In what was a pretty cringeworthy speech (when Bruno declared ‘I am the white Obama’ clearly he was only warming up for Ed Mili) putting the protest against returning government spending to 2006 levels on a par with the female suffrage, civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, Ed Miliband once again displayed some pretty rubbish judgement.
Rather than reproduce the speech on its own - for, dear reader, that would just not be cricket for a monday morning - I’ve also included some notes on what Ed probably meant to say, but forgot to write down.
Friends, we come here today from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from all generations.
I came from Islington, and very nice it is too.
Men, women and children with one simple message for this country and this government: there is an alternative.
Just don’t ask us what it is.
I look out at this extraordinary sea of faces gathered in this historic park and I feel profoundly moved by this moment.
And I’m sure David is out there too…
We come in the tradition of movements that have marched in peaceful but powerful protest for justice, fairness and political change.
See you all next week for a yes-to-AV demo
The suffragettes who fought for votes for women and won.
The civil rights movement in America that fought against racism and won.
The anti apartheid movement that fought the horror of that system and won.
This doesn’t really need a punchline. I mean, eqating a 3% reduction in public spending with female suffrage, the civil rights movement or the fall of apartheid. Right then.
The cause may be different but in coming together today to realise our voice, we are standing on the shoulders of those who have marched and struggled for great causes in the past.
Only our cause isn’t quite as great
Our struggle is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish because they represent the best of the country we love.
Because without the union’s I’d never have been elected leader
We know what the government will say: that this is a march of the minority.
They are so wrong.
This is a march of a minority. Splitters!
David Cameron: you wanted to create the big society.
This is the big society.
or at least I think it is - nobody’s quite agreed a definition yet
The big society united against what your government is doing to our country.
In four years and not six or seven, you evil man you.
We stand today not as the minority, but as the voice of the mainstream majority in this country.
Just don’t ask why the rest of the mainstream didn’t vote Labour.
The midwives from Kingston here to speak up for maternity services.
After years of having John Prescott as an MP they’re used to doing it themselves
The sure start workers from Hampshire here to speak up for children’s centres.
Especially the ones people want charities to run
The small business owners from Liverpool here to speak up for jobs.
By small business I mean small council departments, obviously
The teachers and students here to speak up for the next generation.
I remember many of them from the protests when labour introduced tuition fees, and then again when we trebled them
We speak today for the mainstream of Britain because we are the mainstream of Britain.
Well, the mainstream with a free saturday
We recall the greatest moments of our country’s history.
The fall of Blair.
We remember what happened after the second world war when we faced enormous challenges but built a country fit for the future.
Although ironically, lower debt than we have now. After a world war.
The National Health Service.
Homes fit for heroes.
The welfare state.
And they’re all as perfect now as they were then. Despite the population doubling and lots of folk not really fancying getting a job.
Out of the shadows of that time, we built a better society.
I was in the shadows when we sold all the gold they bought.
Every one of us knows that today the country faces difficult
I was there when we decided just how difficult.
But we know too there is a different way.
That’s why I have a handy bucket of sand with me at all times.
We hold to some simple truths:
Because when we tried complicated truths someone stole them from an American Phd.
We need jobs to cut the deficit. Unemployment is never a price worth paying.
Government jobs! With fluffy plants in the offices and nice big pensions. And 3pm finishes on a friday.
The next generation should never have their hopes sacrificed on the altar of dogmatic deficit reduction.
It’s far more fun to do it on the altar of endless public spending and stealth taxes.
There is a need for difficult choices, and some cuts.
But choices can be ignored and denied
But, this government is going too far and too fast and destroying the fabric of our communities.
They got the inspiration from our immigration policies.
Where is the fairness?
Said gordon to tony, many times.
They say we are all in this together.
They must have forgotten to send me my invite
But how can it be right that while children’s centres close, it is business as usual for the bankers?
I’m sure gordon will be opening a re-launched Lehman brothers soon.
How can it be right that while the cost of living goes up for everyone else, the government gives the banks a tax cut?
We gave them knighthoods and government jobs too.
We are not talking about the politics of envy, we are talking about the politics of fairness.
Why should those who choose not to work not be as rich as a banker, after all?
We do not simply reject the government’s policies.
Other than on weekdays
We reject the narrowness of their vision, the injustice of their ideology and the poverty of their aspiration for our great country.
Wow that sounded so much better in my head
They are the dividers not the unifiers.
They are the Judean People’s Front!
We reject their attempt to divide Britain.
Unless it’s along class lines
I grew up in the 1980s. This government is taking us back.
Let’s do the timewarp again….
Setting private sector against public sector.
The working taxpayer against the taxpayer funded worker
Setting those in work against those on benefits.
Just remember if youre on incapactiy, fight back weakly
Setting North against South.
Miliband against Miliband
I say to David Cameron:
When he’s stopped laughing
The hundreds of thousands of people on this march reject your politics of division.
Apart from the organisers, many of whom have made careers of dividing the left
It falls to us to be the unifiers of our country.
After thirteen years of Government, it was next on the to-do list, honest
That is why it is so important that this is a peaceful protest that wins public support.
Has anyone seen Aaron Porter?
A protest remembered for its cause and for its purpose.
I’m Martin Luther King, if he’d been elected by AV
And it falls to us to be the optimists too.
That’s what Tony used to say
We do need to cut the deficit.
He’d say that too, but Gordon wouldn’t let him
But we must also protect families struggling to get by.
Especially the ones who we took to court after we over-payed their tax credits
We must also protect the promise of Britain that the next generation does better than the last
Just don’t tell them about the credit card bill until we’ve pegged it
We must also preserve the things we value in our communities: the library, the citizen’s advice bureaux, the community centre.
And most of all the ability to tell people how to run them and go on diversity and cohesion courses
We know, from generations before us, that it is not just politicians who make change happen, it is people.
Like all those people who voted to get rid of Labour less than a year ago
And so when people ask, who will, stand up for our NHS?
Let us say: we will
I said let - just like Obama
When People ask who will stand up for our children’s centres,
Let us say: we will
And again - JFK look out
When people ask who will stand up for the hopes and dreams of the next generation,
Let us say: We will
Is anyone cheering yet?
And when people ask us who will stand up for the mainstream majority in Britain, we say: We will.
And can they spare some change to pay for the leaflet?
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King said: The arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice.
My speechwriters aren’t that good.
But only if people bend it that way.
You are those people standing up for our country.
Standing up for justice.
Standing up for fairness.
Standing up for change.
I told you to stand up! Yes, you in that chair with wheels on too!
Thank you for your commitment.
We will prevail.
Who wants a fist bump?
Posted: March 28th, 2011
Tags: Ed Miliband
Comments: No Comments
Today, much of London has been gridlocked by the TUC march.
It’s never a bad thing that people want to engage in our democracy by demonstrating (even where the motivation of many lies in self-interest) but this afternoon’s attack on Fortnum and Mason is quite revealing.
The ’secret target’ mooted during the day was unveiled as F&M’s flagship store on Piccadilly, and it was subsequently occupied by UK Uncut.
Why there? I’m an avid reader of Private Eye and they’ve never been mentioned in the tax avoidance debate. So, what about their owners? Fortunately this isn’t a great corporate conspiracy. It’s all on Wikipedia. Fortnum is owned by Wittington Investments Limited, which in turn is is 79.2% owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation, and 20.8% owned by members of the Weston family.
And what of the Garfield Weston Foundation? Well, it’s actually one of the UK’s largest grant-making trusts.
From it’s 2009 annual report:
“This year, the Trustees have supported 1518 appeals out of a total of 3513 applications, which is a slight increase over last year. While the annual income has remained at a similar level to last year (around £38.5 million) the total cash donations of £37.6 million are lower than last year £41.1 million. This, however, is a reflection of the need for the Trustees’ to be prudent in order to bring their reserves up to a more conservative level following the substantial commitment to Oxford University of £25 million last year towards the development of the Bodleian Library. The figure of £37.6 million includes the second tranche of
£10 million of this grant and the Trustees are committed to pay the final £5 million next year. The Trustees have also been mindful of the possibility of requests for urgent funding being made by charities which have had their funding from other sources cut due to the difficult economic conditions and wished to maintain some temporary reserves to cover such eventuality.”
Additionally, F&M’s managing director, Beverly Aspinall, joined from that other great corporate evil, (sarcasm, by the way) the John Lewis Partnership, where she’d been for 24 years.
So, the demonstrators chose to attack a company with a female MD that has just funded one of Britain’s top libraries, that donated £37.6m to good causes in 2009 alone, and is building up reserves to help charities hit by the spending cuts.
Many have suggested the motives of many in the current protests is nothing to do with politics and everything to do with prejudice. Today, we saw conclusive proof.
UPDATE: UK Uncut have issued a press release, on the occupation. It’s quite remarkable. Here’s the link to the action:
F&M is owned by Whittington Investments. Whittington also owns a 54% share of Associated British Foods. They allege ABF have dodged over £40 million in tax.
So - hang on - Fortnum and Mason hasn’t actually done anything wrong? Nor has its parent company. ABF has. And the only link is that the two companies have mutual shareholders. But they’re occupying F&M. Indeed, the headline reads “UK Uncut occupy tax dodgers Fortnum and Mason.” - then goes on to describe how they are not.
One ABF owned business is Primark. So, why not occupy Primark? Thankfully, the release includes a quote from Sally Mason, a Uk Uncut supporter from Manchester who is currently occupying Fortnum & Mason. Her quote is quite illuminating, for it includes the line: “Fortnum & Mason is a symbol of wealth and greed. It is where the Royal Family and the super-rich do their weekly shop.”
Yes, they do make expensive things. Including a ‘Royal blend’ tea. Then again, prices of that start at £1.50 - hardly super rich territory.
Back in January I contributed a guest post to Big Brother Watch’s blog, looking at an Australian Court’s ruling on ISP responsibilities and privacy.
This week, the UK judicial review of the Digital Economy Act gets underway, in an action brought by UK-based ISPs. The Guardian has done an overview of the situation and considered the implications of the recent collapse of ACS:Law’s ‘copyright exploitation’ buisness model.
I thought readers may find it interesting to see the Australian take on ISP’s responsibilities in the copyright sense, so I’ve reproduced by Big Brother post below.
It seems bizarre that Governments would seek to legally mandate private companies to invade the privacy of their customers, but for ISPs to fulfill the role many envisage under copyright protection legislation (including the UK’s own Digital Economy Act) that’s exactly what they will have to do.
Government-sanctioned deep packet inspection of internet traffic is one of the most contentious issues of the digital revolution, going to the heart of the limitations of technology and the civil liberties of users.
As both the Government and the Courts review the Digital Economy Act at home, yesterday’s ruling by the Australian Federal Court offers a judicial insight into the issues involved – one which should be heeded by decision makers in the UK.
It may have cost iiNet A$6.5 million to achieve, but the Court’s decision will echo internationally. Whatever the wishes of the consortium of movie studios and the Australian Federation Against Copyright theft, the court ruled ISPs cannot be held responsible for the illegal downloading of copyrighted content by their customers.
This is a huge step forward to protecting the privacy of internet communication, and another judicial nod in the direction of the door for industries desperately trying to protect outdated business models through punitive remedies. The ruling does highlight the need to explore how to tackle ‘repeat infringers’ but this requires far more study before legislation will adequately address them.
In the UK, this issue has ramifications for the Big Society. Many providers of free wifi in communities (for example, schools, libraries and pubs) feared they would be unable to offer the service if they were held liable for the activity of unknown users by ISPs either looking to shift liability to 3rd party providers. Equally, ISPs may have simply refused to allow free wi-fi to be offered.
Equally, as an aspiring digital economy, Government needs to focus on facilitating the business models of the future, not using the civil liberties of its citizens as a trade-off against industries protecting their own revenue streams.
The civil liberties argument has been made, the critical technological flaws highlighted and now the role of ISPs has been reaffirmed by a court of the commonwealth. The challenge is now to keep up the pressure in the UK and ensure the Digital Economy Act goes the same way as the Government that created it.
Posted: March 22nd, 2011
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Back in October, I attended an event in Doncaster discussing the impact of benefit cuts with the local community.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first questions asked was ‘which benefit would you cut first?’ After debate focused on things like the winter fuel allowance going to expats, or child benefit for the Beckhams, I suggested an alternative - abolishing National Insurance, in its entirety.
This surprised some people, but after about an hour of discussion one of the emerging themes was the complexity of the benefits system, and how it both took money away from the front line and penalised those who were less savvy with their paperwork - not to mention those who didn’t get the benefits they recieved because they were unable to navigate through the various forms. When I returned to my origional point, the idea didn’t seem quite so radical.
When NI was first established, it’s purpose was clear - a contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. In subsequent years it would be diluted to cover pensions and then contribute to the costs of the welfare state at large. Now, it is essentially a way for Governments to increase the tax take without increasing income tax, for that is a political line no politician ever wants to cross. (Albeit explicitly, as Gordon Brown’s 10p/20p swindle demonstrated.)
As someone who has both a PAYE tax code and submits a self assessment, I’ve been on the recieveing end of NI paperwork madness, being told almost simultaneously I wasnt paying enough and was paying too much.
Aboloshing NI would simplify the process for businesses, make the true level of taxation more transparent and put back on the political landscape the question of taxes and spending. It will of course mean other taxes are increased - probably both income tax and corporation tax, which does raise competitiveness questions - but those issues already exist when the cost of PAYE and NI are combined, something businesses of all sizes all too aware of.
Equally, it would give a once in a generation opportunity to - in theory - not just reduce but transform the tax system back office, delivering real savings without hitting frontline services.
However, there is an interesting question here - namely, whether doing this could scupper the government’s welfare agenda.
The NPS [National Insurance and PAYE Service] is one of the key components of implementing Universal Credits, and as I’ve previously warned if this technology link breaks down, there could be a high price to pay. The live-flow of data on earnings is essential for the DWP’s system to work, something that has been worrying many who have watched HMRC’s recent IT efforts with Accenture and Capgemini under the multi-billion ‘Aspire’ project.
There has been much positive discussion about improving Government IT, particularly at a pan-Governmenal level. It will be interesting to see amid all the excitement of aboloshing NI, anyone has looked at the impact it would have on existing government systems and the wider Coalition agenda already underway.
four tet / burial / thom yorke - Ego
and you will know us by the trail of dead….. - Baudelaire (live)
Elbow - Jesus is a Rochdale girl
Cold War Kids - Rubidoux
The Young Knives - Vision in Rags
Bombay Bicycle Club - Magnet
Modeselektor -Kill Bill Vol_4
Arctic Monkeys - 505
REM - Überlin
LCD Soundsystem - Home
some of these songs are on spotify.
Posted: March 20th, 2011
Categories: What I'm listening to
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David Cameron caused a stir in Whitehall with his ‘enemies of enterprise’ line, with GOD (Gus o’Donnell) reportedly intervening on behalf of the mandarin class.
The thing is - I think Cameron was right. And I’d go further - it’s not just enterprise, I’d suggest the coalition needs to take on the enemies of innovation. And that absolutely includes swathes of whitehall mandarins and managers.
Yesterday the public administration select committee heard from a variety of industry figures about how the way government procures and uses technology could be improved.
The comittee heard some very clear messages - existing large suppliers had become oligarghs, innovation was designed out by lead contractors once the bid was won and it seemed outsourcing providers were incapable of failing badly enough to warrant legal action or heaven forbid not being given any more work.
Bluntly, Government was a gullible and badly informed customer who failed to take any meaningful action when things did go wrong.
Sadly, it seems the IT industry body Intellect has surrendered its role as a representative body of the whole industry, in favour of defending and apologising for the large system integrators who bare a large degree of responsibility for the mess Govt IT is in, however also happen to be a very lucrative revenue stream for Intellect.
But why is innovation such a difficult task for Government? As I have argued in the past, in my view there are simply too many vested interests involved who stand to loose badly if a radical approach was taken.
In the back office, unions and civil servants cling to the status quo to protect their empire - headcount is still king for many. The pain of redundancy (and in some cases up-front cost) means staff are shifted sideways or left in defunct roles, meaning savings are not realised despite investment in technology or process improvment.
In the front office, continued state monopolies mean all the levers of social progress remain in the hands of civil servants and managers, while also allowing politically-motivated action that may not serve the public well in the long run. Equally, this blocks innovation from the private sector, voluntary and charitable organisations which could add huge value to public services.
And indeed, many suppliers - particularly those on long-term maintenance and support contracts - see any change, innovation or performance review as a significant risk to their revenue streams, and act accordingly.
So how can these interests be overcome? The public sector is particularly risk adverse, and this in itself is no bad thing. But equally, it also seems there is little willingness to find ways of experimenting and testing new ideas.
Where systems and processes have been outsourced, the state is increasingly - and sometimes entirely - dependent on the outsourcing provider for insight and expertise. Put another way, when things go wrong or policy changes, the suppliers have the state over a very pricey barrel. Government needs the skills to hold suppliers to account and procure what it really needs, not what it thinks it needs.
The key question remains where are incentives to innovate, and to drive suppliers to design-in innovation? For who in the public sector is it in their best interest to find ways of transforming the way services are delivered? And not just at a pan-government level, these people need to be embedded in departments, dealing with the day-to-day processes that have remained in place for decades.
Furthermore, the political class needs to be far more vocal in holding Whitehall to account, not only when things go wrong but also when new ideas are watered down or parked.
For the Coalition, the prize is a leaner, more efficient public sector that can indeed deliver more for less. The public are not concerned with process, it is outcomes that matter. If the outcome can be improved upon - and in the longer term taxes reduced as the defecit is dealt with - that will be rewarded with many years in Government.
So, Mr Cameron, the challenge is clear - overcome the enemies of enterprise, defeat the enemies of innovation and deliver the transformation in economic activity and public services that Britain so badly needs.
I know, Ed Balls being hypocritical? I was gobsmacked too. Surely not!
Well, earlier today, on Nicky Campbell’s Radio 5 show, Balls went on the attack over fuel duty and VAT. Here’s what he had to say:
“I don’t think George Osborne understands what it is like to be an ordinary motorist turning up at the pumps because actually for many people it really bites in the household budget on a weekly basis.”
This would be a man who, when in government, enjoyed a household income of £300,000 for several years, and before that was paid £100k for less than a year’s workfor the Smith Institute.
Ed’s political strategy seems to be having his (very expensive) cake and eating it, and then hoping nobody calls him out when he says it’s from Asda.
Well, Ed, as your election result shows, the public aint buying that particular brand of BS.
Posted: March 16th, 2011
, Labour party
Tags: ed balls
Comments: 1 Comment
Yesterday Labour were back to their favourite pasttime - shouting about how many jobs the Government could create if only it had more tax pennies and pounds to play with. (110,000 apparently, just from a new bank tax. Although that is paying for a VAT cut on petrol too…)
So I was amazed to see this report (published in November 2010) which showed a staggering half of all Future Jobs Fund placements ended with the individual back on benefits.
Interestingly, there is a big step - after six months, 10 per cent were back on benefits. After seven months, that figure jumps to 50%. FJF jobs lasted six months, and what these figures make clear is how many of them were not real, value-adding jobs. Of the other half, I’d wager many were not careers and were still in publicly subsidised positions of some sort.
The Future Jobs Fund was not a way of creating jobs, it was an incredibly inefficient and expensive way of giving Labour MPs an easy statistic to put on their leaflets.
Anyone would think Gordon Brown and Ed Balls were creating short term, taxpayer-funded jobs to mask an underlying problem that in reality Labour had no clue how to solve, and had arguably made worse during their time in government. They could then take credit for the jobs they ‘created’ for political gain.
All on the public credit card.
It may be old news, but for Mike Hancock MP erasing the past has proved tricky.
Call into his office and, if nobody gets to the phone, you are invited to leave a message by the sultry tones of……Katia Zatuliveter.
The suspected spy hasn’t been in the headlines for a while, but clearly someone didn’t get the memo about changing the recording. Or maybe it’s because IPSA won’t let him claim for a new manual.
I just hope she doesn’t have the PIN to access the messages. Not like parliament needs another story about that…..
Posted: March 10th, 2011
Categories: PR and Communications
, The Media
Tags: Mike Hancock
Comments: No Comments
And this time, it’s the Daily Mail in the dock!
Guido has previously written to Paul Dacre about his hacks lifting stories from Order-Order, but it seems little has changed. Crash Bang Wallace is clearly popular in the Daily Mail office, judging by the paper’s Ephraim Hardcastle column this week.
Over the weekend, Mark broke the story about CCHQ running a mystery shopping exercise with local associations. Then yesterday, he disclosed Ed Miliband’s proclamation that he ‘knew nothing‘ about Tunisia, shortly before being interviewed on Andrew Marr’s show.
And what happened next?
As a photographer, if my work was reproduced without permission or credit, that’s copyright theft. (The sort the Mail loves to rail against when talking about piracy and such like) I hope Mark is duly paid for his work as a Mail reporter!
It should also be added that the main story on the page today was a re-hash of George Pascoe-Watson’s memo on the No2AV campaign crisis summit held by senior Tories.
When a paid-for newspaper is so flagrantly lifting material from blogs available for free, it really is a sorry state of affairs and hardly helps the argument that print titles are a unique product not available online.
Posted: March 9th, 2011
Categories: The Media
Tags: daily mail
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