New Statesman: When David Cameron became Tory leader, he wanted to end child poverty. Now he just wants to stop measuring it

New Statesman: When David Cameron became Tory leader, he wanted to end child poverty. Now he just wants to stop measuring it

Now you see it…  Now you don’t.  The government’s rustled up a party trick for the kids this Christmas. They’re going to make 3.7 million of them disappear.

Britain’s children aren’t going anywhere, of course, particularly those who are growing up poor. But with a legislative sleight of hand, the government plans to quietly give up on the targets to end child poverty enshrined (with cross-party support) in the Child Poverty Act 2010.

And with it, they’re hoping to magic away any mention of child poverty at all. The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission will become the Social Mobility Commission. The Child Poverty Act will become the Life Chances Act.

All this is more than a little politically convenient.  Apart from a solitary BBC Today programme interview with Iain Duncan Smith last year, which left presenter Evan Davis audibly flabbergasted, not even the Government claims it is on track to meet the child poverty targets.

Indeed, the latest available projections, from the Resolution Foundation, warn child poverty will rise from 2.3m children to 3.3m by 2020 – a figure that will be even higher once the poverty-producing impact of the Summer Budget and the Autumn Statement is totted up.

 

I suppose there may be a few chimneys left for them to sweep and the poverty will keep them small enough.

Continue ReadingNew Statesman: When David Cameron became Tory leader, he wanted to end child poverty. Now he just wants to stop measuring it

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

Merry Christmas.

The New Statesman reports on Britain’s new Victorianism whereby the filthy rich get filthier rich and that the poor get poorer. Just in case you haven’t realised, we are most definitely not all in this together.

We are re-living a traditional Victorian Christmas – of excess for the few and struggle for the many

Like the Victorian poor, Britons on low and middle incomes are often treated as a different caste of people to those which in the nineteenth century were called the “upper ten thousand” and are now the “super rich” 0.1%. The practice of sacrificing workers’ need for reliable incomes to the desire of employers to have flexibility is spreading – through zero-hours contracts and false self-employment – up the income scale. This is reflected in how our incomes are described: too often, the business pages of refer to the pay of the 0.1% as “reward” (they are valuable creatures to be nurtured and thanked) whereas the rest of us are “labour costs”.

At the other end of the scale, the rich are getting richer. The UK’s 1,000 wealthiest people last year got richer by £35bn: they now have assets, on average, of £450m each. London now boasts the world’s most expensive home, and we are seeing the return of the butler. The share of national income that the top 1% get fell throughout most of the 20th century, but is again heading towards Victorian levels.

And this new gentry are not, for the most part, talented hard-working who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. As in the Victorian era, the rich are the privileged offspring of privileged parents. The UK has one of the lowest levels of social mobility in the developed world. A child whose parents send them to private school is 11 times more likely to go on to run a major company than his state-school equivalent, and 30 times more likely to become a high-court judge.

Martin Robbins reports on Cameron and the illiberal Con-Dem coalition government’s progress in censoring the internet. He asks what the porn filter is all about? I think that you can see what was intended by looking at the consequences: it was intended to censor huge swathes of the internet and allow only a prudish flaccid anodyne vacuity and it was intended to disempower individuals so that using the internet should be passive like watching television.

Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan

As Wired reported back in July, Cameron’s ambitions extended far beyond porn. Working through secretive negotiations with ISPs, the coalition has put in place a set of filters and restrictions as ambitious as anything this side of China, dividing the internet into ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ categories, and cutting people off from huge swathes of it at the stroke of a key.

“As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.”

And the restrictions go further still. Over the weekend, people were appalled to discover that BT filters supported homophobia, with a category blocking, “sites where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptive, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.”

It was never really clear what the so-called porn filter was supposed to achieve; what problem it was trying to prevent. Filtering seems to have become a crutch for inept parents looking for an easy way to avoid having real conversations with their kids about sex, porn and the world outside their comfortable little cul-de-sacs. If their first sight of a vagina traumatizes your teenage child, then you have brought them up wrong – but of course the problem here is often the parent more than the child; the embarrassed mother of father – projecting their own feelings of discomfort and embarrassment around the topic of sex onto their child. There remains, despite a wave of public hysteria, no good evidence that porn has any detrimental effect on children.

What clearly does have an impact on children though is denying them sex education, suppressing their sexual identity, and shutting off access to child protection or mental health charities. In all this talk of porn filters, the rights of the children campaigners supposedly want to protect have been ignored or trampled. Children should have a right to good quality sex education, access to support hotlines and websites, and information about their sexuality.

Chris Grayling and the illiberal Con-Dem Conservative coalition government are accused of being petty and killjoys for banning prisoners from receiving gifts from friends and families.

 

Prisoners Won’t Receive Parcels This Christmas

Convicted prisoners will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones this Christmas under new rules introduced by the Government.

The rules forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

The new measures were introduced in November, meaning this is the first Christmas for which the new rules will be in effect.

A Prison Service spokesperson confirmed the rule change, saying it was part of a raft of Government reforms.

But Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “These new mean and petty prison rules just add stress and strain while doing nothing to promote rehabilitation and personal responsibility.”

OurNHS in 2013 – some highlights

OurNHS is on a publishing break until the New Year. Why not check out some of our stories you may have missed?

Dr Clare Gerada, outgoing Chair of the Royal College of GPs, asks ‘What do we want – a good doctor, or “patient choice”?’ 

How did we get here? Marcus Chown explains in The great NHS robbery.

Could young doctors have done more to fight NHS ‘reforms’, asks Guddi Singh in Asleep on the job – young doctors and the NHS reforms.

Dr Jacky Davis questions the media presentation of hospital deaths.

Dr David Zigmond challenges the poor quality of decision making in the new NHS structures in ‘NHS decisions, Eurovision-style’. Richard Grimes wonders whether the Deregulation Bill is even more worrying than the Lobbying Bill in ‘A Bonfire of Citizens’ Rights’.

OurNHS editor Caroline Molloy investigates the rising threat of NHS charges in Zombie policies walking into Downing Street, the scandal of Peterborough Hospital and the PFI racket and asks ’What is G4S doing in England’s NHS’? She also exposes how predictions of compulsory tendering are coming true, and how the NHS pays millions to end contracts which have put patient lives at risk.

In The Race to Privatise England’s NHS Paul Evans of the NHS Supporters Federation lays bare just how many contracts are going out to the private sector.

In ‘The NHS and dog whistle politics’, Dr Kamliz Boomla highlights the problems of charging migrants for the NHS, and Shibley Rahman asks whether we should be worried about personal budgets in ‘Shop til you drop’.

The sale of personal medical data to private interests is exposed in “Your medical data – on sale for a pound” by Phil Booth of MedConfidential.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks out on the sell-off of NHS land.

Clive Peedell (National Health Action Party Leader) tells us how David Cameron has lied about his intention to privatise the NHS.

Rachael Maskell, Unite National Officer for health, highlights the scandal of low pay in the NHS & the NHS’s electoral impact.

Ex-Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green sets out how the health and welfare ‘reforms’ are failing children.

Professor Dexter Whitfield asks should we turn the NHS into mutual and co-ops?, Professor Rosemary Mander questions whether charities are losing their way in healthcareand Andrew Robertson of Social Investigations exposed how the charity sector has lobbied for NHS privatisation.

Professor Marianna Fotaki of the Centre for Health & the Public Interest suggests the NHS learn from how privatisation has damaged social care.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE urges Labour to ‘Shout from the rooftops’ to save the NHS, Grahame Morris MP of the Health Select Committee) exposes how privatisation is harming Freedom of Information and Roger Kline asks if private sector secrecy will stop the NHS becoming more open.

In 2013 OurNHS was the first to highlight and promote campaigns including the privatisation (Section 75) regulations, the EU/US Free Trade Treatyand the Hospital Closure clause.  

We recently launched an up-to-date resource guide, the most comprehensive collection of the best NHS campaigning resources on the Web, and hope to build on our work supporting grassroots campaigners.

2014 will be a big year for NHS campaigning. There are big questions to address on healthcare funding, charging, cuts and privatisation, and democratic accountability. OurNHS wants to continue to ensure a range of progressive and sometimes challenging voices are heard in the debate.

OurNHS continues to campaign hard for an ‘NHS restoration bill’ to restore the Secretary of State’s duty to secure a comprehensive health service, abolished by the 2012 Health & Social Care Act.

See you in 2014!

Donate to OurNHS

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events

David Cameron consorts with tax-dodgers to censor the web

Image of Jimmy Savile and Margaret Thatcher
Jimmy Savile and Margaret Thatcher

It is announced today that Downing Street is to work with massive search engine tax-dodgers Google to hugely censor the web. Under the guise of attempting to frustrate paedophiles, Downing St and Google intend to censor 100,000 search terms.

Cameron and the UK government are simply hugely censoring the internet. This measure will not affect paedophiles since they don’t use Google to search for paedophile material. Instead it will frustrate users legally searching for legitimate materials. It is quite simply huge censorship of the web. It will actually – and is quite possibly intended to – have the opposite effect of assisting internet paedophiles by posing difficulties to independent researchers.

It is a mistake to think that the internet is not already hugely censored. Do you think that search engines do not already censor paedophile and alternative political materials? This blog is hugely censored for political reasons: you won’t find this blog in a school or library. Try searching for some terms from this blog like “war of bullshit”. [Just realised that it works on Google]

There are not 100,000 paedophile search terms and paedophiles don’t use Google anyway. How can this be anything except a huge exercise in censorship?

We have already seen that UK Conservatives want to censor the web. Their lobbying bill is a huge attack on democracy attempting to neuter charities and unions. They are simply trying to take out their opposition in a very evil way totally opposed to democracy, freedom and liberty.

If it is accepted that there simply is not 100,000 search terms related to paedophilia then what is going to be censored? There are elite paedophile rings protected by the UK authorities. Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith were protected by UK authorities. I know of one paedo who was close to Tony Blair who is protected by UK authorities. When you censor the web, you are protecting these paedos.

8.30pm 18/11/13

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/10457465/David-Cameron-Spies-tracking-internet-paedophiles-are-like-the-Enigma-code-breakers-of-World-War-II.html

Jim Gamble, former Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) chief executive, said that while Mr Cameron’s influence has “accelerated” the process of getting the search engines to ban 100,000 search terms.

However he said it was the peer-to-peer networks that need to be targeted if the Government wants to track down paedophiles.

He said: “Very few paedophiles in my experience use Google.”

“At the end of the day a pop up message is not going to inform, educated or scare a paedophile they know what they do is wrong, that’s why they are secretive about it that’s why they hide in the peer to peer of the dark web where they cant be found.”

  1. Confirmation that paedos do not use Google as I stated earlier in this post.
  2. There is a confused use of terms. The dark web is a reference to Tor, which is not a peer-to-peer network (like BitTorrent).
  3. The paedos are using Tor not peer-to-peer.

[19/11/13 This story seems to have died very suddenly – there are only a few mentions today of yesterday’s events.

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/david-camerons-crackdown-on-child-porn-needs-some-work

… Cameron claimed the search queries targeted, which were drawn up by child protection experts, were “unambiguous,” but that seems quite frankly impossible. There are reportedly as many as 100,000 terms on the list—for comparison, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains 231,100 entries. There seems a real risk, then, of the algorithm overreaching and preventing web users from accessing perfectly legal content. …

[like (conservative or tory or lord or rich or falconer or blair) and (paedo or paedophile or nonce),

“straw rendition torture”,

“dodgy dossier”,

“misled parliament”,

“public inquiry”,

“conservative broken promises”,

etc. ]

Join the IWF to see child porn. This achieves nothing – police and intelligence services already have access.

[20/11/13 To clarify this.

Tor works by routing encrypted requests through a circuit of relays. The circuits change often. The Tor exit node is at the other end to the user and is unencrypted to the requested resource (on the open web, not if the target resource is on a Tor hidden service e.g. illegal paedo porn). The Tor user cannot be identified unless she has made a mistake e.g. identifying herself through an email address or has been infected as Anonymous did.

The confusion that spooks, ex-spooks, prime ministers and news reporters are showing between the Tor anonymity network and peer-to-peer networks is due to two issues.

  1. Prime Ministers and news reporters don’t understand it and are following the lead of spooks, ex-spooks and spooky advisors, and
  2. At the network level i.e. where spooks are intercepting traffic, they can’t distinguish Tor from peer-to-peer traffic so to them it is the same. {Later edit: 2 is based on intuition. It should not be taken as a statement of fact or knowledge.} ]

Confusion between Tor and peer-to-peer continues. Pursuing peer-to-peer seems a wasted effort.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/18/online-child-abuse-peer-to-peer

The Internet Watch Foundation does not at the moment pursue images and videos on so-called peer-to-peer networks because it lacks permission from the Home Office. But it was announced on Monday that the watchdog would begin a six-month pilot scheme in collaboration with Google, Microsoft and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency (Ceop), so that IWF can develop procedures to identify and blacklist links to child abuse material on P2P services.

Independent: Search engines take on child abuse: The ‘massive breakthrough’ where little has changed

This post subject to change.

Continue ReadingDavid Cameron consorts with tax-dodgers to censor the web

Bad management and cruelty: Iain Duncan Smith and the failures of the Work Programme

http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2013/11/bad-management-and-cruelty-failures-work-programme

A toxic mixture of policy by soundbite, twisted statistics and a spurious belief in the efficacy of the private sector has created a programme that is going to fail a whole generation.

by Alan White

Image of IDS Iain Duncan Smith

 

 

 

 

Earlier this year, Cait Reilly, a 24-year-old Geology graduate, won a legal battle at the Appeal Court after claiming that her unpaid work placement at Poundland, which she had been required to undertake in return for continued benefits payments, breached laws on forced labour.

Iain Duncan Smith vented his frustration on The Andrew Marr Show:

I’m sorry, but there is a group of people out there who think they’re too good for this kind of stuff […] The next time somebody goes in – those smart people who say there’s something wrong with this – they go into their supermarket, ask themselves this simple question, when they can’t find the food they want on the shelves, who is more important – them, the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?
It was despicable, if unsurprising, to watch a cabinet minister smearing a young woman who’d been volunteering in her preferred career field. And the second part of his statement was the kind of populist hokum that carries as much intellectual weight as an X-Factor judge’s comments (“Well when there’s an earthquake and you’re buried under a pile of tinned tomatoes in Tesco ask yourself who’s more important THEN? You, or the geologist, or the shelf stacker? Yeah. I don’t know either. Makes you think.”)

But such rhetoric is indicative of Duncan Smith’s modus operandi: policy by soundbite. To quote Jane Mansour, a policy consultant who has been involved in welfare-to-work in the UK and Australia for the last 15 years:

‘Tough’ is consistently used as a synonym for ‘effective’. They are not the same thing. It is unclear how the complexity of issues that underpin worryingly high levels of youth unemployment will be addressed by benefit removal for under 25s, or how any job churn and negative impacts on wages that occur as a consequence will be mitigated.

A considerable amount of research data, particularly that on the value of specific interventions, has been compiled or commissioned by DWP and funded by the taxpayer. Wasting such a valuable resource should be condemned forthrightly […] It’s like deciding to buy a house, paying for a full structural survey, ignoring the issues it identifies, and then building an extension on walls, that (had you read the report you would know) are not strong enough to hold it up.
So it’ll come as absolutely no surprise to hear that – by the DWP’s own reckoning – mandatory work activity schemes such as the one Cait Reilly was supposed to attend are ineffective. That analysis didn’t even mention the impact on disabled people. And it’ll also come as no surprise that the analysis was published alongside an announcement that the department was, erm, expanding the scheme.

Perhaps part of the floundering’s due to the fact Iain Duncan Smith’s trying to solve an impossible problem. You might see him ranting about a something-for-nothing culture, or alleged job snobs like Reilly – but you won’t hear a peep from him about the long-term political and economic failure that’s left nearly five people chasing every vacancy, that saw 4,300 people apply for 150 jobs at Tesco in Gosport and which has left youth unemployment a ticking economic and social time bomb.

Continue ReadingBad management and cruelty: Iain Duncan Smith and the failures of the Work Programme

Privatisation, a very British disease

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/joe-guinan-thomas-m-hanna/privatisation-very-british-disease

JOE GUINAN and THOMAS M. HANNA

Britain is an extreme oddity regarding privatisation: nowhere else in the advanced world is there such a willingness to sell everything that isn’t nailed down. Time and again the British public is ripped off and sold out by its leaders.

Image reads Cameron's Cultural DevolutionA few weeks ago, London was the scene of a heist of spectacular proportions. We may never know the full extent of what was stolen, but the indications are that it was anywhere between £1 billion and an eye-watering £6 billion. Although the robbery was carried out in broad daylight, it is unlikely the money will ever be recovered or the perpetrators brought to justice. This is because they were sitting in some of the world’s largest financial institutions – Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Bank of America and UBS – and acting on behalf of the British government.

Their instrument was the undervaluation of shares in Royal Mail, which with the initial public offering immediately soared from 330p to above 500p. The company was sold at £3.3 billion but in J.P. Morgan’s estimation the real value may have been as high as £10 billion. No wonder the IPO was oversubscribed. It was, as TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady pointed out, akin to “selling five pound notes for four quid.” The biggest private shareholder is now the hedge fund TCI, which snagged 5.8 per cent of the company. The principal victim of this daylight robbery is, of course, the British public.

There has been plenty of public and media commentary – and even a little outrage – at this latest instance of the looting of Britain’s dwindling public sector. After all, even Margaret Thatcher was “not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised.” The sell-off was conducted in the teeth of sceptical public opinion as well as fierce opposition from postal workers, with 96 per cent opposed in a recent ballot. Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, denounced the manner in which a centuries-old public company, returning regular profits to the Treasury, was “flogged on the cheap for no good reason.” Postal workers have voted for industrial action, seeking guarantees on pay and working conditions.

Missing from most of the discussion, however, is any recognition of just how extraordinary all of this is. Business Secretary Vince Cable may have faced some tough questions about the handling of the flotation but it will blow over. No heads will roll. Asset-stripping of the public sector has become a fact of life. Even among the British left, battered by the serial privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s, there is a certain wearied resignation, a sense of going through the motions in the face of the seemingly unalterable order of things.

We should resist this normalisation. Viewed from an international perspective, Britain is an extreme outlier regarding privatisation. In no other advanced industrial country would quite so flagrant a rip-off have been engineered and tolerated. Nowhere else – not even in the corporate-dominated United States – is there such a degree of nonchalance about ownership and control over vital infrastructure and public services. In the UK, the attitude seems to be that if it isn’t nailed down then it is for sale. Privatisation is increasingly the British disease.

From Pinochet to perestroika

Privatisation has been a prominent feature of the British political landscape for decades, but on the basis of an assumed international policy consensus about how to improve efficiency and economic performance. It is true that, since the 1980s, privatisation has been a key instrument in the toolkit of neoliberal globalisation, enforced from Latin America to Asia to Africa wherever the writ of the IMF and World Bank could be made to run. By 2009, 132 of the world’s 500 most valuable corporations were privatised former state enterprises. But within this neoliberal framework, very few countries were actually prepared to go quite so far quite so fast as the UK.

In a 2002 encomium to privatisation, HM Treasury calculated that, all told, between 1980 and 1996 Britain had racked up fully 40 per cent of the total value of all assets privatised across the OECD. This is an astounding figure. Elsewhere, the only remotely comparable experiences occurred in countries – Pinochet’s Chile and the disintegrating Soviet Union – that were undergoing exceptional transitions and in which the rule of law was basically inoperative.

Chile was the original laboratory. Between 1975 and 1989, under the jackboot of the Pinochet regime and at the urging of carpetbagging Chicago school economists, the country implemented two waves of privatisation. Not merely companies nationalised by Allende but a host of older public concerns – including 16 banks and thousands of mines, real estate holdings and agricultural enterprises – were auctioned off to elites at bargain-basement prices.

Given the accolades afforded the “Chilean miracle” by Milton Friedman and others, it is worth noting that the first wave of Chilean privatisation was a major embarrassment. All but five of the banks and many of the other enterprises failed and had to be taken back into public hands. By 1983 the government-controlled portion of the economy again equalled that under Allende, and critics mockingly referred to a “Chicago road to socialism.” (The second wave of privatisation, beginning in 1985, eventually returned many of these firms to the private sector).

Road tested in Chile, privatisation was then exported out across Latin America and worldwide. Under Margaret Thatcher, Britain served as the most prominent conduit and cheerleader. With free market economists again hectoring from the sidelines (see Thatcher’s correspondence with Hayek), all memory of capitalist mismanagement of factories and mines in the interwar years was forgotten as the commanding heights of the economy – electricity, gas, water, steel, civil aviation, telecoms and railways – were delivered up for auction. It was a massive transfer of wealth from public to private interests, marketed to the people with soothing promises of a shareholder democracy.

As with Royal Mail, the brazenness of the theft was stunning. In his magnificent recent book on public ownership, Andrew Cumbers, Professor of Geographical Political Economy at the University of Glasgow, found “considerable evidence that state assets were sold off at remarkably cheap prices.” Shares in BT jumped from 130p at privatisation to £15 by 1999. Railtrack was sold for £1.9 billion, but within two years had soared in value to £8 billion. The rolling stock company Porterbrook Leasing, privatised for £528 million, was re-sold just eight months later for £826 million, while the other two rolling stock companies were subsequently sold for £900 million more than their privatisation price. The architects of privatisation could barely be bothered to disguise what they were up to. Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson went so far as to state in his memoirs that undervaluation was a deliberate government tactic.

Hugely important strategic considerations were at work, as was evident in the subsequent development of the UK economy. Privatisation not only allowed for attacks on the trade unions but also – together with big bang deregulation – contributed to the build-out of London-based capital markets. The £3.9 billion rollout of shares in BT in 1984, for example, was six times bigger than any previous IPO and four times the size of any other capital-raising exercise in the world at the time. In this way, the privatisations of the eighties and nineties helped secure the City’s continuing place as a world financial capital.

In addition, the sale of 2.5 million council houses at a total value of £86 billion – more than all other privatisations combined – helped generate the real estate boom and (as Stephen Wilks notes) ultimately contributed to the property credit bubble. Revenues from the sale of other public assets – totalling £69 billion between 1979 and 1997 – allowed successive Tory governments to maintain public spending while cutting taxes for short-term electoral gain. Leon Brittan insisted that “people always overestimated Mrs Thatcher’s grasp of economics while underestimating her grasp of politics.”

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.

 

Continue ReadingPrivatisation, a very British disease

Single parents ‘biggest losers’ from IDS’ welfare reforms

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2013/10/30/single-parents-biggest-losers-from-ids-welfare-reforms

Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship universal credit reforms will make life for working single parents harder rather than easier, according to a report out today.

The Gingerbread charity suggested there would be very little financial incentive for those in or out of work to take on anything more than ‘mini-jobs’.

Its findings are a setback to the Department for Work and Pensions, which is aiming to simplify a raft of existing benefits and roll them into the single universal credit in a bid to make the shift to employment a financially attractive one.

“The simple fact is that universal credit won’t deliver on its promise to make work pay,” Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weird said.

Continue ReadingSingle parents ‘biggest losers’ from IDS’ welfare reforms

Inheritance figures reveal the stark inequality of Great Britain

http://politics.co.uk/blogs/2013/10/29/inheritance-figures-reveal-the-stark-inequality-of-great-bri

Image of Victorian LondonOfficial figures for inheritance paint a depressing and completely unsurprising portrait of Great Britain – a place where the rich get richer and the poor get stigmatised.

The UK remains a country where those who least need it receive the most.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show 1.6 million adults (3.6% of the population) received an inheritance worth over £1,000 between 2008 and 2010. Half received less than £10,000, but one in ten received £125,000 or more.

In fact, the luckiest fifth recieved a total of £57 billion – that accounts for 76% of all inherited wealth during the period.

Who did it go to? No prizes for guessing.

Rates of inheritance were higher for individuals living in households which already had the highest levels of wealth, according to the ONS.

Those in the wealthiest fifth of households had an increased chance of receiving inheritance. Those in managerial – rather than routine – occupations had an increased chance of receiving inheritance. Those who owned their main property outright, rather than holding a mortgage, had an increased chance. White Brits had an increased chance compared to non-white Brits. Those whose parents were mortgage owners, rather than renters, had an increased chance.

Continue ReadingInheritance figures reveal the stark inequality of Great Britain