TTIP is dead in the water, but post-Brexit Britain could be in for something even worse : Another angry voice.

Remember all that opportunistic Brexiter fearmongering about the TTIP corporate power grab? Remember how they said we had to quit the EU to avoid the horror of this US-EU corporate takeover? Remember how they scoffed when people like me pointed out that it’s catastrophically unpopular with the European public, the negotiations are failing (especially after the major leak of secret negotiation documents in May 2016) and that it was as good as dead because Greece and Portugal had vowed to veto it?

Well in the last couple of days the German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said that the TTIP negotiations have de facto failed” and the French trade minister Matthias Fekl has publicly demanded the whole thing gets scrapped. Never mind the fact that Greece had a veto the whole time, if the French and Germans are no longer on board, the TTIP project has been completely and totally derailed.

Within a couple of months of the vote for Brexit it’s completely obvious that TTIP is doomed.The sooner the whole pro-corporate sovereignty-grab gets thrown on the scrap heap the better for the people of the EU.

Meanwhile in Britain the Tories (who were always passionately in favour of the TTIP corporate power grab) are reinvigorated after Brexit and by the Blairite decision to use Brexit as an excuse to self-destruct the Labour Party instead of holding the Tories to account for Cameron’s failed EU gamble and the plethora of lies spewed by the Tory Vote Leave mob.

As a result of this Tory rejuvenation we’re looking at the prospect of a savagely right-wing bunch of Tories negotiating a US-UK corporate power grab that will make the failed TTIP project look like a pleasant walk in the park in comparison. We’ve witnessed a classic “out of the frying pan, into the fire” manoeuvre from the British electorate.

Hillary Clinton is clearly another corporate puppet to follow Obama, so a corporate power grab negotiated between her team and the likes of the Boris Johnson and the disgraced Liam Fox (maybe he’ll invite his special friend Adam Werrity along to sit in on the classified negotiations?) could be spectacularly bad. But if the American electorate are bonkers enough to elect Donald Trump as President, just imagine the kind of environmentally ruinous, pro-corporate, anti-worker, consumer protection destroying shit-show Trump and the Tories could concoct between them.

The Tories are still stalling on invoking Article 50 (because they’re terrified of actually pressing the economic self-destruct button), so any potential trade deal with the US is years away yet, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s Clinton or Trump on the other side of the negotiating table, it’s absolutely clear that if the Tories are on the British side of the negotiating table, they will be negotiating on behalf of the corporations and the super-rich millionaires who bankroll their party, and against the interests of ordinary British workers.

It’s a sad irony that Brexiter fearmongering about the doomed TTIP corporate power grab has led us into a situation where the remainder of the EU quickly ends up chucking the whole TTIP debacle in the bin, while the British public will likely end up getting lumbered with a Tory negotiated US-UK pro-corporate anti-worker charter that’s far far worse than the aborted TTIP experiment ever would have been.

Link : Another angry voice.

Rip-off Britain is going to get worse as the purse strings tighten : Guardian.

From parking fines to airline fares, society’s financialisation is seeing the collective cake shrink as the rich claim an ever larger slice.

Issuing parking ticket
Councils and hospitals under pressure countenance all sorts of money-raising schemes they would have rejected in happier times, writes Michael White. Photograph: Photofusion/Rex/Shutterstock

It is the dog end of August and the sun is shining in many places. A cue for all sorts of predatory people in the thriving British holiday trades to rip off customers who don’t always have a choice and feel ambushed.

In a remote and empty Lake District car park the other day my sister fell foul of an unclear car parking regime. It led to a fine being levied for outstaying the time she had paid for by a few minutes. It happens to us all. In crowded Notting Hill last week, a man told me his car had once been given a penalty notice while he was away at the ticket machine paying his £1.60 for 30 minutes.

What surprised my sister in Wordsworth Country was that there was no visible presence of authority at the car park, no highwayman in a black mask and an attendant’s uniform. She had been traced by the parking firm via information on her vehicle, her address located with the help of the DVLA in Swansea. Yes, I said, the Daily Mail and others have been hammering on about this little money spinner for a while.

We can all understand why the police need to be able to find who drivers are in a hurry. But despite bland ministerial assurances, the DVLA gives such data to all sorts of operators. Protest groups are on the case, citing privacy laws and data protection rights. As anyone knows if they have fought an unwarranted penalty notice – that Notting Hill man won in the end – it can be hard work.

But as money gets ever tighter this sort of battle is going to expand in all directions, public and private.

Councils and hospitals under pressure countenance all sorts of money-raising schemes they would have rejected in happier times. All over the country I see evidence of parking regulations which are deliberately hard to understand, even hard to see.

It isn’t all local authority rascality, far from it. The Sunday Times published a feature in its family finance sector on the widespread practice whereby amusement parks treat 12-year-olds as adults.

Airlines are notorious for charging a full adult fare to children over two – though I suppose a seat is a seat, however large or small its occupant. Air passenger duty was scrapped for the under-16s on 1 March – a bit of government appeasement. I should add that the Sunday Times – which reported an online revolt being organised by two smart 16-year-olds – found that a few organisations, including the National Trust, regard children as just that until they are 18.

But tight profit margins and falling demand (or is it rising demand in a captive market?) can make for some pretty piratical behaviour as well as unavoidable belt tightening by wholesome voluntary groups. When our new neighbour took us to her allotment open day recently she said: “I’m afraid we’ve had to start charging a £1 entrance fee this year.” There were some lovely courgettes and roses.

It’s all part of the “financialisation” of society whereby the collective cake shrinks – and the super rich claim an ever larger slice – forcing the rest of us to try to exert leverage over some corner.

Read More : The Guardian.

MPs receive identical death threats over the weekend : Guardian.

Same message and image of severed head has been emailed to at least 25 MPs, says Labour’s Chris Bryant

Chris Bryant
Chris Bryant says he can not give further details because of the police investigation. Photograph: Dinendra Haria/REX/Shutterstock

More than two dozen MPs have been sent an identical message threatening to kill them and their family, along with a picture of a severed head.

Chris Bryant, a former shadow cabinet minister, said police were investigating the threats against at least 25 MPs made at the weekend, which come two months after the murder of his Labour colleague Jo Cox.

Bryant said threats against politicians were on the rise and those who are women, gay or from a minority ethnic background appeared to receive the worst treatment.

“I don’t want to give too much detail because obviously there is a police investigation going on now,” he said. “But the truth is that this is a regular part of what we are dealing with at the moment, and I don’t want police to waste time and I don’t want politicians to be treated differently, but the truth of the matter is that we are in the public eye and somehow or other, this world of the internet has fostered an anger and a bitterness which a lot of us are still bearing the emotional scars of losing one of our colleagues earlier on this year. And the sad thing is that is not the only time that has happened.”

The identical death threats are understood to have been sent to MPs from across the parties and contain a same message: “Warning I am going to kill you and all of your family.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said the force was investigating a linked series of threatening emails that had been received by a number of MPs since Friday.

“All of these emails have been received via MPs’ parliamentary email accounts. No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing. This is not being treated as a terrorist incident,” he added.

People have been prosecuted in recent months for making death threats to Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Ben Bradshaw.

Read More : The Guardian.

Social security system fast becoming unfit for purpose, says study : Welfare Weekly.

Most low-income working households to be worse off by 2020, and families on out-of-work benefits face losing fifth of income.

This article titled “Social security system fast becoming unfit for purpose, says study” was written by Patrick Butler Social policy editor, for on Tuesday 30th August 2016 23.01 UTC

The UK’s social security system is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose, as successive cuts leave children and working age adults with an increasingly inadequate safety net for when families fall on hard times, according to a study.

Most low-income working households will be worse off by 2020, while years of social security squeezes mean the income of families on out-of-work benefits will have fallen by up to one-fifth, the analysis by the Fabian Society shows.

At the same time, the cash value of the basic personal tax allowances is on course to have increased by 80% in 2020 from what it was in 2010, meaning that by the end of the decade a typical high-income household will receive more financial support from the state than low-income families reliant on benefits.

Without an urgent overhaul, the crisis in living standards for poorer families will get worse over the next few years as their incomes deteriorate, while child poverty and inequality will rise sharply, even with strong economic growth, the study says.

John Godfrey
John Godfrey. Photograph: Public domain

The findings come as Theresa May seeks to put flesh on her promise to fight for the interests of “just managing” working families struggling with job insecurity and high living costs. Her social reform cabinet committee meets this week and welfare policy is thought to be on the agenda.

The prime minister’s director of policy, John Godfrey was corporate affairs director at Legal & General when he arranged for the insurer to co-fund the Fabian Society report along with the housing charity Shelter. Godfrey is known to favour developing forms of social insurance in areas such as unemployment and sickness benefit to supplement existing social security support.

The study says the case for replacing state protection with private insurance is weak, but it argues that ideas that complement a publicly funded social security system, such as a match-funded auto-enrolment savings scheme for low- and middle-income households, or an income protection scheme for middle- to high-income workers, should be piloted.

Its conclusions were broadly welcomed by Labour whose work and pensions team under the former shadow secretary Owen Smith worked closely with the Fabian Society on the report.

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said that without a rethink of social security policy the majority of households would see little improvement in living standards over the next decade.

Debbie Abrahams of Labour
Debbie Abrahams says a rethink of social security policy is needed. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

She said: “Like the NHS, our social security system is based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us of our dignity and the basics of life, should any one of us become ill or disabled or fall on hard times. That safety-net will be inadequate without policy change.”

Read More : Welfare Weekly.

It’s cock-up after Balls-up for blundering blokes of Labour : Socialist Worker.

Poor old Owen Smith can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.

The Labour leadership contender who recently discovered he was a ­socialist spoke in Hull last week.

The only coverage concerned whether he’d made a joke about having a 29 inch penis. That would put him on roughly the same level of debate as US right winger Donald Trump.

Smith’s team insist that far from bragging about his intimidating masculinity, he was making a
“­self-deprecating” joke about his height.

Troublemaker finds that a bit of a tall tale. Or a long shot at least.

Then again Smith seems exactly the type who’d have the wit neither to avoid an offensive joke nor to think of it in the first place.

Perhaps he did just trip up. Hardly surprising really.

Just like when he said he’d “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”.

And when he said that having a wife and kids made him “normal” unlike ­lesbian rival Angela Eagle.

And when he said Plaid Cymru party leader Leanne Woods was only getting on TV because she was a woman.

And when he made a crass comparison to ­domestic violence to describe the Tory-Lib Dem ­coalition.

If you’re feeling generous, you could say Smith just can’t stop muddling his message whenever he’s on camera. Or on stage. Or in print.

Exactly the lack of “media savvy” his lot claim to obsess about in Jeremy Corbyn.

Still, it gives him something in common with former shadow chancellor Ed Balls. He’s preparing for his chance to swagger around the set of Strictly Come Dancing by serialising his ­memoirs in the Times newspaper.

Within the first few paragraphs he’s committed various driving offences, fluffed a TV interview and become a running joke on Twitter.

But the main point is to say Ed Miliband lost the general election through an “astonishingly dysfunctional” lack of asking Ed Balls for advice.

Which is surprising really since Ed Balls was the one to lose his seat.

Just who is the Green Party’s new leader? Its MP Caroline Lucas was an obvious frontrunner—on a joint ticket with Christian pundit Jonathan Bartley.

That’s a major leg-up for Bartley—who vocally opposes abortion out of “respect for unborn life”—but not for women’s lives.

He also led the dismal Yes campaign in the 2011 Alternative Voting referendum. So happily he has form in failing.

Link : Socialist Worker.


Can Jeremy Corbyn’s plans work? : Socialist Worker.

Rivals attack Corbyn’s policies as ‘loony left’ but millions back them nevertheless. Raymie Kiernan and Tomáš Tengely-Evans look at what difference his policies could make

What is Corbyns blueprint for a Labour government?

What is Corbyn’s blueprint for a Labour government?

Jeremy Corbyn is putting forward the policies that he believes a Labour government should carry through to make Britain a country that works for “the millions not the millionaires”.

He has called, for example, for an extra £500 billion in public spending. This would be used to build new homes, boost the NHS and education and reduce income inequality.

He proposes to set up a National Investment Bank to direct moves towards a hi-tech and green-based economy.

Corbyn wants a “national education service” that includes free childcare, the abolition of tuition fees and a boost for adult education services.

Even a brief glance shows such policies are far better than the ones that Corbyn’s challenger Owen Smith is putting forward.

Corbyn’s leadership and the infusion of new members has pushed Labour leftwards. Smith knows he cannot confront directly a substantial amount of what Corbyn says.

So Smith, the supporter of the chicken coup and former pharmaceuticals industry lobbyist, says he will “deliver a revolution in workers’ rights”.

But the detail reveals the weakness of his vision. Smith, for example says he agrees with Corbyn that zero hours contracts should be outlawed. But he quickly added that a one-hour contract could be acceptable.

Corbyn says the millions of workers earning less than the Living Wage should earn above it. Smith proposes “a true living wage”—extended to all adults.

In his pitch for the youth vote he said the minimum wage “would be raised to meet the living wage of £8.25, giving an annual pay rise of £5,369 to a worker aged between 18-20”. It’s right that young people should not be paid less for doing the same job as older workers.

But for the 87.5 percent of workers in Britain aged 25 and over Smith’s “true living wage” would leave them in the same place as the Tories’ phoney National Living Wage in 2020.

Try as he might, it’s hard to believe Smith will go beyond changing some of the Tories’ worst policies since 2010, and even then it’s clear he’s supported some of what they’ve done.

Richard Branson’s obvious hatred for Corbyn is one early sign of the hostility a left-led Labour government would face.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn see a much more principled, genuine politician. He goes further than Smith on workers’ rights. He argues that workers should have “a real say in the organisations they work for, and the boardrooms that control them”.

Collective bargaining with trade unions “should be mandatory” at firms with more than 250 workers and in general “sectoral union bargaining rights” should be introduced.

The Guardian newspaper also recently reported “aides to the Labour leader” saying that a Corbyn government would “repeal” 1999 union legislation that was passed by Tony Blair’s government.

But this example shows that Corbyn’s policies need to go much further if they are to offer real change. What we should be fighting for is the scrapping of all anti-union laws.

Corbyn’s calls for nationalisation of transport and health services (see below) strike a chord with huge numbers of people. But like his arguments on workplace rights and union representation, reversing privatisation and the market in our public services needs more radical policies and a wider fight than in parliament.

Corbyn’s polices are based in the idea that with a bit of pressure bosses can be pushed into working alongside workers as the economy grows for all. But it’s an illusion.

Britain’s bosses will fight tooth and nail to protect their position. Virgin’s Richard Branson’s obvious hatred for Corbyn is one early sign of the hostility a left-led Labour government would face.

It wouldn’t just involve manipulation of CCTV pictures. Labour would face the much more serious withdrawal of investment and manipulation of currencies and bonds.

Privatised public services are cash cows for corporations and improving workers’ pay and conditions is a direct challenge to their profits.

Supporters need to do more than hope for a Corbyn government in 2020. Improvements in working class living standards will be the result of class struggle outside parliament. We need mass demonstrations that demand the kinds of things Corbyn calls for—that’s the best way for his supporters to strengthen his position against the Labour right.

But we have to go further and use the industrial power of workers to show the bosses that we aren’t taking no for an answer.

Link : Socialist Worker.

Labour right step up the purge : Socialist Worker.

Jeremy Corbyn has huge support. But many of his supporters are being purged from the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has huge support. But many of his supporters are being purged from the Labour Party (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Thousands of Labour members have had their party membership suspended as part of a bid by the right to steal the leadership election.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said party officials were carrying out a “rigged purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters”.

His comments came after several Labour Party members complained about receiving letters telling them that they had been suspended.

Many have been singled out for comments made on Twitter or for previously supporting other parties.

One member was told their application was rejected because “you declared your support for the Green Party on social media in June 2015”.

Surely the Labour Party ought to welcome those who have previously backed another party but now want to back Corbyn?

Another member was told they had made “inappropriate comments on Twitter on 13 January 2013”.

Labour has even suspended Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Labour-affiliated Bfawu union.

Draper, who has been in the party for 40 years, was suspended last Thursday due to comments he made on Twitter. He said he planned to “challenge my suspension robustly”.


He added, “I am extremely concerned that suspensions and bans are being imposed in a politically motivated way.

“The only explanation I have been given is that this is something to do with an unidentified tweet I have posted. I am now blocked from attending Labour Party meetings, annual conference and voting in the leadership election.”

Other suspended members include Theresa Rollinson, who helped lead the 90-day Care UK strike in 2014. Former miner John Dunn, who is part of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, has also been suspended.

McDonnell described Draper’s suspension “by Labour Party officials” as “shocking”.

Corbyn has written to the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol to raise “concerns about whether members are being treated in a consistent and proportionate manner”.

The Labour right hope the clean-out of members will narrow the gap between Corbyn and his challenger Owen Smith.

Some Labour MPs last week released figures from their own private polling, which they claim shows Smith is catching up.

But Corbyn’s election campaign rolled on with large rallies last week.

They included places such as traditionally Tory-supporting Chelmsford, and Dundee where Labour lost support to the Scottish National Party after the independence referendum in 2014.

The Labour right are fearful of the party’s membership, which still backs Corbyn.

Their solution is to carve their own members out of the party.

Link : Socialist Worker.