Archive for June, 2017

Get Ready To Win For Labour

Friday, June 30th, 2017

2017 Labour Can Win by [Blair-Robinson, Malcolm]Labour achieved a stunning breakthrough on June 8th, denying the Tories their expected victory. Now the May government totters forward, propped up by the DUP, with a Cabinet split over Brexit and austerity and a Tory party split between the hard cliff edge Brexiteers and those with a bit more common sense. The only unifying factor is that they are all furious with May.

Everybody agrees this kind of muddle forward government, in confusion at every level, with daily U-turns and ministerial rows, cannot last. Labour is ready for another general election or to lead a minority government. Make sure you are up to speed with all the priorities of the Left. Learn the critical economic and political reforms that will transform our country.

Get your copy today.

Paperback £4.50

Download  .99p


Power Corruption and Lies: Buy Now from 99p

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Power Corruption and Lies by [Raven, Tor]


Set in the mid nineteen nineties, this fast moving thriller lifts the curtain on sex, sleaze and corruption in high places. Tor Raven’s novel captures the mood of those times with a host of fictional characters who engage in political intrigue, money laundering and murder, pursued by an Irish investigative journalist and his girlfriend, the daughter of a cabinet minister found dead in a hotel room after bondage sex.

Click Image to buy: Download 99p   Paperback £6.99

Click Here for USA

Grenfell Tower: The Public Inquiry

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Public Inquiries have fallen into disrepute. They take too long and even longer to deliver a conclusion. Rarely does that conform with what everybody who heard the evidence would have themselves concluded. They cost a fortune and are then forgotten. Occasionally they work; Bloody Sunday (in the end) and Scarman come to mind. But Scott, Hutton, Leveson, Chilcot have all cost millions and achieved little.

On the other hand Select Committees in the House of Commons do get answers and when multiple fatalities are involved, the Inquest, with the Coroner sitting with a Jury on the style of Hillsborough, really can deliver. It is that format which the government should have chosen for the public investigation into the unprecedented horror of Grenfell Tower.

The choice of a judge led public inquiry has already run into controversy and criticism, the last thing survivors now need. It is perhaps another example of a style of politics out of touch, behind the curve and on the wane.

Ending Austerity Demands More Than Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

I, like many others, find the arguments from distinguished economists, over whether and how to end austerity, quite limited and often confusing. So I am going to throw into the argument some simple principles of my own. Since economics is a cause and effect discipline rather than an exact science, anyone can contribute.

You cannot maintain an austerity programme for longer than eighteen months, without damaging economic output. This is underscored by a persistent failure to balance the budget. The original forecast in 2010 was to achieve this in 2015. It was extended to 2020 and then on to 2025, all because, while the cuts were made, growth has been very poor.

You cannot have low taxes in a welfare economy with low growth. To enjoy low taxes linked to evenly shared prosperity, you have to construct an economic model which achieves growth at 3% above inflation.

You cannot reflate the economy and drive substantial and sustained net growth without major public investment, in which limited long term borrowing is matched by increasing the money supply into the base of the economy.

Asset inflation sucks out new wealth creation. It must be reduced and the creation of new wealth at the base of the economy increased.

Spending on public services must increase to bring them out of crisis and up to standard. In the short term this will require tax increases.

But in the longer term better services will be funded by  economic growth driven by large public investment over several years, to bring our public infrastructure, communications, security, health, education and housing up to acceptable standards.

This will stimulate the private sector into investment and expansion of its own, driving up tax revenues. Rates can then be reduced. This will act as a further economic stimulus.

Taxation reforms and restoring democratic responsibility by reducing outsourcing and quango management are required to deliver an efficient state.

For too long we have drifted downwards with gaps between rich and poor, state and private, old and young, north and south, growing all the time. This process must be reversed. We have to start now.

So over the coming weeks and months listen to the politicians and follow whichever of them comes nearest to addressing all these issues.

The Bank Gets Nervous: Personal Debt Fears

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee is worried, with due cause, at the ballooning level of personal debt, which risks turning into a disaster in the event of a change in the economic climate. There is no doubt there are storm clouds on the horizon, but there is no agreement on the direction of the wind. It could blow the storm towards us or it could blow it away. It is the Bank’s job to prepare for the worst.  Loan companies and banks are being told to beef up their capital reserves to cushion against the toxic combination of defaults on payments due and a plunge in the value of the underlying assets. Renewed stress tests will be introduced.

All this is reassuring at a time of unprecedented political uncertainty with a Tory government propped up by the semi-toxic DUP and, if that were not bad enough, in a state of civil war both within the cabinet and in the parliamentary party. On the biggest issue of the day, Brexit, there is no agreement about which form of it to aim for. There is most likely a majority in the Commons for an economy first, jobs priority, soft Brexit, but to achieve that the government would have to bust apart and the Tory party, both in the country and the Commons, to implode. This is not the kind of political scenario that Central Bankers like. Interest rates would have to rise and quite fast.

And at that point the folly of waiting so long to make the first move will become apparent. Maintaining, year after year, the lowest  interest rate since the 1690s will exact a price for which few are fully prepared.

DUP Deal For May: Now She Is In Real Danger

Monday, June 26th, 2017

This Blog has been sceptical that the DUP would sign a deal with May. But they have been helped on their way by a one billion pound cash handout. To buy power with the most bigoted and provocative political party in the UK, is just about the sorriest outcome of an election in the history of the Tory party. At least there can be honour in outright defeat, but there is none here. The DUP brand of free church unionism is toxic to many in Northern Ireland and many more in the United Kingdom as a whole. There is also quite a bit to say about the ratio of seats to votes, but that can wait till another day.

What is really interesting is that this seals May’s doom. Because so long as she led a minority government any attempt to unseat her as prime minister would have, by most constitutional interpretations outside Tory HQ, demanded that the Queen send for Corbyn. But once the Queen’s Speech is passed, it is possible for May to be deposed and for the party she has led to relative disaster, to have an opportunity to elect a replacement. Hence the chatter of the weekend that Spreadsheet Phil could very well move next door.

At the end of the day it will stick, like dog mess to a shoe, that the Tory party, to cling to power it had lost, bought the votes of these bigots who oppose gay marriage and LGBT rights, outlaw abortion and consider women who chose it should be imprisoned for life. When election day finally rolls into view, like an avalanche down the mountain, the Tory party will be buried by the electorate for this grubby little deal. And there will be nobody willing to dig them out.

Camden Evacuation: Was This Necessary?

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

First things first. Grenfell Tower need not have happened if notice had been taken of tenants and occupiers, and proper judgment had been exercised about fire safety measures during and after the refurbishment. There is little doubt that both local and national governments have questions to answer; the police are now investigating and there is talk of manslaughter charges. The Fire Service is in the frame because it appears they carried out inspections and the building passed. Together with the police investigation, the Public Inquiry will discover how it all went so badly wrong and why, and who is to blame.

All across the country Tower blocks at risk are being identified, including those in Camden, a borough with a good reputation and keen to do the right thing. Suddenly the fire service phones the leader and tells her that it ‘cannot guarantee the safety’ of the people in these buildings and immediate evacuation is demanded. Never mind they have fire patrols 24/7 and were willing to pay for fire engines to be stationed at the ready by each block. Never mind that the council was willing to do anything demanded of them to allow the tenants to remain overnight so that an orderly evacuation with adequate alternative accommodation could be arranged. No said the fire bosses. Everybody out. Now. With no warning, or preparation, just banging on doors and shouted orders as harassed officials had to drive 4000 people from their homes, there was chaos, anger and very real distress.

Surely this cannot have been necessary in practice. These buildings were not about to burst into flames. Is there a good reason which has not been made clear? Falling short of the required standard and needing immediate upgrade is not doubted, but flight into the night?



Political Thriller:Download or Paperback

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Power Corruption and Lies by [Raven, Tor]

Set in the mid nineteen nineties, this fast moving thriller lifts the curtain on sex, sleaze and corruption in high places. Tor Raven’s novel captures the mood of those times with a host of fictional characters who engage in political intrigue, money laundering and murder, pursued by an Irish investigative journalist and his girlfriend, the daughter of a cabinet minister found dead in a hotel room after bondage sex.

Click Image to buy: Download 99p   Paperback £6.99

Click Here for USA

Parliament Has The Power: A New Era

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

May was in a strong position before the snap election. But her egocentric personality and intellectual isolation demanded a personal mandate, not a hand-me-down from Cameron. Moreover rebel Tories on both sides of the Brexit argument in a party chronically split for decades on this issue, meant that troublemakers could inflict defeat upon the government on key votes in the future. May does not like to share power as we know. There is a lot of me, my and I. She did not even want to consult Parliament over triggering Article 50. That was a straw in the wind.

Now she is back after her election victory with the largest number of votes and seats, but dressed in the stark robes of the biggest political humiliation of modern times, stripped of her majority, a prisoner of her angry cabinet, itself split on the key issue of Brexit and at the mercy of her party, which actually never got to vote for her in the first place. Power has passed from the executive to parliament. That is all ghastly but it gets worse. The Leader of the Opposition, one Jeremy Corbyn, who was before the election a figure of whom she made much fun and who was regarded as a certain goner, emerges as a national hero, his party increasing its vote share by twice the level of the Tories and, in the latest opinion polls, now the preferred choice in the country for Prime Minister.

As for the negotiations to leave the EU,  they have at least started. but the weakness of the Brexit hand is now being laid bare. Everybody is being polite, but the EU is making the running. May arrived in Brussels for a summit and dinner yesterday, with a brave face wearing a forced smile. When she left early because she is no longer welcome at club meetings, in the brief clip later cut, she looked worn out and at the end of her tether.

She is.

Shrinking The State: Have We Gone Too Far?

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

The dreadful fire at Grenfell Tower, an event which becomes more shocking with each new day, is the final act in a process which began in innocence, but has ended with a terrible truth told in the deaths of innocent men, women and children, burned alive in their homes in the middle of a summer night. That truth is that the shrinking of the State, which in the 1970s had become overbearing and inflexible in the eyes of so many, was at first a benefit which liberated, empowered and enriched. But like so much in life, too much of a good thing is worse than a little of a bad thing.

In the beginning was the notion that there were limits to what the State could do well and as time went on, the bar for those limits was set lower and lower. Privatization, outsourcing, agencies and quangos took over responsibility from government. The State became an enemy and a drain. Finally came the bonfire of regulations begun in 2010. It is there that the seat of the Grenfell Tower tragedy lurks, for it is a fact beyond denial that a fire-safe block was turned into a death trap during refurbishment, allegedly in compliance with the regulations then in force. The police will discover if those regulations were breached and the public inquiry will reveal whether they were adequate. None of that will bring the dead back to life, nor restore to normality lives scarred forever by loss.

But it may, indeed it should, teach us all a lesson. The State is a friend, not an enemy, which it is why we have one and some things it does much better than the private sector. It is a guarantor and an enabler, a guardian and a helpmate. It belongs to all of us and we are part of it. Because of it we are free. Let us resolve to treat it with better respect in future. And once again empower it to work for the public good. Of everyone.