Wednesday, 11 November 2015

John Cridland is completely deluded

The BBC seems to think the annual CBI (Confederation of British Industry) gathering of business people, politicians, journalists and other sycophants is incredibly important to anyone watching the news. Their coverage was dominated by it.

They interviewed the Director General, John Cridland in what came across as a big Tory love-in. He couldn't have come across more pro-Tory if he'd been personally shoving cash into their pockets whilst his lackeys fed them caviar and champagne.

But he is completely deluded. What the Tories have been doing to this country is massively anti-business and the subsidies, privatisation, tax cuts and protection against the EU don't make up for it. So let's look at what businesses want/need for them, their workers and their customers (in no particular order):

  1. To pay cheap wages to maximise profit
  2. Healthy, fit workers
  3. Roads
  4. Public Transport
  5. Affordable housing
  6. Policing
  7. Waste services
  8. Customers with disposable income
The Tories' ideological austerity measures are affecting all of these things:

  1. In order for workers to survive on poverty pay, they need in-work benefits, which the Tories are cutting.
  2. The NHS is being starved of the resources it needs to keep us fit and healthy for work and in-work benefit cuts also makes low income workers unhealthier, with people more stressed, having to live further away from work where they can afford to live and choosing cheaper, less healthy lifestyle choices.
  3. Councils pay for existing roads to be repaired and for new roads to be built. Their budgets have been crushed.
  4. Ever-more expensive trains and cancellations to planned improvements only serve to make our public transport worse.
  5. Since 2010, fewer houses have been built than at any time since the 1920s. Prices are still rising and most people cannot afford to live somewhere convenient for work. That means longer commuting times, more working time lost in traffic, more stressed workers and generally, a lower quality of life which affects morale.
  6. Businesses need security and yet cuts have also forced front-line police numbers to be reduced.
  7. Councils have had to cut waste and recycling services, meaning that some businesses in some areas may have to pay extra for private contractors to deal with their requirements.
  8. The UK is experiencing the longest real-terms fall in living standards since Queen Victoria was on the throne. That means that fewer people have less disposable income and who suffers most from that? Businesses who sell products and provide services that people don't really need but like to spend their money on if and when they have it. 

John Cridland spoke of some kind of boom in Britain. But are the employees and potential customers of the businesses he represents seeing that?

It never ceases to amaze me how the dangled carrot of a little tax break can blind highly-paid and supposedly very successful businesspeople to the reality of what economically-illiterate Tory governments mean for productivity and profit.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Tristram Hunt is sorely mistaken

Tristram Hunt has spoken to the Cambridge University Labour club to tell them that they need to be dissenters in the Labour party and that: “You are the top one per cent. The Labour Party is in the shit. It is your job and your responsibility to take leadership going forward.” More on this story here.

Tristram Hunt seems to be very confused. The Labour Party was founded because no political party spoke for the working people of this country (at the time, there were a couple of working class Liberal MPs, known then as 'Lib Labs' but they all toed the party line and that usually meant supporting employers and opposing trade unions). It was set up and led by ordinary working people who understand the issues faced by the vast majority of the public.

Hunt is now disappointed that the leader of the Labour party is not an Oxbridge graduate. Now, I have absolutely no problem with the Labour leader being an Oxbridge graduate, provided they also understand and represent the majority of the public. What Hunt is saying is something different: he is saying that the leader of the Labour party MUST be in the "top one per cent", meaning graduates of one of the top Universities. But why? There seems to me to be a great deal of evidence to suggest that many - though not all - Oxbridge graduates are protected from normal life in this odd world of antiquated social systems and hierarchy, ornate and historic oak-panelled rooms in buildings often dedicated to religious figures and, of course, a far higher-than-normal level of wealth among the students and staff. Others have pointed out the similarities in the halls of top public Schools, Oxbridge and Westminster. It's as though the future of these students is carved into them from an early age like the faces of unelected leaders of old in the houses of parliament.

Of course I know that there are plenty of Oxbridge students who are not from public school backgrounds and many who are inclined to avoid the rituals of the self-appointed ruling classes and get through University without being part of some special group. But those people, who go to Oxbridge as a route to an excellent degree and a good career are not who Hunt was speaking to. Hunt was talking to the next generation of Tristram Hunts. Those who feel they want to be in power but either have reason to be a little more compassionate than the Conservatives, or don't feel they have the right connections to reach a senior level in that party and think they might fare better as a Labour politician.

Hunt is ignoring the opinion of the majority of Labour members by encouraging these students to act against the Leadership. I'm not aware of this ever happening against Tony Blair, who had a smaller majority than Jeremy Corbyn and who turned out to be far more conservative than many of those who had voted for him hoped. And even if it did, it would at least have had history on side, unlike what Hunt and his ilk are doing, which is an attempt to appropriate Labour on behalf of the privileged at the expense of those the party was founded by and in the interests of.

Tristram, take your too-posh-to-brush hair and set up your own party. Or join the Tories. Labour - that is REAL Labour - don't want you.