jobs created between 1 April and 30 June 2010 – but of course this includes time when Labour was still in office, which is not “since the election” at all. You also said, after I correctly pointed out that the UK has grown more slowly in the last year than any other EU country apart from Portugal and Romania, that “this year, Britain is growing faster than America” (Hansard, 14 September 2011, column 1029). In fact, the UK has grown by 0.7 per cent over the last year to the end of Q2 2011, the latest period for which figures are available, while the USA grew by 1.5 per cent over the same period. Everyone in public life has a responsibility to ensure we rebuild and maintain trust in politics and politicians. Ensuring accuracy in our answers in the House of Commons is central to that, a responsibility underlined in the Ministerial Code. Furthermore, the British people will want to be assured that the decisions you take, which have such profound consequences for families and young people, are being based on properly researched data and empirical evidence. As such, I trust you will return to the House and correct the record at the earliest opportunity. Yours, Ed Miliband MP

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rugby World Cup time, how do you face the Haka

Ah the age old question, doesthe Haka give the all Blacks the psychological edge? How do you face it? How do you avoid being culturally disrespectful without being meek?

The Cockerill model is the one for me but eventually that will lead to an all out brawl

Personally I think it'd be interesting to see how Wayne Rooney would face it...or even Duncan Ferguson.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Tories have killed the economy?

Staggering data from a report in the Daily Mail today (never one to forego a scaremongering story). They have mapped the current economic mess onto previous crashes to show how long it took to recover each time.

As you can see this current crash is on course to be the longest in history...what is pretty obvious from the graph is that we were on target to come out of the mess and recovering strongly until the current stagnation happened under the Tories. For everyone who still clings to the notion that Labour messed up and the Tories are merely taking restorative measures this has to be a wake-up call surely. This is not due to a royal wedding or a few days of snow...this a stagnant economy and it's exactly what Alistair Darling was trying to avoid with stimulus and tax cuts, it's exactly what Ed Balls has been talking about for month.

Join the Labour Party

Through the miracle of Blogger scheduling at the time this post is published I will be out campaigning for the Labour Party. I do not claim to be Mr Socialism, I am not out every night, I don't know the words to The Internationale, I've only been a member for 18 thing I do know is that I am absolutely loving it.

By no means are Labour perfect, there are lots in our recent history we should be regretfull about but there is also tonnes we should be massively proud of. Just 'cause the media have it in for New Labour doesn't mean we should be ashamed to shout about the acheivement. Being from a working class family in Liverpool throws the political spectrum into sharp relief and we only have to think back to the 80s as a portant of what the Tories are trying to achieve this time round. Think back to the way school and hospitals were then and look around now. Are Labour guilty of just not being perfect? Personally I think we seem frightened to stand by our record and the things New Labour put in place, fair enough there were mess-ups and things we got wrong but so far this Coalition is just a littany of broken promises and misery from a team of empty vessels. Any objection people raise to their policies is blithely dismissed and mocked, it's be easy to stomach if they actually had a mandate!

In my time in the party it's been brilliant. My Constituency Labour Party has been welcoming and full of great's been a pleasure to work with them and the outstanding victories in the May council elections were a privelige to be part of. I am not saying all local Labour parties are all like this but you really should give it a go. Be part of the fightback.

Never trust a Lib Dem

So after making a big show about forcing a "Listening Exercise" over Lansley's NHS Reform bill the Lib Dems meekly voted for the reforms in the same way they voted for them in the first place.

So now pandora's box is open and the NHS is all about competition...The private sector can swoop in on the profitable areas whilst leaving the scraps to the NHS in the same way the vultures jumped on the profitable areas of the Post Office's business.

It couldn't have happened without Nick Clegg and your friendly neighbourhood Lib Dems...we should never let them forget it. You expect the Tories to bow down to their business friends and allow them to feather their nests with public money. Profit is all they ever care about...The Lib Dems however have enabled all these wretched policies to get voted in.

The NHS reforms were in no-one's manifesto. Cameron expressly promised he wouldn't impose top down NHS reforms and yet here we are. Cameron is a arrogant liar whilst Clegg is a vile little quisling. It's a tricky call on what's worse.

Nye Bevan said the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it. The storm of dismay and derision proves there is folk left....Personally I'd love to see it start at the Lib Dem conference but I very much doubt it

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Oh look, Cameron lying about NHS staff supporting his reforms

So that arrogant wretch has been blithely lying about support for the Tories ridiculous NHS reforms...Well done to the NHS organisations for standing up and calling him to account on his arrogant duplicitousness.

The BMA have been screaming from the rooftops about Lansley's bill for months but still Cameron claims to have support for the bill amongst NHS staff...well now the Royal Collage of Nursing and the Royal College of GPs have stated categorically that they aren't. 

David Cameron told MPs that doctors and nurses were now "supporting" government plans to overhaul the NHS in England.

Following the remarks during prime minister's questions, the Royal College of Nursing issued a statement saying it still had "very serious concerns".

The Royal College of GPs said it was "extremely worried" about some aspects.

(Report on the BBC)

Never Trust a Tory

Monday, September 05, 2011

It's back : NHS privatisation

So, it would appear that it's back....after the Coalition's much publicised "Listening Exercise" it would appear there is around 1000 amendments but despite the national outcry over this bill the government are only giving MPs two days to debate it....apparently that's less than 10 seconds per amendment.

The noises we are hearing are not good. Senior Lib Dems are voicing concern that this is still a back door privatisation. Shirley Williams herself breaking ranks

The future of the government's health reforms has been plunged into fresh doubt as the Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams raises new concerns, and secret emails reveal plans to hand over the running of up to 20 hospitals to overseas companies.

The revelations come as MPs prepare to return to Westminster on Tuesday for what promises to be a crucial stage of the flagship health and social care bill. Baroness Williams, one of the original leaders of a Lib Dem rebellion against health secretary Andrew Lansley's plans – who appeared to have been pacified after changes were made over the summer – said she had new doubts, having re-examined the proposals. "Despite the great efforts made by Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow [the Lib Dem health minister], I still have huge concerns about the bill. The battle is far from over," she said These secret emails are pretty much a smoking gun and should be enough to derail this ridiculous unheralded, unmandated destruction of our much loved health service.

Unison are seizing on this because they prove that the government are lying to us "Regardless of what Cameron and Clegg say in public, it is clear that behind the scenes the government is planning to privatise the NHS. Private companies will only run hospitals if they see a profit in it. This, together with lifting the cap off the number of private patients NHS hospitals can treat, will completely change the culture of the NHS. It will be profits before patients. "We demand that the government come clean on their plans. If this is true, patient choice is a complete sham. The move to any qualified provider is clearly about creating a market for private companies. Any MP who votes for the health and social care bill is voting for the end of the NHS."

The BBC lay out the issues at stake in frightening detail

Despite protecting the NHS budget, the health service is still having to make savings. It has been tasked with finding £20bn over the next four years - that is about 4% a year from its annual budget. The government argues this can be made through making the service more efficient, but the fear is that the NHS will fall back on the easier option of restricting access to care. Reports have emerged of NHS trusts limiting access to some services, such as IVF, while completely stopping funding others.

There are also signs that waiting times may be on the rise. The prime minister recently reiterated his commitment to keeping waiting times for hospital operations to below 18 weeks. In practice, that means nine in 10 patients have to be seen that quickly to reflect the fact there are valid medical and personal reasons why some people wait longer. In a third of areas, this standard is being breached, although nationally it is being kept because other areas are overperforming. With winter just round the corner - when more demands are placed on the health service - the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

So despite the talk the Coalition ARE looking to privatise the NHS and it looks like the only people who can stop it at the Lib Dems...this is their chance however there are reports of Clegg calling a meeting of their MPs and ordering them not to "Rock the boat".

So there you have it, another betrayal. The Tories have no mandate from the people, they expressly promised no top-down reforms of the health service, they promised us a listening exercise....but here we are.

There's nobody better than Mikel Arteta

Bit delayed in getting round to doing this because we feeling pretty low on Wednesday & Thursday then busy over the weekend. What a rotten way to lose a player, so many flashbacks to Rooney and Lescott's departures. It makes you appreciate the fact that Everton don't get cherry picked all that often now. So who do we blame, we it's so disappointing to have Mikel force the move through but let's face it the club accepted the bid and allowed Arsenal to speak to him. The chance of Champions League footy was just too much of a draw for a player of his age and of his quality. Even so Evertonians are pretty gutted to lose him. You can be pragmatic and point to his advancing years or his ups and downs in form but at the end of the day it just shouldn't have ended like that. Watching the minutes tick and away waiting for the news to come through was pretty miserable and if I blame anyone I blame Wenger...the pompous, stubborn fool sat there all summer insisting he didn't need to buy and then when his team got utterly found out he came panic buying. Every schoolkid in the country knew Arsenal lacked steel and experience, it's been like that for years and yet he takes his team into the season woefully short of both and it Everton who'll suffer. Anyway we now have Denis and Royston to muse over. They might turn out to be world beaters but whatever happens we'll miss our Mikel.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Karl Marx was right?

Interesting piece on the BBC about people re-evaluating Marx's theories on Capitalism

As a side-effect of the financial crisis, more and more people are starting to think Karl Marx was right. The great 19th Century German philosopher, economist and revolutionary believed that capitalism was radically unstable.

It had a built-in tendency to produce ever larger booms and busts, and over the longer term it was bound to destroy itself.

Marx welcomed capitalism's self-destruction. He was confident that a popular revolution would occur and bring a communist system into being that would be more productive and far more humane.

Marx was wrong about communism. Where he was prophetically right was in his grasp of the revolution of capitalism. It's not just capitalism's endemic instability that he understood, though in this regard he was far more perceptive than most economists in his day and ours.
Karl Marx Marx co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels

More profoundly, Marx understood how capitalism destroys its own social base - the middle-class way of life. The Marxist terminology of bourgeois and proletarian has an archaic ring.

Our new stone edging

This took some effort but we have dug down about 8 inches and got them in nice and deep

Our new flowerbed

Spent the day gardening after yesterday?s food and drink festival fun. To show for our efforts this year we have a lovely new flower bed where the yukka used to be and some impressive new stone edging.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jammy Everton for once

Well after a painfully disappointing start again QPR the blues have bounced back with two wins. Yesterday's against Blackburn probably saw us play a lot worse than we did last week and come away with the points.

When it's your day it's your day...I have to disagree with Moyes about the penalties, both there's are soft penalties but are given every time. No complaints. In terms of ours Samba wins the header but Fellaini is taken out by his jump. Personally I am surprised it was given but if the Rovers players are doing it each and every time they are running the risk.

Still Blackburn must be gutted that they didn't win the game, the Everton players must be delighted. A win is a win.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Remember the Battle of Cable Street and ban the EDL marches

I can absolutely understand why some people are extremely uncomfortable with banning EDL marches.

Why i feel banning the far right EDL would be a dangerous precedence to set

I know we must always beware the thin end of the wedge and I can totally understand quotes like this :

"i think if we allow them to march we can expose them for the racist nazi's they are, much like when the bbc gave nick griffin a platform to speak, many critisised that but after that his support dropped as people could see through him, much the same here i feel. plus we risk shooting ourselves in the foot if we wish to protest for our own means in the future which i am sure we will"

I do think that difficult as it is I am perfectly comfortable with banning scumbags like this from spreading their hateful, divisive lies. It is a sign to the communities they target that we aren't all like that. The alternative is what happened at The Battle of Cable Street when the left rose up and counter-marched against Oswald Mosely's fascists when they targeted the Jewish communities of the east end of London.

If we have to do that then fair enough but we have moved on from that and such extremists are beyond the pale. We don't tolerate racism in this country, simple as that. Why shouldn't racist parties & organisations forfeit their rights to have their voices heard.

It is extremely tough because we cherish our freedom in this country, freedom isn't freedom to bully and spread hate though.

I agree with Nick on human rights (but he's wrong to blame Labour)

Read this with interest today, I agree that Nick Clegg is right to defend the human rights act and I agree with his rejection of of the frothy-mouthed tabloid furore every time it is mentioned. It is undeniably a massively important thing and one this country has embraced throughout our history. It is a convenient rabble-rouser for the empty vessel media to get riled about, find any outlying example and report on it as an example of the norm. It's similar to that other favourite spurious anger raiser: Health & Safety. I work with a Health & Safety specialist and let me assure you Health & Safety has not "Gone mad" (Neither has political correctness for that matter) but if you can find on outlandish example in some insignificant backwater than that's your "journalism" done for the say...

...and if you can lump Europe with it all the better. Remember that episode of QI where Stephen Fry debunked the health & safety, human-rights, political correctness, European parliament myths.

Chris Grayling was on the radio earlier this week pledging to try and cut through the mire and myth about health & safety but a rejection of the concept to score cheap political capital is definitely not the way forward.

So anyway while I agree with Nick *shudder* I do disagree with his fairly faint praise of Labour for passing the bill in the first place. Just another example of the whole dismissing of Labour's achievements in favour of a dissection of the bills looking for any negativity (A bit rich when you consider utterly ill thought-out policies such as tuition fees with £9k exceptional circumstances or the NHS Reform currently quivering in the long grass hoping everyone forgets it exists)

He is also fairly mean to single out Jack Straw as an opponent of Human Rights whilst linking to an article where he says basically the same as David Cameron is. Anyway here is an extract from the article :

The Labour government that passed the Human Rights Act then spent years trashing it, allowing a myth to take root that human rights are a foreign invention, unwanted here, a charter for greedy lawyers and meddlesome bureaucrats.

This myth panders to a view that no rights, not even the most basic, come without responsibilities; that criminals ought to forfeit their very humanity the moment they step out of line; and that the punishment of lawbreakers ought not to be restrained by due process.

The reality is that those who need to make use of human rights laws to challenge the decisions of the authorities are nearly always people who are in the care of the state: children's homes, mental hospitals, immigration detention, residential care. They are often vulnerable, powerless, or outsiders, and are sometimes people for whom the public feels little sympathy. But they are human beings, and our common humanity dictates that we treat them as such.

There is, of course, a sensible discussion to be had about the details of how the act operates. In November the UK takes over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, and the government wants to take the opportunity to advance the reform of the European court of human rights, for example to improve the timeliness and consistency of its decision-making. At home, the government has set up a commission to investigate the case for establishing a UK bill of rights. It has long been my party's policy to use a bill of rights to deepen our commitment to the protections of the Human Rights Act, and also to protect other British liberties, such as the right to jury trial.

But the biggest problem with the Human Rights Act is not how it operates in the courts, nor how it interacts with other rights. It is how it is manipulated not just by the media but by overcautious officials. It was, for example, of no help to anyone when police spokespeople blamed human rights for a decision to deliver a KFC meal to a fugitive on a roof: this had nothing to do with the Human Rights act. There is no human right to fried chicken.

So, as Cameron has said, we need to "get a grip on the misrepresentation of human rights". Too many people have succumbed to a culture of legal paranoia where common sense decisions are questioned – not by the courts, but by overcautious lawyers and officials. This creates an ever-worsening cycle: the more we perpetuate the myth that, in the words of Jack Straw, human rights are a "villains' charter", the more those dealing with lawbreakers curtail their behaviour because of a general sense that rights trump common sense. The friends of human rights have the most to gain if we get a grip on this. We must give public officials back the confidence that reasonable decisions taken in the public interest will be defended by the courts – as they usually are when they actually reach the courts.

Court judgments themselves tend to tell a very different story about our rights culture than tabloid papers. The Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights have been instrumental in preventing local authorities from snooping on law-abiding families, in removing innocent people from the national DNA database, in preventing rapists from cross-examining their victims in court, in defending the rights of parents to have a say in the medical treatment of their children, in holding local authorities to account where they have failed to protect children from abuse, in protecting the anonymity of journalists' sources, and in upholding the rights of elderly married couples to be cared for together in care homes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everton stall against QPR but bounce back against Sheffield United

The opening day of Everton's season (week two for everyone else) was a massively frustrating one and one that underlined the gloom around the club at the moment. The players are talking positively but the fans see a squad that has been left high & dry by financial constraints.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle because the players see a loyal club that is seeking to back them and reward them for staying...the fans see the team that has needed a striker for about two years.

What is for sure is that a home defeat against QPR was not what we needed. One shot one goal from the visitors but a defeat is a defeat. Everton huffed & puffed, hit the bar, hit the post had penalty claims waved away but ultimately never put QPR on the ropes. Very frustrating.

Goodison was sparely attended on Wednesday (by our standards, apparently there was only 4000 at Loftus Road the night before against Everton 17,000) perhaps owing to the depression felt amongst the bluenoses. In truth Sheffield United offered little by way of a real test but rather humorously took the lead despite Everton dominating the whole game. This seems to act as a wake up call for the Toffeemen who hit back straight away and were out of site by half time.

A win is a win I suppose.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Louise Mensch fibs while Libya burns

The people of Libya are at a crucial point in their history as the rest of the world looks on praying that the Gaddafi regime doesn't have a sting in the tail.

The rest of the world minus Louise Mensch of course. As the TNC rebels massed outside Tripoli and what's hopefully the endgame played itself out everyone's favourite chick-lit author turned A-List selected MP was busy tweeting like a political groupie and proclaiming it a "Genuine Triumph for David Cameron" whilst bizarrely inventing a paralell universe where Ed Miliband opposed the Libyan intervention. See here

This brought about the usual storm of twitter derision but it is very sad considering A: People are still fighting and dying for freedom in Libya and B: Ed made a strong speech supporting the NATO action from the off (As showed in the links below)

Good to see the people at Political scrapbook ar taking her to task

Mensch’s “memory” of this incident appears to be a rather imaginative work of fiction. A quick search of Hansard reveals no such mockery in any of the seven occasions Miliband has mentioned the no fly zone. In fact, he could hardly have been more supportive of the idea:

28 February: “We welcome what the Prime Minister said about a possible no-fly zone.”

14 March: “when the Prime Minister first publicly floated the idea of a no-fly zone two weeks ago, that we welcomed the possibility. It is disappointing that Friday’s communiqué did not mention it … it seems to us that the priority must be to translate the no-fly zone phrase into a practical plan.”

28 March: “I welcome the fact that the military operation to enforce the no-fly zone and protect civilians is showing signs of success.”

I wonder if this shows a desperation amongst The Tories after recent travails. Regardless it is pretty grubby and we await a retraction.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A one eyed view of the Catholic church??? Never

Ignore the good and focus on the bad.

So the likes of the BBC and the Guardian are publicising people protesting over the cost of World Youth Day in Madrid, it must a modern day miracle. Two million people descending on a city and not putting a single penny into the local economy. Perhaps the protesters are expecting the Pontiff to perform the feeding of the two million? He's good but not that good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


So Everton's season finally gets underway today....can't say I am optimistic about Everton's chances but I can't wait to get to Goodison, when all is said and done I do love being a bluenose.

Lib Dems telling "lies" in Liverpool (again).

Got this through from Liverpool Council leader Joe Anderson and though it worthy of a reprint:

"They’re at it again – but then did we ever expect anything less? Many residents have been contacting me over the last week to tell me all about the latest Lib Dem leaflet which has been going through letter boxes across the city this week.

Well, I say ‘across the city’ – its mainly been in the south of the city and in places which were once Lib Dem strongholds, where their sitting Councillors are now clinging on desperately.

Indeed, ‘desperate’ is how I’d describe their latest effort. Its such a shame, this is a bunch of councillors which could be lobbying their Government to stop hitting Liverpool with cut after cut after cut. This is a party which should be on the phone to their Ministers and MPs telling them not to slash 800 officers from Merseyside Police, or another £50million from Liverpool City Council.

But instead, they’ve taken to telling lies about how much we’re spending on taxis, trying to claim that what we’re spending in a year on taxis has been spent in six months. And here’s another thing: the vast majority of these taxis weren’t used by lazy councillors or extravagant council staff, but by adults and children to help them get to their care centres and children’s homes.

Do the Lib Dems want to make these vulnerable people walk to their care homes and children’s centres?

And here’s something else for the Lib Dems to think about from their moral high ground: Last year, 35 Lib Dem councillors claimed £2,321 in travel allowances, whilst 50 Labour councillors claimed just £303.

When the Lib Dems want to have a serious discussion about transport and care packages for vulnerable people – care packages that have to be delivered against a background of savage Lib Dem / Tory cuts – then I am ready to talk sensibly. Until then, I’m more than happy to keep embarrassing them with statistics just like these."

Pretty sneaky from the Liverpool Lib Dems but par for the course after their election fibs about weekly bin collections and the crap they through at Luciana before the general election.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reminder : "What Next for Labour" is out September 5th

Looks like it will be a good read

“Labour does not quite seem to get enough credit for its considerable accomplishments. The foundation of our modern state occurred in the 1945-51 period yet seems taken for granted; the 1960's was a vital decade of social change certainly made easier by a centre left Government; the achievements of the Blair period, constitutionally, electorally and socially are to be lauded and never denied; similarly the social spending of Gordon Brown together with his international financial management at a time of need- all represent considerable governmental achievements. That is progress to be proud of and to be built on. No blank sheets but rather a turning of the page.”

“We have to map out a vision of the future of an NHS which stands comparison with the best of consumer services in this country. Choice based on easily understandable information; services integrated across all its different parts; the patient’s journey smooth and unimpeded.”

Chapter list is as follows


Ann Black: In and Out of Power: A View from the Grass Roots
Lord Whitty: Reflections on Labour votes and Social Democratic Philosophy
Dr Rupa Huq: The Path Back to Power is a Suburban One
Tony Lloyd MP: In Search of Labour’s Big Idea
Peter Watt: Building a Party for the Future
Lord Temple-Morris: Labour: the Progressive Choice
Tracey Cheetham: Social Media and Labour


James Frith: New Ideas for Labour’s Fresh Economy
Matt Pitt: The Case for a British Investment Bank


Siôn Simon: Why Mayors Matter and Why Labour Should Support Them
Joseph Russo: Co-ops and New Labour
Bill Esterson MP: A Campaigning Party
David Hanson MP: What Awaits Labour in 2015?
Eric Joyce MP: It’s a Sin
Richard Robinson: Labour’s Good Society and Strong Communities


Ashley Tiffen: A Socialist Law and Order Agenda
Admiral Lord West: Defence: The Most Important Duty of Government but Sadly not a Vote Winner?


Lord Knight: What Chance an Enabling State?
Aaron Porter: Where Next for Labour’s Higher Education Policy?
Dr Nick Palmer: Student Fees: A Constructive Response
Axel Landin: Reclaiming Our Status as the Natural Party of the Young

Ellie Cumbo: All in This Together? The Future of Gender Equality in the Labour Party
Baroness Goudie: Can We End Poverty Globally? Asking the Difficult Questions


William Bain MP: Justice and Growth: Labour’s Agenda on Food Security
Kieran Roberts: Sustainable Socialism
Graham Stringer MP: Transport Policy for the Twenty-First Century
Nick Palmer: Animal Welfare: The Neglected Swing Issue


Irwin Brown: A Socialist Plan for Health
Lord Hunt: Our NHS: The Labour Party Challenge

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Premier League football is back

So despite Everton's game being cancelled it was nice to have the Premier League back at the weekend.

United look decent going forward but defensive injuries and their keeper looking suspect could be problematic (once the rest of the league smell blood on a dodgy keeper there is no mercy). City looked outstanding once they'd made the breakthrough against Swansea and Aguero looked immense when he came on (Dzecko looked decent too and Villa was his usual awesome self). Torres looked brilliant for Chelsea whilst Suarez looked superb for you-know-who. Arsenal have some questions to answer especially with losing Fabregas and Nasri.

Everton are in a very tricky position, another year without any transfers is pretty much unforgivable...If teams come looking for the likes of Jagielka and Fellaini we could well be in a lot of trouble because we are paper-thin and lacking strikers. We'll see I suppose.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ed Miliband setting the right tone over the riots

Have to say I liked the tone Ed Miliband took today on Radio4 (more and more he is impressing me recently), now is not the time for political point-scoring and I am wary of all the knee-jerking I am seeing since the riots began. We need to take time to listen to what places like Tottenham, Croydon and Clapham are telling is. I know being a bleeding heart Liberal is more out of fashion than ever but whilst I agree there has to be a big clamp-down on the criminal scumbags who did this we do need to work hard to see if we can address the issues that made the places such tinderboxes. Anyway, here's what Ed said

Ed Miliband has blamed the riots that swept English cities on a "me first" culture - and accepted Labour must share the blame for creating it.

The Labour leader said his party had failed to tackle inequality and not paid enough attention to morality.

And he linked the riots to a wider collapse in social responsibility exemplified by the banking crisis and MPs expenses scandal.

He said he would set up his own riots inquiry if David Cameron failed to act.

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the breakdown in social order that occurred this week showed many people had lost their sense of right and wrong and there was a "me first" culture.

"There is an issue which went to all our souls - this is an issue not just about the responsibility and irresponsibility we saw on the streets of Tottenham.

"It's about irresponsibility, wherever we find it in our society.

"We've seen in the past few years MPs' expenses, what happened in the banks, what happened with phone hacking."

And he admitted that Labour had not done enough to tackle deep-rooted moral problems during its 13 years in power.

"I deeply regret that inequality wasn't reduced under the last Labour government. But we did great things to tackle inequality in our society," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We did better at rebuilding the fabric of our country than the ethic of our country."

He urged the prime minister set up a public inquiry in the next few days, adding: "We have got to avoid simplistic answers.

"There's a debate some people are starting: is it culture, is it poverty and lack of opportunity? It's probably both."

Mr Miliband said that if Mr Cameron does not agree to set up an inquiry "I'm going to do it myself".

Speaking to a group of young people in Brixton, south London, Mr Miliband said the inquiry should not just take evidence from the "usual suspects" but should also include people from communities affected by the rioting.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee will begin its inquiry on 6 September, with London Mayor Boris Johnson set to be its first witness.

Committee chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said: "We will be looking at police tactics, we will be looking at the operation of gangs, we will be looking at mobile communications, and we will be revisiting some of the issues we have looked at in the past, such as the inquiry into the G20 protests.

"This will be a thoughtful and measured inquiry."

Policing the riots and criticising the police

I am hearing a lot of criticism of the police as the dust settles in the wake of the recent riots. This strikes me as particularly knee-jerk and opportunistic. I saw a lot of scary scenes from the comfort of my front room and I saw a lot of people's lives being torn apart by thugs and criminals and mindless morons but the one thing I didn't see was police lounging round doing nothing.

The police officers who put themselves in harms way night after night have barely caught their breath, I think it's hugely disrespectful to come out and publicly criticise the police and (judging by what I'm hearing from police officers speaking on the radio) Cameron might well live to regret it....yet another example of him looking to blame everyone else whilst taking responsibility for nothing?

I am sure they didn't get it 100% right in a rapidly developing situation, reviews will take place and improvements but it's wrong & distasteful to come out and publicly lambast the people who were landed with the job of containing an unprecedented amount of criminilaty.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The London Riots & David Cameron's Big Society

So what have we all learnt, well judging by the twitter, facebook and phone-ins we can certainly agree that people are very, very angry & shocked over what happened in the London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Salford, Bristol and West Brom. It is always a shame to see the surge of "Hang them high, birch them low" Daily Mail style knee-jerking but after what we've seen over the last week who am I to argue with them?

People took the opportunity to run amok, simple as that. This isn't a's simple scumbag criminality. The very second they new that police in Tottenham were confined to barrack they went out and started stealing. Then the rest of country's scumbags decided they wanted in too. We all know this...I say it to give a background of how I see it because ultimately we HAVE to look for the reasons behind this otherwise we'll be here again sometime soon. Given the background of cuts to police and fire services it is irresponsible of the coalition to pretend that frontline services can cope with emergencies like this with a massively reduced budget and much less manpower. The young police officers and fire crews who put themselves in harms way this week deserve to have this looked at because they always have our backing if we expect them to go out and bring order to anarchy.

The problem at the moment I see is that to give a reason for these riots seems to be viewed as making excuses...let's be clear (Politician speak!), these little rats where looting and torching local family run businesses with people living in the flats above. See it unfold in our own neighbourhoods or live on our tv screen was appalling. So what factors meant that given the chance to going a rampage people took the opportunity so readily and so widely? There will also be economic factors at play, these are difficult are scarce, benefits and services are being cut, families are broken. There is a just a void in these places and gangs and the opportunity to riot fill that. When violent crime takes place the rest of the country doesn't care as long it is is contained & away from the rest of us.

With all this there is no shame in the criminal behaviour because it's seen as taking a bit back from a society that wants to ignore you. There is also a lack of family and community pier groups to re-enforce the pride in being honest. It's an ever-decreasing circle then. Operation Trident was an attempt to police this in a more measured way but we will definitely have to look at where we are with that. My point is that going with the easy, instand reaction of coming down on these people like a tonne of bricks then doing nothing else is only a temporary solution. My thought is that David Cameron will finally get support for his oft-relaunched, oft-rejected Big Society but it will only work if this time he finally puts some funds and resources behind it. Things like SureStart centres are the Big Society but *gasp, shock, horror* they are coming from local government...if you can explain what's wrong with this let me know. Cameron's bizarre obsession with localism and federalisation is a postcode lottery writ large and it's not what we need because these communities where action is needed most have already lost that lottery.

One other thing we can be re-assured that the ordinary people of this country will always rise to challenges like this. Armies of clean-up volunteers have been spontaneously coming together to help restore high-streets to order and helping shop-owners get back on their feet...if there is a Big Society this is it, it is restorative rather than preventative though and it's effectively running on adrenalin...if we are to take this and apply it to the communities in question we need cash and resources. Liverpool jumped aboard The Big Society with gusto but quickly backed off when people realised it was little more than a fig leaf for government cuts, if Big Society relaunch #18 (I think that's what we are up to now) is to work when it's needed most then it has to be more than a bumper-sticker.

David Cameron seems to look massively annoyed whenever the job of PM involves something other than gala lunches and meeting famour people...he is a classic captain-of-industry figurehead chairman, well hopefully this week proves you can't do the job from the golf-course (or in this case Tuscany). He needs to work at establishing things that will make improvements to our inner cities and then people will the moment all he's done is to create a void (through cuts) and created a name for what he hopes will spontaneously fill it. If the Big Society is as important to him as he makes out then he's now got to put up or shut up.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

London Riots : I predict a garden festival

So sad and so shocking to watch the capital burn last night. Actually scary to see anarchy live on your tv...all this from a peaceful protest involving an grieving family. Is that what it takes? The police stay at home for 5 minutes and all of a sudden it's time to loot a retail park? Seeing shops set alight and the flames engulfing the surrounding flats just made you feel sick.

You watch with confilcting opinions...the Daily Mail reader inside all of use wants curfews, rubber-bullets, water-cannon and troops on the streets. The Guardian reader in you thinks of the levels of dissaffection, deprivation & anger that must exist for this madness to take hold so quickly. The truth will be much more complex and will almost certainly go back throughout the duration of Operation Trident. For this reason I'm glad Labour haven't jumped up and immediately blamed the cuts.

One thing is for sure this will leave those communities even further in the mire than they were before, there has been a lot of talk from community leaders about staying indoors and clearing the streets and community politicians like Diane Abbott have been talking a lot of sense. I do have to ciriticise Theresa May, just standing in front of the cameras and repeating the words "Sheer criminality" and making vague allusions to how tough the reaction is going to be just made her look horrifically out of her depth.She straight-batted every question with "Let's be clear this is just sheer criminality" and gave no assurances whatsoever to Londoners. She was basically a wind-up toy put out there until the government can chair a COBRA meeting, I don't blame Cameron for going on holiday but there really needed to be a better reaction from those left behind.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

It's true, I think.

Popped down to Liverpool Pride (via the excellent new Liverpool Murseum) to say hello to the LGBT Labour chaps and's fair to say they have all the best stickers :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

John Maynard Keynes Vs Friedrich August Hayek live on the BBC

Interesting article on the two economists, Keynes & Hayek. Obviously as a socialist I'd be on the Keynesian Economics side of the debate :

As their economies contracted, governments responded to their mounting budget deficits by raising taxes and cutting spending.

The Great Depression bottomed out at the end of 1932, with British unemployment having reached 20%, American unemployment even higher.

Keynes wrote the General Theory in 1936 to explain why the recovery was so feeble.

His revolutionary proposition was that following a big shock - usually a collapse in investment - there were no automatic recovery forces in a market economy.

The economy would go on shrinking until it reached some sort of stability at a low level.

Keynes called this position "under-employment equilibrium".

The reason was that the level of activity - output and employment - depended on the level of aggregate demand or spending power.

If spending power shrank, output would shrink.

In this situation it was the government's job to increase its own spending to offset the decline in public spending - that is by running a deficit to whatever extent necessary.

To cut government spending was completely the wrong policy in a slump.

When an economy is booming, a hair shirt at the Treasury is the right policy, when it is stagnating it is the wrong policy.

Keynes's message was: you cannot cut your way out of a slump; you have to grow your way out.

Eighty years on we have still not fully learnt the lesson.

Three years after the collapse of 2008, our economy is flat: there are no signs of growth, nor can the Osborne policy of a thousand cuts produce any.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A week away

Spent last week in Lourdes with the Hospitalite hence no posts...was shocked & appalled to hear of the events in Norway. Puts politics and sport in perspective. Thoughts and prayers with the AUF and the whole Arbeiderpartiet,

Lourdes was ace as always btw, hard work but good work...loads to be done and lots of new people to get to know.

It's great to just get on with the work at hand and then kick-back with a pint to relax afterwards. Not everyone's cup of tea but I love it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where for art thou Everton

As a blue I always know we aren't going to launch audacious swoops for top level players. Extravagent wages tempting foreign mercenaries to be joined by cherry-picked England internationals...nope it's fair to say that Everton are not a "Money" club.

Instead Moyes' revolution, whilst no less seismic than the City/Chelsea uber-splurges, has been all about players with a point to prove being given the perfect place to prove it. Generally players improve at Everton nowadays, they blossom. Cahill, Arteta & Pienaar cost the same as the amount liverpool lost on the Robbie Keane debacle. Seamus Coleman probably cost the same as Glen Johnson's daily wage.

That said this flow of players seems to have dried up now and signings seems to be very limited. After Lescott left we invested the money in Distin, Bily etc but since then Moyes seems to be feeding on scraps. Beckford was always going to be, at best, a slow burner and Gueye was going to take a long time to adjust to the pace but they represented our only striker signings....this close season looks to be more of the same, Everton have a solid base but they squad is tiny and needs augmenting otherwise another squandered season in the doldrums beckons

either that or we say goodbye to prize assets like Fellaini and/or Baines and trust Moyes and re-invest.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ed Miliband takes on News International

So Ed is going for the jugular on this, a brave move given that he's the first Labour or Tory leader to disregard the consequences of a hostile News International.

Already dark forces are stirring and warning that they will make it personal for him if he makes calls for Rebekah Brooks to resign. We all remember what happened to Chris Bryant.

Miliband is sticking to his guns though, with David Cameron umming and ahhing and desperate not to make too much noise because he knows he's thick as thieves with the Chipping Norton Set it falls to the Opposition Leader to grasp the nettle and hope the public stay behind him.

The problem with this is that the public are notoriously easily lead (as the Kaiser Chiefs said)...despite the outrage they aparently doubled the print run of the final News of the World, possibly this was a clever, loss-leading publicity stunt but if not what message does it send to the advertisers who made a stand and boycotted the paper?

Interestingly I can see a pleasing devil-may-care attitude to Miliband's attacks and why not? He must have known he was never going to get a fair crack of the whip from the Tory press so why not go out of his way to take them on when they a vulnerable. Even if ultimately the right-wing media ends up as hostile as ever will that, in the eyes of the public, be a bad thing. If Cameron is still seen as their darling then being the man of the people on the outside will be a good thing and will allow him a free-er hand in his opposition.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Our new tree fern is doing nicely

Lost so many plants in that winter. That cold cold did for the huge sprawling yukka we had out the back so we've decided to replace it with something a little more hardy (hopefully)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Andy Coulson to be arrested

It keeps going and going and going. Today Andy Coulson is to be arrested by the police for questioning about the News of the World phone hacking....still we are supposed to believe Rebekah Brooks is innocent and knew nothing about it?

Thought Ed Miliband, who I've been critical of recently, set an excellent tone in calling for a judicial enquiry and highlighting David Cameron's shocking error of judgement in hiring Andy Coulson and brining him into number 10. Apparently Cameron was warned about Coulson by both left & right but still pressed ahead with the appointment.

I did like Ed's careful call for a review that preserves the free press whilst shining a light into the murky world of journalism. He also did well to admit that New Labour were thick as thieves with Murdoch too (although not quite as personally in bed with them as David Cameron is).

The public have spoken, the politicians have listened and look like they are taking action...will the public vote with their feet and move away from the News International papers or meekly start buying the the S*n on Sunday when it arrives? Outrage and righteous indignation is one thing but if people fall into the same pattern of hanging on every word of the press then nothing will change.