Wednesday 28 October 2015

12 things you should know about the Tory Tax Credit cuts

Despite making numerous pre-election public assurances that they wouldn't be slashing Tax Credits, the Tories have been trying to push through £4.4 billion in Tax Credit cuts that will impoverish some 3 million working families.

In this article I'm going to run though twelve issues related to the Tories attempts to slash Tax Credits for the working poor like they promised that they wouldn't.

The pre-election lies

The fact that Tories like David Cameron and Michael Gove blatantly lied to the public about not having plans to slash Tax Credits to working families is an issue of fundamental importance.

It shouldn't matter whether you believe the cuts are necessary or not, you should surely be furious that the Conservatives lied their way into power, and that the bulk of the mainstream media are once again letting them get away with it.

What faith can the general public have in the political system when they can see such obvious examples of politicians lying their way into power, and suffering no consequences whatever for their appalling dishonesty?

"Hardworking people"

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David Cameron and the Tories have been pushing the Orwellian "war is peace" style propaganda narrative that they are the party for "hardworking people", but this economic assault on millions of working families is yet another demonstration that they don't actually give a damn about ordinary working people.

It should be obvious to everyone that the Tories are not on the side of ordinary working people. Just follow the money - the vast majority of donations to the Tory party come from multi-millionaires, bankers, private health companies and the the inherited wealth aristocracy. Why on earth would the super-rich minority fund a political party in order for it to favour the interests of ordinary working people over their own? In what way would that make sense?

The Tories fake "living wage"

What is the usual response of habitual liars when they get caught out? Is it to admit they were wrong to lie and apologise, or is it to double-down with even more lies?

I guess it's little surprise to most people that David Cameron has chosen to double-down with even more lies to justify his economic attack on millions of working families. Neither is it surprising that he's so confident that the mainstream press will let him get away with it that he's even prepared to lie in parliament.

"what our proposals do are reform welfare and at the same time bring in a national living wage" David Cameron, 16th September 2015, PMQs [source]. 
Everyone knows that the Tories are trying to push through the Tax Credit cuts now, while their fake "living wage" is going to be slowly phased in over the course of the parliament, which means that Cameron's claim that the living wage is being introduced "at the same time" as the cuts is yet another lie.

One obvious factor to consider is that if the Tories did significantly increase the minimum wage right now, then the Tax Credits bill would fall dramatically as a consequence because fewer families would be suffering working poverty and relying on Tax Credits to top up their poverty wages. But the Tories have no intention of doing it that way because that would load the economic burden of reducing the Tax Credit bill onto their corporate backers, not onto the working poor.


Just imagine the levels of contempt that the Tory party have for ordinary working people that they think they can tell blatant pre-election lies to us, try to con us into believing that they support "hardworking people" as they simultaneously impoverish millions of working families, and then try to fob us off with even more lies about how their fake "living wage" is going to mitigate the harm they are doing, when it's blatantly obvious that it won't because the cuts are being imposed long before the paltry increases in the minimum wage take effect.

In light of this cruel economic assault on the working poor, every single time we hear a Tory politician talking about "hardworking people"  from now on we should be thinking about how much utter contempt they must hold us in to expect us to mindlessly accept such obviously counter-factual propaganda.

The children

Independent studies have shown that millions of families are going to be made significantly worse off as a result of the Tory Tax Credit cuts, and that some 200,000 children (predominantly from working families) will be pushed below the poverty line next year as a result.

What the Tories are undeniably doing is imposing economic sanctions on hundreds of thousands of children for the "crime" of being born into working poor families.

The impoverishment of so many children highlights the absolute callousness of David Cameron saying that he's "delighted" that his MPs voted through George Osborne's economic assault on the working poor. 

The economic damage
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Impoverishing poor people in order to "save the economy" makes no sense from a macroeconomic perspective. It's a well established fact that poor people tend to spend a much higher proportion of their incomes on consumption than the very rich (who save a higher percentage of their incomes, and are much more likely to stash their cash in offshore tax-dodging setups).

You don't have to know the specific term for this phenomenon is called the Marginal Propensity to Consume to understand that taking thousands of pounds away from millions of families is certain to have a negative knock on effect on the amount of demand for goods and services in the wider economy.

It's absolutely clear that nobody who understands rudimentary macroeconomics could support impoverishing the working poor as a tactic for improving the economy, so there must be a different agenda. I'll get to what that agenda is later in the article.


Ever since the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s the Tories have harped on endlessly about how much they love entrepreneurship, yet these Tax Credits cuts are blatantly an attack on the entrepreneurial working poor who are trying to establish their own small businesses in such tough economic times.

One of the big criticisms of the Tax Credits system is the way that it allows unscrupulous employers to boost their profits by paying poverty wages to their staff, safe in the knowledge that the taxpayer will step in and make up the shortfall. However, things aren't completely black and white. Tax Credits aren't just a subsidy to greedy employers, they're a form of subsidy for entrepreneurs who invest their efforts in trying to set up their own businesses.

This kind of subsidy for small independent businesses is a form of Infant Industry Protection, which takes the form of assistance for small businesses to help them compete against the economic advantage larger more established companies have due to things like economies of scale and brand awareness.

It's common knowledge that many successful businesses struggled to make significant profits in their first few years of operation (due to high capital investment costs, lack of product awareness and small initial customer bases). This means that helping small business owners out with Tax Credits is a way of promoting entrepreneurship, and slashing Tax Credits is a form of dissuading entrepreneurship.

Frontloading Austerity

Anyone who knows anything about economics knows that ideological austerity is bad for the economy. Just look at the graph to the right. It clearly shows that George Osborne's own pet thinktank the OBR have always accepted that ideological austerity is bad for economic growth.

Anyone who knows the economic basics knows that ideological austerity is bad for growth, the OBR know that ideological austerity is bad for growth, and the Tories know that ideological austerity is bad for growth. This is why the Tories frontloaded their harshest austerity measures at the beginning of the 2010-2015 parliament, and why they're frontloading even more damaging ideological austerity at the beginning of the 2015-2020 parliament.

The Tories are playing the age old game of hitting the "lower orders" with harsh economic sanctions at the beginning of the parliament, then easing back towards the end of it, in the hope that people will be so relieved to be able to breathe properly for a while, that they'll completely forget who has been standing on their necks the whole time and flock off to the polling stations to vote Tory.

Undermining social mobility

It's absolutely clear that reducing the spending power of the people who are most likely to spend their incomes on consumption is not a policy that is aimed at promoting economic growth, so the question has to be what is the real reason the Tories are so intent on impoverishing millions of working poor families?

In my view it's pretty obvious. The Tories hate social mobility and hate the idea of "the lower orders" working their way up from the bottom. They want to reserve the wealth for them and theirs and they certainly don't want a load of "uppity plebs" working their way out of poverty to challenge for the wealth the Tory class feel they have an unique entitlement to.

This Tory plan to impoverish millions of working poor families and stamp out entrepreneurship amongst the non-monied classes is not the only example of the Tories erecting deliberate social mobility barriers. Just look at the way they tripled tuition fees to ensure that students from poor and ordinary backgrounds are lumbered with huge (often completely unpayable) debts for the "crime" of aspiring to better themselves, while the children of the wealthy establishment progress through life without having to pay a 9% aspiration tax on their disposable income because their daddy paid their tuition fees upfront.

Constitutional issues

After the House of Lords crippled David Cameron's economic assault on the working poor we were treated to one of the most bizarrely hypocritical spectacles in the history of British politics, namely a load of Tory politicians whinging on about the unelected nature of the House of Lords!

Let's not forget that not only did the Tory party completely scupper the Lib-Dem plan to introduce a bit of democracy to the House of Lords during the last parliament, but also that David Cameron has already added a staggering 187 new unelected peers to the already bloated House of Lords, meaning he's been adding unelected peers at a faster rate than any Prime Minister in history, and the unelected House of Lords is now the second largest legislative assembly in the whole world after China's People's National Congress!

As much as the Tories are whinging on about how terrible it is that the House of Lords dared to vote to amend a Statutory Instrument, it's beyond obvious that the real constitutional issue here must be the fact that the Tories completely lied about having no plans to slash Tax Credits in order to cheat their way into power.

Are members of the public really going to get more upset that the House of Lords went against the obscure informal convention that they don't make amendments to Statutory Instruments, than they are about the fact that the Statutory Instrument in question is something that the government gave explicit pre-election public guarantees that they weren't going to do?

Seriously, which is most important constitutional issue? The House of Lords going against an obscure informal convention, or the government believing that they can get away with blatantly lying to the public?

What will the opposition do?

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been doing a fairly good job so far by chipping away at David Cameron over the pre-election lies he told about not planning to slash Tax Credits, and the fact that these cuts are going to impoverish millions of the "hardworking families" that Cameron pretends to give a damn about. However I think more can be done.

The fundamental issue here is that the Conservatives lied to the electorate, and if the opposition parties were to work together they could force the Tories into supporting a totally untenable position.

The opposition parties could get their heads together to come up with proposals for some kind of "Integrity in Politics Charter" with the aim of preventing politicians from telling pre-election lies. If the Tories were to oppose it in parliament, they'd be seen to be defending the right they think they have to lie to the public.

I'm not going to say what should be in this integrity charter other than some means of making pre-election manifesto commitments and promises legally binding (barring certain predetermined exceptional circumstances). It's not my job to write proposed legislation, so I'm just throwing the idea out there because such a move from the combined opposition parties would have the potential to back the Tories into an impossible corner where they would be forced to repeatedly defend their presumed right to tell outright lies to the public.

If you think the opposition parties proposing some kind of integrity charter is a good idea, how about you write to your local political representatives to suggest the idea, or contact representatives of some of the opposition parties to suggest they get their heads together on the idea.


As a final point I'd like to put the scale of the cuts into perspective. While the Tories have been insisting that there is no alternative to slashing £4.4 billion in Tax Credit support to the working poor because of the economy, the estimated price tag for replacing the Trident nuclear programme has been quietly raised from £100 billion to £167 billion.

The idea that we need to thrust millions of working families deeper into poverty to save £4.4 billion is an affront to decency when the price tag for a bunch of ludicrous doomsday machines that nobody in their right mind would ever use has just been increased by £67 billion.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Exposing the Tory "hardworking people" propaganda
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
David Cameron's Orwellian wordgames
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
What is ... the Marginal Propensity to Consume?
Ideological austerity is a con
Corbynomics vs ideological austerity
How Ed Balls' "austerity-lite" agenda ruined Labour's election chances

Monday 26 October 2015

How gullible would you have to be to believe the Tory "hardworking people" propaganda

David Cameron and the Tory propaganda machine have been trying ever so hard to establish their absurd Orwellian "war is peace" style propaganda narrative that they are on the side of hardworking people. 

Anyone who knows anything about politics knows that the Tories actively work against the interests of ordinary workers because they represent the interests of capital and inherited privilege. Just follow the money - the vast majority of Tory party funding clearly comes from millionaire businessmen, bankers, private health companies and the idle inherited wealth nobility, so why would they take the side of the workers when they're reliant on the bosses to bankroll their party?

It says a lot about the staggering levels of contempt the Tories must have for the general public that they think they can make people believe that they're on the side of the workers, while they're busy impoverishing millions of working families, attacking our labour rights and completely ignoring the plight of thousands of hardworking British steelworkers.

Tax Credit cuts
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The Tories are pushing ahead with their plan to slash Tax Credits for millions of working families, despite the fact they gave assurances before the 2015 General Election that they had no such plans. They attempt to justify it with lies about how increases in the minimum wage will offset the losses, but everyone knows the Tax Credit cuts are being imposed long before the paltry increases in the minimum wage go through, meaning an estimated 200,000 children being thrown into poverty.

It's also worth noting that millions of people who are self-employed will lose a big chunk of their Tax Credits, but will not benefit at all from increases in the minimum wage. Impoverishing people who are working hard to establish their own businesses (and their families) seems like odd behaviour for a party that is always harping on about entrepreneurship and standing up for hardworking people doesn't it?

November 2015 update: The House of Lords voted against Osborne's Tax Credit cuts then a backbench Tory rebellion threatened to derail the proposals completely so Osborne was forced to scrap the Tax Credit cuts, but he simply figured out other ways of loading the burden of ideological austerity onto the poor and ordinary [source]

Wage repression
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The mainstream media rarely ever mention the fact that the Tory ideological austerity agenda has coincided with the longest sustained decline in workers' wages since records began.

What makes this calamitous decline in wages all the worse is that the tiny super-rich minority have literally doubled their wealth since the global financial sector insolvency crisis.

If anyone can look at the workers of Britain suffering the longest decline in wages on record while the richest people in Britain literally doubled their wealth and then conclude that the Tory government is on the side of the workers, they must be so far removed from reality that they represent a clear and present danger to themselves and to their families.

Attacking the trade unions
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The UK already has some of the most severe anti-trade union laws in the developed world, yet the Tories are intent on introducing even harsher rules that seem to have been deliberately designed to make trade union activity almost impossible by 
rendering abstentions as stronger votes against strike action than explicit votes against the strike action!

One of the worst things about these new anti-trade union rules is the staggering hypocrisy of many of the Tory politicians who promote the idea that trade unions should be subject to minimum turnout rules. Tories like Boris Johnson (who was elected Mayor of London on a 38% turnout) promoting the idea that trade unions should achieve a 50% turnout for strikes to go ahead is a classic example of the Tory "one set of rules for people like us, and a completely different set of rules for the plebs" mentality.

Trade unions are democratic institutions that represent the interests of some 7 million working people in the UK. Anyone who believes that the Tories can simultaneously attack the trade unions and represent the interests of workers must have an incredibly level of immunity to cognitive dissonance

Trashing workers' rights
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Not a lot of people know that the Tories actually allow their wealthy party donors to write anti-worker legislation for them. I don't blame people for not knowing, after all, the mainstream media barely mentioned the scandalous Beecroft Report.

One of the foulest bits of anti-worker legislation the Tories have introduced is a new set of rules that compel the victim to pay £1,200 in fees in order to claim unfair dismissal against their employer. Thus if your boss sacks you (for your political views, your age, your ethnicity, your gender, your trade union activities, your pregnancy or your refusal to suck his cock) you'll have to find £1,200 in order to seek compensation, and if you can't find it, your boss will get away with it.

The UK steel industry
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David Cameron and the Tories have turned a blind eye to the plight of the British steel industry as it is crushed under a tsunami of artificially cheap Chinese steel. The Tory belief in hardline free-market dogma means they'll never intervene in order to save British industries and British jobs like the Italian government did to protect their steel industry.

In the last few weeks over 5,000 steel workers have lost their jobs, but Cameron and the Tories were far too busy prostrating themselves before the Chinese and signing staggeringly one-sided contracts with them (that look much more like terms of economic surrender than trade deals to be celebrated) to even care.

The Tory contempt for the plight of these steel workers is so extreme that the unelected Tory peer Michael Heseltine even said that the newly redundant steelworkers should be happy to have lost their jobs now because "if you are going to lose your job this is probably as good a time" as part of his ludicrous and deeply disrespectful spiel about how the British steel industry has to be left to die because of "market forces".

It should be obvious to anyone that the "market forces" argument against state intervention is a load of absolute drivel if the market that is forcing the destruction of our industry is the heavily state controlled Chinese steel market.


I think the clearest conclusion from all of this is that the Tories hold the general public in utter contempt if they think they can convince us that they're the party for hardworking people.

Not only are the Tories almost entirely funded by capital and inherited privilege, their appalling track record as outlined above is concrete proof that they actively oppose the interests of hardworking people. They just think that there are enough hopelessly gullible workers out there to lap up their Orwellian propaganda and head off to vote in favour of a party that holds them in such contempt and works ceaselessly against the interests of ordinary working people like them.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

David Cameron's piteous surrender to the Chinese
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
What do Tory donors get for their cash?
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
The Beecroft Report: A corporatist anti-worker wishlist
Ideological austerity is a blatant con
The Tories deliberately unworkable trade union rules
What is ... Wage Repression?

Friday 23 October 2015

David Cameron's surrender to the Chinese

Some people (including David Cameron's former adviser Steve Hilton) have described the way that David Cameron and the UK establishment have been prostrating themselves before the Chinese as a "national humiliation", but I think it's actually far worse than just shameful behaviour, it's an abject surrender in the economic war that's been going on between China and the west for the last three decades. 

It's nothing new to see the British establishment sucking up to totalitarian human rights abusing regimes. After all it's only a couple of weeks since David Cameron was reduced to blustering incoherence when challenged about Britain's "squalid deal"  to get the vile Saudi Arabian regime representation on the UN human rights council (UNHRC). 

The British establishment has a long and sordid history of alignment with brutal totalitarian regimes when it suited their geostrategic interests to do so (think Saddam Hussain in the 1980s).

From a relationships with totalitarian regimes perspective, Cameron sucking up to China this week is no less embarrassing than Cameron sucking up to Saudi Arabia two weeks before, or Margaret Thatcher chumming it up with the likes of Pinochet, Suharto and Hussain back in the 1980s.

The particularly terrible element to Cameron's dealings with the Chinese is not so much about who he's dealing with, but the ludicrous terms to the deals he's signing with them. In this article I'm going to explain how the absurdly one-sided deals Cameron has agreed with the Chinese represent not just a surrender to Chinese economic interests, but also a stunningly clear demonstration of the abject failure of the central Tory ideology of hardline free-market economic dogma.

The steel industry

If you've been following the news you'll know about the appalling job losses in the British steel industry, and how cheap Chinese steel imports and high energy prices are cited as two of the main causal factors in the chaos.

Some 5,100 UK jobs in the steel industry are under threat, yet Cameron has done nothing to intervene, because Tory free-market dogma dictates that the state mustn't intervene in the economy. The problem of course is that at the same time as ignoring the plight of the UK steel industry and the communities set to be devastated by massive job losses, Cameron is busy bribing the Chinese state (and the French state) into building a staggeringly expensive nuclear power plant by promising to pay double the 2012 market rate for its electrical output for 35 years!

The ideological incoherence should be obvious to everyone. Why does David Cameron have such a visceral hatred of the idea of the British state intervening in the market (so we can't defend our steel industry or construct our own energy infrastructure), but sign ludicrously one-sided contracts with the Chinese and French states to build our energy infrastructure for us? 

Why is it that the Tories only seem to object to the British state intervening in the UK economy, while other foreign states aren't just welcomed in, but actually bribed to the tune of countless £billions to provide the infrastructure investment and services that the British state is deemed incapable of providing for itself?

Not only is Cameron doing nothing to defend the British steel industry from the glut of artificially cheap Chinese steel, he's also signed up to a deal to keep UK energy prices artificially high for 35 years. He's not just callously ignoring the death throes of the UK steel industry, he's busy nailing the coffin lid shut as fast as he can.

The nuclear price-fixing deal
There are very few people who are willing to come out and defend such a ludicrously incoherent deal. It just makes no sense whatever from whichever perspective it is observed. Even George Osborne's father in law (a former Tory energy minister turned energy company lobbyist) describes the nuclear price fixing arrangement as "one of the worst deals ever" for the British energy industry and the UK consumer.

It's utterly bizarre that the Tories have pushed on with such a shambles of a deal. The idea of a supposedly free-market supporting Tory party compelling the UK state to intervene in the energy market with guarantees to pay the French state and the Chinese state double the 2012 market rate for electricity for 35 long years is bizarre enough in its own right, but against a backdrop of falling energy prices it looks like utter madness.

Pretty much everyone is aware of how energy prices have dropped since 2012, and anyone with even a passing interest in renewable technologies will know that the cost of renewables (especially solar) has fallen dramatically since the turn of the century, and continues a sustained downward trajectory towards grid parity (when the cost of production matches or falls below the electricity grid price). 

This general trend of falling energy prices makes the decision to tie the UK taxpayers into paying double the 2012 price look even more crazy. If the downwards trend continues, which seems likely given the downwards market trajectory (and the threat of a global deflationary spiral caused by another financial sector meltdown), a contract to pay double the market price set when energy prices peaked in 2012 is clearly an extraordinarily bad deal for the British taxpayer.

As terrible a deal as it is for the British taxpayer, it's a fabulous deal for the Chinese and French states, who would be able to pass these vast UK taxpayer funded windfalls on to their own economies through lower energy prices at home, rendering the UK economy even less competitive than it is already (the UK has been floundering far behind the other G7 economies when it comes to productivity).

I'm a well practiced writer, but even I have to admit defeat when it comes to finding the words to describe what a staggeringly, staggeringly bad deal this absurd nuclear-price fixing agreement is. There just aren't enough negative adjectives in the English language to explain how ridiculously terrible it is.

The economic war

Outright war is a very costly method of achieving geostrategic objectives. The scale of resource destruction from outright war, as well as the misdirection of resources away from productive industry, means that economic warfare is often a much more efficient method of shaping circumstances to your own advantage (think economic sanctions instead of an all-out ground invasion).

Making your country the workshop of the world is a pretty good global domination strategy compared to the misallocation of capital that would be necessary in order to build a military force strong enough to fight NATO for global supremacy, and the unimaginable destruction such a conflict would inevitably cause.

The shift of manufacturing to China has been cause for concern to a lot of economists for some time. Especially the way that complex financial shenanigans have allowed unscrupulous crony capitalists to buy up western companies, load them up with the debt it cost to buy them, fire the workforce, asset strip them, shift production to China, then fold the empty debt-laden shell into administration (leveraged buyouts). This vast global shift towards Chinese manufacturing was always going to eventually leave the smaller western economies at the mercies of the Chinese market. Thus these days the British steel industry can face ruination caused by fluctuations in Chinese demand for steel.

If we look back to the much maligned 1960s and '70s the British steel sector produced almost double the output of the whole of China (24.3 million metric tons to 14), and plenty enough to meet UK domestic demand. Since then British steel production has halved (to 11.9mmt), while Chinese output has grown 63 fold to account for almost half of the word output (882mmt).

It's beyond obvious that the UK steel industry (which is now just 1.3% the size of China's) must be afforded protection if it is to survive fluctuations in the gigantic Chinese steel market. The militant free-market enthusiast might choose to argue against industry protection out of misplaced faith in the idea that government intervention is somehow immoral, but it's a ludicrous stance to take given that the Chinese steel market is a vast example of state intervention in itself.

If the British steel industry is left to ruination out of adherence to this free-market non-intervention principle, British output will have to be replaced by Chinese imports originating in a much less free-market economy than the UK. By opposing British state intervention in the UK steel market, free-market militants are simply inviting Chinese state intervention in the UK steel market instead.

By adopting such a militant free-market stance the Tories are simply inviting China to obliterate the UK's core manufacturing industries, leaving our economy ever more dependent on Chinese imports in the future.

Tories know the cost of everything and the value of nothing

The idea that the British steel industry should just be left to ruination out of misguided adherence to free-market principles is absolutely crazy. Right-wingers like to defend Cameron's lack of action with arguments along the lines of "why should we waste money subsidising the British steel industry when we can buy cheap steel from China?". But this stance betrays a very simplistic balance-sheet approach to economics, and a refusal to take other factors into consideration.

Of course subsidising the British steel industry to save it from annihilation would cost money, but then allowing it to fail would also come with a price tag too. Just think of all of the unemployment benefits for 5,100 or more workers and the economic harm to communities like Redcar where the steel plant is the main employer. How much social and economic damage will be caused by letting cheap Chinese imports ruin the British steel industry? 

Another factor to consider is Britain's appalling trade deficit. Of course it's deeply unfashionable these days to concentrate on the balance of trade (the trade deficit) rather than public sector borrowing (the budget deficit), but just because the political class and the mainstream media don't like to talk about it doesn't mean that its not an important issue.

The UK has been running vast trade deficits for decades, especially in goods, but the press don't like to talk about this woeful state of affairs because it blows a gaping hole in the Tory "recovery" propaganda. How can the UK be have "recovered" when we're still so desperately dependent on imports, and increasingly so?

Right-wingers will tell anyone daft enough to listen that it's madness to subsidise the British steel industry to the tune of a few quid a ton, but they'll totally ignore the fact t
hat buying Chinese steel instead means even more wealth flowing out of the UK, not circulating around the British economy. 

Defenders of this kind of ideological inaction are not only blind to the fact that rigid adherence to free-market fundamentalism is completely crackers if the main beneficiaries are very unfree economies like China, but also to the fact that the free-market fundmentalist ideology is highly damaging to the long-term health of the UK economy because it causes the ruination of British industries and ever greater flows of wealth out of the UK economy.

The media reaction

The media reaction to this abject kowtowing to the Chinese has been curious to say the least.

Just imagine if it was Jeremy Corbyn laying down so pathetically to kiss the feet of the Chinese and handing them vast bribes to build our energy infrastructure for us at the same time as cheap Chinese steel imports were destroying the British steel industry?

Does anyone seriously believe the right-wing media wouldn't be in all-out attack mode, shrieking on relentlessly about "dangerous lefties" inviting the communist takeover of the UK economy? 

But when Cameron's doing it, there's almost complete radio silence on the plight of the British steel industry and how much of shockingly poor deal the Tory nuclear price-fixing contract is for the UK economy, British bill payers and the British taxpayer alike.


The pathetic kowtowing to the Chinese and the ludicrously one-sided trade deals being signed are not just embarrassments to the UK, they're the terms of surrender.

Through his inaction David Cameron is telling the Chinese that he's happy to let the British steel industry die as a sacrifice to the economic might of China. The vast ludicrously one-sided price-fixing contracts he's signed us up to are appalling deals for the UK taxpayer and the long-term health of the UK economy that are more akin to terms of surrender than "trade deals".

David Cameron and the UK establishment aren't just embarrassing the UK, they're signing the terms of surrender while trying to spin the situation as if it's some kind of victory tro be celebrated. But by now we should all be familiar with this kind of Orwellian "war is peace" propaganda from the Tories after all their empty rhetoric about how they are the party for "hardworking people"

I'm not sure the hard-working former steel workers in places like Redcar, Scunthorpe, Cambuslang and Motherwell will be merrily toasting David Cameron's dealings with the Chinese, nor believing his propaganda campaign about how much he supports "hardworking people" when he's so happy to let their jobs disappear without a fight.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
The Tory nuclear price-fixing deal
The Tory "economic recovery" mantra is a lie
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
Asset stripping "bankrupt Britain"
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Monday 19 October 2015

Why Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs deserve plaudits

I was rarely one to give Gary Neville plaudits as a footballer and still find it difficult to believe he's the fifth most capped England defender in history, but I have to say that I'm impressed and encouraged by his refreshing stance on the occupation by homeless people of the building he intends to develop as a hotel with his former Manchester United team mate Ryan Giggs next year.


During the last parliament the Tories and Lib-Dems pushed through draconian new legislation against people occupying vacant buildings. This meant that Neville and Giggs could have used the courts to force the homelessness support group out of their building. 

It's also worth noting that the Tories in central government (and their Lib-Dem enablers) are not the only bad guys in this scenario. Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council (Labour controlled) and Manchester Metropolitan University have all been guilty of taking harsh measures against the homeless in the city. This backdrop of increased intolerance towards the homeless across UK society makes the footballers' approach that much more refreshing. 

It's a heart-warming surprise to see that it takes a pair of footballers to lead the way in taking a humane and common sense approach to homelessness, when the government, the police, the local council and the city university have all preferred to adopt the stance that property rights over-rule the welfare of human beings.

The agreement

Instead of initiating legal proceedings to evict the Manchester Angels homelessness support group, the footballers decided to let them stay on the proviso that they don't disrupt any of the surveying/building work while they're there.

A representative for the Manchester Angels has spoken about how delighted they are that the footballers have chosen not to force them out using the harsh anti-squatting laws brought in by the last government. His statement is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when people reach amicable solutions rather than resorting to a legal system that has now been so heavily skewed in favour of capital by the Tories.
"We undertake not to cause any damage to anything and to leave the building in as good if not a better state than we found it in. I have ordered smoke alarms to keep the building safe. I even suggested to Gary that he might be interested in employing some of the homeless people who are living here as labourers to help with the redevelopment work on the hotel."
The fact that both parties could come to such a simple agreement sets a really good example that life in the UK doesn't always have to be as bad as the Tories want it to be. 

These guys have set a great public example by coming to an amicable agreement instead of making a terrible public demonstration of the sickness of our society by having a bunch of desperate people evicted by the courts, which would have shown that in Tory Britain property is considered far more important than people.

Political footballers

I've often thought that elite footballers should try to do more social good with their fame and their extreme wealth: That instead of buying another brand new Bentley or adding another house to their extensive foreign property portfolio, they could do something with more social utility instead. I'm not the kind of guy to tell people how to spend their money though, nor ignore the fact that many footballers already contribute to all kinds of socially beneficial projects. It's just that elite footballers have such immense wealth these days compared to ordinary folk that their power to have a real political influence on society has never been higher.

I think one of the things that makes this case interesting is that it's one of the most overt forays into the political sphere I've seen elite footballers make. I wouldn't be surprised that Gary Neville's generation of footballers might be hesitant to take bold political stances. Giggs and Neville will both remember how their old Liverpool adversary Robbie Fowler was browbeaten and punished by the FA 20 years ago for daring to show solidarity with the Liverpool dockers

Deciding not to have the homeless people evicted from their building is a much bolder political stance than routine footballer stuff like setting up a charitable foundation, or telling the press how much of a wonderful guy they think David Cameron is (as Frank Lampard did just before the Tories handed him a vast income tax break while they simultaneously introduced Bedroom Tax on some 600,000 families with disabled members).

The factor that makes it such a bold political stance is that there are many wealthy property owners and defenders of capital who are going to react with disgust at the idea that anyone might actually help people who are occupying their vacant buildings, instead of throwing them out onto the streets.

How some right-wingers react

If you've seen any of the public reaction to this story, the overwhelming response has been "good on them" which is great to see, especially from the supporters of rival clubs. However, interspersed between the flood of positive reactions are a few incredibly bitter comments from people who absolutely hate that these footballers have wavered their own property rights in preference for behaving like decent human beings.

You might think that people bitterly criticising Neville and Giggs and predicting the ruination of their building because all homeless people are all "disgusting lazy scum" are just terminally miserable kill-joys, but in many cases there's more too it than them just wanting to pour scorn on the concept of showing a bit of basic human decency because they happen to be miserable gits.

It seems that several of these people really perceive the footballers' wavering their property rights as an attack on the whole concept of property, and by extension an attack on their own property rights. These people come across as absolutely terrified that some guys reaching an amicable agreement instead of launching eviction proceedings is setting some kind of awful precedent that it's preferable not to go around treating desperate people like inconvenient "scum" who deserve to be shoved back out onto the streets and turned into somebody else's problem, as they themselves would undoubtedly behave.

What seems to have passed a lot of these bitter cynics by, is that the building belongs to Giggs and Neville, so they can do with it as they please. If it suits them to allow homeless people to use it through the cold winter months, that's obviously their decision to make. To force them evict the homeless people out of blind adherence to the Tory principle that property rights are more important than human beings (as some people would apparently prefer) would be an obvious infringement of their right to do as they please with their own building.

Why footballers?

It's worth pointing out that the main reason this story has captured the public imagination is the fact these guys kicked a bag of air around in front of cameras to make their millions. If such an agreement had been reached with people who had made their millions designing computer software, running a taxi firm, speculating on the property market, selling plumbing supplies or whatever, the story would have been unlikely to go further than the pages of the local press. The fact that Neville and Giggs had high profile public careers is the main reason we've even heard of the story.

As for the actual reason they chose to take a non-confrontational approach, I think it would be churlish to say that they did it to avoid bad headlines about former Manchester United players evicting homeless people in the city. I prefer to think that it's because both guys grew up in ordinary backgrounds, and that doubtless they know several former team-mates from their youth and academy days who have fallen on hard times, so they did it out of basic human empathy. I'm pretty sure they both know that if their lives had panned out differently (they'd suffered a career ruining injury when they were young for example), they probably wouldn't be in the position to develop an exclusive hotel, and there's the chance that they might have ended up poor, and in need of a helping hand at some point.

Having never met either of them I don't know Gary Neville or Ryan Giggs personally, but I imagine that when they're old and looking back at their lives, there's a chance that if this venture works out well, they'll feel a lot prouder of what they did for some of Manchester's most vulnerable people when they didn't have to help at all, than the fact that they owned a 35 bedroom luxury hotel in the city. 

I hope their decision to let the homeless support group stay in their building works out well, and that the Manchester Angels can be found a permanent home at some point in the future. I also hope that it encourages other footballers and ex-footballers to consider helping out the needy in their own communities. A couple of grand in support from a bunch of guys who earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week might not seem like much to them, but it would be a huge contribution to a homeless shelter, food bank or soup kitchen in the community their club is based in.

It's not just financial contributions either. Many elite football players have enormous social media followings. I know from my Another Angry Voice Facebook page that it's possible to reach out to millions of people per week with fewer than 200,000 followers. Many footballers have millions of followers. Neville has 3 million Twitter followers, his former Manchester United colleague Wayne Rooney has 12 million Twitter followers and 25 million more on Facebook! 

Just imagine the number of people these guys could reach if they used their social media platforms to promote worthy causes and talk about social justice every now and then. I'd love to see more footballers get involved in politics, after all - being good at kicking a bag of air around actually seems an awful lot more meritocratic than the Westminster establishment practice of continually stuffing the unelected House of Lords with failed/retired political allies and millionaire party donors

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