Monday, 30 July 2012

A Reality Check

I saw an interesting piece on the news last weekend, after the Tory MP criticised the Olympic opening ceremony.

It was reported Downing Street was unhappy with the Cannock Chase MPs outburst as they were concerned about the Tory brand being retoxicified.

Today it is being reported that Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt had sympathy with the Cannock Chase MPs views.

It is becoming every so clear that, this Conservative government is a government for the Conservative funders, the corporate class and the super rich.

Neoliberals claim that we are best served by maximising market freedom and minimising the role of the state. The free market, left to its own devices, will deliver efficiency, choice and prosperity.

It is the Conservatives devotion to neoliberalism that causes this denial of reality in the economy.

The Conservatives funders use campaign finance, networking and lobbying, big business recruits this government to champion their interests, you can see this squalid reality at work in Cameron's speech last week. "We have listened to what business wants and we are delivering on it. Business said, 'We want competitive tax rates,' so we are creating the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20 and the lowest rates of Corporation tax in the G7 …".

In the NHS we have seen the calamitous Health and Social Care Act, this leaves our beloved Health Service at the alter of the insurance companies that finance the Tory party, like the PFI schemes allowing profit out of health. The Conservatives promised no top down reorganisation of the NHS at the election of 2010, they knew if they did, they would be seen as the same old Tories, TOXIC.

Now we see Adrian Beecroft, the venture capitalist and friend of the Conservative party, writing a report that would like to wipe away workers rights, this to benefit the corporate class, by the way this report is not evidence based, merely the musing of a venture capitalist. again same old Tories. TOXIC

When this government has cut benefits to the working poor, in terms of housing benefits, working tax credits and soon Council tax benefits, they will also restrict access to justice for poorer people and at the same time giving tax cuts to the super rich, these are the choices.

The Conservatives supporting their funders, at what point will they wake up, austerity is killing the goose, real lasting damage is being done to our economy and peoples lives, Conservatives are largely clueless in how to rebuild a shattered economy, because they are wedded to neoliberal thinking, they cannot comprehend that their political ethos are the problem, this is why the conservative brand is TOXIC.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Does it smell like coffee, Mr Osbourne?

Today, it is really time that this chancellor and this government recognise that their economic strategy has failed, the economy is smaller today than when they came to office in 2010 with their grubby little coalition agreement.

It was predicted this week that the British economy would return to growth, yet the economy has shrunk by a eye watering 0.7%.

George Osborne's ill-judged plan has turned Britain's recovery under the previous labour government into a flatlining economy and now a deep and deepening recession. UK output is 4.5% lower than it was when the economy peaked in early 2008.

Conservative Britain is the worst performing country in the G8 group of industrialised countries, apart from Italy.

The Labour Party warned that Austerity alone would not repair the economy, it is clear George Osbourne, the part time chancellor, has utterly destroyed confidence of consumers and investors a like.

If you destroy confidence, you raise tax and you cut public spending and reduce public investment, then you cannot be surprised if the economy crashes.

To quote the Deputy Prime Minister before the 2010 General Election the Lib Dem's agreed with LABOUR that severe cuts to our vital public services would damage economic growth, in Nick Clegg’s own words to Reuters "My eight-year-old (son) ought to be able to work this out -- you shouldn't start slamming on the brakes when the economy is barely growing. "If you do that you create more joblessness, you create heavier costs on the state, the deficit goes up even further and the pain with dealing with it is even greater. So it is completely irrational."

But of course, as sir Alan Budd said after the 2010 General election the economy would grow more strongly than Mr Darling gloomily forecast. Something is going badly right.

Unemployment, he said, will be almost 200,000 lower than had been feared. Economic growth will not be quite as strong but the tax revenues – which are far more important – will come in much higher than forecast 

The so-called structural deficit (the amount of overspend that will not be eliminated by an economic recovery) is a little bigger than had been estimated. But crucially, Mr Osborne's election goal – to abolish "the bulk" of the structural deficit by 2014 – would have been easily achieved had Mr Darling remained in place. No more taxes need to be raised, or budgets cut, to honour this Tory manifesto pledge."
British house prices, which have recovered faster than anywhere in the world and should grow by 10 per cent both this year and next."The British economy is doing remarkably well. Manufacturing is bouncing back.

So he concludes that as he doesn't need to make savage cuts to sort out the deficit.

Compare and contrast, under Labour a recovery, under the Conservatives double dip recession, with the Lib Dem's verbally agreeing with labour and the same time voting with the conservatives.
The lib Dem's have betrayed voters on the economy, on tax on education and Tuition fees and EMA on the NHS, on the ballot paper next time around read the betrayal party.  

Sunday, 22 July 2012

One eyed governments

An interesting story circulating in today's media is the global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study.

Now whether the tax evasion is this large is open to debate, but what is clear the super rich are industriously using professional enablers in private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries to avoid their moral responsibilities.

It will be undoubtedly true that many British tax payers will be involved in this activity of tax evasion.

Whilst the cuts in public spending, cut to the tax credits and benefits, whilst tax increases has faced many, some of the super rich has cocked a snoot at the millions who are suffering.

Yet we have a coalition government that is for the millionaires not for the millions.

This government chooses the soft options, taking housing benefit from the single under 35 year olds, taking tax credits away from low income families and we are seeing vital services vanishing.

This coalition Conservative government rhetoric is about demonising the poor, yet it was bankers, hedge fund managers and investment bankers who did their very best to bring the world economy to it's knees with casino capitalism.

The real issue for the economy is the loss of tax revenues, the morality of casino capitalism, is narcissistic, they believe themselves so important the millions has to bow down to them, they believe they are untouchable.

They think themselves beyond progressive taxation, beyond regulation of the markets, they will leave us all, because they think themselves so valuable. 30 years on, and that bubble has burst.

Making money on leverage debt is a mirage, a dream built on sand.

Money invested in production to create wealth for the millions not the millionaires create real wealth, the dreadful outsourcing and race to the bottom is a self serving prophecy.

Do we have politicians who will engage with this agenda, shaping an industrial/growth strategy, or will the Conservatives continue to be the mouth piece for their funders in the City of London, the investment bankers, the hedge fund managers and the insurance giants.

These vested interests are the ones that are supporting the millionaires against the millions, with this in mind the Conservatives will be unable to tackle this dangerous self interested lobby.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Self serving prophecy

So Mr Osbourne, Austerity is working (sic).

Today we have discovered that it is likely the government will have to borrow an additional £20 billion, this financial year.

A rise in government spending to cope with higher social security bills, combined with a fall in tax receipts, has left the Treasury scrabbling to meet its borrowing target for the end of the year.

The International Monetary Fund has also warned the government that it risks permanently damaging economic output unless it spends more on infrastructure projects and delays welfare cuts to boost confidence and private consumption.

Mr Osborne now has a very difficult choice, he can either scrap the national debt target, which would be a political embarrassment, or he can impose greater cuts and tax rises in an attempt to get back on track. If Mr Osbourne is consistent and believes that his targets need to be hit, further cuts would almost certainly further weaken an economy suffering its second recession in three years.

The UK is back in recession after the economy shrank by 0.4% in the final quarter of 2011 and by 0.3% in the first three months of this year.

On Monday, the IMF lowered its growth forecasts for the UK to 0.2% in 2012 and 1.4% in 2013. In the spring, it had forecast growth of 0.8% this year and 2% next year, every economic organisations have over estimated the level of growth within our economy, but like all monetarists cannot accept their medicine is in part the cause of the lack of growth.

This is the problem for this government, economic activity is likely to fall short of what it forecast earlier this year, and this is likely to see the deficit rising higher both from extra spending but also from a lack of tax receipts, so in effect this is Austerity policy is a self serving prophecy.

The government needs to invest in infrastructure and develop an industrial strategy as a foundation for future growth, as Einstein said doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, well that's insanity.

Mr Osbourne, time for a holiday? Call an Election and you can have a permanent one, before you cause more misery.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Looking at the Independent an interesting story caught my eye, it is the rise and rise of Special advisers under this government.

It turns out that a list of 81 ministerial "Spads" released by 10 Downing Street, one more than at the end of the last Labour administration, includes 19 working for David Cameron and 14 for Nick Clegg.

Now in these times of Austerity, when we all have to tighten our belts and we're all in this together we see the bill for Special advisers is up almost 30% on the £4.8 million paid in 2010/11.

This money not helping anyone except ministers that promised a bonfire of bureaucrats, and Nick Clegg who told Gordon Brown they should be funded by their own political party,  Does Nick Clegg really need 14 Special advisers? Especially as he knows everything that he says, he will reverse at the earliest possible moment.

Sounds a bit like cutting MPs to save money whilst increasing the costs in the House of Lords, but that's OK Dave, that's just for political advantage, but not for your advantage Nick. And Nick you did get a referendum on the alternative vote, a system no one wanted.

I left thinking what is the point of Nick Clegg, Can anyone help?

Monday, 16 July 2012


Today the International Monetary Fund downgraded this country's growth forecast for this year, meaning we have the weakest growth rate of the developed nations.

The IMF are predicting 0.2% growth for 2012, this will mean effectively a twelve months of recession. The IMF are cutting the prediction for 2013 by one third to 1.4%, but as the IMF has a long term record of over predicting growth in the economy, the medium term growth of the British economy is looks at the very best, flat.

In policy terms the Conservative government has no answers to the malaise in our economy, instead the chancellor spends time looking around for people and causes to blame, he is a man in power who does not like the responsibility of it.

The economy is still about 4% smaller in Gross Domestic Product than in 2007 and if the economy had grown in line with the average the economy is 12% smaller than could responsibly expected.

The only silver lining in all this is, thanks to the Labour government not entering the Eurozone at least we have control of our currency, this gives us flexibility that struggling eurozone countries does not.

The problem in the economy is that well paid full time jobs are not available, with short time flexible jobs keeping unemployment levels down, but this is not giving confidence in the economy.

So Austerity is working, Cuts in benefits and tax credits, cuts in public sector spending has choked off construction, 40% of the construction industry is reliant on the public sector, public sector workers are being made redundant, increases in taxes has also damaged disposal incomes, fuel costs keep rising and as food also costs more, wages are at best stagnant, with companies taking profits rather than awarding pay rises.

With all this happening, tax receipts are not going to recover, this means the government will not meet it's targets and we know George Osbourne will borrow at least £158 billion more than he said.

The government needs to do more, it needs temporary tax cuts to boost spending, it needs to invest in affordable housing giving a boost to construction and infastucture and it needs to develop an industrial strategy with a government investment bank (called RBS).

The time has come for the hand washing to stop and the government working for the millions not the millionaires.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A New Dawn?

Last evening the Shepton Mallet Town Council finally heard the message that the Town does not want to spend money on a feasibility study into a civic centre (or whatever it's called). The Council rescinded their earlier decision to do so.

The Council also decided to conduct a Neighbourhood Plan with full public consultation, this to be worked up in the coming period.

This offers all members of our community an opportunity to shape the Shepton we want.

Hopefully this will offer a new dawn.

This is all good news. Hopefully after all the issues that are outstanding with the civic hall can be dealt with, and the community are given answers to remaining questions.

There were a number of councillors who switched their votes, this was encouraging, I have to say both Cllrs Cook and Gibbs did explain their decisions to switch their votes, others did not, with cllr Champion not voting at the first meeting having left for explained reason before the vote on a feasibility study.

I thought an amusing incident happened during the debate on rescinding the feasibility study, Cllr John Parham rebuked both cllr Cook and Gibbs for changing their minds and changing their votes and suggested training for those members, as it was important for councillors to understand the necessity of making the right decision..

Nothing funny in that you may think.

Until you realise that cllr Parham was against building a civic hall, voted for a feasibility into an ill defined community building and just to get a full set, abstained on rescinding the feasibility study, now anyone for training?

Being involved in the debate you realise the supporters of the feasibility study and a civic facility have not established a coherent argument for either the need for a facility or the public desire for one. This is particularly frightening as these people were prepared to spend tax payers money on it.

Some councillors has chosen to reopen the costing for the previous Town Poll on the Civic facility, the Council took legal opinion and paid for the poll, this is how the issue should stay. Resolved for the Council. We should move on.

A number of Councillors did accuse, me, Will and Garfield of being anti democratic and not respecting the 12 councillors who voted for a feasibility study.

This only holds water if you believe the Townspeople views are less important than councillors, one councillor even suggested that the three councillors had bullied the remaining councillors by getting an 1800 or so petition, this to me is perverse, democratically elected councillors have the right to engage with the community, it is clear that the councillor who made that comment knows that the voters are king although he voted against rescinding the feasibility study, he knew that a majority of cllrs could not continue in the face of huge community opposition.

For the Record for rescinding the money for a feasibility study;

Cllrs Champion, Cook, Dunscombe, Gibbs, Kennedy, Me, Lovell, Shearn

Against rescinding

Cllrs Bartlett, Curtis, Height, Kinneston, J Marsh, T Marsh, Marvin


Cllr Parham

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Weekly update

This week has proved to be another busy week.

The Town Council's groundcare contract is up for renewal and the Council is in the process of procuring a new contract. This is currently being run in conjunction with Mendip Council.

On Monday evening I spent the evening re reading all the paperwork and revising the current groundcare issues to produce a question bank of questions so when I showed the respective firms around the Town Councils grounds I could score each company in a transparent way.

Tuesday was the ill fated Council Meeting, I can safely say I have never attended such a angry council meeting, A councillor refusing to answer straight forward questions, another councillor using private emails, there is no doubt the Town Council needs to pull itself back from the brink of implosion, will it? We'll see.

Wednesday evening I spent time dealing with my Internet Service Provider attempting to deal with the security of my account. I fielded a telephone call from a constituent to deal with a problem.

On Friday evening I was hoping to attend a police event at kilver Court, dealing with their project around drug awareness, especially cannabis, unfortunately I was working until 10pm so I was unable to attend.

Today, I involved with a fundraising money collection for the new skatepark at Tescos, held a meeting with councillors on the groundcare contract, I also visited the Tourist Information Centre, I am the link councillor, to talk through all the issues with the manager.

I read 150 emails dealing with council matters this week.

I finished the day off catching up with a friend and realise how tame Shepton really is.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Times are a changing

Today we saw further evidence that the country is thursting for change, yet our politicians are simple not up to that change.

In the same way back at the end of the 1970s the public grew tired with strikes and trade union leaders not in tune with their membership, today we have seen our government not take the big step and support an independent judicial review of the current banking scandal.

The tradegy is the Conservatives and liberal Democrats have placed themselves on the out side from public opinion, there will be more scandals with banks and those who support a wider investigation into banking will point to the timidity or worse of this government.

Government has to be in tune with the public mood, the public has utter revolution for the bankers, sickened by their excesses, Jon Mann the Labour MP said of Bob Diamond, the former Barclays Bank CEO, his annual bonus was equal to the budget of the largest homeless charity in the country SHELTER. The Chancellor of the Exchequor likes to say were are all in this together, but this is utter garbage and the public knows this.

If any individual was to commit fraud then they would be arrested, what's different about the ibor scandal? All in this together Bob?

George Osbourne is an utter disgrace in attacking Ed Balls in the Spectator, why does Osbourne not support a judicial review and allow his claims to be investigated? Why? Could it be because he is more concerned with politics, he runs the economy like he isn't in charge, he spends the whole time talking about (misrepresenting) Labours record. A posh boy whos out of his depth, he reminds me of a teenager who likes debating with having to take responsibility.

People are sickened by all this, people are genuinely struggling, they see a political system on the side of the powerful, a political system that is out of touch by politicans who do not live normal lives, this is dangerous.

Democracy only works when people buy into it, change is needed, democracy and transparancy is needed as a disinfectant, to clean up the times in which we live. Do we have politicans big enough to see that through?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Council meeting

What an extraordinary Council meeting held last evening.

Members of the public wanted to know from cllr Marvin his relationship with Architects in relation to the civic hall, Mr Evans asked two simple questions, however cllr Marvin refused, or claimed the 5th Amendment, to answer the questions.

Cllr Kennedy read out emails between cllr Marvin and the Architects, again Cllr Marvin refused to comment on those points.

Then cllr Parham furnished with possibly hacked emails, certainly obtained without the permission of the private email accounts.

I guess that this had clearly been thought out by cllr Parham when he clumsily tried to insinuate that in this mail trail I had either used foul language or had made comments about him (his defence was I was part of a chain), he wanted the public to believe this, my only contribution to that chain was to offer a proposal to move the Town Council forward, I was pleased after I challenged him he did agree with my statement, but I wonder if I had not challenged him he would allowed this false position to prevail.

But for clarity I publish my contribution to the mail chain;

That this Council resolve to conduct full public consultation to ascertain the wishes of the widest cross section possible of the residents of Shepton to settle the priorities and aspirations for the future of the town.

In particular, it should aim to establish a set the best options for any future use of community funds that meets the public aspirations, (including the £200,000+ collected and initially earmarked but not legally tied to a civic or community facility).

This Council agrees to allow the community engagement working party to bring forward a proposal for an independent body to conduct full consultation at the best value to the tax payer. Council will then be in a position to respond to our townspeople.

This council agrees that the results of community engagement is shared with the community and will develop new arrangements of working to allow Sheptonians real input into the governance of the Town, to make Shepton Better.."

So there we are. This is hardly worth comment is it not?

This is extremely concerning particularly concerned that my computer could well of been accessed to get these mails, it is also concerning that other personal matters could be in the view of someone else, being on my personal email account, not the council address.

I do believe it wrong for anybody and particularly an experience councillor to read out in public, emails that are essentially private and none of the people in the chain have given permission for public airing or the councillor asked if he could air, or even informed myself he had received these mails. this action does not engender trust!

Still ultimately it will be for people to decide on this, but I have contacted the Police and other agencies to investigate.

Two other pieces of business to be reported.

The Town Council wants to remove the avery birds in Collett park, the Council has no management plan, no responsible person and the Council seemly do not wish to continue to manage a risk. Cllrs Champion and Curtis did try to remove the birds without public consultation, this extraordinary following fast on the back of the Civic Hall fiasco, however we will now include consultation before making the decision in September.

The Prison has offered a visit for councillors, clearly this is related to the prison museum, but I think it is worth a visit, cllr Jeanette Marsh thought it wise to remind cllrs that the prison is not a 'peepshow', I thought this utterly disrespectful and cllr Kennedy told her so. It is utterly dreadful that cllr marsh should consider her colleagues as treating prisoners in this way, rather than showing general interest in a working prison that is in our Town.

This was a really poor meeting, the next meeting on Tuesday 10 July, I predict another difficult meeting.

Monday, 2 July 2012

1,776 not out

The last week and a half a small band of Shepton people have challenged the Town Council's decision to spend £15,000 on a feasibility study for the Civic hall/hub thingy.

In a short period we have amassed 1776 signatures to ask the Town Council to rethink the whole notion of the civic hall.

Shepton People are angry at a time of public sector cuts and reduced incomes the Town council should be so indifferent to these concerns instead they want to spend money on a project no one execept a very few wants.

Tomorrow evening the Town Council meets.

Does the Town council has the courage to admit it was wrong? That will be interesting.

I desperately hope the Council admits its mistake and then moves on, to start the process of trust rebuilding with the people of Shepton.

Update tomorrow.