TaxPayers’ Alliance at Conservative Party Conference 2011 Make Tea Party Seem Charming #PanamaPapers

Standard

“Where are the real rightwingers hiding? I don’t mean George Osborne, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, all strutting their stuff in plain sight. I mean the practically unelectable, the kind of men and women who, unlike friendly Dave, ordinary people would really prefer not to have a pint with.

Well, I can reveal that they’ve been esconced in the “Freedom Zone” at Bridgewater Hall, hosting fringes about how to cut further and faster. I went to one, organised by the TaxPayers Alliance. The panel (all male) addressed an (overwhelmingly male) audience on topics such as how to “find more programmes to cut”, why improving public services is counterproductive because it means the’ll only ask for more money, and the fact that even Chinese communists now think the British state is too big.

Glancing to my right I noticed, among the impeccably groomed (and it has to be said, fairly young) audience was the clenched jaw of Otis Ferry, who is presumably hoping to head off a fairly chunky inheritance tax bill. Towards the end an audience member suggested that the TPA campaign to end the 50p rate of tax alienated voters, and mightn’t it be wiser to target taxes that affect poorer people? Doesn’t the alliance risk being seen as the voice of privilege? Matthew Sinclair, the director, was adamant. The TPA wasn’t a party and didn’t have to get itself elected, he scoffed. There was a principle at stake and opposition to the 50p tax was right. So there you are. I don’t think the TPA worries about being seen as the voice of privilege because it manifestly is. The beneficiaries of inherited wealth out for their own. Makes the Tea Party seem charming. Makes Osborne seem like William Beveridge.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance at Conservative Party Conference 2011

The Greens Represent an Irresponsible Anti-politics

Standard

Jade Azim

You are perfectly free to despise politics and politicians. Once upon a time I did.

And then politics became necessary. A Tory government was suddenly thrust in, and the Labour government I took for granted growing up was suddenly gone, and we were all left at the mercy of Etonian men being driven to shrink the state. Suddenly ‘hating politicians’ felt like a fashion I could not afford.

Again, a lot of poorer people are apathetic and distrustful of politicians. That’s for us to change and us to convince and us to understand. My dad was a non-voter, my mum was an instinctive Labour voter who me and my brother had to remind to vote. Both had a reason to fear the Tories, but not to enthusiastically embrace Labour. That is our problem.

But then there are wealthy people, people with power and a voice, who ought to know how…

View original post 797 more words

Panama, privacy and power…

Standard

Paul Bernal's Blog

David Cameron’s first reaction to the questions about his family’s involvement with the Mossack Fonseca leaks was that it was a ‘private matter’ – something that was greeted with a chorus of disapproval from his political opponents and large sections of both the social and ‘traditional’ media. Privacy scholars and advocates, however, were somewhat muted – and quite rightly, because there are complex issues surrounding privacy here, issues that should at the very least make us pause and think. Privacy, in the view of many people, is a human right. It is included in one form or another in all the major human rights declarations and conventions. This, for example, is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

Everyone. Not just the people we like. Indeed, the test of your commitment…

View original post 1,239 more words

Jess Phillips Shows How to Exploit Tory Tax Avoidance Discomfort to Electoral Advantage #InOurBritain

Standard

There is the content for a hard hitting Labour Party Political Broadcast in this piece, In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit of the Law!

Why is Labour’s leadership, especially Seamus Milne, incapable of putting the point over in the manner of a Jess Phillips?

Too middle class?

Too fond of calling tax fraud, tax evasion?

Too out of touch with the concerns and prejudices of average voters?

Too distracted by thoughts of Ikea kitchens when planning a Party Political Broadcast?

Tax being the price we pay to live in a civilised society is a nice homily, but most of us, most of the time, want to live in one at the cheapest possible price. We are only human, after all.

However, we also resent people benefiting at our expense. Tell us that, if others, like Cameron, paid more tax then we could pay less then you will get our attention!

Tell us that the smartly dressed guy in the expensive suit, next to us in the queue at A&E, pays next to no tax and that we are paying for his treatment then you will get our attention!

Appealing to people’s self interest, to get their attention, may be distasteful to some now in the Labour Party, but it is a way of starting conversations that will result in winning votes. It is, in part, why the Tory Party has been in power for much of the last 300 years or so.

Incidentally, I do say, could pay less …

Get the voters’ attention and we might persuade them to forego the temptations of a tax cut in favour of an increase in public spending.

Update from Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

If I Were King of the Forest – The Tale of a Cowardly Lion

UPDATED! There are lies, damned lies & reasons why Tata UK has foundered … #SaveOurSteel #PanamaPapers

Standard

“To fend off a Brazilian rival, Tata had to pay a 70% premium over the stock price.  This was hefty for a company already in financial trouble with a large debt burden.  And Tata paid only $4bn (£2.8bn) of the estimated $14bn final price out of its own funds – the rest was borrowed, mainly from Indian public sector banks.”

“Why were taxpayer-funded banks so willing to lend to a big conglomerate to buy up an overpriced European company, even as they denied loans to Indian farmers and small-scale producers?  The sense of reversal of colonial roles might well have played a role.  The deal was lauded by politicians as a sign that Indian industry had come of age as a global player, and so prudent considerations were simply cast aside.

Repayment of those loans was supposed to be made out of the profits of Tata Steel Europe.  But those profits never came.”

 Tata tried to turn the tables on Britain.  It failed

 “In 2014 the UK imported 687,000 tonnes of steel from China, up from 303,000 tonnes in 2013.

It is true that the UK’s steel imports from the rest of the EU are much higher than this, they were 4.7 million tonnes in 2014, but crucially China is selling its steel at much lower prices.

Steel imports into the UK from the rest of the EU cost on average 897 euros a tonne in 2014, while Chinese steel imports were just 583 euros a tonne, says the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat.  This has led to accusations that China is selling at unfairly low prices.”

 Britain’s steel industry: What’s going wrong?

 “Notably, in Tata Steel’s 2014/15 annual report, UK energy costs are not mentioned.  Instead, its focus is on high pension liabilities, the strong pound and weak domestic demand.”

 Factcheck: The steel crisis and UK electricity prices

Tata “has taken more than £700m in free carbon allowances and offsets, according to analysis of emissions trading scheme data.”

Tata Steel benefited from EU climate policies, studies show

“Ten” Tata “staff including two executives have been suspended after an internal audit uncovered allegedly falsified quality certificates, prompting criminal inquiry.”

” “Right now the problem is that the English (?) facilities are underinvested [and] overmanned,” Tata was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

He said a potential buyer at Port Talbot would need to “cut back on the size and the scale of the operations and make them profitable”.  This would be “extremely challenging” but not impossible.”

Tata Steel crisis deepens with senior staff suspended amid SFO probe

As for the business rates, it looks like Tata has a lot of underutilised space at places like Port Talbot.  Land that might be redeveloped, if one were in it for the long haul:

“Tata Steel has rightly decided to put a stop to investing in these loss-making assets, as structural issues such as high labour, energy and regulatory costs make them unviable even over the longer term”.

Tata Steel: potential Port Talbot bidder says he is yet to decide on offer

Green Steel is an Opportunity not a Threat

I like the cut of Sanjeev Gupta’s jib, but I fear some of the purists may be uncomfortable with the switch to green steel:

“He was doubtful about Gupta’s proposal to scrap Port Talbot’s blast furnace in favour of arc furnaces to recycle scrap steel.  He said the blast furnace was technologically advanced and its energy could be reused for other purposes.”

Port Talbot MP says lower Tata losses improve chance of deal

“The Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose constituency covers Port Talbot, welcomed Gupta’s interest but questioned the credibility of his plan. Kinnock told the BBC’s Today programme that the blast furnaces at Port Talbot are technologically advanced and replacing them would lead to job losses.”

Tata Steel: potential Port Talbot bidder says he is yet to decide on offer

“Gupta has put forward a plan to revitalise Port Talbot.  This involves converting its blast furnaces into electric arc furnaces that use scrap steel.  However, this would lower production capacity and the government and unions are keen to preserve the blast furnaces.”

Who might rescue Port Talbot?

Alex Salmond, never one to miss an opportunity to polish up the green credentials of the SNP, recently highlighted the green steel aspect of their rescue operation.

Labour’s, understandable, response to the problems of the steel industry, has harked back to the party’s past.  Compare and contrast with the party leadership’s relatively lacklustre reaction to the impact of the UK Government’s changes in support for renewable energy.  Changes that endangered at least as many jobs in the renewable energy sector as are currently under threat in the steel industry.

The renewable energy sector is a growing part of the UK economy and it consumes steel products.  However, steel is currently only ever going to maintain its current contribution to the UK economy.  Whereas promoting energy efficiency, reducing energy usage and switching to greater generation of energy from renewable sources promise so much more (and more business for the steel industry):

  • Promoting energy efficiency and reducing energy usage cuts energy bills for individuals and businesses whilst also creating jobs
  • Promoting energy efficiency, reducing energy usage and switching to greater generation of energy from renewable sources increases energy security, leaving us less at the mercy of Johnny Foreigner, whether Canadian or Saudi Arabian, as we reduce energy imports and in doing so create jobs
  • Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy will create a home market for companies linked to the industrial sector and create the capacity so that they may export renewable energy and energy efficiency knowledge, semi-manufactured and manufactured products, whilst creating jobs
  • Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy may well allow us to export energy to Europe thereby improving our balance of payments
  • Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will help reduce pollution.

All the Labour leadership candidates spoke of the opportunities posed by the Green Industrial Revolution.  However, the response by the current leadership to problems with a smokestack industry suggests that more thinking needs to be done as to how to grasp those opportunities, whilst, at the same time, seeking to preserve jobs in mature sectors of the economy.

Moreover, a leader, heavily reliant on support within his party’s membership from former Green Party voters, members and candidates, needs to quickly work out how to balance the concerns of that group, which he has personally attracted to the party, with those of Labour’s core voters who are well to the right of the membership.

Free tip for the Corbyn Boys, a Government that implements policies that will cut  energy bills; reduce pollution; create businesses, jobs and exports; will, sotto voce, be helping to reduce carbon emissions.

I think the voters will buy tackling Man Made Global Warming, if we talk less about the fact that we are doing it and more about what doing it will do for them.  In that way, the expectations of Labour’s membership may be reconciled with the concerns of those whose votes Labour is seeking.

Vote of confidence in UK steel as Liberty plans to reopen Kent plant

Sanjeev Gupta: from college dorm deals to UK steel’s great hope

Port Talbot steel crisis: why we can’t just blame Brussels

More articles from the Guardian about the Steel Industry

More articles from the Guardian about Tata

Other articles:

Tata Steel: No, thank you!

Tata Steel: ‘Nationalisation not the answer’ says Javid

Sajid Javid: Tata Steel sale process to begin by Monday

Students! Vote Twice in Council Elections … Legally!

Standard

Can I vote twice, at home and at uni?

You can’t vote twice in  a UK Parliamentary, Scottish Parliamentary, National Assembly for Wales, European Parliamentary election or European Referendum.

But?

You can vote in local government elections at home and at your term-time address, as long as they are not in the same Council area.

See more at: Students – About my vote, produced by The Electoral Commission

When is the deadline to register to vote?

For the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, Police and Crime Commissioner, Council and Mayoral Elections, you need to register to vote by Monday 18th April 2016.  The deadline to register to vote in the EU Referendum is Tuesday 7th June 2016.