Thursday 31 October 2019

Where do the parties stand on fracking?

What is fracking?

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is an incredibly inefficient process for extracting natural gas, with an extremely low Energy Return on Energy Invested.

The process involves pumping vast quantities of pressurised water and chemicals into shale rock in order to force out natural gas.

The process has been linked with extraordinary levels of environmental destruction, pollution of the water table, and earthquakes.

Aside from the environmental concerns it's also barely viable from a purely economic perspective. The costs of extraction are so high that fracking is only economically viable at all when energy prices are high, and when governments hand fracking operations vast subsidies and tax cuts to give them an artificial advantage over traditional energy sources, and environmentally sound renewable sources too.


The Tories have an utterly disgraceful record on fracking.

In 2013 they introduced a new tax break for frackers, slashing their tax rate in half, to give them a massive artificial advantage over other energy sources like North Sea Oil drilling, offshore wind farms, biomass, and solar energy.

In their bid to encourage fracking in Britain the Tories also decided to eliminate the payment of insurance bonds on fracking rigs (which they even have in the United States) which are meant to cover the cost of any potential environmental damage, and dissuade frackers from taking undue environmental risks.

In 2016 they overruled massive local opposition and the local council to force fracking on Ryedale, which lies just on the edge of the stunning North York Moors national park, and then later that year they attempted to define anti-fracking activists as "extremists" and "terrorists".

And now Boris Johnson has actually hired a fracking lobbyist called Rachel Wolf to draw up the 2019 Tory election manifesto (no obvious conflicts of interest there then!).


During the Austerity coalition the Lib-Dems voted through all of the Tories' pro-fracking legislation, including the vast 2013 frackers tax cut designed to create fake financial viability for the industry.

In recent years they've realised how unpopular it is, and posture as if they oppose it, whilst staying tight-lipped about all the legislation they previously voted through to encourage it.

You'd have to be intensely gullible to trust the Lib-Dems after all of their U-turns and betrayals on issues like tuition fees, electoral reform, hiking VAT, nuclear subsidies, and imperialist warmongering in the Middle East, so it's always worth looking a little deeper ... and it turns out that the Lib-Dem leader Jo Swinson is personally bankrolled by a fracking company director!


Labour have an unequivocal stance on fracking. They will outright ban it.

Hang on, other parties exist too you know!

The Green Party have the most long-standing opposition to fracking, as you'd expect from an environmentalist party. Green Party politicians and activists have been at the heart of  anti-fracking protests up and down the country.

The SNP government in Scotland is refusing to allow fracking in Scotland by not allowing any fracking licences, but campaigners say they should go further and legislate a permanent ban on the practice.

Plaid Cymru have a moratorium policy on fracking in Wales, under which frackers would be banned from operating unless they can prove that the practice is environmentally safe (which is essentially an outright ban, because they can't).

CUK (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) are a laughing stock of a  party that are polling at 0%. They're a wasted vote. If they had even bothered to develop any kind of energy policy, this bunch of pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, orthodox neoliberal clowns would probably have come out in favour of it.

Brexit Party don't seem to have any actual policies other than continually pushing for the most damaging hard-right interpretation of Brexit imaginable, let alone detailed strategies on specific issues like fracking. They have welcomed fracking supporters into their party as candidates though, so on that basis it seems likely they'd be in favour of it, if they even bother developing an actual manifesto for the general election.

 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.


So how many of Jeremy Corbyn's policies do you actually disagree with?

A London School of Economics study into how Jeremy Corbyn is represented in the media found that only a paltry 11% of all newspaper articles about him bothered to accurately state a single one of his actual policies. In the hard-right Daily Mail and Express that figure was 0%.

Given this lack of unbiased political coverage, it's not difficult to understand why so many people are so unfamiliar with Jeremy Corbyn's actual policies, and tend to judge him as if politics is some kind of vapid personality contest.

So here are some of the Jeremy Corbyn policies that the mainstream media really don't want to tell you about, so you can judge for yourself whether you like them or not.

Labour Party policies

Ban companies based in tax havens bidding for government contracts
It's astounding that this isn't the case already. How on earth could anyone even attempt to justify taxpayers' cash being paid to companies based in tax havens for the purpose of dodging tax?

£10 minimum wage for all workers over the age of 18
The UK is the only country in the developed world where workers' wages are declining in real terms, while the economy is actually growing. A £10 minimum wage would help to reverse this scenario, and it would also significantly reduce the cost of in-work benefits like tax credits and housing benefit (most of which goes to working families these days).

The Tories have are trying to outflank this by saying they'll raise the minimum wage to £10.50, but that's only by 2024, Labour's would come in immediately.

All rented accommodation to be fit for human habitation
Again, astounding that this isn't the case already, but in January 2016 the Tories (over 1/3 of whom are landlords) deliberately voted down a Labour Party amendment to their housing bill to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation.

Renationalise the railways
This is a very popular policy that is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public. Do you support rail renationalisation too, or are you one of the minority who think that the current rip-off profiteer-administered shambles is acceptable?

Renationalise the NHS
The Tory party have been carving up the English NHS and distributing the pieces to the private sector, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to reverse this process. Are you one of the 84% of people who thinks the NHS should be run as a not-for-profit public service, or one of the 7% who agree with the ongoing Tory privatisation agenda?

Free school meals
The policy of providing free school meals to all school children between the ages of 4 and 11 is based on evidence based research showing that universal free school meals lead to significantly improved grades. It will be paid for by ending the generous tax breaks (public subsidies) for the 7% of kids who go to private fee-paying schools.

Create a National Education Service
Jeremy Corbyn believes that education is a right, not a commodity. He wants to create an integrated National Education Service to ensure that education is freely available to anyone who needs it, no matter their age, income, or background.

Scrap tuition fees
Thanks to the Tories (and their Lib-Dem enablers) UK students now face the most expensive tuition fees in the developed world for study at public universities, meaning students typically leave university with £50,000 of debt, and two thirds of them will never pay off their student debts. Labour would end this lunacy by getting rid of student fees.

Restore NHS Bursaries
One of the first things Theresa My did when she came to power in 2016 was to scrap NHS bursaries for nurses and other NHS workers. This removal of financial support for trainee nurses has caused a huge decline in the number of applicants to nursing courses. The NHS is facing a vast recruitment crisis, and restoring NHS bursaries and investing heavily in medical training is the only way to prevent even more than the 130,000 avoidable deaths already caused by Tory austerity cuts to the NHS and social care systems.

Increase the carers' allowance
Labour are proposing to increase the Carers Allowance for the 1 million unpaid carers in the UK. This would be paid for by scrapping the Tories' Inheritance Tax cut for millionaires. Unpaid carers save the UK economy an estimated £132 million a year, and they've been doing ever more work as a result of the £4.6 billion in Tory cuts to the social care budget.

Create a National Investment Bank
This is actually one of Jeremy Corbyn's best policies, but few people actually understand it. It's absolutely clear that allowing private banks to determine where money is invested ends up in huge speculative bubbles in housing and financial derivatives, while the real economy is starved of cash. A National Investment Bank would work by investing in things like infrastructure, services, businesses and regional development projects, and would end up becoming a kind of sovereign wealth fund for the UK.

End the public sector pay freeze
Under Tory rule UK workers have suffered the longest sustained decline in real wages since records began. The public sector pay freeze contributed massively to this. You'd have to be economically illiterate to imagine that repressing public sector wages with below inflation pay rises for year after year would not exert downwards pressure on private sector wages too. Ending the public sector pay freeze would actually boost the economy by putting more money in people's pockets, meaning an increase in aggregate demand.

End sweetheart tax deals between HMRC and massive corporations

David Cameron (the son of a tax-dodger) repeatedly lied through his teeth about how serious he was about confronting tax-dodging, whilst allowing HMRC to concoct sweetheart deals with corporations like Google, Vodafone and Starbucks. One of the main reasons the corporate press are so strongly opposed to Jeremy Corbyn is that they know that unlike David Cameron, he's serious when he talks about clamping down on tax-dodging.

Stop major corporations ripping off their suppliers
Major corporations are withholding an astounding £26 billion through late payment, which is responsible for an estimated 50,000 small businesses going bust every year. The scale of this problem is so massive that it should be a national scandal, and Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to align himself with small businesses to defend their interests. 

Reverse the Tory corporation tax cuts
Since 2010 the Tories have cut the rate of corporation tax for major multinational corporations from 28% to just 17% (by 2020) meaning the UK has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the developed world. The global average is 27% and the G7 average is 32.3%. Corbyn is proposing to reverse this ideological race to the bottom madness and restore corporation tax rates back in line with the rest of the developed world.

Prevent No Deal Brexit chaos
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are absolutely committed to preventing the UK from crashing out of the EU without agreeing a sensible process first. With Labour the worst possible Brexit option of No Deal will be taken off the table, and the choice will be given back to the public between a "soft" least-damaging version of Brexit (that protects the interests of British businesses and British workers alike) against Remain in a final say referendum.

Zero Hours Contracts ban
Almost a million UK workers are now on exploitative Zero Hours Contracts. Last year the New Zealand parliament voted to ban them, and Labour is proposing to do the same. Long-term employees and workers doing regular hours would be protected from Zero Hours Contract exploitation.

End Tory disability persecution
Ever since 2010 the Tories have been brutally persecuting sick, disabled, and terminally ill people. Cutting their pitiful subsistence benefits to pay for even more tax cuts for the rich, confiscating their motability vehicles, forcing them through demeaning corporate-administered "fit for work" disability denial assessments, even making terminally ill people sign on if they survive for more than six months!

Labour would scrap all of this, and build a new, more compassionate system to actually help the most vulnerable and unfortunate people in our society, rather than abusing and impoverishing them, and making them feel like useless idle scroungers who should just go and kill themselves.

House building
Under the Tory government the level of UK housebuilding has slumped to the lowest levels since the 1920s, even though demand for housing is extremely high. Labour are guaranteeing investment in a programme of house building, and committing to ensure that half of the new houses are social housing. 

This wouldn't just alleviate the housing crisis, it would also stimulate the economy (creation of skilled jobs, demand for supplies and materials, less disposable income being wasted on rip-off private rents ...).

Combat inequality
Tory austerity fanaticism resulted in the longest sustained decline in workers' wages since records began and condemned an additional 400,000 children to growing up in poverty, meanwhile the tiny super-rich majority literally doubled their wealth. Labour is pledging to reduce the inequality gap and introduce progressive policies to reduce the gap between the incomes of the highest and lowest paid. There is plenty of evidence to show that the least unequal societies are more economically successful places where the people are happier.


So out of these 20 Labour Party policies, how many do you actually strongly disagree with?

 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.


Footnotes: How would this be paid for?

A lot of people tend to ask how all of this is going to be paid for, so here's some answers.

It turns out that quite a lot of these policies are actually investments that would pay for themselves in the long-term because they would stimulate more economic activity than the investment cost (see my articles on fiscal multiplication and the marginal propensity to consume to get a better idea of how). 

Other policies could easily be funded if we had a government that was actually serious about cracking down on tax-dodging, which costs the country vast amounts per year. Just ending sweetheart deals between HMRC and major multinational corporations would generate £billions, which would pay for stuff like restoring the NHS bursary many times over.

If anyone is genuinely worried about how stuff is going to be paid for, the first thing on their mind should of course be the impending threat of Boris Johnson's Brexit bodge, which is set to cost the UK economy £79 billion (the equivalent of the entire economy of Wales), or even worse a No Deal Tory Brexit strop.

If the Tories manage to engineer No Deal the IFS have estimated a 6.3% -9.5% collapse in GDP, which would be an even bigger economic meltdown than the one that was caused by the 2007-08 global financial sector insolvency crisis (that our economy and our wages have still nowhere near recovered from)!

What do you think would happen to stuff like the tax take and the budget deficit if the economy tanked even worse than it did in 2009 thanks to Tory Brexit?

Is this the dodgiest Lib-Dem bar chart ever?

The Lib-Dems are absolutely notorious for producing absurdly misleading bar charts aimed at duping the gullible into voting for them, but this year the Lib-Dems in North East Somerset have absolutely outdone themselves by producing one of the most shockingly deceptive political bar charts ever.

The North East Somerset constituency is a Tory safe seat for Jacob Rees-Mogg on 54%, with Labour trailing almost 20 points behind on 35%, and the Lib-Dems in a distant 3rd on just 8%.

So in order to produce a favourable bar chart for themselves the Lib-Dems conducted an absurd push poll asking "Imagine the result in your constituency was expected to be very close between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidate, and none of the other parties were competitive..."

They created a scenario that doesn't exist in reality, purely in order to manipulate non-Tory voters into saying they would vote Lib-Dem.

To put what they're doing into perspective, it's useful to consider the biggest constituency swing of all during the 2017 General Election, which happened in Gordon, north east Scotland.

The swing in Gordon was 20.4%, representing just over 15,000 votes.

If Labour were to defy the odds to win North East Somerset from 2nd place, they'd need a huge swing of 19% (over 10,000 votes).

If the Lib-Dems were to take the seat from 3rd place they'd need an unprecedented swing of over 35% (24,500+ votes).

The Lib-Dems are absolutely desperate to trick people into supporting their hopeless lost cause.

And the method the Lib-Dems have come up with to con people into voting for them is to pretend that they're the second party (when Labour are), and that Labour are in a distant third (when that's actually where the Lib-Dems finished last time).

If you ever needed more evidence that the Lib-Dems simply can't be trusted to be honest about anything, this staggeringly dishonest abuse of statistics, polling, and observable reality 
is surely it.

 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.


Wednesday 30 October 2019

Beware of dodgy tactical voting sites

Since the announcement of the December General Election yesterday there has already been a proliferation of different tactical voting websites, but you have to be extremely careful with them.

One of the major problems is that some of them, especially the supposedly Remain-focused "Best For Britain" Get Voting site, are clearly hyper-partisan party political propaganda outfits disguising themselves as 'useful advice'.

In several marginal Tory/Labour constituencies this dreadfully partisan site is advising people to vote for the Lib-Dems, despite the fact they got less than 5% of the vote last time around.

This outrageous Get Voting site is recommending the Lib-Dems in a whopping 99 seats where they trailed the incumbent by over 25,000 at the last election!

To put this absolute insanity in perspective the biggest swing of the 2017 was a swing of just over 15,000 in Gordon, north East Scotland.

What this "Best For Britain" Lib-Dem front operation is advocating is trying to achieve 99 record-breaking mega swings simultaneously.

After years of contemptuously dismissing Leave voters as total idiots who believe in unicorns, these Lib-Dem Remain Ultras are actively advising people to waste away their votes on an absolutely ludicrous unicorn hunt!

Ever since the Liberals morphed into the Lib-Dems in 1988 do you know how many times they've come from 3rd place in the previous election to win a parliamentary seat?

Twice in seven general elections!

And this reckless Lib-Dem front operation is actively advising people up and down the country to waste the chance of defeating the Tory in Labour/Tory marginals in order to chase the unicorn of a massive, unprecedented swing to the Lib-Dems.

Instead of advising people to back the Labour candidate on the basis of Labour's pledge to hold a final say referendum, they're advising people to split the anti-Tory vote, and let a hard-right pro-Brexit Tory sneak through to claim the seat, in the hope that the Lib-Dems pick up a few more seats in the Tory Brexit landslide they're trying to engineer!

The site is so brazenly biased that it's pushing people to vote Lib-Dem in 175 seats in which they're not the sitting MP, but just one Brexit-sceptic Labour challenger!

It's clearly all about boosting the Lib-Dems at the expense of getting the hard-right Tories out of power and their calamitous Brexit shambles off the table.

Aside from the problem of giving indescribably terrible advice, (seemingly motivated by blind Lib-Dem tribalism), there are several other tactical voting sites out there that are brazenly fishing for personal data and donations. Some of which contain absolutely no information about who is behind the site, what figures they used to base their advice on, how they paid for the site to be built, what they're doing with the personal data they're harvesting, or how they intend to spend the money they're raising in donations.

I can understand the temptation of tactical voting sites, after all, it's calming to be told what the right thing is to do. But beware, because every single tactical voting site is pushing some kind of agenda (be it pro-Brexit, anti-Brexit, anti-Tory, pro-LibDem, pro-Labour, whatever ...).

If you do feel the need to visit any of these sites, make sure you engage your critical thinking skills. Look at your constituency results in the last general election and compare it with their advice (are they advising you to vote for ridiculous unicorns?). Look into who is behind the site and where they get their money (do they even say?). Try to identify what their political bias is (they all have one, or several).Be careful with your personal data (especially if they don't explain exactly what they intend to use it for).

 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.


9 things every voter needs to know about the Corbyn-IRA smear campaign

We all knew perfectly well that the billionaire right-wing press barons and their lackeys in the Tory party would attempt to smear the hell out of Jeremy Corbyn during this election campaign. 

They hate his policies of standing up for ordinary people and repatriating vital British infrastructure and services out of the hands of profiteering corporations and foreign government like China and Qatar.

They hate his policies so much they're absolutely fixated on trying to destroy his reputation with anything they've got, and his early involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process is seriously the best attack line they can come up with, because they know it feeds into the hateful anti-Irish bigotry that still unfortunately exists in Great Britain.

In this article I'm going to set the record straight by detailing 9 things that every single voter should know about the Corbyn-IRA smear campaign.

1. Condemning the IRA bombings (part one)

When Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed by Sophy Ridge during the 2017 election campaign he clearly condemned the IRA bombings, but the Tories outright lied that he didn't.

The right-wing propagandists really seem to believe that people will mindlessly lap up their reality-reversing lies rather than quickly checking things for themselves (see video)

2. Condemning the IRA bombings (part two)

Anyone who says that Jeremy Corbyn has "never" condemned the IRA bombings is lying through their teeth. In 1994 Corbyn signed a parliamentary motion on the 20th anniversary of the IRA pub bombing in Birmingham which described the attack as a deplorable terrorist atrocity.

It's on the parliamentary record here for all to see.

3. Misrepresentations (Sinn Féin are not the IRA)

Anyone sharing pictures of Jeremy Corbyn with people like Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness to "prove" that he met the IRA is either being thick, or totally disingenuous.

Adams and McGuinness were not the IRA, they were leaders of the democratic political party Sinn Féin, which is the political wing of the Irish Republican movement, not the now-disbanded terrorist faction.

People who share these pictures are either so blinded by anti-Irish bigotry that they can't differentiate between a political party and a terrorist organisation, or they know the difference perfectly well, but they're sharing the pictures in order to feed into the anti-Irish bigotry of people they consider to gullible and easily led.

4. Peacemaker

In 2013 Jeremy Corbyn was awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for his efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. 

You can read his acceptance speech here.

5. The Loyalists

The right-wing smear merchants are always desperate to bring up the fact that Corbyn met with Irish republicans, but they're a lot more reticent about the fact he also met plenty of loyalists too in his campaign for peace. 

Corbyn met with Gary McMichael and David Ervine (Ervine was a jailed loyalist terrorist turned politician for the PUP), and he also spoke regularly with Ian Paisley who, according to his widow Eileen, considered Corbyn to be "likeable", "courteous", "polite" and "a gentleman".

In light of the indisputable fact that Ian Paisley was a fierce opponent of Irish republicanism, why on earth would he say such things about a guy, who according to the Tory smears, was undermining the loyalist cause by promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict?

6. Openness vs Secrecy

Corbyn spoke openly to Irish republicans and Ulster Loyalists during the 1980s. Nobody is denying that.

The problem for the Tories is that declassified records prove that Margaret Thatcher was secretly negotiating direct with the IRA terrorists at the time. The shocking thing isn't that she was negotiating with terrorists though, it's the fact that she outright lied to the British public over and again every time she repeated her "we do not negotiate with terrorists" phrase.

People who attack Corbyn for openly talking peace, whilst refusing to condemn Thatcher's secret negotiations with the IRA, or the succession of lies she told to the British public are clearly as happy with secrecy and lies from right-wingers as they are furious with openness and honesty from left-wingers.

7. Abject Tory hypocrisy (that councillor)

If right-wingers really honestly cared about criticising politicians with links to the IRA, why is it that they're perfectly happy to have an ex-IRA terrorist and arms smuggler serving as a Tory councillor in Croydon?

You can find more details on this ex-IRA Tory politician in this article, or by Googling "Maria Gatland" for yourself.

8. Boris Johnson's super-hypocrisy

Of all the people resorting to IRA-Corbyn smears, the crap-haired buffoon Boris Johnson surely has to be the most hypocritical.

Not only did Boris share a picture of Corbyn with a member of Sinn Féin to "prove" that he met the IRA (refer back to point three and draw your own conclusions about whether Boris is being intensely thick or sickeningly disingenuous) he also claimed that this picture of Corbyn and McGuinness in the 1990s (while the peace process was really beginning to move forward) was proof that Corbyn is untrustworthy!

An accusation of untrustworthiness from a man who repeatedly lied that the NHS would get £350 million a week extra after Brexit!

Even if you agree with Brexit, only the worst kind of political tribalist could possibly try to argue that Boris brazenly lying to the British public like that in order to swing the vote was acceptable and trustworthy conduct.

9. Sheer bloody desperation

Perhaps the most important point of all is the sheer desperation that these Tory-IRA smears demonstrate.

They don't have any positive policies of their own to promote. They don't have any coherent criticisms of Corbyn's policies. So all they have left is a sickening smear campaign in the desperate hope that a combination of public fact aversion and anti-Irish bigotry is enough to put people off voting in favour of Labour's transformational manifesto.

They don't have a single legitimate argument in favour of themselves, or against Labour's policies so they're resorting to the dirtiest muck-slinging tactics possible.

I'll leave you with a quote from Margaret Thatcher about that kind of politics: 

"I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left." - Margaret Thatcher

 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.


Why you need to speak to someone who works in the NHS

I'm not asking you to just believe what I write here (even though I've backed it all up with links to evidence). 

I'm not asking you to believe Jeremy Corbyn when he says that our NHS needs to be saved from the Tories, and their wanton ideological vandalism of it.

I'm asking you to speak to someone who works in the NHS to ask them about a number of specific issues.

Almost everyone knows someone who works for the NHS. 

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who works in the NHS.

If you have to ask a mutual friend to introduce you to an NHS worker so you can meet them for a coffee/beer and chat about the issues facing the NHS, I'm sure they wouldn't mind at all. 

In fact they'd probably be very happy to meet someone who shows some actual interest in their work and working conditions.

Some of the issues to ask about:

  • Ask them whether the junior doctors were treated fairly and with respect during their confrontation with then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
  • Ask them if they actually know anyone working in the NHS who has confidence in the pompous liar that Boris Johnson has put in charge now (Matt Hancock).
  • Ask them if their own primary care trust is in deficit.
  • Ask them whether they feel that their colleagues are ever more stressed and overworked as they try to cope with increasing demand for services while funding and staffing levels are slashed year after year.
  • Ask them whether they think the NHS can actually survive if the Tories carry on like this.

 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.