Reactive Government

It seems more and more as if this Tory government makes policy as a reaction to any current environment.

The EU referendum was David Cameron’s answer to UKIP but the consequences of that promise have landed the UK in yet another confrontation with the EU and probably months if not years of distractions.

£12bn of cuts is a figured plucked from the air to look good in a manifesto and yet the IFS has stated (reported in the Guardian)

The cuts that the government announces later this year in next month’s Budget and the following Spending Review may turn out to be deliverable. But they certainly will not feel like is just 1% being taken out of each area of spending, nor will it require merely “£13 billion from departmental savings” as the Conservative manifesto described. While not inaccurate, these numbers give a misleading impression of what departmental spending in many areas will look like if the manifesto commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2018–19, largely through spending cuts, while not cutting spending in many areas, is to be met.

But we also hear that George Osborne is keen to sell RBS at a £13bn discount.

Where is the consistency?

#GE15 How Trivial Can It Get?

Both major parties are terrified to expose their real agendas in this campaign. In particular the Tories are throwing up trivial promises to obscure the real issues. The latest “3 paid days for volunteering” linked to the so called “Big Society” is a nonsense. I have volunteered for one thing after another most of my life – I have an MBE in recognition – and I cannot see anybody ringing any voluntary body and saying “Can I volunteer for the next three days?” is going to be welcomed. It would just be a nuisance.

But the Tories daren’t explain

Why on earth are they not challenged? Perhaps because Labour knows it will be exposed for similar policies.

So let’s both stick to trivia!

SNP Presumes Too Much – Scottish Independence

In November 2013 I wrote that the SNP were somehow assuming that they had the right to decide the future of Scotland after a Yes vote (https://robthill.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/post-independence/). This is still the case, remember the white paper. Frankly I am not against much of what they propose. However, I think the idea of sticking with sterling and the EU is an attempt to mollify waverers. Personally if we are to be independent I would prefer our own currency outside the EU on the Norwegian model.

More to the point by talking about their vision of an independent Scotland, the SNP may be putting off a number of potential Yes voters who do not like that party or its leaders. A better message would be that after a Yes vote there will be new elections to Holyrood and an all party constitutional convention to explore the way ahead. Of course the SNP blueprint will play an important part.

The SNP should remember they are a national government in name only, in reality at present a devolved administration.

A Yes Vote

I have no problem with a Yes vote based on the spin from both sides of the Independence campaign in Scotland. In fact if there is a Yes vote i want Scotland to have its own currency outside the EU. Then it can negotiate with the EU from a position of strength. Alex Salmond to my way of thinking is far too timid. What we don’t want is partial independence linked to the UK pound or the Euro both of which would fatally limit our ability to control our currency in our own interests.

What is more of a problem is the shape of a future Scottish society. As part of the UK we have massive inequality which is growing worse daily. We have a culture of encouraging global businesses to take over our vital services. And we are squeezing the poorer elements in our inner cities until the pips hurt. Will a future Scottish independent government have the Vision and Courage to reshape our politics and society so that everyone in the country has adequate food, good accommodation, access to health care and the opportunity after leaving school to have a worthwhile and fulfilling job. That is not an impossible dream. It will be a slow process and so will require commitment from all political parties in the new country.

BBC Omissions

I have been prompted to write this by a Twitter person I follow, @reddeviljp or jaydeepee, http://t.co/gLmaK7s7S7. He has started a list of topics which the BBC does not, in his and many others opinion cover adequately. That led me to thinking about how badly skewed the political and social debate is in our country, not just by the BBC but by the media in general. Badly misinformed or deliberately misled, the general populace is unaware of what should really give them sleepless nights.

As I understand it, but I could also have been misled by the lack of proper information, the NHS in England and Wales is being steadily privatised. The USA and  EU are in the process of drawing up a far reaching trade deal. As the NHS will in future rely on private suppliers, it cannot be exempt from the provisions of that agreement.  This agreement will effectively remove the sovereign right of governments to protect their own economic and social environment from private companies of a foreign country party to the trade agreement. In other words the NHS will be wide open to take-over by private American health providers. As far as I am aware the BBC has been totally silent on this issue.

My contribution to jaydeepee’s list was “NHS sell off, democratic deficit, tax avoidance, bank level of toxic debt, voting records of MPs, real level of NHS funding,”.

My example above connects to NHS sell off and also Democratic Deficit. At the last election, nobody was aware that we were voting about the wholesale privatisation of not only the NHS but many other government functions. No doubt there are Tory voters who are happy with events but I doubt that many Lib Dem voters were voting to get rid of the NHS as we know it. And yet for the sake of what they call “power” their MPs are prepared to condone it. Labour are hardly any better. They should never let a day go by without a protest of some sort about this  issue if they were really fulfilling their democratic mandate.

Both our politicians and the media ignore the democratic voice of the electorate. We are rapidly descending from a democracy to an oligarchy.

Arrogance

I am hoping that I will be able to make a habit of regular blogging. Of course some posts may be trivial but I hope that some may reflect and question.

Listening to the news today I was struck by the arrogance of the BBC and the Work and Pensions minister, Mark Hoban. That the BBC thought their own reporting of a trip by students to North Korea was worth putting students at risk is breathtaking. If their reporting crew stayed with the student party what more would they see than any of the rest of the party. Why not just ask students to comment on what they had seen when they returned to the UK? Or are professional journalists a breed apart, so much more perspicacious than the rest of us?

Mark Hoban said on Radio 4 Today programme that he has visited some job centres and is thereby convinced that cutting benefits will have the desired effect of encouraging people to seek work. So surveys, consultations, think tanks and government data on availability of jobs count for nothing against one person’s anecdotal evidence.

Conservative Schools Policy

Michael Gove is suggesting that anybody will be able to apply to run a school and the pupils who go there will bring with them the same sum of money which they would attract in a state school.

The subsequent discussion on Radio 4 Talking Politics mentioned once again the link between sink estates and poor schools which everybody in the area wants to remove their children from. Starting new schools in a sink estate would unfortunately just move the problems from the existing school to the new one. Schools are part and parcel of the community they serve. Improving sink estates will tend to improve the schools.