Tories have failed to learn lessons from Leveson

‘Those who don’t learn from History are doomed to repeat it’- George Santayana

Five and a half years ago, the Leveson Inquiry finished and its report published. However, when looking at news stories this week, Santayana’s famous quote comes to mind.

On Monday, Hugh Grant managed to reach an out of court settlement – a six figure sum, from the Mirror Group. This settlement was a result of the Mirror’s journalists hacking into Grant’s phone.

It is absolutely shocking that 7 years after the phone hacking scandal was first exposed, that cases are still continuing in court. It is even more disappointing that this case was settled outside of court. Whilst I don’t blame or question Grant’s decision, it would be far more beneficial for the country as a whole to see this case and see the whole extent of the Mirror’s wrong doing.

However, this case has more far reaching implications. Richard Desmond the proprietor of the newspapers, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star as well as the magazine OK!, has sold all his papers to the Mirror Group.

We must preserve our freedom of the press, it is a vital part of any liberal democracy and serves to inform the electorate and help them make decisions. However, as the Leveson inquiry uncovered, many newspapers and their journalists engage in illegal activity to help shape their stories. There clearly needs to be more and stronger oversight into press activity and greater accountability for their actions. Yet, the Mirror Group take over is being allowed to happen, with little investigation from government or Parliament.

Furthermore, having already conquered much of the American media market, Disney have now turned their attention to the UK market reportedly threatening to shut down Sky News.

Given Rupert Murdoch’s stranglehold on much of the UK media, these sort of interventions and amalgamations cannot be tolerated and require far more oversight and investigation. Otherwise, we risk our media becoming dominated by criminal activity and by a lack of plurality in views. It is of high importance that we don’t allow our media to become one sided or controlled by a small number of rich owners.

The reason why the phone hacking scandal and the findings from the Leveson inquiry came as such a big shock was because governments had papered over the cracks for years and had turned a blind eye to what was happening. There are grave concerns with the current moves by Disney and Mirror Group. It may already be too late to stop these moves, however, there is a solution.

The most damning part of the 2017 Conservative manifesto was the refusal to continue with the Leveson Inquiry Part 2. If Theresa May continues to pursue this path, she risks becoming a proponent of Santayana’s age-old quote. May has not learnt from the Leveson inquiry and now she is doomed to repeat its mistakes.

How Neo-Liberalism killed wage growth

The success of more radical politicians should not be a surprise, since the 1980s and the dawn of Neo-Liberalism the working class have suffered and inequality has widened.

Since the Thatcher era in the 80s, productivity has increased dramatically due to automation and technological advances. And whilst productivity rose, in soared the era of globalisation where workers wages have remained stagnant.

Keynes’s Golden Age vs Neo-Liberalism and the Washington Consensus:

A reason why we no longer tax the rich properly:

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: UK

^ In addition to this, 16 million working age people in the UK have less than £100 in savings, living paycheck to paycheck. Prior to 1980 the UK peoples were net savers, post 1980 you can see whats happened.

^ This chart shows that the majority of new income generated from the explosion of profits post 1980 has not been passed on to those who created those profits. It’s gone to our corporate elite, not the workforce.

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: USA

For a country that has no universal healthcare nor free education to spend that much on war does nothing more than create enemies with whom to fight. US total military spending + reserve = $1Trillion a year. For Comparison, Russia spends $60Billion. As does the UK. The banks however are making a killing off Arms in general.
What happened to executive pay post 1980: US

^ This doesn’t even cover their hard assets. This is just the excess cash they don’t know what to do with because there is virtually no return on investment to be found in the global economy and you can only buy so many shares before the returns do not match your outlay. It is now $12 Trillion and counting as of 2016 and its also a big driver behind a rising stock market above a stagnant global economy.

When wage theft took off the in the USA

UK- A mirror image

You can replicate this picture in most capitalist countries. A model exported via financial markets of the US & UK over the 1980’s and 90’s is now dominant. It is supply side economics or “neoliberal” economics as the media likes to say without a clue as to its history (nor the citizens of Chile murdered for its founding, but that’s another story).
Generally speaking, modern capitalist economics doesn’t give a damn how much money is in your pocket, you are only a consumer. Only when you can’t increase your consumption year on year by taking on more debt do the asset owning classes care (1929/2008) but only enough to pillage your country’s savings to allow them to keep lending you the wages you no longer get for what you produce for them per hour, and haven’t done since before 1980, never to change.
Indeed,it’s getting worse.

Points of interest:

66% of all shares globally are owned by 1% of the population. That 1% decide the board of directors who make decisions in their interests that effect the economics and thus lives of billions of people.

In the UK, half the working age population has less than £100 in the bank. Thats 16 million people. The next 4 million have less than £1000. These are working people, in their millions, that after working the entire year wouldn’t have enough left in the bank to pay for a new combi boiler. The USA and many other western nations are no better.

The solution:
Question: Do I think going back to the laws and tax rates of 1945 -> 1980 (a return to Keynesian economics) will help? NO. If we reverse history with laws, when we are grey and mostly gone, the new generation of the 1% will use their wealth to undo everything working people achieved, as they have done many times before. The repeat of history has to stop if this world is to survive, the instabilities of capitalism have to end if all our people are to live with dignity. And you can only do that with systemic change.

How Modern Socialism can solve these problems, and what Corbyn wants

Along with this is a law that UK Labour party will pass that states that any company selling up, merging, off shoring, or closing, its’ workers will be given the option to take control of and operate the company or the buildings and equipment that the company has here if a multinational chooses to leave, and the public bank Jeremy will create will provide the loans to do so.
The corporations will not be allowed to take the equipment and resources the UK taxpayer subsidised if they leave. The workers left behind take that over. It’s called Democracy @ work and Germany already has similar laws including that 45% of the board of directors of a company employing over 1000 people must be taken from the base work force. All combined, it’s a major reason why their manufacturing hasn’t buggered off to China.

If the UK/USA had these laws by 1980 the last 40 years would have been very different indeed. It would have made it so much more difficult for capitalism to abandon the country’s in which it grew up, and with the tools and factories left behind turned over to the workers the corporate elites would have to compete with the workers they left behind for their UK market share which they would lose once the word got out in favour of the UK workers at X factory v shoddy Chinese goods from x Global Capitalist Supranational Corporation.

We are told three lies regarding Karl Marx & Socialism by our historians, teachers, parents, media, and the defenders and beneficiaries of capitalism:

The Media Says Socialism is:
1) Central planning

2) Government ownership

3) Single party rule i.e. the USSR on wards …

He never wrote a single word on these three topics above, nor did he ever propose “an economic model to follow”. He was a critic of capitalism. For the private sector, he wanted nothing less than democracy at work in order to save capitalism from itself and save us from capitalism. He saw and documented the future from 150 years ago, and our leaders response was to discredit him through manipulations of economic fact and history taught from the youngest age in the farthest schools for eternity.

His entire and only focus was on the problems and injustices of capitalism and how to solve them, this is why our ‘Captains of Capitalism’, our education, our historians and the media have lied to us for generations. His life and writing are a danger to the slave master relationship that the asset owning classes want regardless of the country where they control the show, capitalism promised to get rid of this slave master relationship which is a hangover from feudalism with liberty, equality, and fraternity and then it failed to do so anywhere on this earth, instead creating a global version of the hunger games with a trans boarder capable elite.

In summary, Capitalism, has collapsed twice in 75 years and had 11 downturns in between for the USA, 6 for the UK, now entering the 12th/7th since the depression. We need to move far quicker than we are at reclaiming our economies for the many not the few.

Key Government Provider Carillon collapses under billion-pound debt

Carillon, one of the UK’s largest construction and management companies, has been forced into liquidation.

On Monday, after failing to negotiate a deal with the government and investors, the company responsible for huge public-sector redevelopment projects such as HS2 and Liverpool’s new Royal hospital filed for liquidation at the high court.

20,000 workers are set to be made redundant with the company’s pension fund £580m in the red, and debts rising to £1.5bn. Documents show Carillion had only £28m at the point of collapse. Alan, a construction worker from Uxbridge, said: “I never heard of any problems with Carillion, a company that big, awarded all those jobs.”

Over the last 30 years Carillion has been involved in virtually every major UK construction and redevelopment project: the redevelopment of Battersea power station, the Government’s communications hub, GCHQ, London 2012 Olympics, and the library of Birmingham. Carillion also run prisons, barracks and are responsible for delivering meals at several UK schools. Continuing, Alan said: Carillon only have themselves to blame, they used to under-bid to win jobs from competitors and then wouldn’t have enough money to finish the jobs.”

Carillon were awarded most of these jobs by various governments, both Labour and Tory. The outsourcing of public-sector work, to private contractors, policy favoured by Tony Blair has been a popular way of building new schools and hospitals ever since.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has remained vehemently opposed to private finance initiative’s (PFI’s) or so-called public-private partnerships today at PMQs said: “Carillion is not an isolated case and the system is broken.”

Corbyn asked why the warning signs were ignored, adding: “Over the last 6 months, the Government have awarded over £2bn worth of contracts to Carillion, it did so even after the share price was in free fall and when the company issued profit warnings.” Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, insisted Carillion’s financial problems “were not an issue” after the company successfully acquired HS2 contracts last July.

Phillip Green, Carillion CEO, a Conservative party donor, and business adviser to David Cameron, is set to still receive a huge £700k salary, just like former boss Richard Howson, who left the company more than a year ago. It raises huge questions on the competency and transparency of this government, who has issued 3 profit warnings to Carillion yet kept giving them huge government contracts. Corruption in this administration clearly played a role in crisis the company and it’s workers now face.

Thousands of young student apprentices are among the many workers currently in limbo waiting for a decision on their future. Last night the BBC reported the story of a young apprentice, Kyle, who was sent home from college without any explanation.
Alan said: “I’ve been made redundant before and its never the big guys who feel the brunt. It’s the small guys out here working, the grafters.”

Several warning signs were ignored, and questions regarding the competency of this government must be tabled. Critics have increasingly argued huge government contracts, instead of being awarded to huge companies like Carillion, should be spilt between smaller providers. Though, the collapse of Carillion forces one to think whether private companies should be entrusted with our vital public services at all. Writing for The Independent earlier this year, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, explained: “The privatisation of our public services has been national failure – it’s time to take back control.

“Labour will turn off the tap siphoning billions of pounds into shareholders’ pockets and ensure these vital services are run in the interests of the many, not the few.”

We must move away from Neo-Liberal economic illiteracy

Neoliberalism has been at the forefront of mainstream economics since its popular use by Augusto Pinochet, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Its ultimate aim was to undermine the use of Keynesian policies; moving away from a planned economy approach of the “Golden Age of Capitalism” to a new open economy with more private corporations and a stress on individualism. Throughout the thirty years of its use there have been countless theoretical and data inconsistencies. We find economic think tanks such as the OBR continuously moving back their predicated date to when the UK government will “plug” the government deficit (it was supposed to be plugged by 2015). Wall Street has had almost universal failure to actually predict market factors and Mark Carney from the Bank of England has himself stated “we are probably not going to forecast the next financial crisis”. This inconsistent data and theory is ultimately down to how vague the language is used by neoliberals. Some neoliberals, such as Blairites within the Labour Party, are economically liberal. This is in stark contrast to neoliberals on the right who argue for a laissez-faire/free market economy, which is ultimately doomed to fail in nature.

Yet despite these inconsistencies its use is still mainstream. Whilst the language is vague neoliberals do have a good use of metaphors which, to most people who don’t study economics, makes sense. Being told that a government budget is like a household budget and that there is no “magic money tree” seems easy to believe. This argument is then used to follow up with the idea that we need to plug the deficits, because deficits are bad. The final step for neoliberals is to argue for a tax cut so everyone can spend their increased disposable income into the economy. Neoliberals have simplified economics for most people to understand.

But here’s the catch. The argument they propose is nonsense. There is a magic money tree. Deficits aren’t necessarily bad. Tax cuts don’t work for everyone and in fact normally hurt the poorest.

Let’s touch on the idea that government budgets are like household budgets. It would be nice to think that Westminster is symbolically a big household trying to look out for everyone. Normal households have massive financial constraints; we heavily rely on one or two incomes within a household and need to spend just to get into next month. Normal households can possibly save, but that usually occurs with only higher earners since those at the bottom end are spending every penny to feed themselves and others at home. In 1983 Margaret Thatcher made a similar point in her party conference speech, arguing:
“The state has no source of money, other than the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more it can only do so by borrowing your savings, or by taxing you more. And it’s no good thinking that someone else will pay. That someone else is you.”

Thatcher was unsurprisingly wrong with this point. Unlike normal household budgets the government can find a way to spend more without borrowing, that being the very currency states issue. I myself can’t print my own money at home (that would be illegal counterfeit with me quickly going to jail), but governments can legally do this. If the UK government issues the pound then how can they run out of them? Simple, they can’t. As modern monetary theory works upon, any state that issues its own currency can never run out of money. Yet despite this we see many on the left play along with neoliberal language. Politicians such as Labour MP Liz Kendell argued that former chancellor, George Osborne, had merits in his budget. This is incredibly damaging to the image the left want to create. As the SNP have successfully done in Scotland, Labour must universally move away from the economic illiteracy of the Conservative Party and their use of language. And it’s on the right path with the leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn, but it must do so as a party to start arguing that there is in fact a magic money tree. By issuing our own currency and not borrowing from private banks this also has the added benefit of not paying anything on interest. And we use tax as a tool to remove money from circulation to control inflation.

The second point is the idea that a state must plug the government deficit. The deficit is the difference between how much a government spends into the economy in a given year and how much it gets back from taxation. So for example if a government spends, say, £100 million into the economy but only collects £80 million from taxation then our government deficit is £20 million. Neoliberals will screech to no end at how horrible such a scenario is and will label this as uncontrolled spending. Once again this language makes sense and is easy to simplify for others. In parliament any legislation proposals that could increase the deficit are quickly shot down with not much further analyse. But there is another side to the story which political commentators and politicians don’t tend to comment on as much. A government deficit of £20 million means that there is a public surplus of £20 million for the rest of society. So really a government deficit adds pound assets to other parts of the economy. What we must instead ask ourselves is if the deficit we currently have is serving a purpose that does good for the broader public.

So yes, it’s okay to have a deficit. What we want to achieve is an equitable balance in the distribution of a surplus for the majority.

The third argument employed by neoliberals is tax cuts. They argue that by cutting taxes for everyone (although you find most right wing parties tend to cut it far more favourably for the rich and maybe do the opposite for the poorest) that this will allow households to increase their disposable income and spend it into the economy. And once again it does make sense at face value. But this goes against the understanding of how people actually spend their disposable income. If you are amongst the poorest in society then in reality you are likely to face a tax rise whereas the benefits of a tax cut will actually go to the top 10%. If you’re in the top 1% then these tax cuts almost guarantee you a lifetime of partying with your rich mates.

When studying economics we use a term called the “marginal propensity to consume” (MPC) which helps us understand how much every extra pound we receive will be spent into the economy. If you’re a fan of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime then ask yourself this: what is Jeremy Clarkson going to spend his increased earnings on? Or what about some of the wealthiest footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo? If they gain, say, around £500 million from these tax cuts then how will they spend it? Will they decide to buy a dozen more cars from the ones they already have? Will they take their families of more vacations throughout the year? Maybe around 1% of the 1% may do this, but the vast majority of them won’t.
The wealthiest have already consumed what they’ve always wanted. By increasing their disposable income they won’t actually add anymore new spending into the economy. We won’t see new spending help create jobs for those who seek work. What this tax cut really allows is for the wealthiest to buy shares, stocks and real estate. These investments with their new disposable income benefits the top 10%. What we instead find is that such investments actually driving up prices and lock out millions of consumers. Whilst real estate markets could go up in wealth what we won’t see is a large increase in growth and employment.

The vast majority of the time since the 80s the UK has had a deficit. Whilst neoliberals have obsessed in trying to close it they have only allowed inequality and poverty to increase. It was only a few weeks ago we heard that research from the British Medical Journal found that austerity has killed over 120,000 people in England and Wales alone, despite the slow decrease in the deficit. We must move away from the neoliberal argument and instead form a new debate. The question no longer is about how we close the deficit but instead how we use it.

We must form new language and metaphors to counter the illiteracy of the right. What we need more than ever is a new economic approach for shared prosperity.

The Tory budget: Too little, too late

The Tory Budget, tackled section by section

Let us begin with Stamp Duty….not a lot to say here. It’s a nice move with good intentions: to benefit first time buyers who inevitably have lower incomes. However, we are faced with a housing crisis. That crisis consists of two things:

  1. Lack of houses/not enough being built
  2. High house prices

Is this move going to solve either of those? No, it will not (indeed there is a suggestion that this will increase house prices). But it is certainly a step in the right direction; making it easier to buy your first house. 9/10 for good intentions. 4/10 for positive impact. We would have been naive to expect much more from the Tories in terms of resolving the housing crisis.

Moreover, giving councils the ability to charge 100% council tax on empty properties is another empty move; if you can afford to own an empty house, you can afford to pay the council tax on it. Why not use some government intervention to disincentivize owning multiple homes, thus increasing the supply of homes without having to build anymore. Or why not build enough affordable homes so that all those that need them can afford them?

Moving onto National Living Wage. We see a nice increase here. A Tory theme; nice idea, but it’s not really going to help. A 33p increase per hour is hardly ground breaking, but still, 10/10 for effort. Again it’s a watered down Labour policy lacking guts.

Growth forecast is down, this shouldn’t surprise us. This is arguably the ‘Brexit effect’, although the UK has seen depressing growth forecasts for many years before Brexit. For those who believe the poor economic growth is down to the government, let me give you some A Level economic theory. There is a school of thought that suggests that each nations’ economy has a ceiling. It will only ever be so strong. We have seen the UK’s economic growth slow in the past decade; there are those who believe that is because we are reaching the limit in terms of the size of our economy, whereas a nation such as China that has a far higher year on year growth, still has plenty of growing to do before it too reaches its limit. I’m not saying I support this argument, but it’s an effective evaluation of poor growth forecasts. Saying this UK is the worst-performing advanced economy in the world this year. Brexit really has caused a downturn, and the chancellor has set aside £3 billion to cope with the Brexit problem.

The state of borrowing:
To explain this, I am first going to provide another A Level economics chain of argument: borrowing money (which both Labour and Tory governments do), is a form of austerity. Let me explain. When a government borrows money, it pays back debt interest on that borrowed money. That means that every year until the government pays back that chunk of money in full, the economy is suffering in the short term. Let’s have a hypothetical example. A government somehow manages to borrow £100bn. In the short term, they would have a lot of money to play with, and would suddenly be able to fix our beloved NHS, end austerity, and cut income tax for the poorest in our society. In the longer term (15 – 20 years) this would be disastrous. The debt interest on that £100bn would accumulate, and eventually, the lovely little pie chart we get each year on where our taxes go, would be full of one thing: debt interest. It should be noted that each year, the government HAS to pay this back, and they’re not actually cancelling any of the debt; they’re merely cancelling the interest that they have accumulated on that debt. They pay it back in the knowledge that the following year, the debt interest will be a little bit more.

With that in mind, the Tories have committed to borrowing less, which we like, but instead of borrowing money from banks, why not get charming individuals like Lord Ashcroft to pay their tax. As a result, we’ll have to borrow less money, which means less debt interest to come and bite us in 10 years’ time. For those Corbyn supporters out there, I remind you that solving austerity by borrowing more money is a short term solution. In the long term, it simply leads to more austerity, unless you invest it properly.

Another socialist school of thought argue that taxes on the rich should be higher, thus raising more money that we can use to improve the welfare of those worst off in our society. However, I present you with an interesting economic diagram. Behold the Laffa Curve.

It argues that there becomes a point when tax (whether it be corporation or income) should not be raised further, because doing so will decrease tax revenue. Time for another extreme example. Say the government raised corporation tax to 90%. Would that lead to a huge increase in tax revenue? No, because the vast majority of firms and businesses would simply jump ship, and stop operating in the UK, or find a way to optimize or even avoid their tax liability. Increasing the tax rate beyond a certain point does not lead to increased revenue, because corporations and firms alike will find a way of avoiding said tax.

Now the Laffa Curve certainly does need evaluating; it was conceived to justify Reagan’s huge cut in top level income tax, a move that was disastrous for the US’s budget deficit.

Other key points: some nice moves to address issues with welfare and pensions, but as ever, is it enough to make a difference to peoples’ lives? Perhaps not.

£2.8bn more for the NHS: this falls short of what the NHS needs, but again, a good move, and a step in the right direction. [id1] More money is needed for our NHS, but this is a good move, and will make a difference. Labour’s promise to fund our NHS in the last election. They pledged £37bn over 5 years; the issue however is they intended to fund it with ‘capital borrowing and tax increases’. Capital borrowing, as we have discussed can be problematic in the long term.

No mention of HS2, or a 3rd runway at Heathrow. One word on large infrastructure projects in the UK; as a society, we suffer from Nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard….ism). China is a nation with many flaws. But they get stuff done. When they decide to build an airport, they choose a location, give those who will have to leave their homes some money, and then build the airport. From mentioning building the airport to the first plane landing in 10 years at most. They get stuff done, and it’s good for their economy. In the UK, it has taken us 3 decades to get anywhere near building a new runway. Obviously, we shouldn’t be like China, but nimbyism is hypocritical; I’d love another runway so I can go on holiday quicker and for less money, but just don’t build it near my house.

Parting remarks; a solid 6/10 for effort from the Tories today. However, much of what has been announced will have a minimal impact. As others have said, the theme of the budget is ‘too little, too late’. The budget isn’t a ‘total disaster’ as I’ve seen some people argue, but nor does it ‘build a Britain fit for the future’ as the Tories are arguing. For those Labour MPs who have shouted it down, whilst of course I agree it isn’t ideal, and there are areas that need more money (the NHS), and areas that have been cut that shouldn’t have been cut (the Single Intelligence Account and the Foreign Office), I question to what extent Labour’s current economic plan would be able to provide a better budget. Labour need to up their game, and I’m willing them on.

A Conservative budget, if not a show of fiscal cruelty, a lesson in grandstanding.

After an embarrassing budget u-turn in March, today, neither Hammond or May could afford to make any mistakes. In review, Hammond can be happy that his performance was gaffe-free, but apart from that there isn’t much else to commend.
He began by declaring his vision for Britain saying: “I see a future full of new opportunities outside the EU,” adding: “a good deal with the EU is a top priority but we must prepare for every possibility.” He announced an extra £3bn will be set aside for a pre-existing budget of £700m for Brexit preparations. In short, under increasing pressure from raging backbench Brexiteers, Hammond has flung some money at the Brexit problem.
The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), an independent body set up by George Osborne to provide economic forecasts, has predicted productivity and GDP growth will fall from their previously thought 2.0% to 1.5% this year, in theory meaning as a country we have less money. The OBR has also predicted the amount of money the government borrows will fall from £58.2bn to £49.9bn. But, lets be clear, if this reduced borrowing is in fact achieved, it won’t be due to ethical fiscal ‘conservatism’ from the Tories, but rather because of devastating cuts to those most vulnerable in our society.
A fall in productivity and GDP means less money for the government, and an inevitable increase on working class taxation, the government will undoubtedly have to borrow more money, so Hammond’s plans and the OBR’s numbers just simply do not add up. Of course, though, Hammond masquerades these inaccuracies with organised skits – a pack of couch sweets handed to him by the PM.

In his rebuttal, Jeremy Corbyn said: “As liberals we love to share polices,” and Tories certainly love to steal them. After weeks of hounding, the government will finally remove the 7-day waiting period on Universal Credit, the right to benefits will now begin on the same day of the claim. The re-payment period will also be increased from 6 to 12 months.
The National Living Wage will be increased from £7.50 to £7.83, which is not nearly enough, but certainly progress. Also, Hammond proudly announced the top 1% are now paying a higher share of tax, the problem is they’re still earning considerable more than everyone else – not to mention the money that is being siphoned offshore and therefore not eligible to be taxed.
An injection of £2.8bn will be pumped into the NHS, and ironically £350 million will be available immediately, that is what they promised, right? The problem is it is HALF of what Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, said the service needs to survive.
£28 million will be given to Kensington and Chelsea council to support the rebuilding of the community around Grenfell, this will include the developments of a community space and mental health services. So, instead of being housed like they’re asking for, victims of Grenfell can look forward to a nice visit to a community centre built by the inept council responsible for the tragedy. Councils will also be given extra powers to tax the owners of houses left empty up to 100%. The only problem is, if you’re rich enough to buy a house and leave it empty, you’re probably not worried about that.
In the headline grabbing announcement, Hammond has abolished stamp duty for all first-time buyers, on properties up to £300,000, supposedly meaning 80% of all first-time buyers will not have to pay the controversial tax. Although a welcome charge for many of us, this really does little to tackle the actual problem of having nowhere to live.
In a devastating fact check, the OBR have just announced: “we expect this to increase house prices by 0.3 per cent, most of this effect is expected to occur in 2018.” This would mean that first-time buyers would in fact be paying more for their house, which only benefit pre-existing home owners who are already on the housing ladder.
There was little mention of a goal to ‘balance the books’, maybe the Tories have finally given up on fixing the mess they’ve created. In conclusion, this was a budget of dire economic performance and even worse predictions. If May does the unthinkable and remains in office for term, we can look forward to continued austerity, higher taxes, and a failing NHS.

Millennials just want a solution to the housing crisis – and Labour have it

Today the Tories, in another pathetic attempt to win young votes, announced they will be introducing a Millennial’s Railcard. But if they want to win young votes they need to fix the housing crisis, as it remains the greatest problem for young people today.
The dramatic rise in house prices that has gone untempered since the dawn of Neo-Liberalism has had a dramatic impact on youth home ownership. Home ownership is at a 30 year low, and the percentage of 25-34yr olds on the property ladder has fallen to 37%, down from nearly 60% 10 years ago. The average house now costs 8x the average annual wage.
Claims from Tory ministers that our young should simply “buy less sandwiches” show how completely out of touch the government is with the problem. Millennials are the first generation in history to be called entitled for wanting housing and education. How dare they want these wild luxuries. But to spell out how bad it has become here’s a handy graphic, of the ridiculous rise in prices.

The phrase I often hear when discussing housing with people is “I have no idea how your generation will get on the property ladder”. Luckily the political parties have had some ideas, there manifesto commitments are listed below.
Labour have pledged to build 1 Million new homes, and half of these will be affordable homes, and impose rent controls in London. Driving down prices, allowing more people to own homes.The Tories say they’ll build more but won’t commit to a number of homes.
From this we can clearly see the difference between the two major parties. Labour want decisive state action to cure the problem and increase home ownership by building a decent number of affordable homes. The Conservatives will do nothing.
This is why the young have flocked to Corbyn’s banner, that unrealistic and luxurious promise of a home.
But will Corbyn’s plan work? Are more homes and more affordable homes truly the answer to this failing market? Yes is the simple answer to both questions.

The decisions by Thatcher’s government to stop building social homes started the problem. And no party since has decided to reverse that decision. The building of social housing is at an all time low under this Tory government, we have seen a 97% percent drop in the number of government funded social homes since the Tories came to power.The problem has a simple fix, build more affordable houses. The new budget proposals on housing will be like sticking a sticking plaster on a leaking nuclear reactor. Only Corbyn’s solutions on housing will really cure the problem.
The Problem the Tories and Liberal Democrats face is the top down state action needed to fix the housing crisis is not in their ideology. They are not Socialists, like Labour, and believe in free market solutions which have failed.
Worse than this the Tory party has been corrupted on housing policy. Firstly 128 Tory MPs are landlords. Secondly the Tory party is backed by a number of property firms, who pay them £3.3 Million in donations. Neither of these people want Corbyn flooding the market with cheap state housing bringing down their profits. Monied interests have yet again corrupted the Tory party into making decisions designed for the rich, not the people.
Even worse than this is political aims of the Tory party when designing housing policy. According to Nick Clegg the Tories refused to build more social housing due to the fact it might have long term impacts on elections. In a meeting with Osbourne and Cameron one of them stated ‘I don’t understand why you keep going on about the need for more social housing – it just creates Labour voters.’
The Tories will never fix the housing crisis, we need a Labour government for that.

Reckless Tory Cuts Are Costing The Treasury Millions

81 percent of voters aged 18-19 did not vote Tory on June 8th. Labour are now more popular than the Tories among those aged less than 47. However it wasn’t just the student vote that flocked to Corbyn. Labour saw a surge in all voters under the age of 40 years old. Those born in the age of Neo-Liberalism.
Corbyn has a unique appeal to the young voter, a long term plan for this country.
So often politicians are criticized for only caring a few years in the future. As they say, a week is a long time in politics. But the rot of short term thinking began, ironically, long ago. The selling off of public assets for short term buck at the expense of future generations. Thatcher sold of British Rail, BT, North Sea Oil, our energy companies, etc, etc. The public sector gutted to maintain low taxes and a easy life for the older generations.
And that ideology continued, under Blair with PFIs, and under Cameron and May with the Royal Mail, academies and more and more of our NHS.
An ideology that can barely see past the next budget, let alone the next election is not good for the future of this country. If the Tories want to win the votes of the young they need to show some long term economic plan. Because reckless cuts are just causing long term problems and only end costing us more and more.
I have often heard Theresa May proudly boast at Prime Minister’s questions that this Tory government has spent more than Labour planned to spend on the NHS. That should not be a boast.

We are spending all this extra money because of the cuts. Not despite them. The £1.4 billion cut in real spending to social care has only forced people into A&E. Costing us more in the long run. The effects of cutting the social care budget have been enormous. 19% of people now wait more than 4 hours to be seen at A&E. The government target is for that number is 5%. The government has sold the roof to repair the carpet. The NHS simply cannot handle the extreme workload it’s being forced to take on. In addition, the drastic cuts simply cause many NHS trust to run deficits.

Deficits run by these trusted will have to be payed off in additional government borrowing. If we budgeted properly for our NHS, it would help reduce our borrowing in the public sector. Spending more, would be spending less.
But Jeremy Hunt is not the only guilty man in the Tory cabinet. Freezing the public sector pay whilst increasing workload has created a hiring crisis. Especially in nursing and teaching. The money that could be used rewarding teachers and nurses for their hard-work is being spent on agency fees. As the government must expend more money trying to hire workers to massively underpaid jobs. We have nurses using food banks, for no real saving to the Treasury.
And the examples go on and on. The failure to build enough houses has skyrocketed the housing benefit bill. The Tories are cutting corners to save money, which in the long ends up costing the taxpayer. Investment into these sectors would truly save the government the most amount of money. It must be noted that the Tories failure to build social housing is ideological. With many party donors having shares in the real estate business it would not please them to have the market flooded by cheap state housing. In addition Nick Clegg declared in 2016 that Cameron refused to build more social housing because it would create more Labour voters.
Privatisation is another example. The most recent privatization to be made by our government was Royal Mail. Prompting Dennis Skinner’s infamous quip to Blackrod in 2013, “Royal Mail for sale, Queen’s head privatized”. The Royal Mail was sold in 2013 for £3.3bn. Shares in the company then rocketed 40% in the same day. The Mail now makes profits of over £300 million a year. The same story occurred in the sales of Lloyds and RBS, both now post profits in the billions.
Short term gain for long term loss. If we want to get our deficit down we must look towards true investment to help save the treasury money in the long term.

Portugal shows Corbyn’s economic plan is strong and stable

We have been told time and again that Corbyn’s economic policies are in the land of fantasy. That he’d bankrupt us before bedtime and send us back to the 1980s in Venezuala. Portugal’s Socialist government have shown that to be a malicious lie spread by those who serve the Conservative party.

Portugal went a similar way to Britain after the financial crash and following European debt crisis. It elected a Conservative government to cut it’s debt in 2011. However it did need a bail out from the IMF which it received on the promise of Austerity reforms, the bailout was €78bn.

Just like in our nation services were privatised, VAT raised and public sector jobs took a pay freeze if they were lucky. Education got a 23% cut, health and social security went the same way.

The result was 17.5% Unemployment in 2013, a 41% jump in company bankruptcies and year after year of net economic decline. The best annual GDP growth of the nation was 0.9% in 2014. Every other year saw the economy shrink.

However in 2015 a Socialist coalition got into power. Their radical reforms included raising the minimum wage, lifting a freeze on pensions and cancelling pay cuts for civil servants. Sound familiar? The clincher, to really show they are the Portuguse Corbyn’s Labour, they introduced 4 new bank holidays.

The opponents of this government pronounced it fairy-tale economics. Sure to bankrupt the economy.

That didn’t happen.

What did was a full economic recovery. The economic growth jumped, 13 quarters of consecutive growth followed. Unemployment reduced by 7.7% since it’s peak.
Now Socialist government’s have a reputation of creating short-term growth at a long-term cost.

When I informed one of my centrist writers of their recovery he said this:
“The problem with Socialist governments is they can generate short-term growth but pile on the debt long term”

Portugal has halved its deficit in two years. Our austerity measures have taken off 3/4 in 7 years, but we will not achieve a balanced budget until 2025 if Theresa May is to be believed.

We do not need austerity to reduce our debt. And we cannot continue with Austerity if we wish to keep our public services.

Investment led growth is the way to go.