Category: "Politics"

May Manifesto petition reminder

Just a heads up to those who didn't see the entry on the Yeovil CLP blog about the May Manifesto petition, which outlines the following changes to policy:

  • Nailing the 10p tax mistake by the introduction of a fair tax system removing the low paid from taxation and ensuring the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share
  • An increase in the basic state pension, immediately restoring the link with earnings, lifting people off means tested benefits and providing free care for the elderly
  • An immediate start on a large scale council house building programme and assistance for those facing repossession
  • Immediate end to programme of local Post Office closures and liberalisation of postal services
  • An end to the privatisation of our public services
  • A new pay deal for public sector workers to protect their living standards and tackle low pay
  • Abolishing tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants for all students
  • Scrapping ID cards and abandoning 42 days detention
  • Introduction of a trade union freedom bill and measures to protect temporary and agency workers
  • Rejecting the proposals to renew Trident

You can stick your name on the petition by emailing info@l-r-c.org.uk with 'petition' in the subject line with your name and CLP or trade union.

Reports of my "meltdown" much exaggerated

According to our mate Kevin Davis I've suffered some kind of "complete meltdown" in response to the defeat in Crewe and Nantwich, while I am flattered at the amount of attention I'm getting from Mr Davis I am somewhat concerned about how it is being twisted.

He seems to be under the impression that me calling for a modest increase in the minimum wage, changing how councils are funded, and stopping anymore unwarranted military invasions. Is something new, is something I'm throwing out there in response to the disaster New Labour have wandered into.

This is not the case. These are the same policies I've been supporting and pushing forward since my teens. The same socialist policies I joined the Labour Party to support, primarily in response to the John McDonnell leadership attempt which showed me and thousands of other socialists out there that the Labour Party wasn't simply the red-coloured wing of the Tory Party. These are the same policies I was selected to fight for by the Yeovil Labour Party, an organisation which is stronger now than it has been in years, the same policies that have strong support with working people in and around Yeovil and nationally.

The defeat in the local elections and in Crewe and Nantwich is hardly surprising. The Labour Representation Committee of which I am a member was warning that unless we had a debate within the Labour Party over our direction when Blair stepped down we would lurch from crisis to crisis.

I'm still waiting for the Tories to say what they're going to do differently to Gordon Brown, not a lot probably, considering they're almost always voting with the Labour government against the Labour backbenches.

I've made it pretty clear what I support.

When are we going to hear something about what the Tories will do? Other than raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million. I wonder who that move will benefit exactly.

Large swing to the Tories in Crewe and Nantwich

Things are just going from bad to worse for the government, it would be an immense misreading of the situation for New Labour ministers to dismiss this result as simply mid-term blues. The Prime Minister's relaunch after the disaster of the local elections has proved to be totally ineffective. This result demonstrates the overwhelming anger and contempt in which New Labour is now held by our traditional supporters - John McDonnell MP.

Labour needs to scrap this pro-market neo-liberal Tory nonsense, and start going in the right (and by right, I mean left) direction. The 2008 May Manifesto would be a good start:

  • Nailing the 10p tax mistake by the introduction of a fair tax system removing the low paid from taxation and ensuring the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share
  • An increase in the basic state pension, immediately restoring the link with earnings, lifting people off means tested benefits and providing free care for the elderly
  • An immediate start on a large scale council house building programme and assistance for those facing repossession
  • Immediate end to programme of local Post Office closures and liberalisation of postal services
  • An end to the privatisation of our public services
  • A new pay deal for public sector workers to protect their living standards and tackle low pay
  • Abolishing tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants for all students
  • Scrapping ID cards and abandoning 42 days detention
  • Introduction of a trade union freedom bill and measures to protect temporary and agency workers
  • Rejecting the proposals to renew Trident

And may I suggest a few things to go on that list. Minimum wage of at least £7.50, funding councils from central government, and no more imperialist wars, we should be using our armed forces to defend the people of Venezuela and other countries and not guaranteeing lucrative contracts for US corporations.

More on abortion

Comrade Lee sent in a rather hefty comment on the subject which got me thinking, and although this isn't a direct reply it will cover some thinks he talked about. I had already seen his blog entry on the subject and expected this. :-)

I do agree that discussion about lowering the limit at which an abortion can be carried out is not necessarily "bronze-age thinking", however the move to get it lowered was undoubtedly led by religious fundamentalists who want to see it banned. I think where we draw the line is a valid area of discussion - as long as it is not influenced by mythology from a time when women were the property of men.

I supported the 24 week limit in that I didn't want to see the limit reduced. Citing evidence that some pre-mature babies born at 24 weeks can survive is weak at best, no doubt in a few decades we'll have the technology to develop an embryo right the way through to "birth" without a woman required (not that something like that would ever be allowed), should that end abortion, or reduce the limit to a few weeks? I don't think so.

However, if you step back and see what we're doing here. We're passing legislation saying what a woman can or cannot do with her own body, it doesn't effect anybody else outside her body, just her. This isn't a huge corporation we need to control because they're screwing over hundreds of thousands of workers and buggering up society. Do we really need the state poking its nose into something like this?

No. Let the woman decide along with a doctor.

Women do have a concious and if any limits were scrapped they wouldn't all be having abortions later in the pregnancy. We don't need laws for every moral thing that goes on in society especially when it concerns the actions of an individual which doesn't have an effect upon anyone else, society and the individuals within it are perfectly capable of knowing what is acceptable at the time and what isn't.

No woman goes into an abortion willy nilly like its just a contraceptive I totally reject the argument that it is used this way. If it was we would see the average woman having something like 8 abortions - like we did in the Soviet Union when it was the only form of family planning available. We don't see abortions at anywhere near those sort of figures.

And one last thing on a slightly lighter note, on your vegetarian and all life is sacred remark. :-)

Well sacred is a bit of a strong term for me, I don't believe all life is sacred, if there's a wasp buzzing around near me annoying me or a spider creeping around - they won't last very long if I have my way. Nor do the millions of other life forms we kill everyday because they're messing about inside of us. Long may we continue to wipe out diseases and drive those pesky viruses and bacteria who don't mix very well with our insides into virtual extinction.

I'm also a vegetarian but not out of any moral concern for the animals, after all those animals (and plants too) have been genetically engineered by us for thousands of years for a specific purpose, those animals are given life by us - because they are useful to us, other wise you might find the odd wild cow here and there in the remote parts of the country. We create those millions of cows, sheep and other domesticated animals and plants, feed them and keep them alive and yes in payment, we sometimes like to eat them. Seems like a good deal to me - you get to live, we get to eat you, and we'll ensure your species survival for as long as we like to eat you.

Attempts to lower abortion limit defeated

On Monday the ban on "saviour siblings" was defeated, and research using hybrid embryos can go ahead, today attempts to introduce law requiring a father figure for IVF treatment have been defeated and lastly, the big one which always gets people up in arms, attempts to lower the abortion limit have been defeated. Phew...

I'm pleased to see Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg supporting the current 24 week limit. David Cameron, of course and no doubt like most of the Tories supported cutting the current limit to 22 weeks, and some even lower.

Unsurprisingly people who are indoctrinated into bronze-age mythology led the charge to get the limit cut. Their defeat hopefully will blunt their further attempts to influence public policy going forward.

As I've written before, parliament should be a place for evidence and reason, not a place for mythology.

On the bright side - Venezuela

Although things look pretty gloomy - at least for the New Labourites, in Venezuela we continue to make progress.

This May Day the minimum wage was increased 30% in Venezuela, and not only that but public sector wages were also increased 30%. Taking into account the food subsidies, this will mean the minimum wage in Venezuela will be twice that of the average wage in Latin America.

It also seems that the six hour working day is back on the agenda (which was packaged with last years' defeated constitutional reforms). This is a critical step that must be taken if the workers are going to manage production themselves.

I'm also pleased to see the reactionaries only managed to bring out about 1000 people on their demonstration against the increases to the minimum wage, pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of workers out on the streets that day.

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