On Being A “Principled” MP While “UK Democracy Is In Peril”?

The Green Party

says of Caroline Lucas: known as one of the UK’s most fearless, passionate, “principled” MPs. [Definition “principled” (of a person or their behaviour) acting in accordance with morality and showing recognition of right and wrong…”a principled politician”. Her supporters also state” In 2019, with UK democracy in peril and the Amazon on fire, we need to make sure Caroline is re-elected as an MP, with a huge mandate”.

“We have won the Letwin amendment! This house has NOT approved this terrible deal today. The fight for the #PeopleVote to #StopBrexit continues!!”…[UK democracy in peril!]

“Alongside her leading role in calling for a People’s Vote on a disastrous Brexit, Caroline’s been a passionate campaigner for the environment, the NHS, social justice and human rights. And she has helped hundreds of people in her Brighton Pavilion constituency, on everything from housing to deportation”.

“Nothing is certain in politics at the moment. We need to run a brilliant campaign to be sure that we can keep Caroline in parliament, and that she has a strong, well-resourced local party to support her beyond it. Brilliant election campaigns cost money: we need to talk to voters, get our leaflets through letter boxes, pay for ads – and the next 5 weeks will fly by.

“Our financial support comes entirely from people like you. People who donate whatever they can afford. We don’t get contributions from big businesses, or Trades Unions, all our money comes from regular people like you.

“By donating to the campaign to re-elect Caroline you will ensure there’s still a gutsy, progressive voice in Parliament after the General Election. I need £15,000”.

Talking of right and wrong, she wrote “The MP expenses scandal was a shameful indication of where the real priorities of much of the political establishment lie. Alleged criminal activity related to the funding behind the Leave campaign during the EU Referendum only further undermines public confidence in politics”. [Not the Remain campaign, just the Leave campaign!]

She claimed £37,948 for office, travel and accommodation. She received a basic MP salary of £76,011. She’s had pledges of over £10,000 towards her crowd funding target of £15,000 of her re-election expenses. Nice work if you can get it while ignoring 17.4million “democratic members of the electorate”? And her “passion” for “human rights” does NOT extend to the human rights of the same 17.4million for their majority to be honoured? Strange principles?

Being Over 75 Is A Poor Marker For Poverty?

From the Spectator

By Ross Clark One wonders what Tom Watson would have left in his vocabulary if the Conservatives announced a policy of kicking away the crutches of the elderly, given, that is, that he described the ‘Tory’ policy of abolishing free TV licences for the over 75s as ‘utterly callous’.

“Ending universal free licences for the over 75s is not, of course, a Conservative policy, it was a decision made by the BBC itself in order to preserve the earnings of Gary Lineker, although to be fair to Watson the government did hand the BBC the power to make that decision. Now, though, the Conservatives seem themselves to be edging back to a policy of maintaining free licences for the over 75s, Boris Johnson has reportedly promised to make the policy an election priority.

“Universal free TV licences for the over 75s are in one sense absurd. Being over 75 is a poor marker for poverty. On the contrary, in this age group are some of the country’s wealthiest citizens. It is hard to see, for example, why Lord Heseltine should get to watch “Strictly” for free when a family living on the National Living Wage has to pay up. But there is a far braver policy which would not merely free the over 75s from having to pay for a TV licence, it would free us all from having to buy one. It is to abolish the TV licence altogether and instead force the BBC to raise its revenue from advertising, subscriptions or a mixture of both. [The BBC gross licence revenue is now £3.17billion!]

“The arguments for axing the licence have been well-aired here before. The TV licence is a straightforward tax on TV ownership. It creates a grossly unfair market in television programmes, where the provider is lavished with money extracted from the pockets of viewers who do not even like its programmes. Even if you do like the BBC’s output, you should be worried by its determination to remain reliant on this source of revenue: the number of licences sold last year fell as more and more, especially young, people came to the conclusion there is no need to own a TV when they can get all the entertainment they need on the internet, much of it for free. Unless the BBC moves to a proper commercial footing it faces the gradual withering of its income.

“That Corbyn should want to support the continued existence of the TV licence is no surprise, he does, after all, want to nationalise most utilities. But why the Conservatives have failed to do away with it is more puzzling. In just about every other industry they have championed the case for private competition, in some cases to the point of wholesale privatisation. So why is state TV and radio apparently so sacred to them? Do they secretly fear that a BBC not in the pay of the state would be less fair to them come election time, that it would give them less leverage in their moaning about BBC bias? If that is their reason, it is a pretty feeble one, and is becoming redundant given the PM’s reluctance to appear on the BBC.

“Or do they fear that the public would be outraged if the licence were to be abolished and they faced the prospect of having to pay a subscription if they wanted to watch some or all of the BBC’s output? If this has been their fear, we are getting a better picture of what the public really thinks about having to pay for a TV licence. Many over 75s don’t think they should have to pay and neither do many young people. The time would be perfect, in other words, for the Conservatives to put in their manifesto that the TV licence will be abolished when the BBC charter next comes up for renewal. They might be pleasantly surprised at how popular such a policy turned out to be”.

As Labour election candidate Rosie Cooper has said “The Tories should be hanging their head in shame at the way they are planning to strip older people of their free TV licences.  For West Lancashire alone an estimated 5,600 over 75s with dementia face losing their free TV licence.  Older people with dementia often struggle with daily tasks and their television is a comfort. It would be a terrible cruelty to take their TV licence away and force them to reapply and pay for it. The government should halt this callous policy immediately and save TV licences”. Who could argue against that?

Labour’s Current Policy On Brexit Holds Little Appeal?

Fawzi Ibrahim

is a retired lecturer and lifelong activist in the University and College Union. He is currently a national officer of Trade Unionists Against the EU.

He writes “No matter how hard Labour tries to pretend otherwise, the forthcoming general election is a Brexit election. It is defined by Brexit in the same way as the 2017 general election was. At that time, Labour was able to get a hearing on its domestic policies because, at the very last minute, a sentence that promised to respect the result of the referendum was inserted in its manifesto. The Tories and Labour were thus on an even keel as far as Brexit was concerned, and that’s how Labour made its unexpected gains.

“It will be harder to pull off the same trick again. Unlike Theresa May, who called a general election before securing a deal with the EU, Boris Johnson has a deal ready to be put into effect immediately after the election that will take the UK out of the EU. Admittedly, negotiations will have to continue to settle our long-term relationship with the EU, but we will be negotiating from a position of strength, having left the EU and regained sovereignty.

“All Labour can offer is a re-run of the Brexit negotiations that have numbed the nation and sapped its energy. A Corbyn Labour government would thus put its domestic agenda on hold to spend precious months in negotiation with the EU to get a ‘better’ withdrawal agreement. Having done so, the public would not be asked to say yay or nay to the deal in a straightforward ballot; instead, they would be asked to choose between the deal and reversing the result of the 2016 EU referendum – what Labour calls putting ‘the final decision in the hands of the people’. But the people have already made the decision to leave the EU and that was ‘the final decision’, the once-in-a-generation decision. Labour’s ‘public vote on the deal’ is nothing more than a second referendum.

“With leading members of the shadow cabinet vowing to campaign against Labour’s own deal – including shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, the very man who would be in charge of negotiations – what trust can the public have in Labour negotiating in good faith? It’s like a builder who advises a home-owner to knock down the extension he is due to build immediately after it has been built. This is Alice in Wonderland territory.

“Corbyn may be ‘rejuvenated’ and ‘re-energised’ by the prospects of a general election and he will campaign well. But winning and campaigning are two different things. Unless Labour’s message resonates with the electorate, campaigning will do little in terms of votes, no matter how clever social media whizzkids are or how eager are members of Momentum to knock on doors.

“The election manifesto on which Labour will fight the general election is yet to be written. Last time round, in 2017, under the heading ‘Negotiating Brexit’, Labour stated that the party ‘accepts the referendum result’. The voting public will watch to see if this remains Labour’s policy. If it doesn’t, Labour will have turned its back on the biggest democratic vote in British history. If it is retained, it will contradict the policy of a second EU referendum. A second referendum is inconsistent with accepting the result of the first – and it won’t escape the voting public that there is no guarantee that those who refuse to accept the result of one referendum would accept the result of a second.

“It is ironic that the first act of a would-be Corbyn government committed to fight the establishment would be to do the bidding of that very establishment and undermine the result of the EU referendum.

“Labour is right to emphasise the common interests that binds workers, regardless of whether they voted Leave or Remain; they face the same problems and they need the very same social and economic regeneration. The task of bringing them together is fundamental, but that can only become a reality once the thing that divided them in the first place is sorted out. For a party that wishes to heal the Brexit divide, calling another referendum to go through the whole thing again is reckless to say the least.

“The bulk of the Brexit-supporting Left did little to help get Brexit over the line. Its pathological aversion to any association with the Tories regardless of the issue – an infantile approach to politics, reflecting a chronic lack of self-confidence – has contributed to the Brexit drift that characterised the last couple of years of the now dissolved Parliament.

“Some attempt to play down the importance of Brexit. It’s argued that Brexit is one issue among many. But Brexit is a defining issue, it will define the future direction of the country. Most of Labour’s economic and industrial programme will clash with the EU’s rules and regulations including public control of nationalised industries, procurement policy and state aid as well as VAT.

“As for the threat to the NHS, the EU poses a greater threat to the NHS than any British government. We have control over the latter; we have none over the former. And the EU has form: it was the EU that negotiated the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States when Barack Obama was President, which would have given US corporations easy access to elements of the NHS. A vigorous campaign to stop TTIP was launched by the trade unions and supported by all opposition parties, but it made little impact on an EU determined to have the treaty ratified. It was abandoned only when the incoming US President, Donald Trump, pulled the plug.

“For those who want the government to get on with it – and that is a majority of people – Labour’s current policy on Brexit holds little appeal. The Labour leadership must be aware that Labour’s contradictory policies are untenable and unsustainable. The electorate will see through them. They need more than fine tuning; they need change. All eyes will be on Labour’s election manifesto”.

Conservative Strategy?

Claims that “After days of wondering whether the Tories were even going to turn up to their long-demanded election, the PM has finally set off his campaign in a pyrotechnical display of BBC-bristling polemic and fizzing optimism. Comparing Corbyn to Stalin, Boris Johnson has vowed to “unleash the potential of the country”, with tax cuts, freeports and a Northern Powerhouse revival. But as the passionate leader of a professionally mediocre party, he resembles a fire trying to light on a pile of soggy leaves”.

And, in Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins undertakes an epic journey and battles all as he seeks to destroy the One Ring, which gives absolute power to whoever wears it. When Frodo finally reaches the Fire of Mount Doom, he succumbs to temptation and chooses not to destroy the ring, but keep it for himself.

Recently, friends of Nigel Farage have taken to comparing him to Frodo.

Mr Farage has spent a lifetime campaigning to get Britain out of the European Union. He overcame incredible odds to become one of the few who can say they made Brexit happen. But has HE got the ring? Time will tell!

The Deutsche Bank Death Watch

The biggest bank in the EU has taken a very interesting turn.

The biggest bank in Europe is in the process of imploding, and there are persistent rumours that the final collapse could happen sooner rather than later. Deutsche Bank is rapidly bleeding cash, they have been laying off thousands of workers, and the vultures have been circling as company executives desperately try to implement a turnaround plan.

Unfortunately for Deutsche Bank, it may already be too late. And if Deutsche Bank goes down, it will be even more catastrophic for the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers was in 2008. Germany is the glue that is holding the EU together, and so if the bank that is right at the heart of Germany’s financial system collapses, the EU dominoes will likely start falling very rapidly.

Deutsche Bank chooses to base its largest investment banking operations in the City of London, a centre of global flows of trade and wealth. “We use this position as a global bank to keep our UK clients connected to markets, and help clients do business all over the world”.

“Deutsche Bank employs over 8,000 people in the UK, and is one of the largest employers in the City. The backgrounds of our employees mirror London as a dynamic, global city, we have an international workforce of 100 nationalities at Deutsche”.

There has been a tremendous amount of speculation about Deutsche Bank over the past several days, and so let’s start with what we know. We know that Deutsche Bank has been losing money at a pace that is absolutely staggering…it reported a net loss that missed market expectations on Wednesday as a major restructuring plan continues to weigh on the German lender.

It reported a net loss of 832 million euros ($924 million) for the third quarter of 2019. Analysts were expecting a loss of 778 million euros, according to data from Refinitiv. It had reported a net profit of 229 million euros in the third quarter of 2018, but a loss of 3.15 billion euros in the second quarter of this year. If you add the losses for the second and third quarter of 2019 together, you get a grand total of nearly 4 billion euros.

How in the world is it possible to lose that much money in just 6 months?

If all they had their employees doing was flushing dollar bills down the toilet for 6 months, it still shouldn’t be possible to lose that kind of money. When investors learned of Deutsche Bank’s third quarter results last week, shares of the bank went down about 8 percent in a single day.

Overall, the stock price has lost over a quarter of its value over the past year. Unless you enjoy financial pain, there is no idea why anyone would want to be holding Deutsche Bank stock at this point. As previously warned, it is eventually going to zero, and the only question remaining is how quickly it will get there.

We also know that Deutsche Bank has been laying off thousands of workers all over the world…On July 8, 2019, thousands of Deutsche Bank employees across the globe arrived at their offices, unaware that they would be leaving again, jobless, just a few hours later. In Tokyo, entire teams of equity traders were dismissed on the spot, while some London staff were reportedly told they had until 11am to leave the bank’s Great Winchester Street offices before their access cards stopped working.

The truth is that anyone with half a brain can see that Deutsche Bank is dying. There have been so many bad decisions, so many aggressive bets have gone bad, and there has been one scandal after another…it is just a zombie bank that is stumbling along until someone finally puts it out of its misery!.

Money is so tight at Deutsche Bank that they have even cancelled the Christmas reception for retired employees…times change. Once upon a time (2001, in fact), Deutsche Bank was able to book stars like Robbie Williams for its staff Christmas party, with a Spice Girl turning up too just because it was such a great party. Now, according to the FT, Christian Sewing has even cancelled the daytime coffee-and-cake Christmas reception for retired employees. Of course saving a few euros on coffee and cake is not going to make a difference for a bank with tens of trillions of dollars of exposure to derivatives.

Deutsche Bank is the largest domino in Europe’s very shaky financial system. When it fully collapses, it will set off a chain reaction that nobody is going to be able to stop. David Wilkerson once warned that the financial collapse of Europe would begin in Germany, and Jim Rogers has warned that the implosion of Deutsche Bank would cause the entire EU to “disintegrate”…

Then the EU would disintegrate, because Germany would no longer be able to support it, would not want to support it. A lot of other people would start bailing out. Many banks in Europe have problems. And if Deutsche Bank has to fail, that is the end of it.

In 1931, when one of the largest banks in Europe failed, it led to the Great Depression and eventually WWII. Be worried! 

Workers’ And Women’s Rights Come From The UK, Not The EU

In 2016 West Lancashire voted in favour of leaving the EU, a decision Rosie Cooper MP

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“committed to honouring during the Brexit process. A position which is consistent with the 2017 Labour Party manifesto which she was elected on”. 

Workers’ & women’s rights come from the UK, not the EU. The EU doesn’t even have minimum wage legislation. Factsheet No.11 – Workers’ and women’s rights – 09 Nov 2019. From official EU and UK Government sources, for MPs and for ordinary members of the public. One of the many myths about the EU is that it has been responsible for the minimum statutory workers’ rights and women’s rights enjoyed in the UK today. The truth is very different.

1. There is no EU statutory right to a minimum wage

• Within EU treaties, laws, directives, & regulations, there is no requirement to have a minimum wage
• Six EU countries don’t have one at all (Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland, Sweden)
• Where they exist, the uneven playing field has Latvia at the bottom, with Luxembourg’s almost 5 times higher
• The UK is seventh on the list, with its own legislation since 1998

2. EU healthcare rights are way below UK standards

• Healthcare in the EU is generally not free – most people pay for top-up private insurance
• In many countries you pay, and get only partially reimbursed later
• In France it costs £26 just for 5 minutes with your GP, paid at the time
• With the UK’s NHS, treatment is free at the point of delivery

3. EU workers’ rights laws are lower than UK’s

• UK statutory paid holiday entitlement is 28 days, in EU only 20 days
• UK National Minimum Wage Act 1998 – there’s no minimum wage in the EU
• ‘Statutory maternity pay’ – UK: up to 39 weeks, EU: 14 weeks. UK employees can take up to 52 weeks’ leave
• Under EU laws, the Britons’ rights would only decrease

4. UK established workers’ rights long before EU

• “Protection against sex, race and disability discrimination in the UK pre-dated EU law” (from TUC report)
• Women’s rights: Equal Pay Act, Abortion Act and Divorce Reform Act were all passed before UK even joined EU
• Sex Discrimination Act, Domestic Violence Act, Employment Protection Act – no EU involvement
• EU’s Posted Workers Directive means EU workers can be employed in UK for fraction of the cost of UK workers

5. Finally, workers’ rights are only relevant if you have work

• In the Eurozone, austerity has taken the jobs of millions of workers
• You’re almost twice as likely to be out of work in the EU27
• An entire young generation across southern Europe has been devastated by 30-50% unemployment for years

In all the workers’ and women’s rights above, the UK’s statutory arrangements are better than those which would be applicable under EU law. [ Sources: Hansard, EC Working Time Directive 93/104/EC, TUC report 2016 on Workers’ Rights, EU Commission, Competences between UK and EU Social and Employment Policy (UK Gov’t), National Minimum Wage Act, EU Parliament report Mar 2019 ]