The People’s Vote campaign needs Labour, and to serve the country Labour should finally back a PV

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, Labour’s frontbench has continuously appeared ambiguous, sitting on the fence when asked about what they’d do as an opposition to the Tories. By doing so, they’ve managed to hold on to their Leave and Remain voters throughout the negotiating period.

But has it all been worth it when it comes down to the wire?

Whether it was Keir Starmer who has pushed for the opportunity of a second referendum, or Dianne Abbott ruling out any sort of referendum, Labour’s shadow cabinet has seriously harmed the People’s Vote campaign. As a result, there is little chance that any sort of integrity can be found on Brexit.

Let’s remind ourselves of why the People’s Vote has been campaigning for another referendum. Firstly, they argue that democracy did not stop after June 2016, meaning the people are still allowed to have their say, particularly as polls have shown that the nation’s attitudes are gradually changing towards a larger Remain majority. Secondly, and more importantly, they argue that the June 2016 referendum was based on lies and corruption, pushing the electorate to vote for promises which have not been delivered.

Alternatively, Labour are now considering another referendum as a ‘last resort’ option to break the Brexit deadlock, and it is this discourse that will seriously harm the integrity of a second referendum.

Why? Because it defeats the purpose of a “People’s Vote”. A second referendum has not been campaigned for because we would need to go back to square one. Instead, A second referendum has been campaigned for because of the corruption of the first referendum. Labour will be ignoring the vital messages of the carefully constructed People’s Vote campaign.

Vital they were. By going back to square one, Labour will alienate all those who voted Leave in June 2016, angry at the thought that their vote didn’t count the first time around.

Where does this leave us? With a second referendum with no integrity. The Murdoch monopoly alongside another carefully constructed Leave campaign will continue to spout anti-establishment messages, calling for the people to rise against the elite who believe they know better.

Will we ever get a decision based on fact and change for the greater good rather than based on anti-establishment messages?

Labour’s shadow cabinet will seriously damage the People’s Vote campaign, and it’s all down to the political games of survival which Labour and the Conservatives have been playing.

By remaining ambivalent, Labour has remained relevant. Yet, this has also left Labour stuck in a rut after the intrinsic route which has been taken after the defeat of May’s deal. By playing with tactics, members of Labour’s frontbench are missing the point. Why are their decisions being made for the sake of the party over the needs of the people? How can they ignore the fact that the people’s needs will not be met from the promises of the June 2016 campaign?

By remaining ambivalent, Labour’s frontbench has missed a clear chance at reinstating political integrity. By ignoring the messaging of the People’s Vote, Corbyn is taking us back to square one and missing the opportunity to give Britain a credible future.

NHS is financially unsustainable, says NAO

 

The NHS continues to be in crisis. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the NHS is financially unsustainable. The Prime Minister’s plan to increase the NHS budget by £20.5 billion by 2023-2024 may not be sufficient enough to cover services such as social and mental health care.

According to NAO additional funding has been provided, however, it has been spent on existing pressures within the healthcare service. The Head of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse says:

The NHS has received extra funding, but this has mostly been used to cope with current pressures and has not provided the stable platform intended from which to transform services. Repeated short-term funding-boosts could turn into the new normal, when the public purse may be better served by a long-term funding settlement that provides a stable platform for sustained improvements.

In 2016-2017, the NHS received an additional £1.8 billion in Sustainability and Transformation Fund which also intended to give the NHS stability, to improve and transform performance and services in order to achieve a sustainable healthcare system. 

Although the fund has assisted in the overall financial improvement, the NHS is still struggling to achieve targets with its high demand and restricted budget.

Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP, responds to the NAO’s report on NHS financial sustainability:

The Tories have spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest cash squeeze in its history, with swingeing cuts to public health services and the slashing of social care services.

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

The NAO report has come as a surprise to some as the news of an additional £20.5 billion was the Government’s proposed solution to the NHS crisis. However, the NAO report indicates that the money may not be sufficient enough as other areas of the health service have been neglected for years.  This is a great indicator that simply throwing money at a system is not a solution. There needs to be a strategic plan to improve a system that the majority of public members rely on. Waiting times continue to slip and there is an increasing problem with the workforce. The NHS cannot work for the public if it does not have the right amount of workers.

These are the same issues we had for years yet, we still have no solution.  As previously reported NHS Leaders were forced to delay publication of long term plans due to the Brexit chaos. The current Government’s focus is not its people.

The Government needs a reminder of what the NHS set out to do when it was established in 1948 following the Second World War. The principles were to provide a universal and comprehensive service. Currently, the NHS is failing at providing a comprehensive service however, this is not because they refuse to but because they do not have the necessary backing from the Government to provide the public with an efficient service.

A Revolutionary Socialist: 100 Years Since The Assassination Of Rosa Luxemburg

 

This past week has seen the remembrance and commemoration of one the worlds greatest Marxist thinkers, the Polish-born revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. In Germany, an estimated 20,000 people came out in dignified fashion to remember the communist leaders of the Spartacist Uprising, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and the multiple leftist workers who were tortured and murdered by right-wing death squads when the uprising fell.

In Berlin, leftists of various radical affiliations solemnly paid respects to the two lost leaders of the working class, placing flowers at their graves and a note which read  “Peace, bread, roses, freedom”. Communists from across Europe came out to commemorate the event including British communists who ran the headline “Red Rosa, the communist eagle”, Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin’s description of the budding revolutionary.

Rosa Luxemburg’s popularity and important place in left-wing circles can be owed to her pioneering role in revolutionary politics in a scene mostly dominated by men. A notable critic of World War 1, she became a founding member of the Communist Party of Germany. Her brutal death, beaten tortured shot and thrown in a lake, by the Freikorps (the far right paramilitary forerunners to Hitlers Brownshirts) mean that many radicals see her as a lost leader of the working class in Europe. Whilst she disagreed with the Bolsheviks on various issues, her solidarity to the international revolution led her to help lead the Spartacist League and attempt to establish a Soviet government in Germany.

Her murder and subsequent martyrdom lay not only at the hands of the far right but also the centre-left Social Democratic Party who sanctioned the Freikorps to brutally put down the workers’ revolt. The state-sanctioned assassinations of Liebknecht and Luxemburg led to an irreversible split between the social democrats and the communists with both parties pitted against each other throughout the history of the Weimar Republic. The lack of a united front became one of the factors that led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in the 1930s.

To date, the SPD has never officially apologised for its role in the murders despite evidence that Gustav Noske, the minister of defence at the time, signed off on the murders instead of imprisoning the leaders. After effects of the killings of 1919 can still be felt today in German politics. Die Linke, the descendant of the former ruling socialist party of East Germany, accuses the SPD of betraying the working class now as it did then.

Rosa Luxemburg’s impact on politics cannot be downplayed. Her contributions to Marxist theory on issues such as imperialism and the national question are considerable. Her writings most famous statement of “Socialism or Barbarism” rings true today as it did in the ’30s with the rise of far-right forces and decaying capitalism. Rosa Luxemburg message is as factual now as it was when she wrote her thesis’ and through this acknowledgement can her memory be best remembered. Her sorrowful demise at the hands of fascists and opportunists cannot compromise her work as an empowered Jewish female spokesperson of the working class.

A true revolutionary, her message lives on.

Seven times Theresa May should have resigned (but didn’t)

Many years in the future, Theresa May (assuming she’s gone by then) may well be remembered as the greatest British Prime Minister in at least one respect… hanging on to power.

Most Prime Ministers will struggle through a couple of crises/scandals in their time in office, but May – with an enviable track-record of surviving crushing defeats, scandals and resignations – is on course to outdo them all.

So, looking back on the past three years, here are seven times Theresa May should’ve resigned (but didn’t):

 

1. The 2017 Snap Election:

The 2017 election appeared to be the beginning of the (agonisingly drawn out) end for May’s premiership. Armed with a poll bounce giving her a 20+ point lead over Labour in the polls, May made a dramatic U-turn on her promise not to call a snap election – hoping to shore up her majority for the Brexit battles ahead.

Of course, this did not materialise, and in one of the greatest humiliations of British political history, May lost her majority to a resurgent Labour Party. May clung on, negotiating a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP, giving her a wafer-thin majority in parliament.

Desires in her party to avoid another election at all costs and paralysis over which wing of the party a future leader would emerge from, meant May was allowed to stay as caretaker leader for the short term. A year and a half later though, very little has changed in this regard – giving hope to May that she may end up more than a caretaker leader after all.

 

2. The Windrush Scandal:

Windrush was a huge political scandal in April 2018 about the deportation (or threatened deportation) of legal British immigrants, who had arrived mostly from Caribbean countries before 1973.

Although it is difficult to pin the blame for this scandal entirely on a single minister, the scandal has been primarily attributed to the ‘hostile environment’ policy instituted during Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary.

Despite May’s six-year tenure in the job, Amber Rudd (who had replaced May as Home Secretary) took the fall for the scandal and resigned, meaning May could survive another crisis.

 

3. The Brexit Secretary and Foreign Secretary Both Resigning Within 24 hours:

Following the failed 2017 election gamble, legislating Brexit issues was always going to be difficult for May with her reduced majority. But when her draft plans were revealed at Chequers, they were too much for the two most senior Brexiteers in the cabinet.

After months of speculation, Boris Johnson eventually resigned as foreign secretary, followed by the Brexit secretary David Davis – leaving May to face the fallout of the resignations of two senior cabinet ministers.

Never to be deterred by a career-ending crisis, May quickly replaced the two – presumably hoping to resolve these issues by the time the plan actually had to be voted on.

 

4. Having Essentially the Same Thing Happen Again:

For some Brexiteers the Chequers plan was bad, but as it wasn’t the final agreement with the EU they could hold their noses and continue to work with the government.

When the final EU withdrawal agreement was revealed to the public though, senior Brexiteers Dominic Raab (her replacement Brexit secretary) and Esther McVey (the work and pensions secretary) both resigned in protest.

May responded in the same way as the last time two senior Brexiteers resigned from her cabinet over her deal, she replaced them and moved on.

 

5. A Third of Conservative MPs Voting No Confidence in Her Leadership:

After Chequers and the withdrawal agreement, the Conservative Brexiteers were readying themselves to show their strength by sinking May’s withdrawal agreement when it came to a vote in the commons.

But, at the 11th hour, May (ever the survivor) delayed the vote to avoid defeat. The Brexiteers finally mustered the support needed to trigger a confidence vote in her leadership, which May won by 200 to 117 votes.

Although May won the vote, a third of her own MPs voting against her leadership would’ve been more than enough to sink most Prime Ministers (Thatcher won her confidence vote 204 to 152 but resigned quickly afterwards), but apparently not May.

 

6. The Government Being Found in Contempt of Parliament (for the first time ever):

Number six is, surprisingly, another Brexit crisis.

After failing to release the full legal advice obtained by the government on the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the UK and EU, the House of Commons took the unprecedented move of finding the government in contempt of parliament and forcing the release of the advice.

Facing a humiliating and unprecedented defeat in parliament could well have collapsed a government just years ago. Now it’s just another day in British politics.

 

7. Losing the Vote on Her Flagship Policy with the Biggest Margin of Defeat in History:

So here it is, after two years of bitter infighting, parliamentary battles, drawn out negotiations and last-minute delays, the deal that had come to define the May premiership was finally put before parliament on the 16th January…

And was defeated by a majority of 230 votes. The biggest defeat of a government in modern British political history.

A vote of no confidence has been called in the government by the opposition, but with Tory rebels from across the party confirming their support for May, as well as the DUP, May is almost certain to survive the vote.

If May can survive this devastating defeat, then the only logical conclusion is that she is politically immortal and all efforts to remove her from power are futile. I only hope that in 10 years’ time, when May returns her renegotiated Brexit deal to parliament for the 40th time and she is still expected to resign ‘by the end of next week’, that maybe we can look back on these early years to make some sense of May’s eternal survival and the groundhog day we all now live in.

The World Is Doomed And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It

Take a look at the world. What do you see?

 

Do you see the vast, open plains of Africa? The forests in Malaysia, seething with life and sounds? Or do you see the other side of the planet? Do you see the corruption, the famine, the thirst, the sickness or the pain? Because I see both, and it saddens me. It saddens me because I see beauty, but not friendship. I see wealth, but it’s not shared. I see happiness, but it’s outweighed by despair. I see the problems and the solutions, but I don’t see any empathy, any reconciliation, or any forgiveness.

I take a look at the world… our world, and I see a mother. I see a mother, struggling to feed her children. I see a mother who stands by and watches her children eat, while all she has, is a solitary, and miserable, piece of fruit.

You see, that’s the problem with our world. The potential is always there, but it’s withering away, at the hand of its inhabitors.

The rise of Far-Right extremism in the UK and indeed, across the world is alarming. Jair Bolsonario has recently taken office in Brazil, resulting in an incomprehensible rise in Brazillian stock market prices, at an incomprehensible cost. Donald J. Trump continues to play his little boy games with Mexico and continues his obsession with the wall. Which, by the way, will never be built. Tensions continue to rise in France, with Macron’s policies unwaveringly upsetting our French friends. Here in the UK, we continue to prove that Britannia does not rule the way, with public support rising for far-right extremists like UKIP and Tommy Robinson.

In fact, Brittania has never really, ruled the way. We traded slaves, invaded over three-quarters of the world, and raped local tribes of their resources. We suppressed Women from voting, we continue to discriminate against people of different ethnic backgrounds and we haven’t closed the gender pay gap. Women are without free essentials like tampons and sanitary towels, leaving the very poorest in society to bleed, all over some of their only clothes. There is a lot wrong with this country… our country. And we are the only ones who can change that.

Because, my friends, the title of this opinion piece was deliberately misleading. We CAN do something about it, and we must. The world is in a deep and dark place. Brexit is looming, and uncertainty and division in the UK, is not unlike that of a civil war. The rise of far-right extremism is reaching its peak, and the civil unrest, disruption and downright murder in Isreali and Palestinian territories, cannot go on. Anti-Semitism, is the newest insult to throw into the dictionary, regardless of what was actually said. We live in a world where the “blue tick brigade” are just simply superior to everyone else. A narcissistic world.

Speaking of narcissists, you forgot to pick that piece of rubbish up didn’t you, you know the one. You looked at it on the high street and thought; “Nah, I don’t want to touch that, it’s manky, it’s probably been there for days.”. Well tomorrow, you’re going to pick it up. Climate Change is a real risk, and it’s already taking effect. I’ve been on this planet for 16 years now, and I’ve seen the climate change, bloody hell I’ve felt it! I’ve seen pictures and videos online, of turtles with plastic straws, embedded in their brains. I’ve seen birds, with stomachs filled with plastic, I’ve listened to 24-hour videos, containing sounds of the rainforest, and I’ve heard chainsaws. You need to stop being so obsessed with your own needs, and start paying attention to others, open your eyes, and see, for the first time.

So, take your eyes off the stock market. Focus your attention, focus on the things that matter. Focus on the Daniel Blake’s of the world, focus on the people who need it most. Focus on your family, on your friends. Ask them if they’re okay. Focus on the world, and how you’re making it better, one step at a time. Because if we all make the world better, well, the world can breathe again. And it’s inhabitants, human-kind or not, can live in harmony. Spread love, not poverty.

These are words, that should be echoed to your local Tory MP. Rebecca Pow, who just so happens to be my MP, recently claimed that, and I quote; “The people of Taunton Deane have told me they have more money in their pockets than ever before” Rebecca, my father is a floor layer, he’s had surgery on his back last year, and broke his leg three years ago. He works through excruciating pain, because he doesn’t have a choice. The government say he isn’t eligible for benefits. Despite him not being able to work a lot of the time because of the discomfort he is put under. All to find himself living off £20 every month. My mother is almost entirely reliant on other people. For a human who practically raised me and my sister on her own, she has coped incredibly well. Her benefits are being slashed. I see how it’s destroying her, I see how it tears her apart. Then there is me. A sixteen-year-old with a dream. I don’t draw attention to myself, like my influencer counterparts. I’ve never spoken at a labour conference, but I have a dream. Just a young lad from Somerset, with a dream, of human harmony. I’m no hippy, I just want everyone to look after each other. I’m no communist, I just want total equality, I’m no capitalist hater, I just want the same opportunities for everyone.

The problem we have, in the UK at least, is ridiculously unfair media bias. The Guardian, is arguably the only pro-labour mainstream newspaper we have, with the rest either identifying as Lib Dem or Conservative. The BBC, who consistently confuse impartiality with balance, continue to have an extreme bias to both sides of the political spectrum, depending on who you’re talking to. My friend and colleague Seb Chromiak wrote a fantastic piece on Andrew Niel, after he continually prevented Owen Jones from criticising The Spectator, a paper which Mr Niel chairs.

You can read about that here

So in conclusion. There is a whole lot wrong with this world, and there will be a whole lot that my generation inherit. It’s up to us to fix it. I’m calling on you. I’m calling on you to make a difference, to change the world. To alter the way people think. To change your outlook and see for yourself, just how much the world needs you.

Chris Grayling’s Brexit comments are a distraction from his transport and justice failings

What do drones at airports, railway strikes and fare increases, dodgy Brexit ferry arrangements, and a 50% rise in crimes committed on parole all have in common? If you guessed it, all four are the handiwork of the current transport and former justice secretary Chris Grayling.

One gets the feeling that Chris Grayling is one of the few government ministers who would like us to focus slightly more on May’s end of the Brexit negotiations, even given his recent no-deal Brexit ferry blunder. Grayling’s predictions of a rise in right-wing extremism in the event of Britain remaining in the EU came at the same time as new figures for England and Wales, which showed that crimes committed on parole had spiked following Grayling’s reforms to probation work in 2014. His statements to the press today on his support for May’s deal also appear to be a distraction tactic, as he was forced to announce a few hours later that no technology currently exists to stop drone disruption at UK airports.

Chaos in the Department of Transport has peaked in the last month, but failings began much earlier in Grayling’s ministerial career. More than a hundred magistrates resigned after Grayling introduced court charges that were eventually quashed by his successor as Minister for Justice. More damning yet, he introduced rules in family courts that dictated that victims of domestic violence would be denied legal aid unless they could demonstrate that they had been targeted within the last five years, with the result that 40% of victims were unable to meet legal aid requirements.

The National Association of Probation Officers further stated that the outsourcing of work to private providers resulted in unbearable workloads for staff, with the result that serious offences committed whilst an offender was under supervision rose by 220 between the year before the 2014 reforms and this year ending in April. These serious offences included crimes such as rape and murder.

As anyone who relies on railway services will know, since Grayling became transport secretary in 2016 the state of the railways has spiralled into a crisis. The Department for Transport has attempted to blame the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union for the chaos that has seen 640 services cancelled daily in Britain. However, anyone who has travelled on a train late at night will also know that services would not be safe for passengers if guards were removed. In the month of October 2018 alone the British Transport Police recorded 4,714 sexual assaults on public transport, which would be set to increase along with other offences if guards were not present to intervene. Given that Grayling has shown himself to be willing to disrupt services for the sake of reducing passenger safety, it is insulting that his department has now imposed a 3.1% fare hike in England and Wales.

Given the severity of these failings, a moderate amount of criticism over his support for May might be considered a welcome relief for the Secretary for Transport. It is certainly testament to May’s desperation to remain in power that Grayling has been allowed to continue in his ministerial post. God alone can help us if he is given any broader responsibility in Brexit than negotiating the ferry contracts- it seems to be the only way that he could create a greater fiasco than those that he has already left behind him.

Universal Credit: U-turn on two-child benefit cap is not good enough

Amber Rudd

 

The Government has pulled a U-turn on the Universal Credit two-child limit. Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has announced that the extension of the two-child limit on Universal Credit will be scrapped.

In general, families with children claiming Universal Credit receive additional financial support if the child was born before April 2017. However, if a family were to have more than two children born either on or after April 2017, the family will not receive additional financial support. The Government had planned to start applying the two-child limit to families with children born before April 2017. This has now been scrapped due to its unfairness.

 

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

It is unfair to make an announcement of a potential change to a system which many low-income families rely on. Many families in the UK are in poverty and are struggling to cope financially on a monthly basis.

Although many families will be relieved to hear the announcement, families who have more than two children born after April 2017 will not be too happy. Universal Credit is supposed to be a system which supports low-income families and not put them into further deprivation and poverty. I suggest the cap should be scrapped across the board to make it completely fair. I believe Universal Credit is failing many families going through hardship in the UK.

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has announced:

Labour will scrap the social security freeze and get rid of the two child cap, which everyone, including the Work and Pensions Secretary, knows is deeply unfair

 

‘I, Daniel Blake’ is legitimate social commentary, period.

“I, Daniel Blake” is legitimate social commentary, and the tension between fiction and reality is not as sharp or absolute as sneering conservatives assert. Not only is the story based on strong research into real life experience, it is also a biopic: if “I, Daniel Blake” is fictitious, then so is “Titanic”. Such is the level of malicious ludicrousness the Tories steep to in order to smear the victims of their policies.

Any student of A Level literature will remember how the allegories of fictional poetry in the romantic canon were supposed to elicit deep meditation and reflection on real social issues. To say “Daniel Blake is not a documentary” to negate its social commentary is to show wilful ignorance of British literary and social history, which conservatives still believe is their exclusive domain. If “I, Daniel Blake” has no relevance to British History, then nor does “In Flander’s Field.”

Another Blake, by name of William, is famous for his vast, dense, grandiose mythological worlds, and is yet the preeminent romantic social critic. Read “The Chimneysweep” and try to defend the view that fiction has no relation to social reality. Just as The Chimneysweep is fated to his “coffin of black,” so too is Daniel Blake, fated to a grim destiny arbitrated by a callous government.

Like great works before it, “I, Daniel Blake” uses fiction as a prism on reality, and is informed by real human experience. Conservatives are at liberty to say what they like, just as we are at liberty to prove why they are categorically wrong. If they read as much as they pretend to, they would realise why their quibbling with the status of “I Daniel, Blake,” is, ultimately, meaningless.

The Government Promised a Green Paper on Funding Adult Social Care, Where is it?

 

 

 

The government promised to publish a Green Paper on funding adult social care last
autumn, but in the end, it did not materialise, instead, saying that it would be published
alongside its NHS Long Term Plan. Well, on Monday this week, the NHS Long Term Plan
was published, but the Green Paper on adult social care was nowhere to be seen. There has
been no word from the government on when it will be released.

To recap, the Green Paper idea was hatched in the wake of the Tories disastrous manifesto
commitment at the 2017 general election, which pledged to fund adult social care by
requiring users of the service to pay for care with equity held within their homes, should they
own one. The policy idea was said to be the brainchild of Nick Timothy, one of the prime
minister’s special advisers, and apparently not even discussed in Cabinet beforehand.
It was a bit of a back of a fag packet plan, which when I first heard about it I thought was a
very un-Tory like policy, and very risky to just spring on the electorate at a general election. It
almost certainly cost the Tories votes and contributed to the government losing its majority in
Parliament. It was quickly dubbed the ‘dementia tax’ and Tory MPs reported that it ‘went
down like a bucket of sick’ on doorsteps during the election campaign. Timothy was duly
sacked as an adviser.

There is broad agreement among politicians and health care professionals that this issue
does need to be sorted out. In the meantime, the government has found £410 million to give
to local authorities (in England) for adult and children’s social care and allowed them to
raise council tax by up to 6%, to get them through the coming year. This is just a sticking
plaster on a deep wound, but the Green Paper idea allows the government to kick this
particular can down the road, as they have done with many other issues.

Why there needs to be any more delay on this pressing issue is a mystery, government
Green Papers are only consultation documents after all. Quicker off the mark has been the
Local Government Association (LGA), who published their own ‘green paper’ in July last
year and the consultation closed on 26 September. The results have been analysed, and the
LGA has now published the findings. Over 540 people and interest groups submitted
responses, with more than 15,500 people looking at the LGA website about the green paper.

The consultation responses indicated that people like decisions about adult social care being
taken locally, by local authorities, so that local factors are taken into account, but worried
that this would lead to variations in the service across England. Many thought that the
service should be provided locally but guidelines should be decided nationally. Most people
thought that funding should be provided nationally, rather than covered by council tax.
The LGA estimates that by 2024-25 providing a good standard of care to all adults who need
it, will cost around £5 billion per year, and with an increasingly aged population costs will rise
even further after that. Most responses to the consultation made the point that more money
needs to be allocated to adult social care.

At the moment people who receive care are obliged to contribute towards the cost if they
have income and assets over £23,250, which 80% of respondents thought was too low an
amount. Just over half thought that this amount should be raised to £100,000, but that extra
funding from the government should also be provided.

The most popular option for respondents for raising this central funding was an increase in
National Insurance contributions (56%) from employees and employers, with a rise in
income tax (49%) the second most popular choice. 56% of people also said they would
support paying extra for specific social insurance to cover the costs of care, which could be
done through either National Insurance or some ring-fenced income tax.

I think that it is very unlikely that higher earners will have to cover most of the costs by
raising the top rate of income tax, because the Tories just don’t do that sort thing, even if the
fairness of this is obvious to most people.

Whatever scheme is eventually devised to pay for adult social care, the problem needs
addressing urgently, so the government should just get on with releasing the Green Paper,
to take this long overdue decision, and stop stalling.

Protester arrests at TransCanada pipeline show violence of Neo-Liberalism

On Monday the 7th of January 2019 the Canadian armed police force (RCMP tactical forces) broke the peaceful blockades formed in British Columbia and arrested 14 Wet’suwet’en people, escalating already high tensions over the proposed TransCanada oil pipeline.

The struggle against the proposed oil pipeline has been ongoing since 2010 when the first blockade was set up as the Unist’ot’en camp by members of the Wet’suwet’en nation. The Wet’suwet’en, a First Nations people who live on the Bulkley River, are opposed to the pipeline on the grounds of potential damage to the watershed and wildlife. However, their arguments go beyond damage to the environment and emphasise the rights of the people to the land, their right to self-determination, and the right to protect it for future generations. But their desire to protect the land comes from a deeper desire to preserve it not only for themselves but for the whole of Canada. In one of the videos of the siege, a protester tearfully pleads with the police that this is for “your families too” so they “can enjoy this beautiful land”.

The RCMP were acting on an injunction granted on December 14th, allowing them access to the road where the barricades have been erected in order to begin constructing the pipeline. The pipeline itself will cost $6.2 and is being built by CoastalGasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp. They received environmental certification in 2014 and have agreements from 20 First Nations groups whose land the pipe will lie but they have not had approval from the hereditary leaders of the Wet’suwet’en’s five clans, who are actively resisting the construction by erecting barricades and camps at the only bridge that can be crossed.

The pipeline has not just faced resistance from the Wet’suwet’en people but from people across Canada, who have taken to the streets in protest at the pipeline and the treatment of the first nations people struggling against it. Many protesters have highlighted the hypocrisy of the prime minister Justin Trudeau’s administration, in breaking their promises to respect and rekindle a relationship with the first nation peoples across Canada, after years of historic oppression and maltreatment.

The siege undertaken by the RCMP tactical force is part of a trend of international government-sanctioned, corporate take-over of indigenous lands. We have already witnessed both the Dakota access pipeline at standing rock and the Keystone pipeline leak (another TransCanada-owned pipeline), among others. But the violation of local people’s rights to determine the use of their land isn’t confined to America and Canada, the people of Preston new road in the north-west of the UK have been battling the construction of fracking sites since the government overturned a council decision to stop prevent their construction. So intertwined are these seemingly different struggles, that members of clans at standing rock have visited the local protesters at Preston new road to express solidarity and the protesters of Preston new road have returned the favour.

Whether it is North Lancashire or Dakota, across the world we are seeing a battle being fought between the wedded power of neoliberal governments and corporations against the environment and the people. Places like Standing Rock and now the Wet’suwet’en lands are the front-lines of this fightback and the tragedy of the unfolding siege in British Columbia begs the question, who benefits from all of this?