Category: Post Election

The UK is now the most unequal country in EU, and Cameron has been very conservative with the truth

tory lies

Last year I wrote an article – Cameron’s Gini and the hidden hierarchy of worthand I said: On 04 June, 2014, at 3.52pm BST, Cameron said that inequality is at its lowest level since 1986. I really thought I’d misheard him. But of course Cameron lies, that’s an established fact.

This isn’t the first time Cameron has used this lie. We have a government that provides disproportionate and growing returns to the already wealthy, whilst imposing austerity cuts on the very poorest. How can such a government possibly claim that inequality is falling, when inequality is so fundamental to their ideology and when social inequalities are extended and perpetuated by all of their policies? It seems the standard measure of inequality is being used to mislead us into thinking that the economy is far more “inclusive’ than it is.

A newly published report by the Dublin-based Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) states that the UK has become the most unequal country in Europe, on the basis of income distribution and wages.

The report also says that the UK has the highest Gini coefficient of all European Union (EU) member states – and higher than that of the US. The coefficient is a widely used measure of the distribution of income within a nation, and is commonly used to calculate inequality.

According to analysts at Eurofound, Britain has a Gini coefficient of 0.404, whilst that of the US is 0.4. Portugal and Latvia followed the UK with Gini coefficients of 0.358 and 0.357, respectively. The average Gini index for the EU as a whole in 2011 was 0.346.

Eurofound was established in 1975 to contribute to the planning and design of improved living and working conditions. This role is undertaken in partnership with governments, employers, trade unions and the European Union institutions.

The report says that there was a decrease in inequality before the global crisis that was entirely due to a significant reduction in between-country wage differentials (in other words, a process of convergence in pay levels – see: Labour’s excellent record on poverty and inequality – which came to a halt, reflecting the effects of the global crash, in 2008, and then started to reverse towards the end of the period of this analysis, in 2011.

My friend, the British economist Michael Burke, observed that  Eurofound’s study demonstrates the previous claims by David Cameron that Britain’s economy is recovering from the recession were false.

Speaking to RT on Tuesday, Mr Burke said: “The Tory government is fond of making spurious claims about Britain being the strongest economy in Europe. But the reality is that Britain under the Tories is the European capital of inequality.”

All of the deterioration in the Gini coefficient in the EU is caused by the worsening of inequality,” he added.

The jobs machine that David Cameron [is referring to] is in reality low-paid jobs, many of them providing unproductive services to the ultra-rich.”

The UK now has the worst Gini coefficient in the EU. Gini is the most widely accepted measure of how fairly income is distributed amongst a nation’s residents and is the standard measure of inequality. Cameron, parroting Thatcher, has claimed that there is no such thing as “public money,” indicating clearly that the economic enclosure that was initiated by the Tories under the guise of austerity, affecting the poorest citizens most of all, but leaving the wealthy unaffected by cuts, is going to be permanent.

A YouGov survey conducted this month and published on Monday found that most voters in the UK believe the government should prioritize tackling inequality – reducing the gap between rich and poor – over faster economic growth.

The findings, which suggest strong public support for redistribution, will complicate the debate about precisely how the Labour Party lost the general election, particularly given the Labour manifesto, outlining strongly redistributive and progressive tax policies, which had disgruntled a number of super petulant super-rich celebrities, who threatened to flounce from the UK if Labour gained office.

YouGov found that of the main parties, only Conservative supporters were significantly more likely to care about economic growth than inequality. Bearing in mind that Cameron won with 36.9% of the vote, the considerable gap between the priorities of Conservatives and those of the other parties will most likely mean a difficult five years for the prime minister.

With homelessness increasing by 55% between 2010 and 2014, whilst food bank use has surged, malnutrition and absolute poverty, not seen in this country since before the inception of the welfare state, are becoming more commonplace, and with more draconian cuts planned by the Tories for the already diminished and essential support for the poorest – many of whom are in low waged work – it’s going to be an extremely punishing five years for those already at the poorest end of the UK’s steeply hierarchical society.

Last year, I wrote about the study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who found what most of us already knew: that income inequality actually stifles economic growth in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, whilst the redistribution of wealth via taxes and benefits encourages growth.

The report from the OECD, a leading global think tank, shows basically that what creates and reverses growth is the exact opposite of what the current right-wing government are telling us, highlighting the truth of Ed Miliband’s comments in his speech – that the Tory austerity cuts are purely ideologically driven, and not about managing the economy at all.

But many of us already knew this was so.

1459720_569627496440116_902730897_nPictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone

Human rights, the reintroduction of hanging and what we have lost

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Michael Gove, former Education Secretary, has been appointed Justice Secretary: he is now in charge of the Department for Justice. With this appointment, it is clear that Cameron has plans for potentially radical reform, and regards justice as an area that needs a hardened, radical and senior Tory politician to drive through changes that are likely to be controversial. Gove does have form.

Gove’s first task is to scrap the Human Rights Act, (HRA) which was the previous Labour government’s legislation designed to supplement the European Convention on Human Rights, it came into effect in 2000. The Act makes available a remedy for breach of Convention right without the need to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

As I have previously reported, the rights protected by the Act are quite basic. They include the right to life, liberty and the right to a fair trial; protection from torture and ill-treatment; freedom of speech, thought, religion, conscience and assembly; the right to free elections; the right to fair access to the country’s education system; the right NOT to be given the death penalty; the right to marry and an overarching right not to be discriminated against.

Cameron has argued that it should be repealed just 15 years after its implementation … so that he can pass another unspecified Act – a British Bill of Rights. Why would any government object to citizens being afforded such established, basic protections, which are, after all, very simple internationally shared expectations of any first world liberal democracy?

One sentence from the misleadingly titled document that outlines how the Tories plan to scrap the Human Rights Act – Protecting Human Rights in the UK, (found on page 6 ) – is particularly chilling: “There will be a threshold below which Convention rights will not be engaged.”

Basically this means that human rights will no longer be absolute – they will be subject to stipulations and caveats. The government will establish a threshold below which Convention rights will not be engaged, allowing UK courts to strike out what are deemed trivial cases.

The Tories’ motivation for changing our human rights is to allow reinterpretations to work around the new legislation when they deem it necessary. The internationally agreed rights that the Tories have always seen as being open to interpretation will become much more parochial and open to subjective challenge.

Any precedent that allows a government room for manoeuvre around  basic and fundamental human rights is incredibly dangerous.

No other country has proposed de-incorporating a human rights treaty from its law so that it can introduce a Bill of Rights. The truly disturbing aspect of Cameron’s Bill of Rights pledge is that rather than manifestly building on the HRA, it’s predicated on its denigration and repeal. One has to wonder what his discomfort with the HRA is. The Act, after all, goes towards protecting the vulnerable from neglect of duty and abuse of power of the State. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was an International response to the atrocities of World War Two and the rise of fascism and totalitarianism.

During their last term, the Tories contravened the Human Rights of disabled people, women and children. It’s clear that we have a government that regards the rights of most of the population as an inconvenience to be brushed aside.

I also previously reported that Cameron has pledged to leave the European Convention on Human Rights. Cameron has expressed a wish to break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights. In future Britain’s courts will no longer be required to take into account rulings from the Court in Strasbourg.

Observation of Human Rights distinguishes democratic leaders from dictators and despots. Human Rights are the bedrock of our democracy, they are universal, and are a reflection of a society’s and a governments’ recognition of the equal worth of every citizens’ life. But the government have an ideology that is founded on distinctly social Darwinist principles.

These principles support economic neoliberalism and political conservatism. Class/social division is justified on the basis of “natural” inequalities among individuals, for the control of property is ludicrously claimed to be a correlate of superior and inherent moral attributes such as industriousness, temperance, and frugality. Attempts to reform society through state intervention, therefore, interfere with natural processes; unrestricted competition and defense of the status quo are in accord with biological selection, from this perspective. The poor are “unfit” and should not be supported and aided; in the struggle for existence, wealth is a sign of success. The Tories believe that some lives, therefore, “naturally” have much more value than others.

Gove, now the Justice Secretary, has previously called for hanging to be reintroduced. Writing in 1998 as a Times columnist, he said Britain was “wrong to abolish hanging” in the 1960s, when the death penalty was outlawed. Gove made the irrational claims that banning hanging  had “led to a corruption of our criminal justice system and the erosion of all our freedoms rather than “a great liberal victory,” as it was seen at the time.

Gove made the incoherent claim that banning hanging has made punishing innocent people “more likely,” he went on to conclude that public opinion had moved in favour of reintroducing hanging and that doing so could repair the broken trust between voters and politicians. Gove said he supported the “return of the noose out of respect for democracy”, and because it would force the courts to act with “scrupulous fairness.”

This deranged, barbaric relic actually said: “Hanging may seem barbarous, but the greater barbarity lies in the slow abandonment of our common law traditions. Were I ever alone in the dock I would not want to be arraigned before our flawed tribunals, knowing my freedom could be forfeit as a result of political pressures. I would prefer a fair trial, under the shadow of the noose.”

At the beginning of the 19th century, children in Britain were punished in the same way as adults. They were even sentenced to death for petty theft. It has historically been the case that the poorest tend to be executed, and it remains true: there are no millionaires on death row (See also: Amnesty International UK – Death penalty.)

In 1965, in the UK, Parliament passed Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, temporarily abolishing capital punishment for murder for 5 years. The Act was then renewed in 1969, by the Labour government under Harold Wilson, making the abolition permanent.

And with the passage of Labour’s Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and their Human Rights Act 1998, the death penalty was finally officially abolished for all crimes in both civilian and military cases, also.

The Human Rights Act is to be abolished, and Cameron has pledged to withdraw from the European Convention. In case you missed the connection, repealing the Human Rights Act will make the reintroduction of capital punishment much easier. The full range of potential consequences of losing our human rights laws are truly terrifying to consider.

For those of you that have campaigned against the Labour Party, claiming that they aren’t quite “left” enough, despite the fact that Miliband was actually offering the most progressive, redistributive policies of ALL the parties, and smaller cuts and for less time. (I guess some of you never bothered reading the Institute of Fiscal Studies Report, or Labour’s manifesto).

Under a Labour government, our Human Rights, NHS and welfare would now be safe. The bedroom tax would now be repealed. We would be rebuilding and making progress as a society instead of regressing and fearfully discussing the threats of tyranny and the possibility of the reintroduction of capital punishment.

We are about to lose everything that made us a civilised first-world country, from our human rights to our post-war settlement: welfare, our National Health Service and what remains of our access to legal aid.

Until the people of this country take some responsibility and demand that politics is based on truth and the needs of the majority, we will continue to have a corrupt authoritarian elite serving only the wants of the 1%.

Love and solidarity to all my comrades, who are mutually grieving a future we have lost, and who acknowledge and face the losses yet to come.

It’s never been more important to help each other through, and we really are going to need to.

Many thanks to Robert Livingstone for his excellent memes.

What the Labour Party achieved, lest we forget

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1. Longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.
2. Low mortgage rates.
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage and raised it to £5.52 per hour.
4. Over 14,000 more police in England and Wales.
5. Cut overall crime by 32 per cent.
6. Record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools.
7. Young people achieving some of the best ever results at 14, 16, and 18.
8. Funding for every pupil in England has doubled.
9. Employment is at its highest level ever.
10. 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools; including new and improved classrooms, laboratories and kitchens. 
11. 85,000 more nurses.
12. 32,000 more doctors.
13. Brought back matrons to hospital wards.
14. Devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
15. Devolved power to the Welsh Assembly.
16. Dads now get paternity leave of 2 weeks for the first time.
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice.
18. Gift aid was worth £828 million to charities last year.
19. Restored city-wide government to London.
20. Record number of students in higher education.
21. Child benefit up 26 per cent since 1997.
22. Delivered 2,200 Sure Start Children’s Centres.
23. Introduced the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
24. £200 winter fuel payment to pensioners & up to £300 for over-80s.
25. On course to exceed our Kyoto target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
26. Restored devolved government to Northern Ireland.
27. Over 36,000 more teachers in England and 274,000 more support staff and teaching assistants.
28. All full time workers now have a right to 24 days paid holiday.
29. A million pensioners lifted out of poverty.
30. The Child Poverty Act – 600,000 children lifted out of relative poverty.
31. Introduced child tax credit giving more money to parents.
32. Scrapped Section 28 and introduced Civil Partnerships.
33. Brought over 1 million social homes up to standard.
34. Inpatient waiting lists down by over half a million since 1997: the shortest waiting times since NHS records began.
35. Banned fox hunting.
36. Cleanest rivers, beaches, drinking water and air since before the industrial revolution.
37. Free TV licences for over-75s.
38. Banned fur farming and the testing of cosmetics on animals.
39. Free breast cancer screening for all women aged between 50-70.
40. Free off peak local bus travel for over-60s and disabled people.
41. New Deal – helped over 1.8 million people into work.
42. Over 3 million child trust funds started.
43. Free eye test for over 60s.
44. More than doubled the number of apprenticeships.
45. Free entry to national museums and galleries.
46. Overseas aid budget more than doubled.
47. Heart disease deaths down by 150,000 and cancer deaths down by 50,000.
48. Cut long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent.
49. Free nursery places for every three and four-year-olds.
50. Free fruit for most four to six-year-olds at school. 
51. Gender Recognition Act 2004/5
52. Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
53. Walk-in Health Centres and GP out of hours Service.
54. Digital hearing aids, through the NHS.
55. Children’s Act 2004, 2008 – Every Child Matters.
56. Introduced Smoke–Free legislation, 2007 – child health improving continually since.
57. Retail Distribution Review – ending commission for financial advisers
58. Introduced legislation to make company ‘blacklisting’ unlawful.
59. The Equality Act.
60. Established the Disability Rights Commission in 1999.
61. The Human Rights Act.
62. Signed the European Social Chapter.
63. Launched £1.5 billion Housing Pledge of new affordable housing.
64. The Autism Act 2009.
65. New Deal for Communities Regeneration Programme.
66. All prescriptions free for people being treated for cancer or the effects of cancer.
67. Introduced vaccination to be offered to teenage girls to protect against cervical cancer.
68. Rough sleeping dropped by two thirds and homelessness at its lowest level since the early 1980s
69. 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act.
70. Increased Britain’s offshore wind capacity than any country in the world, to provide enough electricity to power 2 million homes.
71. Led the campaign to win the 2012 Olympics for London.
72. Introduced the first ever British Armed Forces and Veterans Day to honour past and present achievements of our armed forces.
73. Created a new right of pedestrian access, so that every family has equal opportunity to access the national coastline.
74. Led the campaign to agree a new international convention banning all cluster munitions.
75. Launched the Swimming Challenge Fund to support free swimming for over 60s and under 16s.
76. Sustainable Communities Actcreated community safety partnerships.
77. Set up a dedicated Department for International Development.
78. Cancelled approximately 100 per cent of debt for the world’s poorest countries.
79. Helped lift 3 million people out of poverty each year, globally.
80. Helped to get 40 million more children into school, globally.
81. Worked to ensure polio is on the verge of being eradicated, globally.
82. Ensured 3 million people are now able to access life-preserving drugs for HIV and AIDS.
83. Improved water/sanitation services for over 1.5 million people.
84. Launched a Governance and Transparency Fund to improve governance and increase accountability in poor countries.
85. The Neighbourhood Renewal programme – introduced funding for neighbourhood improvements.
86. The Extending Schools Program – included Breakfast and Homework clubs to improved levels of educational achievement and the longer term life chances of disadvantaged children.
87. Launched the Connexions  Service – provided valuable careers advice and support to young people seeking employment.
88. Introduced Working Family Tax credits to support low paid parents in work and to pay for childcare.
89. Introduced the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
90. Established The Future Jobs Fund to provide all young people access to a job, training or education.
91. Introduced Warm Front –  helped 2.3 million vulnerable households, those in fuel poverty, with energy efficiency improvements.
92. Guaranteed paid holidays – introduced a law to ensure that everyone who works is entitled to a minimum paid holiday of 5.6 weeks,
93. Introduced the right to request flexible working.
94. Introduced improved work hours – introduced a law so employers cannot force employees to work more than 48 hours a week.
95. Protection against unfair dismissal – introduced protections for workers and increased the maximum compensation from £12,000 to around £63,000.
96. Introduced Rights for Part-time workers – the right to equal pay rates, pension rights, pro-rata holidays and sick pay.
97. Introduced the Right to breaks at work
98. Introduced the Right to representation  – every worker can be a member of a trade union and be represented in grievance and disciplinary hearings.
99. Rights for parents and carers – introduced the right to time off to deal with unexpected problems for their dependants, such as illness.
100. Introduced literacy and numeracy hours in schools and extended diversity to the curriculum.
101. Reduced class sizes to 30 for 5-7 year old children.
102. Introduced a public interest test, allowing governments to block international business takeovers on three specific grounds: media plurality, national security or financial stability.
103. Introduced the (anti-)Bribery Act 2010
104. Established the Standards Board for England under Labour’s Local Government Act 2000 for promoting and ensuring high ethical standards and code of conduct in local government.

105. Introduced the first ever Climate Change Act 2008.

544807_370332463014480_1710535589_nThanks to Rory Doona for this excellent graphic.


 This list was condensed from: Political Parties – NOT all as bad as each other

Some more sources here.

1- 50 were originally listed in the Telegraph. However, I recognised that some of Labour’s best achievements were not included, so I gathered the rest together over couple of years for this compilation. 

Where Labour policies are cited, I have researched and verified them to ensure that the list accurate. You can find them listed on 

See also: Labour’s animal welfare policies

Many thanks to Robert Livingstone for his valuable additions and for his brilliant pictures.