Our lovely Prime Minister, who had the temerity to suggest the summer’s riots had nothing whatsoever to do with poverty, is now going to tell the poor it’s time to pay their debts:
In a delicate balancing act, he will try in his closing speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday to re-energise the country by insisting that despite the pessimism over the economy, politics and society, “the country’s best days are not behind us”. “Let’s bring on the can-do optimism,” he will say before claiming that his “leadership is about unleashing your leadership”.
But despite the efforts to lift the mood of the country, Cameron will also provide a frank admission that the economy is not going to be fixed quickly. His aides openly admit that the country’s finances are in worse state than they had expected – a fact underlined by repeated downgrading of official growth forecasts.
At one point he will even urge households to clear their debts: “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills.”
What an utter, insensitive moron. What the country needs is jobs and investment, not a contraction in public spending (entirely on ideological grounds) as a way out of a financial crisis caused by his banker friends, coupled with an (ideological) assault on the benefits system. Where’s a Robin Hood tax? Nowhere. Where’s reform of the banking system? Nowhere. What about forcing corporate Britain to pay the massive amounts of tax it owes? I don’t think so. Instead we get Cameron blaming the poor for their poverty – an act of spin the likes of which even Blair would haven’t stooped to. George Eaton points out:
If we are to avoid an economic death spiral, we need people to spend, not save. Keynes’s paradox of thrift explains why. The more people save, the more they reduce aggregate demand, thus further reducing (and eventually destroying) economic growth. They will be individually wise but collectively foolish. If no one spends (because they’re paying off their debts) then businesses can’t grow and unemployment willl soar. The paradox is that if everyone saves then savings eventually become worthless.
This is the reason why the comparison I repeatedly hear that household finances can be compared to a country’s is so utterly wrong. Tory supporters please read this and learn. John Prescott summarises it best on Twitter:
So millionaires with inherited wealth order working families to pay off their debts whilst freezing pay & cutting benefits
Stephen Fry has suggested the letter he and other celebrities have signed, condemning the Conservative Party’s EU Parliament alliance with the Polish Law and Order Party and Latvia’s Freedom and Fatherland Party, offers David Cameron an opportunity to walk away from them:
Jonathan Freedland describes the anti-semitic and homophobic backgrounds of these parties:
there was a time when no self-respecting British politician would have gone anywhere near such people. Kaminski began his career in the National Rebirth of Poland movement, inspired by a 1930s fascist ideology that dreamed of a racially pure nation. Even today, the PiS slogan is “Poland for Poles”, understood to be a door slammed in the face of non-Catholics. In 2001 he upbraided the president for daring to apologise for a 1941 pogrom in the town of Jedwabne which left hundreds of Jews dead. Kaminski said there was nothing to apologise for – at least not until Jews apologised for what he alleged was the role Jewish partisans and Jewish communists had played alongside the Red Army in Poland.
Incredibly, Kaminski’s Polish party is not the most unsavoury of the Tories’ new partners. That honour goes to the Latvian grouping whose members have played a leading part in the annual parade honouring veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS. Lest we forget, the SS were the crack troops of Nazi genocide; the Latvian Legion included conscripts, but at least a third were volunteers, among them men with the blood of tens of thousands of Jews on their hands. It is in honour of those killers that Cameron’s new buddies march through the streets of Riga.
And Fry went on to make an extremely salient point, given the current economic circumstances:
Fry told Channel 4 News he fears there will be a nationalistic and homophobic reaction to the current recession, unless groups across Europe take action.
He told Channel 4 News: “This is a problem that is not going to get smaller because, as we start to pay for the financial disaster of the last year, a kind of great pimple of nationalism, homophobia and racism is going to erupt around Europe because there is going to be trouble with unemployment.
“The problem with the 30s was not that period. It was the end of the 30s when you start to pay the price – and that’s why it matters now to make a stand because things will get worse.
I couldn’t agree with him more. The letter he signed his name to says:
“It is not just that your new Polish allies oppose gay marriage and adoption but that their vile rhetoric – branding homosexuality as a ‘pathology’, gays as ‘perverts’, and describing ‘the affirmation of homosexuality’ as ‘the downfall of civilisation’ – was used to whip up hate during their election campaign.
“Your party’s decision to host an LGBT event at conference is a good step in the right direction.
“But it will seem empty – a two faced gesture – if in the same week you fawn over allies whose homophobia has no place in modern Manchester, in modern Britain, or in Europe.”
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill has pulled out of tonight’s gay pride event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester:
Ben Summerskill, head of the equality group Stonewall, has pulled out of a new Pride event at the Conservative party conference after the party hosted ’extreme’ European politicians.
Summerskill had been lined up as a star speaker at tonight’s event in Manchester’s gay village, but Channel 4 News has learned that he will not be attending.
“There is no doubt the progress that has been made in the last couple of years has genuinely been historic. It would churlish of anyone not to welcome the apology a couple of months ago over Section 28,” said Summerskill.
“But the event tonight has been overshadowed by the presence, not just at conference but on the same platform as some senior members of the party, of people of such extreme and offensive views.
I’m going to go all contrary on this one and say Summerskill was wrong to pull out. If he’s right about Michal Kaminski (as I’m quite sure he is) I’m not sure what purpose a boycott serves, but more importantly what purpose playing into a homophobe’s hands serves. Yes it’s rather likely that the Tories will be the governing party once more next spring, yes Stonewall are probably pretty peeved about that, given their successes under New Labour (although it should be remembered that most of them were despite New Labour). But say there really is a seething undercurrent of homophobia amongst the Tories, and even that David Cameron’s prepared to do deals with homophobes in the EU Parliament, how are the gay rights lobbying group’s interests best served by being outsiders?
This boycott comes across as ill-timed and ill-considered sabotage. I’ll never be a fan of the Tory Party as long as I live, but I don’t see how a Chief Executive of a human rights group can behave in such a partisan manner when many of the people whose interests he claims to represent are entirely happy with Cameron’s Conservatives.
I couldn’t agree with with Mick Hume at Spiked more:
The storming reception accorded to Mandelson on Monday was widely hailed as the moment when New Labour’s fortunes could start to turn. To me it signalled the opposite. The sight of Labour activists cheering their Blairite bête noir showed how bad things have got, and how desperate they have become. After all, Lord Mandelson is the unelected, widely reviled symbol of all that the old Labour left is supposed to despise about the Tony Blair years: a backroom fixer and backstabber for whom politics is about positioning and image more than principles and ideas. That he has been brought back into the centre of government owes less to his own self-styled status as a giant of politics than to the standing of the political pygmies around him.
It is not Mandelson who has changed. He remains the embodiment of the fact that New Labour believes in nothing beyond its own re-election. Yet there were the rank and file Labour Party delegates, cheering him to the rafters. It sounded like a death rattle, a case not so much of whistling past the graveyard as singing from the grave.
And this is why they are going to lose next summer. It’s also entirely avoidable. They could wipe ID cards out today, but they’d rather pretend otherwise. They could end the ISA today, but they’d rather ‘review’ it instead. They could improve their environmental standing, but would rather stick with the neoliberal idea of growth and pretend there’s a reason for a new runway at Heathrow. They could deal with the issues such as a terminal lack of new social housing, which the BNP are feeding off, but even the Home Secretary would rather just stick his head in the sand. Electoral reform? Try a solution which will boost their fortunes rather than the Greens or Lib Dems. Reform the House of Lords? In a generation or so. House of Commons? Not any more…
The party which introduced the Human Rights Act is going to sacrifice itself needlessly to one which has insisted it’s going to repeal it, and is best friends in the European Parliament with the far right. Proportional representation couldn’t be more needed to help get a better deal for us.
It’s almost like John Major’s government never left. Gordon Brown, in what might be his last Labour party conference speech as Prime Minister has repackaged ‘family values’:
Teenage parents on benefits will be forced to live in “supervised homes” instead of being given council houses, Gordon Brown declared today in a bid to cut the number of pregnancies.
The Prime Minister said it was not right that a 16-year-old girl could “get pregnant, be given the keys to a council flat and be left on her own”.
Instead, he told the Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton, groups of young mothers and fathers would be taught responsibility and how to raise their children “properly”.
“It’s time to address a problem that for too long has gone unspoken: the number of children having children,” he declared.
“For it cannot be right for a girl of 16 to get pregnant, be given the keys to a council flat and be left on her own.
“From now on all 16- and 17-year-old parents who get support from the taxpayer will be placed in a network of supervised homes.
“These shared homes will offer not just a roof over their heads, but a new start in life where they learn responsibility and how to raise their children properly.
“That’s better for them, better for their babies and better for us all in the long run.”
He told delegates: “We won’t ever shy away from taking difficult decisions on tough social questions.”
A difficult decision or a lame decision? Yes there is a problem, yes the rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK has gone up again, but to suggest it’s because girls just want a council flat isn’t just ignorant, it’s stupid; I mean anyone would think there was an election under a year away. The reasons are complicated and interconnected, from British attitudes towards sex, to mixed messages about sex education provision in schools, through to various governments’ disinterest or inability to tackle child poverty. I’m sure there are many other reasons too, not to mention answers to the problem, but a ‘network of supervised homes’ is just insane. What exactly is likely to change the mentality of teenage parents by being in care? Will boys be put into ‘supervised homes’ as well as girls, or is this a staggeringly mysoginistic policy? For that matter where will the extra money which social services will need to enforce this policy come from? I can’t be the only one thinking these very simple thoughts, surely?