Category Archives: Economy

Bryan Gould disowns New Labour

Hat tip to Tom Harris for pointing out Bryan Gould’s article, I disown this government, in the Guardian’s Comment is Free.

I remember Mr Gould, former Labour MP and member of the shadow cabinet, as a seemingly decent sort of bloke – far too decent for New Labour, as it transpires.

He returned to his native New Zealand in the mid-Nineties to work in a university, but disowns his former Party with these words.

The floor is all yours, Mr Gould…

Those, like me (and almost everyone I know in the Labour party), who have been critical over the years of New Labour and its record in government, might have expected that the passage of time would bring with it a kinder judgment. And in my case, in particular, it might have been thought that – 12,000 miles away in New Zealand – distance would lend enchantment.

How, then, to explain that the more we take the long view of the Blair and now the Brown government, the sharper seem the contours of its failures and betrayals? How is it that the features of its landscape that grow – as our perspective lengthens – in shocking, anger-making prominence are those shameful episodes at home and abroad which cumulatively are a complete denial of what a Labour government (or any British government) should have been about?

There have been of course many good and decent day-by-day achievements of this government. Across the whole range of political issues, I do not say that Britain did not do better under Labour than it would have done under most alternatives. But these achievements have been molehills, judged against the towering peaks scaled by New Labour in its rejection not only of Labour, but of any decent and civilised values.

The first – and for that reason perhaps most unexpected – contravention of civilised norms was the Iraq war. The damning judgment of that doomed enterprise has been repeatedly rehearsed, but to read the charge sheet again is still a shocking experience. A British prime minister, claiming the right to moral leadership and an almost religious duty to confront evil, sucked up to a soon-to-be discredited US president and helped to launch an invasion of a distant country – an invasion based upon a lie, and one that flew in the face of international law, undermined the United Nations, alienated the whole of the Muslim world, seemed to validate the claims of terrorists and those who recruited them, destroyed the country that was invaded and killed hundreds of thousands of its citizens, took many young soldiers to their unnecessary deaths, and rightly reduced Britain’s standing in the world.

The New Labour government still refuses to acknowledge that any of this was wrong. It will not even countenance an independent inquiry into how such a fatal mistake was made.

It may seem improbable that the scale of the Iraq calamity could be matched in any other area of government. Yet, as the reasons for and scale of the global recession become clear, it is also increasingly apparent that another global (as well as British) disaster can be laid – substantially, if only partly – at the door of the New Labour government.

It was, after all, that government which enthusiastically endorsed the virtues of the “free” market, which turned its back on the need for regulation, which celebrated the excesses of the City, which proclaimed that it was “intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich”. The government that should have protected the interests of ordinary people was dazzled by the super-rich; unsuspecting Labour supporters found themselves thrown on the tender mercies of a marketplace that was cleared of any limits that might have restricted the rich and powerful. There have been no more enthusiastic cheerleaders for the culture of greed and excess than New Labour ministers.

On the central issue of politics – the willingness of government to use its democratic legitimacy to intervene in the market in order to restrain its excesses – the New Labour government ensured that the dice lay where they fell and applauded as they did. It was Tony Blair who, standing shoulder to shoulder with Rupert Murdoch, proclaimed that the future lay with the “globalisers” and that those who wanted to reclaim some control over their lives were “isolationists, nationalists and nativists”. It was Gordon Brown who removed the major economic decisions from democratic control and handed them over to unaccountable bankers.

That betrayal of those who looked to a Labour government to help them has seen a rapid widening of inequality and a sharp intensification of social disintegration. It is the jobs, homes and lives of ordinary people that have borne the brunt. The country is a weaker and poorer place as a result.

But even that failure pales by comparison with the latest revelations about the abandonment by New Labour of any pretence to civilised standards. We now know that this government connived with the Bush administration to hold people illegally, to kidnap them in secret, and to torture them while in custody – all in the name of a war against the forces of darkness. The perpetrators of these outrages seem to believe that they can be washed clean by simply declaring their superior morality.

Nothing more clearly distinguishes those beyond the pale than their willingness to use the secret, illegal and cowardly infliction of pain to terrify, cow and bend to their will helpless people being held without charge or trial or legal redress. It beggars belief that any British government could, in a supposed democracy, do so, and not even bother to respond to its critics. It is simply incredible that a Labour government claiming to represent the values of the Labour movement could believe in these circumstances that it has any right to remain in office.

For me, this is too much. I am sick to the stomach. I disown this so-called Labour government. I protest.

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Filed under Economy, Heroes and Cowards, Iraq, Labour Lies, Torture, UK Politics

The Nation Speaks – Part III

A big thank you to Paddy Connaughton from Bolton who emailed me recently:

Hello Stewart,

The reason i’m writing this is the fact i have just stumbled upon your website. Thank God someone is out there telling the truth about this government and the state of our country. I have read some of your articles and have found that my wife and i agree with all of them.

After 22 years of working hard in the building industry, paying my taxes and trying to be a good citizen, I was made redundant in 2007, found two more jobs only to be laid off due to this economic depression. For all the talk by Gordon about public works and getting us back into work, i find nothing is being done. I now believe the government just don’t care about mine or anybody else’s situation.

I am beginning to think this is all a plan by the new fascist state of New Labour to keep the majority of manual workers on minimum wages. For too long these people have hacked into every aspect of our lives and eroded our freedoms of expression in order to control us. So thanks Stewart for having the guts to openly stand up to them, even with the threat of the the Police spying on you. I just wish the people of England could show a bit more of a backbone and publicly show their contempt for this government by openly defying them as the brave French and Icelandic people so often have.

Keep the faith, Paddy

Thank you for those kind words. I have to say though, that it doesn’t take much guts to stand against a government that has shown itself to be so completely reprobate. In my case, Labour’s failure to honour their manifesto promise to hold a referendum on Europe, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It is now a matter of standing up for our country and our freedom or losing everything to the whore that sits in Brussels.

The way the government has betrayed the young people, especially, makes me sick. No, the time came when I realised I had nothing left to lose by speaking out and I wished I had started years ago, but better late than never. Hopefully.

I will keep the faith. There is no fear in love and there is no strength like God’s.

Feel free to email me with your own views. I only publish names after gaining the permission of the writer.

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Filed under Economy, EU, Labour Lies, Police State, UK Politics

Labour’s new spoof website

The Labour Party registered a couple of new domain names today: davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk and the dot com of the same.

Their purpose is to make a joke of the Tories’ economic policies, or lack of, and direct people to Labour’s official site.

This from the Party that has helped destroy the economy. Yeah, let’s all laugh at Cameron and forget about who has been in power for the past dozen years.

Good plan. If you’ve nothing positive to say or do, go on the offensive.

What crisis? The main item on Labour's homepage today

What crisis? The main item on Labour's homepage todayis to announce their new spoof Tory web conference.

Both the new site and the ‘proper’ Labour one have a quite hilarious* pretend ‘webcabinet‘ chat between Mr Cameron and his shadow cabinet colleagues.

Desperate stuff.

*not

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Filed under Comedy, Economy, Media Conditioning, UK Politics

Alternative Currencies Grow in Popularity

Judith D. Schwartz
TIME
Dec. 14, 2008

Most of us take for granted that those rectangular green slips of paper we keep in our wallets are inviolable: the physical embodiment of value. But alternative forms of money have a long history, and appear to be growing in popularity. It’s not merely barter, or primitive means of exchange like, say, seashells or beads. Beneath the financial radar, in hip U.S. towns or South African townships, in shops, markets, and even banks, throughout the world people are exchanging goods and services via thousands of currency types that look nothing like official tender.

Alternative means of trade often surface during tough economic times. “When money gets dried up and there are still needs to be met in society, people come up with creative ways to meet those needs,” says Peter North, a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Liverpool, author of two books on the subject. He refers to the “scrips” issued in the U.S. and Europe during the Great Depression that kept money flowing, and the massive barter exchanges involving millions of people that emerged amidst runaway inflation in Argentina in 2000. “People were kept from starving [this way],” he says. (Find out 10 things to do with your money.)

Closer to home, “Ithaca Hours,” with a livable hourly wage as the standard, were launched during the 1991 recession to sustain Ithaca, New York’s local economy and stem the loss of jobs. “Hours,” which are legal and taxable, circulate within the community, moving from local shop to local artisan and back, rather than “leaking” out into the larger monetary system. The logo on the Hour reads: “In Ithaca We Trust”.

See also: The Lewes Pound (below)

Alternative (or “complementary”) currencies range from quaint to robust, simple to high-tech. There are “greens” from the Lettuce Patch Bank at the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in rural Northeastern Missouri. In Western Massachusetts one finds fine-artist-designed BerkShares, which are convertible to U.S. dollars. According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society (the nonprofit behind the currency) more than $2 million in BerkShares “have been issued through the 12 branches of five [local] banks.” And in South Africa, proprietary software keeps track of Community Exchange System (CES) “Talents”; one ambitious plan is to make Khayelitsha, a vast, desolate township of perhaps a million inhabitants near Cape Town, a self-sustaining community.

The currencies are generally used in conjunction with conventional money, as in using local currency at the farmer’s market and regular greenbacks at the supermarket. “It doesn’t try in any way to replace cash,” says Christoph Hensch, a Swiss national and former banker now living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Rather, it offers a way “for people to share and redeem value they have in the community.” He says the currencies are most useful in geographical areas or social sectors where money doesn’t flow sufficiently, citing for example New Zealand’s Golden Bay, which is so remote that it sometimes nearly functions as its own economy.

Advocates of alternative currencies say that they are a means of empowerment for those languishing on the margins of fiscal life, granting economic agency to people like the elderly, disabled, or under-employed who have little opportunity to earn money. For example, in some systems one can “bank” Time Dollars for tasks like childcare and changing motor oil. It’s not whether you’re employed or what financial assets you have that matter, says Les Squires, a consultant on social networking software who has been working with groups developing alternative currencies. Each person has “value” which is “exchangeable” based on time spent or a given task.

Read the rest of the article here (includes UK examples): TIME

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