The adverts are for a range of items from the John Lewis home appliance range.
25 April 2009
"Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said it was not financially possible.Teaching union the NUT has likened the plan to Labour's secondary city academies, which it says are failing.NUT National Executive member Kevin Courtney said: "When you study these schools, [they] are improving their results by changing pupil population so that social segregation is coming in again."That's what we're worried about with this Tory proposal. It's a return to deregulation and privatisation and a return to social segregation."
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates added: "Having already announced academies will be the norm for secondary schools, this proposal for primary schools completes the Tories' blueprint for the dismantling of state education."These plans are the naked marketisation of education and will place thousands of children and young people at the mercy of private, voluntary and independent providers."
Lord Mandelson has claimed his long running feud with Gordon Brown ruined his political career.
“It was a source of great sorrow and more to me that from 1994 onwards we were unable to get on. It wrecked my political career… in obvious ways.”
The relationship between Brown and Mandelson has been notoriously rocky since Mandelson backed then Shadow Home Secretary, Tony Blair, for the Labour leadership over the presumed heir, Brown.
"One friend of Mr Blair said: "Tony thought the original proposal to raise the top rate to 45 pence was just about saleable in the current economic circumstances."But he believes taking 50 per cent is not acceptable. It would not have happened if he was still there. He thinks it's a terrible mistake."One of Mr Blair's closest allies said: "The 50p tax move is a disaster. Blair would have cut taxes, not increased them."
24 April 2009
25% Jack Straw (14/1)
20% David Miliband (7/1)
10% Alan Johnson (7/1)
8% Ed Miliband (10/1)
4% Harriet Harman (3/1)
2% Ed Balls (14/1)
2% James Purnell (8/1)The balance of the responses were “none” or “don’t know”. Interestingly Harriet did better amongst Tory supporters with 7% saying they would prefer her.
I think this is largely down to the explosion of Twitter and linking from my blogs on LabourList and Next Left.
Thanks to everyone who has read the blog! Hopefully next month will be even higher!
Speculation that the race may be dropped from the F1 calender when it was announced that Donington Park owner Tom Wheatcroft is taking legal action against the track's leaseholders for unpaid rent. He also wants the lease declared void.
Bernie Ecclestone thinks it will be a 'disgrace' if the British government does not step in to ensure that the British Grand Prix is not dropped from the Formula 1 calendar.
The Government spends billions supporting other spots, not to mention the investment in the 2012 olympics. Why should Formula One be any different?
Even World championship leader Jenson Button has expressed his unhappiness at the situation."As a British driver, and motorsport is very British, it would be very disappointing not to race in my home country," he said. "I don't live in the UK, I live in Monaco, but I'm very British and very patriotic and it would be a disaster.
23 April 2009
I am immensely proud of many of the Labour governments achievements over the past 12 years. The minimum wage, maternity and paternity leave, civil partnerships, Sure Start centres, devolution, the London mayoralty, free entry to national museums – all of these have impacted massively on people’s everyday lives for the better.
I have spent much of my time as a Labour member largely agreeing with our agenda, although often lamenting that the Government did not go far enough on some vital reforms. I do not carry any residual anger over the war in Iraq, having been an early supporter of the action. The part privatisation of the Royal Mail, although not a policy I would pursue, seems justifiable given the limited future for a cumbersome postal service. I may have strongly disagreed with 42 day detention but I have wondered whether a Government who was willing to stake so much political capital on an unpopular policy had legitimate reason to call for such draconian measures.
But yesterday’s budget left me fuming at the Labour governments policies. It was not the new 50% tax rate that infuriated me, as I generally support the measure to ensure those who can most afford it shoulder more of the tax burden; I was delighted with the pledge to offer new training and jobs to the under 25’s and felt that the scrappage scheme could give a much needed boost to the car component manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom.
What is unforgivable is the dire state of the public finances that was laid out for all to see yesterday and the complete lack of willingness to tackle the growing mountain of debt. There seems to be an unwillingness to discuss this problem at the highest level of government for fear we give credibility to Tory attacks.
But the figures speak for themselves. Britain will borrow £175 billion this year and £173 billion in 2010. This is a higher total of government borrowing in two years than in the entirety of the 316 years since King William introduced the national debt. This is equivalent to 11.9% of GDP in borrowing this year alone. It is worth noting that the official level the EU regards as acceptable as a maximum for any member state is 3%.
If growth figures are as optimistic as the Chancellor suggests, Government debt will still reach a staggering 79% of GDP in 2013/14. This is higher than the United States, whose mind boggling deficits we have gawked at with disbelief. It is also a higher national debt than Germany, France, Canada, Portugal, India, Pakistan, and Brazil, to name merely a few.
Arguably more realistic growth forecasts released by Citigroup indicate that national debt will eventual reach 90 per cent of GDP, with public debts at £1.6 trillion in 2013/14.
This staggering burden is not simply the result of extortionately expensive bank bailouts - public spending is poised to jump to about 48 per cent of national income next financial year, a figure not seen for 27 years. Investment in education, healthcare and infrastructure should be commended. But sound fiscal policy is not a uniquely conservative or progressive cause. It is the foundation of good economic management and up until as recently as six months ago the Government was reiterating its belief that the burden of public-sector net debt should not rise higher than 40% of GDP. Optimistic estimates put it at double this figure within 4 years.
I am by no means advocating that the Government slashes vital public services and much needed help for those worst hit by the recession. A number of the measures we have advocated are vital to ensuring, as Alistair Darling stated, we do not leave people on the scrap heap. The under 25’s are particularly susceptible to rising unemployment and we must target resources to ensure they remain in education, training or the work place.
But offering this help can not obscure the need for clear and decisive action to enable fiscal recovery. This is likely to include painful spending cuts across Government and a willingness to make a progressive case for increased taxation.
Otherwise we face the prospect of storing up even more severe spending restrictions for the next administration, giving the Conservatives an excuse to attack the public sector budget with an axe, thus potentially destroying Labour’s legacy of investing in education and healthcare. We can make the tough decisions now or we can allow the Tories to hide their agenda under the veil of fiscal responsibility. Either way, it’s going to painful.
The Financial Times says "a wide and deep chasm" lay in front "but it turned out that he had only the materials for a short and rickety bridge."
Jeremy Warner of the Independent says "this was one of the most unconvincing and wrong-headed" recent Budgets.
The Daily Express concludes that "the nation is hurtling towards bankruptcy at breakneck pace".
Nearly all agree that history was made in the Budget.
The Guardian calls it "a return to class politics" - the Daily Telegraph calls it "class war".
The Daily Mail describes the new 50% upper tax rate as "a stake driven through the heart of New Labour".
The Times thinks "it is a declaration of economic and political war on the country's entrepreneurial class".
The Telegraph says it is "shabby cynicism" and comments: "They will not be forgiven for it."
'Robin Hood chancellor'
The Daily Mirror stands alone in applauding the Budget. "Just the job," it says.
It hails Alistair Darling as "the Robin Hood chancellor", saving the day by being "bold Labour", if not old Labour, and taxing the rich to "help the poor".
The Independent says tax will certainly be "the election battleground".
The Sun says the disposition of the forces for that campaign are now clear: "Labour is back to its high-tax, high-spending roots."
22 April 2009
"Building Britain's Future" is the optimistic title of the U.K. government's latest budget. "Burying Britain's Future" would have been more accurate."
"Any advantages the U.K. might once have had as a low-tax base for international business have now been jettisoned."
"Faced with a similar collapse in its public finances and a potential loss of international investor confidence, the Irish government bit the bullet, introducing sharp tax rises, steep cuts to public spending and savage cuts to public sector pay. Yet the British government has chosen to blatantly disregard a clear warning from the Governor of the Bank of England that the UK could not afford any further fiscal stimulus with a further discretionary spending boost equivalent to 0.5% of GDP."
“Sound fiscal policy isn’t Conservative or progressive, it’s just plain smart for everyone.”- Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco & candidate for Governor of California
Gavin Newsom yesterday announced his official candidacy for Governor of California. In his announcement video he contained this little gem that I felt so simply and concisely summed up the way I feel about economic management.
I found myself debating with a friend over lunch that this new higher rate for those earning over £150,000 was not that high when put in to an international perspective - but soon realised that I didn't in fact know whether this was the case.
So I began to scour around to see if any table existed to compare the rates of corporate, income and sales tax for the major economies around the world. The best that I have managed to find is this (click for enlarged image):
Apologies for the rather messy graph. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
I was surprised to see that the highest rate of taxation (the new 50% rate) in the United Kingdom is amongst the most punishing in the world. I am a fundamental supporter of ensuring those on the highest incomes are taxed fairly and that our taxation system reflects are desire to see a more equal society. But in a globalised society where capital is footloose and fancy free, how can we expect to keep these earners?
Perhaps we need an American style tax system where being a US citizen means you are taxed on your income no matter where you work in the world?
But the scale of public debt is now at astonishing levels.
According to The Spectator:
Britain will borrow £175 billion this year, £173 billion the year after — a higher total in two years than in the entirety of the 316 years since King William introduced the national debt.Absolutely mind boggling...
The report states that 53% of the general public would support an increase in tax to tackle improve public finances. 35% would prefer reduced spending on public services.
Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the TreasuryBBC News
Mr Hammond said that his party would not make a priority of reversing the
new higher rate of income tax for high earners proposed today.
"We know from history that high marginal rates of tax are
inefficient that they create all sorts of problems," he said.
"This can't be our priority, we cannot propose to reverse the
50p rate," he added.
"There are much more important priorities"He said the priority for the Conservatives would be the increase in National Insurance contributions which
"will really risk choking off the recovery".
Mr Hammond criticised the Chancellor's proposals not to
introduce curbs on public spending until 2011, arguing that significant
savings could be made earlier.
In its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, the IMF predicts that
recession in the UK will be "quite severe", with the economy shrinking by
4.1% this year, and continuing to contract, by 0.4%, in 2010. In the budget,
Darling forecast 1.25%
growth in 2010.
The IMF did however acknowledge that Britain will suffer less than Germany and Japan.
The IMF expects Germany's GDP to shrink by 5.6% this year, and Japan's
export-dependent economy, which has seen industrial production plummet, to contract by a catastrophic 6.2%.
CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL
• Alcohol and cigarettes taxes to go up 2% from midnight
• Fuel duty to rise by 2p per litre from September
CAR SCRAPPAGE SCHEME
• From next month motorists to get £2,000 discount on new cars if they trade in cars older than 10 years - this will remain in place until March 2010
• Economy forecast to shrink 3.5% in 2009
• Growth expected to pick up in 2010, expanding by 1.25%.
• Economy to grow by 3.5% annually from 2011
• Public borrowing to increase to £175bn this year
• Borrowing levels to rise by £173bn, £140bn, £118bn and £97bn in years after
• Consumer price inflation to fall to 1% by end of year.
OTHER TAX MEASURES
• Income tax for those earning more than £150,000 to rise to 50% from April 2010
Tax relief on pensions for those paid more than £150,000 to be reduced
JOBS AND TRAINING
• Government support for economy to protect 500,000 jobs
• All long-term unemployed under 25s to be offered job or training
• £1.7bn additional resources for Job Centre network
• £250m funding to help people get work experience in growth industries
Funding to create 54,000 new places in sixth form education
• Scheme to guarantee mortgage backed securities to boost lending
• Stamp duty holiday for homes up to £175,000 to be extended to end of year
• Extra £80m for shared equity mortgage scheme
£500m to kickstart stalled housing projects
£100m for local authorities to build energy efficient homes
£50m to upgrade housing for the armed forces
An extra £9bn in efficiency savings is planned
Public spending to be cut from 1.1% next year to 0.7% in 2011-2012
You can grow your way out a recession, you can not cut your way out.less than 5 seconds ago from web
Tax free ISAs - increased limit to £10.5k!1 minute ago from web
State pension up by 2.5% #budget2 minutes ago from web
...although makes me wonder why Labour hasn't been giving bold progressive budgets for the past twelve years. Hmmm... #budget3 minutes ago from web
Grandparents who care for kids will earn towards state pension! This budget is amazing! #budget3 minutes ago from web
Child Poverty: child tax credit will increase by £20. Kids with disability will get extra £100 - £200 in child trust fund. #budget4 minutes ago from web
New funding mechanism for new genertion of power plants7 minutes ago from web
£525m of new support over 2 years for offshore wind. #budget8 minutes ago from web
First Carbon Budget!9 minutes ago from web
We are ahead of every other major economy in reaching our Kyoto targets! #budget9 minutes ago from web
New funds for emerging tech - bio, digital etc #budget9 minutes ago from web
Broadband to be expanded to almost every community! #budget11 minutes ago from web
£100m for local authorities to build energy efficient homes #budget12 minutes ago from web
£50m for army housing modernisation #budget12 minutes ago from web
@Daryn_mccombe The kept the top tax thing quiet! Very bold. Makes me warm and fuzzy inside...13 minutes ago from web in reply to Daryn_mccombe
£500m of extra support for house building. #budget14 minutes ago from web
61 new hospitals, 140 new schools and modernisation of public transport... Capital investment to continue at high levels #budget17 minutes ago from web
@kevpeel You missed the best bit! New top tax rate!18 minutes ago from web in reply to kevpeel
Now all the efficiency savings yabbering. Increased savings.... etc etc #budget19 minutes ago from web
The headline from this is without a doubt going to be the new top rate of tax. 50% on those earning above £150,000. Very bold! #budget19 minutes ago from web
Alcohol up 2p tonight! Lets go drinking! #budget21 minutes ago from web
NEW RATE OF TOP TAX 50% FOR THOSE EARNING OVER £150,000!!!! #budget21 minutes ago from web
NEW RATE OF TOP TAX 50% FOR THOSE EARNING OVER £150,000!!!!21 minutes ago from web
I am not proposing to increase taxes on incomes this year. But as economy recovers it is right we take additional steps. #budget22 minutes ago from web
1/4 of all money for pension tax relief goes to top 1.5% alone!23 minutes ago from web
It is important that everyone is encouraged to save for their retirement. #budget23 minutes ago from web
Tough decisions, but fair decisions #budget24 minutes ago from web
"We need ot help people now. We need to maintain key public services now." #budget24 minutes ago from web
"We need ot help people now. We nee dot maintain key public services now." #budget24 minutes ago from web
As share of GDP, borrowing will be 11.9% of GDP next year. Ouch. #budget25 minutes ago from web
Our deficit (public sector net borrowing) this year will be 12% of GDP26 minutes ago from web
Cuts now would choke off recovery and prevent investment in the future #budget26 minutes ago from web
Tightening of 0.8% of GDP until 2013/1427 minutes ago from web
How to rescue public finances... Uh oh #budget28 minutes ago from TwitterFon
"We chose to act because it is the right thing to do."29 minutes ago from TwitterFon
We will implement scrappage scheme of £2k when selling car over 10 years old30 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Top up trade credit insurance schemes. Whatever that means... #budget30 minutes ago from TwitterFon
"Additional support for those who lose their jobs and new help for for people to get on property ladder"31 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Introduction of scheme to guarantee securities backed by mortgages #budget32 minutes ago from TwitterFon
From next year anyone under age of 25 who have been unemployed for one year will get guaranteed job or training #budget34 minutes ago from TwitterFon
We will not repeat mistake of generation of young people left on scrap heap35 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Additional £1.7bn of support to get back in to job market #budget36 minutes ago from TwitterFon
RPI -3% by September #budget37 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Unemployment rate 4.5% #budget38 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Economy to grow by 3.5% from 201139 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Science base investment increased by 88% in past 10 years!40 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Economy to grow by 1.25% in 201040 minutes ago from TwitterFon
British economy to suffer less than Japan and Eurozone this year41 minutes ago from TwitterFon
-3.5% growth this year!41 minutes ago from TwitterFon
"no quick fixes. No overnight solutions."43 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Total amount of fiscal support across G20 will amount to £5trillion!43 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Tracker mortgage families have saved £230 a month thanks to interest rate cuts44 minutes ago from TwitterFon
Darling confirms VAT cut will last until Decemberabout 1 hour ago from TwitterFon
"Banks will be able to lend billions of pounds more" thanks to Labour measures.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon
"Britain can and will be a world leader."about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon
Darling compares current crisis with 1930's great depressionabout 1 hour ago from TwitterFon
Watching the budget!!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon
20 April 2009
"The Prime Minister is due to be immortalised on the
animated sitcom alongside its main characters – schoolboys Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, and Kenny McCormick.
In the episode to be aired later this year, Mr Brown becomes part of an international plot to steal money from aliens in a bid to solve the global recession.
He and other world leaders agree to claim the "space cash" found on a fugitive spaceship.
However, the Prime Minister orders a nuclear attack on Finland after he discovers that it plans to tip off intergalactic police about the ploy.
The episode is due to be shown on the Comedy Central channel."
I'm sure he's delighted.
The British economy is likely to stage a recovery next spring, forecasts by two leading business groups have said.
The employers' group, the CBI, has predicted that there will be economic growth in spring next year but said any recovery would be "slow and fragile".
It predicted the economy would shrink 3.9% this year but grow 0.2% in the second quarter of 2010.
Separately, a report from the Ernst & Young Item Club has predicted that the economy will shrink by 3.5%
It forecast the economy would shrink by 0.1% in the whole of 2010.
Please let us know what you think: you can sign this statement at www.changeweneed.org.uk, post or write about it on your own blog, discuss this here and with those who have signed it on the participating blogs linked below, or discuss it on twitter using the hashtag #cwn
We are a group of Labour party members and supporters who believe that blogging can make an increasingly important contribution to progressive politics. We are seeking, in different ways, to make our own individual contributions to that, and wish to set out the ethic which informs our blogging and the broader politics we are working for within the Labour Party and beyond it.
Many of these are truths which should be self-evident. We are well aware that the broad spirit which we seek to articulate has long informed what most Labour bloggers do, as it also does most of those who blog in other parties and in non-partisan civic activism. So we do not claim any particular originality; still less do we seek to impose our views as a new regulatory code, or to attempt to police others.
Our purpose is simple. We do not believe that new technology leads to inevitable outcomes, but rather that we must all make choices about how we use it and for what purposes.
So we wish to set out why we blog and how we want the party which we support to change so that it can connect to new progressive energy for the causes we support.
1.Ethical and value-based
We believe we must act as ambassadors for the political values we profess. This applies to all politics, online or not. The Obama campaign's power to mobilise was rooted in supporters living its ethic of 'respect, empower and include'. As Labour supporters, we wish to ensure that our values of solidarity, tolerance and respect are reflected in how we do politics as well as the causes we seek to serve.
So we oppose the politics of personal destruction. We believe that the personal can be political, where it reveals the hypocrisy of public statements, the wilful misuse of evidence, or breaches proper ethical standards in public life. Where it doesn't do that, it should be off limits. Politicians should be able to have a family and private life too. A politics of personal destruction violates progressive values and brings all politics into disrepute.
2. Positive about political engagement
We do not believe that the internet is inevitably a force for anti-politics. We reject the mythology of the internet as a lawless and ethics-free zone. Bloggers are subject to law, as well as to the ethical and civic pressures of our online and offline communities. We are clear that the left can never win a politics of loathing and mutual destruction, because the faith in politics that we need will inevitably be a casualty of war. The nihilistic approach practiced by a few online should not overshadow the greater energy and numbers engaged in constructive civic advocacy.
We believe that we can challenge our political opponents without always questioning their integrity. We believe that there are big political arguments to be had between the left and the right of politics, and the left has every reason to be confident about our values and ideas, which have done much to change Britain for the better over the last century and which are in the ascendancy internationally after three decades in which anti-government arguments have often dominated.
We also believe that what is pejoratively called 'negative campaigning' has a legitimate place in politics. Scrutinising the principles, ideas and policies of political opponents is an important part of offering a democratic choice. We should challenge the ideas, claims and sometimes the misrepresentations of our political opponents, just as we would expect them to challenge us. We believe that this is effective when it is done accurately, and that this will become ever more important as the internet makes politics more transparent. So we will point out where there is a mismatch between professed principles and policies, or where the evidence does not back up what is claimed, but we will try not to assume our opponents are in bad faith where we do not have evidence to support that.
3. Pluralist and open
We believe that pluralism must be at the heart of the progressive blogosphere. We believe that debate and argument are what brings life to politics. We want to promote a cultural 'glasnost' of open discussion within our party, to show that we understand that the confidence to debate, and disagree, in an atmosphere of mutual respect helps us to bring people together to make change possible.
We believe we must change the culture of Labour's engagement with those outside the party too, including those who were once our supporters but who are disillusioned, and new generations forming their political opinions. For us, democratic politics is about individuals working together to create collective pressure for change, but also about the need to continue to talk even when we disagree deeply. We believe in engaging with all reasonable critics of the Labour government and Labour Party, wherever we can establish the possibility of taking part in democratic arguments in a spirit of mutual respect.
4. Independent spaces
We believe that attempts to transfer 'command and control' models to online politics will inevitably fail. Labour must show that it gets that - in practice as well as theory - if we are make our contribution to the progressive movements on which our causes depend.
The government and the political parties should use their official spaces to contribute to and enable these conversations. We also want to see Ministers and MPs having the confidence to engage in political debate and argument elsewhere, while being clear that there is no value for anybody in seeking to control independent spaces for discussion.
5. Participatory and cooperative
We believe in a cooperative ethic of blogging, because the internet is most potent when it harnesses the creativity, ideas and expertise of many people. The internet is a powerful tool for individual expression. We believe it also enables citizens to interact and collaborate in ways that were never previously possible, and catalyse new forces for participation and activism. As citizens, and as bloggers, we believe in asking not only what is wrong with the world but how we can work together to improve it.
We hope that others will offer ideas and responses - supportive and critical - about these ideas and how they can help to inform the future of our politics.
We know that the outcomes of politics matter deeply, that politics is about passion and argument, and that we may ourselves sometimes fall short of the values and standards that we aspire to.
But this is why we blog - and what we hope to achieve for our politics by doing so.
Sunder Katwala www.nextleft.org
Nick Anstead www.nickanstead.com/blog/
Will Straw www.changeweneed.org.uk
David Lammy MP www.davidlammy.co.uk
Rachael Jolley www.nextleft.org
Jessica Asato www.progressonline.org.uk and labourwomen.blogspot.com
Karin Christiansen labourwomen.blogspot.com
Paul Cotterill www.bickerstafferecord.org.uk
Laurence Durnan www.blackburnlabour.org/blog
Alex Finnegan www.abigblockofcheese.blogspot.com
Gavin Hayes www.compassonline.org.uk
Mike Ion mike-ion.blogspot.com
Richard Lane www.politicana.co.uk
Tom Miller newerlabour.blogspot.com
Carl Nuttall www.blackburnlabour.org/blog
Anthony Painter www.anthonypainter.co.uk
Don Paskini don-paskini.blogspot.com
Andreas Paterson citizenandreas.blogspot.com
Asif Sange www.blackburnlabour.org/blog
Stuart White www.nextleft.org
Graham Whitman gtrmancfabians.blogspot.com