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Pages tagged "British Labour Party"


Corby by-election: British Tories all talk on wind power

by Adam Corner

There are few cardinal sins in politics – but campaigning on behalf of your opponent has to be one of them. So when news broke this week that the British Conservative Party MP Chris Heaton Harris had boasted on camera of providing resources and support to an opposition anti-wind farm candidate in order to “cause some hassle”, it was widely expected that the axe would fall.

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Liberal social democracy, fairness and good capitalism

by Will Hutton
 
The left needs a new language to differentiate between good and bad capitalism; a radical, shared conception of fairness – based on equity rather than equality – to underpin an economy of reciprocity, proportionate reward and mutual ownership

The European left is bewildered, in denial and in retreat. If electorates should have learned anything over the last two or three years it is that financial capitalism is a menace to itself and the economy and society beyond – and that governments are the peoples’ friend.  It is true that bankers are hardly popular, but opinion has not swung behind the liberal left. Instead, the enemy everywhere is government, debt and deficits − scant reward for being the saviour of the hour.

Opinion polls in Britain show that the majority believe that welfare cheats, immigrants and government waste are to blame for contemporary ills, with bankers a long way behind. It is not a dissimilar story across Europe. This is a tough climate in which to build any constituency for liberal left activism, and indeed the liberal left itself is not wholly certain what any such activism should be. What is socialism anyway? What would a good economy and society look like? And what would the popular values be that underpinned them? Does the left in any European country offer a convincing answer?

In this vacuum ugly nationalist movements are flourishing, and on the left one of the few dynamic elements are the Greens. The conventional left needs to do a great deal better, not least for the working people it purports to represent.

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What Future for ‘This Great Movement of Ours’?

by Martin Upchurch

Trade unions in Britain are at a watershed. This month’s public sector strike on November 30th, involves 3 million workers from 27 different unions. It follows the largest ever trade union organised demonstration held in March and the public sector strike of three quarters of a million workers in June. This wave of strikes and protests must be viewed from a wider perspective. The student demonstrations late last year, followed by the Arab Spring and then the Occupy Movement have given  union members confidence to take the plunge and vote to strike. Protest has returned.  In 2010, the number of strikes in Britain were the lowest since records begun, now the masses are taking part.

But do the strikes also mark a major change in the relationship between the unions and the Labour Party? In the post War period trade unions swam with the stream for thirty years. Full employment provided the opportunity for unions to expand their membership, notably in the public sector and among women. When membership peaked in 1979 at nearly 13 million, governments were willing to do business with the unions. Concessions were made to expand the welfare state so long as trade union leaders held back the wage demands of their rank-and-file.

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A UK Recovery Program: Go Keynesian (Part 2)

by John Weeks

The latest statistics show that real household earnings in Britain fell by 3.5% over the last year (The Guardian24 November 2011), a decline unprecedented in peacetime.  What can be done to stop this unfolding disaster? While the private sector is dangerously in debt (“over-leveraged”), the public sector is not as I showed in my last article.  On the contrary, by any accepted financial measure, the UK government is under-indebted, the ratio of net debt to GDP, debt service capacity or marginal borrowing cost.

The solution to falling comes and the looming second recession is for the government to borrow and spend.  If that sounds like bad economics, it is only because the economics profession degenerated into free market metaphysics long ago, turning out reactionary propaganda against rational policy.

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Plan B: The Building Blocks of a Progressive UK

by George Irvin

By now, even the most die-hard Tory must realise that the UK economy under George Osborne has flat-lined; like the Python’s dead parrot, it wouldn’t ‘voom’ if you pumped 4 million volts through it.[1]

The highly respected National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) defines a ‘depression’ as that period of time during which the country’s economic output (GDP) has not returned to its prior peak. During the Great Depression of 1930-34, UK output fell by 7.5% and did not return to its pre-depression level for four years (48 months). Since the 2008 peak, UK output has fallen by about the same percentage. But here’s the rub: NIESR predicts that we’ll take 61 months to escape depression. Moreover, as Osborne tightens the economic thumbscrew, the pain is increasing to such a degree that even City financiers are now worrying about the real economy.

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Politics and parenthood

by Damien Hickman

My 11 week old daughter likes to sleep while going for a 'walk' in her pram. Recently as I we walked along, left to my thoughts, I realised that politics is a lot like parenthood. Both are journeys of unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, sheer exhilaration and utter desperation. Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson is famously quoted as saying: 'A week is a long time in politics'. He must have been a parent. With sleepless nights, never ending feeds and nappy changes, plus the repetitive 'walks' around the block trying to get the little one to sleep, he could have easily said: 'A week is a long time in parenthood'.

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The UK Riots - an Australian's view

by John August

During my recent trip to Scotland, I absorbed the saturation coverage of the English riots. Comedians were saying, "Look, now Scotland is the safest place in the UK". The Scottish first minister emphasised they were English, not Scottish riots. While OK for comedians, some felt it wrong for the first minister to say this. Perhaps he should have been showing more solidarity and sympathy for his southern neighbours. Still, the Scottish tourism brand was being tarnished through confusion with things outside its boundaries. Take your pick.

Being so close and an Australian, it gave me a different viewpoint. There was a lot of hand-wringing and comment that seemed to miss just what was important, or what was really behind the hand-wringing. It was tragic. But there's still a lot we can learn, and a lot we can misunderstand.

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UK Riots....Could it Happen Here?

by Matt Clear

The riots in England are a result of youth feeling disengaged and socially displaced from their community.

I have a level of respect for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

I was recently impressed by his long session answering questions in the House of Commons in response to the phone hacking scandal. I think he deserves a level of respect for his ability to juggle his responsibility to the country as a fairly young leader (45) with a young family, including three children – his youngest child is only one!

I am, however, dismayed at Cameron's response to the riots currently gripping Britain. Using terms like needing to 'fight back' and that the people involved are 'sick' really misses the point. Cameron has said this is not about poverty it's about criminals.

I don't agree.
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Why the U.K. riots have more to do with austerity than criminality

by Dr Greg Martin

Can references by the media and politicians to “feral youth”, “mindless thuggery” and “sheer criminality” in relation to the U.K. riots be justified in the context of austerity measures, policing practices and a pernicious culture of consumption?

Criminologists reject the idea of “pure criminality”, preferring instead to focus on the social origins of crime. While pure criminality implies crime is a consequence of individual pathology, criminological research continues to recognise the enduring link between crime and relative deprivation. The root cause of much of the riotous behavior lies in young peoples’ exclusion from consumer culture coupled with over-policing and police harassment of particular groups in neighborhoods blighted by entrenched social and economic disadvantage.

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Why Should Rioting Young People Listen to the Elites and Mind a Social Order that Disempowers Them?

 

by Michelle Chen

There's no simple explanation for the uprising in London and several other UK cities in the last week. But the riots mirror the state of working-class Britain.

 

After witnessing several nights of turmoil, the people of the United Kingdom are still trying to comprehend what just happened. There's no simple explanation for this apparently leaderless and rudderless uprising in London and several other cities. But amid the grim ashes and street clashes, the message of rage has seared itself into the public consciousness, rekindling an age-old tinderbox of class warfare.

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