Monday, 21 July 2014

Jaw Jaw, not War War

The Year is 1914, exactly 100 years ago.
A tragedy struck a part of Europe where separatist fighters had been conducting a military campaign for independence. The separatist fighers were backed by a powerful Eastern European country. When they murdered in a high profile and very public incident Western Powers looked to that Eastern European Country for a smoking gun. They found it and a chain of events started which ended in World War.

The Year is 2014, exactly 100 years on.
A tragedy struck a part of Europe where separatist fighters had been conducting a military campaign for independence. The separatist fighers were backed by a powerful Eastern European country. When they murdered in a high profile and very public incident Western Powers looked to that Eastern European Country for a smoking gun. They found it and a chain of events started which ended in ...

For the sake of peace remember Winston Churchill. Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war

Friday, 11 July 2014

Right to Strike - Yes (but we want our say)

It must be every workers fundamental right to withdraw their labour in protest without fear of sanction. An employer who flouts this right must be brought to task. This is a right we have earned as a civilised society but with every right there is a great responsibility. Just as a employers should not be allowed to interfere with the right to strike so the employees should not be allowed to hold the country to ransom merely over the threat of strike action. This is nothing new and, indeed, nothing Tory. As long ago as 1969 Barbara Castle published the White Paper "In Place of Strife" which proposed major Government intervention on Union activity and strikes. In 1979, the Labour Prime Minister considered declaring a state of Emergency to bring the Union Barons to heel. Spineless as ever the Labour Government stopped short of rattling their paymaster's cage allowing the country to go bankrupt ushering in the IMF humiliation. Even after much needed reforms the recent public sector strike was able to go ahead on the basis of a voter turnout of 1 in 4. The Union Barons compare this to General Elections, Mayoral elections, etc. where we would all love a greater turnout. Fine, if the Union bosses want parity then so be it. General, Local, PCC and Mayoral Election candidates are voted on by those who are affected by the result of the election. If the public sector want to strike then let the ballot not just be for Union members, not even just for all employees regardless of union membership but extended to all those affected by the strike. The parents of the children who won't be taught, the households whose bins won't be collected and the bereaved whose loved ones won't be buried should all have a right to have a say. With great power comes great responsibility so either have a strike called by a majority of members or let's have a universal franchise. If, as the Unions insist, the strikes enjoy public support then they should fully support this.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Public Sector - Striking the right balance

Four years ago I predicted that the Public Sector would screw up the recovery (see No Joke, We're Broke). In this prediction I looked back on the great recession during Labour's last sorry days of Government and how public sector employees were almost completely unaffected. During the recession businesses felt the squeeze and many didn't survive. Many that survived did so with the support of their workforce taking shorter hours, 4 day weeks, temporary lay offs. They did what they could to make sure there was still a job after the recession. As I predicted the sorry state of Labour's recession has caught up with the public sector. Imagine for a second if the likes of Unison, Unite, GMB, etc. were to encourage their members to take the private sector approach and accept that, like a prudent business, the Government has to take unpalatable measure to stay afloat. As if suffering from acute amnesia they forget that the lowest paid workers have been taken completely out of taxation, they forget that Labour scrapped the 10% tax rate and this Government not only restored it but restored it at 0%. They forget that public sector pay has risen by 17.7% since 2007 compared to 13.4% in the private sector. They forget that Public Sector workers still enjoy better job security, final salary pension schemes, very generous sick pay arrangements, pay scale increments regardless of performance. During the public sector strike in 2012 I vented to my colleagues the benefits of public sector employment, even after reforms. Quite rightly they asked me "So why did you leave?"... Not easy to answer

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Open Letter calling on Andy Burnham - Apologise to Your Constituents

Dear Mr. Burnham,

‘What sort of message are we sending out when we say social care is the lowest form of work – lower even than McDonald’s.’

I write following your speech to Unite the Union in Liverpool where you stated the above quote. Notwithstanding the high regard held for care workers and others in social care employment and in what can only be described as a contemptuous lack of judgement on your part you have singled out an employer of 91,500 people at all levels in the UK as a metaphor for an employer of low esteem and scant regard. Not only have you insulted the employees of McDonalds in the UK but also directly insulted those currently employed in the Tyldesley, Lowton and Leigh branches, some of whom are my friends, all of whom your constituents. You have swallowed hook, line and sinker the clich├ęd stereotype of employees of fast food restaurants and used it for your own political expedience. You must apologise for this incredulous lack of judgement to the employees of McDonalds but specifically to your constituents who have found gainful employment with a responsible employer.

I look forward to your full and frank apology

Richard Short

Leigh Conservatives

Chairman, Wigan Conservative Federation

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Labour say VAT has been risen to 31.5% ... and they want to run the Economy!

Today we heard the news that unemployment is down, yet again, that employment has increased, yet again, and that claimant count is down, yet again. The more we hear the economy is well on the way to a sustainable recovery the more out of touch the well worn sound bite "cost of living crisis" sounds irrelevant and out moded. Labour are failing astonishingly where Margaret Thatcher succeeded so spectacularly. They are trying to say it costs more to do your groceries due to Government economic policy. With inflation well under control and wages now rising faster then inflation this is simply wrong. Labour's Douglas Alexander on BBC's Sunday Politics showed just how shambolic their attack on the Government's economic record really is. They claim, in the now infamous peas in a pod poster, that the VAT rise has put £450 on your shopping bill. Ignoring for a moment that most of the food in the poster is VAT exempt, the £450 seemed an awfully high figure. when challenged Danny Alexander explained that this was over the 4 years since the rate rise ... but he was mistaken and corrected by the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, himself. He confirmed during the broadcast the £450 is an annual cost. For this to be true the annual shopping bill would need to be £24,500 a year and that ALL this shopping is subject to VAT. If, for example, we spend a 1/3 of our pay on shopping then this would equate to a take home pay of almost £75,000. No wonder Labour keep banging on about a cost of living crisis. We can look at this another way. If the annual shopping bill came to a more realistic £5000, the only way you could arrive at £450 would be to remove all exemptions and raise VAT to 31.5% ... now that would be a crisis.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

UKIP protest vote? You're Not Even Close

The Wythenshaw and Sale East by election has come and gone with the predictable result of an emphatic Labour win. All eyes were on UKIP and how well they would do. The answer is that they did dreadfully. With the Lib Dems in Government they are only convenient protest party for voters to turn to and should have done a whole lot better. The by election was held with a little more than 400 days until the next General Election. A close parallel would be the 1991 Ribble Valley by election where Nigel Evans was selection to defend David Waddington's thumping majority of almost 20,000. The result was predicted to be a shoe in for Nigel Evans but, as is now well known, the Liberal Democrats chalked up one of the biggest electoral upsets in modern times, making Michael Carr the, albeit short lived, MP for Ribble Valley with a majority of over 4,500. These days a majority like that would barely make it to the Conservative's 40:40 list. This was extreme but very not a one off, Newburgh, Christchurch, Eastleigh, Eastbourne; all were the spoils of the Lib Dem protest vote machine and some have even remained Lib Dem since. Fast forward 23 years from Ribble Valley and we find ourselves, again, 400 or so days from the next General Election. It was clear from the result in Wythenshaw that with the Lib Dems in Goverment they are no longer the protest vote but the Conservative vote held with well as the party of Government in a reasonably strong Labour area. The real news is that the usual mid term protest vote didn't materialise to any great extent with UKIP falling massively short of anything remotely noteworthy. When it comes to protest votes UKIP aren't a patch on the Lib Dems who were able to overturn massive majorities time and time again.  With their position of protest vote usurped by UKIP it would not be a huge leap of faith to believe that they could come close to taking a seat, or even take one. The fact is UKIP's pretences of being a political force are not being realised enough to win seats, far from it. The real threat of UKIP is as it ever was, they will never win any seats in 2015 but will make sure that Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister. The mystery is why are UKIP working so hard to ensure a Labour majority?

See also ...
Nigel Farage, Prime Minister ,  
UKIP Government, The First 100 Days  
UKIP Government, The Cracks Begin to Show , 
UKIP, Back to Obscurity

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Labour's Best Kept Secret? Food Banks

Seven for a Secret Never to be told
As if to temper the good news that the economy is improving, unemployment falling and business confidence is higher than ever, the left are trotting out the line, again, that more people then ever are using food banks. The obvious answer is that this is because they are there. Not wanting to be a hard luck story but there was a time when I would have dearly loved to have had access to a food bank but they simply didn't exist until the the early 2000's. But even though they existed throughout Labour's economic crisis from 2007 the benefits agencies were not allowed to refer people to them. This policy of the Labour government merely denied vulnerable people access to very much needed essentials. This is how Labour claim that food banks were little used during their time. To be able to make this claim meant that many families were denied the generosity of those who give to food banks and kept them reliant on state handouts. But haven't we heard this over and over again? The fixation on achieving NHS targets resulted in 'Targets First' policies in our hospitals rather than patients first. The Labour policy of 'Don't look for problems and you won't find any' strikes again and we get the scandals of Mid Staffs, Morecambe Bay and many others. Labour's reckless behaviour in the Ministry of Defence led to a 38 billion black hole and troops not equipped to fight a hugely difficult campaign. All in all Labours 13 years of Govern by Denial has been brought to an end by a government not afraid to make those difficult decisions. The result is that we will start to live within our means. Food banks can actually feed those in need, troops are properly equipped and protected and patients come out of our hospitals better then when they went in. Lesson to Labour, do you see what a bit of honesty can do.