Posts Tagged ‘neoliberalism’

I heard a forgettable talking head recently speaking about an “existential threat to liberal democracy” across the world. Let me make a very simple hypothesis for these “experts”: liberal democracy can function very well if you STOP LETTING THE VERY RICH HOARD ALL THE LOOT.


People will always get disgruntled at immigration, mechanisation and a changing world, but nothing focuses the mind like seeing your standard of living steadily decline while those at the top are hiding untold riches in island paradises. If the Establishment stops repeating the mistakes of the 1930s; if it stops allowing globalisation to be used essentially as a racket for multinational plunder and money laundering under the guise of “investment”, it might still stand a chance of redeeming itself.


I won’t hold my breath.

These current times seem very reminiscent of the dying days of the Major administration. Remember when they were under fire from all sections of the media, even print, couldn’t get any Tory legislation passed, and people were just itching to boot them out of office for a fresh start? Now we regularly see sacrificial ministers wheeled out to be plucked like quivering chickens by the usually gentle and convivial Andrew Marr; answering questions in the irritatingly evasive manner of a suspect waiting for their lawyer to arrive. Mistress Mayhem AKA The Maybot ™ AKA The Feeding Seal has discovered that, much to her chagrin, the left were right all along: that her honeymoon period was almost entirely superficial, down to a combination of soft interviewing, the lauding of her by the press and their relentless hatchet jobs and character assassinations on her opposite number.


The inescapable problem for the Tories is that they have boxed themselves in with their narrow ideological obsessions. When the global financial crash struck in 2008, Gordon Brown was at the helm, and by 2010, following his clandestine insult of a voter being inadvertently broadcast, it should have been a cakewalk for the Tories, and they almost even blew that. As it was, the coalition with the LibDems should have suited David Cameron down to the ground. He could play to his natural liberal instincts and put into place his own vision for the country, which may have been closer to a LibDem vision than a Thatcherite Tory one.


Unfortunately for him, his party had been packed with raving neoliberals since Thatcher’s day, itching for further privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts for big business. ‘One Nation’ patrician conservatism was outdated; an anachronism. This may not have been too much of an issue if Cameron was smart, dedicated and strong, but he proved to be none of those things as he gave the Chancellor’s job to his old Bullingdon chum George Osborne, rather than the eminently better-qualified LibDem Vince Cable. Suddenly, we went from “coalition in service of the country in its hour of need” to “coalition in service of forwarding the interests of Tory party hard ideologues and big donors”.


Osborne was a proper neoliberal in the strictest sense: socially and economically. He idolised Thatcher, and embodied the worst Tory instincts that come with mindless privilege and a cocaine addiction. As far as he was concerned, he could ‘learn’ the chancellorship ‘on the job’, and soon treated cutting expenditure as some kind of game of Monopoly. Some Tories have been accused of reducing the state’s role to ‘custodian of the military’ and using war simply as a colonial tool. Osborne took a similarly reckless myopic approach to the treasury, seemingly taking gleeful abandon in slashing benefits to non-Tory voters, and privatising everything he could lay his hands on, even bragging of it as an end in itself. He clearly understood ‘disaster capitalism’, and the opportunities it presents for furthering nefarious ideological agendas which would otherwise prove publically unpalatable. As long as he kept blowing the ‘deficit’ trumpet, the Emperor’s clothes could remain just about visible to the oblivious masses.


When Cameron quietly dropped his ‘Big Society’ idea, most came to the reductive conclusion that Cameron was simply an empty vessel: an acceptable housewife-friendly face to front the completion of the UK’s asset stripping by the Tory neoliberals; a leader whose background in PR would stand him in good stead for bullshitting his way through the myriad social and economic issues Osborne’s demented slashing and burning would wreak.


Now though, finally, the tide seems to be turning. Whether the reality of Brexit fallout has been grasped, or people have just seen through the contradictory rhetoric of “all in it together”, the Tories have lost their majority, despite again being investigated of cheating on election expenditure, and having huge swathes of the mainstream media dancing to their tune.


Separating Theresa May’s abysmal campaign from the effectiveness of the party in general, an obviously oversimplified hypothesis of their failings would be that they do not know how not to do what they’ve done since Thatcher’s day, despite society and events moving on immeasurably. When Thatcher was handing every public asset to the private sector, it was new. You could disagree with it, but you couldn’t prove categorically that it would fail. Memories of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ sustained Thatcher’s crushing of trade unions and selling off of state monopolies: the context has changed in these last 40 years. Neoliberalism is a discredited economic ideology and a busted flush: 2008 was its natural death.


But rather than be flexible, the Tory ideologues have only one thought process: more privatisation and deregulation. Only, there is hardly anything left to sell, and it is now hugely unpopular with the general public. Their ‘zombie neoliberalism’ is fooling no one. People can see the connection between the Grenfell Tower disaster and the wider narrative where people are only valued for their economic power and big business literally gets away with murder in pursuit of profit.


They no longer have an aura of competence, or a plausible narrative for their plundering of state assets. How can they say more cuts are necessary when they’ve had 7 years to deal with the deficit and failed miserably? Who will be inspired to welcome more misery and cutbacks when they’ve seen no positive results from the 7 years they’ve already endured? Did they really think nobody would notice the stealth abolition of the NHS?


The Conservatives have managed to alienate and piss off most of the public sector, including the people we tend to value the most: doctors, police and firefighters, while propagating a culture of racism, class discord and anti-intellectualism. And the only plan they have to satiate these people is to tell them to suck it up because Brexit is the only thing that matters in the world, but they can’t tell us anything about what its aftermath will look like.


Perhaps I’m jumping the gun: record numbers still voted for the worst manifesto I have ever known from a major party, and a leader who is seemingly terrified of people unless they’re subservient acolytes. But a leopard can’t change its spots. Either the Tories start ripping off more Labour policies, or they will continue claiming the state can’t do anything positive other than bending over for big business. I cannot see either inspiring again, particularly when it becomes clear that Brexit was a huge mistake. A purge of the neoliberals may take a decade, but surely it is the only cure for this death spiral for the party that seemed unassailable just a fortnight ago.


So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.


Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.


Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.


Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.


Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.


“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital” Noam Chomsky.

We are living in pretty desperate times. More and more people thankfully seem to be awakening to the fact that this Conservative Party of Neoliberal asset-strippers is as bad as most of us had warned.

When the Conservatives forced through the Health and Social Care Bill in 2012 (two years after initially presenting it), and then legally blocked the potentially explosive risk register from being made public, the writing was on the wall for anyone even moderately politically aware. The further disclosure of Andrew Lansley’s financial backing from a private healthcare giant just lit a neon sign around their obvious long-term agenda.

I’ve seen people roll out counter-arguments along the lines of:

1. “The Labour Party have claimed every election since 1950 that a Tory government would end the NHS and yet it’s still here. It’s just scaremongering.”
2. “Any party that privatises the NHS would never see government again.”
3. “If they tried it, they’d be voted out at the first opportunity and the NHS would be reinstated.”
4. “ What’s wrong with a mixed public-private model? Works well in most of Europe.”
5. “It’s getting too expensive now we’re all living longer, we need to look at new ways of funding it.”
6. “The country’s got no money. The government’s doing the best it can under the circumstances.”

So, to tackle them in turn:

1. Of course, opposition parties, particularly when they have introduced something universally popular and successful, will electioneer. But it is ridiculous to claim today’s Conservatives are even remotely similar to the ‘One Nation’ types that ruled in the 50s and 60s under a mixed economy social democracy. Today’s Tories are simply economic extremist Neoliberals. Much like America, UK political parties, rather than engines of change, have simply become enablers for the corporate elites (witness the relentless character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn to understand how defensive they become at any challenge to their corporate agenda). David Cameron is not a man of principle; he is a P.R. face for the corporate takeover. In everything the current government do, from forcing illegal debt onto former students by privatising the old student loan book, to making the taxpayer subsidise fossil fuel giants and underwriting mortgages people can’t actually afford, there is a singular agenda: everything must be sold to private enterprise, deregulated and made as irreversible as possible should any opposition party actually grow a backbone and try to reset some sense of democracy.
2. This is why Thatcher never dared to simply sell off the NHS like she did with British Gas, British Telecom and so many other British industries. Instead, she played the long game; introducing “internal markets” into the NHS to begin to alter the management focus from medicine to money. Privatising cleaning and other ancillary functions began the fragmentation of the service, ensuring “cooperation” became a dirty word, replaced by “competition”. John Major’s government took this a stage further by introducing the disastrous PFI schemes: building hospitals with expensive private loans rather than public borrowing. New Labour continued and expanded this treachery gleefully. With the Health and Social Care Act in force, private vultures have been hovering up lucrative ‘contracts’ within the service, sometimes dropping them when they decide they’re not making enough lucre: Of course, the ultimate aim is to then reduce funding to the point of collapse, until the media stories convince the majority that “something needs to be done”. The junior doctors’ contracts and ending nurses’ bursary schemes is another step in making the service more ‘affordable’ for any private companies post-NHS, though of course the convenient cover-story is about “making a 7-day NHS”.
3. Hence why the current incumbents seem hell-bent on reducing constituency numbers, reducing Union income for the opposition, taking voters off the electoral roll, gagging opposition, criminalising protest and forcing 5 year fixed terms. If they can make it through the next election with the NHS in ruins, they will have slain the Neoliberal project’s biggest, and previously impervious foe. If they can’t, the damage will be immense, with debts, less nurses, less doctors and unsafe hospitals to turn around, with corporate vultures all still demanding their slice. If the intolerable trade deal TTIP is ratified, we can forget about the privatisation being able to be reversed anyway.
4. Well, the NHS is pretty consistently rated top of Western healthcare systems, particularly cost-efficiency:, so one might ask why a change is even required, particularly as it wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto in 2010. If a change is required, then the swarm of US healthcare providers bidding for contracts and donating to the Conservatives seems to point to a different agenda: the American private insurance model.
5. Well we’re certainly getting older, but I don’t see how exchanging a hugely cost-effective service for a demonstrably more expensive model would alleviate this, particularly as government can source everything more cheaply, by virtue of its ‘monopsony’ status, and of course, we issue our own currency. There is always, God forbid, the option of increasing National Insurance contributions a little for everyone, or the dreaded taxing of the super-rich. Of course, the super-rich are exactly the kind of people who are both donors to the Conservatives, and biggest potential beneficiaries of a private health market, so that won’t happen.
6. You’ve fallen for the bullshit. Sovereign currency issuers can never ‘run out’ of money, and hyper-inflation is a very remote threat (or, in the Neoliberals’ own terms: “scaremongering”). There is plenty of money, there is just no desire among the elite for any kind of redistribution (for pretty obvious reasons).

I am genuinely terrified of what comes after this Junior Doctor strike. If Jeremy Hunt wins, then we will all lose in the long run. The NHS is irreplaceable, but is currently being fattened up for slaughter. Without hyperbolising, our children are at risk. Can you afford a grand a month on top of bills for private insurance? We have become a nation built almost entirely on rentierism and usury. We’re already being figuratively bled dry. Now the Establishment want to do it literally.

I don’t want to return to a time when the working classes could not afford to be sick. We all need to realise the clear and present danger and fight it, before the worst case scenario becomes a dystopian reality, as we hear our friends and family justify it through specious newspaper narratives.

You know when you have to break some really bad news to someone, but don’t want to see them upset, so somehow you convince yourself if you just phrase it softly, or as a subtle analogy, that they will take it in good spirit, and, more importantly, not attack you? Sometimes the English language is frustratingly limited. But what can you do?

Well, if you’re in Government, you can simply convey what you’re actually doing by using words or phrases that are acceptable, even positive to people, so they will then associate something good with all the bad you’re doing, and it will somehow all make moral sense in their jumbled heads.

Examples abound. “Hard-working families” now means: “anyone who voted Tory”. “Global financial crisis”, “Eurozone crisis” and “food banks” are now translated as “Labour’s mess”. “Slave labour” has become “Workfare”, while “actively provoking the next financial crash” is simply known as “Help to Buy”. There’s more. “Enabling Free Markets” actually means “assistance for near-monopolies to consolidate their dominance”, “free trade deals” can be translated as “stateless multinationals plundering all they survey”, while “reform”/”choice” are alternating pseudonyms for “privatisation”.

But my biggest bugbear, the worst mangling of meaning has to be “centrist politics”. I’ve heard this waffled by Labour party thinktanks or “reformers”; usually after an announcement that big business should be in any way responsible or answerable to the laws of the land: “we will only win from a centrist position”. Yet these same types are advocating 2% minimum GDP defence spending and cutting welfare further. These are not “centrist” positions. Most of them are a painful way away from “centre-right”.

This logic dictates that the Conservatives are “centrist”, perhaps with a hint of “centre-right” economic frugality. Yet this flies in the face of all known evidence. Handing every public service over to private interests is actually economically far-right, just as having everything state-owned or abolishing private ownership entirely would certainly be far-left economically. Yet a Government whose leader and Chancellor have both advocated having everything bar parts of the military and judiciary privately owned or contracted out, are laughably considered “centrist” by our transparently pro-Establishment media sources.

‘Workfare’; the notion that anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, should have to work for survival rather than a salaried wage, is socially far-right: it’s the modern-day workhouse, only instead of the upkeep of the workhouse, the money goes to landlords and party donors who get free labour. Criminalising homelessness is far-right. Assuming all citizens are potential terrorists and justifying spying on them is authoritarian to the point of fascist: far-right.

As students of modern British political history will know, this shifting of the ‘centre ground’ to the right was done under Thatcher. Suddenly, the private sector running essential natural monopolies, massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and privatising council housing was ‘centrist’. Maggie was of course the master of manipulating the truth. Swathes of dole claimants she created quietly became long-term disability claimants to massage her grotesque figures. Her Neoliberal dystopia became the new ‘consensus’, enforced with batons and misinformation.

The BBC get into the act when they describe Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘far left’ candidate. Moderate socialism has never been ‘far left’, unless small-c conservatism is now classed as ‘far right’. It may seem petty, but words can distort realities and create false narratives when used often enough. Real centrist politics would require a significant leftward shift from where we are currently, probably in relation to taxing corporations and the super-rich more progressively, and renationalising essential natural monopolies like the railways and utilities. The body politic has been heaved so far right they now see anything remotely public or progressive as anarchy. Don’t believe the bullshit.

In this fetid age of permanent Neoliberal Big Brother Government, there is no social problem, perceived or otherwise, that can’t be solved with punitive legislation, sanctions or surveillance. Conversely, there is no wealth disparity, no productivity gap, and no corporate environmental damage that can’t be not solved by wagging a metaphorical finger with one hand while giving the proverbial hand-job with the other.
You, the free-thinking, autonomous individual, are the enemy. If you called yourself a business, turned over billions and employed people on a freelance slavery basis, then you’d be a hero, whether you publicly stated your belief in social cleansing or not, but as an individual critiquing an oppressive and power-drunk Establishment, be afraid…be very afraid. You are the raging toddler embarrassing their parents in front of their friends at that dinner party. As a matter of fact, the odds of your social media account and search history being stalked are inversely proportional to the amount of money you might donate to the party who create the laws. But that’s by the by. Can’t you just behave while your blue overlords sell off your futures to their corporate cronies?
Then we shall create a folk demon to justify spying on all of you! Whether they exist tangibly or not, we will fabricate them. We know what you fear: difference. We’ll give them brown skin, strange religions and run headlines about them being cannibal paedophile commies who want us all to live in dungeons and marry our dogs.

Remember, any opposition to these measures will mean you support us descending into a modern version of Stalin’s Russia, where a majority live in poverty and are relentlessly spied on, bombarded with propaganda and demonised, while being denied basic human rights and freedoms. To avoid this, accept your poverty as a consequence of not working hard enough. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from us. The markets will set you free, scroungers will drag you down, and the Human Rights Act must be abolished for us all to bask in our glorious new tomorrow!

The final part of my collection of other people’s articulations of the last 5 years:

Sigh. Yet again a lesson for us all here…about how things are done in “the real world” as though it’s the only grown up way to behave.
Murdoch has jam all over his fingers, his face, and his shirt. But no mummy he knows nothing about those doughnuts going missing or who might have taken them. It is the defence of a five year old. Ditto old kitten heels.
These chancers are so irradiated with spiteful cowardice down to their marrow they would make a geiger counter hum like a wet finger on a brandy glass.

There are real solutions, however, to the travails of work; they are found along Europe’s northern rim – in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. These more balanced economies have avoided Anglo-American, finance-driven capitalism
It is no coincidence that all of these countries are true democracies since they have truly representative electoral systems.
There is one over-riding flaw in our system which infects everything : the fact that we are not a democracy whatever the party tribalists may say. This needs repeating constantly, but for some odd reason it is never mentioned by commentators.
Normally we get a minority elective dictatorship by one or other other of the Tweedle Dum/ Tweedle Dee duopoly that has developed under FPTP, both of them now right-wing, following Tony Blair and Co’s destruction of the Labour Party in order to please Murdoch and his floating voter following, who under FPTP win or lose elections. So-called “New” Labour subsequently cynically reneged on their 1997 manifesto electoral reform commitments .
Once more I quote Barbara Tuchman. In the first paragraph of her treatise:”The March of Folly – from Troy to Vietman” she says “Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function? ”
Can we hope that Ed Milliband in his review of Labour policy will take “THE WAY REASON POINTS” and initiate moves towards a rational representive electoral system where parliament and government reflect what the electorate have actually voted for.
Unless we get rid of FPTP we can expect England to degenerate increasingly into an even more unequal and violent society. In this regard it is no coincidence that the recent riots occurred only in England – not in Scotland, or Wales which have a parliament or assemby with AMS PR electoral systems – which are not the most desirable systems but much more democratic than FPTP
I have an idea. Sell off nearly every British company to foreign interests. Make people who have jobs worried about their future. Let the Banks gamble with depositors money and bad loans. Spend more money bailing out the Casino Bankers with tax payers money and then make the public pay, again. Tell the people this massive deficit is awful and unfortunately for them they will suffer the pain. Redundancies and job losses occur and then call the unemployed ‘feckless, workshy, and benefit scroungers’ so the daily mail and sun readers are kept happy.
Ah, put the unemployed on workfare and have them work for corporations for no money, not even earning minimum wage.

But changing the electoral system will not be a cure. The Problem we have is not the type of democracy because we live in a society based on Patronage. This subverts any system of democracy. You can elect who you like any party from tree hugging Greens to Ukip to communists to 1926 Tories not much will change since the politics follows the interests of the Patrons.
Obama looked good, Blair looked good, Brown looked as if he would restore Labour after the Blair debacle, Mario Cuomo looked good. All turned out to represent their patrons not their voters.
We have allowed the Super Rich with the aid of Murdoch, the City of London, Banking, the Energy sector to run our country in a way that is not true the rest of Northern Europe. They keep the Super rich in check and their Super rich are happier healthier and fitter and more patriotic than ours.
Publishing is a key component of control. if I as a publisher want to choose the next generation of Labour MPs I choose a young Cambridge graduate that has expressed ideas such as Unions should be weakened, that communism is the great threat. (I am thinking of real historical Labour Leaders). I offer them the possibility to express these ideas in print, my journalists praise the articles, he is a young genius. I pay him a big advance on a book publishing deal (this is not considered a bribe of any sort of corrupting deal). This is just one example of our fully legal and institutional system of patronage. Look to who is being payed big advances.
If my young genius goes “off piste” he will soon find all the deals, articles, reviews etc., dry up. The news papers will soon be describing him as a slow witted bad tempered plonker. The same applies to keeping journalists in line. Many don’t even see that their strings are being pulled, they soon know in which direction to bark to get their supper.
All this is can go on for a long time but in the end the more efficient system will win. If we allow our super rich to become gluttons they and we will go down.
This debate is always a nice study in psychology.
On the one hand, we are told that it is foolish to complain about executive pay and bonuses, or private sector profiteering from water, fuel or land. Despite precious little evidence in support of the contention, we are told that these things are all necessary to ferment economic growth, so stop your childish, utopian socialist whining.
On the other hand, benefits are now not even alllowed to rise in line with the price of bread – this despite the fact that spending by the poorest on necessities is, as the article says, one of the key drivers of our economy and has been well documented as such for at least a century.
By the way, the argument over how ‘deserving’ claimants are is completely irrelevant to the above. The fact that we are repeatedly warned about scroungers is the reddest of herrings – in the first place, it would be perfectly possible to ‘get tough’ on scroungers while still uprating benefits generously, and in the second place it actually matters very little from an economic point of view whether a recipient is ‘deserving’ or not – the important point is the the money gets spent and supports local businesses and jobs.
Conclusion – the government has no interest in the welfare of claimants, small businesses, regional economies or the wider economy as a whole, and is engaged in redistribution from the poorest to the richest for its own purposes. I don’t see any other rational explanation.
Once the private landlord has take the lion’s share of it, then they have £14,000.
But £1,000 is council tax benefit that they never see either, so disposable income is £13,000.
The average council home rent in London is £84 per week, so this is much cheaper than the private LHA amount of £340 per week. If we had enough social housing, then their benefit levels would be much lower.
The scandal here is that the taxpayer is being fleeced by private landlords through housing benefit. The claimants don’t keep a penny of it – in fact they often still have a rental shortfall to make up after LHA.
I can understand your anger when you see the amounts. But spare the claimants and direct it at profiteering alndlords and the idiot politicians who turned housing into marketised invesments and asset portfolios whilst at the same time selling off as much of the social housing as they could.
The government does of course have a plan here. The hosuehold benefit cap will come in at April 2013 and mean that a family in this situatino will not be allowed more than £26,000 a year in total from welfare. That means they will have a shortfall of more than £100 a week.
This is how is will play out. Rent arrears. Eviction. Emergency accommodation. Forced migration to cheap parts of the country with fewer employment opportunities. Schooling disrupted. Social ties lost. Socially cleansed neighbourhoods. Rents in those areas pushed higher still as yuppies move in.
Dunno how you feel, but that really aint the kind of country I want to live in!

“I have come here to make a confession. For 30 years, the British people have been the victims of a giant swindle, a swindle that has been perpetrated by all the major parties and supported by every Government since Margaret Thatcher. A swindle based upon a lie, the lie that if we encouraged the rich to create wealth, then the whole country would benefit. We did all we could to help them, we privatised everything, we lowered taxes for the wealthy, we allowed tax avoidance/evasion, we encouraged non-dom residency, we de-regulated, we crippled the unions, we subsidised low pay and we bailed out the banks. But, after decades of this, what did we achieve? Nothing. All we did was to make the richest 1% become even wealthier.
The truth is, Neo-Liberalism is a bankrupt ideology that has utterly failed 90% of the population. The only thing it has created is the huge myth that ‘we’ve never had it so good’. There hasn’t been any increase in wealth for the great majority of people, it’s been a giant con trick.
Virtually all the wealth created since the 80’s has gone to the top 10%, and the wealthiest 1% are now vastly richer than they were, whilst the rest have had to work ever harder just to stand still. 40 years ago, average disposable household income was higher than it is today, when there was usually only 1 wage earner per family. Now we have 2,3,4 family members working, especially amongst middle earners, and yet, they are now actually worse off in real terms.
This deterioration in earnings has been masked by two factors. Peoples lifestyles have been fuelled by easy credit and an insane housing bubble, neither having anything to do with the rich having created more wealth. Huge debt and inflating house prices have funded the façade of prosperity for decades. However, with the collapse of the giant Ponzi scheme that was the financial markets, this illusion has now been shattered. The fact is, they own you all. If the banks decided tomorrow to call in every penny they are owed, most of Britain would be homeless and destitute. Average household debt now stands at nearly £60,000. Total personal debt stands at over £1.5 Trillion, a figure which will only increase as a whole generation leaves University/college already heavily in debt. Some prosperity, and so much for never having it so good.
And it gets worse. We now have a Government that has begun a systematic assault on it’s own people. Under the pretext that the country is bankrupt, they are making it easier to sack you, making you work longer hours for less pay, forcing your kids to work for nothing, raising the retirement age whilst cutting your pensions and weakening your health and safety laws. They are attacking the weak, the poor and the disabled, slashing welfare budgets, forcing people off benefits and removing every support structure a civilised society should provide. Meanwhile? The wealthy avoid paying billions in taxes, and hide billions more away in tax havens.The very people who are paying the biggest price are the very people who have been screwed for the last 30 years, whilst the ruling elite, the very people who have gained the most from the last 30 years, are immune to the mess they have created. Executive pay has increased by 50% in the last year alone. That one fact tells you all you need to know about who is in this ‘all together’ And all the while, no-one sees the irony in millionaire politicians telling you ‘we must all tighten our belts’.
They have robbed us of nearly everything. And yet, they still want more. They already own your politicians, your media and your Police.They already have your land, gas, electricity, railways and water. Yet their greed knows no bounds. They keep taking, and like fools you keep giving. So now, they are coming for your pensions, your NHS, your schools, your green spaces, your welfare and, if you’re old, your houses, after all, you should pay for your own care, shouldn’t you?
So this is where 30 years of neo-liberalism has brought us. Massive debt and worse living standards for the many, immense wealth for the few. Well, the time has come to put an end to it. We are going to have a government that will start looking after it’s people again. The measure of a civilised society is how it cares for its most disadvantaged. The poor, the weak and the disabled will no longer be looked down upon as scum. We are going to try to create full employment. Instead of subsidising shareholders, we are going to subsidise the unemployed. Taxation is going to be more balanced, because it’s time the rich started paying their fair share. I will put an end to Tax evasion and avoidance, and if they say they’ll go elsewhere, I’ll say ‘good riddance’.
This system where everything goes to the top 1% has failed us in every respect.
It’s now time the 99% started to matter.”

Probably the most stomach churning thing about this coalition is the systematic targeting of the sick, the poor and the disabled and the deliberate spreading of lies to facilitate this. Equally disgusting is the amount of people who come on here and regurgitate this crap.
So, using the Governments own figures, let’s lay to rest this bullshit:
The lies they tell
The welfare state has led to a ‘something for nothing’ culture?
There are over 8 million people receiving benefits in this country. There are more people IN WORK who get benefits than not working. 90% of all housing benefit claimants are IN WORK. The Welfare state is actually a massive state subsidy to business which enables it to pay poverty wages and charge exorbitant rents.
You’re all sick of paying a huge swathe of chavs to lay about watching Jeremy Kyle all day?
Less than 5,000 people, out of a population of 60 million, have been on Job Seekers Allowance for more than 5 years. Historically, whenever jobs get created, they always get filled. The idea that there is a vast horde of the work-shy is a myth.
Living on benefits is a lifestyle choice?
More than 80% of benefit claimants are aged over 35. The vast majority of unemployed claimants have worked, and paid taxes, for years and are now on benefits due to redundancy, sickness, disability or having to care for someone. Millions more are receiving benefits due to poverty wages.
People won’t work because benefits are too high?
Average benefits amount to £3,400 a year. These people are living in poverty. Since 1997, due to various Government actions, the value of benefits have fallen sharply year on year in real terms. People on benefits are far worse off now than in the last 30 years.
People should get off their arses and look for work?
When Iain Duncan Smith suggested the jobless in Merthyr Tydfil should “get on a bus” to Cardiff to find work, Merthyr had 43 people for every job vacancy. Problem was, Cardiff already had nine unemployed people for every job vacancy.
The jobs just don’t exist. In 2010, there was 1 million more unemployed than there were job vacancies
Benefit cheats are bankrupting the country?
Benefit fraud does amount to about £1.5 billion a year. However, £16 billion goes UNCLAIMED every year. Meanwhile, the amount of tax lost through avoidance and evasion is a whopping £120 billion a year. ( and don’t give me the crap about avoidance being legal, the truth is, it shouldn’t be)
Not one of the major parties will openly state the real truth. The biggest causes of poverty in this country are lack of jobs, poverty wages and part time work. All the parties have social policies that they KNOW are based upon outright lies, lies that are allowing a whole section of society to be vilified as heartless people cast around to find a victim upon which to blame all this countries woes.
They should all hang their heads in shame.

Stupid Tories. Why, when your party has built a political ideology out of selling off public property, paid for and built by taxpayers, to wealthy, offshore, non-dom pals (and funders) of the Tory party, an ideology which is seemingly acceptable to the majority of the electorate provided the NHS remains undismantled and privatised, would you THEN go and fuck with the NHS?
The Tories KNOW they can sell off EVERY publicly funded British service EXCEPT the health service AND get away with it. Thatcher sold ALL our industry, housing, rail services (built and payed for by taxpayers) now Cameron is selling off our schools, our social programmes, our housing (again, like Thatcher).
The appallingly undervalued price tags the Tories have slapped on our services as an incentive for their chums to buy will NOT go back into new services that benefit the taxpayer, but to balance the budgets that are only out of whack because the last time the Tories were in power they sold off EVERYTHING and refused to invest the profits into much needed services, leaving left-leaning governments to albeit unwisely borrowing to attempt to alleviate the crumbling public sector that Thatcher left in her wake. AND THEY COULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT TOO IF IT WEREN’T FOR THAT MEDDLING LANSLEY AND HIS HATRED OF UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE.
Still, Tory political stupidity is good for society, so overall… hurray!

I would be willing to tolerate the Coalition’s bitter pill if I had any faith whatsoever that it would result in something worthwhile. If we really needed to go through this period of pain to re-establish prosperity, I might be willing to put up with it. What Cameron has manifestly failed to do is to paint a picture of what life will be like when he’s finished dealing with the deficit. If it were to magically result in full employment and justice for all, then wonderful.
However, it’s patently obvious where it’s going, and that’s the shrinking of the state, the redistribution of wealth upwards, mass privatisation, and a permanent erosion of living standards for an ever-growing army of long-term unemployed. Cameron will do nothing about these things because he doesn’t give a shit about them. He’s shown what he cares about, and it ain’t you and me, mate.

Why are we 2 years into a 10 year economic slump? Because global capitalism has created a transnational, corporate welfare state which transfers wealth from taxpayers to a kleptocratic elite. It works like this:
Method 1: Taxpayers pay for not only the infrastructure on which the private sector depends, but also the state-funded research carried out by the military and public universities to develop technology such as the jet engine, the desktop computer, the internet, nuclear power and GPS. This technology gets handed over to the private sector, which proceeds to make vast profits from it. Then, even though the last 30 years have seen drastic and worldwide reductions in corporation tax and the top rates of income tax, the corporate kleptocracy evades taxes by hiding offshore up to £20 trillion of its profits (an amount equivalent to almost a third of annual global GDP), whilst governments cut spending and charities open food banks to provide for the victims of this criminality.
Method 2: Until their private sectors are able to compete globally, capitalist economies such as the US (from the 1830s till the 1940s) and Britain (from the 1720s till the 1850s), reject the free market and develop their economies through state intervention, using protectionism, subsidies and capital controls. The ruling elites in countries such as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, France, Austria and Finland follow the lead of the world’s two biggest economies. Then, as soon as they have gained a competitive advantage, these beneficiaries of corporate welfare inflict market liberalisation on developing countries with disastrous effects. Thus, having increased by 37% between 1960 and 1980 as a result of interventionist economic policies, the GDP per capita of sub-Saharan Africa fell by 7% in the years 1980-2000, as countries which borrowed from the IMF were forced to cut spending, privatise their state-owned industries, deregulate their financial sectors and remove trade barriers. And at the same time that they were wreaking havoc in Africa, the free market prescriptions of the Washington Consensus were also failing in the developed countries, where average, annual GDP per capita growth fell from 3.1% during the 30 years before 1975 to 2.1% during the 30 years of neo-liberalism which followed.
But slowing GDP growth and stagnating median incomes didn’t stop wealth from being shovelled upwards ever more quickly. In the US for example, the 18 years preceding the 2008 financial crash was one of only two periods in the country’s history when the share of total income of the top 1% exceeded one fifth. The other was the 8 years before the Great Depression.
Method 3: Governments have to subsidise employers who don’t pay their employees a living wage. In the UK, for example, the government spends £23 billion per year on the tax credits it pays to working families. Then there’s the £4 billion per year in housing benefit given to households with at least one person employed. And, to keep wages low and its workforce compliant and insecure, the private sector needs an army of unemployed – again financed by the taxpayer. As Margaret Thatcher’s chief economic adviser in the 1980s, Alan Budd, admitted to The Observer in 1992:
“…………. the 1980’s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers. Raising unemployment was a very desirable way of reducing the strength of the working class. What was engineered – in Marxist terms-was a crisis of capitalism which re-created a reserve army of labour, and has allowed the capitalists to make high profits ever since………..”
Method 4: Instead of retaining monopoly control of the money supply, governments allow private banks to create money, which is conjured up on a computer screen and used to speculate, fuel asset price inflation, pay bankers’ bonuses and create an endless debt spiral as more and more money has to be printed to enable the repayment of interest. Then, when the asset bubble finally bursts, governments have to spend trillions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to prevent the financial system from imploding and national economies from disintegrating. Finally, to add insult to injury, governments have to borrow what should be their own money back from the same banks to which they have given the power to create money out of nothing – and pay high interest rates because of an economic crisis which the banks themselves have caused.
And worst of all, whilst the beneficiaries of the corporate welfare state drain the global economy at the expense of taxpayers, the media organisations and politicians they own lecture the poor and unemployed, endlessly moralising about their fecklessness and lack of responsibility. In doing so, they only confirm what most people already know – that capitalist democracies really are the best that money can buy.
British workers work the longest hours in Europe with less employment rights,less pay, lower productivity and pitifully lower state benefits than most of our main main competitors in the EU.Yet we’re now being constantly told that in order to remain competitive with emerging economies like China and India we need to go much further in making ourselves ” flexible ”.And that a big chunk of the workforce must in effect become a serf class that can be used and abused at will by employers and then disgarded like garbage when they’re not needed.
Sadly our political classes have yet to grasp the simple fact that it’s only a matter of time before the shit hits the fan in our country because a society as stressed out ,unequal , divided and insecure as ours can never be a society that’s at ease with itself. British society is increasingly being underpinned by Darwinian principles and we’re sleep-walking into a nightmare scenario where the elite have us all by the balls and sit back and watch whilst the rest of us engage in a survival of the fittest. And the principles of divide and rule are being played out in the workplace where those at the top reap most of the benefits whilst everyone else fights for what’s left. And those who don’t or can’t conform get demonised and stigmatised and become convenient scapegoats for all society’s ills.

Unfortunately this country is now dead and buried as a civilised democratic society.
The NHS will cease to exist during the next Parliament (most likely a Tory one). Already we have a concerted mass media attack on it’s “fitness for purpose” and the idea that “time wasting sick people” should pay to see their GP
Euthanasia will soon become legally acceptable and encouraged by the government. This will bring down the costs of work capability assesments, disability benefits, social care costs and free up space for a younger fitter population. Again we have already had a media campaign about how well pensioners have done during austerity.
Employees will lose the right to leave a job without their employers agreement, in effect becoming their employers property. This will be done in the interests of the workers giving them ( at their employers whim) security of employment and guaranteeing them a place to live ( though it may only be a bed in a dormitory)
The mere tinkering with access to justice means nothing to the general population and neither will all the points above. After all by the time I have been to work, texted all my mates on facebook, done my late night shopping, watched a bit of reality tv and gotten really rat a***d over the weekend I will be too tired to protest about things that have no effect on me at all !!

Being pro business used to mean something and it wasn’t that bad, it meant long termism, jobs at a fair rate of pay, apprenticeships and companies that took part in and to some degree pride in the communities around them. It used to mean that for any help and incentives they got from government was at least part repaid from the taxation they paid here in the UK.
Now it means absolutely the opposite, certainly with regard to big business, they want to take as much as they can as fast as they can, what they don’t deprive you of in wages and reduced working conditions they take in the way of handouts from the government, paying little or none back in taxation. Caring about the society around their business? Not a hope, they couldn’t care less if the infrastructure of the UK collapses as long as they don’t have to pay any additional taxation.
The energy companies are a prime example, notice how this governments “solution” was to reduce the number of tariffs, that didn’t mean a drop in price, how they screamed when Miliband spoke of taking on the energy companies, how the energy companies cried “blackouts” meaning blackmail………..
Let Cameron stick up for these people, let the people of this country see yet again how this lot work, let our chancellor take the EU to court with tax payers money defending the right for bankers to have unrestricted bonuses, let St. Vince continue to turn a blind eye to the growing number of zero hours contracts and pretend “surprise” when he sees he’s out by a factor of 10.
Decent people don’t stand a chance under this lot, you never did.

‘we want Britain to be open to business to the ‘wealth creators”’
So now you will see these were coded messages to every dictator, their minions, overseas tax evader, fraudster, drug kingpin, oligarch, that bring your money to Britain, not only will we not tax you, but we’ll make your money respectable. Come to Britain with dirty money, you will leave with ‘respectable’ money.
These people can chuck £10million of money sourced from places I doubt they’d be happy to disclose into a terraced house in Kensington, sit on it for 8 years, then shift it for say £14million then come out smiling and dancing singing the reason I have £14million in clean happy moral money is cos I sold my Kensington terrace. The true origins of that money are now wiped from history.
Britain is now the haven for making unethical money very ethical. As the average age of PM’s goes downwards their respect for the value of reputation, probity, national character becomes increasingly compromised. They lack the experience to even imagine how difficult it is to recover character and reputation once it’s lost. They’ll auction these long fought for characteristics off in a manner that wouldn’t look out of place on eBay if means quick political gain.

I had a conversation the other week with a proud neo-liberal and we tacitly agreed to end the discussion when he said, with a genuine sense of shock, “What, you don’t believe in competition?” The idea that human beings should live in a Hobbesian struggle of all against all seemed to him and, apparently, to a frighteningly large number of others, to be the only principle that should guide us. Yet it is a principle that is ultimately guaranteed to lead to catastrophe for us all.
Our success as a species has been built on our ability to co-operate to achieve our goals. When we regard others as nothing other than building blocks for our own success, to be used and discarded when of no further use to ourselves, we destroy the very fabric of our civilisation (just as we destroy the fabric of the natural world around us when we regard it in the same way). There will be no end to it, as the middle classes are now beginning to discover. First, you exploit the very poorest in society, forcing them to compete against each other to the point at which they can literally barely survive while working themselves to an early grave. (I believe that we will see life expectancy begin to fall for a large percentage of the population in the industrialised world within our lifetimes; this fall will of course be blamed on the lifestyle choices made by the people afflicted.) But it doesn’t stop there: why would it? The process will just continue and continue, as the rentier owners of capital pursue ever greater returns from the next section of the population and so on. The logic of the ‘game’ is that of Monopoly: everyone ends up in absolute poverty apart from one…who owns everything.
It can’t go on like this, but I genuinely don’t know how it can be stopped. In the past, we could talk about the ‘lumpenproletariat’, the hired thugs doing the bidding of the propertied classes. Today, there’s a kind of ‘lumpenacademia’, the hired placemen of billionaires, running the Economics Departments of leading universities, the go-to rent-a-quotes for virtually all the media, exhorting us all to work harder tomorrow to earn less than we did yesterday, while claiming that the accumulation of ever more wealth in the hands of the absurdly wealthy is a good thing because these are the people who will provide the investment to secure all our futures. It’s all so absurd, and yet such nonsense seems to have captivated our society.

Between 1945 and 1973, we had governments that would be described as ‘Extreme Left wealth-hating communists’ by current standards – and that would have been the Tories, Labour were further left. Yet we had full employment, consistent growth of 3% or more, good levels of equalty and a steadily dropping national debt.
Since the 1979 and onwards ‘revolutions’, with the focus going on the financial sector, and obsessions first with inflation and then with deficits, we’ve had ‘business friendly’ government. We’ve also had persistent mass unemployment, slow growth with recurrent financial crises and rising inequality.
Some may think, based on, you know, the actual sodding numbers, that these left-wing ‘business hating’ governments were better for business than our current ‘business friendly’ governments.

The Chancellor hid the facts from the public
Here are some of his achievments:

He Has Borrowed More In 3 Years Than Labour Did In 13 -Debt under the Tory Gov is still going Up & it is now record high

UK’s failure to raise output per worker since the downturn has held back wages and WELL-BEING

Rough sleeping UP 55% since Labour left office!

Poverty will rise to one in three children & nearly one in four working-age adults by 2020

Poverty among young people has increased by 6%

Amnesty International warned that the UK “is going in the wrong direction on rights, protections and fairness”

Number of Foodbank users (#report / 03-2015) -Four years of a Tory Gov 2014: 913,138 -Labour left office 2010: 40,898

100,000 Hungry children affected by his Benefit Sanctions ‘in 2014

Leaving Benefit claimants with Mental health illness for up to 3 month Sanctioned with no money at all

Bedroom Tax has hit 420,000 disabled people -Number of households affected by his
bedroom Tax expected to increase by 220,000 a year

More and more people in work need help with their private rents
Low pay is endemic in the UK labour market

UK firms use 1.8m zero-hours contracts says ONS in the last 3 months of 2014

More than half the parents in receipt of benefits are working families

More than five million Taxpayer work an extra day a week for free

Rail Fares prices rise by up to £1,900 since 2010

UK’s energy bills soar 2% in the last three years

Nursery costs for under-twos up by 33% over this Parliament

Nursery costs for under-twos up by 33% over this Parliament

HOME ownership flew further into fantasy land -Average price of a home in England & Wales has risen from £162,712 to £179,492

A growing numbers of people living in inadequate housing and paying sky high rent

His housing plans turned out to be a boost for Landowners and a handout to developers

NHS Misses A&E Target For 20th Week In A Row

New Cancer Performance Data showing Cancer Treatment target missed for a full year

Disabled children are waiting longer for vital services -Some being left for more than 2yrs before being diagnosed

A massive rise (500%) in GP practices asking managers for support to close surgeries

Shortages of nurses, midwives and doctors in most of Hospital Wards

Total Spending on social care services for older people has fallen by 17% Since 2010

Selling profitable public assets and dismantling of the NHS

The number of overcrowded infant classes has trebled

While Students struggle with his trebling of tuition fees increase -Academic heads see 59% pay increase
An appeal court judge has described Tory’s legal aid savings as a false economy

That’s only some of his Achievements that he forgot to list today!

Totally unrecognisable. The most incompetent Prime Minister running a farcical government bringing forward badly thought out bills that were stopped on a number of occasions by the huge weight of public opposition. The leader of a humpty dumpty government which realised that it would not get a second term, so set out to break things so that they could not be put back together again. A leader and manager of a careless, care less government that has shamelessly demonised the most vulnerable in our society. The man who says that so many more people are now using food banks ‘because they have been better publicised’. A PR man Prime Minister without a backbone, a hollow man who whistles the tune of whatever wind is blowing past him.

I couldn’t have improved on any of these. Here’s hoping for a real change tomorrow, first at the voting booths and then on the streets.