Sunday, 24 February 2013

WHEN IT COMES TO BENEFITS, WHAT DOES LABOUR STAND FOR?

Scotland on Sunday Article, published without permission (in full so that you don't have to give their site a "hit"), of course, with full credit to the author, Andrew Wilson.
By ANDREW WILSON Sunday 24 February 2013 
RIGHT, stop what you are doing, turn off the TV, take a deep breath and try to focus. This is going to be quite hard to follow.
On 14 April 1997, Tony Blair said: “Labour has no plans to introduce fees for higher education”. Elected 16 days later, they went on to introduce tuition fees of £1,000 per year. Page 20 of their manifesto for the 2001 election said: “We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them”. They won, and universities were then allowed to charge up to £3,000 a year, tripling the burden.
After the 2010 election, Labour voted against the controversial coalition decision to further triple tuition fee limits to £9,000 a year. Then, a few months later, leader Ed Miliband announced a commitment to taking the limit to £6,000 or double what he voted to freeze weeks before.
Giddy? Strap yourself in. Labour’s manifesto in Scotland in 2011 pledged to maintain the Scottish Government’s policy on free education for all with “no upfront or back-end tuition fees for higher education”.
They didn't win so we cannot know if they would have stuck to that one. But we must congratulate their new leader 
Johann Lamont, who won a major political award for a speech she gave in the summer attacking the SNP Government for sticking to their manifesto commitment on free education while also reneging on her own. Even in this perverse ­political climate that took some doing.
Scotland was, with the SNP in charge, the “only something for nothing country in the world”. Universal policies like free education and prescriptions and the like are subsidies to the middle classes and the rich. So goes the story.
The new leader was careful only to criticise free prescriptions (which Labour introduced with the NHS in 1948), free higher education and a council tax freeze, with spokesmen saying she didn’t mean free elderly care or bus passes. But that’s all changed with a commission targeting all devolved universal policies for review.
Last week her deputy, Anas Sarwar, was criticising the SNP for fulfilling its manifesto commitment to free personal care for the elderly, a policy that Labour introduced in July 2002. And that is despite the fact that he was elected on a 2010 manifesto that said, “In Scotland we led the way, extending the frontiers of the welfare state with the introduction of free personal care. Our ambition to do the right thing by older people was right.”
Clear? Neither am I. 
What we are witnessing must be gut-wrenching for lifelong Labour members and supporters to endure. I, for one, have never doubted the best intentions and motivations of the party. I am certain its members joined because they want to make the world a better place. I know they want what’s best.
But they are being pulled in all directions and contorted to chase votes in the north and south by defining themselves against their different opponents rather than for what they believe in their soul.
The result is a party position that is exhausting to follow. We were in favour of many universal benefits and indeed proud of them, now we are still in favour of those the coalition in London want to abolish but not the ones the Government in Scotland want to keep – at least not those ones they want to keep that are different in policy from the rest of the UK such as tuition fees where we are in favour of them in the rest of the UK but want to cut them from £9,000 to £6,000, while we were in favour of not having them in Scotland but now think the lack of them is an unsustainable middle-class subsidy but have yet to say whether £6,000 or £9,000 is too high, too low or just about right.
Breathless? I am. All the more confusing when Labour in London say child benefit should be universal even for millionaires: “I’m in favour of it because it is a cornerstone of our system to have universal benefits,” said Miliband. “Universal benefits are an important bedrock of our society.”
So are they or aren’t they? 
And where will the line be drawn?
It seems wherever the SNP try to draw it. My instincts are that good people will be agonising at the contortions their party is being put through as it wrestles to understand where it fights on two very different fronts. Labour must restate what it is for, rather than what it is against. And that must include unlocking thinking on Scotland and how to make good the unsustainable financing of Home Rule.
There is a huge place for the Labour Party in the Scottish debate it once commanded. But to rediscover and modernise its purpose, leaders must open their eyes and their minds. Too many regard the SNP in Scotland as a more mortal enemy than the Tories in London.
That’s a crying shame when you consider the continent of common ground they should enjoy. Growth and jobs should be the focus of all rather than cutting unifying and affordable public benefits most once believed in. And all sides must recognise that the personal enmity that boils as they gaze across the Holyrood chamber damages their ability to lead a country that just isn’t wired to buy the hate they seem to feel. 

47 comments:

  1. If the snp are for it we are agin i

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am the same I will not be voting Labour unless they change their ways

      Delete
  2. I know that Niko. Willie Bain said that, as a matter of course Labour votes against anything that the SNP proposes.

    Regardless of what party that's not the best way to run a country.

    Not for the first time, we are badly served by politicians who put themselves above the country. It's a shame that they are doing this at a time when we have to try to survive one of the stupidest most incompetent and positively evil regimes in Westminster.

    ****
    BTW Niko, what are you bench pressing? As I said, I don't do that, since I had the lung operation, I stick to cardio and abs...

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  3. what they believe in their soul

    What I believe in my soul is the snp is not a political party in any form
    its is a contradictory political movement dedicated to one goal........Independence.

    it has at its heart..... 'NO HEART'
    Only an ambition to rule its own dominion
    with no Guarantee of a fair just society.

    If Independence was a achieved within a few short years
    the snp movement would splinter apart most who currently support
    the snp do so for Independence ....ALONE.

    And then the party which would rule at Holyrood would
    in my opinion be a right wing free market party,
    with many elected snp msps in positions of
    leadership.

    The snp is a Trogan horse for unending neoconservativism.


    micah 3.2

    “Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
    you rulers of Israel.
    Should you not embrace justice,
    2 you who hate good and love evil;
    who tear the skin from my people
    and the flesh from their bones;
    3 who eat my people’s flesh,
    strip off their skin
    and break their bones in pieces;
    who chop them up like meat for the pan,
    like flesh for the pot?”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. your head is wasted, the snp government has done more for scotland in six years in power than what wastemonster has done for scotland in three hundred and six years

      Delete
    2. I agree the SNP has done more for the working and non working people in Scotland and that is why I have voted for them all the time since 1978

      Delete
    3. Siga vre, Nikos. Too much ouzo I think, Nikolakis mou! The SNP have done more for Scotland and her people in 6 years than either the Wastemonster regime or their Labour branch managers up here ever did!

      Delete


  4. Max 130 kg

    average 110kg for reps

    ReplyDelete
  5. Why do you have so little faith in Labour, the natural of government in Scotland.

    The SNP may very well disappear after a few years. Alex Salmond, job done will probably retire.

    Probably Dougie Alexander or Spud Murphy, Wendy Alexander, or someone of that ilk would be leading Labour, them having got rid of the deadwood that is in there now. labour would, shorn of the responsibility of beating the Tories in England, reverted to socialism or what passes for that... and the Scottish Socialists would probably rise a little.

    Any notion that there would be a right wing government is flawed... I just cannot imagine it in my wildest dreams.

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  6. tris

    Because the Scottish people are not the most caring people in the world far from it
    just read Iain Macwhirter latest diatribe (we say that when he writes against the Union but big him up when he is pro Union)
    He middle class tosser suggests the key is UNI well he would although most grads
    are unemployed or stacking shelves for asda.

    But the fact is Scottish and international Business would have the most
    influence on Scotland economic policy and that will decide what social
    policy is dominant.

    He like the snp keep rattling on about huge energy resources which
    is code for don't worry YOU wont have to pay higher taxes.

    the one thing they all avoid is saying you want higher levels
    of social security it has got to be paid for and a lot will come from YOUR
    pockets.

    When the snp etc get an answer on that one give me a bell.

    Oh and dont bother about Oil and Wind you cant spend it all
    and have Fund for our children at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because the Scottish people are not the most caring people in the world far from it

      We know.

      Delete
  7. I'm thinking Niko, that it will be Labour that has to square that circle.

    Because if, as you say, the SNP fades away after independence, I still think the masses of the population in the big cities will be voting Labour. Can't see Glasgow going Conservative any time in the next 400 years...

    Labour is bound to ditch it's South East of England policies for policies which will win them votes from Glasgow and Dundee, Aberdeen, Dumbarton, and Cowdenbeath...etc.

    Yes, social security and good health needs to be paid for but loads of countries manage it...and not just the Scandinavian ones, France, Holland and Luxembourg have brilliant health and social security schemes, and a good life style for most. It can be done.

    We just need to rid ourselves of 'class' and stop pretending to be the world's policeman. If we didn't wast money on that we might have enough to treat people like humans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "We just need to rid ourselves of 'class' and stop pretending to be the world's policeman. If we didn't wast money on that we might have enough to treat people like humans"

      You should add to that we need to rid ourselves of the divisiveness of 'nationalism' too, otherwise you are just pretending to be a democratic socialist. There is no way to advocate nationalism and democratic socialism in the same breath. You SNP can't have your cake and eat it.

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    2. There's no way to espouse democratic socialism and enact neo-liberal policies at the same time. NuLabour can't have its cake and eat it.

      Delete


  8. 'Labour is bound to ditch it's South East of England policies'

    yeah but will the snp ditch its everything for the wealthy
    in Scotland policies.

    it can be done but nobody is being honest on how to pay
    for it all.
    Social mobility in the UK hasn't just stopped its going backwards
    more 1850s than 1950s.

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  9. It isn't 'free' right now!

    Last I checked I've got my undergrad debt of £13k and paying £6k for my Masters course.

    More evidence of the delusional rhetoric of the SNP executive at Holyrood. If that is 'free education' then the sky is pink.

    Only Labour are being honest to the Scots voters about the challenges we face. The SNP pretend separation will cure all ills. It won't, it can't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only Labour are being honest to the Scots voters about the challenges we face. The SNP pretend separation will cure all ills. It won't, it can't.

      Links please or more wild political assertions?

      Delete
  10. proof positive
    Independence is not the answer
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/22/independent-bookshops-73-closures-2012


    Decline in independent bookshops continues with 73 closures in 2012

    The UK loses 7% of its remaining independent bookshops in the past year, with the total down a third since 2005

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  11. I suppose it all boils down to whether or not you're prepared to pay for it.
    If you aren't then pretending that it doesn't exist via taxation doesn't hold much water I'm afraid. Everything costs something and deciding just who or what gets paid for by everyone for a select few should be an open debate, not a matter of petty party politics.

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  12. I'm mystified Dean.

    As far as I am aware undergraduate courses are free. Were under Labour; are under the SNP.

    I don't know where your £13,000 debt comes from... food, accommodation, clothes?

    I don't think any government will pay for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SAAS. Student loans.

      Us poor kids need financial support to afford full time study.

      Rent, fuel, energy, books (academic books are expensive), plus transportation.

      University isn't 'free' not for any kid who doesn't have parents in the 1%.

      Delete
    2. And what party abolished grants? I think you'll find it was one of the Unionist parties, not any of the pro-independence ones..

      Delete
  13. Yes CH... that sums up the state of play. Why would these people want an independent Scotland. Compare their incomes with what an MSP gets, then there's the seat in the upper house and people calling you "my lord" and all that rubbish that belongs in the dustbin: classist crap.

    Of course you have add in £300+ a day, tax and NI free... so called "expenses" even if you've spent nothing, and it explains the Labour members enthusiasm for being Scotlandshire a northern and somewhat neglected county of England.

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  14. Oh yes QM, it all costs money. With that I agree

    But there is a great deal that we could save, and this time not from the people at the bottom.

    The Royals live in 5 palaces in and around London, plus there are other "houses" to keep up, like those of Princess Alexandra et al.

    Why?

    There is the horrendous expence of teh Houses of parliament. A wastee of space, with people being treated like Lords and Princes.

    Then there is having the 4th largest military in then world... for what. We no longer have an empire ofr a commonwealth and people from other countries are no longer lersser beings that Brits.

    Then there is the nuclear weapons programme, £100 billion spent so that Britian can stay at the top table obeying the commands of teh President of teh USA.

    Then there are the embassies that we don't need all over the world...and ambassadors with residences bigger than St James's palace and Rolls Royces, cocktail parties, the best wines...

    At the same time as we have people dying of the cold.

    Not my kind of country. A very unequal and very unhappy country.

    It's not really a matter of petty party politics, but the Tories are happy to see people forced out of their houses so it saves them a few million on expenses.

    And the rich clearly support that kind of policy. They don't want someone coming along and telling them that they have to pay even more tax than their cleaners. So politics comes into it.

    Now Brits are apathetic and rather lazy. But as Mrs Thatcher found out to her cost, you can only push them so far and then the turn the place upside down.

    Indeed Mr Cameron found out a couple of years ago when he was forced to return from Tuscany to deal with the lower orders revolting...

    I wonder what this summer will be like...

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    Replies
    1. Just a quick note to point something out to you about British embassy's abroad 26 of them are in offices owned and run by Visit Scotland so Scotland would have 26 embassy's all ready in place and britain (rest of uk) would have to rent there space if they wanted to continue using them therefore bringing in money if not they would have to find other premises.

      Delete
    2. That's an interesting fact Anon....

      I suppose we could rent out office space to RUK..

      Delete
  15. Amelia is two minutes old the first of many Unionist babies has arrived
    daughter has another grandson in 4 weeks daughter in law due a few days later.
    3 nieces within the next 4 months.

    All Unionist babies

    Longshanks: If we can't get them out, we'll breed them out.

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  16. LOL: Congratulations Niko... Granddad.



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  17. http://wingsland.podgamer.com/rainy-day-blues/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rainy-day-blues

    Anyone interested in their pension situation should read Scott Minto's article over here at Wings...

    And if you are interested in why your electricity bill is going up, you could do worse than read Iain MacWhirter's article:

    http://iainmacwhirter2.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/independence-warning-lights-will-go-out.html

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  18. Congratulations on the new baby Niko, may the child have good health and prosper in an independent Scotland and may the baby help you see the error of your ways as I am sure you will want only the best for all the wee Nikos and Nikolettes
    You know it makes sense

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  19. Well said Fairfor!

    It's ok, Taz will show him the error of his ways, if not by intellectual persuasion, with a great big chomp out of Niko's backside!!

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  20. Mmm thought I'd Posted something, obviously not.

    Dean give us one creditable reason of why we are better together.

    Forget the AAA rating or all of these treaties as we wouldn't be allowed to house nuclear weapons even though we apparently haven't signed the nuclear proliferation treaty, why are we are better together when the slate is clean?

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  21. Hiya all

    Congrats Niko, lets hope the grandchildren have more sense than you do.

    Labour my favourite subject. First of all I am surprised the Scotland on Sunday actually published this and it's not April 1st yet. Some have touched on the main issue above for Labour as does the article.

    Labour wants/needs English votes in the south and the counties to have any chance of winning an outright victory in the next election. Lamont wants to be Curran so has to toe the party line, Sarwar will follow anything in a red rosette if it's name is Ed. What all of this means is that a) they truly believe they have Scotland wrapped up as long as they keep Glasgow unhealthy, unemployed and dying young so therefor can do what they have done for a 100 years, take Scotland for granted and rob it blind of it's resources in the misguided illusion that Great Britain actually stands for something.

    One of the really sad things about the leadership of the Labour Party is they love the power, meeting the Murdochs and the Royal Family, visiting the palaces and wallowing in the belief that they are important when everyone else knows that the Windsors, Cameron, Osbourne, Major, Thatcher would not piss on them if they were on fire and will never ever let them join the club. Yeah every so often the thick electorate will vote them in for a time, 12 years a surprise, they will make a mess according to how things should be in the natural order of things, get rich, hit the Lords and then along come the Tories to restore the natural order of things. Now the Tories they love cleaning up the mess as it allows them to move their agenda further forward picking up from each of the other occasions they were in power. The Tories just love to shaft the poor and restore the feeling that they are your betters and you will do as your told, like working for your social security at half the minimum wage in companies owned by Tories or the friends of Tories.

    We then have Labour supporters like Dean, probably genuine in their belief that Britain is the best of both worlds, would have preferred that Scotland had ceased to exist in 1707 and we all had to take an English passport, how life would be so much easier for them. We can't afford universal social security, it benefits the middle class blah blah blah. First things first, yes we can afford it as we set our own priorities within our budget. Second, if you feel that strongly about it as a tax payer I will welcome your donation to one of the higher education establishments equal to the cost of your fees, go for it.

    I don't want to ramble on forever, you'll all get bored but Labour are the jelly of Scottish politics, left without structure they are all over the place. Labour are a chameleon of a party now, chop and change based on the headlines in the Daily Mail with party members who are so brainwashed now that they are afraid to take control of their party or to admit that deep down the nationalists, or as I prefer just Scottish people, are right but we can't ever ever admit it.

    Bruce

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  22. "Too many regard the SNP in Scotland as a more mortal enemy than the Tories in London."

    Do the Tories threaten to take Labour's seats and councillors away from them in Scotland? No.

    Do the Tories threaten to take away Westminster with its expense accounts, London living and pomp and cermony? No.

    Do the Tories threaten to take away the House of Lords with its titles, big ermine collars, generous attendance allowance and no obligation to produce anything in return? No.

    It's fairly easy to work out who the mortal enemy is for Labour in Scotland.

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  23. Replies
    1. I'm not wasting my time debating with a crazed fundamentalist like Cynical Tris.

      Delete
    2. I'm not wasting my time debating with a crazed fundamentalist like Cynical Tris.

      Ha ha of course not because you have no positive argument/s for the union.

      Would you join the union now if we were already independent?

      Delete
    3. Mind In Flux

      “Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.
      As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.
      The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.” Wikipedia


      Read on: Britain today! Take note Dean as this is what you are defending.

      Delete
  24. Great summation Bruce, as ever. You usually leave us nothing to add...

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  25. I think there may be some people who are stil under the illusion that politicians are in it for the good or the country.

    We know that any in the major parties are in it for the power.

    I seriously doubt anyone joined the Liberals expecting to be a minister...by chance it has happened.

    Greens and Scottish Socialists too. And until recently the SNP. Now of course the SNP IS important and in power.

    But Labour want to be in power in England. They want command of the nuclear weapons and the wars and the the taxes. being a piddling little peon in Scotland isn't good enough for them any more.

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  26. The issue here is that the problem solving mechanisms in Westminster are fundamentally broken. This slow slide in learned incompetence mostly likely started back in the 60's and accelerated under Thatcher and continued under Blair and brown. Through it we have a created a society that projects its failures onto it's victims. We have seen a culture created that actively incentivises failure. And we now have a political class of cartoonishly inept chancers who simply cannot admit that they have made mistakes - and it is this that is far more corrosive to the Union than Alex Salmond.
    We have a government that chooses to make the least responsible for the fiscal crisis pay the most in terms of austerity. We have a government that thinks that people with one spare room, are more of a threat to the economy than their policies. They believe that benefits should be cut, and that people should work for nothing packing shelves; rather than admit that their cuts and their workfare scheme is actually deepening and lengthing the recession. We are now also seeing an uglier and darker side of this union, and that troubles me greatly. We are tring to turn the poor against each other, we are vilifying the sick and the elderly, and we demonise our children.

    the Union was created 300 years ago. It has been held together with a series of compromises to keep homerule in check, or at least partially satisfy it, that it would accept the continuation of the Union. The devolved parliament was created to deal with the growing sense that Scotland simply was not represented at Westminster that it was being governed by a party that many felt had no mandate to do so. The democratic deficit it was called. The conservatives ignored it and suffered for it. They as a party have not been and are unlikely to be forgiven for what it did here. The parliament created a dilemma with the so called west lothian question, that no westminster party is keen to address. To address it fully would lead to the creation of a federal structure and the end of the Union. The other dilemma is that it showed that Scotland cannot and will not accept rule from Westminster for a party it did not vote for.

    its possible that if Labour shows it can win, then perhaps it maybe be able to keep it together for a while yet, but the problems remain and will only deepen. if on the other hand, there is a feeling that the Tories could very well win again...then I can see a situation were Scots will vote to end the union in an act of national self preservation.

    Nationalism of course brings me to Dean. The man deplores nationalism. yet craves it desperately but only if its "British". He high handedly dismisses the idea of British nationalism or indeed the concept of a British identity. It seems he believes in the construct of the Union itself as some sort of superior nationalism that transcends borders and boundaries. This is all well and good, if the construct works in harmony. In Hobbes book Leviathan, he talks of a similar construct, led of course by a single unifying entity. In Hobbes case, it was the monarch. In deans case, it is the Union. Hobbes theories came to nothing in the end, and sadly this too will be the fate of the Union.

    You can't have Union if there is disharmony within it. You can't have union if it cannot govern in the best interests of all its people. And you can't have Union if one group within it, simply cannot abide the idea of being ruled by the other half.

    The Union is running out of wiggle room and its defenders do not seem capable of constructing a new narrative that could keep it together. Why is that? Because England is moving to the far right. Scotland isn't. the fault line lie there and Salmond will exploit it and we'll see how much affection there if for the Union then. A no vote isn't a vote for the status quo. A no vote is a vote to keep this dysfunctional system operating. Time for Scotland and England to go their own way, we were clearly never a good match.

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  27. You can't have union when one partner is more equal than the others.

    Bruce

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  28. Wow James...stunning post, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    And with which I totally agreed.

    Thank you.

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