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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted -  11/01/2009  :  06:04
New Year, new topic. If you want to see the old one do a forum search for same title but 2008.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk
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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 05/01/2011 : 06:28
I heard on the news last night that George Osborne has said "that VAT is progressive and a fair tax" This is economic illeteracy. I have to paraphrase Nye Bevan's criticism of Anthony Eden during the Suez Crisis. If he really believes this he knows nothing about progressive and regressive taxation and isn't fit to be Chancellor. If he doesn't believe it but said it to produce a sound bite he is wicked and not fit for office.

One of the few things that economists will agree on is that VAT is a regressive tax because it takes no account of ability to pay and in proportion to disposable income it hits the poorest hardest. The opposite, a tax based on disposable income and charged as a percentage is progressive. They call it income tax.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 06/01/2011 : 05:55
The retail price index is running at about 4% and any pay rises this year are going to be below that. Not good news but if you look at the index for essentials the inflation is much higher. So, the more of your income that goes on essentials the more you will be hit. Guess who qualifies!

Interesting report last night on Middlesborough specifically but the NE in general. Because of the government's efforts to inject jobs into the areas hit hardest by industrial closures as manufacturing industry was neglected from the 1970s onwards these areas have a higher proportion of public sector workers than the UK average and so are going to be worst hit by public spending cuts. The consensus was that any increase in employment from economic recovery couldn't make up for the public sector job losses.Not a bright prospect and a good pointer to the dangers of politicians who quote UK average figures but don't highlight the areas worst hit. 'Healthy or Hungry Thirties' syndrome all over again. A man stood with one foot on a block of ice and the other in a bucket of boiling water is quite comfortabe thank you on average.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 07/01/2011 : 06:14
Cracks appearing in the 'bonfire of the quangos' according to a news item this morning.  See this LINK

Funny how some things don't seem to change. I've just finished Goodman's biogrphy of Frank Cousins and as part of the story he describes the process of attempting to cut expenditure. What looks simple outside government isn't so simple once you get in there and have to deal with the Parliamentary process and the built-in defence mechanisms of the Civil Service. They have had centuries to perfect their administrative armour. What the Selct Committee on Administration has identified is that even if you abolish a 'quango' its powers survive and go back to either a department or another body. The effect is that the savings expected are illusory. This means that the estimates of savings are wrong. How many times have we heard a politician saying that something is to be cut, red tape is a good example, but it never happens as forecast. It looks as though this might be down to this self-healing mechanism. Bit of a problem!


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 07/01/2011 : 07:47
I see that the News of the Wold phone-tapping affair has burst into life again as the first of the private actions claiming compensation hits the courts. Bad news for Coulson and Cameron.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 07/01/2011 : 09:05
Bad news for Coulson and Cameron

No not really just look to Blair and Campbell to see how you can perfect escape from Lies.  Iraq War for an example.



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 07/01/2011 : 10:32
I agree about them but that isn't what I was talking about. So you think that there's no problem with the further enquiries?


Stanley Challenger Graham




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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 07/01/2011 : 13:10
I think it is very well covered, they will pay a few million and put a penny on the cost of a paper. Cameron is not under investigation is he ?? You can't he hauled over the coals for who you employ, or we would all be in the Dock after all we elected the current crop of MPs !!!!



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 08/01/2011 : 06:14
Time will tell Frank

 Half hour programme on World Service this morning about the Cameron 'Big Society' concept which seems to be central to the ConDem policy now. Much vehement denial from the right-wing members of the panel that it was a vehicle for cuts or government resiling from responsibilty for social ills. Sorry lads but that wouldn't go down well with me even if there hadn't been cuts.

We already have a 'Big Society' concept which has served us well for almost 50 years. It's called the Welfare State and the philosphy behind it is democratic socialism, the title says it all really.  We are told that everyone has to make a contribution, At the same time many voluntary organisations doing just that but needing some small support to enable them to function are deprived of their funding and many will have to cease operating. It is very hard to see how this 'initiative' is going to help improve the problems we have getting people to volunteer. Perhaps it will all becaome clear as the year progresses.

Harold Macmillan had his faults but on the whole I liked and admired the man. I once found myself face to face with him and was so surprised I said the first thing that came into my head. "I want you to know that some of us haven't forgotten 'The Middle Way!" He gave me a big smile and said "Good. I wish more people would follow your example." (Incidentally, the smile gave me a close range view of his terrible teeth, why didn't he go to a dentist?)

What has brought this up is that many years ago my copy of The Middle way' (1938 and reprinted in 1978) went AWOL and I recently decided I wanted to read it again. I went on Bookfinder and was amazed to find that the cheapest hardback ex library copy ("with usual markings and faults")  Wsa £35! I dug a bit and found an ex-library 'reading copy' in Canada for £14 so I bought it. It arrived yesterday and apart from a bookplate for the library at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill it's in as new condition, a good result! So, Harold, if you can hear me I'm going to read it again and will doubtless be passing on some aspects of Conservative thinking in the late 1930s which might surprise some people. It is a blueprint for a different version of a 'Big Society'. I wonder if Cameron has read it?


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 08/01/2011 : 07:43
David Chater gets 18 months for theft. I can't feel any sympathy for him. It's to be hoped that this sends a very clear signal to other MPs.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Another
Traycle Mine Overseer


6250 Posts
Posted - 08/01/2011 : 07:44
Comrade, liikely to serve less than 6 months and will still get a golden handshake from the Commons. Nolic


" I'm a self made man who worships his creator" Go to Top of Page
frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 08/01/2011 : 09:04
I thought the sentence was about right, it wasn't a mistake it was Fraud. We can't complain about his sentence it is what happens, you get 18 months serve 6 is about the norm.



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 09/01/2011 : 06:30
Chater. Whatever, the point is that he is going to suffer significant punishment. I heard that other gaol bird, the one who used his daughter for a defence, I've blanked his name, saying that going into prison would be a tremendous shock for him. That is perhaps the significant part of the sentence.

Got stuck into Harold yesterday and my memory from reading him thirty years ago was right. He wrote the book in 1936 with a clear view of the international dangers we were facing from a resurgent Germany. His basic thesis is that we need to find a different way of managing society and the economy and forecast that unless something was done immediately he was certain we were heading for a re-run of the Great Depression because he saw the recovery in 1936 as based on temporary factors. (As it turned out, one of these temporary factors, employment from armaments, wasn't as temporary as he thought!)

He makes it very clear that imposition of policy from the top responding to an economic/political imperative is the wrong place to start. Despite the difficulties, any policy should start by looking at what the bedrock of the industrial society, the industrial workforce, needed to give them reasonable standards. Once identified, policy should be built on alleviating these ills. He quotes Rowntree, Boyd-Orr and government staistics to support his case.

I could go on but if you want to know more, read the book! The bottom line is that he makes a good case for what used to be called 'Caring Conservatism'  In 1984 in his maiden speech in the Lords as Lord Stockton (his first constituency) commenting on the government handling of the miner's strike he said: "It breaks my heart to see—and I cannot interfere—what is happening in our country today. This terrible strike, by the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's and Hitler's armies and never gave in. It is pointless and we cannot afford that kind of thing. Then there is the growing division of Conservative prosperity in the south and the ailing North and the Midlands.  We used to have battles and rows but they were quarrels. Now there is a new kind of wicked hatred that has been brought in by different types of people."

In 1984 he sent an 11 page paper to Margaret Thatcher urging her not to give in to the monetarist pressures on her but she disregarded it. He once gave a definition of the two opposing economic theories. "In the nursery, the nanny who advocates feeding a cold is a Keynesian. The one who says that you should starve a fever is a monetarist"

Mind you, I'm not blind to his ruthlessness in politics or his use in the late 70s of an artificially created boom to boost election chances. I've never forgiven him for interfering in the restructuring of the steel industry by duplicating Llanwern with an identical plant in Scotand for political reasons and thus depriving both of enough production to make them economic. But for all this I like his basic philosophy. Serving in the trenches in WW1 opened his eyes to the condition of the workers and he never forgot it.

I was talking to the man who first turned me on to inter-war history yesterday and said that I wondered if Cameron had ever read 'The Middle Way'. He said "I doubt it, too much time in the Bullingdon Club". Pity, because the thing that strkes me as I read is the parallels between 1936 and now.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 09/01/2011 : 10:42
" Mind you, I'm not blind to his ruthlessness in politics "
Nor are the Ministers who became the victims of the " Night of the Long Knives "



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 10/01/2011 : 06:24
Finished Harold yesterday (I skipped over the economic explanations which were out of date a year after he finished the book in 1938. The war intervened) It would surprise many to know that he was in favour of full nationalisation of the mines and some other industries and services. That was what was behind his oft-quoted remark about 'selling the family silver'. He was also an advocate of minimum wages, government intervention to address imbalances in industries causing unemployment and better support for those who had fallen out of benefit and were on National Assistance. His attitude to 'benefit scroungers', the congenitally idle, was that we could reduce the number by specific intervention but as we could never wholly eliminate them it was best to concentrate on wider matters. He saw a programme of national works as a route to giving useful employment to the long-term unemployed but didn't advocate direction of labour or more than two or three days a week compulsory work. He mentions draconian measures being taken against disadvantaged minorities in other countries. He was aware of the dangers of totalitarian measures. All his arguments are based on Seebohm Rowntree's research into poverty and nutrition, just before he published SR made a speech and said that the bare minimum had risen to 55/- a week due to the rise in food prices between 1936/1938. Harold accepted this but also pointed out that this was the bare minimum, he thought Boyd-Orr's higher figure was what we should be aiming at.

All told, the title of the book, 'The Middle Way' is an accurate summaray. He was aiming at a middle path between rampant Capitalism and full-blown Socialism. His thesis is as appropriate now as it was in 1938. 

I found a sad quotation from just before he died in 1986. "I note that unemployment in Stockton on Tees today is 28% as against 29% in 1931. This makes me very sad."

I'm watching events in Arizona. The Republicans are denying that it could have been triggered by the rabid rhetoric coming from the right-wing extremists like Palin and others. Oh yeah?

Next for shaving is Alan Bullock's three volumes on the life and times of Ernest Bevin!


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 12/01/2011 : 06:42
Well into Ernie Bevin now. Reading Bullock's splendid account after digging into Nye Bevan and re-reading 'The Middle Way' is the equivalent of doing my big Inter-War history course all over again but with more background knowledge. I'd recommend it to anyone trying to make sense of today's politics. It's striking that the same basic problems existed in 1900 as now as regards economic ploicy and what can only be described as a guerilla war between Capitalism and Democratic Socialism. Would that our present leaders read the same history, it might alert tham to some of the problems that they are rebuilding for themselves that we thought we had put behind us.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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