Category Archives: Labour

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“And the Oscar goes to…”

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The Battle of Stoke

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Thursday next week could prove an interesting day for British politics with by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland in Cumbria. Labour have held onto both these seats since before WWII, but according to latest news WWIII is erupting in Stoke…

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, a working class grass roots scouser, is contesting the seat hoping to upset the Labour monopoly – and according to the latest polls he has a good chance of succeeding. In the referendum, 70% of the Stoke electorate voted to leave the EU. The incumbent MP Tristram Hunt is baling out of the Corbynistas to take up a post at the V&A in London. Presumably he doesn’t reckon much of Labour’s chances at the next election and like many others is quitting now whilst a lucrative job is in the offing. Who could blame him?

So Labour’s militant left is responding in the way it knows best. There have been violent demonstrations at UKIP meetings, the house that Nuttall is using in the constituency has had it’s address published on the internet – prompting hate mail and two break ins. In one case a female UKIP worker was terrorised when she was alone in the building. Death threats have been made against Nuttall and only today it has been reported that Farage and Nuttall were egged in the street on their way to a meeting. Typical Momentum tactics that we’ve seen before.

And just to prove that Labour really doesn’t have a clue, their candidate Gareth Snell is a rampant Europhile who has described Brexit as a “massive pile of shit” in a rant on Twitter. This is a clear vote winner in a heavily Eurosceptic constituency. In fact Labour are so out of touch that they’ve told their own leader to stay away because they think he’s “not an asset on the doorstep”. You couldn’t make it up…

In Copeland it’s a bit more laid back – but not a lot. The biggest employer in the region is the Sellafield nuclear plant. Corbyn’s Labour opposes the expansion of nuclear power. Another vote winner there then? And ironically the by election has been called because the sitting Labour MP Jamie Reed is leaving to take up the post of Head of Development & Community Relations at none other than Sellafield. Reed is a vociferous Corbyn critic and clearly realised his chances of deselection are pretty damned high.

I doubt we’ve seen the last of Labour MPs getting out while the going is good. With Corbyn in charge, they know the party is unelectable so why hang around waiting for the chop either from their own party or the electorate?

Nuttall should win Stoke easily whereas Copeland looks a little closer with the Tories hoping to take the seat. Whatever happens, it looks dismal for Labour. So are we watching the first death throws of a once major party? With the shift of UKIP to targeting traditionally Labour strongholds in the north of England, things ain’t exactly looking rosy…

and they’ve only themselves to blame!

Maximum wages and punitive taxation

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I admire Jeremy Corbyn. No, really. I do! He’s such great entertainment value. A bit like Donald Trump only considerably less consistent and without the logic or practical aspects. Our Jezza is just priceless…

His latest idea is a cap on wages. This is, of course, not a new idea. It’s been done before by the Wilson government. In those days there was a 98% top rate of tax comprising 83% income tax plus 15% investment income surcharge. My memory of the time is a bit hazy so I looked it up. I was a teenager at the time but remember my father complaining that Labour were taking 105% of his top slice income. As it turns out that was a bit inaccurate but nevertheless 98% is bad enough.

So what happened? Well, high earners fled the country in droves. Reportedly 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Take, for example, the Rolling Stones. Reflecting on the time, Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only £70,000. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue. I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” Keith Richards remembered.

The Stones weren’t the only ones. Actors left in drove too. And top business people. The rich have the power and the means to just go off to places where the tax is less punitive. The problem is that they takes jobs and investment with them. No wealth, no job creation or entrepreneurship. It’s all gone abroad – and at the end of the day, it’s a global marketplace we’re living in.

So how about the so-called ‘John Lewis model’ where the top man’s pay is pegged to a multiple of the lowest paid worker? Better, but still bad for business. Top companies will just move their headquarters to other countries, killing the UK jobs in their offices and factories. There they can still pay high salaries to attract top people.

There is only one country in the western world that has a maximum wage in place, and that’s Cuba – but before my old friend Longrider starts kicking off about Cuba again, I’m forced to point out that Cuba has a rather curious dual currency system. It’s been said that the maximum Cuban wage equates to about US$30 a month but there is a an external currency and an internal currency, so the equivalence is meaningless. Locals are paid in local currency and they buy stuff in local currency. It’s worthless outside Cuba. As I said, a curious system…

Also, the wages paid to top executives in private companies is a matter for the shareholders, not the government. Corbyn reckons he wouldn’t give government contracts to companies who pay excessive executive salaries. He won’t put a figure on it and it’s unworkable because there’d be nobody left to give the work too!

So, maximum wages pegged by punitive taxation doesn’t work. Government interference in executive pay doesn’t work. In fact, the entire premise of 1970’s socialism on which Corbyn bases Labour policy doesn’t work.

Corbyn 2.0

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So yesterday saw the launch of Labour Leader 2.0 which was much expected to be the improved, bug free version codenamed ‘Corbyn’. So what new features is this upgrade offering?

Well the previous version suffered lots of glitches which provoked its users to give it a great big vote of no confidence. As a result there was a user convention and a grand reshuffle of the development team. Unfortunately despite these changes at the top, the latest version seems to be just as muddled and lacking any clear sense of direction. It seems as if the developers are fighting amongst themselves rather than pulling together as a team.

For example, take the brexit management module. Is it in or out? Hard or soft? Clearly there’s a lack of user configuration which is immediately apparent. Whatever you tell it, there’s a clear lack of communication between the hardware and software. The software just doesn’t take instructions from the hardware core, or Momentum as it’s known by the developers. Momentum seems to be bullying the software into taking instructions that it’s just not set up to accept.

Then there’s the confusing EU module. Does it want to accept the underlying architecture of free movement? Yes or no? To be honest it’s not really clear and more conflicts are apparent.

It gets even worse though. Take the interface to the TUC systems. We really can’t tell if they’re supported or not. And it’s even more apparent with the NHS interface which the developers say needs much more investment before it’s workable. Tbe problem here is that it’s really not clear where that investment is going to come from.

No, all in all this release is really just cosmetic changes to an outdated and outmoded system. They’re trying to paper over the cracks but at the end of the day, it needs a hell of a lot more work before the punters will buy into it…

Labour is painful…

Corbyn and Watson - together forever (or maybe not...)

Corbyn and Watson – together forever (or maybe not…)

Yes, indeed labour is painful. My wife will bear me out on this point. Once was enough. But that’s not the labour I’m referring to. I’m referring to the Labour Party.

Now call me naive, but I thought the whole point of the Labour Party was to protect workers rights and stand up for the working man against unfair treatment by employers. You know, protecting their members’ jobs and that sort of thing. Indeed they seemed to be doing exactly that when they took the government to task for not stepping in to prop up the ailing Welsh steel workers. I dislike Labour intensely, but to be fair to them they were doing what their members pay them to do.

So why is it that when the government talks to Nissan to persuade them to build two new models in Sunderland and to invest in a post Brexit UK that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor feels he has to take them to task over it. Bit contradictory isn’t it?

And the latest joke came today when Jeremy Corbyn threatened to force a General Election unless Theresa May reveals details of the Brexit strategy. Speaking yesterday, Corbyn outlined his red lines for supporting Brexit.

Single market access (You don’t have to be in the single market to access it)
No watering down of EU workplace rights (Nobody is suggesting there will be!)
Guarantees on safeguarding consumers and the environment (A bit vague)
A promise to fund any EU capital investments lost by Brexit (Already promised)

So not really anything to worry about really, is there? Mind you, it sounds good that you’re demanding these things as long as you don’t mention that they’re already in the pipeline.

And when he was asked whether he would call for an early election if his so-called demands weren’t met, he got all shirty, complained of press harassment and did a runner.

Within hours of this Whitehall Farce, his deputy Tom Watson was already shooting him down on flames. Watson said “We’re not going to hold this up. The British people have spoken and Article 50 will be triggered when it comes to Westminster. We want to protect workers’ rights, we want to protect companies’ right to trade in the single market, tariff-free, we want to support jobs, we want to make sure people don’t lose out, but we’re certainly not going to hold up Article 50 if we don’t get the deal.”

That’s the deal Mr Watson’s actually already got, but still it does sound good. And what about Mr Corbyn threatening to side with pro-EU Tories to bring down the government? Well, no Tory MP is going to bring down his own party in government no matter how pro-EU he or she is. It would be political suicide. And even if Labour apply a three line whip, Corbyn has defied such a whip himself as a backbencher so often that the majority of the PLP would laugh at him. That’s the same PLP, remember, that passed a vote of no confidence in him earlier this year.

The fact is that this is all showmanship. He’s demanding something he’s going to get anyway and losing sight of the fact that he simply doesn’t have enough votes to force a confidence motion even if his entire party voted as he told them. It’s a simple numbers game.

Yes, Labour really is very, very painful…