UK Politics

30 June 2011
Things have got to be bad if the ever-economic-liberal Evan Davies (Today programme, Radio 4) gets upset with a politician (Francis Maude) who refuses to interpret his own report contrary to his party’s ideological view. Hutton says that public sector pension contributions as a percentage of GDP peaked last year and will decline in the coming years. Hence public sector pensions are ‘sustainable’, though they are ‘untenable’. Seemingly.
27 March 2011
The March for the Alternative, organised by the TUC, was certainly a large Trades Union demonstration. It galvanised people – particularly in the North where the public sector cuts are going to be particularly felt – for the struggle ahead as the cuts bite. The diversity was reassuring. People regaled about the last time they attended such a sizeable demonstration – the Iraq war demo 8 years ago. And that is perhaps key. The demonstrators were right then and they are right now.

17 January 2011
Anyone who takes pleasure in the discomfort of Michael Gove, the Tories egregious Education Secretary, should listen to his dissection on Radio 5 Live last week and his attempt to patronize his way out of it.

31 October 2010

Yesterday I attended a demo in Brighton against the public sector cuts. It is a while since I have been amongst so many trades unionists. I had forgotten how angry they are; which is strange when we know how much there is to lose when one ‘loses’ it. Some of the most high profile cases in recent times have been the BBC’s Nick Robinson smashing a protester’s banner when it was provocatively placed in camera shot whilst Robinson was waxing lyrically (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rU8YU3loeQ), and Adam Boulton of Sky News losing it in debate with Alistair Cambell (with whom it is often difficult to sympathise) on post-election speculation about how to form a government (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbuXj1HyNy8). Even Caroline Lucas the Green Party’s sole MP (Brighton Pavilion) felt the need to shout at the audience who were all there to support most of the things the speakers were saying. Come on you people, the reasoned arguments are there to be made – this is not ideology, this is pure pragmatism. Leave the ideology to the Tories to hang by.

21 October 2010

That explains a lot. Picture from http://tankthetories.com/

Yesterday’s comprehensive spending review delivered by George Gideon Oliver Osborne, heir to the baronetcy of Ballentaylor, was the culmination of the expected attack on British society by a wealthy man who is ideologically driven to attack the public sector under the guise of deficit reduction. The impact on myself remains to be seen. I work at at university and 40 per cent cuts are anticipated. I don’t think he is a fan of my subject areas (social science) and my university is not in the elite group. It has no Bullingdon Club or equivalent (even if I was still a student).

As for social housing, another area that I have some affinity with, the CSR is most challenging. I don’t understand the arithmetic that says increasing rents to new tenants to 80 per cent of market rents realeases sufficient funds to build 150000 new dwellings, even if that was fair.

The housing benefit rules, moreover, will cause people to become migrants. There will be considerable pressure on cheaper parts of cities such as London. This then affects service provision in these areas such as social care and education. Local authorities will have to deal with these pressures with reduced budgets. Good for the swanky parts of town, not so good for elsewhere.

If he has applied the same logic to other spending areas, we are in big trouble.

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