At the time of writing, it has been five and a half months since the nation woke up to a Tory majority in the House of Commons. Since then there have been riots, protests, name calling, egg throwing and Jeremy Corbyn. It’s been a busy summer, but we’ve finally come to rest in our allotted positions: the establishment on the right, the opposition on the left, with clowns and jokers left to fall where they may. It was all becoming so simple, so expected. Corbyn asks his questions, Cameron struggles to make himself heard over the laughter of his baying hyenas, and England finds itself merrily knocked out of another sporting competition. How completely and utterly dull. Until the House of Lords of all things started rearing its antediluvian head and forcing its way onto the front pages by defying the Tory government it is normally in such loyal service to.
For those of us who routinely forget the House of Lords exists, the tax credits vote was a surprising and confusing moment to process. An ancient, traditionally rightward-leaning body, a stalwart desert oasis of the mirage that is British democracy, doing something…good?
There can be no doubt that anything which puts the brakes on Osborne’s plan to skim £4.4 billion off his fabled deficit by stripping some of the country’s poorest working families of their tax credits is a good thing. Not only is his proposition cruel, underhanded and ethically bereft, it makes a mockery of everything the Conservatives claimed to stand for at the general election. Supporting hard workers; getting people back into jobs; the party of working Britain; the Tories who painted themselves as the nation’s security system are now breaking into our homes and robbing us blind while we’re out at the jobs they so badly wanted us in. Thankfully, the scheming has been waylaid for the time being, but as per usual it’s come at a price.
In episode 2 of the Shamocracy Podcast we discuss the Guardian Live event with Yanis Varoufakis, Tax Credits, the Labour U-turn on the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, the junior doctor contract changes, the leaked email detailing Blair’s support for the Iraq war a year before the war began, China’s visit to the UK, and what the government is doing with feed in tariffs for renewable energy. We recorded this episode on the 24th October.
Welcome to the Shamocracy podcast! In this first episode we discuss the Labour and Tory conferences, TPP, Panorama’s Westminster VIP paedophile scandal and Snowden episodes, climate change and the UK government’s disastrous energy policy.
We recorded this episode on the 9th October. We’re still getting up to speed, in future we’ll be quicker to publish. Things move quickly in politics!
The Tories have reached 100 days in full control of HM Government, and it’s been a pretty terrifying time for anyone who cares about the future of this country and our planet. Cameron and co have been implementing policies left, right and centre – many of which were never in the manifesto – and moving at breakneck speed to sell off the last of our public assets and strip us of privacy and democratic power. They’ve dropped any remaining “Green crap”, and handed tax breaks to dirty energy, all the while blaming everything that’s going wrong on the desperate migrants at Calais and people struggling on poverty wages and benefits.
With so much objectively bad policy being implemented, respected individuals and groups are beginning to speak up. While experts and academics are often hesitant to speak out against the government, there comes a point where enough is enough, when the ruling party stands to tear our country apart at the seams. The question now, as Cameron’s Conservatives mark 100 ignominious days in power, is how long this government can even last. Continue reading →
Don’t you just hate it when you condemn a group of people for doing something you do yourself? The Tories certainly do. Last week we had not one but two such contradictions from senior Tory ministers.
Iain Duncan Smith – in the press recently for his hand in redefining child poverty in the face of rising figures and the upcoming £12bn cuts to welfare – has had his expenses credit card suspended for failing to prove the expenses were legitimate. Smith had his card blocked when he failed to repay the £1,057.28 of spending which he had not proved was genuine. This comes from a work and pensions secretary who previously backed giving benefits claimants prepaid cards to control what they can spend their money on. As usual with the Tories, one rule for them, and another for their constituents.
Meanwhile, the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, on Tuesday warned that children with homophobic views are more likely to become extremists. (Confusingly, when asked for traits that might indicate extreme views, Morgan replied, “Sadly, Isis are extremely intolerant of homosexuality.”) Perhaps opposing gay marriage would be a sure sign of homophobic views – however, this is exactly the position of Morgan herself, having voted against gay marriage in 2013.
With a party so full of hypocrites, seemingly contradicting itself on an almost daily basis, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what the government believes in and is trying to achieve. Whatever it is, you can be pretty sure it’s not something we need.
There have been some huge progressive successes around the world this past month – none of them, unfortunately, happened in the United Kingdom. Just this week it emerged that David Cameron planned to lower the threshold for what constitutes child poverty in Great Britain, while a US treasury official revealed that the UK had actually been hampering progress on tackling global tax avoidance. Such flagrant opposition to progress has not been uncommon of late; in the worldwide race to the future, Britain appears – following a brief pause on May 7th – to have begun actively running backwards.
Since the surprise Conservative majority win at last month’s election, proposals for radical change have come thick and fast. Just as the results of Portugal’s drugs programme show what a wild success decriminalisation can be, the UK bans legal highs (a characteristically ill-thought-out Cameron government policy that also technically makes tea illegal). As the United States opts to forego extending the NSA’s spying powers, the UK elects to expand its own. As Finland revolutionises education and embarks on a basic income experiment, the UK embraces ‘academisation’ and cuts welfare to the bone.
“This isn’t what we voted for” – this statement is perhaps more relevant now than when we made it our tagline last year. While we now have a majority Conservative government, one with free licence to carry out the regressive policies in its manifesto unimpeded, the vast majority of the population did not vote for this. Only 36.9% of the vote was for the Conservative party, equating to 24.4% of the population eligible to vote. Across all seats, approximately 63% of all votes were discarded, counting for nothing, thanks to our winner-takes-all ‘first past the post’ electoral system. Even worse, it is said that only about 200,000 votes in marginal constituencies swung it (you can even calculate the value of your vote). Continue reading →
Want the Tories out? Vote Labour. Do not vote Green or SNP – you’ll only be splitting the left vote. Alternatively, if you seek to deny Labour the chance to govern, vote Conservative. Don’t even think about voting UKIP – it’ll just steal votes away from David Cameron’s party. As for the Lib Dems, give them your vote if you want to ensure whoever they decide to do a deal with never strays ‘too far right or too far left’.
This is what you’ve been told, anyway. Seemingly almost every party leader wants to pressure you into casting your vote based on how it’ll allow you to best cheat the system. Failing to recognise that such an endorsement confirms how absurd first-past-the-post voting is, the leaders have proceeded not just to tempt you with what treasures a vote for them will buy you, but to terrify you with the fear of what a vote for someone else will bring. Even Nigel Farage has been telling UKIP supporters to vote Conservative, so behind the tactical vote is he that he’s willing to lose a percentage just to ensure Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon don’t bring their deadly cocktail of communism and Scottishness into parliament.
I’m currently reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, a really enlightening read which stresses the urgency of the global warming problem, the reasons for the political stagnation we are experiencing and the potential solutions and opportunites. In part of the book Klein spells out what a bad idea hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is. Coupled with the news that a recent report on fracking has been censored, I felt the need to write to my MP Jane Ellison, the Conservative MP for Battersea, to express my concerns. Here’s the letter I wrote in full. If you want to write to your own MP, WriteToThem makes it easy.
With Great Britain’s finances right now going arse over tit worse than when those warmongering red ones were in charge, I’m going to take a moment to talk to you about our current Chancellor of the Exchequer. George Osborne – a millionaire Oxfordite and member of the illustrious Bullingdon Club – is, according to official sources, currently the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the United Kingdom. In layman’s terms, this means he’s the king of Britain’s money, the bagman for a country that at present seems determined to ruin its reputation as fast as possible. And his history is a colourful one. Continue reading →