Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Labour : Great Minds or Fools?

Changing Britain Together

It is good to see that the Labour Party has now caught up with the approach I have been pushing in the 16 items which appear below this one.  They have published their own popular and usable version of bullet points and arguments taken from the policy document "National Policy Forum Report 2014", which was adopted at its recent Conference. It will shape their General Election Manifesto and needs to be accessed and used by Labour's rank and file. Hopefully it will find its way into the hands of Constituency Labour Parties, their branches and affiliated bodies; with encouragements for them to push its messages to the electorate.  It can be found here. You will then need to click into the PDF Download shown at the bottom of its page.

They have not, of course, done this because I have been peddling it. It is either a matter of great minds think alike or fools seldom differ.

If you are into this, you can now scrawl down from here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 16, the Summary)

Ed Miliband acknowledges the faithful after his speech at the Labour Party conference in Manchester

In the previous 15 parts of this series, I have taken 180 points from Labour's Policy Document, called its "National Policy Forum Report".  For presentational reasons these are not direct quotes, but are near-quotes. My intention has been to retain the original meanings.  I have also, however, been selective as nearly twice as many points can be found in the original document; but hopefully I have not missed out on any of the major areas which are covered.

A reason that I started to summarise these points was that I felt that the Labour Party was missing key opportunities to spread its ideas in the run up to the General Election. The earlier version of its proposals were missing from both the European Election Campaign and the Scottish Referendum Campaign. Then when Labour finally adopted its proposals at its recent annual conference, this was done in a very low key fashion.

I had two main fears. First, that we were only going to start pushing the programme in the period of the short election campaign after the Commons itself was dissolved - and this would be too late. Or secondly (even worse), that the broad sweep of the proposals would just be ignored and had only been worked upon to keep the active rank and file quiet. But things have now started to improve. Even Ed Miliband's speech at the CBI drew from what is now my final category on the Private Sector; then he came out with a strong line with an earlier point against Zero Hours Contacts.  This week the section on Immigration has been stoutly pushed by Yvette Cooper. Then tomorrow we can expect the section on the NHS to be strongly pursued in a Common's debate on a relevant Private Members Bill. On top of which there are also signs that Labour will initially seek to begin to galvanise its members first through a planned series of Regional Meetings; as shown here.

Not only do we need to push the points I cover using the media and then counter any flack they come up with; but we need canvassers and candidates to be pushing our programme. It moves us beyond New Labour and opens the door for clearer democratic socialist advance at a later stage.

This is what is covered in the previous 15 sections - 

For part 1 "Improving Wages and Working Conditions" see  here

For part 2 "Fair, Sustainable and Responsible Economic Growth" see here

For part 3 "An Equitable Tax Structure" see here

For part 4 "A Charter For Young People" see here

For part 5 "The National Health Service" see here

For part 6 "Education, Education, Education" see here

For part 7 "Local Democracy" see here

For part 8 "Political Reform and Equal Rights" see here 

For part 9 "Energy and Climate Change" see here

For part 10 "Disability. Transport" see here 

For part 11 "Policing and Security" see here

For part 12 "Europe and Immigration" see here

For part 13 "Rural and Cultural" see here

For part 14 "Our Global Role" see here

For part 15 "Pensions. Private Sector" see here 

ADDED 6 DECEMBER  - There is also this, which I have just discovered on a Labour Party web-site. How many CLPs are aware of it ? And how many are making use of it ?

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 15)


1. Protect the value of the state pension with the triple lock, rising annually by inflation, earnings or 2.5% whichever is highest (page 37)

2. Place a legal requirement on all pension scheme providers to prioritise the interest of savers over those of shareholders (37)

3. Explore how to reduce the minimum earnings threshold or auto-enrolment from the current level of personal tax allowance (currently £10,000) to the Lower Earnings Limit currently £5,772 (38)

4. Defined Contribution Schemes to have meaningful employee representatives on governance boards (38)

5.  Review the Local Government Pension Scheme, exploring the merits of merging funds to improve performance (38)

6.  Consider the case for a specific cost of living index relevant on the spending of pensioners (38)

Private Sector

7. Manufacturing is of strategic importance to a sustainable and balanced economic recovery. We will reduce energy costs for businesses via a price freeze, support science, research, development and technology and promote advanced apprenticeships; with access to funding coming through our British Investment Bank (23)

8. We will work actively with business, trade unions, communities and regions to build the economy of the future (23)

9. We will support social enterprise, mutuals, co-operatives and the not-for-profit economy (24)

10. On the Royal Mail we will keep its remaining 30% in public ownership and secure its public service obligation beyond 2015, whilst investigating the process by which it was privatised and ensure that Royal Mail services continue to be provided through Post Offices (24)

11. Tackle the monopoly market for rail rolling stock and bring Network Rail together with a new representative passenger rail body to contract routes, co-ordinate services and skills in the industry, oversee stations, fares, ticketing, and ensure customer satisfaction (45) 
12. Require water companies to publish full annual information which a revitalised Ofwat will then use to evaluate whether they should cut bills (49)

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 14)

Our Global Role

1. On human rights we should lead other nations by example - for women's rights, an end to bias and ill treatment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. This should involve the enhancement of workers' rights (page 127)

2. Being appalled by the human rights abuse in Qatar sponsored by the Kafala employment system, we call for Qatar's right to hold the World Cup to be removed (127)

3. We support access to Syria for the full implementation of the UN Security Council's Presidential Statement on humanitarian access (128)

4. Seek a comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, recognising the illegal nature of the West Bank and support the end to the blockade of Gaza (128)

5. Will enshrine in law the UK target to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas development assistance (129)

6. With the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals expiring in 2015, we will support a post-2015 development agenda seeking to eradicate global poverty, promote sustainability and end aid dependency based on humane conditions (129)

7. Sharing tax information must be extended to developing countries, requiring large multinational companies to publish key information needed to assess the amount of tax they pay (129)

8. Ensure that the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories share tax information with other countries to allow developing countries to deal with the transfer pricing challenge and improve tax collection capabilities (129)

9. In supplying relief in emergencies, seek to be timely and effective and press to improve the coordination of the global response (130)

10. Campaign for an international Financial Tax covering major financial centres to curb the volatility of financial transactions (130)  This also appears in Part 2, item 12.     

11. Help to ensure that an effective and enforceable agreement to cut global carbon emissions is effective by 2010 (131)

12. Work with our partners to achieve a low carbon energy supply and create more green jobs (131)  This also appears in Part 9, item 9.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 13)

Rural and Cultural

1. Work with employers to challenge low pay in rural areas, freezing business rates and energy bills for small and medium size enterprises - SMEs (page 51)

2. Raise the profile of career opportunities in rural areas and help SMEs and food businesses access the investment they need to expand (51)

3. Pay Winter Fuel Payments earlier for pensioners using off-grid energy (often in rural areas) allowing them to purchase their energy at lower summer prices and store up supplies for the winter (51)

4. Restore trust in the food system by enhancing the role of the Food Standard's Agency (51)

5. Tackle cruelty in the breeding policies of the pet industry, promote responsible pet ownership and address the trade in exotic pets (52)

6. Eradicate TB through the vaccination of badgers and cattle and not via a misguided and unscientific badger cull (52)

7.  Protect Britain's natural environment, right to roam and wildlife for future generations (52)

8. Develop a regional strategy to support the arts in all parts of the country (52)

9. Ensure adequate funding for the BBC, protect community libraries and ensure that all homes and businesses have access to reliable broadband services (52,53)

10. Establish a low-cost arbitration service as recommended by Leveson to provide justice for victims of libel and other press abuses (71)

11. Ensure that bona fide supporters clubs are recognised and given statutory consultation rights over the future of sports grounds (71)

12.  Encourage the development of community marketing co-operatives to encourage the development of tourism (72)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 12)

Europe and Immigration

1. Recognise that Britain's relationship with Europe is of vital importance and that the benefits from membership of the EU cannot be underestimated, as it is our major trading partner (page 121) 

2. On the trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the USA (TTIP), see that NHS and other public services are not included in any agreement (121)

3. Allow governments in the EU to be able to legislate for legitimate public policy objectives within any TTIP agreement, rejecting the abusive techniques of the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement agreement (121)

4. See Britain's national interest as being at the heart of a reformed EU which should include binding and robust human rights clauses, including ILO core standards (121)

5.  Seek tough new EU budget discipline with a stronger independent audit, a balanced growth plan, a new Growth Commissioner and reform of the Common Market Agricultural Policy; with an end to the wasteful duplication of holding its parliament in Strasbourg as well as Brussels (126)

6.  Press the EU to establish a new Commissioner for Growth and its own equivalent of the UK's Office of Budget Responsibility, with a remit of examining the impact EU decisions will have on the promotion of jobs and growth (126)

7. Migrants are amongst the most exploited workers in our economy and are often used to undercut other workers' positions, such abusive employment practices will not be tolerated (page 68)

8. Introduce a proper strategy for integration, requiring public sector workers to reach a basic level of English proficiency and strengthen regulations in the private sector to prevent rouge landlords from cramming immigrants into sub-standard housing (69)

 9. Give powers to border staff to act quickly when they find abuse, training to help victims of trafficking, and ensure exit checks are put in place to track who is coming in and leaving the country (page 70)

10. Tackle the exploitation of migrant workers, an approach which also undercuts local workers; using a  greater enforcement of the minimum wage and a register to tackle rogue landlords. Place a ban on recruitment agencies hiring exclusively from abroad, whilst extending the remit of the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority (126, 69)

11. Make changes to the Job Seekers' Allowance to clarify that people without contributions should not receive benefits when they first arrive in Britain (126)  

12.  Review the practice of sending family benefits to relatives living abroad (126)  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 11)

Policing and Security

1. Tackle cross-border crime in co-operation with police and judicial authorites in Europe (page 64)

2. Return to neighbourhood policing, getting officers back on the beat  (64, 65))

3. Introduce a Victims Law to give victims of crime new entitlements (65)

4. Extend legal protections for victims of hate crime (66)

5. Extend legal aid and make wealthy criminals fund legal bills from their frozen assetts (66)

6. Reform prisons so that inmates engage in productive activity and prioritise rehabilitation (66)

7. Establish a commissioner on domestic and sexual voilence to sit at the heart of government (67)

8. Increase action to stop human trafficking, including reviewing the operation of the domestic visitors visa (68)

9. Improve the effectiveness of our co-operation with other countries, with our continuing support for the European Arrest Warrant which has brought so many dangerous criminals to justice (122)  

10. Show international leadership on reducing the flow of arms to repressive regimes (122)

11. Work to enhance the momentum towards global mulilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation (123)

12. Protect and develop a highly skilled defence sector workforce (123) 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 10)

(A) Disability

1.  End the contract with ATOS and reform the Work Capacity Assessement to focuses on the support people need to work and give disabled people a role in reviewing the operation of the test (35, 36)

2. Work with disabled people and their organisations to reform the discredited Work Capacity Assessment (36)

3. Create good quality and sustainable jobs for disabled people drawing lessons from the Remploy model (36)   

4. Ensure that employees facing terminal illness receive support if they wish to remain in work (36)

5 Work with disability organisations to enhance access to public transport, including a strategy for step-free access to railway and underground station and trains; plus the provision of audio-visual announcement systems (43)

(B) Transport

6. Tackle the rising costs of using buses and rail and also tackle the reduction in the quality of local bus services (Page 42)

7. In tackling rising transport costs, bring transport provisions closer to communities and passengers; whilst integrating freight transport - by road, rail, air and sea. (42)

8. Ensure that safe public transport caters for people who work late hours (43)

9. Allow a public sector operator to take on railway lines and challenge train operators on a level playing field(44)

10. Use  cooperative principles to provide for passenger and employee involvement (44)

11. Place a strict cap on annual rail fare increases across all routes (45)

12. Regain control of the High Speed 2 budget and ensure that the project creates new apprenticeships and job opportunties (46)

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 9)

Energy and Climate Change

1. Take immediate action to freeze energy bills, whilst reforming the energy market to put transparency and competition back into the industry by legislating to force energy companies to separate their generation and supply businesses (pages 10, 17)

2. Labour is committed to tackling climate change and will take advantage of the opportunities that have arisen from the low-carbon economy and green industries (13)

3. Support different models of energy generation and ownership; including co-operative, mutual and municipal models (47)

4. Introduce simpler tariff structures to make it easier for consumers to compare prices, with a new tougher regulator to ensure a fair deal (47)

5. Support pensioners, households with a disabled person, families receiving Child Tax Credit and other vunerable households with insulating their homes and in improving their heating systems (47)

6. In reducing the amount of energy we use, we will radically reform the current Energy Company Obligation by using area-based programmes led by local authorities in partnership with businesses (48)

7. Comprehensively uprate the energy deficiency of a vast stock of our homes (48)

8. Create a new generation of technicians to retro-fit energy conservation and low carbon measures that will reduce household bills and the country's carbon footprint (48)

9. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today and our energy policy must reflect the need to decarbonise our energy supply in order to meet emission targets (49)

10.  We will decarbonise the power sector by 2030 and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32% in 2025 (49)

11.  Shale gas is not a silver bullet and faces important regulatory and environmental questions; to meet the twin goals of a low carbon supply and keeping energy bills as low as possible, we need an energy mix of renewables, nuclear and carbon capture, which is vitally important for the future of coal (49, 50)

12. We will reprioritise flood protection (50)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Labour's Electoral Programme (Part 8)

Political Reform and Equal Rights

1. Reform the legislative process so that interested citizens can more easily engage in making and scrutinising laws (Page 110)

2. Encourage more diversity in representation at all levels of governance: including school governors, councillors and parliament as there are still too few women, BAME, LGBT, disabled and working class candidates (110)

3. MPs will have new limits placed on outside earnings, with a ban placed on second jobs. (110, 111) 

4. Turn the House of Lords into an elected Second Chamber, using a proportional system and providing a forum for regional representation (111)

5. When the franchise is extended to 16 year olds (see part 4), we will introduce a schools and colleges electoral registration programme with the placing of ballot boxes in these areas (111)

6. As millions are missing from electoral registers, when anyone comes into contact with central or local government services and when their business is concluded it will be checked as to whether they have registered to vote. We will also look into the merits of placing ballot boxes in public places and providing electronic voting (111)

7. Build on our proud history of fighting discrimination by re-instating the third party and pay transparency aspects of our 2010 Equality Act (113)

8. Strengthen laws against discrimination for those taking maternity leave (114)

9. Pursue a goal of 50% for all ministerial appointments to public boards to ensure women are fairly represented and look at how public policy can better consider the lives of women in their fifties and onwards (114)

10. Work to achieve the rights which disabled people are entitled to under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which have been undermined by benefit changes (115)

11. Introduce specific criminal charges of incitement to disability hatred (116)

12.  Tackle racism in all its forms and prevent the politics of hate being employed by extremist organisations (117)