If @UKLabour lasts a 1,000 years then May 1940 will always be one of its finest hours … There is no Left or Right in a foxhole @JeremyCorbyn … What Would #Labour’s Bevin Have Thought of #Corbyn’s Request for My Views on #Syria

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If Labour lasts a 1,000 years then May 1940 will always be one its finest hours …
There is no Left or Right in a foxhole Jeremy Corbyn …

I am convinced he would have thought twice about extending the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria, but I am even more convinced that he would shape any response to ISIS in the terms of this philosophy that he expounded in 1950:

“Foreign policy is a thing you have to bring down to its essence as it applies to an individual. It is something that is great and big: it is common sense and humanity as it applies to my affairs and to yours, because it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

I mention Bevin for two reasons, he is more in tune with those who vote Labour today than is Jeremy Corbyn and he was in very much the same position in his own day. He also persuaded the Labour Leader of his time, considered to be the one with whom Corbyn has the most in common, to resign as Leader of the Labour Party.

He addressed George Lansbury thus:

“You are placing … the movement in an absolutely wrong position by hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

They say history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. Is Corbyn now setting the stage for a farce? Bevin ended the tragedy of the early 1930s thus:

“(George) Lansbury has been going about dressed in saint’s clothing for years waiting for martyrdom. I set fire to the faggots.”

Lansbury’s successor was Major Clement Attlee.

I am ever more certain that Corbyn does not look at how policy, foreign or domestic, applies to an individual. He thinks in terms of abstracts.

Corbyn recently said, “How dare Cameron’s Conservatives pretend that they speak for Britain.” I assume that this was an attempt to challenge any suggestion that Corbyn, personally, is unpatriotic. Corbyn went on to remark:

“We stand for this country’s greatest traditions: the suffragettes and the trade unions.. the Britain of Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley, Alan Turing and the Beatles… and perhaps our finest Olympian – and a Somalian refugee – Mo Farah.. an Arsenal fan of course.

And for the working people of this country who fought fascism.. built the welfare state.. and turned this land into an industrial powerhouse.

The real patriots.”

Setting aside the fact that Corbyn’s idiosyncratic list is one requiring many footnotes, he succeeds in making his definition of patriotism an exclusive one. He divides when he should be seeking to unite, even in the margins of quite a lengthy, rambling speech. Please, Seumas Milne, I beg of you, get Jeremy Corbyn enrolled on some public speaking and presentational skills courses, pronto! And fire his speechwriters whilst you are it!

Corbyn could not, it seems, bring himself around to put the case, the extremely credible case, that, without the support of Major Attlee and Arthur Greenwood in May 1940, Winston Churchill might well have been forced to sue for terms with Hitler by the leaders of the rump of the Conservative Party, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. Churchill, supported by Attlee as his Deputy Prime Minister, went on to lead a coalition of all the political parties, represented in the House of Commons. Any other Leader of the Labour Party, except seemingly Corbyn, may cite the history of the darkest days of 1940 to show just how patriotic the Labour Party is when it really matters. One in the eye, surely, for Tories like Cameron?  Tories, who have much more in common with a Halifax than a Churchill, but not one in the eye for many a Conservative voter who would, I am sure, recognise the contribution that Labour made, alongside their chosen party, in defeating Nazism.  There is no Left or Right in a foxhole.

On 2 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate and said, in effect, that he was not declaring war on Germany immediately for having invaded Poland. This non declaration greatly angered Leo Amery, a Conservative Member of Parliament present in the House at that moment, and was felt by many present to be out of touch with the temper of the British people. As Labour Party Leader Clement Attlee was absent, Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, “Speak for England!” —which carried the undeniable implication that Chamberlain was not. England then meant the United Kingdom.

Corbyn now has the chance to speak for the UK (and not just Islington Man and Woman), to craft a compromise that would put him at the head of the Labour Party and allow him to create a (temporary) coalition within the House of Commons to defeat David Cameron’s plan to extend the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria. He must, however, do more than merely oppose the Government. He must stop adopting the persona of a rather irritated headmaster of a third rate prep school, who, a few months off retirement, is wearily having to correct, once more, the homework of the school dunce. He might start by arguing that extending the RAF’s operations into Syria would be a diminution of force, a weakening of its efforts in Iraq, and that its schwerpunkt, its main effort, should remain Iraq and Iraq alone.

Corbyn must also accept that he is not only the Leader of the Labour Party, but the Leader of the Opposition, a role which requires him to make alliances across party lines, if he is to be effective. He must articulate an alternative course of action around which his party may unite and which will attract the support of the other opposition parties and those members of the Conservative Party, who are doubtful of the arguments presented to date by David Cameron. Corbyn must accept the fact that until now he has managed to do what Miliband never did, make Cameron look statesmanlike!

If Corbyn needs any advice about how to build a consensus on a single issue then he need look no further than Labour’s leadership in the House of Lords, but of course the party there is headed by a woman and Jeremy shares David’s disease, when it comes to women. If he needs advice about what might constitute an effective considered amendment to that being put down by Cameron then he should consult with, not lecture, his colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Labour Party. He should speak with the leaders of the other opposition parties, including Nicola Sturgeon; experienced statesmen like Lord Ashdown; foreign affairs and defence experts and last, but not least, representatives of the victims of ISIS.

Corbyn must not think, for one moment, that his 50:50, Phone a Friend and/or Ask the Audience approach is anything, but an abrogation of his responsibilities as the leader of the Labour Party, his own 21st Century take on Lansbury’s “hawking” his “conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

Corbyn needs to understand and seek to address the genuine concerns and positions being taken up by MPs, like Chuka Umunna. Umunna has said he would vote on his conscience whatever the leadership decides and is minded to vote in favour of the government’s plans:

“My own personal view is that where are our national security is threatened it would be wrong simply to leave it to others to deal with it. We can’t ignore the barbarity of this death cult, who throw gay people off buildings, systematically rape women, [and] carry out mass executions. Now, do I think that military action – and by the way I am minded to support military intervention, but we have yet to see the wording of the motion – is going to resolve this conflict? Of course not. Do I think it is the only solution? Of course not. But what I do think it can do in the interim is … start to dismantle what Isil are doing.”

Corbyn may be paralysed by Iraq, but others genuinely fear that inaction may have worse consequences than action. No one, I am sure, wants to see any reruns of what happened in, for example, Rwanda. Yes, the deaths there were on a massive scale and one hopes unrepeatable, but then how often before has the human race said that? Moreover, one preventable death is one too many and to misquote Harold Wilson, to the murdered man or woman, murder is 100%.

Corbyn runs the risk of not just portraying the Labour Party, under his leadership, as unpatriotic, but as a national socialist party. A party for whom troubling issues in faraway countries, of which we know little and care less, are best left to media columnists, those with views of disturbing certainty, and the echo chambers of the Internet. Such an isolationist policy is similar to that advocated by Farage. The Labour Party of Bevin was, as is today’s, an internationalist socialist party. Bevin spoke for the many not the few and, especially the working classes when he said, “I’m not going to have my people treated like this!” The people of whom he was speaking at that moment? They were the Jews and trades unionists being persecuted by the Nazis.

Corbyn’s indulgence of the (self appointed) fascists of Momentum (aka New, New Labour’s Sturmabteilung or Thought Police) and their bully boy tactics provides unwanted echoes of the 1930s and is a sure fire recipe for splitting the support that brought him to power. Momentum’s bend your conscience to our way of thinking or face deselection approach is not endearing itself to many who voted for Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. People, who I am convinced, believe in freedom of conscience, even for elected politicians.

Will Momentum, the militant wing of the Stop the War Coalition, soon don (ethically sourced) oatmeal coloured hair shirts in order to police Labour Party meetings? Many of them are not Labour Party members and would fall foul of its rules, if they tried to join the party today, but will that obstacle be removed in the coming months as dissatisfaction with Corbyn’s leadership increases and he feels ever more besieged?

Corbyn’s “sudden consultation with party members” is one “for which there is no constitutional basis in the party, and anyway is so haphazardly organised that it cannot be a reliable test of party opinion,” and it “also looks like an effort to ally the leader with the party rank and file against MPs.” In fact, Corbyn’s poll was “statistical junk”.  Yet another example of Corbyn adopting an exclusive, not an inclusive approach which is unlikely to be sustainable in the medium to long term.

Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party not a General Election in September 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party with 251,485 votes out of the 422,664 cast. The turnout was 76.3% and the total number of eligible voters was 554,272. The party’s national poll ratings are currently around 27%. They are heading towards parity with the polling figures for the Scottish Labour Party, currently at 25%. The Labour Party received 9,347,304 votes on May 7th 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s 251,485 equates to 2.7% of the voters represented by the Labour Party as a whole.

“A mooted emergency meeting of the national executive, asserting that the terms of the Labour conference motion on Syria have not been met, would also portray him as the party democrat fighting his out of touch MPs.” A viewpoint that may be undermined when people wise up to what Corbyn means when he talks about indicative online polling. Such polls will not result in binding resolutions and may well be ignored, if they produce results which do not accord with the views held by the person who put the poll in the field.

Corbyn is considered to be doing badly or very badly by 13% of those who voted for him as leader and 1% are unsure about him. A 14% drop in support in about 3 months that equates to a decline in support from 59.5% to 51.2%. Does Corbyn really want to be remembered as the Leader of the Labour Party, who ruled, not led the party, with the help of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Diane Abbot and the support of intimidatory tactics deployed by Momentum? One might think that Momentum, going on current form, see themselves as the descendants of Mosley’s boot boys.

Chamberlain’s Government fell at the end of the Norway Debate in May 1940. Amery spoke in that debate, “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation. You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Corbyn may face that injunction, possibly from the trades unions, if he does not stop following a Bushite line. Remember if you are not with us then you must be against us? The Labour Party is a broad church and rarely has less than three strands of opinion on any issue. And you may not call yourself a socialist, if unable to start a disagreement about ideology, with yourself, in an empty room!

Oh, and, if you are unfamiliar with the biography of Ernie Bevin, he was a British statesman, trades union leader, and Labour politician. He co-founded and served as General Secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers’ Union from 1922 to 1940 and as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government. He succeeded in maximising the British labour supply, for both the armed services and domestic industrial production, with a minimum of strikes and disruption.

Bevin’s most important role came as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government, 1945 to 1951. He gained American financial support, strongly opposed Communism, and aided in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Bevin’s tenure also saw the end of the Mandate of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. Bevin was arguably the greatest British Foreign Secretary of the 20th Century. He was, to quote his own words, “A turn up in a million” and he never forgot “it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

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Please sign petition calling on George Osborne to remove the 20% VAT on vet’s bills #LabourDoorstep

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Paul Streeting is a pet owner, who lives on a small income.

Paul’s dog has helped him in lots of ways.  Helped him through some tough times.

Paul finds the 20% VAT on vet operations, a rip off for many pet owners and also many of those who are on small pensions.

Pets are a great comfort to many, including those who live alone, the elderly and people suffering from poor mental health.  Sometimes taking Winston Churchill’s Black Dog for a walk really means going out for a stroll with a four legged friend.

Please spend a couple of minutes and sign Paul’s petition.  And, if you are happy to do that then Paul would be very grateful, if you would encourage other people to put their names to the petition, too.

Thanks!

What Would #Labour’s Bevin Have Thought of #Corbyn’s Request for My Views on #Syria (#SyriaGasAttack)

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I am convinced he would have thought twice about extending the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria, but I am even more convinced that he would shape any response to ISIS in the terms of this philosophy that he expounded in 1950:

“Foreign policy is a thing you have to bring down to its essence as it applies to an individual. It is something that is great and big: it is common sense and humanity as it applies to my affairs and to yours, because it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

I mention Bevin for two reasons, he is more in tune with those who vote Labour today than is Jeremy Corbyn and he was in very much the same position in his own day. He also persuaded the Labour Leader of his time, considered to be the one with whom Corbyn has the most in common, to resign as Leader of the Labour Party.

He addressed George Lansbury thus:

“You are placing … the movement in an absolutely wrong position by hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

They say history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. Is Corbyn now setting the stage for a farce? Bevin ended the tragedy of the early 1930s thus:

“(George) Lansbury has been going about dressed in saint’s clothing for years waiting for martyrdom. I set fire to the faggots.”

Lansbury’s successor was Major Clement Attlee.

I am ever more certain that Corbyn does not look at how policy, foreign or domestic, applies to an individual. He thinks in terms of abstracts.

Corbyn recently said, “How dare Cameron’s Conservatives pretend that they speak for Britain.” I assume that this was an attempt to challenge any suggestion that Corbyn, personally, is unpatriotic. Corbyn went on to remark:

“We stand for this country’s greatest traditions: the suffragettes and the trade unions.. the Britain of Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley, Alan Turing and the Beatles… and perhaps our finest Olympian – and a Somalian refugee – Mo Farah.. an Arsenal fan of course.

And for the working people of this country who fought fascism.. built the welfare state.. and turned this land into an industrial powerhouse.

The real patriots.”

Setting aside the fact that Corbyn’s idiosyncratic list is one requiring many footnotes, he succeeds in making his definition of patriotism an exclusive one. He divides when he should be seeking to unite, even in the margins of quite a lengthy, rambling speech. Please, Seumas Milne, I beg of you, get Jeremy Corbyn enrolled on some public speaking and presentational skills courses, pronto! And fire his speechwriters whilst you are it!

Corbyn could not, it seems, bring himself around to put the case, the extremely credible case, that, without the support of Major Attlee and Arthur Greenwood in May 1940, Winston Churchill might well have been forced to sue for terms with Hitler by the leaders of the rump of the Conservative Party, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. Churchill, supported by Attlee as his Deputy Prime Minister, went on to lead a coalition of all the political parties, represented in the House of Commons. Any other Leader of the Labour Party, except seemingly Corbyn, may cite the history of the darkest days of 1940 to show just how patriotic the Labour Party is when it really matters. One in the eye, surely, for Tories like Cameron?  Tories, who have much more in common with a Halifax than a Churchill, but not one in the eye for many a Conservative voter who would, I am sure, recognise the contribution that Labour made, alongside their chosen party, in defeating Nazism.  There is no Left or Right in a foxhole.

On 2 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate and said, in effect, that he was not declaring war on Germany immediately for having invaded Poland. This non declaration greatly angered Leo Amery, a Conservative Member of Parliament present in the House at that moment, and was felt by many present to be out of touch with the temper of the British people. As Labour Party Leader Clement Attlee was absent, Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, “Speak for England!” —which carried the undeniable implication that Chamberlain was not. England then meant the United Kingdom.

Corbyn now has the chance to speak for the UK (and not just Islington Man and Woman), to craft a compromise that would put him at the head of the Labour Party and allow him to create a (temporary) coalition within the House of Commons to defeat David Cameron’s plan to extend the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria. He must, however, do more than merely oppose the Government. He must stop adopting the persona of a rather irritated headmaster of a third rate prep school, who, a few months off retirement, is wearily having to correct, once more, the homework of the school dunce. He might start by arguing that extending the RAF’s operations into Syria would be a diminution of force, a weakening of its efforts in Iraq, and that its schwerpunkt, its main effort, should remain Iraq and Iraq alone.

Corbyn must also accept that he is not only the Leader of the Labour Party, but the Leader of the Opposition, a role which requires him to make alliances across party lines, if he is to be effective. He must articulate an alternative course of action around which his party may unite and which will attract the support of the other opposition parties and those members of the Conservative Party, who are doubtful of the arguments presented to date by David Cameron. Corbyn must accept the fact that until now he has managed to do what Miliband never did, make Cameron look statesmanlike!

If Corbyn needs any advice about how to build a consensus on a single issue then he need look no further than Labour’s leadership in the House of Lords, but of course the party there is headed by a woman and Jeremy shares David’s disease, when it comes to women. If he needs advice about what might constitute an effective considered amendment to that being put down by Cameron then he should consult with, not lecture, his colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Labour Party. He should speak with the leaders of the other opposition parties, including Nicola Sturgeon; experienced statesmen like Lord Ashdown; foreign affairs and defence experts and last, but not least, representatives of the victims of ISIS.

Corbyn must not think, for one moment, that his 50:50, Phone a Friend and/or Ask the Audience approach is anything, but an abrogation of his responsibilities as the leader of the Labour Party, his own 21st Century take on Lansbury’s “hawking” his “conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

Corbyn needs to understand and seek to address the genuine concerns and positions being taken up by MPs, like Chuka Umunna. Umunna has said he would vote on his conscience whatever the leadership decides and is minded to vote in favour of the government’s plans:

“My own personal view is that where are our national security is threatened it would be wrong simply to leave it to others to deal with it. We can’t ignore the barbarity of this death cult, who throw gay people off buildings, systematically rape women, [and] carry out mass executions. Now, do I think that military action – and by the way I am minded to support military intervention, but we have yet to see the wording of the motion – is going to resolve this conflict? Of course not. Do I think it is the only solution? Of course not. But what I do think it can do in the interim is … start to dismantle what Isil are doing.”

Corbyn may be paralysed by Iraq, but others genuinely fear that inaction may have worse consequences than action. No one, I am sure, wants to see any reruns of what happened in, for example, Rwanda. Yes, the deaths there were on a massive scale and one hopes unrepeatable, but then how often before has the human race said that? Moreover, one preventable death is one too many and to misquote Harold Wilson, to the murdered man or woman, murder is 100%.

Corbyn runs the risk of not just portraying the Labour Party, under his leadership, as unpatriotic, but as a national socialist party. A party for whom troubling issues in faraway countries, of which we know little and care less, are best left to media columnists, those with views of disturbing certainty, and the echo chambers of the Internet. Such an isolationist policy is similar to that advocated by Farage. The Labour Party of Bevin was, as is today’s, an internationalist socialist party. Bevin spoke for the many not the few and, especially the working classes when he said, “I’m not going to have my people treated like this!” The people of whom he was speaking at that moment? They were the Jews and trades unionists being persecuted by the Nazis.

Corbyn’s indulgence of the (self appointed) fascists of Momentum (aka New, New Labour’s Sturmabteilung or Thought Police) and their bully boy tactics provides unwanted echoes of the 1930s and is a sure fire recipe for splitting the support that brought him to power. Momentum’s bend your conscience to our way of thinking or face deselection approach is not endearing itself to many who voted for Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. People, who I am convinced, believe in freedom of conscience, even for elected politicians.

Will Momentum, the militant wing of the Stop the War Coalition, soon don (ethically sourced) oatmeal coloured hair shirts in order to police Labour Party meetings? Many of them are not Labour Party members and would fall foul of its rules, if they tried to join the party today, but will that obstacle be removed in the coming months as dissatisfaction with Corbyn’s leadership increases and he feels ever more besieged?

Corbyn’s “sudden consultation with party members” is one “for which there is no constitutional basis in the party, and anyway is so haphazardly organised that it cannot be a reliable test of party opinion,” and it “also looks like an effort to ally the leader with the party rank and file against MPs.” In fact, Corbyn’s poll was “statistical junk”.  Yet another example of Corbyn adopting an exclusive, not an inclusive approach which is unlikely to be sustainable in the medium to long term.

Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party not a General Election in September 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party with 251,485 votes out of the 422,664 cast. The turnout was 76.3% and the total number of eligible voters was 554,272. The party’s national poll ratings are currently around 27%. They are heading towards parity with the polling figures for the Scottish Labour Party, currently at 25%. The Labour Party received 9,347,304 votes on May 7th 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s 251,485 equates to 2.7% of the voters represented by the Labour Party as a whole.

“A mooted emergency meeting of the national executive, asserting that the terms of the Labour conference motion on Syria have not been met, would also portray him as the party democrat fighting his out of touch MPs.” A viewpoint that may be undermined when people wise up to what Corbyn means when he talks about indicative online polling. Such polls will not result in binding resolutions and may well be ignored, if they produce results which do not accord with the views held by the person who put the poll in the field.

Corbyn is considered to be doing badly or very badly by 13% of those who voted for him as leader and 1% are unsure about him. A 14% drop in support in about 3 months that equates to a decline in support from 59.5% to 51.2%. Does Corbyn really want to be remembered as the Leader of the Labour Party, who ruled, not led the party, with the help of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Diane Abbot and the support of intimidatory tactics deployed by Momentum? One might think that Momentum, going on current form, see themselves as the descendants of Mosley’s boot boys.

Chamberlain’s Government fell at the end of the Norway Debate in May 1940. Amery spoke in that debate, “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation. You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Corbyn may face that injunction, possibly from the trades unions, if he does not stop following a Bushite line. Remember if you are not with us then you must be against us? The Labour Party is a broad church and rarely has less than three strands of opinion on any issue. And you may not call yourself a socialist, if unable to start a disagreement about ideology, with yourself, in an empty room!

Oh, and, if you are unfamiliar with the biography of Ernie Bevin, he was a British statesman, trades union leader, and Labour politician. He co-founded and served as General Secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers’ Union from 1922 to 1940 and as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government. He succeeded in maximising the British labour supply, for both the armed services and domestic industrial production, with a minimum of strikes and disruption.

Bevin’s most important role came as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government, 1945 to 1951. He gained American financial support, strongly opposed Communism, and aided in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Bevin’s tenure also saw the end of the Mandate of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. Bevin was arguably the greatest British Foreign Secretary of the 20th Century. He was, to quote his own words, “A turn up in a million” and he never forgot “it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

Does #MichaelWhite, #Guardian Know What Grown-up Migration Debate Would Look Like? #RochesterandStrood

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“Downing Street is seeking to respond to the threat from the right from Ukip.  But Cameron also wants to show Tory Eurosceptics he is serious about reform.  They have said in recent weeks that the plan to crack down on benefit tourism showed No 10 was not serious about introducing major reforms because there is relatively little evidence of benefit abuse by EU citizens.”

Barroso warns Cameron that arbitrary migration cap would breach EU law

(Guardian, Sunday 19th October, 2014)

Michael White of the Guardian thinks thatPaul Collier, a distinguished Oxford professor of public policy, a weighty, progressive intellectual of international repute, author of Exodus,” “has thought about” migration “harder than most of us.”

White refers to this article by Collier as an example of Collier’s weighty pondering.  Pondering that at one point refers to assimilation and at a later point, integration.  White may be unaware that these are two very different concepts, not in any way interchangeable and that assimilation is something for which the BNP calls and which, since Doncaster (see ‘Culture’), ukip is demanding too.  I would expect Collier to know the difference and know just how inflammatory calls for assimilation happen to be.

When it come to attitudes towards Social Security, Collier says, “As to diversity, it involves a trade-off: as it increases, variety is enhanced but cohesion reduced.  Variety is good but, unfortunately, as cohesion erodes voters become less willing to support generous welfare programmes.

There is a universal psychological tendency for inconvenient truths to be denigrated, and this is certainly inconvenient for the left. But it is not speculation: I describe some of the supporting research in my book Exodus, and rigorous new experimental research by the Oxford political scientists Sergi Pardos and Jordi Muñoz finds that immigration has just this effect, especially on benefits that are targeted at the poor.”

Firstly, when was there a time in the last forty years or so that the United Kingdom has had “generous welfare programmes”?  Moreover, this is not the United States of America, we do not have welfare programmes.  The word programme is used in the UK in connection with back to work support, for example the fatally flawed Work Programme.

Secondly, attitude surveys going back 30 yerars show that voters have, starting then, become less tolerant of recipients of what many, like the Daily Mail, parts of ukip and IDS, believe to be generous welfare hand outs.  Bizarrely, some of those holding those views are themselves long term beneficiaries of Social Security.  Was there a lot of (im)migration going on in the early 1980s or was Mrs Thatcher ramping up the rhetoric against people signing on?

Thirdly, where is this law of nature that says as diversity increases, variety is enhanced, but cohesion reduced?  Does that not suppose that there was cohesion at the outset?  For the record, for reasons more than simply their discriminatory attitudes, me and mine have precious little in common with ukip’s supporters, except where we were born.  We would, regardless of their views about migration and their attidudes towards the presence of locally born ‘foreigners’, still not be cohering with this group.  We are, for example, opposed to foxhunting.  Bearing the latter in mind, may I observe that I find ukip’s support, from top to bottom, to be unspeakable?  They are a pack of economic and social Luddites.  Let me be frank, I find it hard not to think about them, in the way that they think about migrants, as much as I try not so to do.

As an aside, are migrants from other European Union countries remaining in the United Kingdom indefinitely?  We are using the words, migration and immigration, as meaning the same thing, but an immigrant is someone who arrives with the intention of staying.  Surely we should be using migrant to describe people who behave like migratory birds do?  Surely that is surely a grown up way to debate this issue?  Collier, as shown above, uses the word immigration.  Migrant is, in the mouths of some, becoming anyone who is not white British, period.

White says that, “Unlike most of us, Collier even has a practical remedy for David Cameron as he makes a poor fist of trying to slow down inward migration from Eastern Europe without overtaking Angela Merkel’s patience or the limited imagination of rules-bound Brussels apparatchiks. As another Labour MP whispered to me during the Eastleigh by-election, one reason why would-be migrants of the poorer kind risk freezing at Calais is that Britain’s welfare payments are not all determined by past contributions: “We could change that without EU permission.” ” Collier actually says, “Perhaps it is that, unlike in the rest of Europe, access to our welfare system is not determined by past contributions.”  in other words, Collier has no evidence for his ‘solution’, but White turns it into one!

We may, of course, change how one becomes eligible for Social Security payments without EU permission.  The Coalition started a major round of doing just that on coming to power.  Those changes apply to all seeking to claim, regardless of country of origin.  One might think that Collier and White (sounds like a 1950s department store) had not heard of Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit.

White should perhaps check Collier’s weighty article of 16th March, 2012, “My fiscal nightmares” wherein Collier says, “A prudent government protects the balance sheet while running a large fiscal deficit. It does so by drastically changing the composition of public spending. Public consumption is massively reduced, concentrating on components that commit spending far into the future. The top priority is therefore to reduce entitlement spending: benefits and pensions.”

Is the current debate providing Collier with cover for arguing again for his top priority?  Collier also buys into the idea that the UK faced, in 2012, the same position as Greece.  I beg to differ and I have got Robert Skidelsky, Professor of Political Economy at Warwick University and the author of the definitive biography of John Maynard Keynes, on my side:

“The national debt is a burden on future generations: This fallacy is repeated so often that it has entered the collective unconscious. The argument is that if the current generation spends more than it earns, the next generation will be forced to earn more than it spends to pay for it.

But this ignores the fact that holders of the very same debt will be among the supposedly burdened future generations. Suppose my children have to pay off the debt to you that I incurred. They will be worse off. But you will be better off. This may be bad for the distribution of wealth and income, because it will enrich the creditor at the expense of the debtor, but there will be no net burden on future generations.

The principle is exactly the same when the holders of the national debt are foreigners (as with Greece), though the political opposition to repayment will be much greater.”

Post-crash economics: some common fallacies about austerity

As we hold our own debt, we have a vested interest in not calling it in lest we bring down our economy, down around our ears.  I am assuming Collier is not necessarily a Keynesian when it comes to National Debt?

Whatever else Collier may be, he seems to know as much about Social Security systems both here and elsewhere in Europe as the Mayor of Calais.  You may still be able to claim some benefits if you travel or move abroad, or if you are already living abroad.  What you’re entitled to depends on where you are going and how long for.  This is where you, as a United Kingdom citizen, can claim benefits:

European Economic Area (EEA) countries

The following countries have benefits arrangements with the UK:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Switzerland is not a member of the EEA but is treated as an EEA country for certain benefits.

Other countries with UK benefits arrangements

The following countries have social security agreements with the UK:

  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Canada
  • Channel Islands
  • Macedonia
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Kosovo
  • Mauritius
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • the Philippines
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • USA

Let us not forget moving or retiring abroad and, of course that you have the right to live and work in any European Economic Area (EEA) country, if you are a UK citizen.

For the record, Collier and White, no one is assessed for entitlement to tax credits on the basis of National Insurance Contributions, regardless of where they come from within the EEA, including the UK.

I have already written in some depth about the Social Security contributory principle here so please treat that post as an addendum to this one.  I would add that making changes to our own systems in order to seek to deny non contributory Social Security to migrants would be costly, particularly if the aim were to run, for example, three types of Jobseeker’s Allowance (Contribution Based, Income Based and Migrant Income/Contribution Based) alongside each other.  There would be even greater potential for under and over payments and, arguably more potential for fraud amongst people receiving MICB JSA.  Not forgetting, of course, that JSAPS and ESAPs are sinking as Universal Credit grinds to a halt on the slipway.

I have spoken to Michael White via Twitter about means testing the free bus passes for old people.  He was waxing lyrical about means testing entitlement to the pass saving money, apart from the fact he had no evidence from a Social and Economic Cost Benefit Allowance to prove his point, he was blithely unaware of the costs involved in means testing.  Costs that would have to be offset against any savings.  He nearly went all Mcvey over me, along the lines of when she said that, although the bedroom tax was not saving money, it was a matter of principle to carry on with it.

Collier says, “The economic consequences of a” migration “pause would be negligible as long as students were exempted.”  Unsurprisingly, someone nestling in the groves of academe does not want those groves denied of any income, whether home grown or from abroad.  Good to see though that Collier, like I, value students from abroad studying here, but I expect that we will reap significant benefits from their, hopefully, happy time here at some future date and not in the here and now.  Where is Collier’s evidence, given his concern with the here and now, that migrant students are a benefit to UK plc whilst studying here? More of a benefit, say, than migrants working and paying Income Tax and National Insurance whilst they work here?

Also, I have news for Collier and White, there is, once again, a skills shortage in the construction industry:

Bricklayers’ boom highlights ‘skills timebomb’ in UK construction industry

SMEs: is enough being done to tackle the UK’s skills shortage?

Skills shortage fears temper surge in UK construction

Construction sector skills shortage blamed for holding back housebuilding

Kipper Williams on the construction skills shortage

I would like to make a couple of points with regards to the first two articles.  “As builders take on new work, a shortage of skilled tradespeople has allowed subcontractors to ramp up their hourly rates” (first article).  The Polish plumber and his friend, the bricklayer will be stepping in to take up some of the slack, one presumes.  A colleague of mine in the mid 2000s had an uncle working in the building industry in the east of England.  His relative said that the British bricklayers were good, they could put up a brick wall, leaving a space for a gate, perfectly well.  The Poles were better, they could build a brick arch over the gap between the two walls.  The British had been trained by the UK taxpayer to NVQ2 and the poles to NVQ3 by the Polish taxpayer.

Did ukip have to import that out of work Irish actor to appear in a poster, posing as a bricklayer, because British bricklayers did not share ukip’s stance and/or were too busy?  If you are a bricklayer and out of work at this time may I suggest, tactfully, that it is because no one thinks you are employable?  Moreover, that if there were no migrants you would still be at the back of the queue? I would go so far as to say that there is an overlap between that tiny minority of UK residents defrauding the UK Social Security system and ukip’s unemployed supporters.  They have been presenting themselves at the door during party canvassing exercises in the same way they used to down at the Jobcentre.  We know who you are, chaps, because some of you are the real (not Daily Mail) scroungers we used to sanction back in the day.  There is a certain irony in that ukip, one group of whose supporters favour going further thah IDS, is being supported by another group that would be the main target of their version of the War on Welfare!

Colier says, “It would be salutary for business to find that it had to train the existing workforce rather than poach trained workers from poorer countries: what is good for business is not necessarily good for the rest of us.”  Good to know he remembers some basic labour market economics, except British companies have a century old tradition (pre dating our entry into the EU) of poaching from each other.  In addition, Enoch Powell, when Minister of Health in the late 1950s was actively recruiting medical staff from the Caribbean to work in the NHS.  And, London Transport recruited Afro-Caribbean people to work on the Underground and the buses.

Amusingly, Collier, desirous of reducing migration to save the public finances, forgets that too often employers expect the taxpayer to train their existing workforce.  Meanwhile, whilst we await the Second Coming of Learning and Development and many British companies renouncing their devotion to ‘tried and tested’ Anglo Saxon business methods, the cost of building projects, many funded by the taxpayer will rise and rise.  And that is without factoring in the labour market impact of major construction projects like HS2.  And, every time we go into a recession, the first thing businesses usually cut is their learning and development budgets.

“The skills shortage problem is not unique to the UK.  Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, John Allan, says, “Many businesses across Europe are struggling to fill vacancies with appropriately trained staff.  The problem can’t be addressed until the education system does a better job of preparing young people for the world of work.” ” (second article).  Translation, there are increasing  job opportunities opening up for UK residents elsewhere in the EEA.  As an aside, I must find the Guardian article, wherein a careers adviser of 30 year’s standing remarked that employers at the start of his career had been saying, “The problem can’t be addressed until the education system does a better job of preparing young people for the world of work!”  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, Collier and White?

Michael, I am up for a grown-up debate on migration.  May be we may have one when you stop throwing out lines like, “Neither the right’s “crowding out” complaint about competition for low-skilled jobs (my Labour friend’s complaint too), nor the left’s “good for growth and tax receipts” scenario – shared by the City and big business – has much real evidence to support it.”  Comment is free, but facts are sacred, but not to the point where they must never be deployed, surely?  Where is your evidence to disprove either or both assertions?

Back in 2005, well before all this talk of swamping kicked in, there were 600 Cuban nurses working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.  Why?  Because of the demographic time bomb.  An aging population means an aging workforce.  ukip’s pensioner supporters are going to need to accept the fact that a migrant may be the only person available to clean up their sick in their care home? We are not talking about people elbowing others out of the way for jobs.  After all, migrants are rarely of pension age so they will in part compensate for the fall in the number of people in the working age population and, by paying tax, contribute towards the cost of the pensions of elderly people, including ukip supporting pensioners.

Collier of course says, “There is a good case for confronting their delusions and racism, and countering the misleading drizzle of anti-immigrant anecdotes, but this would not make them accepting of continued high immigration.”  How about, no migrant, no pension?  I think that might be the kind of sound bite that would hit home on the doorstep.

I was at a meeting with the QE Human Resources staff about six or so years ago.  A senior nurse recruiter said we have projected that very soon the NHS will need to recruit 50% of all school leavers to maintain its current staffing level.  Recessions come, recessions go and demographic changes remain relatively unaffected.  Of coursed, tightening public sector pension entitlement and raising the state pension age may go some way to responding to this issue.  however, actuaries have predicted that for every year working over 60, teachers reduce their life expectancy.  If they retire at 65 they run a significant risk of dying within a year.  I suspect neither Collier nor White expect to find themselves working to a point where it affects their life expectancy in such a dramatic way.

Michael, Collier is proposing that we engage in managing decline rather than take advantage of the benefits to UK plc of exploiting the opportunities presented by free movement of labour.  Opportunities for jobseekers happy to work abroad and vice versa.

By the way, Michael, that graduate you mentioned herein, “At one point in those 17 years a Labour MP, now dead, said to me: ”How can my young, unskilled constituents hope to compete for jobs with bilingual and highly-motivated foreign graduates?” It was a good point and I think of it every time I buy a beer or a coffee from one of those young graduates.”  Was he or she fluent in English?  Does it follow that he or she is at least bilingual?  That lots of tourists come to London (and Birmingham) and that having skilled, versatile staff who speak good English is good for the tourist industry (and UK plc)?  And if tourism spend increases then jobs growth results?  Have either you or Collier heard of the Multiplier Effect (see page 58)?  Incidentally, I am a Treasury standard Green Book Appraiser.

Might it not be a bad idea, if we helped “those (stereotypical) young, unskilled constituents to learn” a few other languages so they might look for work elsewhere in the EU?  Also, Michael, most employers do not look for vocational qualifications before recruiting so perhaps we should not be so quick to describe these stereotypes as lacking in soft skills?  And while we are on the subject of Europe, business and jobs why not read this post.

May be I am getting a bit cynical, but Paul Collier seems to be setting out to follow the trail blazed by Goodwin and Ford of Revolt on the Right Fame.  What they know about psephology and political campaigning, he seems to know about labour market economics and the UK Social Security system, but they are still making a mint out of ukip (and migration).  Migration is certainly improving the income of some people!

ukip Out To Worsen Conditions Of Temporary (Farm) Workers!

Migrants Price Local People Out Of Agricultural Jobs?

#ukip Out To Worsen Conditions Of UK Born Temporary (Farm) Workers! #GE2015 #RaceForNumber10

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In his often-quoted speech in 1909 on Second Reading of the Bill (that became the Trade Boards Act 1909), Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, explained that the Boards were necessary to ensure that workers received a living wage in industries where the bargaining strength of employers greatly outweighed that of employees:

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions. It was formerly supposed that the working of the laws of supply and demand would naturally regulate or eliminate that evil ……………. Where in the great staple trades in the country you have a powerful organisation on both sides, where you have responsible leaders able to bind their constituents to their decision, where that organisation is conjoint with an automatic scale of wages or arrangements for avoiding a deadlock by means of arbitration, there you have a healthy bargaining which increases the competitive power of the industry, enforces a progressive standard of life and the productive scale, and continually weaves capital and labour more closely together. But where you have what we call sweated trades, you have no organisation, no parity of bargaining, the good employer is undercut by the bad, and the bad employer is undercut by the worst; the worker, whose whole livelihood depends upon the industry, is undersold by the worker who only takes the trade up as a second string, his feebleness and ignorance generally renders the worker an easy prey to the tyranny of the masters and middle-men, only a step higher up the ladder than the worker, and held in the same relentless grip of forces – where those conditions prevail you have not a condition of progress, but a condition of progressive degeneration.”

The 1909 Act was the first national minimum wage legislation in Britain.  Churchill’s Boards were superseded by Wages Councils established under the Wages Council Act 1945.  Legislation introduced by a Liberal Government, built upon by a Labour Government leading to, amongst other things, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948.  The Wages Councils consisted of representatives from both sides of industry, together with independent members. They had the power to set detailed minimum rates of pay, including shift premia, for different age groups and types of worker as well as complex holiday entitlements relating to length of service.

At their peak, in 1953, (under a Conservative Government headed by Winston Churchill) there were 66 Wages Councils, covering about 3.5 million workers.

In March 1985, the Conservative Government, as part of its policy of deregulating the labour market, published a Consultation Paper which proposed that the Wages Councils should either be abolished altogether or radically reformed. There was considerable opposition to outright abolition, from employers as well as employees, and the Government opted for radical reform.

The Wages Act 1986 preserved the 26 Councils (down from 27 in 1981) then in existence but prevented any new ones from being established. It removed young workers under the age of 21 from the scope of the Wages Councils altogether and ended the Councils’ power to set minimum holiday entitlements, separate pay rates for different occupations, and premium rates for unsocial hours or shift work. As a result, Wages Councils were only able to set a minimum hourly basic rate; a minimum overtime rate; the number of hours after which overtime must be paid; and a daily limit on the amount an employer could charge for any living accommodation he provided. Employers who failed to pay these rates were liable to a fine and for arrears of wages underpaid. The law was enforced by Wages Inspectors employed by the Department of Employment, but their numbers were cut during the 1980s and early 1990s and they adopted a policy of ensuring that minimum rates were paid by persuasion rather than coercion. Prosecution was rare, despite many instances of underpayment.

In December 1988, the Government once again issued a Consultation Paper which suggested that the Councils should be abolished. The response did not reveal enormous support for abolition even from employers’ organisations; and, in March 1990, Michael Howard, then Secretary of State for Employment, announced that he had decided not to proceed with abolition “for the present”.

It remained Conservative policy that Wages Councils should have “no permanent place in the labour market.”  Although the Conservative Manifesto for the 1992 Election did not mention abolition, the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill, published on 5 November 1992, contained legislation repealing the Wages Councils altogether. Section 35 of the Act, which abolished the Councils, came into effect on 30 August 1993.

The only remaining area in which a minimum wage was enshrined in law after 30 August 1993 was agriculture. The Agricultural Wages Board, as indicated above, was established under separate legislation, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948. The government had considered abolishing this too, but, in the face of opposition from both sides of the agricultural industry, it backed down.

William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Agriculture, announcing this decision, said, “It is clear from the responses to consultation that there is wide acceptance, from both sides of the agricultural industry of the present arrangements. We do not therefore currently intend to change the existing statutory framework. However, since the Government believe that statutory wage fixing arrangements can introduce flexibilities which prevent rather than encourage job creation, we shall continue to keep the future existence of the AWB under close review.”

After the Wages Councils were abolished, there was growing evidence of jobs being offered below the old minimum rates and little evidence of increased employment in the deregulated industries. For example, a Low Pay Network study, “After the Safety Net”, analysed almost 6,000 jobs offered at Jobcentres in the catering, retailing, clothing manufacturing and hairdressing sectors in April and May 1994. Over a third of the jobs on offer paid less than the old Wages Council rate uprated by inflation. In retailing, the figure was over 50%. The network also found a net loss of 18,000 jobs recorded in the retail and catering sectors between September 1993 and March 1994, despite the removal of minimum wages.

See Research Note 92/75 on “Wages Councils”, Research Note 92/95 on the “Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill 1992/3” and Research Paper 95/7 “A Minimum Wage”.

Between 1993 and the introduction of the NMW, only the AWB set pay rates for any group of workers in the UK work force.  The NMW when enacted covered many more workers than the Wages Councils, but did not replace the AWB which continued to set rates above those set by the NMW.

Of course, ukip, unlike all the other major political parties has yet to commit to increases in the National Minimum Wage and/or call for employers to pay the Living Wage.  In fact, ukip has yet to say whether or not it stands by its previous view that the NMW should be repealed.

ukip has said it will repeal the Agency Workers Directive (see Employment and Small Businesses) that, enacted in UK law as the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, seeks to level the playing field between temporary/agency workers and permanent employees.

I guess ukip thinks all the working people for whom they claim to speak, including agricultural workers, are in permanent employment?  In addition, on taking power, ukip would review all legislation and regulations from the EU and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness (see Protecting Jobs and Increasing Prosperity).

Given ukip’s commitment to repeal the Agency Workers Directive, is it not reasonable to assume that other employment legislation, including Health and Safety laws will be repealed so as not to hamper British prosperity and competitiveness?

Check out my next blog post to learn why I have made particular reference above to the Agricultural Wages Board!

PS Municipal regulation of wage levels began in some towns in 1524 and I do not think, were he alive today, that Churchill would be a member of ukip.