A socially just welfare state would slash spending…says a lefty

8th June, 2012 4:17 pm

The popular myth is that the welfare state props up workshy scroungers, who are – in the words of the Prime Minister – “sitting on their sofas waiting for their benefits”.

Instead, today’s welfare state props up wealthy landlords, low-paying employers and government failure. It is this that a Labour government must address in a new welfare policy. Labour needs a three-pronged approach marrying social justice with slashing the welfare budget.

Look at the figures: in 2010 we spent £188bn on welfare. If we take away the £78bn spent on the elderly – which most people don’t consider as welfare anyway – that leaves £110bn. Of that, £42bn is spent on benefits for people on low incomes – much of it through housing benefit and tax credits. Likewise much of the £34bn on ‘children and families’ is also required because of inadequate incomes.

Unemployment benefit itself accounts for just under £5bn (or 2.5%) of total welfare spending – yet this could be reduced massively if the government had any strategy for creating jobs. In fact the real exchequer benefit of getting people into work is not the saving on paltry Jobseeker’s Allowance, but in getting taxes from someone in work.

Housing benefit does cost too much. The solution though is not to cap benefits, and force people to move from Stoke Newington to Stoke-on-Trent, but to build council housing. This would help solve the triple crisis of unemployment (by creating jobs), housing shortage, and welfare expenditure.

Any housing benefit paid to council tenants is effectively just a book-keeping matter for the Treasury – transferring amounts from welfare budgets back to councils (and then back to the Treasury again for reallocation). It costs the state only a small administrative cost. Currently an army of tax-subsidised buy-to-let merchants are leeching billions from welfare coffers to house people in often substandard and overcrowded accommodation. Speak to any London Labour MP and they’ll tell you the desperate stories of their constituents being exploited by landlords and harassed by officials trying to cut housing benefit costs.

So one part Labour’s policy will be a mass building programme of council housing – at least 100,000 every year for at least a Parliament.

A second strand must be to turn the national minimum wage into a living wage – something Ed Miliband was once very keen on. While it was undoubtedly one of the last Labour government’s great achievements, it has lost value in recent years due to below-inflation increases. The UK minimum wage is worth just 46% of average earnings, compared to France or New Zealand where their minimum wages are worth 60%. Low incomes require tax credits (and housing benefit – 93% of new claimants in the last two years were in work) and effectively subsidise low paying employers.

Now I know some Progress types will be uncomfortable about saying we must force businesses to pay their staff higher wages – but don’t think of it like that. Instead say, ‘we’re privatising the cost and slashing the welfare bill’. Win-win. Plus they can afford it: corporation tax has been slashed from 33% in 1997 to 24% today.

The third and final strand of Labour’s new welfare policy must be full employment. As the 1945 Labour manifesto said, “there is no reason why Britain should not afford such programmes but she will need full employment and the highest possible industrial efficiency in order to do so”. I’m encouraged that Liam Byrne has recognised full employment to be the “crucial foundation stone” of the welfare state.

So we can combine social justice with slashing welfare spending. We just need to get tough with the exploiters not the exploited.

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  • UKAzeri

    now lets see a shadow cabinet minister say this  :)))

    • treborc1

       lets see what the new labour gang say, a few on labour list who moan about welfare scroungers.

      The BRITISH managers who choose to employ Eastern Europeans do
      it for a reason. Consistently they say that it is because they work
      harder and are more reliable. 

      We have a large class of people who don’t want to work / do the bare
      minimum. They are not working class because work is an anathema to them.
      But here is the rub, Simon what do you think of those who are happy to
      live on benefits, what should be done? The party recognise this is an
      issue and brushing it under the carpet is not the answer. The welfare
      state was never designed to support a benefits culture.

      • UKAzeri

        the recent Dave Slave incident under the bridge is a clear example how companies are heavily subsidiesed with minimal benefits for the workers. 100gbp on their kits is nothing compa4red to paying minumum wage !

        • Dave Postles
          • derek

            And they call themselves “close protection” the ultimate “Firm” aka mob.

          • treborc1

             labour have experience of close protection at conference when they tried to throw the Labour gentleman out.

            The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old member was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling.

            Walter Wolfgang, from London, was ejected from the hall after shouting
            “nonsense” as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy.

            Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang’s re-entry, but he was not arrested.

            Party chairman Ian McCartney criticised Mr Wolfgang’s behaviour but said the way he was ejected was “inappropriate”.

            In my day at conference we would boo people who we did not agree with, we slow hand clapped others, but new Labour was the party of control.

            we the party members also asked would the laws on terrorism ever be used out side of this and the labour party said and I quote ” Never”.

            And worse of course Walter lived through the Nazi regime of 1939

      • JeannieBenn

         The benefit culture only exist in the pages of the Murdoch press.  The majority of those on long term benefits are there because they believe there is no option.  Raise the minimum wage and raise taxes on the rich.  Re-nationalise railways and utility companies, intense government investment in industry and manual skills apprentiships…. just to start. 

        • John Dore

          As it goes Jeannie, I agree raise the min wage, renationalise the railways as we can afford it bit by bit. As for the taxes on the rich, history tells us they’ll FO and somewhere else or avoid it. On the long term unemployed history shows us that foreigners get jobs so why cant the long term unemployed? IMHO two reasons 1. social reasons and we must work with these people, 2 people like Tre-Boring who dont want to work.

          To say “The benefit culture only exist in the pages of the Murdoch press.” is denial.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            To John Dore,

            I’m not going to get involved in an argument, but from what he has previously written, Treborc1 fell from a ladder on a construction site, is paraplegic and also acts as far as he can as a carer for his wife.  He has written before of going to the Job Centre looking for work, but as you can imagine, there is only limited scope.  I believe that with all of that in his life, it is unfair to award him the title of “feckless” that you do.

            My impression of reading his very frequent posts on LL is that he is disillusioned with the society he lives in, and he very probably has the right to feel that.

          • treborc1

             Did you notice your comment on my bit Bore…..

          • John Dore

            I don’t care what you say. You don’t add any value other than calling people names. You deserve everything you get.

            You’re waster, so I’m not going to bother replying to your ridiculous posts any more.

          • John Dore

            P.S. feel free to call me names at will.

          • derek

            OK! Dork!!!  

          • treborc1


        • ThePurpleBooker

          *sigh* Mutualise the rail network providers (NOT re-nationalisation), expanding University Technical Colleges and apprenticeships, encourage a living wage in the private sector through tax breaks and more investment in infrastructure projects. Most of your proposals are bonkers and just denial.

          • treborc1

             So says an Ex Liberal, who had to come to labour to make us Liberals

        • treborc1

           It also lives in the Labour party and Tory party, the information the media gets about work shy or scroungers came of course from all of labour leaders including the one now. I knocked on the door a man came he was disabled, it was obvious he could do something, I know because the tax payer next door told me. When asked what was wrong with the chap who  could work he  went onto something else.

          What we have right now is leaders who are basically interested in one thing power, they have no reasons to be in power except it’s better then opposition.

      • John Dore

        For anyone wondering that was me and I stand by those comments. There are people who dont want to work, its just denial.

        Also Tre-boring you should have found the quotes where I called out the FECKLESS as a particular issue. The more I read your posts the more I’m thinking you’re one of them.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          To John Dore,

          I’m not going to get involved in an argument, but from what he has previously written, Treborc1 fell from a ladder on a construction site, is paraplegic and also acts as far as he can as a carer for his wife.  He has written before of going to the Job Centre looking for work, but as you can imagine, there is only limited scope.

          I believe that with all of that in his life, it is unfair to award him the title of “feckless” that you do.

          • John Dore


            Thanks you for bringing that to my attention. not a proud man, I’ll retract that. He may be a paraplegic but that does not excuse his name calling or rudeness. I do not consider him a nice person.

          • AlanGiles

            I think many of us who have had to endure your insults and invective don’t consider you “a nice person” but that doesn’t stop you.
            Last week you asked me if I “had ever worked” (answer yes for nearly 50 years) last night you were calling me a “schoolboy”.
            If being a “nice person” was a ;pre-requisite of posting on LL, you, The Purple Booker and “aracataca/boconnor2″/william (three for the price of one) would have been drummed off long ago.

            You also knew that treborc was disabled before Jaime told you, because you yourself made reference to it at least twice yesterday.

            Pity you don’t go and troll somewhere else. I am sujre “Labour Uncut would appreciate your frequent use of the word “feckless”

            You are a total fake.

          • A good rule of conduct to follow (and one adopted in the house of commons) is to never refer to any other poster by name, use the word “you”, or accuse any other poster of “lying”.  These simple rules can (mostly) prevent any accusation of bullying, aggression or unpleasantness.

            I for one would not be disappointed if LL adopted these principles in some form…

          • AlanGiles

            Hi David, The only reason I pointed out “Mr Dore” ‘s (which I don’;t for a moment suppose is his real identity) peccadilloes is because he is always so firmly against anyone else being aggressive or unpleasant, but is amongst the first to break his own rules. In short he enjoys dishing it out, but can’t take it. He has no consideration for any poster who does not susbcribe to his own myopic right-wing views.

            He claims to be a Labour supporter – well, I have never seen any other “Labour” supporter who uses the word “feckless” virtually every day. Outside the Daily Express it is a word hardly anybody uses.

          • John Dore

            Sorry Alan, I know that the word feckless annoys you, as the feckless annoy me, I’ll talk about fecklessness at will.

          • Please play nicely, both of you

          • Ironically I just broke my own rule (using the word “you”)… rats! 😉

          • AlanGiles

            Try to learn some new words, “Mr. Dore”, “feckless” is getting to be a catchphrase for you, as trite and hackneyed as the Purple Booker’s neurotic “I mean”.

            I hate to see people embarrassing themselves.

          • John Dore

            Don’t give me that, you are just as rude if not more than I. You attempt to quash any opinion that is not in accordance with your myopic view of the world. Well sorry I don’t care if you want to cry in the corner of the playground.

          • AlanGiles


            At least learn some new insults – we had the schoolboy/playground thing last week and yesterday.

            Still go on if it amuses you – it just demonstrates further the poverty of your imagination.

            No wonder you are such a poor manager with 4 non-working members of staff (or so you say)

            By the by you claim to be a hard working 45 year old. How come, then, that you are on this board morning, noon and night, every day including workdays?

          • treborc1

             We cannot cry in the corner of the play ground John your  hogging it mate, anyway we are behind the bike shed

          • treborc1

             We cannot cry in the corner of the play ground John your  hogging it mate, anyway we are behind the bike shed

          • AlanGiles

            I think many of us who have had to endure your insults and invective don’t consider you “a nice person” but that doesn’t stop you.
            Last week you asked me if I “had ever worked” (answer yes for nearly 50 years) last night you were calling me a “schoolboy”.
            If being a “nice person” was a ;pre-requisite of posting on LL, you, The Purple Booker and “aracataca/boconnor2″/william (three for the price of one) would have been drummed off long ago.

            You also knew that treborc was disabled before Jaime told you, because you yourself made reference to it at least twice yesterday.

            Pity you don’t go and troll somewhere else. I am sujre “Labour Uncut would appreciate your frequent use of the word “feckless”

            You are a total fake.

          • treborc1

            That’s all right one thing I hate more then Blairites are people who feel sorry for me.

          • treborc1

             That is so true John, I would apologies, but sadly I cannot take back anything I’ve said.

            Your New labour, you say your not the left, we all know Labour is supposed to be a left leaning party it says so, it also says it’s a socialist party.

            You said on here socialism is rubbish.

            Lets see a person does not like lefties, does not agree with socialism, now what would you call that.

            hard one this.

            A Tory

          • treborc1

            I joined labour in 1966, I was then joined my Union for which I’ve been in since 1966.

            I obviously left labour in 2010 when the pratt Brown finally ended Labour chances of winning again, I had enough for years with Blair.

            I did not bother doing much in labour except going to a meeting every month, and gave up in 2010.

            I decided to take up Union duties as a Shop steward and then a safety rep and safety officer for the place I worked.

            Yes I’m Paraplegic it was not a ladder I fell from the roof of a Oil tank at an Oil refinery a floating roof tank which was 56ft.

            But none of that bothers me, I can fight my own corner and have been doing for the last twelve years, I have been on four TV programs in Wales and four radio shows in England talking about disability, one such show was with Peter Hain concerning the closure of Remploy factories.

            Do not worry about my  disability I can fight my own corner and there one thing disabled people hate and that is people feeling sorry for them, I do not feel sorry for me. My wife was born with spina bifida worked all her life and she is now my carer, although her spine is now crumbling.

            But a warning feel sorry for me and you’ll get your head bitten off.


          • derek

            I took my twin boys to Blackpool last year for a long weekend break, we stayed in the big blue hotel, the grounds of the hotel have secure parking and you exit by using a code so when I asked for the exit code the gentleman hotelier replied 1966 being a Scot I had to ask again what was the number 1314 LoL! that year does have a haunting sound when said.

  • treborc1

    I’m encouraged that Liam Byrne has recognised full employment to be the “crucial foundation stone” of the welfare state.So
    we can combine social justice with slashing welfare spending. We just
    need to get tough with the exploiters not the exploited.

    For the life of me I cannot  see labour building to many social housing in the future so rents will go up  if your expecting private land lord to take up the strain, they are just using the market as Mandy once said, the market will decide the price of a mortgages and of course rental, exploiting would be called market pressure.

    I notice you left out disability and sickness benefits I wonder why.

    I mean lets be honest Labours idea of creating jobs was the state, the state became massive and then labour decided to send these jobs across the country with the passport center  going to Newport in Wales, yet in Brown last years my Tax offices closed, my benefits office closed and my job center closed then in 2009 labour had to open the job center again with a 3 million new office.

    I can see out sourcing of work which will mean smaller employment within the state.

    And some  how Byrne does not do it for me.

    • “out sourcing”

      That’ll be more hand-outs to the private sector – wonder if they’ll get their employees to sit at desks beneath bridges… ?

      • treborc1

        What in India, because that’s the only way you can save real money

  • “. . . some Progress types will be uncomfortable about saying we must force businesses to pay their staff higher wages”

    And that’s the crux of the problem.

    In order for Labour to speak up for ordinary people and deal with the shortcomings of the welfare state (without tearing it up), it needs to break with the discredited ideology of ‘New Labour’.

    Progress, which is a Thatcherite group funded by big business and millionaires, is the only real roadblock to the party’s progress. They will never allow the leadership to adopt social democratic, not to mention socialist,  policies.

    At a time of economic recession, it is frankly disgraceful that there are people within a party of labour calling for wage restraint and support the government’s decision to shower the rich with a cut in the tax rate. They are a liability and a millstone around the party’s neck.

    It’s time for the Thatcherite entryists to return to their natural home. I hear the Tories are offering a discount to all Blairites: http://toryreformgroup.tumblr.com/post/17020269525/paul-abbott-let-blairites-join-conservative-party-for-1

    • John Reid

      Progress isn’t A Thatcherite group,It was centre right Of labour and Was Set Up by Derek Draper (who also set up this website) not set up by big business and millionaires, regarding anyone who feels that Thatcher may have been right On unions or spending what we don’t ahve ,it doens’t make Us Tory entryists, Alot of so called Porgress/Blairites Joined in the late 50’s were fans Of Hugh Gaistkell, felt their wing of the party was being sidelined and Unlike the SDP didn’t leave in 1981 when the Hard left infultrated and took over ,they just kept Quiet, Are you seriously saying you want the right of the party to leave, A bit like When the SDP left, becuase that put labour out of power for 14 more years and Cost us Millions of votes, Or would you consider getting rid of Blairites Justifed If Labour was out of power for years as it would be A moral victory,

       I seem to recall Tony Benn saying that, I’m sure if you were homelss in cardboard city or didn’t get the NHS operation you needed, And saw Tony Benn living in his mansion , You could agree that Tony benn was right losing the 83,87 elections were justifed as they were “moral victories”.

      •  Please take all the fake Labour tories with you.

        • John Reid

          I’m going no where.

          • The Lone Stranger

            Are you a fake Tory then?

          • John Reid

            No, Nico said take the fake tories with me, she didn’t say I was One,

          • The Lone Stranger

            So you’re a real Tory. OK.

        • ThePurpleBooker

          No, Nico how about you go and join Respect!

      • John Reid – a few points.

        1) Absolutely correct that Progress is centre-right. Cameron is also centre-right, and you should be aware that those political coordinates point straight to Thatcherism.

        2) Progress has nothing to do with Gaitskell or the Gaitskellites. They believed in some degree of social democracy – as envisioned by Anthony Crosland. Progress share nothing in common with them. They are not even right-wing social democrats. They are economically liberal and socially conservative: Thatcherites.

        3) I didn’t say Progress was set up by big business. It’s a matter of public record that they are funded by corporations and millionaires.

        4) Tony Benn did not lose the Labour Party a general election. You may have forgotten, but he was never the leader. Kinnock was leader from 1983 to 1992.

        5) It’s all very well talking about the NHS, but New Labour introduced the private sector in the NHS. They attempted to “reform” (i.e. privatize) huge swathes of the NHS. PFI, Foundation Hospitals, ISTCs to name but a few attacks on the NHS by New Labour. No social democrat, however ‘moderate’, would ever consider privatizing essential public utilities.

        Progress remain firmly devoted to “public sector reform” (privatization). They are a tight knit group of politically motivated men, funded by big business and millionaires, devoted to privatization, war and neoliberal capitalism.

        People need a Labour Party that will stand up for them when they need support. They don’t want Tory-lite.

        • John Reid

          People need a Labour Party that will stand up for them when they need support. They don’t need Tory-lite. – but what laobur was more interested in in 1983,1987, Like Anti racist mathematics or backing ‘bah bah black sheep’ wasn’t what the public wanted ,when they were crying out for A decent NHS, but it was what LAour stood for in 1983 and that was fully Endorsed By Tony benn, It was His manifesto that Leader Micheal foot ,not Neil Kinnock, put before the electorate and it was his manifesto that was thoroughly rejected by the Public and when the public were suffering ,it was tony Benn who said that “labour lost the 1983 election, as it wasn’t left wing enough” and Laobur lst in 1992 ,ecasue as much as the public disliked the Tories they still recalled the early 80’s and weren’t sure if laobur had distanced themesleves enough form it,
          I seem to recall all the people who say it was Kinnock not Benn’s fault that laobur lost elections are the saem ones who say it was Blair that won it in 1997,2001.
          laobur did introduced private things to the NHS ,but they saved it too, remember that had the Tories not won teh 83, 87 ,92 election then labour wouldn’t have had to have saved it in 1997,
          Pulbic sector reform= Privatisaion, that’s not the defenition I know in My dictionary.

          • John Reid.
            1) Yes. I’m glad to admit that the Labour Party opposed racism and homophobia throughout the 70s and 80s. They were extremely principled and saw that discrimination against blacks and gays was a social ill – and they fought against it. Are you telling me that Labour should have had no part in resisting discrimination?

            2) If anything the manifesto was less radical than the 1974 manifesto.

            3) Tony Benn did not mean that the manifesto was not left-wing enough, but that the Labour Party had failed to meet the growing disillusionment with a bureaucratic welfare state that was not accountable to them. He was right, and foresaw the emergence of the New Right long before anyone else in the political scene.

            4) Tony Blair won in 1997 because the Tories were discredited by Black Wednesday. Anyone Labour leader would have won after 18 years of Tory misrule.

            5) New Labour laid the foundations for the privatization of the NHS. Not even Thatcher touched the NHS. Major attempted PFI but it was effectively resisted. Tony Blair and Alan Milburn revived that policy, which has had a crippling effect on the NHS, undermined quality and deprived patients of specialist medication.

            6) “Privatization” might not be your definition of “public sector reform”, but that’s what it means to Progress. It means siphoning off public money to private companies, who in turn put the interests of profit before patients. All in the name of efficiency – except it has turned out to be a grossly inefficient way of public provision.

            In all seriousness, John, I think you need to learn the basics of the party’s history. You have been fed a load of horsefeed.
            Come back when you’ve done some reading. Cheers.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            You are a clearly very unintelligent woman if you believe all that. I mean all your six points are absolute rubbish, you make me laugh. I suspect you voted for Ed Miliband (thinking he was another Bennite) and then now you think he should defect. You should go and join Respect, seriously, you are completely and utterly stupid.

          • treborc1

             Your calling this lady unintelligent, you are a blithering idiot compared to her.

            jesus what next.

        • ThePurpleBooker

          I’m sorry but you belong in Respect. You are a hard-left, unelectable Bennite. Progress is not Thatcherite, socially conservative by any means – in fact suggest one suggestion from Progress that classifies it as Thatcherite. Your nonsense on public sector reform is ludicrous.

          • “one suggestion from Progress”

            Allow me to ejaculate:

            Jaqui Smith’s proposal for a scallops and celeriac purée delivery service* around the dining rooms of the City of London (in the hope of being offered policy ideas in return) was, I thought, very Thatcherite.


          • ThePurpleBooker

            She was talking in favour of responsible capitalism, how on earth is that Thatcherite! She was talking about selling our ideas on reforming the political economy we have!!

          • AlanGiles


            “a ‘scallops and celeriac purée’ offensive, a ‘baked figs and goats cheese’ offensive ….”

            Pretentious codswallop from one of the old expenses fiddlers – part of the problem, one of the reasons Labour lost, rather than a solution.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            It was a joke.

          • treborc1

             As is New labour these days

          • AlanGiles

            What  was ” a joke”? – pretending the box room was a second home, or the dirty DVDs? Or the 49p for the bath plug?

            Or you constant abusive posts towards Sibohan, myself and many others. Absuive terms like “nutcases” etc

            The problem with your jokes is that they are not funny.

          • Sure, we all want responsible and useful capitalism but Smith’s proposal seeks to explore then represent the interests of the City of London – an approach remarkably similar to Thatcher’s – with her prioritisation of finance capitalism, to the detriment of industry.

            Chuka Umunna’s suggestion of developing a UK equivalent of Germany’s mittelstand* would be far more fruitful in terms of Labour’s credibility, votes gained and growth/employment/deficit reduction.

             * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelstand

          • althejazz

            Responsible capitalism eh ! Wouldn’t that be a good idea

          • RogerMcC

            Really wish you’d avoid bringing up such unpleasant images…..

            And Robin Ramsay wrote a very good book called Prawn Cocktail Party about how it was John Smith and his chief acolyte Gordon Brown who consumed many a prawn cocktail and rubber chicken in corporate dining rooms in the early 90s.

          • treborc1

            Rubbish, Progress is one step away from being a political party of the right.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            Progress, is a pressure group in the Labour Party and influential in the party. How is it rightwing again? One policy proposal that puts on the right of the political spectrum. You are so far-left, if you go one step to the right you’ll be on the same position as Fidel Castro.

          • John Dore

            I wouldn’t worry about it PB, the party would go down that road and the public would never vote for it. Let her vent.

          • treborc1

            Well dear John the people did not vote for it did they, Labour had a bloody hammering at the last election.

            A Dear John……

        • treborc1

          Well said.

        • RogerMcC

          Loath as I am to defend Progress they are really not ‘socially conservative’ in any meaningful way.

          Are they opposed to abortion or gay marriage – or indeed gays in general?

          Are they enthusiastic misogynists devoted to returning women to ‘traditional’ domestic serfdom?

          Are they closet racists?

          Most are clearly centrist liberals in the US sense.

          The pity is that we have an electoral system that prevents them from going off and forming their very own party and that to make any impact in politics they have to join ours.

          • RogerMcC

            Gosh – didn’t even realise this was a 2 years old thread – which shows how perennial these arguments are….

      • a) Grammar and spelling should not be optional:  if you want people to engage with your opinions you should at least pay some attention to your spellchecker and remember that in English we do not capitalise words randomly. 

        b) For the most part Derek Draper and his accomplices in crime were not even born when Gaitskell died in 1963. 

        c) Many of us would argue that there is almost as wide a gulf between Progress and the old Labour right (as exemplified by say Roy Hattersley) as there is between them and the Labour left.

        • John Dore

          “Grammar and spelling should not be optional
          :  if you want people to engage with your opinions you should at least pay some attention to your spellchecker and remember that in English we do not capitalise words randomly. ”

           What elitist crap. Utter utter up yourself I’m better than you rubbish.

    • Goodness – Blairites can join the Tories for £1 !

      I sense a bidding war is in the offing. How much will Lord Sainsbury and pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Pharmacia (Progress’s paymasters) chip in to keep the Blairites on board?

      • treborc1

        If your unwaged it’s a £12 or £1 month with labour but of course you have to agree to be called work less or worthless or worse. But because all Blairites are in work and are not feckless they have to pay £4 a month

      • AlanGiles

        I’m feeling generous. I will gladly pay the £1 membership for any “Labour” supporter on LL who wants to join the Conservative Party, plus I will make a donation of the same amount to the RSPCA or Dogs Trust, for every new member we can recruit for them. 

        “John Feckless” et al – take note

      • It makes you wonder what these corporations get in return from Progress for their money…

        • AlanGiles

          I always found it interesting that prior to and during his tenure as a government minister Lord Sainsbury was one of the biggest donors to the Labour Party. It almost seemed hee was paying to work for the government, and now of course he bankrolls “Progress”.

          I think Lord S has far too much money. Next time any of us think of going into one of his Lordship’s supermarkets, we cross the road and go to a different one – I did this morning.

          And if I am not mistaken I think the Tory turncoat Shaun Woodward who suddenly, after almost a decade found “Section 28” unconsconable (just after Labour won it’s first landslide in 97), though he had no problem with it 1988-1997) and was rewarded with a nice safe Labour seat, is also related by marriage to the Sainsbury clan. I can’t speak for his butler though! 🙂

    • ThePurpleBooker

      Only 3 people who have described themselves as Blairites have defected. I have spoken to them and there is nothing Blairite or in deed centrist about any of them – they just stopped by Labour people and converted to real rightwingers. Perhaps, you can take a hint Siobhan – Respect need more activists in their pseudo-Marxist wonderland!

      • Hi ThePurpleBook – thanks for your intelligent contibution. I have never been described as a ‘Bennite’. I’m actually a left-wing Fabian. I’m not quite sure how this so relevant to the discussion, however.

        Perhaps you could enlighten me. Why is it that Progress is incapable of addressing the issues in a comradely, rational manner, rather than descending into personality attacks?

        • AlanGiles

          Siobhan. The Purple Booker considers anyone “Bennite”, “hard-left”. or even “Trotskyist” if they are even slightly to the left of Norman Tebbitt and Prince Philip.

          I would take little notice of him – he tends to over-egg his pudding, he has claimed on occassion to be a journalist, but it is hard to believe this when he writes in really angry more (a habit of peppering posts with “I mean…..” for example).

          Take this most recent post:

          “Only 3 people who have described themselves as Blairites have defected. I have spoken to them”

          This is frankly highly suspect. 3? who were they? why should they speak to him

          Sadly we do have a few jokers on LL, though sadly they are not very funny, and they are not representitive of the genuyine Labour supporters who do.

          The truth is people like PB only liked Labour in it’s Blairite phase – they really have no sympathy for traditional Labour views, nor any concept of civility.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            I don’t think you know what traditional Labor views are? How on earth do my views compare to Norman Tebbitt and Prince Phillip. I have literally had enough of all of you unintelligent, militant, hard-left people who troll Labour sites like ProgressOnline and LabourList in order to spread your pseudo-Marxist views! Ridiculous.

          • derek

            I kinda see ya that way to Booker! thin on top and heavy high laced boots. I’d take a crack at guessing your not even a moderniser just a good Noderniser! ding dong yes man.

          • AlanGiles

            I have never visited “Progress OnLine” still less posted on it, any more than I have ever visited or posted on Conservative Home?

            Why?. Because their ideas don’t interest me.

            It is a bit rich for you to describe others as unintelligent, if I may say so. Have you ever read any of your own pieces back?. This little hint that you “know people” – the blanket “Bennite” label you pin on everyone like Siobhan.

            And of course every post you disagree with is written by a “pseudo Marxist” in your somewhat fevered imagination.

            You are as fond of these words as “Mr Dore” is of feckless. It rather suggests a threadbare imagination.

            The coalition policies are failing, just as New Labour failed in the end – which of the three parties is going to struggle to achieve a majority in 2015 with policies which the public now see through?

            It is time for an alternative approach, and I don’t think this will eb achieved by yesterdays Blairite men and women.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            A bit rich? You clearly are thicker than a log. You and Siobhan are far-left nutcase who should not be in our party. You know little about Labour traditions, you cherrypick what politics you want and you don’t really understand politics or the political challenges Labour and the country faces.

          • treborc1

            Phew that’s great you understand politics.

          • John Dore

            Thats what Alan does. His modus operandi is to quell opinions he doesn’t like in any way shape or form he can.

          • AlanGiles

            And you don’t, of course?

            You are not only a hypocrite and a fake  but a toady for the status quo.

          • John Dore

            At least I post my reasons and discuss.

          • derek

            Are you sticking to that flawed opinion?

          • treborc1

             You of course do know your talking to your self have you not taken any hints.

            look at the bottom in reply to John Dore.

          • derek

            Sorry treborc can you elaborate? with all this youing will be sheept out LoL! 

          • treborc1

            he writes a comment then answers it himself, a sing of serious problems.

          • derek

            Modus operandi! sounds like a Jaqui Smith film, free of course.
            Dore? Hmmm no gold standards here, only the Doreing of another fine mess.

          • treborc1

             Then why not go back to Progress where nobody bothers with you, I wonder why.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            No because this LabourList – for Labour people, not a bunch of Trotskyist trolls like you and Siobhan.

          • John Dore

            The trouble with the hard left is that they ignore history in favour of ideology. Whilst it may be noble being an ideologist, when its proven to be counter-productive perhaps taking a more pragmatic approach could be better? What’s the point of crap ideology. 

            Bit like whats the point of being feckless?

          • AlanGiles

            It’s rather a shame that somebody gave you a dictionary for your birthday. If you hadn’t been thumbing through it  looking for words beginning with “F” you wouldn’t have seen feckless and determined to bore everyone stiff with your use of it in your abysmal posts.

    • I am a Progress
      member and your description is quite vile. I have spent my life fighting
      against all aspects of Thatcher and so too has the vast bulk of Progress
      members. Before you make such sweeping wrong assumptions I suggest you bother
      to find out about the people you are accusing.

      Your petty
      attacks show you have failed to see the wider point that the Labour Party is
      there for all in society and not just one class. The reason why the Tories do
      so badly with public opinion is because they only focus on the rich, Labour would
      do the same if it only focused only on the working class. The fact remains it’s
      the middle income people who are more likely to back us because they will go
      out and vote.

      Not enough working class people do, and many who live in council house vote
      Tory due to the vile policy of Right to Buy Thatcher created. Labour has little
      point being in opposition, it has to win elections and that means gaining the
      most votes. It’s a shame but working class people will not vote in the kind of
      numbers Labour needs to win in many parts of the country. So it is fantasy to
      imply that coming up with middle class policy is somehow a lurch to the right
      is wrong, it’s an understanding that being in opposition is pointless and
      principle counts for nothing if you are never in office to do anything about
      the problems facing society. If you open your blinkers you will also see many
      middle class people are also struggling under this Tory Government.

      The key is finding a balance fair for all, so policy put forward makes sense and
      all can see the benefit of it. The welfare state is vital, and must be protected
      but it also needs to adapt to be more flexible while ensure those most in need
      do not lose out. Some aspects do not work, Housing Benefit for instance needs
      capping in terms of a cap to the Landlord not the tenant. Failing to do so has increased
      the welfare bill and made many Landlords very rich at the expense of the tax
      people pay. ESA needs scrapping is greatly improving and Attos should be scrap
      in having any role in determining who is ill or not.

      Welfare and benefits are not a dirty word however and you should not assume
      Progress members or many Blairite’s are against it, there not and they have the
      same concerns as many on the left. Where they differ is ensuring when welfare
      is talked about its not just in terms of the poor but as a benefit that
      advances people’s lives so middle earners feel its important to. It’s that
      failure to address welfare in that way that has given way to the rights ability
      to label people as scroungers. That’s not to say Liam Byrne has won many
      friends with his OTT ideas and he should be sacked.

      The fact is if Labour only ever looks back to an assumed golden age of left
      policy it will never win, why? Because the public does not care what was done
      in the past they only care what is coming next. Holding principle is right but
      it has to adapt to the wider public, only when the public have been led up the
      garden path like they have on welfare does the balance need redressing.

      But do not make assumptions about people in Progress. Like it or not it were
      those in who looked forward enabled Labour to win 3 elections in a row, hardly
      something to be treated with disrespect. They came up with policy that most of
      the public would support across the classes and rightly so. Being in Government
      is about looking out for all people and not just one section. I grew up in a council
      house, I have lived in poverty and struggled most of my life, I now struggle
      with poor health, if you make assumptions about the people in Progress you will
      find you will always be wrong.


      • Thanks for the reasoned response, Gary. It is important to have this debate, as Progress have such an overwhelming influence over the party (even greater than the Militant Tendency in the 80s).

        However, I have to disagree with your characterisation of Progress.

        If you read their articles and their magazine, or listen to their constant attacks on social democrats and socialists in the party (what they sneeringly describe as “Old Labour”), you will find that their politics are certainly centre-right.

        If you read their latest magazine, you’ll find an article in which they criticise the government for not going fast enough with NHS privatization. Take a look for yourself: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/06/07/power-to-the-patient/

        They say: “I think the coalition is travelling along the right road at the wrong speed (too slow, on this occasion).”

        In another article on NHS privatization, Progress says that “Labour should sign up to it, not oppose it in Parliament”

        Moving on to another subject. International relations. Progress says, “Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of chemical or radiological weapons at the time of the invasion. But I don’t care.”

        On a variety of issues, they are centre-right. On the same page as Cameron’s Tories. Where they differ, they are to the right of the Coalition government.

        You should check their articles on welfare reform. They support workfare,  and equate tax cheats with benefit cheats. At a time of deep and prolonged economic crisis, Labour Party members seeking power should not be scapegoating the poor for party political gain. It is immoral.

        As for the other points. Yes, Labour should primarily be for the working classes. They are the majority. This is where we should start, rather than courting bankers and big business with a new ‘prawn cocktail offensive’ as Progress advocates: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/02/06/a-new-%E2%80%98prawn-cocktail%E2%80%99-offensive/

        Are you seriously telling me that this kind of politics is compatable with the democratic socialist principles of our Labour Party?


        • ThePurpleBooker

          I’m sorry that is a lie. You are not telling the truth, Siobhan and you know it. It is one thing holding a view, but it is another thing trying to make party divides and lying about it. The article was no on NHS privatization but on making available appointments online which is actually our party policy. You are not just wrong, Siobhan but you are lying too. On the prawn cocktail offensive, you clearly have not read Jacqui Smith’s article. She was saying we should have the prawn cocktail offensive in the City of London to sell ‘responsible capitalism’ in order that big business can come on side with it not oppose it. How is that Thatcherite, I mean that is just very clever strategy! On welfare reform, they argued against the national benefit caps and yes tax cheats and benefit cheats are just the same. The Labour Party has no place being the apologists of those who chose not to work. Imagine all those men wh0 marched the Jarrow March for jobs – they’d be angry to see people refuse work. Actually, if you read the Purple Book you’ll know some of these proposed reforms are about universal childcare and universal social care. That is to the left of the Liberal Democrats.  You are just cherrypicking phrases and lying as well as showing your monstrous lack of any knowledge about Labour or politics in general.

          • treborc1

             God your really childish for a grown man, if you have an argument make it, Progress over the past year has changed I will admit it, and some of the changes on the NHS are major, but they do say that out side influences on things like booking a hospital appointment could be done better by the private sector, but that is just the creeping privatization of the Blair brigade.

            Nobody is lying, just because you once wrote for the Beano you really need to cool down.

          • Alexwilliamz

            In my experience booking hospital appointments could be improved by better administrators replacing the ‘managers’.

          • treborc1

            The Welsh way is you  get a letter saying that an appointment has been made for you, you then phone appointments and state when you want to go in, I’ve not had many problems.

      • AlanGiles

        When you analyse what Progress members say, Mr Hills, they seem to have more in common with the coalition than they do with traditional Labour members -= certainly their invective is more pronounced, as can be seen from some of the responses in this one thread alone.

        Just one example: Purnell was dragging the Freud Welfare Reforms through Parliament concurrently with Freud becoming a Tory peer. Byrne supported those measures, and though he now makes a great play of opposing the self-same measures, though he has said himself publically he “supporters three quarters of the bill”.

        It might help if Progress supporters stopped talking down to us in such condescending terms – something you are guilty of yourself(e.g. “you willfind you will always be wrong.”)

      • AlanGiles

        “Not enough working class people do, and many who live in council house voteTory due to the vile policy of Right to Buy Thatcher created”

        Simple question then. Blair had two landslide majorities in 1997 and 2001. If this policy was so “vile” why did he not rescind the right to buy or – make sure each house that got sold under the RTB scheme was replaced by another council home of equal size?

      • “The fact is if Labour only ever looks back to an assumed golden age of left

        policy it will never win,”
        Spot on there, mate. Things have moved on and the industrial unionised labour that underpinned much of Old Labour no longer exists. But also we have to move on from the 1997 scenario.

        There is no future for a 1997 re-enactment society. The insistence on the primacy of neo-liberal economics, now compromised following the the continuing crisis of 2008, makes Progress as irrelevant as Old Labour.

      • treborc1

         The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom,

        If you wish to take labour to the right well then you have a party already in that political position it’s called the Tories.

      • Alexwilliamz

        While I am sure you are right to defend many people in Progress from being tarred with one brush, however I think you description of ‘class’ representation is off mark. Personally I think if we talk in interests it makes more sense. Suggesting that working class people will support left wing policies and middle class people will not is nonsense. The Labour party is there to represent a particular view of how society can best be arranged and while there is no rejection of the ‘market’ or things like the monarchy, there is a clear mandate for greater equality and the creation of a society where no one is left behind and vested interest is challenged. The fact that much of this has been subverted over recent years does not change the reason for Labour’s existence, the best things done under the last Labour government were rooted in this view. Remove this and we will be no better than the lib deems who have demonstrated in coalition and also in local government that once in power they are never really sure what to do with it.

    • Brumanuensis

      I’m not a natural admirer of Progress, but I’m moved to defend them here. I don’t think Progress can be described in your terms. Although a bit contrarian at times, they do have some good ideas and their website is always an interesting  read.

      More to the point, I’m getting a bit tired of the endless pissing contests that take place on LabourList and elsewhere between Progress types and more left-wing types. It’s boring and sterile. I don’t like Liam Byrne either and I’m not fond of aspects of the previous government’s record. And yes, ‘PurpleBooker’ can be a pain in the arse. But are we going to spend 3 years whinging about Progress? At least Progress have lots of ideas. Some may well be crap – Alan Milburn’s ‘Education Credit’ springs to mind – but at least they have them and some are genuinely good.

      Us soft-left types need more ideas. I think this article is an excellent example of the right approach and much praise to Andrew for it. Let’s get behind stuff like the superb ‘Spartacus’ report and Eoin Clarke’s ‘Red Book’. Let’s use IPPR and Fabian Society resources and the nef, let’s – in short – start coming up with lots of workable alternatives. Because if we spend 3 years bitching about how evil those Progress types are and how Blairites run the Party, then those will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

      This isn’t directed specifically at you Siobhan and welcome to LabourList. But let’s stop with the endless complaints about Blair and his ilk. That’s history. Our fight now is for the future.

      Come on comrades, we’re better than this. How are we going to beat the Tories if we just fight each other?

    • Brumanuensis

      I’m not a natural admirer of Progress, but I’m moved to defend them here. I don’t think Progress can be described in your terms. Although a bit contrarian at times, they do have some good ideas and their website is always an interesting  read.

      More to the point, I’m getting a bit tired of the endless pissing contests that take place on LabourList and elsewhere between Progress types and more left-wing types. It’s boring and sterile. I don’t like Liam Byrne either and I’m not fond of aspects of the previous government’s record. And yes, ‘PurpleBooker’ can be a pain in the arse. But are we going to spend 3 years whinging about Progress? At least Progress have lots of ideas. Some may well be crap – Alan Milburn’s ‘Education Credit’ springs to mind – but at least they have them and some are genuinely good.

      Us soft-left types need more ideas. I think this article is an excellent example of the right approach and much praise to Andrew for it. Let’s get behind stuff like the superb ‘Spartacus’ report and Eoin Clarke’s ‘Red Book’. Let’s use IPPR and Fabian Society resources and the nef, let’s – in short – start coming up with lots of workable alternatives. Because if we spend 3 years bitching about how evil those Progress types are and how Blairites run the Party, then those will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

      This isn’t directed specifically at you Siobhan and welcome to LabourList. But let’s stop with the endless complaints about Blair and his ilk. That’s history. Our fight now is for the future.

      Come on comrades, we’re better than this. How are we going to beat the Tories if we just fight each other?

      • AlanGiles

        Good morning Brumanuensis. I agree Andy has written a though provoking article, and all credit to him for answering his critics in such a pleasant constructive way (unlike Marchant’s waspish one-liners). He is a decent man though I don’t think full employment will ever be achievable again.

        Just a word in support of Siobhan: she has had to contend with some of “Purple Bookers” most offensive and inflammatory jibes, and all credit to her for not giving the oaf a tongue lashing.

        I think we have always got on well kin cyberland, but I take issue with you on this one point:

        ” But let’s stop with the endless complaints about Blair and his ilk. That’s history. Our fight now is for the future”

        Would that it were!. There is every indication that Blair plans to “re-engage with domestic politics” this summer. We know that he has regular meetings with the 2010 intake (I assume he has been rumbled by the pre 2010 MPs!), we know that there are those (especially those associated with Progress that would still like to see David Miliband restored to prominence, and even those who would welcome the return of the sticky-fingered Jacqui Smith (not least her herself), Purnell, and Tony McNulty has hopes of his gross deceit being forgotten in 2015 to bring him back to Westminster).

        I agree Blair and his confidence tricksters SHOULD be history, but the right-wing seem determined to keep him to the fore.

        An opinion poll today puts Cameron on 29%, Labour on 43% and Clegg 9% (source: Sunday Express), but it will be interesting to see what the figures look like in future. To the general public Blair IS a figure of the past, the warmongering, sleazy past, but if they see him mincing round the TV studios, trying to “re-engage”, I have a strong suspicion it will depress and disgust many non-committed voters, and this leads to a very interesting question: Progress supporters see Blair still as an asset to Labour; people like me see him as a liability. I wonder which of the two groups will be proven to be right?

        • treborc1

           Jon Cruddas recently said that “‘Blairite’
          is now an orthodox  term of abuse within the party; his name triggers
          jeers at our annual conference; many around labour appear more angry at
          Blairism than with Cameron and Clegg.” Progress magazine, in a piece entitled Beyond Blairite, goes rather further. It alleges that:
          Anyone keeping half an eye on the blogs over the past 18 months has witnessed the steady appropriation of the term Blairite
          by the old hard left of the Labour party and its Guardianista fellow
          travellers; the term has undergone a deliberate transmogrification into a
          synonym for rightwinger or even Tory.



          • The truth will out – as my dear old mum used to say…

          • treborc1

            Good for your Mum, mine would say, waste of time they never listen.

      • Brumanuensis

        For those confused, this was meant to be in reply to Siobhan.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I’m fairly in favour of this sort of thinking, but I believe the scale of what is proposed on building of council houses is too modest to be effective, so either find some other solution to the housing benefit problem, or increase the building by a factor of 10.

    Some interesting facts at:


    Much more detail at:


    From all of this, we can calculate the real cost of housing benefit:

    Average of £86.77 per claimant per week, total 5.92 million claimants, therefore annual cost of housing benefit per year is £26.71 billion.

    Cost of building a single council house estimated (by me) as £100,000.  Building 100,000 council homes per year would therefore cost about £10 billion.

    Those 100,000 houses should remove 100,000 claimants per year from the HB list.  So, a saving of 100,000 / 5,920,000 of £26.71 billion, or around £451 million from the overall housing benefit bill per year.  The measure proposed would therefore result in a net annual cost of about £9.5 billion

    But each year, the HB list grows by between 150,000 and 200,000 (see p17 of the second link).  So the overall housing benefit bill will grow, perhaps by £300 million per year.

    It is only if you start to really scale up the building of new council houses by a factor of ten that you start to make inroads into the overall size of the housing benefit bill.

    Building a million council houses per year for 5 years would mostly eliminate the housing benefit bill of £26.71 billion a year, but would have cost the country £500 billion.  The cost neutral point of return would be in about 18 years.

    The other impact is that this level of spending would be a huge economic stimulus – “build our way into growth”.

    There are issues around planning laws (which can be changed), and also physical space for 5 million new houses, as well as infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals.  That is not something I would know how to calculate, but the costs of those would be significant on top of the £500 billion.

    • PaulHalsall

      Leave DIFD alone.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Why?  Nothing should be off-limits for discussion.  Until DFID can make a case that what they do is beneficial to both this country and to the recipients, they should not expect to have some ring-fenced status.  If they can make such a powerful case, then they should do so.  I have read nothing that convinces me that their budget – or significant amounts of it – would not be better spent on other things.

        • Funnily enough despite working for a charity (and despite the fact we pursue DFID money with some vigour) I agree with your principle that DFID cannot be protected from funding cuts “no matter the cost”: almost everyone I meet in the development sector believes DFID waste a truly colossal amount of money with vastly overblown salaries, a travel budget that would make even a member of the HoL feel a bit sheepish, and more importantly still some horrendously misplaced “investments” that would embarrass Fred Goodwin.

          That said we must not lose sight of the importance of helping the developing world…

    • Bill Lockhart

       “Those 100,000 houses should remove 100,000 claimants per year from the HB list.”

      Erm, why? Social housing is not provided rent-free,  and those 100,000 claimants will be in no better position to pay rent out of their own pockets than they were before.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas


        it was too complex for me to break out the transactional aspects of social rents and housing benefit, but it could be solved by passing a rule, that if you live in social housing, the rent should be low enough that no housing benefit is applicable.

      • Simon Lodge

        Even that head-banger Grant Shapps isn’t proposing that the rent for new tenancies as far as social housing goes be more than 80% of the market rate for private properties in that area. So if people claiming housing benefit move out of the private sector into social housing you have an immediate 20% saving as far as housing benefit goes – probably more in many areas since the 80% rate is discretionary.

        • treborc1

           Not a lot of good if you move the low paid out of the area they are working in is it, we do have to build the social housing in the area where they are needed. The problem is the will to do this, with three parties all looking sounding and acting like the market is the way out, then moaning the market costs to much

          • Simon Lodge

            The market will NEVER solve the housing crises. If markets did that there wouldn’t have been any slum neighbourhoods in Victorian England, when pretty much everything was dictated by “free” markets.

          • treborc1

            Well yes although the Victorians had other problems to cope with, 17 million population rose to 30 million due mainly to famine in Ireland and problems in Scotland, I wonder how we would cope knowing Labour and the Tories today  if they had to cope with an extra 40 million people.

            Flint had a plan only people working should have a council house.

      • Good point – but HB paid to council tenants will be circulating in what is effectively a closed system rather than as present being siphoned off by rapacious landlords. 

        This is a huge difference. 

    • Firstly nobody but you is arguing for a million new council homes per year – a figure you only arrive at by misunderstanding the statistics (as the source you link to shows 67% of those 5 million claimants are already in social housing – so building new council houses for them is unnecessary – its the 1.6m private tenants that are the problem and whose landlords gobble up a wholly disproportionate portion of the  benefits bill). 

      Secondly you should look at the analysis by the New Local Government Network here which argues that even in London where unit costs of new housing is so much higher so is the cost of paying inflated private sector rents and we could make savings by building 133,000 new homes:


      Thirdly you are completely ignoring the other benefits side of the equation – as building remains labour intensive much if not most of that £100,000 per unit will go to pay the wages of builders and suppliers who would otherwise be out of work and drawing benefits rather than paying taxes (of course ensuring that the work is not done by imported cheap labour is another matter). 

      And what is your obsession with the Argies?


      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Clearly, targeting new homes at those in private rented accommodation is what would happen.

        your link makes my point – that building 100,000 homes across the whole country is not enough, if you can only make savings in London by building 133,000 homes.  I suspect also that London is among the most challenging place to find physical space for those new homes, and certainly throws into sharp focus the fact that some parts of Labour are vehemently against anyone moving out of their borough because of benefit caps, and the fact that those 133,000 homes would realistically only be built outside of the M25.

        On the Argentines, there is nearly 250 years of history of them trying to steal land belonging to their neighbours with the ridiculous claims, and so far 4 wars, all of which they have lost.  In Britain, people only think of the Falklands, but Britain is in good company with Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia in having to go to war with them to retake land stolen by military force.  They also have claims on parts of Paraguay, but to date no war.  No one in Chile likes the Argentines, they do not like us, and thankfully God has given us a mountain chain to divide us.  They also regularly wreck the regional economy – 7 devaluations and defaults in the last 100 years. It appears to be a banned word on LL now, but the Argentine Governments really do seem to be “feckless” with money.

        • Follow the NLGN link which shows that 133,000 new London homes are perfectly doable with existing land banks within the M25. 

          And I cited that study because it is the most detailed proposal I know of for one region – and if it is financially doable in London where a new council house costs £209,000 to build then it is going to be at least similarly practical in other regions with a HB leeched by private landlords problem (which is not the same or as costly as the having lots of people already in social housing paid for by HB problem).   

          There is an old  joke which supposedly goes back to the early twentieth centurySpanish liberal intellectual and diplomat Salvador de Madariaga about an international school which runs an essay question on ‘The Elephant’ – the English student writes about the economic utility of the elephant in tropical countries, the German about its historical role, the Frenchman about its inedibility and so on stereotype by stereotype – but the Pole writes an impassioned screed about ‘The Elephant and the Polish Question’. 

          Anyway who can effortlessly divert a discussion about housing benefit policy into an argument about The Dangers of Argentinian Imperialism should seriously consider this story….

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Roger McCarthy,

            well, I was not really trying to make a point about Argentina, more about how DFID is an example of the waste of tax money for no purpose for the people of Britain, and how I think the money would be better spent, for example on new council houses.  I did also make examples of Trident and the high speed rail link to Birmingham, so it was not exclusively an attack on DFID.

            But, I am still enraged with the new to me knowledge of the fact that Argentina not only owes to Britain £225 million that they refuse to pay, but also that DFID gives them millions more annually, while their President makes warlike statements.  So perhaps I chose an example that I am too passionate about.  Maybe I should instead have chosen the example of the fairground park that DFID had constructed in Helmand Province in Afghanistan as part of a women’s empowerment project.  The Afghan women were so empowered that they were powerless to stop the Taliban from issuing a threat of public execution to any woman who used it, so that it now sits abandoned and never used by anyone.  That cost the British taxpayer half a million pounds.  I cannot find the link now, but in The Independent newspaper there was a report that the civil servant who had sanctioned the project, against the advice of the MOD who have soldiers in the area, had later been promoted and given an award and a bonus payment for “innovation”.  It certainly was an innovative way to completely waste the tax money paid by one hundred taxpayers on the national average wage.

            I have grown up in a country in which an area the size of East Anglia is claimed by Argentina and they have threatened war on us on many occasions.  I move 9,000 miles to the UK to find that Argentina also still wants British sovereign territory, even after being deservedly defeated in 1982.  and now I find that they owe Britain £225 million, and the stupid Government do not impose sanctions on them, as the United States do, but instead get some soft-headed civil servants to give them more millions of the public’s money.  It is an outrage, when there are people in the UK who are being exploited with high rents.

            I very much hope that the National Audit Office makes an enquiry into how DFID spend our money, and whether it is good value.  The last report only concentrated on the mechanical aspect of book keeping, and that was poor.  It did not address the question as to why money should be spent on some of these programmes at all.

            I notice that David, who has experience in international charity and aid, also questions DFID’s competence.

          • treborc1

             Gosh shock horror socialism at last.

          • Its not that I don’t agree with you on Argentina, but if you insist on inserting it into every discussion you are that Polish student in Madariaga’s joke and will not be taken seriously even though you are right. 

            Write a piece for LL or another blog and get it out of your system. 

          • Dave Postles

            Oh dear, let’s commemorate the ‘battle of Santiago’ 1962, just 50 years ago now.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Thank you for that reference Dave.  I confess I was not familiar with it, it was 3 years before my birth and also about football which I do not follow.  But it is in the archives on the internet, but in Spanish from the Chilean media is known as “The Attack of the Italians”, which I had heard of but was not familiar with.

            After some research, it appears that two Italian journalists had been writing “copy” for Italian newspapers for a few weeks before the football match, and the “tone” was very anti-Chilean, talking of Santiago as a rubbish dump, and making assertions about the morality of Chilean women.  This excited some passions among Chileans, and the two journalists left the country in case they were attacked.  When the football match happened, several Italian players assaulted the Chilean players (17 free kicks awarded against Italy by the British referee in the first half of the match, against 3 to Italy).  One Italian player was arrested on the pitch by the police for a two-footed attack on a player who had his back turned, and his boot studs opened a wound in the thigh that required 53 stitches, which to my mind is worse than a red card.  One Italian player had his nose broken with a punch.  There were many other incidents in the game, which Chile won 2-0.  It was the game that proved the necessity for yellow and red cards.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            13 mentions in 1006 posts*, and 6 of them were specifically in relation to international relations and so relevant.  Two more were replies to a man who wrote (ungrammatically, but it is not his language, and some seem to struggle with English anyway even if it is their first and only language) “Viva Las Malvinas”, which I regard as an insult to his country, which is the country I am also born of by blood and by citizenship.

            * I keep a word processing document of my posts, so it is not too hard to search back.

    • Jamie, thanks but I think we have to look at the economic impacts as a whole not just in isolation. Firstly, council housing building is a capital investment (i.e. one-off cost) and the borrowing for it can be spread over many years – the UK government can currently borrow at exceptionally low costs on the bond markets.

      Building council housing creates an asset. Those assets (homes) then create a regular income stream (through rents).

      Building the council homes also creates jobs – this takes people off of benefits and into employment – paying taxes. It also acts as a wider economic stimulus throughout the supply chain (from bricks to furnishings).

      Building council homes will also have an effect on the private rental market – reducing demand and thus lowering rents (which could also be achieved by bringing back rent controls). As well as saving government expenditure in housing benefit, it also means tenants have more disposable income to spend in the economy (rather than it going to often already quite wealthy landlords).

      I’m happy to concede that 100,000 a year is not ambitious enough (I did say “at least” in my defence!) – but building just 100,000 would be a huge step forward from where we currently are

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        To Andrew Fisher,

        Thank you firstly for responding as the author of the article – that does not happen very much.

        I know nothing of your politics – I have made an assumption that you are the Andrew Fisher who is the Joint Secretary of the Labour Representation Committee, and if you are, then we would very probably not agree on a number of things that are on the LRC website.  But I will happily concede that my position would be seen as marginal, or even anti-Labour by most readers of LL, and your’s seen as admirable and mainstream by those readers.  I have some views on economics, and especially balanced budgets,  that appear reasonable to myself but cut against established Labour thinking.  This often gets me into trouble on LL.

        My main points are twofold:  firstly I welcome some new ways of thinking about existing issues, and your article appears to me to showcase that.  Secondly, a cursory look at your numbers does not convince me that 100,000 houses a year is enough to solve the problem.  What it does is to slightly “contain” the problem, at a cost of something like £9-10 billion per year, and therefore your thesis of saving money is flawed.  In some ways, it is the worst option:  you are trying to do something, not achieving the main aim, but still contributing to the context of huge deficit and growing debt.

        But, with some reworking of the numbers, you can solve the problem, and the debt can pay itself down over the years.  The cost looks like being £500 billion over 5 years, which is huge, but it may be worth it in secondary benefits of economic stimulus.

        I don’t know how you go about your policy business on the LRC, but I am very happy to provide you the spreadsheet (it is not complex) if you want to look at the raw calculations.

  • JeannieBenn

    Council housing sales,…” look you can buy your home and be like us” culture took away any once of democracy in this country.  Thatchers policies were all about money from the poor give to the rich. Now we live in a society where no-one can remember not being selfish. The article is brilliant, we need it to go viral, so let’s get sharing instead of moaning.

  • Bang on. 

    On housing however 100,000 units a year for 5 years won’t do it – back in the days before this Second Great Depression (which is technically what it now is becoming) we calculated that we needed 270,000 new homes a year just to deal with the demographic changes from an ageing population and declining family size. 

    Now that the private sector has failed to build even half of that number for 4 years nothing short of a public housing programme equivalent to that of the late 40s and 50s can turn the tide. 

    Our true objective should be the abolition of housing benefit by promising  every private tenant in receipt of it  a new council home within a decade while establishing firm rent controls in the interval.


    •  Thanks. On the 100,000 issue. I said we should build council houses at a rate of “at least 100,000 a year” – for at least five years (over a Parliament). That doesn’t preclude it being 200,000 a year (or more), but given where we are 100,000 council homes a year is a significant step forward.

      Of course, housing associations and private developers would build additional too

      p.s. and I agree we should reintroduce rent controls (and abolish tax breaks on buy-to-lets)

  • John Dore

    Great article.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Progress types don’t feel uncomfortable with this, Andrew. Progress people have been campaigning and calling for a living wage, Caroline Flint in her chapter in The Purple Book was calling for private sector landlords to be properly licenced with high quality if they want to have housing benefit and Kitty Ussher and David Lammy have been calling for rent control!

  • Dave Postles

    Well expressed, Siobhan O’Malley.  Thank you.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    No, Siobhan you are not a Fabian by any stretch of the imagination. I take great offence from people like you, with very limited understanding of pollitical theory, to be called a Tory. I am centre-left in the great traditions of the Labour Party but I am a moderniser. You are clearly a Bennite, hard-left Socialist Campaigner who should go and join George Galloway.

    • Dave Postles


    • I don’t think personality attacks are at all appropriate. You do not know anything about me or my politics, except what I have told you here. I joined this discussion because I wanted to discuss political issues, not get mangled up in a playground name calling.

      LL has disappointed me. It’s my first time here.

      • Dave Postles

        Please contribute more.  Your comments are much appreciated by many of us.  There is a large audience of people listening out there to comments on LL.  Please stay.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Discuss political issues? You make me laugh, Siobhan. Really you are a joke. Run off and join Respect.
        Every point that you have made is a lie or is just cherrypicking history with your political amnesia! It’s disgraceful and the way you said that good men and women of the modernising centre-left, including the party leader, should join the Tories is ridiculous! I mean you are actually a Marxist madwoman. Clear off or shut up!
        And I am furious, with trolls like you who want to divide my party in order to pursue an ideological agenda in order to make us lose by spreading myths about Labour!

        • VelocityVendetta

          I should quickly mention that calling someone a Marxist and a socialist simultaneously demonstrates a distinct ignorance of political theory. Marxists are not socialists. They are communists. Good day.

        • Tom Heathfield

           Excuse me, but that is a lot of nonsense.

        • AlanGiles

          “And I am furious, with trolls like you who want to divide my party”

          You do that yourself, by pretending everybody who doesn’t adhere to your right-wing New Labour failed policies is Marxist/mad.

          You come over like a hysterical teenage girl who has had too many alcopops and E numbers

          Well, I MEAN!!!…..

      • Siobhan, 

        I visit a lot of left-wing sites and believe it or not the comments down here have a much higher positive signal to abusive and idiotic noise ratio than most.

         Trolls are a universal problem and the only solution is aggressive moderation by the site owner which wastes the time of everyone involved and kills all spontaneity. 

        The worst thing you can do is feed them by responding to their insults – just move on and read a comment by someone who does at least attempt to argue coherently.

      • Purnell 4 Leader!

        You disgust me! Jog on. How dare you call me a Thatcherite, you fucking Trotskyist bitch!

    • treborc1

      Nope your new labour who when you saw the silly Purple book which has died a death jumped on it, just like the blue labour rubbish, your without doubt as much of a socialist as your mate Blair.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Proposed welfare reforms for Labour:* Jobs Gurantee funded from the proceeds of the bank levy* National Salary Insurance replacing Jobseeker’s Allowance* Regional benefit caps (which exclude child benefit, DLA which take in account of employment history and local house prices)
    * Free universal childcare, providing high-quality childcare to all pre-school children, funded by scrapping higher rate pension tax relief
    * A ‘working week’ for long-term unemployed providing employment training before they get work, provided by the voluntary sector
    * Special employment workshops for parents who are long-term unemployed in return for childcare vouchers
    * Reversing changes to age-related pension tax allowances funded by temporarily reinstating the 50p tax rate
    * Extending the pension link to earnings.

    • Tom Heathfield

       One big thing missing from your programme here, and that is jobs. You do not, and you cannot, explain in any convincing way how you are going to create the number of jobs this country requires… which at present is c. 4 million. The reason you cannot do this is because you are wedded to ‘the market’ as a concept. Nowhere in Progress or anything else from the right have I seen anything even remotely convincing on this.

      That is the problem; you bought into Thatcherism to an unacceptable degree, despite Thatcherism having failed in every possible way apart from enriching the rich. The last thirty three years of UK politics have been a terrible aberration, and it is time that everyone in the UK recognised thatnThatcherism has been an unmitigated disaster.

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Er, Jobs Gurantee?! Anyway, this is just welfare reform as the question of jobs is in the broader aspects of economic policy.  I mean on Thatcherism and Progress and your assumption of all my political views – well it is mad.
        Now, since you are unable to read and love throwing broadly untrue comments about how anti-market you are, I feel it is my duty to “educate” you.
        On the economy, Labour had an economy which was based on the neoliberal Washington consensus, which was applied to across the world. What New Labour did was use the wealth created from that economic model in order to invest in the NHS, invest in schools, create tax credits, cut unemployment, invest in police officers, invest in building programmes (like Building Schools for the Future), cutting child poverty, creating SureStart, a national minimum wage, introducing tax credits etc. That model was acceptable but it was unsustainable. Now, we have experienced the financial crash it is time to realise that that economic model run its course and though there were successes, we need to reform our political economy in order to make it work so that the market (which you stupidly hate) can work. That ties into the whole “responsibility agenda” and a “moral economy”. Funnily enough it is Progress (and Compass to their credit) which has kickstarted the debate on this which is driving forward the arguments based on the best of our traditions as a party. However, the solution from people like you and Siobhan would be absolute nationalisation of every single market force, which is unworkable and unelectable!

        • AlanGiles

           I mean on Thatcherism and Progress and your assumption of all my political views – well it is mad. 

          Now, since you are unable to read and love throwing broadly untrue comments about how anti-market you are, I feel it is my duty to “educate” you.”
          Don’t have the impertinence to think you can “educate” others.

          You need to educate yourself first.,

          The first lesson you need to learn is this: New Labour is dead, Blair is long gone and neither are coming back. For sure, you can TRY to revive the corpse, but it is a waste of time since rigor mortis set in long ago.

          You can prop the corpse up, but the public at large – not to mention large swathes of the Labour party will not vote for the cadaver.

          If we go into the next election with what appears to be the one book you have ever read (judging by the frequency from which you cite or quote it), the public will reject Labour for being out of date and adhering  to failed policies. All you and your sort will do will be to keep the party out of power for at least another 5 years.

          Really, PB – I MEAN! 🙂

          • ThePurpleBooker

            I’m afraid you are living in cuckoo land mate. The public rejected your ideas and your politics remember – 1983. You clearly have mild amnesia.

          • AlanGiles

            No  I was not thinking of 1983 – you have to have change, but we do not want the changes envisioned by the extreme right wing of the Labour Party – because it is so close to Tory policy you can hardly get a sheet of Bronco between them.

            IF you hope to win friends and influence people stop calling Sibohan by the insults you have been using – you come over frankly as illogical and nuerotic.

            The secret for success in 2015 will not be a rehash of 1997-2005 – by that time it will be nearly 30 years in the past, and we certainly don’t need the expenses swindlers back in Parliament to remind the public of the dishonesty of politicians in the 90s/2000s

        • The Lone Stranger

          The “Jobs Guarantee” meant a part week of minimum wage work for the young and an unpaid workfare “placement” for everybody else. Don’t you read your own manifesto?

          • ThePurpleBooker

            No, you learn to read and then come back on. The Jobs Gurantee is saying to people who are out of work that they will get ajob within a year. They will get a living wage job and if they refuse it they do not have benefits. It is fair and right.

          • Jimmer

            I don’t get this Job Guarantee thing. 

            The thing is how can any government give full-time minimum wage jibs to one year long unemployed people when there are already people working part-time minimum wage jobs who would give their right arm for a minimum wage job like that with more hours? How can any government tilt the playing field like that by helping the unemployed while disadvantaging the already part-time employed?

            Doesn’t make sense.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            It makes perfect sense and we did it in government for young people – it’s called the Future Jobs Fund. They do it in Denmark, where the welfare state is very tough but efficient and socially just too. If you are out of work for a year, you will get a job paid at a LIVING WAGE and if you fail to take it up then you will lose your benefits. Makes perfect sense. It only costs £2bn, which we can fund from increasing the bank levy, or using the bonus tax.

          • Jimmer

            Yea. But won’t people who are working part-time and want full-time jobs going to be cross that the unemployed are given full-time jobs, funded by the tax payer, ahead of them rather than give hard-working part-timers more help via tax credits or whatever?

        • James

          Jobs are normally considered to be activities undertaken by men and women, for other, for which they are paid by their employer or customer. Participating in a forced labour scheme isn’t the same as securing a job. Workfare isn’t work. Workfare doesn’t work.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            Forced labour schemes. If you do not support jobs then you should not be in the Labour Party. A Jobs Gurantee is the offer of a job after you’ve been out of work for a year. It is the idea that you WILL get a job paid at the living wage rather than benefits – like it or not. That is not Workfare at all.

          • Stocky

            The “job” you mention will be for too few hours a week to help anybody in any meaningful way AND the “worker” won’t qualify for extra top-ups, e.g., tax credits, normally associated with being “employed” because he/she will designated as a “trainee” or part of a “volunteer workforce” or whatever with no worker’s rights and be free to be exploited to the max by dubious organisations. 

            This horror is already happening:

            Here’s a look at the shape of things to come in your perfect world.


    • The Lone Stranger

      “Jobseeker’s Allowance* Regional benefit caps (which exclude child benefit, DLA which take in account of employment history and local house prices)… A ‘working week’ for long-term unemployed providing employment training before they get work, provided by the voluntary sector…”

      Ridiculous and unworkable. What kind of region are we talking about? Counties? Cities? Town? Villages? Hamlets? North, south, east, west? Postcode areas? Blimey! As if calculating benefits wasn’t already hard enough. What an unbelievably stupid idea. Truly, truly cretinous. (Must be down to that little slap-head moron Liam Byrne I betcha!) And suggesting that the Jobseeker’s Allowance – or Universal Credit if it is in and working by 2015 – be variable based on the employment history of the claimant? How the heck is that going to work if benefits are based on past behaviour rather than on immediate need? And compulsory full-time workfare to “train” the long-term unemployed? Yea. And that worked so well in the past under the New Deal, Re-engineered New Deal and Flexible New Deal for Labour didn’t it when hundreds of thousands of people, old and young, went around in a revolving door doing scheme after scheme after scheme after scheme without ever getting a job or receiving a proper pay packet for their labours?

      I’m really hoping this shameful drivel is just the usual urine and crap cocktail that desperate dicks like Liam Byrne come out with from time to time, seeking a favourable  headline from a tabloid rag, which swiftly die the death and get a burial at sea.

      If any of this madness comes to pass we might as well stick with the Tories.

      • James

        Calm down. None of the thing you mention will ever happen. 

      • Laurence Corner

        I quite like the idea of postcode benefits.

        • Simon Lodge

          You already have a postcode lottery as far as healthcare goes.

          How are you liking that?

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Ridiculous and unworkable. That is why they have it in other countries. Workfare? Where is workfare. Training with the voluntary sector and employment workshops to boost people’s confidence is not workfare. I mean you are clearly a stupid little boy.

  • Hayakitets, Blairites, Thacherites, and Incompetent Luddites have one thing in common, the belief that the markets will sort all our problems out by the so called trickle down effect. If anything has proven that this is a failed experiment then 2008’s crash is living testament that  such a system has failed to redistribute wealth and social issues in a just and fair fashion. How else does it account for the fact that barely 1% own 99% of all wealth. All these ites are struggling to restore the same system that will continue to redistribute wealth disproportionately and much as they try to breath life into a system which will at best limp along for a few more years they are ignoring the more important questions of our times by simply digging their heels in deeper and causing a long over due delay to real economic and social reform !
    Instead of seeking an alternative which will put people first and not the markets they continue to peddle their same old visions of personal selfishness and uneven wealth

    • Daniel Speight

       In fact the numbers fairly conclusively show that from the point that the US and UK governments adopted Hayekian economic policies, redistribution slowed down and inequality widened.

      Of course our political class doesn’t like facts very much and are far more impressed by fairy tales like ‘trickle down theory’.

      • Winston_from_the_Ministry

        Whic numbers are those? (genuine question)

  • robertcp

    I actually agreed with most of this article when I expected to disagree with it.  My only disagreement is that slashing spending might be unrealistic and full employment is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

    • Thanks Robert.

      On your only disagreement – I don’t think ‘full employment’ is impossible. Between 1945 and 1978 unemployment never rose above 1 million. Of course people rightly argue that times have changed (e.g. technology, computerisation, offshoring/globalisation, etc).

      However at the end of 2001 fewer than 1 million people were claiming JSA and 1.5m unemployed on the ILO measure. Today those figures are 1.6m and 2.6m – so we can get a lot closer to it.

      And just look at the work that needs to be done in the UK – we lag embarrassingly behind the rest of western Europe in transport and renewable energy infrastructure, and there is a massive need to build new homes – all of that could easily create enough jobs to take us back to full employment.

  • Cyberwolf

    Labour as a viable left-of-centre Political Party? Nope, I’m just not getting that at all!! The Government has found a big stick – in the form of Welfare Cuts and Housing Benefit reductions for ‘underoccupancy’ : all of which seems to have given every Politician of every Political Party (save perhaps the Green Party) a huge hard-on for belting seven kinds of sh*t out of ‘The Poor.’ Can you imagine the kind of jokes they all came out with at cabinet meetings? Things like.. “Well, they ARE the POOR – so, if we make them poorer still – they are NO WORSE OFF are they?…because they are STILL  “The Poor..” (cue the laughter..) Well: no matter. We who are affected, whether they send us further North to worse places to find employment or beat us to death with a f*cking shoe – will have our revenge. It will come like a brush-fire and consume everything in its path. Kick a Dog for long enough and He will bite! Think of four million people who have no work, no money and little hope. What do you think they will do when things get so bad they have already considered suicide? All the Churches and their rabble, spouting their Biblical bullsh*t will find themselves being metaphorically bludgeoned to death with their Bible and Christian Teachings. Neither the Police, the Armed Services nor the entire population of a single City in England, armed to the teeth will be able to stem the outflow of anger and hostility. Politicians will find themselves visible targets on the Hustings. Make NO mistake .. it may not be ‘revolution’ in the Bolshevik sense  – but it will be the nearest we have ever come to insurrection since the English Civil War. Unless, of course, the Coalition find some ‘final solution’ to the unemployed, disabled, mad etc..

    All tyrants perish. The more this Government becomes autocratic, the more enemies will gather to engineer their destruction. The moment this Coalition shows its true colours – and the swastika they have been trying so hard to hide – this Country will explode.

    Sieg Heil Cameron! (for now..) 

    • treborc1

      We are a long way from that period in the UK, I will agree when we do blow it normally ends up with working class dying

    • Wyatt Twerp

      I don’t see revolution in the future only exponentially increasing suffering for the disadvantaged and the dispossessed. Conservative and Labour are just two sides of the same coin.

  • As a ‘Progress type’ I think these are excellent ideas we should all be debating. But hasn’t the Labour Party got better things to do than that kind of sniping?  

    • AlanGiles

      Jude: Take a look at Purple Bookers responses to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the right-wing agenda of Progress: we are all “Marxists, Trotyskists, Bennites, Respect supporters” or, when he/she is really scraping the barrel “nutcases”. Debate is impossibel with such people because tehy spend their time pouring out their bile to traditional Labour supporters – NOT the Conservatives or coalition, which only reinforces the idea that that sort are more sympathetic to Conservative philosophy than large sections of the party they claim to support.

    • Brumanuensis

      I think someone should tell the author of ‘The Progressive’ column.

      Not ‘anti-Progress’ myself, but it is true that have a habit of insinuating that their opponents are harking back to the ’80s.

  • The Lone Stranger

    Iain Duncan Smith, Christopher Grayling, David Freud, Liam Byrne. Hands up those who can spot the difference? Anybody? No. Thought not.

    • James

      David Freud has a full head of hair while the other three are baldies?

      Am I right or am I right?

      • Simon Lodge

        Freud has a birthmark that looks like the number 666, under his hair, on his scalp while the other three are apostates sworn to serve him here on earth born as he was from a jackal.

    • If you take a closer look at some of the Blairites, you’ll find that they are somewhere to the right of the Coalition government. Alan Milburn, for example, attacked the government’s privatization of the NHS from the Right:http://conservativehome.blogs.com/leftwatch/2011/06/alan-milburn-lambasts-the-government-for-diluting-the-nhs-reforms-as-cameron-uses-support-from-blair.html

      At least he had the honesty to admit that “The reforms I introduced as health secretary to create NHS foundation and primary care trusts started the devolution journey”.

      The Labour Party deserves better.

      • treborc1

         I’m afraid the labour party deserves what it gets, people have said to me before, labour deserves better and I ask did you vote New labour oh yes I like Blair, so stop moaning about it now.

        If you look at most of the voting records of the  New labour group, and then look at the so called left people like Trickett ,Cruddas, it’s hard to find the differences.

        Trickett wanted to fight the ninety day detention he had us all writing letters, Brown called him in offered him a position wiping Browns back side and he took it and voted for the 90 days.

        Cruddas battled against the welfare reforms in Compass, then decided he would not vote against new labour reforms he stayed away, both these people left Compass.

        If you really believe in something you do not sell out to carry a bag for Brown or wipe his back side, but that’s the difference in politicians these days they become careerists.

  • AlanGiles

    “The third and final strand of Labour’s new welfare policy must be full employment.”

    Fantasia, Andy, The UK has not achieved “full employment” for more than 40 years.

    40 years ago the only companies with computers was large corporations, with the room to have a dedicated air-conditioned suite to keep the equipment stable.

    Today virtually every one man business has a microcomputer, and the computer has made typing pools, for one example a thing of the past. Even supermarkets, with their poor wages and hours and conditions are more and more frequently going for self-operated checkouts.

    Computerisation alone has ensured there will never be full employment again, and for anyone, regardless of party or wing of that party to suggest full employment is achievable again is either being disingenous or plain dishonest. Never promise more than you can deliver

    • Peter Barnard

      I fear that you may well be right, Alan G (“full employment”).

      Prof Tyler Cowan of George Mason University in his book “The Great Stagnation” reckons that the “low hanging fruit” leading to mass production and high employment has been taken : modern chemicals, artificial fertilisers, electricity, the electric motor, electrical equipment in all its manifestations, the internal combustion engine and motor cars, pharmaceuticals, aeroplanes – all these ideas and innovations are (at least) a hundred years old.

      Not only that, although there are still too many poor people in the UK, we are not that far from saturation in most material goods.

      If you and Prof Cowan are correct, there are some awkward questions being posed …

      • AlanGiles

        Good afternoon Peter. I wouldn’t presume to be as knowlegable as Professor Cowan (I hadn’t even heard of his book, let alone read it), but I mentioned on another thread to John Feckless about a visit I made last week to an area in Redbridge, which until just a few years ago boasted 12 small clothing factories all of which employed between 10-24 people, and some small workshops making metal parts and castings etc, about half a dozen in number.

        Now virtually every one of these businesses are closed, and those premises that are still in use (many of the clothing factories were in retail premises), now cater for frippery like “aqua beauty treatment” (women sticking their feet into bowls of live fish – poor creatures – the fish that is, not the women), and the inevitable betting shop. Many local businesses have gone under because Tesco keep opening “convenience stores”, so newsagents, bakers and greengrocers are going under because people choose to buy everything at the supermarket and that is just in the four areas I know especially well – it must be worse in other areas of the country.

        People like Andy mean well, but it’s an aspiration rather than a deliverable promise to ensure “full employment”. If only we were still the workshop of the world. I think it is cruel to make promises like this, in the same way I think it is cruel that Havering College and it’s bespoke “performing arts” centre, for example,  give the impression to every impresssionable 16 year old that they can become a TV presenter or performer. He might as well promise to bring back the muffin man, gaslight and hansom cabs.

        I am going to read the book you mention as it sounds interesting

        • Peter Barnard

          Alan G – will respond in an hour or so – my apology for the delay.

        • Peter Barnard

          I can’t speak for any decline in manufacturing (of whatever size of establishment) in Chester, Alan, because Chester never has been a manufacturing centre of note. Heywood Williams (windows, if I remember correctly) used to employ a few hundred people, but they closed years ago.

          Meaningful growth in employment will only come when we are able to make the every-day goods (and, to some extent, provide the every-day services) that people need or desire.

          I guess there may a ray of sunshine inasmuch exports grew considerably (by 10.3%) 2010 Q1 to 2011 Q4, compared with 1.8% for the economy as a whole, and from 29.0% of the economy to 32.4% of the economy over the same period. 

          We need to find out what has made these companies so successful in these dismal times.

          Although you (and me!) may regard “aqua beauty treatment” as a “frippery,” if the truth be told only about (I’m guessing here) 30% of our economic output is for “essentials,” eg food, housing, clothing, utilities ; everything else – including (i) my dog with the attendant vet’s fees and (ii) a computer with an internet connection so that you and I  can proclaim our views to the world – is a “frippery” … one man’s meat an’ all that.

          Incidentally, as I remark to Brumanuensis, I haven’t read the book in question – all I know of it is a review by Martin Wolf in the FT, and he stressed the point of “low hanging fruit.” The book is available for download, but the process looked abit tricky for me, with my limited PC skills.

          Best wishes.

      • Brumanuensis

        Not a big fan of Cowan, although his book did make some interesting points. It’s a bit of a myth to suggest that technology has made full-emplo ment impossible. Much the same was said of Spinning Jennies. I note that at my local supermarket, the self-checkout section invariably seems to require two employees staffing it to deal with machine faults. ‘Driverless trains’ require train captains. Auto-pilots in aeroplanes haven’t led to pilots and co-pilots becoming obsolescent. In fact, technology creates as many opportunities as it closes off and there’s nothing to prevent full-employment returning with good strategic direction.

        I understand the ‘slowing innovation’ hypothesis, but I think it’s too early to say ‘we’re running out of ideas’. Aeroplanes may have been invented 100 years ago, but the difference between the Kitty Hawk and a modern jet fighter or 747 is so enormous as for them to be in entirely different classes of innovation. 

        • AlanGiles

          I take your point, Brumanuensis, but while the checkouts might need 2 people to staff them in the self-checkout system, those two might well replace 2 or 3 till operators- or turn their jobs into part-time jobs.

          I remember one of our local supermarkets starting with one bank of 4 self check-out points, this was soon increased to 8 and now there are about 16 – and at certain times of the day there will be very few cashiers on the floor at the tills.

          The world is so different now to the golden days in the late 50s/early-mid 60s, and it would be too costly to return to the two man workshops, small retailers etc. Even things you would think were “safe” (telephone operators/receptionists and bank clerks for example) are being replaced by machines

          • Stocky

            As fuzzy logic driven knowledge based computer systems become more common and reliable – systems that can make decisions in a more flexible, human manner – millions of jobs in middle management will also begin to disappear in the same way as skilled manual jobs did years ago with the advent of computer numerical controlled manufacturing in factories. Sophisticated hardware and software will cast millions of white collar workers onto the scrap heap just like simpler more naive systems did to manual workers and clerks.

        • Peter Barnard

          Thanks, Brumanuensis.

          I dunno – the kind of technology (I prefer to call it capital) employed in the past was very much transformational in character, ie it was directly employed in the production of goods for use and consumption, and the volume of goods produced required a lot of labour. I’m not so sure that the new technology (“capital”) that we are seeing these days requires a commensurate level of labour.

          A demographic feature of the post-war period, up to 1973, was that the working-age population as a proportion of the whole declined (“all those children” now causing the “pension crisis”), and hence full employment in an expanding economy was almost certain. Since 1973, the working-age population, relative to the whole, has increased ; one would have thought that this, relative to pre-1973, would generate greater output (not as many economic dependents) and maintain a high level of employment, but as we know, the high level of employment didn’t happen.

          I must admit that I haven’t actually read Prof Cowen’s Book (I got his name wrong first time around), but have taken the Martin Wolf’s review in the FT as my guide, and Mr Wolf is someone who I would trust not to make any misrepresentation.

    • Hi Alan, 

      Full employment is no fantasia. Although unemployment is currently 2.6m with 1.6m claiming JSA in 2001 fewer than 1 million people were claiming
      JSA and only 1.5m unemployed on the ILO measure. If we could achieve that in 2001 we could at least get back to that.

      Also – look at unemployment rates in Germany and the Netherlands (c.5% last time I checked). They have computers there.

      The difference is the UK’s lack of investment: we lag
      embarrassingly behind the rest of western Europe in transport and
      renewable energy infrastructure, and there is a massive need to build
      new homes – all of that could easily create enough jobs to take us back
      to full employment.

      Plus, we need to shrink the finance sector and impose a financial transaction tax. Far too much UK capital is speculated rather than invested. Speculation does not create jobs (it often destroys them), but investment does … as Germany shows.

      • AlanGiles

        Thanks for your reply Andy, and how nice to have a pleasant response, when you see some of the insults made by the New Labour wing on LL.

        With all due respect, I don’t think we will EVER see full employment again – unless we force people into “workfare” a la Purnell and the Coalition – a few hours voluntary work each week for Tesco, who are too poor to pay minimum wage.
        It was achievable in the late 50s and 60s because as I said few businesses were computerised.

        these days employers are so anxious to save money at any cost (to the extent of angering their customers by  having overseas call centres, for example), I can see things getting worse rather than better, and part time short-term employment will become the rule rather than the exception. I am just glad I am now retired so don’t have to compete in the “flexible workforce” – an idea beloved by the real Conservatives and the ToryLite New Labourites.

        The only way I can see full employment even being half-seriously possible would be for governemnts to make so many concessions to big and smaller businesses in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, NI holiodays which would have to last for ever that it would be totally impracticle. I  don’t think there would be the political will to go that far, and beside that both Conservative and the Progress shower find it convenient to have a certain number of unemployed people, just so they can scapegoat them at time when the political atmosphere is embarrassing for the party temporarily in charge

        We also have to remember that the Progress/New labour clique are more listened to these days than the more traditional Labour supporter and if Blair does have the cheek to “re-engage with domestic politics” (God forbid) we will be likely to return to the days of kow-towing to City institutions, with Jacqui Smith’s absurd celeric nonsense on the menu. Blair was never interested in manufacturing, any more than he was in council housing. His return is a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Daniel Speight

      Back in the sixties we were thinking about what could be called ‘under-employment’.  You see we naively believed that Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ would mean that we wouldn’t have to work so hard, that we would have shorter working weeks, more leisure time and so on. We thought that was what a socialist government could give us using the advances of technology.

      Of course I said naively. We didn’t know what was around the corner. Heath and Wilson didn’t give us any idea of charlatans following behind them. And then I got to do a little work in Australia and discovered the people who didn’t stop believing. Like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell they knew that as long as they believed there should be something in it for them, like a good weekend without overtime, or the means to be able to drive off for a couple of days holiday, it would be there.

      We stopped believing. We didn’t clap our hands and Tinkerbell died. Now we have a government supporting spivs who leave unemployed kids sleeping under London Bridge. It was our fault. Greed was the cause. We should have been a bit more French or Australian. When they, our political class, told us we should be more aspirational like themselves, we should have called BS on them.

  • Pingback: Wings over Scotland | The wrong lizards()

  • Stocky

    How can anybody reinvest any faith or trust in Labour as far as welfare goes while Liam Byrne is still Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions? 

    • AlanGiles

      Only too true. Byrne would say or do anything to hang on to his remaining job in his second rate career.

      I think if the only way he could remain as shadow Pensions minister would be to do the dance of the seven veils with a pair of wren feathers during PMQs, you would find him stripping off at midday one Wednesday (and that thought has just made me feel a bit queasy!) 🙂

      • Stocky

        Byrne is a truly dreadful little creep.

  • Alexwilliamz


  • Peter Barnard

    For Andrew Fisher (and a few others),

    On housing – are you sure that we need an immediate injection of at least 100,000 council houses per year for the next five years to remedy the present situation?

    I ask because in England, the crude rate of occupants per dwelling decreased slightly over the period 1997-2010, from 2.35 to 2.30 and so there was no pressure on housing from basic demography. What did happen in the period was that dwellings in the private rented sector increased from 10.3% of the dwelling stock to 17.4% .

    I accept that the crude rate does not include the nuances of changing family patterns, nor longevity (people living longer and remaining in their homes means that the feed into the pool from the deceased is reduced).

    However, it seems to me that the change in ownership seen between 1997 and 2010 is a very pertinent factor?

  • ThePurpleBooker

    How on earth have they attacked it from the right, you stupid woman? Alan Milburn have repetively said that the NHS reforms were an agenda for “privatization and cuts”.  He said it is a big “nationalisation” in reference to the National Commissioning Board. Lord Adonis said this was top-down marketization. I am afraid you are a divisive, lying nutter.

    • Brumanuensis

      I don’t think there’s any need for that sort of language, please rephrase what you wrote.

  • Daniel Speight

    Monday, 16 May 2005

    At the Members’ Entrance this morning I was talking to Mike O’Brien, now Solicitor General, when a small, bald man who I didn’t recognise from Adam tumbled out of a taxi and began chatting. Suddenly it dawned on me that he was not just a Member, but a newly appointed minister. I racked my brain, but try as I may I couldn’t put a name to him.

    ‘Who was that?’ I asked after he had gone. ‘Liam Byrne, he won the Hodge Hill by-election. He’s just been appointed to the Department of Health.’ One of the infinite supply of special advisers who have been shoe-horned into safe seats and who, before you can say ‘New Labour’, are wafted into government over the heads of we poor inadequates who have laboured for years in the salt mines. Is it just me or is there something not quite right about this?

    Chris Mullin(2010-09-23). Decline & Fall

    An early warning perhaps?

    • treborc1

      Mind you it also shows how supposed left wing MP fell under Blair’s spell at least for a while.

      • Daniel Speight

        Yes there was that as well. It’s that middle of the road syndrome. You stand there and you will get run over. I really didn’t mind that he saw ridiculousness  in some of the positions taken by the far left, but once he was pulled into Blair’s orbit he did begin to see the arrogance of New Labour’s leadership. His diaries should be required reading of Labour leaders from now on.

        • treborc1

           It does show the spell of Blair that somebody as left wing as Mullins can fall for it, and I do agree with some of his feelings towards Brown.

          sadly he got tired and left and it’s another loss for labour the real labour party.

    • treborc1

      Mind you it also shows how supposed left wing MP fell under Blair’s spell at least for a while.

    • Wyatt Twerp

      Apart from the “small”, “bald” and the “Hodge-Hill” couldn’t exactly the same thing be said about Ed Miliband? 

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    This is only an experiment – I flagged my own comment above.  So many comments get “Flagged for Review” that the thread increasingly becomes meaningless.  It is like a little war, where contrary views can be hidden away with a little click on a flag icon. Are the comments ever actually reviewed?  Are some posters ever flagged simply because of their perceived position and previous comments, regardless of what they actually say in the post?  Is there any onus on the flagger to somehow state an opinion as to why any comment should be reviewed?  Is there a danger of the tyranny of censorship?  Or is it like Les Tricoteuses, those awful knitting women who used to attend the public executions in revolutionary France and sit in front of the guillotine, passing inane comments on those being executed?

    I am afraid that with the serial hijacking of commenter’s identities, the completely unregulated flagging, and the unresponsive or completely absent nature of moderation, LL is becoming like the wild west.

    • derek

      Jamie takes on 
      Madame Thérèse Defarge, ten paces then draw your needles. LoL! As far as I’m aware comments can be flagged then reappear after moderation however you do make a good point about serial hijacking of identity. Is the hijacking committed by someone who is using more than one computer?

      • derek


  • Bill Jefferies

    Also regulation of private landlords, rent limits, secure tenancies etc.


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