Tag: #EU

Theresa May considering scrapping Human Rights Act following Brexit

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The prime minister is to consider repealing the Human Rights Act after Brexit, despite promising she is “committed” to its protections, a minister has revealed. This is, after all, a government that has always tended to regard the human rights of some social groups as nothing more than a bureaucratic inconvenience. Many of us have been very concerned about the implications of Brexit for human rights in the UK.

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has exchanged correspondence with the Government about clarifying the wording of the Political Declaration regarding the European Convention on Human Rights. 

There is no justification for editing or repealing the Human Rights Act itself, that would make Britain the first European country to regress in the level and degree of our human rights protection. It is through times of recession and times of affluence alike that our rights ought to be the foundation of our society, upon which the Magna Carta, the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act were built – protecting the most vulnerable citizens from the powerful and ensuring those who govern are accountable to the rule of law.

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.

Nonetheless, the government will decide on the future of the landmark legislation once “the process of leaving the EU concludes”, according to a letter submitted to a parliamentary inquiry.

This disclosure comes despite the Brexit white paper stating last year that the UK would remain in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), after  following a warning from the European Union (EU) that pulling out would jeopardise a future security deal. However, the prime minister has previously pledged to leave the ECHR, expressing frustration because there was no Commons majority for doing so. 

It is in this context of previous statements of intent that the wording of the letter was described as “troubling” by the Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, which has warned that the letter casts doubt on more recent, repeated pledges from the government to protect the ECHR.

“Is the government sincere in its commitment to the ECHR?”, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, the committee’s chair, asked.

“If so, why has it failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or reform the Human Rights Act, which in essence incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR into domestic British law?”

The committee wrote to the Ministry of Justice after the alarm was raised by the wording of the political declaration, which was agreed with the EU in December alongside the legally binding divorce deal.

The declaration said the UK would merely agree “to respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights” – dropping the previous pledge of being “committed” to it. Previous plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a ‘British Bill of Rights’ appeared in the 2010 Programme for Government, and in the Conservative manifesto in 2015. included an emphasis on interpreting rights more subjectively, rather than regarding them as ‘absolute’. 

In response, Edward Argar, a junior justice minister, wrote: “The difference in wording does not represent a change in the UK’s position on the ECHR

A central tenet of our future relationship with the EU is our mutual belief in the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

But he went on to suggest that the Human Rights Act may be scrapped when Brexit is concluded.

He wrote: “Our manifesto committed to not repealing or replacing the Human Rights Act while the process of EU exit is underway.” 

“It is right that we wait until the process of leaving the EU concludes before considering the matter further in the full knowledge of the new constitutional landscape.

Many Conservatives are critical of Labour’s Human Rights Act, claiming it gives “too many rights to criminals” and some have even claimed it undermines “personal responsibility.”

However, in 2015 Amnesty UK commissioned a poll that indicated the British public are not particularly willing to see any change to existing Human Rights legislation, with only one in 10 people in the UK (11%) believing that scrapping the Human Rights Act should be a government aim.

It’s extremely worrying that a government thinks it should pick and choose which rights we are entitled to and select who they deem worthy of them. The whole point of rights and protections is that they are universal: they must apply to everyone equally in order to work at all.

It took people in the UK a very long time to claim the rights we have and we mustn’t let the Conservatives take them away with the stroke of a pen.

The peers said it would imperil human rights if the government “intend to break the formal link” between the UK courts and the EHCR.

Baroness Kennedy said: “Again and again we are told that the government is committed to the European Convention on Human Rights, but without a concrete commitment, and with messaging that is changing and becoming diluted.”

The government have played a long game, however, and have almost certainly always intended to repeal the Human Rights Act. One issue that prevented that happening over the last few years is the Good Friday Agreement, as the Labour government also committed to incorporate the European Convention of Human ECHR into the law of Northern Ireland and to the establishment of a Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. 

The politics of regression

In 2015, wrote about how the government has quietly edited the ministerial code, which was updated on October 15  without any announcement at all. The code sets out the standard of conduct expected of ministers. The latest version of the code is missing a key element regarding complicity with international law.

The previous code, issued in 2010, said there was an “overarching duty on ministers to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations and to uphold the administration of justice and to protect the integrity of public life”.

The new version of the code has been edited to say only that there is an“overarching duty on ministers to comply with the law and to protect the integrity of public life”.

Conservative party policy document had revealed that the ministerial code will be rewritten in the context of the UK withdrawing from the European convention on human rights. In order to help achieve these aims the document says: “We will amend the ministerial code to remove any ambiguity in the current rules about the duty of ministers to follow the will of Parliament in the UK.”

In the original Conservative proposals to scrap our existing human rights framework, and replace it with their own, one sentence from the misleadingly titled document –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 or universally applied – they will be subject to state stipulations and caveats. And discrimination. 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 Conservatives’ motivation for changing our human rights legislation is to allow reinterpretations to work around the new legislation when they deem it necessary. The internationally agreed rights that the Conservatives have always seen as being open to interpretation will become considerably prone to ideological bias, prejudice and open to subjective challenge.

Breaking the formal link between the European Court of Human Rights and British law would mean any judgement from Europe would be treated as “advisory” only, rather than legally binding, and would need to be “approved” by parliament. Such a Bill would profoundly disempower citizens because it will shift the balance of democracy completely, placing power almost entirely in the hands of the state.

Whatever constitutional or political configurations emerge following Brexit, the present threat to rights and equality is a major threat to citizens’ liberties and freedoms. It demands coherent and collective action in the public interest.  

 

Related

Concerns about the impact of Brexit on the human rights of disabled people in update report to UNCRPD

A strong case for the Human Rights Act

 


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Disabled people’s human rights in further jeopardy because of Brexit

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The UK government has tended to regard human rights as optional; as being rather more like ‘guidelines’ than laws, and often, as a mere inconvenience and barrier to the fulfillment of their ideological commitments.

Opportunities for disabled people in the workplace are likely to come under further threat unless government prioritises the recreation of EU safeguards into British statute. That is according to diversity consultancy, The Clear Company, which contributes to the government’s Disability Confident Campaign.

Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson has also warned that leaving the European Union would prevent British people with disabilities benefiting from plans to boost accessibility.

She added that Brexit would also risk a recession that would leave less money to be spent on support services. She said:

“Our membership of the European Union has had real, positive benefits for the millions of UK residents with limiting long-term illnesses, impairments or disabilities.

“It has helped to counter workplace discrimination, obliged transport providers to make their services more accessible and secured access to some UK disability benefits for Britons living in other EU countries.

“Not only would leaving Europe jeopardise these, it would close us off from enjoying the rewards of upcoming legislation that will further increase accessibility and risk a recession that would leave less money to be spent on much-needed support services.”

Fiona McGhie, Public Law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said:

“What Brexit would affect is the ability to potentially rely on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) which in particular includes many wider social and economic rights, such as the rights to fair and just working conditions, to healthcare and to have personal data protected. If disabled people wished to try and strike down UK legislation as incompatible with rights under CFR under EU law – that avenue may not be available after the vote to leave.”

In the wake of the referendum, the following is an official press release from ResponseSource, which is a journalist enquiry service that provides a press release wire:

The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues, through priorities including accessibility, participation, social protection and external action. It works around a firm ethos that disability is a rights issue rather than a matter for discretion.

From an employment perspective, the objective of the European Commission’s European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is to significantly raise the number of people with disabilities working in the open labour market. They represent one-sixth of the EU’s overall working-age population, but their employment rate is comparatively low at around 50%.

The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues, through priorities including accessibility, participation, social protection and external action. It works around a firm ethos that disability is a rights issue rather than a matter for discretion.

Commenting on this morning’s revelation, Kate Headley, Development Director at The Clear Company, said:

“As long as the UK was part of the EU, disabled people had the benefit of EU frameworks and directives to act as a safety-net against British government and any power it may exert. Now, the future of policy which most affects disabled people is in the hands of Whitehall alone.

“There is no doubt that EU-derived laws, and EU-led initiatives, have had a largely positive impact on the disabled community. This may explain why Miro Griffiths, a former government adviser and project officer for the European Network on Independent Living, recently went on record to say he believed that Britain’s exit from the EU “would have dire consequences for disabled people”. Our priority now is to help ensure that the rights disabled people currently hold are protected post-Brexit.

“Aside from the issues of how the UK’s decision to exit will impact the NHS and wider care services, the European Health Insurance Card, and EU Air Passengers Regulation – all of which disproportionately affect those with disabilities – we must also look at the effect on disabled people in the workplace.”

“The EU’s record on assisting disabled workers is strong. Its Employment Equality Directive 2000, for example, led to the removal of the original exemption in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) for employers with fewer than 20 staff in the UK, so that in 2004 it became unlawful for any UK employer to discriminate against disabled people. The employment directive also led to the DDA being changed to make direct discrimination by employers against disabled people unlawful.”

“The TUC has identified employment rights that could well be under threat from a government no longer required to comply with EU legislation. Many of these promote health and well-being at work and home, such as the Working Time Directive, which protects from stress and ill-health that arise from working excessive hours including health service workers.”

“I would urge the government, post Article 50, to recreate the safeguards that disabled people have benefited from under EU membership into British statute. We will gladly continue to support the government in the development of strategy and stand by our commitment to support employers and employees alike. Amid the avalanche of new legislation which will almost certainly flood Whitehall in the coming months, laws that safeguard and support disabled workers must be prioritised as EU law recedes.”

Related

Unfortunately, the UK government has systematically violated the human rights of disabled people. It’s highly unlikely, given the current context, that the Conservatives will recreate the EU safeguards and incorporate them in protective legislation.

The new Work and Health Programme: government plan social experiments to “nudge” sick and disabled people into work

Prime minister dismisses UN inquiry into government’s discriminatory treatment of disabled people

The biggest barrier that disabled people face is a prejudiced government

The Government’s brutal cuts to disability support isn’t ‘increasing spending’, Chancellor, but handing out tax cuts to the rich is

If even the DWP isn’t Disability Confident, how will a million disabled people get jobs? – Bernadette Meaden

Brexit, dirty campaigning, the TTIP and a case for Remain

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“We cannot be content with the state of the EU as it stands. But that does not mean walking away, but staying to fight together for a better Europe.”  Jeremy Corbyn, Statement to The Guardian, 28 July 2015.

Despite his reservations, and a desire to see progressive reform within the European Union, Mr Corbyn strongly supports the Remain campaign. He has been very clear about his views, and he has presented powerful arguments to support his position. He says:

“I have seen first-hand jobs, investment, workers’ rights and environmental protection that being part of the EU helps secure for working people. That’s why, despite its faults, I believe it’s best we vote to stay and work with our friends to make the changes Europe needs.”

It was therefore something of a surprise to see the Leave campaign use a quote with such malicious intent from Mr Corbyn, that was so outdated and out of context, to deliberately mislead people into thinking that the Labour leader supports Brexit.

This post was sponsored on Facebook, and came up more than once in my feed: Stand with Jeremy Corbyn.  

The site is promoted by Matthew Elliot, the founder and former Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Big Brother Watch. He also acted as Campaign Director for the successful NOtoAV campaign in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum. He is the Founder and was the Chief Executive of Business for Britain, and is now the Chief Executive of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee, having founded and been the chief executive of the main Vote Leave.

Elliott also founded the Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT) in 2004. Labour MP and former Shadow Minister for Europe, Emma Reynolds, raised significant questions about the affairs of the TPA and PERT, she wrote to the Charity Commission and said that “PERT may be in breach of charities legally binding commitments to preserve their independence, specifically regarding political activity and the delivery of charitable objectives.”

Of £532,000 PERT paid out in grants in 2014, £300,000 went to the TPA and £205,000 to Business for Britain, both of which are Eurosceptic. £10,000 went to Global Britain, which has campaigned for Brexit. Charitable trusts are not allowed to be used for political purposes under British charity law.

There were some pretty grubby tricks employed during November 2015, when the group established a fake company in order to gain entry to a speech being given by the Prime Minister at the Confederation of British Industry where they heckled him and held banners stating “CBI = voice of Brussels.” Dominic Cummings, campaign director of Leave, subsequently stated:

“You think it is nasty? You ain’t seen nothing yet. These guys have failed the country, they are going to be under the magnifying glass. Tough shit … It is going to be tough”.

The campaign group also stated their intention to target and disrupt meetings of pro-EU organisations and companies. In a letter to the Electoral Commission, Eric Pickles, the former Conservative cabinet minister, said he believed Vote Leave had disqualified itself from lead status in the referendum (which entitles the campaign to public funding) after it pledged to run a “nasty” campaign against opponents.

The European referendum, some have argued, is more important than any general election, because it will potentially change Britain’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. There’s a lot of grand and quaint imperialist talk from the Leave camp about power, sovereignty and Britain’s “place in the world.” But it’s a clever sales pitch, nonetheless, as it harnesses the public restiveness, which reflects a broader disquiet with social democracy in the UK. 

I have to agree with Michael Sandel’s comment, in his excellent interview in today’s New Stateman with Jason Crowley: “A big part of the debate has been about economics – jobs and trade and prosperity – but my hunch is that voters will decide less on economics than on culture and ­questions of identity and belonging.”

The Right have always been strongly inclined towards socioeconomic outgrouping, creating categories of others, using stigma and scapegoating techniques to formulate justification narratives for policy that is purposefully designed to impose gross social inequalities. This alienates already marginalised groups, fragments social identities, and of course, breaks social solidarity. It’s therefore no surprise that immigration and othering have been the focus of a substantial part of the Brexit campaign.

He goes on to say: “Social democracy is in desperate need of reinvigoration, because it has over the past several decades lost its moral and civic energy and purpose. It’s become a largely managerial and technocratic orientation to politics. It’s lost its ability to inspire working people, and its vision, its moral and civic vision, has faltered. So for two generations after the Second World War, social democracy did have an animating vision, which was to create and to deepen and to articulate welfare states, and to moderate and provide a counterbalance to the power of unfettered market capitalism.

“This was the raison d’être of social democracy, and it was connected to a larger purpose, which was to empower those who were not at the top of the class system, to empower working people and ordinary men and women, and also to nurture a sense of solidarity and an understanding of citizenship that enabled the entire society to say we are all in this together. But over the past, well, three or four decades, this sense of purpose has been lost, and I think it begins with the Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher era.”   

Yes, the transatlantic neoliberal turn. The commentary throughout the article is coherent and compelling, and well worth the read.

Leaving the EU would mean the UK giving up its place and influence in Europe, turning back the clock and retreating from the established global power networks of the 21st century. It would also legitimize the Conservatives’ crusade against what remains of a political settlement based on an inclusive, multicultural democracy. Without a level of international scrutiny and legal safeguards, I believe that this Conservative governments’ already evident authoritarian inclinations would be held under rather less constraint. 

The Labour Party, except for a small handful of eurosceptics, is now firmly pro-Europe  – we are, after all, internationalists – despite the fact that leader Jeremy Corbyn has in the past questioned whether the EU structure delivers more for business than it does workers. The Scottish National Party, most of the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Welsh nationalists Plaid Cmyru are firmly placed with the ‘In’ camp. 

Jeremy Corbyn has said that David Cameron must not have a carte blanche to negotiate away workers’ rights as part of his desired EU reform package, ahead of the in-out referendum. However, Corbyn knows for sure that workers’ rights will not be stronger if the UK ends up outside the EU. 

It was the New Labour Government who ended the Tories’ opt-out on EU social policy (the “social chapter” as it was then called) back in 1998. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) have also staunchly defended workers’ rights in the EU over the last two decades. Now Cameron is aiming to undermine such positive EU employment laws in the UK, as the Tories successfully did back in the 1990s with an across-the-board opt-out. This said, Cameron’s “re-negotiation” has been pretty quickly sidelined. 

A Labour government could easily opt back into any areas that the Tories did succeed in opting-out of, as long as the UK is still an EU member state. The real attack on workers’ rights would inevitably happen if the UK left the EU. Then it would be straightforward for the Tory government to repeal other directives protecting workers’ rights. And they would – obligations to implement EU laws would cease, and so leaving the EU would reduce rather than help workers’ rights. And joining the EU again in the future would be very difficult – it would require a new referendum and fresh negotiations with Brussels, at the very least.

One final point. Some on the Left have said that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a reason for them to vote to leave the EU.  I can understand this, because the TTIP will lead to a large-scale transfer of democratic power to multinationals. It is a blueprint for deregulation and privatisation. 

The Left Leave group argue that the deal promotes the privatisation of the NHS, and that leaving the EU would mean avoiding TTIP and hence save Britain’s free healthcare system. However, TTIP would still have a strong influence on the UK economy. Once outside the EU, the UK would be unable to stop the TTIP, or shape it. TTIP would create a transatlantic marketspace that would influence British firms and the UK economy by aligning regulation in the US and EU.  

Britain would need to stop trading with both the EU and the US to escape the TTIP’s regulations. The EU, like the US, would most likely remain an important trading partner for the UK in the event of a success for the Brexit campaign. Brexit is premised on extreme free trade agreements coupled with looser regulation to make us more “competitive.” 

The TTIP deal was supposed to be signed by now – but together, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group and Europe’s people have seriously stalled things. Would it really be possible to stop such a move if we couldn’t link up with campaigners across Europe? If being in the EU has brought us TTIP, it has also brought us the means to stop it. Labour MEPs fought hard to secure support within the EU to get the toxic Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause removed from the TTIP at the negotiating table last year. 

This was an excellent achievement by our own Labour MEPs within the broader S&D group. The ISDS contradicts principles of democratic accountability and would potentially allow one government to bind another for decades to come. Unlike the great majority of other treaties, investment treaties have very long minimum lifespans ranging up to 30 years. 

Much debate has arisen concerning the impact of controversial ISDS on the capacity of governments to implement reforms and legislative and policy programs related to public health, environmental protection, labour and human rights. 

In the UK, we already have a highly corporatised Government. We have witnessed scandalous price-rigging, and massive job losses, decreased standards in service delivery and a disempowerment of our Unions. This is because the Tories will always swing policy towards profiting private companies and not towards meeting public needs, as we know. 

In Britain, privatisation was primarily driven by Tory neoliberal ideological motives, to “roll back the frontiers of the State.” 

This Conservative government has done everything possible to push the most extreme version of TTIP, just as they’ve fought against pretty much every financial regulation, from bankers bonuses to a financial transaction tax. Cameron has his own programme of stripping away laws that direct big business towards reasonable behaviours and standards, no matter how important those laws are for safeguarding people and our environment.

 —

Related

Three excellent articles: –

EU debate: what are the real choices? – Red Pepper

The energy of the Brexiteers and Trump is born of the failure of elites Michael Sandel / Jason Cowley

#BREXIT ANTI-IMMIGRATION ARGUMENT CONTINUES WAR AGAINST POOR – Rupert Dreyfus/Consented

 


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Conservatism in a nutshell

Image result for Theresa May poor wages
It’s not enough to challenge Tory ideology. We also have to dismantle the Orwellian semantic thrifts and shifts. We have to defeat the Tory propaganda machine that lies, persuades and lulls people with meaningless populist slogans, empty glittering generalities and glib catch-phrases.

You’ve heard those slogans – “less government”, “personal responsibility”, “hard-working families”, “making work pay” and lots of nationalist flag waving. These are shorthand messages to the public that are thrifty with the truth, codifications for an entire world-view. But it’s ever such a shabby, ruthless, isolating and paltry one.

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The clue is in the name: the word “Tory” derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, which means outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”. It was originally used to refer to an Irish outlaw and later applied to Confederates or Royalists in arms. The term was originally one of abuse.

The Tories live by plundering. They steal your taxes, your public services, your state provision and your labour, in order to raise more money for the rich. They have reneged on our post war democratic settlement.

It’s a dystopic world of corporate fiefdom. I heard a very smart person from the States once sum up the Tories neatly with the phrase “cheap-labour conservatism”. How very apt. It fits so well. It makes sense of such a lot.

Basically, the larger the labour supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the less you tend to demand for your wages to be fair, and the more power those big business Tory buddies have over you. This is what the Tories actually mean by “making work pay” – it’s either rationed out peanuts or starvation. But for big business, your work pays them handsomely in fat profits.

The Tories engineer this same socioeconomic situation every time they are in office. Think back to the Thatcher era, she did it, Major did it – it’s a manufactured recession and a large reserve army of cheap labour every time. ALWAYS the same with the Tories. Because it suits their “business friendly” agenda.

That’s another Tory slogan that means corporate greed, profit before people and Tory donations – see the Beecroft Report, for example, written by a British “venture capitalist” that has donated more than £500,000 to the Conservative Party. The overdogs write policies to make sure that we remain the underdogs. Fat profits are all that matter to the vulture capitalists. 

Beecroft is currently Chairman of Dawn Capital. The release in May 2012, of the long awaited Beecroft Report in the UK caused considerable controversy because it recommended that the government should “cut red tape” in order to make the hiring and firing of employees easier and cheaper.

The report claimed this would help to ‘boost’ the economy although no evidence for this was provided. It’s hard to imagine how increasing job insecurity would encourage workers to spend their money. It does, however, help boost profits for venture  vulture capitalists, and the government-commissioned report strips workers of their rights.

As the TUC said at the time, the ideas have taken the UK back towards Victorian era working conditions and standards. Conservatives don’t like social spending or welfare – our safety net. The safety net we funded. That’s because when you’re unemployed and desperate, companies can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably next to nothing, so their profits can grow. 

You see, the Tories want you in a position to work for next to nothing or starve, so their business buddies can focus on feeding their profits, which is their only priority.

Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. These policies undo all of their efforts to keep you desperate. They don’t like European Union labour laws and directives either, for the same reason.

Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like unions, because when we unite, organise and collectively bargain, wages go up and living standards rise. Working conditions improve. That’s why workers unionise. Seems workers don’t like being desperate.

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But businesses don’t like to pay out money. They like to hoard it. Cheap-labour conservatives constantly bray about “morality”, “virtue”, “respect for authority”, “hard work”, “responsibility” and other such vaguely defined values. This is only so that they can blame you for being desperate due to your own “immorality”, “lack of values”, “lack of character” , “idleness” and “poor life-choices”  when you are poor, within a system designed to generate a few ‘winners’ and a lot more ‘losers’. It’s not a level playing field that hosts the great neoliberal ‘competition’.

Those inane soundbites have been used to dismantle another worker’s protection: the welfare state.  

They have also been deployed so that the Tories can justify their “business friendly” workfare schemes to further exploit the reserve army of labour and keep us desperate, unpaid and in our place.

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Cheap-labour conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. That’s because bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognising their common interests as wage earners. Divide and rule was invented by cheap labour-conservatives. To keep labour cheap.

An ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives don’t like working people. They don’t like working class opportunities and prosperity, and the reason for this is very simple. Lords have a harder time kicking us around when we aren’t desperate, hungry and in fear of destitution.

Once we understand this about the cheap-labour conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Cheap-labour conservatives, the neo-feudalist fools, believe in social hierarchy and limited privilege, so the only prosperity they want to permit is limited to them and their elite class.

They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits us whatsoever. And even better if we fight amongst ourselves for scraps. Divide and rule. The Tory mantra “making work pay” is an argument for RAISING WAGES, not cutting benefits, talk about the rationally illiterate …. But then cheap-labour conservatives hope that those affected will take comfort in the fact that if your wages are not enough to meet the cost of living, at least those without a job are much worse off.

The Tory “race to the bottom” is hidden in plain view, and after five years of austerity, Osborne is forced to concede that the new welfare cuts leave £9bn of the deficit reductions promised by the Chancellor unaccounted for. The cuts are PURELY ideological. Tories: dangerous with the economy, dangerous for society.

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“Less government” is another defining right-wing slogan. It’s also all about cheap labour. Referenced by the slogan is the whole conservative set of assumptions about the nature of the “free market” and government’s role in that market. However, we pay for government. We pay for protective state services. It is not the government’s money to hand out to millionaires, it is ours. 

The slogan “less government” permitted the conservatives’ cunning transformation of a crisis caused by banks into a crisis of public spending. It was a huge triumph of Tory dogma over the facts. And of course, our public services are being sold off to private companies. A few people are quietly making megabucks while the rest of us are told to “live within our means.”

And anyone would think, to hear the Tories talk, that the “free-market” isn’t rigged to benefit the wealthy. There’s no such thing as an “invisible hand”, unless you count the iron fist of the authoritarian state, getting on with getting their own way. The bedroom tax, welfare cuts, public service cuts, cutting inheritance tax and handing out tax breaks to the wealthy are, after all, examples of state interventions, and not “market forces”, which the Tories always use as a front to suck the life out of entire communities and to keep people desperate.

The whole “public sector/private sector” distinction is an invention of the cheap-labour conservatives. They say that the “private sector” exists outside and independently of the “public sector”. The public sector, according to cheap-labour ideology, can only “interfere” with the “private sector”, and that such “interference” is “inefficient”, “costly” and “unprincipled”.

Using this ideology, the cheap-labour ideologue paints him/her self as a defender of “freedom” against “big government tyranny,” while all the time, the conservatives are extending an extreme, oppressive authoritarianism.They have to because no ordinary person who knows what they’re up to actually wants their policies. And in fact, the whole idea that the “private sector” is independent of the public sector is totally bogus, because “the market” is created by public laws, public institutions and public infrastructure. 

But the cheap-labour conservative isn’t really interested in “freedom”. What they want is the privatised tyranny of industrial and financial serfdom, the main characteristic of which is – you guessed it – cheap labour.

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Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone 


I don’t make any money from my work. But you can contribute by making a donation and help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.

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