Kate Hollern:A few snippets from the Liberal Conference

 

Nick Clegg says a Tory majority next year would see Britaindiminished and divided. Vince Cable says the Tories are planning punitive and unnecessary cuts to the working poor that go far beyond what is needed to cut the deficit. Both accept that the freeze on benefits would hit  millions of poorly paid working families.

Workers would fear for their jobs because Conservatives would allow bosses to “ fire them at will” while young and old would suffer time and time again  as Osborne  takes his axe to the welfare budget with no regard for the impact on people’s lives.

Schools would be run in the interest of profit for shareholders rather than the life chances of pupils

But, wait a minute. Are these the same Liberal Democrats who have supported the  Tories in implementing unfair cuts for the last four years?  Remember the Tories don’t have a majority in Parliament and every action that they have taken has needed Liberal Democrat support to become law. And now, with a  General Election round the corner, the Liberals start attacking the Tories because  their proposals are unfair. What hypocrisy!!

You can’t believe a word that Clegg and his cronies say!

The only way to avoid the scary predictions of Tory policies after 2015 is to vote Labour.

 

Kate Hollern:Lib Dem’s broken promises!

Where does Nick Clegg think we have all been over the last four years as he has kept in power one of the most ruthless right-wing government’s that has been relentless in attacking working families and those in society unable to defend themselves!

Today he is due to attack his Tory coalition partners and ask the public to trust him – but the truth is that he has backed the Tories all the way, and broken the promises he made at the last election. You can’t trust Nick Clegg, and you can’t trust the Lib Dems.

They broke their promises.
• They promised to scrap tuition fees and then trebled them.
• They promised not to increase VAT, warned against a “Tory VAT bombshell”, but then voted through a VAT rise on everyday working families.
• They promised a fair tax system with the wealthiest paying more, but they cut taxes for millionaires while most families are worse off.
• They promised to be on the side of working people, but working people are £1,600 a year worse off since the Lib Dems joined the Tories in government.

Any promises they make now and in the run up to the General Election are worthless and should be ignored.

Cameron’s Tories don’t care about our NHS – why would they?

It’s becoming clear that the focus of next years’ General Election – and the key policy issue which highlights the difference between what the Labour Party stands for and what the Conservatives are all about – is the way we look after our NHS.

The Tories have delighted in negative stories about the NHS.  They’ve said it needs reform.

The fact of the matter is we all know that the NHS isn’t perfect but what it does guarantee is that every person in this country receives whatever medical treatment they require no matter what background they come from and at no charge.

It’s the most basic moral offer of a civilised society – that we’re all born equal human beings and health or medical problems are not in our control and should not require payment.  The rich should have no more right to medical treatment than a person living off benefits having been in a road accident that has prevented them from working.

No matter how hard the Tories try to tell us they care about the NHS, deep down we all know the truth.  They don’t care because, firstly those at the top of the Conservative Party have no problem in paying for their own healthcare and secondly, basically they know that those most likely to need healthcare are from more deprived areas and most definitely not likely to vote Conservative.

The Tories opposed the creation of the NHS – fact.  And in every Tory government since then they’ve tried to dismantle it.  We cannot afford to let them get another five years or it will without a shadow of a doubt be too late.

Jack Straw: Whirlwind of change since first conference.

Jack Straw: Whirlwind of change since first conference

First published Thursday 25 September 2014 in Opinion

THIS week’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester was the fortieth I’ve attended. It will be my last as an elected MP.

My first was in Blackpool, in 1972. In between, I’ve missed three, all for family reasons.

So what’s changed?

The smell – stale smoke everywhere. If it wasn’t your own cigarette you’d be inhaling, it would be someone else’s.

The colour – a rather dirty red brown. All the men wore suits and ties (brown ones seemed popular – they went with the nicotine stains).

The atmosphere – often unpleasant. The 1970s were a period of national decline. Factories, shipyards, pits were closing. There were huge tensions inside the movement: should the “struggle” be by Parliamentary means alone, or by general strikes and civil disobedience?

The power. The trades unions called the shots, with their six million block votes. Constituency parties scarcely had a look-in.

The dramas. Nothing was certain. Crucial resolutions could fail, for the most bizarre reasons. It was self-harm on a catastrophic scale.

In 1975, I witnessed the great trade union leader Jack Jones scuffling with a Labour MP on a public platform.

In 1976, Chancellor Denis Healey was given just five minutes, from the floor, to explain his policies – booed and heckled for his pains.

In 1978, a straightforward resolution of support for the Labour Government was defeated by 2.8 million to 3.6 million!

It took heroic efforts, led by Neil Kinnock, and then Tony Blair, to give the party to its members and end the nastiness.

Most memorable conferences? That’s easy. Bournemouth, 1985, when Neil denounced the Trotskyist Militant Tendency.

Best moment for me? That has to be the 1997 Conference, in Brighton, our first in government for 18 years – and there I was as Home Secretary.

Is this the end of Labour conferences for me? Certainly not. But my pass will no longer say “MP – Ex-Officio”.

Lib Dems must act now or face annihilation in 2015

The Liberal Democrat Party must surely be in turmoil after last weeks’ election results.  Whilst the top headline will be the fact that UKIP polled highest the second will surely be the fact that the Lib Dems were behind the Greens and face being completely wiped out in next years’ General Election.

As a Labour supporter I don’t have a great deal of time for Liberal Democrats who in my dealings appear to possess a strange ability to be part of a coalition yet pretend that they are not part of the decisions which that coalition is taking.  Look at our local Lib Dems in Blackburn with Darwen who appear in total agreement with Labour when it comes to being unhappy with the level of cuts imposed on us by the Conservative/Lib Dem Government.

However, from the point of view of healthy democracy, not to mention the historic contribution made by the Liberal Party – which is one of England’s oldest – it would be far better if they did not disintegrate, and offered a more serious challenge against the Conservatives.

So how do the Lib Dems possibly get out of this mess?  Dumping Nick Clegg might help a little – but nowhere near enough.

The answer – in my view – the Lib Dems should resign from the coalition Government.  They should have pulled out of the coalition well before now but there is still time to redeem themselves a little if they are able to say that they’ve withdrawn as they’ve listened to the voters and it’s clear that the voters do not want right wing Conservative policies.

The current void of unhappy Tory voters is clearly being filled by UKIP, and as they grow in success this will inevitably and worryingly lead to a rightward move in British political thought.  And whilst some UKIP representatives have expressed irritation with being accused of being a rightwing extremist party I have no doubt that it is the same ideas that the Nazi Party and more recently the BNP have proclaimed, which are appealing to voters – ideas and policies that rear their head again and again at times of economic hardship – when the public are struggling day to day and immigrants are the easiest people to blame.

We live on an Island.  Everyone in the UK is a migrant or descendent of a migrant; and Europe is our main trading partner.  UKIP’s policies might resonate with people looking for someone to blame for the current mess but the reality is that it’s our Tory Government and its policies of austerity, causing stagnation, that are to blame.  The Lib Dems could be standing in opposition – like Labour – and opposing those policies.  Instead they are a silent voice.

The current debate on Europe and migration is simplistic and ill informed and will continue to be so if the Lib Dems fail to develop a back bone.

As far as I can see UKIP will fizzle out at the General Election as they will not be able to get enough support to win many seats.  However, the consequence is more likely to be an overall Tory majority – which just doesn’t bear thinking about.

This firm aims to ‘up’ production to 75 million envelopes!

‘THIRTY years ago on what is today the M65 between Blackburn and Darwen there were simply fields – and mainly fields either side too.

Now, confounding the ‘environmentalists’ who campaigned so vociferously against connecting East Lancashire to the main motorway network, there’s a host of modern works, providing decent employment for thousands of local people.

I visited one such factory, in Davyfield Road, last Friday – the headquarters of Heritage Envelopes Ltd.

Firms generally get in touch with me because they want my help – which is part of my job. In this case, however, the CEO Mark Sears invited me along simply because he thought I’d be interested to see what they did.

I was. It was a real eye-opener. This modern plant employs about 130 people, round-the-clock, with a turnover of £24m.

Heritage does what it says on the tin: it makes envelopes. I was asked to guess how many they produced each week.

I thought I was wildly exaggerating when I had a stab at one million.

I was way off.

The correct answer is more than 50 million a week; more than two and a half billion each year.

We all keep being told that paper, print, is on the way out.

Indeed it is to some extent. Much physical communication has been replaced by e-mail and the internet.

But just as I believe (on good evidence) that real books, real newspapers, which you can feel as well as see, will survive and prosper, so this firm is sufficiently confident that their intention is, over time, to up their weekly production to 75 million.

Heritage’s envelopes are used for direct mail marketing. What’s really interesting, I was told, is that sending a proper letter remains an excellent and cost-effective means of increasing sales.

While there I presented a 25-year long-service award to Steven Morgan, from Darwen, an ‘envelope machine adjuster’ – a highly-skilled position requiring more than five years’ training.

By good investment, and increasing integration with electronic media, the firm reckon they have a sound future too. They’re right.

Cameron’s Sad Society

My trip to the supermarket last weekend.

Picture this.  At a local low cost supermarket in Blackburn me, my wife and children witnessed a tragically distressing scene.  Whilst waiting at the checkout we see shop security confront a guy who must have weighed no more than 6 stone; dressed in tired old clothing.  They search through his pockets and find that he’s shoplifted some bread and mince meat.  To their credit the security men were pretty sensitive.  They clearly saw no point in calling the police as it was clear that the chap was without any money whatsoever to pay a fine.  And judging by what he’d taken, I doubt very much that the goods were for anything other than personal consumption.

Apart from the distress of having to witness this humiliation of a fellow human being what is more troubling is that these are scenes we are seeing more and more of in our sad society.

You can come to all kinds of conclusions about what this person’s background is but here’s a reasonable guess – benefits sanctioned for six months because he was judged by the Jobcentre to be ‘not looking hard enough for a job’ or not providing the ‘appropriate evidence’, or perhaps not accepting a part time job on minimum wage that would make him no better off as he would lose whatever other subsistence benefits he was receiving – Housing to pay the rent; or perhaps the fact that he couldn’t find a job because he’d been fighting for the same low pay part time work that others recently made redundant from full time work with mortgages to pay are also searching for.  With his benefits sanctioned and zero money coming into the house resulting in empty kitchen cupboards (empty meaning empty – there are plenty of people in this situation).  In these circumstances it’s difficult to see many other options than shoplifting.

Benefit reform may have been needed – but not the way this heartless Government has chosen to do it – if you really want to get people back into work you need to provide the support to help them find work – the schemes previously in place were disbanded by this Government because public spending ‘needed’ to be cut.  It’s clear that this Government’s only motivation is saving money to cut taxes for the better off.  To really tackle unemployment and benefit dependency you need to invest in the people and make sure there are jobs for them to go for – two things that Cameron and Clegg are grandly failing on.  Apparently the economy is picking up.  Not round here it’s not!  But of course towns like Blackburn don’t matter to Cameron and the Eton boys – as long as London and the home counties are doing ok that will do nicely.

After thirteen years of relative prosperity under Labour it saddens me that our country is heading back to the Victorian era.  How long before the workhouse returns?

We cannot and must not allow this to go on.  On Sunday 29th September there is a demonstration at Tory Party conference, opposing the cuts and the Government’s austerity policies.  I’ll be there.  I hope you’ll join me.

The death of Margaret Thatcher

On this significant day in our country’s history it’s clear that lots of people have strong views about Margaret Thatcher.  I certainly do, but I think the most powerful evidence of what people thought about her is the comments of people who lived through her term of office.  Why don’t you let Blackburn Labour Party know what you think.  Please let us know your views.

Blackburn Rovers – Jack Straw comments in today’s Times

“It’s character building, supporting a team like Blackburn Rovers”, I used to tell my two children in the 1980s when they were young and we were bobbing about the old Second Division. “So much better than supporting a glory team. With Rovers you’ll learn about life, its disappointments, as well as its triumphs.”

Their faith was rewarded. Jack Walker bought the club. Kenny Dalglish was appointed Manager. Four years later, in 1995, we won the Premiership.

We’ve never repeated that wonderful, ecstatic moment of glory, when in the final game of the season we lost to Liverpool, but won the prize that mattered thanks to Harry Rednapp’s West Ham holding Man U to a draw. We dropped into the Championship in 1999, Jack Walker died in 2000. But we got back into the Premiership, and stayed there for 11 years.

Apart from the League Cup, which we won in 2002, top-flight success eluded us – as it did many “town” clubs, without the financial backing of the big city clubs. But players, staff, and supporters alike had pride, and confidence in the club. Pride about the Club’s history, as a founder member of the Football League, which had done much better than most clubs in comparable areas; and confidence, that whatever the set-backs on the field, Rovers was by common consent one of the best run football clubs in the whole of the professional game.

We all knew that the trustees of Jack Walker’s estate, who had owned the club since Jack’s death, were bound to sell it at some stage. When the Indian company Venkys purchased the club in November 2010 for £23 million there was great goodwill for the new owners.

Tragically, it did not last long.  After the team had lost 7 -1 at Old Trafford to United manager Sam Allardyce was fired. I was at that game. Rovers’ fans just regarded a pasting by United as one of those things. There was no demand for Allardyce to go – far from it.

His removal was followed by the single greatest error of  Venky’s – to fire both the Executive Chairman John Williams, and the MD Tom Finn. They were  the reason for Rovers’ survival.  It was a crazy thing to do.

With Venky’s main business being poultry, metaphors about headless chickens are best avoided. But that’s how it feels. There’s no sense of grip by the owners or the board. We’ve now had more managers this season than we’ve won away games. Yes, Sunday’s critical derby against Burnley sent all the fans – my family and me included – into a near clinical depression until David Dunn scored the equaliser five minutes into extra time. But there were no cries for Appleton to go. It’s too serious for that. We’re only four points above the drop, with nine games to go.

It’s the financial eccentricity of the decisions which is the most puzzling. Once gifted, but (in football terms) elderly players like Nuno Gomes (38), and Danny Murphy (36) on two-year contracts. Expensive disputes with the sacked managers. It’s now nigh-impossible to discern anything resembling a business plan being pursued by the owners. The fans’ fear is that our fate will be a fire sale, or worse.

Rovers’ predicament now is sad, and senseless. It could have been avoided, first, if  Venky’s had understood that in purchasing the club they were not buying some soulless franchise, but buying into a loyal and committed community; and second, if our football authorities had tougher rules – and standards – on ownership. When will they wake up?

Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise?

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”
– Winston Churchill

‘As a Conservative I have no pleasure in exposing David Cameron’s deficit claims’ – says Ramesh Patel, writing in the Economist recently.  ‘However, as long as the party continues to talk down the economy via the blame game, confidence will not be given an opportunity to return. For it is an undeniable and inescapable economic fact: without confidence and certainty there can be no real growth.’

Patel then goes to set out why he thinks that Mr Cameron and his chums have got it so wrong.  You could call it an ‘Eton Mess’!

‘Below are the three deficit claims – the mess. The evidence comes from the IMF, OECD, OBR, HM Treasury, ONS and even George Osborne. The claims put into context are:

CLAIM 1
The last government left the biggest debt in the developed world.

After continuously stating the UK had the biggest debt in the world George Osborne admits to the Treasury Select Committee that he did not know the UK had the lowest debt in the G7? Watch: Also, confirmed by the OECD Those who use cash terms (instead of percentages) do so to scare, mislead and give half the story.

Its common sense, in cash terms a millionaire’s debt would be greater than most people. Therefore, the UK would have a higher debt and deficit than most countries because, we are the sixth largest economy. Hence, its laughable to compare UK’s debt and deficit with Tuvalu’s who only have a GDP/Income of £24 million whilst, the UK’s income is £1.7 Trillion.

Finally, Labour in 1997 inherited a debt of 42% of GDP. By the start of the global banking crises 2008 the debt had fallen to 35% – a near 22% reduction page 6 ONS Surprisingly, a debt of 42% was not seen as a major problem and yet at 35% the sky was falling down?

CLAIM 2
Labour created the biggest deficit in the developed world by overspending.

Firstly, the much banded about 2010 deficit of over 11% is false. This is the PSNB (total borrowings) and not the actual budget deficit which was -7.7% – OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook March 2012 page 19 table 1.2

Secondly, in 1997 Labour inherited a deficit of 3.9% of GDP (not a balanced budget ) and by 2008 it had fallen to 2.1% – a reduction of a near 50% – Impressive! Hence, it’s implausible and ludicrous to claim there was overspending. The deficit was then exacerbated by the global banking crises after 2008. See HM Treasury. Note, the 1994 deficit of near 8% haaaaaah!

Thirdly, the IMF have also concluded the same. They reveal the UK experienced an increase in the deficit as result of a large loss in output/GDP caused by the global banking crisis and not even as result of the bank bailouts, fiscal stimulus and bringing forward of capital spending. It’s basic economics: when output falls the deficit increases.

Finally, the large loss in output occurred because the UK like the US have the biggest financial centres and as this was a global banking crises we suffered the most. Hence, the UK had the 2nd highest deficit in the G7 (Not The World) after the US and not as a result of overspending prior to and after 2008- as the IMF concur.

CLAIM 3
Our borrowing costs are low because the markets have confidence in George Osborne’s austerity plan and without it the UK will end up like Greece.

Yes, the markets have confidence in our austerity plan and that’s why PIMCO the worlds largest bond holder have been warning against buying UK debt.

The real reason why our borrowing costs have fallen and remained low since 2008 is because, savings have increased. As a result, the demand and price for bonds have increased and as there is inverse relationship between the price of bonds and its yield (interest rate) the rates have fallen. Also, the markets expect the economy to remain stagnate. Which means the price for bonds will remain high and hence, our borrowing costs will also remain low.

Secondly, the UK is considered a safe heaven because, investors are reassured the Bank of England will buy up bonds in an event of any sell off – which increases the price of bonds and reduces the effective rate. Note, how rates fell across the EU recently when the ECB announced its bond buying program. Thirdly, because, we are not in the Euro we can devalue our currency to increase exports. Moreover, UK bonds are attractive because, we haven’t defaulted on its debt for over 300 years.

David Cameron would like people to believe the markets lend in the same way as retail banks lend to you and I.

Overall, when the facts and figures are put into context these juvenile deficit narratives and sound bites (“mere words and no evidence”) simply fail to stand up to the actual facts. The deficit myth is the grosses lie ever enforced upon the people and it has been sold by exploiting people’s economic illiteracy.

So, David Cameron when are you going to apologise?

Cameron is playing the blame game to depress confidence and growth to justify austerity. Secondly, to use austerity as justification for a smaller state to gain lower taxes. Thirdly, to paint Labour as a party that can not be trusted with the country’s finances again. Therefore, we Conservatives will win a second term because, people vote out of fear. The latter strategy worked the last time in office (18 years) and will work again because, in the end, elections are won and lost on economic credibility. Hence, as people believe Labour created the mess they won’t be trusted again.

Finally, as the truth is the greatest enemy of the a lie I urge you to share this on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, text and email etc etc. So the truth can be discovered by all. Finally, have no doubt, people have been mislead by the use of the following strategy:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” Joseph Goebbels.’

Mr Cameron – even your most steadfast supporters cannot accept the policies you are implementing – it’s time to say goodbye!