#Corbyn4All #CorbynMustG0 #ImWithCorbyn #Owen2016 Ignore Issue of Poor British Management @UKLabour?

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The Labour party stands at a crossroads

Dear Guardian Editor,

Your spreadsheet comparing where the Labour leadership contenders stand (14 August) confirms that all four have a lot to say about spending money, but little or nothing about making it. Jeremy Corbyn differs from the other three contenders in that he is avowedly “anti-austerity”, which anybody in their right mind would be, if only it were a genuine option.  The other three contenders basically agree on the need for “fiscal responsibility”, but none of the four talk about the elephant in the room.

Britain still has a weak, vulnerable and unbalanced economy, propped up by policy interest rates of near zero and a substantially expanded monetary base courtesy of QA, not to mention a dependence on consumer spending, debt, and house prices.  Furthermore, the economy is characterised by service-sector dependency, low pay, low skills and cities/regions that have been in continuous decline if not recession for more than thirty years.

Efforts must be made to rebalance the economy, address the dismal capability of British management and expand GDP so that a more equal society can be created by levelling up, not down. The four leadership contenders are silent about this requirement and the government has gone very quiet about the need to rebalance the economy now that it can point to the UK’s “outstanding” GDP growth, which I fear will soon decline.

But then, spending money is always easier than making it, and so much easier to talk about for that very reason.

Tim Elster
Bakewell, Derbyshire

Everything You Wanted To Know About Productivity, But Were Afraid To Ask …

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Marxism In A Total Quality Management Setting Part 1

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You Say Private, She Says Public, I Say, Public or Private Our Railways Are Poorly Managed & Run

Response to Corbyn Phenomenon #JezWeCan #Corbyn4Leader #Cooper4Leader #Burnham4Leader #Kendall4Leader

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Response to the Corbyn Phenomenon

As a working class member of the Labour Party, a minority of its membership which is mostly white and middle class, I have no time for the Corbyn Experiment and fact free comment pieces arguing for it. When I studied economics we theorised with data rather than not:

Red Alert: why Labour lost and what needs to change?

Labour lost because voters believed it was anti-austerity

Never Again: Lessons from Labour’s key seats

Labour has to stop patronising socially conservative voters

Currently, Corbyn and his supporters are at the denial and isolation stage of the five stages of grief. Their reaction, their grasping of a comfort blanket is understandable. However, the Labour Party’s Leadership electorate members are like the members of any party not the same as party voters.

Post-election research by Tim Bale and Paul Webb (Just who are these Labour Party members who will be choosing the new leader? ) into the party’s membership found the typical member was white, middle-class, left of where SNP supporters say they are and further left of the Lib Dems, but sharing many Lib Dem-ish preoccupations. They are pro-Europe, pro-immigration and libertarian on matters such as controls of speech and the media. They are also disproportionately, 40%,  employed in the public sector. This is not the profile of the average Labour voter, and even less so of the people who need to vote Labour if it is ever to form another government.

Only someone completely out of touch with the wider electorate would think that paying for the offspring of mostly middle and higher income earners to go to university for free would resonate with the voters lost in May 2015. Labour did not lose support amongst the middle class. And, if tuition fees are such a big issue, how is it that, whilst Labour gained 12 seats from the Liberal Democrats, the Tories took 27?  No one has a right to a university education least of all those who are willing to pay for it now.

If Corbyn wants to be considered radical then he needs to challenge, often middle class, vested interests and not cave into them. He might start by not using the middle class euphemism of tax evasion when referring to £80 billion of tax fraud.  He could then go on to ask the universities if students are getting Value For Money from attending them.

Corbyn may win the leadership of the Labour Party, but he is going to face a lot of internal opposition to policies that put the middle class before the working class. Two thirds of young people do not go to university and Corbyn has nothing to offer them.

As for those “poor quality jobs”, how is it they only appeared when middle class youths found they might have to do them on graduation and not just during the long vacations? The working class have been doing them for decades. And what exactly is a low quality job? Why has Corbyn got nothing to say about the demographic time bomb?

I Don’t Know About Corbynomics But I Know Over 55s Like Osbornomics

Adult social care is not a problem – it is a human necessity

And “growing poverty alongside gross inequality at the top”? I think a Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, and a fellow of Merton College is closer to the top than the bottom and may be more part of the problem than the solution. As of course is Diane Abbott, a graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge.

Corbyn is the most middle class candidate of the four and it is no surprise that he is getting the support of people who prefer not to look at why Labour lost. Their approach is of a piece with the prevalence of poor management practices across our economy. Leaping to conclusions and elevating hunches, riding hobby horses, putting personal obsessions and pet theories before evidence based approaches. Corbyn has been especially silent about how he would approach policy making, but his rash of announcements on a variety of issues suggests he prefers a Blair like approach.  Incidentally, and despite the hype, Blair’s approach to policy making was not evidence based.

I guess, from reading Corbyn’s policy outlines, that evidence based policy approaches rarely come up in conversation over Islington dinner tables.  If it is wrong to write policies that raise no hackles amongst Daily Mail editorial writers then it is equally wrong to write them to suit the readers of the Guardian and the likes of Owen Jones.  Could the lack of discussion about challenges to the way things are done now and have been since the days of Thatcher be because of the composition of those who live in Islington North and who are in work in that constituency?

Firstly, 61.8% of the working age population of Islington North, those aged 16 to 64, have at least an NVQ4 or equivalent. The corresponding figure for the whole of Great Britain is 36.0%.

Secondly, 18.0% (10.3%) of those in work in Islington North are employed as managers, directors and senior officials; 35.8% (19.7%) are employed in professional occupations and 18.2% (14.1%) in associate professional and technical positions. 73.2% (44.3%) of all those in work in Islington North are employed in one or other of these forms of employment. The figures in brackets are for Great Britain as a whole.

Thirdly, the gross weekly median earnings for employees living in Islington North are £617.00 (£520.80) for full time workers. Male full time workers receive £659.60 (£561.50) and female full time workers £588.70 (£463.00). Hourly pay, excluding overtime, for full time workers is £16.47 (£13.15), it is £18.06 (£13.70) for male full time workers and £15.88 (£12.34) for female full time workers. The figures in brackets are, again, for Great Britain as a whole.

Corbyn’s constituents are definitely part of the problem. He seems nice and well intentioned, but he seems unwilling or unable to turn round and tell many of his middle class supporters, members of his own class, that they may need to make some sacrifices under the next Labour Government.

I have noticed how many middle class types are saying that it is better to lose with one’s principles intact than win having compromised them in some way. Easy to say, if such a principled stand involves no sacrifices on your part.

My class cannot afford the principles of those who do nicely, whoever wins a General Election. I am with Lloyd George, who said you may keep your principles shining brightly and not get your hands on the levers of power or get them a bit tarnished and get your hands on the levers of power and do something (to improve the condition of the working class).

I would rather a DLG than a Corbyn any day. The former did more in his political career for the working class than Corbyn ever will. In fact, what has Corbyn, the Labour Party’s tolerated rebel, its licensed court jester ever achieved?

As for Scotland, the SNP has campaigned in poetry, on the left and governs in prose, on the right:

The SNP has failed Scotland

The SNP has a right wing—and here she is

Corbyn and the SNP offer middle class voters, Islington Man and Woman, the opportunity to ignore this injunction:

“If your heart is on the left, don’t carry your (share) portfolio on the right.”

(Updated) graffito from the French student riots of May 1968.

Corbyn could outflank the Tories and ukip, as well as putting the squeeze on the Green Party and the SNP, by proposing free university tuition fees and maintenance grants for those from low income families and a properly thought out, well funded programme of support to get them to university admissions interviews.

As the demand amongst middle and high income families for the traditional route to a degree is almost perfectly price inelastic then they may expect to continue paying their tuition fees unless they want to study subjects deemed to be in skill shortage areas.

And Corbyn should announce plans to spend £30 billion per annum on helping the two thirds of young people who do not go to university and people from other disadvantaged groups realise their potential.

Now that is what I call Socialism!

I Won’t Campaign #JezWeCan 4 Cameron’s Son 2 Go 2 Oxford 4 Free! #LabourLeadship #Corbyn4Leader

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I joined the Labour Party when I was 16 because, in part, I thought it was a party committed to social justice. That it was, in the words of Harold Wilson, a crusade. Labour, I thought, was a party for the many and not the few, a party committed to hand ups not hand outs and each giving, according to their means and receiving, according to their needs.

Has Labour fallen so far from grace that the flagship policy of the (alleged) left wing candidate, in the current leadership election, is not only one for the few and not the many, but that no one seems to think that such a policy is out of keeping with the ethos of the party? I had expected better of Jeremy Corbyn than a ‘big idea’ of giving public money to the offspring of middle and upper class families so that not only may they go to university for free, but in doing so strengthen their grip on power.

I do have to commend Corbyn for picking the right spin doctor to win him the leadership of the Labour Party. Every erogenous zone has been located and stroked. Free university tuition fees for mostly middle and higher income learners ‘surprisingly’ find favour with existing students, middle and higher income earners and their offspring as well as those employed in the university sector. Those who think all work experience is workfare and that any of the back to work measures of the last 30 years are, again, some form of workfare will be pleased to see their ill-informed opinions backed by Corbyn. Those who think that the backbone of Corbyn’s poorly thought out National Education Service should be provided by the further education colleges will, I am sure be purring, not least those who work in them and so on.

Corbyn is assembling a coalition of support with policies, in a number of areas, which may well win him the leadership of the Labour Party, but those policies do not address today’s problems let alone those of 2020. He thinks non-voters are disillusioned. I suspect that is one reason why people do not vote, but by no means the only or even most significant one.  May be someone would care to explain to me how giving the offspring of the well to do free university education will encourage non voters to vote Labour?

My family comes from one of the most deprived Wards in England. Many of them still live there. Many of them do not vote. The Ward is made up of predominantly white, working class people, although that is beginning to change. They do hard, even dangerous jobs, such as removing asbestos from buildings; they suspect migrants and they flirt with voting ukip. Until recently, the Ward returned three Labour Councillors with sizeable majorities. It now has two Tories, who run as ukip lite, and we have just held on to the third seat this May. Arguably, Labour has not done enough for those people, but they have taken the Children’s Centres to their hearts. That would be the Children’s Centres developed with the backing of Gordon Brown.

I fail to see how Corbyn, a standard bearer for the middle class, will re-connect with the voters Labour lost to other parties in May 2010 let alone those who may never have voted in any election. Corbyn has for far too long represented one of the most affluent Parliamentary Constituencies, Islington North, in the United Kingdom to be taken seriously as someone capable of reaching out to the working class and facing down the demands of the middle class. He failed at the first hurdle in not unveiling any sort of aim to increase both the proportion and total number of people from lower income backgrounds entering university education. Do his middle class constituents fear the competition?

I say Corbyn’s middle class constituents with confidence. You will find a profile of his constituency here. I would draw your attention to three pieces of data that highlight the economic status of Corbyn’s constituents. Firstly, 61.8% of the working age population of Islington North, those aged 16 to 64, have at least an NVQ4 or equivalent. The corresponding figure for the whole of Great Britain is 36.0%.

Secondly, 18.0% (10.3%) of those in work in Islington North are employed as managers, directors and senior officials; 35.8% (19.7%) are employed in professional occupations and 18.2% (14.1%) in associate professional and technical positions. 73.2% (44.3%) of all those in work in Islington North are employed in one or other of these forms of employment. The figures in brackets are for Great Britain as a whole.

Thirdly, the gross weekly median earnings for employees living in Islington North are £617.00 (£520.80) for full time workers. Male full time workers receive £659.60 (£561.50) and female full time workers £588.70 (£463.00). Hourly pay, excluding overtime, for full time workers is £16.47 (£13.15), it is £18.06 (£13.70) for male full time workers and £15.88 (£12.34) for female full time workers. The figures in brackets are, again, for Great Britain as a whole.

Looking at the foregoing data, it is not surprising that the cost of going to university is a major concern to those who live in Islington North, especially given the rich rewards accruing to those who do and who then go on to form a sizeable part of the electorate of that constituency. Who would not want to reduce, dramatically, their investment in their own future so as to maximise the return on that investment? One can certainly see the appeal of getting someone else to pay for one’s degree!

Do I detect the shade of the Baroness smiling? Are the residents of Islington, the affluent ones at least, closet Thatcherites? Socialist Thatcherites voting for Corbyn, safe in the knowledge that he poses no threat to them or their lifestyle? Even if Corbyn should become Prime Minister, it seems that they may count on him to look after their interests, given his flagship policy. A policy that, Corbyn keeps telling us, is offering hope and inspiration to today’s youth, well at least that minority of them who go to university. Are those young people backing Corbyn, because of his tuition fees policy, but who will start university before 2020, stupid? Or are they expecting him to write off their debts should he become Prime Minister?

Jeremy Corbyn says, “Education is not about personal advancement but is a collective good that benefits our society and our economy.” He may be sincere in doing so, but, if he is then he should try and stop those media savvy, bright young supporters from contradicting this policy line. They seem to be confusing selfishness with socialism.

They might like to reflect, those seekers after the glittering prizes that, whilst they and their families are dining and becoming exercised about the cost of a university education there are people living within Islington itself who are worried about from whence their next meal will come.

Word to the wise, Jeremy, keep the articulate young things off the broadcast media and out of the newspapers, unless you are able to find some non-white, non-middle class, would be students to support your fee policy. I appreciate this may be a problem in your constituency, given that 67.1% of the people who live there are white, according to the 2011 Census. And, of course, your policy may not resonate with the other 32.9%?

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given that, according to the 2011 Census, if you are 16 and over, live in Islington, and are:

White, you have a 52.5% likelihood of having at least an NVQ4 or equivalent

Mixed/multiple ethnic group, you have a 42% likelihood of having at least an NVQ4 or equivalent

Asian/Asian British, you have a 45% likelihood of having at least an NVQ4 or equivalent

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British, you have a 29% likelihood of having at least an NVQ4 or equivalent

From another ethnic group, you have a 32% likelihood of having at least an NVQ4 or equivalent.

Time, perhaps, to start talking about both the class struggle and equal opportunities for all in the context of access to a traditional university degree course?

The supporters of Corbyn’s flagship policy are coming across as mono, in more ways than one. In other words, they are coming across as unrepresentative of the wider electorate. They are, though, much more representative of the membership of the Labour Party. “Post-election research by Tim Bale and Paul Webb into the” Labour Party’s “membership found the typical member was white, middle-class, left of where SNP supporters say they are and further left of the Lib Dems, but sharing many Lib Dem-ish preoccupations. They are pro-Europe, pro-immigration and libertarian on matters such as controls of speech and the media. They are also disproportionately, 40%, employed in the public sector. This is not the profile of the average Labour voter, and even less so of the people who need to vote Labour if it is ever to form another government.”

Jeremy Corbyn may indeed be sincere when he says, “Education is not about personal advancement but is a collective good that benefits our society and our economy. We all benefit from a more educated and skilled workforce.” He may prove it by capping the number of places for popular degree subjects that are not a reasonable return on our investment. Your starter for ten, Diane Abbot, Newnham College, Cambridge, just how many History Graduates does the UK need?

I would like to think that my Great Nephew in 16 years or so, ceteris paribus, will have the opportunity of having a crack at going to university. Alas, he was born into the working class so he is handicapped from the outset and, if Corbyn’s university tuition fee policy is enacted in the way he proposes, then it will require fewer youths from the middle or upper classes to go to university for people from my Great Nephew’s background to have a chance to do so. I do not see the current crop of fair weather socialists, who won the lottery of life when they were born, being willing to give up a traditional route to a degree. They have, after all, been quite happy, so far, to run up the debts to do so, because the financial rewards from graduating far outweigh the costs incurred in doing so.

I would like to hear Jeremy Corbyn say that going to university is not a right, but a privilege. One that is earnt through hard work and not a result of the class into which you were born. I would like Corbyn to promise to give working class people, like my Great Nephew, a fair crack of the whip. A hand up to the working class and people from minority ethnic groups and not a hand out to the middle and upper classes. Time to set a goal of levelling up as Bevan put it?

One last thing, Jeremy, I did not join the Labour Party to argue the case for your children to have free university education, any more than I did to seek working class votes so that Cameron’s son may go to Oxford University at taxpayer’s expense!

Pension Liberation Fraud Triples, But New Freedoms Might Not Be To Blame!

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29 July 2015

It has been reported that in the month following the introduction of new pension freedoms, liberation fraud more than tripled.  However, despite appearances, the rise may not be directly caused by the new rules that came into effect in April.

Figures from Action Fraud – a division of the City of London police – show that members of the public reported losses of £4.7m in May – compared to losses of £1.4m in April, and £932,000 in March.

In a typical scam, fraudsters contact people with pension pots and persuade them they can release the money for a fee, but without clarifying the tax implications, such as that following the pension reforms, those over 55 are liable for income tax on 75% of their savings.  Anyone whose income exceeds £150,000 in one year – including money withdrawn from their pension pot – could have to pay up to 45% in tax.

Action Fraud figures show that, on average, victims lost £60,500, which includes the amount the victims owe in tax plus the fee they have paid to the fraudsters.

However, the actual number of reported cases of pension liberation fraud has fallen.  There were 78 cases of reported fraud in both May and April, down from 82 in March, and 240 in February.

A spokesperson for Action Fraud said it was ‘difficult to draw any conclusions’ about the effect of the pension reforms on fraud.  Most victims do not realise until some time afterwards that a fraud has been committed, so cases reported now often occurred months or even years in the past.

The pensions minister, Baroness Ros Altmann, said she was ‘not convinced’ that the pensions freedoms have led to a rise in fraud, telling the BBC: ‘People are a lot more aware of it, and are starting to report it. It can take a long time for people to realise they’ve lost their money.’

Income Drawdown Policies Overtake Annuities as Pension Freedoms Prove Popular

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17 July 2015

Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that the over-55s are increasingly favouring pension income drawdown policies over annuities.

It’s research shows that 53% of those buying a retirement income chose an income drawdown policy, while 46% opted for an annuity.

Three years ago, annuities made up 90% of the total policies purchased, but since the pension freedom reforms came into effect in April the demand for drawdown policies has increased significantly, despite some providers failing to offer customers the option to withdraw partial cash sums as the Government intended.

The ABI said that in the two months after 6 April, 65,000 people exercised their new right to withdraw cash – taking out a total of more than £1bn.

It seems that the general trend is for those with smaller pension pots to cash them out, while those with larger pots are using them to buy a regular income.  The average cash pot taken was worth £15,500 – however, the average annuity purchase was for £55,750, while the average drawdown policy was for £69,900.

ABI director Dr Yvonne Braun said: ‘Tens of thousands of people are successfully accessing the pension freedoms as intended, and on the whole, the industry has risen to the challenge of giving customers what they want’.

I Don’t Know About #Corbynomics, But I Know People Over 55 Like #Osbornomics! #InOurBritain

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A big thank you to George Osborne – from the pensioners of Britain

The Guardian, Saturday 6 August 2016

“Labour’s defeat in many respects was due to older voters staying and indeed turning to the Conservatives.  The Conservatives gained twice as many votes amongst this group as Labour.  What’s more there will be relatively more older voters in 2020 than in 2015.”

Red Alert: Why Labour Lost and What Needs to Change?

Is it any coincidence that people who were aged 55 or over from April 6, 2015 and have been allowed since then to use their pension pot how they wish, without having to buy an annuity, turned away from Labour in May 2015?

Osborne bribed them with their own money.

Five million pensioners who have already bought an annuity will be allowed to cash it in from April 2016.

I recently saw an example of someone who at the age of 60 in 2003 started receiving a very decent occupational pension.  Someone who now wants to cash in that pension.  He may be able to do so from April 2016.

Osborne hit on a winner with his pension policy.  Not only in terms of older voters, but because in not taking out an annuity, they have contributed to a mini economic boom and a feel good factor amongst older voters.  £1.4 billion of annuities were not taken out in the first quarter of this financial year.  Sales of cars and holidays rose in that period.

Last week, when the BBC covered the economic growth figures, they cut away to a company making replacement windows.  Their business is booming.  The construction industry may be flat lining, but not home improvements, it seems.

New cars, holidays and home improvements are the sorts of spending people tend to make when they receive a windfall or a redundancy payment.  In fact, any sum of money that is the most that they have ever had or are ever likely to have in their lives that they may spend on whatever they like.  We now have over 55s deciding a lump sum now, courtesy of Mr Osborne, is better than an income stream until they die.  Instant gratification as opposed to deferred gratification.  Understandable, if you are pessimistic about your likely life expectancy.

And a splurge of the proportions of that being caused by the annuity cash outs is very likely to cause inflation.  Inflation that might well contribute to an rise in interest rates.  A rise which, on balance, will be good for the over 55s, but not for younger people.  Admittedly a rise in interest rates does offer a double edged sword for the government amongst over 55s with savings and pensions likely to rise, but with negative impacts on house prices.  Of course, the latter only matters is you are looking to sell or in some way extract the equity from your property.

And another little twist.  When people buy annuities they tend in part to buy government securities.  They lend the Government money for a steady, boring rate of return.  However, if fewer people are in the market to buy securities then Osborne’s plans to reduce Government borrowing and run a surplus throughout the economic cycle will not be as disruptive economically as one might have at first thought.

Think about that £1.4 billion for a moment.  Most pension pots are between £10,000 and £30,000 per person.  Let us say that the average is £20,000.  £1.4 billion divided by £20,000 equals 70,000 votes, sorry, people.  And that 70,000 is only the people knowing they were going to get a pay out in the first three months of the 2015/16 financial year.  How much more of that pension money is going to find its way into the economy over the next few years or so?

Of course, people live, on average, longer than they expect to do.  The live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse philosophy may run slap bang into the reality of being over 55, living long, dying old and on a low income in the United Kingdom in the early 21st Century.  Are those who have or are planning to not purchase an annuity assuming, if matters go awry in the future, that they may fall back on taxpayer funded support?

In theory those currently in receipt of financial support like Pension Credit should notify the Department for Work and Pensions of any change in their financial circumstances.  I mean they should, but …  You may, dear reader, have noticed that politicians rarely speak of social security fraud and pensioners in the same speech let alone the same sentence or paragraph!  Incidentally, one in three of those eligible to receive Pension Credit are still not claiming it.

Those cashing out their annuities now may be in for a rude awakening in the decades to come, but by then Prime Minister Osborne will have retired to spend more time with his trust fund, perforated septum and ladies of negotiable affection.

Osborne discovered his Keynsian side at just the right moment and managed to deliver a boost to the UK economy without increasing Government spending.  Osbornomics is, for the moment at least, more attractive to an over 55 voter than Corbynomics.

The question that annuity cash outs pose for the Labour Party is simple.  Had Labour already lost the 2020 General Election before the results of the 2015 General Election were known?

Income Drawdown Policies Overtake Annuities as Pension Freedoms Prove Popular

Pension Liberation Fraud Triples, But New Freedoms Might Not Be To Blame!

Ever Wondered What People Mean by the Demographic Time Bomb?

Britain faces fiscal crunch from demographic timebomb

Britain’s demographic timebomb (and how to profit from it)

CIPD Report suggests “Demographic time bomb” as 30% of the workforce to retire by 2035

During the latter part of my Civil Service career, I used to provide briefings for visits up to Ministerial level.  We included in those briefings a couple of standard paragraphs about the impact of the demographic time bomb on the Birmingham and Solihull labour market.

After the Crash of 2008, my then boss, who signed off on the briefings, queried whether or not we should keep the two paragraphs in the living document.  I, tactfully, observed that whatever else had happened people had not started getting younger.  We kept the two paragraphs in the brief.

A few months later, we both visited this centre (a project for which I had a big hand in getting the funding).  A senior nursing officer, who met with us at the Hub, remarked that due to its ageing workforce the NHS would, in the coming years, need to recruit 50% of all school leavers just to maintain its existing staffing levels.

Next time you are out and about or at work, take a look around at the people you see and consider their ages …