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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The ghost of Kelvin MacKenzie still haunts the sun

Another reprehensible and crass Front Page from the Sun.

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I was under the impression that the obnoxious Kelvin MacKenzie had finally departed from the Sun, the "newspaper" of infamous misrepresentation and lies, and rode off into the sunset to grow roses in his garden (preferably in some other distant country). 
Unfortunately however, his ghost still wanders around the offices on the editorial floors of the paper and worse, still seems to have use of processors upon which to write his loathsome stories. 

This morning every other newspaper carries the headlines of an appalling suspected terror attack on a pop concert in Manchester which has claimed 22 lives. The the front pages also give coverage to the continuing disintegration of the conservative election campaign as their 3 day old manifesto promises crumble and Theresa May is forced into an unprecedented "U turn" on the Dementia tax proposals.
The Sun however, again departs from reporting news, choosing instead to full front page headline, the now very stale Jeremy Corbyn story of his alleged "links" to the IRA. At election times, it is usual for the media and television to be generally anti Labour party, although the personal attacks on the leadership during this election campaign is quite scurrilous.
However, having said that, today's Sun front page is beyond the pale and exceeds the boundaries of what may be describe as acceptable journalism and sensitivity.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The conservatives will learn that personal attacks are counter productive,

Corbyn refuses five times to directly condemn IRA

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Yesterday (21st May), I wrote "As we move closer to polling day, we may expect that the conservatives and their media will become even more ferocious in their attacks upon our policies and upon our leadership".However, I did not expect that the "attack" would be taking place even as I wrote the Blog.

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The conservative party manifesto with its uncosted and and impracticable "policy" options, is being exposed as a divisive and ill conceived programme which has been criticised by business groups, conservative MP's and charities, and roundly condemned by the Labour party. 
Since publication of "Forward together" on Thursday last (18th), the conservatives have witnessed their much publicised "lead" in the polls substantially reduced as their policies have been systematically dismantled by Labour party workers and the policy options detailed in the party manifesto "For the many not the few". The people have responded to the manifesto and the policy proposals in a very positive way and consequently we have witnessed a rise in popular support and voting intentions. The conservatives are losing the arguments, they are in serious trouble and both they and their supporters in the media are very conscious of the fact. 
When in trouble on the policies,the conservatives and sections of the media, resort to the same old tactic of seeking to turn the arguments into a personalities contest, attacking not the policy of the opposition, but on the personality of the leaders.Today's target is of course Jeremy Corbyn. Theresa May has already played the "personality card" when raising the old Tory stand by ploy of Labour policy on Trident replacement, but was frustrated in this attempt when Corbyn nailed the issue in an interview a short time later.
Yesterday, (Sunday), it was the turn of Sky Television to take up the reins in the shape of Sophie Ridge in her "Sophie Ridge on Sunday" programme, where Jeremy Corbyn was the guest in the studio. Any viewers tuning in to see an in depth interview about Labour policies must have been sadly disappointed, as Ridge, clearly acting on Sky Television editorial policy, directed the larger part of the programme towards "personality" questions about what Corbyn did or may have thought 35 years ago. Her frequently repeated invitation (5 or 6 times depending upon which report you read or see) to "condemn the IRA", was both crass and patronising having echo's of the Paxman interview with Howard in 1997.
The newspapers today have, with the exception of the usual suspects in the Mail and Telegraph (and of course Sky), more or less ignored this story which must be another great disappointment to Theresa May who was clearly banking on greater coverage from her media allies.The conservative machine has over the last two days, issued instructions to their organisations, workers and media supporters to attack Jeremy Corbyn, personally, at every opportunity. In this way, they clearly calculate that diverting attention away from their own problems with "policies" to means test winter fuel payments, end the triple lock on state pensions, amend welfare benefits to introduce the so called  "Dementia tax" and their numerous other "own goals" from their ill fated manifesto will somehow reverse their declining support amongst voters and allow them to cling to office. 
There must have been great disappointment in Conservative Central Office at the lack of media coverage for the most recent attack on Corbyn. Perhaps there are those in the media who know and understand that in the long run, attacking your opponent on a personal level is, in fact, counter productive since if the opponent does not raise to the bait, your personal attacks become even more hysterical and thereby less credible. The voters recognise the despair in the tactic, and turn away in ever increasing numbers.
The Labour party leadership do not indulge in personal attacks, relying instead on the value of our policies, the strength of the arguments and the knowledge that we are proposing a plan for a full parliament and beyond. A programme that will transform peoples lives. A manifesto for the many not the few

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Popular support for the Labour party grows as more people turn away from the conservatives

Tory wobble as cuts for elderly slash May’s lead

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The alarm within the conservative leadership with the thought  that they might lose the election on June 8th, grows more perturbing for them and Central Office with each hour that passes. Every day, there is news that support for the Labour party is growing and the "policies" outlined in the conservative manifesto are being denounced by business groups and charities around the country as well as conservative party workers, MP's and Councillors. Southend Council Leader John Lamb said that his party’s planned social care overhaul will hit hard-working families and could lead to people’s homes being taken from them after they die, adding " It’s totally wrong and I will be making very strong representations to my own group and lobbying MP's. I am against any reduction in the winter fuel allowance". Many other conservative MP's recognise that the so called "Dementia Tax" and other proposals in the manifesto, could adversely effect their majorities and could lead to the loss of their seats. 
In addition to the means testing of winter fuel payments (which will effectively stop payments for all pensioners except those in receipt of Pension Credit), the conservative manifesto contains a promise which would result in 900,000 children from struggling families losing their right to free school lunches. It has been a poor week for the conservative party as policy after policy has come in for severe criticism or even in the case of the Scottish conservatives, a complete rejection of the proposals, with Ruth Davidson the conservative leader in Scotland clearly stating that Scottish pensioners will retain their winter fuel payments in full, together with television licence and travel concessions and that there will be no means testing for pensioner benefits. 
In a further blow for Theresa May, her much heralded assertion that the conservative party "represents ordinary working class people" and "are now the party of the workers", has been roundly rejected by the majority of the electorate, who still see the conservative as the party of the 5% and are increasingly coming to the view that the conservatives remain "the nasty party".
The media of course, are staging a "rear guard action" in a seemingly ineffectual attempt to stem the erosion of conservative support and the growing appeal of the labour party.This is particularly the case with Sky News and BBC News where on last nights "Newspaper Preview" sections the bias of the reviewers was plastered on with a large trowel. On Sky News, Mathew Sayed and Christina Patterson competed with each other for the prize of who could be the most critical of the Labour party generally and Jeremy Corbyn in particular, as they shouted over each other to get their opinions across.


As we move closer to polling day, we may expect that the conservatives and their media will become even more ferocious in their attacks upon our policies and upon our leadership.However, since the launch of their manifesto on Thursday last, conservative politicians, including Theresa May herself, seem to have been queuing up to commit the most juvenile gaffs imaginable as they desperately seek to reverse the tide of public opinion away from the labour party. In a despairing attempt to divert attention away from the problems with their manifesto, the Prime Minister tried to create a division between the Labour leadership on the old chestnut of Trident replacement. In this In this jaunt she failed miserably, as Jeremy Corbyn nailed the "issue" in a television interview a short time later.
Not to be outdone  in their missions to please their leader, conservative politicians and ministers also fell flat on their faces in interview after interview demonstrating a lack of knowledge of their own manifesto and its implications for ordinary people and a complete failure to understand the issues involved.They were lining up to make themselves and their party appear ridiculous. Boris Johnson, Damien Green ,Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and even Philip Hammond took turns in stammering lines and mumbling inaccurate responses.
It is little wonder that with these performances and their car crash of a manifesto that conservative support is ebbing away, and people are now questioning whether this collection of individuals would be fit to manage a whelk stall let alone run a government and country.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Conservative party civil war over, "Forward together",manifesto promises.

Winter fuel payment: Scottish conservative leader promises Scottish pensioners will keep benefit.

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Ruth Davidson and Theresa May going different ways on winter fuel payments

Browsing through the front pages of today's media, or even watching the news on Sky or BBC, we might never know that a civil war has started in the conservative party over the content of their party manifesto, not over the costings of the"promises", (because no costings were included) but over the detail and some of the promises themselves. Could we even imagine the furore and hysterical outrage that would fill the front pages, had the Labour party produced a manifesto, that within 24 hours of its publication had flagship promises dismissed by sections of the party organisation, and candidates openly critical of policy detail. Thus is the situation today, with the conservative party in Scotland plainly stating that Scottish pensioners will retain their winter fuel payments in full, together with television licence and travel concessions and that there will be no means testing for pensioner benefits. The insurrection is not only confined to Scotland as a number of sitting conservative MP's in coastal constituencies around England are hostile to the proposals which will, they fear, cost them significant numbers of votes from their large pensioner populations.

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However, we would have to look very carefully for any mention of this momentous story in the newspapers.The most important stories it seems are Donald Trump and his visits to the Middle East, or Donald Trump and the FBI, or Julian Assange an the dropped assault charges, or BBC "Stars" having sex in the woods or, of course, Pippa Middleton's wedding and her contest with Meghan Markle for the "best bum" title. 
With only some 18 days to go to polling day in the most important election for decades and one which will decide the fate of this country for decades to come, it is inconceivable that the media should avoid coverage of events where the party until recently in government should be tearing itself apart over its manifesto for the next parliament should it be re elected to power. It is not only on the question of cutting winter fuel payments, (where the proposed means test will effectively stop any pensioner not in receipt of Pension Credit from obtaining the benefit), it is also about scrapping the "Triple lock" on State pensions, appointment to the board of directors from the workplace, 12 months leave for carers and bereaved parents and other manifesto promises where different conservative MP's are furious with Theresa May for varied reasons, considering her measures to be high handed and presentation to be verging on dictatorial.
There is little prospect of the growing schisms within the conservative party being healed any time soon or of any "cease fire" being declared, to bring a temporary truce to these open hostilities. It is unimaginable that Theresa May would delete large sections of her manifesto to appease the critical sections of her MP's as this would not be seen as "strong and stable leadership". In any case, to rewrite a complete manifesto within the space of 18 days, would be impracticable even if the conservatives had the "policies" to fill another 84 pages, which all the available evidence tells us that clearly they have not.
The conservatives and their media allies, went into this election believing that they only had to "turn up on the day" in order to achieve a landslide or even tsunami victory on June 8th, with an overall majority of 150 or even 200 seats.Over the course of the last 10 days, this overconfident attitude in taking the result for granted has eroded as more people found Labour policies were not as ominous as the conservatives and the prophets of doom in the media had been threatening. The publication of the fully costed Labour party manifesto "For the many not the few" draws more support from the voters with promises which are both popular and sensible, and strike a chord with many ordinary people around the country.
The disintegrating conservative party has nothing to offer the people of this country except more of the same and another 5 years of austerity, cuts falling living standards declining services, a continuing crisis in housing and the further decline of our NHS and social welfare.
The open warfare within conservative ranks over their announced "policies" has diminished their credibility as a government and has certainly eroded any opinion poll lead they may have thought that they had. The deafening silence from their media supporters is indicative of a party that is in serious trouble and of a propaganda machine that knows it.


Friday, 19 May 2017

A Conservative manifesto guaranteed to create divisions in our society

Theresa May accused of failing to tackle the growing crisis in NHS and social care, with a 'smoke and mirrors' manifesto.

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It is the morning after the day before and during the 24 hours or so since  "Forward, Together":, the conservative party manifesto, was revealed the media, with one or two notable exceptions, have managed to overcome their initial consternation and again fall into line behind their favourite in the election stakes. With proposals which are guaranteed to create divisions in our society, the conservative manifesto is a document produced by a party who still believes that the result of the election is a foregone conclusion and consequently can reveal their real intentions. For the elections since 2010, and some before, the conservative pre amble speeches have invariably contained words to the effect that "the country faces some challenging and difficult decisions". The election in less than three weeks time is no exception.
The conservatives plan (if they form the next government) to means test the winter fuel payments, which will result in taking away up to £300 for almost 10 million pensioners. This measure, effecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, has been warmly welcomed by groups such as The Inter-generational Foundation who argue that, " the Winter Fuel Allowance is extremely inefficient and unfair on the younger generation". As expected, the media and television were able to find some young and middle aged voters who were quite ready to assert how they considered the benefit to be unfair and question why they should be expected to fund the older generation. The politics of divide and rule, as one section of society is set against another. In another blow to pensioners, the Prime Minister announced the the Triple lock on State Pensions would be scrapped, to be replaces by a "Double lock" linking pensions to earnings or inflation.
On the provision of Social Care, the conservatives want people to pay more towards the cost of their care, but are prepared to wait until after death before taking it from the estate. However, the value of an elderly person's property will now be included in the means test for care in their own home, meaning more people will become liable to contribute to the cost of being looked after.
However, when it comes to changes in taxation, all levels of society, the old, the young and the middle aged will be paying more. Of course that will not be the case with companies and businesses,  where corporation tax is to be reduced to 17 % from the current level of 20%.This leaves every one else to fund the tax concessions and give away hand outs for business and the rich. Income tax, National Insurance and VAT rates are all set to rise for the 95% of the British people who again bear the increased tax burden as the conservatives promise only to, "keep tax as low as possible".

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Writing in today's Independent, Dominic Rabb, the member for Esher and Walton, says that  "Labour has abandoned its voters" adding that " After today's manifesto, the Conservatives are now the party of working Britain". A conservative party which increases taxes for working people, cuts NHS funding, reduces benefits for thousands of claimants a party which is responsible for a massive increase in Food bank usage even amongst working people such as nurtures, removes winter fuel payments for all pensioners except those who may be on Pension credits, and demonizes one section of society against another. Working people against benefit claimants, young and middle aged against pensioners, able bodied against disabled, and home owners against those who rent their homes and those who will never be able to rent or buy as the housing crisis remains chronic around the country. A party who creates and perpetuates division can never describe itself as " the party of working Britain".

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Now that the publication of the manifesto's is over, we have less than three weeks to argue our case for those policies which will transform peoples lives and make this country a fairer society for all our people. I have always argued that the result of this election is not a foregone conclusion and all indications are that the conservative party and its supporters in the media and on television are admitting this, if only to themselves, as the evidence of popular support for the Labour party proposals continues to grow.
We shall witness over the remaining days of the election campaign, an even greater level of hostility and venom directed at the labour party and its leadership.In the face of this animosity from our political opponents, we must continue to seek a better society in a country for the many not for the few.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Conservative manifesto "Forward, Together", does not create a "Fairer Britain".

Tory manifesto: more elderly people will have to pay for own social care.

Theresa May unveils ‘difficult but necessary’ measures

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In complete contrast to the hysterical outbursts from the the larger part of the media, marking the launch of the Labour party manifesto, Theresa May today (18th May) launches the conservative party manifesto, "Forward, Together": Our plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future", for the coming election (At least she used the words our plan instead of my plan).The manifesto has has already had an initial preview by the press, when the "embargo" was lifted last night to ensure that the morning papers had time to prepare their headlines generally in support, or at least not critical, of the measures proposed as conservative policy for the next parliament. In this they were not disappointed as the party faithful were able to enjoy their toast, marmalade and coffee while perusing their morning "Vote conservative" propaganda, led by the Express banner headline of "May's Plan for a fairer Britain" and the Daily Mail trumpeting that "You won't have to sell your home to pay for your care".
However, not all the papers are as enthusiastic as Theresa May and presumably Conservative Central Office, might have hoped for. In what amounts to a great gamble, the Prime Minister has announced a number of measures which will clearly not be popular with many voters, particularly amongst pensioners. The Times announces "Thousands hit by new care costs" adding that elderly property owners will have to pay more for their care.

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In other parts of the press, we learn that the "triple lock" on pensions will be abandoned, winter fuel payments will be means tested, effectively ending that benefit for all but the very poor, free school lunches will be scrapped but will offer free breakfasts across the primary years. The Conservative manifesto will no doubt be analysed over the coming days as more people come to realise the detrimental effect that "Forward together" will have on their everyday lives. The party that only recently, claimed that the Labour party had "deserted the working class" and that "the conservatives are the true workers party" , are now exposed as the party that will raise income tax and National Insurance, scrap the triple-lock on the state pension, means test social care and winter fuel payments,cut corporation tax to 17%, no commitment to build more housing, but a plan to halve rough sleeping over the course of the next parliament. 

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The conservatives again ensure that the vast majority of people in this country have nothing to look forward to other than more years of austerity, more cuts to welfare, continuing decline of our NHS, introduction of means testing for many welfare payments and there will be no increase in the level of VAT, albeit that VAT may be applied to current zero rated goods and services.
Theresa May wants us to believe that she is a different kind of Tory. A Tory who is capable of running a government for the benefit of all the people and not just a few. A Tory who promised to present a manifesto that would boost the rights of workers and would contain the greatest family friendly policies ever presented to the British people by a conservative party going into a general election. In this aspiration and with this promise she has failed miserably and we still have three weeks to go before polling day.
As we  look at these conservative proposals,one thought keeps coming to mind. Why is it that "May's plan for a fairer Britain" only emerges 3 weeks before a general election. The conservatives have had seven years to create a fairer Britain and have done nothing during that time but to inflict more austerity and more cuts. You may be excused for detecting political opportunism tinged with severe cynicism.

Labour party manifesto "For the many not the few" launched

Jeremy Corbyn officially launches Labour's election manifesto 'for the many, not the few'

Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour party manifesto, "For the many not the few", for the 2017 general election was unveiled on Tuesday (16th May) and was immediately attacked by the "usual suspects" in the media and television. "Comrade Corbyn flies the Red Flag" was the less than original headline from the Evening Standard, while the Telegraph wades in with "Tax, borrow,spend. Corbyn is Hugo Chavez on steroids" and "Corbyn plan to Bankrupt UK" from the Mail are but a flavour of the maniacal British press in full flow, focusing their maliciousness on the "Bogey man" and the party he leads because they and their conservative party confederates are only too well aware that support for the Labour party and the policies for the many not the few, is growing around the country. The television channels waded into the fray that night with a blend of bias and antipathy aimed at the Labour manifesto, in all of their news coverage and their review programmes. The tactic is clear and as old as history. When your opponent is gaining ground, push every argument, every misrepresentation, every smear, every accusation or insinuation that you can find into the public "debate". It matters not whether what you are saying is true or not, it only matters that the people are aware of the message.
It is the policies in the manifesto that the conservatives and the media fear, and the knowledge that the conservatives have no credible responses. It is the fear that voters around the country are responding positively to the Labour party programme and that Labour government would have the political will to implement these policies.

The 2017 Labour part manifesto is a "radical" manifesto with major new announcements , costings
and  with pledges on childcare, fat cats, tax and nationalisation, school fees, a pledge to build one million new homes, end to zero hour contracts and reform of the Trade Union Act and other far reaching measures which will transform peoples lives. 

The full text of "For the many not the few", can be found at