Theresa May – Champion of Worker’s Rights?

Theresa May has promised “the greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in history” if she wins on 8th June.  She claims: “There is only one leader at this election who will put rights and opportunities for ordinary working families first.”

However, a recent report by the Ministry of Justice shows a stark contradiction between those words and the actions of her government.

Continue reading “Theresa May – Champion of Worker’s Rights?”

Partisanship and the End of Politics (the coming of the neo-feudal state)

Since the US electorate (or more accurately, electoral college) put a reality TV personality and real estate mogul into the White House late last year I’ve become a committed viewer of a number of US news and current affairs programmes. Several of these – such and The Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (both on MSNBC) – have seen a significant increase in their viewing figures since Donald Trump became President. In the case of the former this has much to do with Maddow’s dogged and impressive reporting into possible relations between the Trump campaign and Russia, and in the latter case because of O’Donnell’s forensic and frequently scathing criticisms of Trump and his White House team. O’Donnell speaks from experience, having been Senior Advisor to Senator Patrick Moynihan and Chief of Staff for several Senate committees in the 1990s. He was also a writer for The West Wing. And with daily revelations of Trump/Russia links continuing unabated, Maddow, O’Donnell, and many more in the news and current affairs community in the US – that Trump insists are ‘the fake news’ – certainly have plenty to keep them busy for many months to come.

Continue reading “Partisanship and the End of Politics (the coming of the neo-feudal state)”

Los Lobos -‘The Wolves’

The Tories have recently come out with two ‘ideas’ that involve financialisation packaged as ‘social benefit.’  These two bits of financial engineering will, no doubt, increase private debt and encourage more bubbling of housing. The first is their intention to build more council housing that is paid for by the future sale of the houses based on anticipation of their increase in value.  The second is the funding of social care through the use of assets above £100,000.  For most people this will be in the form of a house which will have to be re-mortgaged via a ‘financial product’ (hold crucifixes aloft), then, when the owner has died, the family or relatives will have to sell the house and pay the costs with interest.  In short:  more wealth extraction from the community.  Given present household debt is at 130% of GDP this does not look good.

Continue reading “Los Lobos -‘The Wolves’”

The State of the Nation and the Labour Manifesto

I put together an article for Progressive pulse on the state of the nation around the time of the Brexit referendum (available here). Nothing much has changed (apart from things getting worse) and I would recommend Raoul Martinez’s article at openDemocracy, and it is worth reading in full: If you’re not yet radical, you haven’t been paying attention. (The text from Martinez’s article is in italics).
Continue reading “The State of the Nation and the Labour Manifesto”

Why distributism is good for us

Distributism is an idea which is supposed to have originated from a Papal encyclical in the 1890s. Being areligious I confess this rather puts me off. But this does not mean such a declaration cannot have a valuable core. Chesterton and Belloc, both Catholics of course, saw it as a ‘third way’ (although I’m sure they didn’t use the phrase) and as an alternative to both Socialism and Capitalism. It offered a method of avoiding both bureaucratic state socialism and capitalist monopolies, which few would now dispute are indeed both best avoided.
Continue reading “Why distributism is good for us”

Setting out to fail and controlling the consequences: the real purpose of the 2017 General Election

Since Theresa May’s Eureka moment while walking in North Wales the public have been told, relentlessly, that the reason she decided to break her many promises that there would be no early general election was because a victory for the Tories would strengthen her negotiating position in the forthcoming talks with the EU 27. This claim has been much disputed, of course, not least by some of those on the EU side who will be involved in the negotiations: some of whom have subsequently been accused of trying to influence the outcome of the election by daring to utter an opinion that runs counter to May’s and her team of Brexiteers. As the Guardian reported, she is never one to miss an opportunity to further ram home a point, slogan or soundbite, however dubious the connection with her underlying argument. May was at it again on May 8th. She said:

‘Yesterday a new French president was elected. He was elected with a strong mandate which he can take as a strong position in the negotiations. In the UK we need to ensure we’ve got an equally strong mandate and an equally strong negotiating position. And every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations.’

Continue reading “Setting out to fail and controlling the consequences: the real purpose of the 2017 General Election”

‘Strong and stable’? Adrift and visionless more like

The Tory mantra is already seen by most as empty sloganising.

But it is worse. It is Newspeak. Fine words which are precisely the opposite of reality.

If the Conservatives had a vision for Brexit then they could motivate us all and even ‘bring the country together’ with a clear vision of life after Brexit.

If our leaders were any good at all they would be enthusing us with the prospect of their vision for a new dawn outside the EU. What we have instead is the bizarre prospect of a ‘global’ Britain but without the globalisation supporters who are ‘citizens of nowhere’. So we have a disabling combination of double vision and myopia.

If the Conservatives were strong they’d have a firm vision of life after Brexit which might well have been something worth calling an election for. Instead of which there is no big idea – well even worse, just no idea of where we go from here. There’s a plan for strength when we know we are negotiating with 27 others, requiring agreement within less than two years and with no plan of where we are going. But we are going to be ‘strong’ in playing a woefully weak hand. If negotiations require give and take we seem to have ideas of taking a lot but with very little to give in return. Indeed, much more effort appears to have gone into negotiation within the Conservative party, whilst virtually no thought at all has been given to negotiation on behalf of the country.

Continue reading “‘Strong and stable’? Adrift and visionless more like”

The challenge to Europe and its Democracy

We are more aware today of the need for change within the EU than any time during the last ten years. Since 2010 the Euro Group, which is made up of European Finance Ministers, has successfully sidelined the elected European Parliament. In effect the Euro group operates outside of the Treaties and is no longer accountable to either National or European Parliaments.
The Euro Group now controls all economic policy, the supervision of private banks the rescue packages given to failing states, like Greece, and policy on Austerity.

Continue reading “The challenge to Europe and its Democracy”

Towards Understanding the Right Wing Mind

Given that I grew up in Dublin its probably no surprise that I was brought up a Catholic. I would say both by temperament and upbringing I am very much on the left. My maternal grandmother was closely involved with  Countess Markievicz and did much good work in the Dublin slums in the earliest part of the 20th century and one of my aunts is a Franciscan Nun and considered one of the founding mothers of Malaysia. I’ve always found it difficult to reconcile being Christian to being right wing. Whereas I am very disappointed with the current crop of politicians, I’m pleased that with the current Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury we have good leaders with a strong moral compass.

Continue reading “Towards Understanding the Right Wing Mind”