Tag Archive: David Cameron

Sep 15 2014

Scotland The Brave

On Thursday, September 18, Scottish voters will decide if Scotland should secede from the United Kingdom. Polling shows that the vote is too close to call and the outcome is heavily dependent on workers turning out

The dramatic surge in support for the yes vote has made next week’s referendum on Scottish independence too close to call, prompting a panic across London’s political spectrum that has prompted offers of new political concessions to persuade want-away Scots to stay. But the secessionist impulse is being fueled by long-term economic changes that have left Scotland’s working class increasingly disenchanted with the economic policies of Britain’s major political parties.

Last Monday former Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot, hurriedly announced that, if Scotland remains part of the union, it will get significant new financial powers as well as greater control over its welfare and benefits system. These reforms would be delivered, Brown said, on the basis of an accelerated legislative timetable. “A no vote on 18 September will not be an endpoint but the starting gun for action,” he said. “We are demanding a tight timetable with tough deadlines and streamlined procedures … The alternative to an irreversible separation is a more powerful Scottish parliament.”

The current Prime Minister David Cameron made dire warnings about the consequences of a slit with the UK:

In an emotional speech on his final visit north of the border before polling day, the prime minister warned that a yes vote would end the UK “for good, for ever” and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements.

In a seeming attempt to reach out to voters who might be tempted to support independence to free Scotland from the Tories, Cameron said that he would not be prime minister forever – but a break with the rest of the UK would be permanent.

Mr. Cameron got a little help from British ex-patriot, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.” Well, almost.

Over the course of the show’s main segment, Oliver looked at the rival political operations, including the “Better Together” campaign’s slogan, “No thanks.” As the host said, “‘No thanks’ is a violently British way to refuse something. That is just one step away from ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly.'”

Later, Oliver turned to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s feeble attempts to keep the United Kingdom united. “He embodies all of the things I hate most about England,” Oliver said of Cameron, “and I’m English!” Showing a particularly damning photo of Cameron at Oxford, he added, “That is the face of a man who fast-forwards through the servant parts of Downton Abbey.”

Finally, Oliver decided to make his case for Scotland staying with the UK using the kind of grand, sweeping, romantic gesture found in films like Love Actually. Surrounded by bagpipe players and Scotland’s inexplicable official animal, the unicorn, Oliver used written placards to plead, “Don’t go, Scotland!”

May 04 2014

A-C Meetup: For May Day – Capitalism, Charity, Food-Banks and Workers’ Rights by NY Brit Expat

Most probably people have heard of the bizarre investigative journalism by The Mail on Sunday in an article which appeared on Easter Sunday (of all days in the year). The Mail on Sunday sent in a reporter, a wannabe Jimmy Olsen, to investigate provision of food by food-banks in Britain and that reporter literally took food out of the mouths of the hungry in order to prove some point. This provoked a backlash on social media that demonstrated that the neoliberal agenda seems to not have sunk too deeply in the hearts and minds of the British people. That is a relief and quite honestly more than I expected, given the constant barrage in the newspapers and on the news on telly that has never questioned the logic (forget the morality) of welfare caps and cuts to welfare benefits.

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ht: my sister Mia for comments and editing on this piece

Dec 08 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Left Unity – The New Party that Could by NY Brit Expat

LEFT UNITY HAS BEEN CREATED! Yes, this is the new political party, not necessarily the reality of “Left Unity” itself. Like all births, it is never easy. But it has the possibility of actually changing electoral politics in Britain. And like all births, it should be recorded.

Tonight’s piece covers a piece of news, some coverage of the student occupations in Britain including two petitions in response to the actions of the universities to these occupations, and a short homage to Nelson Mandela and the endless hypocrisy of our mainstream politicians.

While, of course, the justifications for permanent austerity under the Tories and the pensionable age being shifted to 70 and tax breaks for married people whose earnings were over a certain level, while somehow continuing impoverishment of the majority were sort of glossed over (really if impoverishment of the majority is required for your system, wouldn’t you start to raise the obvious point that the system is NOT worth it?) were found all over the BBC following the Autumn Statement of Minister of the Exchequer, George Osborne, many things that should have been said never quite made it to the news of the BBC. Given that they have a 24-7 news channel; surely a few moments could have been spared from their extensive scheduling.

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Jan 20 2013

Austerity, Triple Dip Recessions and Economic Crisis by NY Brit Expat

Sitting there looking vainly at the growth, or lack of it to be more precise, of the British economy quarter by quarter following the introduction of austerity measures is a dubious use of time. So rather than sit there each quarter and discuss a dismal economy, I think the first step is to understand that we are in a world-wide economic crisis of the capitalist system. We also need to understand that the policies being introduced are actually not only extending the current crisis, but given that they are leading to increased income and wealth inequality, they will have a devastating impact upon the working classes in the countries introducing these measures. Moreover, the impact of austerity is not accident, it is being introduced specifically to create the economic contraction and  the increased wealth and income inequality in the hope that private sector will take over the state sector services being undermined.

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Triple-dip recession?

We need to understand that the introduction of austerity in an economic crisis does not lead to economic growth contrary to the absurd pronouncements of Prime Minister, David Cameron.  Essentially, following a slight blip caused by the Olympics, I suspect we will be witnessing rather bad news. The combination of “beggar thy neighbour” low corporate taxation (to supposedly encourage investment in Britain) and cuts to public spending, services and benefits is not leading to a reinvigoration of the economy; rather the opposite is occurring.

Quite simply, the fall in service sector activity (which accounts for 75% of British economic activity) for the first time in two years (note that it was not in great shape beforehand) means that the economy is contracting.

Jan 11 2012

Some EU Countries Agree To Tax Financial Transactions

French President Nicholas Sarkozy took the initiative to address France’s rising deficit proposing a small tax on financial trans actions that was proposed by the European Commission last September and he has won the backing or German Chancellor Andrea Merkel:

The French government, long a proponent of the tax, stepped up its campaign last week, going so far as to suggest that France would impose the levy even if others didn’t. At a joint press conference in Berlin with Sarkozy today, Merkel threw her weight behind the tax.

“Personally, I’m in favor of thinking about such a tax in the euro zone,” Merkel said. “Germany and France both equally view the financial transaction tax as a correct response.”

The European Commission in September suggested a tax of 0.1 percent on equity and bond transactions, and 0.01 percent on derivatives, which it said could raise 55 billion euros ($71 billion) a year. European Union finance ministers are due to discuss the levy in March.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said today in Paris that France may present a bill on such a tax in February, hoping that other countries follow.

“Someone has to be the first to jump in the water,” he said.

The new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has also signed on to the proposal which had been opposed by his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, but did so with a slight reservation:

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday threw his support behind a new tax on financial transactions, backing a push by Germany and France, but said he would prefer to have it apply across the whole European Union. [..]

“We are open to supporting this initiative at the EU level,” Mr. Monti said at a news conference with Mrs. Merkel during his first visit to Berlin since taking over from Silvio Berlusconi in November.

While the Berlusconi government had rejected a new financial levy outright, Mr. Monti has said he thought it was a good idea, particularly as a means of reducing the tax burden on families.

Opposition to the tax is coming from British Prime Minister David Cameron:

(S)uch measures can scare away big-scale investment companies headquartered in the City of London.

In an interview to the BBC Mr. Cameron said that “the idea of a new European tax when you’re not going to have that tax put in place in other places, I don’t think is sensible and so I will block it unless the rest of the world all agreed at the same time that we were all going to have some sort of tax.”

To put it bluntly, getting “the rest of the world all agreed at the same time” is not bloody likely.

And of course the French banking community is dead set against it claiming that it will “would weigh on growth, lead to a loss of competitiveness, and create a heavy handicap for the financing of the French economy.”

Mr. Sarkozy has political motivations for his backing of this tax since he is facing a particularly tough reelection this Spring. However Ms. Merkel’s may be moving to stave off a slow down in Germany’s economic growth

Germany expanded by 3 percent last year from 2010, the Federal Statistical Office said in Wiesbaden. It noted, however, that the growth came mostly in the first half of 2011, and estimated that the economy actually contracted by about 0.25 percent in the fourth quarter from the prior three months.

Some economists now predict another contraction for Germany in the first three months of 2012, which would meet the usual definition of a recession as two consecutive quarterly declines in output.

Whether this small tax on has any affect on either the French election or the German economy remains to be seen but it is encouraging that some leaders who were opposed to sensible taxation of the 1% are coming around. Now if we could just get them off the austerity boat.