International Women’s Day

08 March 2019 is International Women’s Day, when we acknowledge the achievements and struggles of women everywhere.

International Women’s Day was started by women from all over the world more than 100 years ago. Originally conceived by the Socialist Party of America as National Woman’s Day in 1909, since 1914 International Women’s Day has been held on 8 March when people from labour movements took to the streets to fight for the rights of women.

Many Labour groups are also holding events at this weekend and we have links in this posting to pieces written by women such as Labour’s equalities lead Dawn Butler who has summarized the party’s priorities and policy pledges and reminds us that Tory austerity has disproportionately affected women. [Dawn Butler: “Let’s build on our radical agenda to empower women”]

Ever wondered what the EU has done for women? All female Labour MEPs have come together to write a piece for LabourList on their gender equality work in Europe and how EU laws have helped make progress. [They say Brexit could hinder those goals for women.]

Labour Conference 2018 Pledges

Labour Conference 2018 Pledges

Labour Conference 2018 produced many policy pledges that will definitely be in the next  manifesto.  There was much debate about the way Tory economic policy is widening the gap between the few stinking rich and the many.  Conference concentrated on business and the economy, unlike the Tory conference that regurgitated the same old evil policies.  The Labour Party Conference came up with many pledges to change things for the better and get rid of austerity.

Here is a look at some of the policy pledges made at Conference 2018:

Large firms would be required to save a third of their boardroom seats for workers’ representatives; every company employing 250 or more staff to set up new employee ownership schemes, with firms shifting 1% of their equity into the fund every year, up to a total of 10%.

The establishment of a ‘Public and Community Ownership Unit’ in the Treasury to oversee the handover of privatised industries like water and rail to the state.  While most workers would be transferred over to the public sector, directors and executives would have to reapply for their jobs, which will be advertised with a salary no more than 20 times that of the lowest-paid worker in the company.

Control of the water industry – New ‘Regional Water Authorities’ will be run by local councils.

A Labour Government will completely eliminate carbon emissions by 2030 and create 410,000 new green energy jobs in the process which will be funded by a £250bn “national transformation fund”.

Other policies will include banning ATM charges in a bid to get more people spending on the high street.  A register of landlords who are sitting on empty shops will be set up and an annual revaluation of business rates alongside a “fundamental review” of the levies.  Also free public Wi-Fi access in town centres.

Double council tax on holiday homes to provide extra cash for homelessness services.  A promise to give cities the power to bring in rent controls, and a pledge to axe Section 21 of the Housing Act, which currently lets landlords take possession of their properties from tenants without a reason.  £20m to be made available to help get new German-style “renters’ unions” started.

A new £5m ‘Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund’ to cover the costs of getting to treatment centres.

Victims of domestic violence would get a legal right to take up to ten days of paid leave, in a move the party says will help women leave abusive partners and access support services.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner vowed to end “forced conversion” of struggling schools to academies and also ruled out allowing any new ‘free schools’ to be set up under a Labour government.

Childcare – 30 hours a week of free childcare to the parents of all two, three and four year olds – without means-testing.  Jeremy Corbyn also promised to provide extra, state-subsidised care above the 30-hour threshold, with parents on low incomes getting the additional hours for free and the richest paying “no more than £4 per hour” for a top-up.

Labour has been edging toward advocating the abolition of universal credit and at conference John McDonnell said that a fresh review would take place and was likely to conclude that replacement, not reform was the only answer.  He has since (07/10/2018) called for universal credit to be scrapped and accused Theresa May of falsely declaring an end to austerity amid reports that millions of families could lose up £200 a month when the new benefit is rolled out nationally.


Another Government Brexit White Paper

Following the chequers Statement the government has produced a Brexit GOODS ONLY [WHITE PAPER] although it was not made available to all Labour MPs before the house sat yesterday on 12 July 2018.

Some Tory Brexiters want to force Theresa May to publish a rival draft white paper by David Davis. A group of Tory backbenchers want to table a “humble address” in parliament, to ensure that the draft produced prior to the chequers meeting on 6 July 2018 is made public.

John Howarth MEP, got it right when he said “Locking the Tory cabinet away in an obscure part of Buckinghamshire may seem like a sensible step to solving the UK’s many problems – so long as they weren’t allowed out!”
What a shambles this Tory lot are – no that’s wrong they are evil!

The Home Affairs select committee has been told a load of rubbish

Amber Rudd told the home affairs select committee that there were no targets for enforcing the removal of migrants. However, it has been shown that a document passed to her last year shows that she was well aware of them.  So she definitely knew of the targets that she now claims she will be abandoning the policy.

It’s now definitely too late for the Home Secretary to be ‘heartbroken’ as she claims! See this comment <Here>

Solidarity and Equality

Mail to Members

Our Party was founded on the principles of solidarity and equality. We are proudly anti-racist, and at our best when we work together, uniting people in hope and against fear and division.

This week, Jewish leaders wrote to me to express their anger and upset about antisemitism in the Labour Party.

I want to assure you that prejudice against, and harassment of, Jewish people have no place whatsoever in our Party.

It’s important to develop a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism.

Often it takes familiar forms, but newer forms of antisemitism have also appeared, sometimes woven into criticisms of the actions of Israeli governments.

Criticism of Israel, and support for the rights of the Palestinians, is entirely legitimate. Support for justice for the Palestinian people should provide no one with the excuse to insult, harass or encourage hatred of Jewish people.

And abuse and personal attacks of any kind, on social media or in person, are never acceptable.

I am committed to ensuring our Party is a welcoming and secure place for everyone. I offer all Jewish members my assurance that this applies equally to them. I want all of us to hear Jewish voices and listen.

If you are not Jewish, I want you to better understand the importance of this issue and what we can do together to ensure our Party remains true to our values.

Zero tolerance for antisemitism means what it says. We will not accept it.

We have to get this right, all of us. Because divided societies cannot achieve justice.

As we head into elections in May and look towards the next General Election whenever it might come, let’s take the lead in building a society free from prejudice. One that enables everyone to realise their full potential, and cares for all.

Thank you for supporting Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of the Labour Party

New General Secretary

Mail to Members

I am honoured — and thrilled — to be today taking over as the Labour Party General Secretary. I take particular pride in being only the second woman to hold this post.

My overriding priority is to unite our whole party — members, trade unions, MPs and other elected representatives — in working for the election of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest opportunity. The crisis in our NHS, collapsing local government finances and falling living standards all underline the urgency for change.

Only Labour, campaigning together as a united team, taking our message to every community in the country, can deliver that change. I look forward to working with you and all our activists across Britain in building a dynamic, 21st century campaigning force, mobilising a movement behind the message that took us so close to victory last June.

Creating that unity requires recognising and tackling problems in our own Party, above all in relation to antisemitism. This week I will be moving to ensure the full implementation of the Chakrabarti report and introducing new procedures to deal with complaints and disciplinary cases. The stain of antisemitic attitudes must be completely eradicated within the Labour Party — we are the party for people of all races and faiths, the party of full equality for all, or we are nothing. Likewise, I will tackle any manifestation of misogyny, bullying or abuse of anyone, as Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.

I inherit a tremendous staff team at Labour HQ and in the regions and nations. Working with the largest membership of any democratic socialist political party in Europe we can build on our great electoral advances of last year. I look forward to playing my part in winning the Labour government, Labour local authorities and Labour representatives our people need.

Jennie Formby
General Secretary
The Labour Party

Jo Cox stood for the best of Labour

Jo Cox was a unique Labour MP whose approach to politics, international development and her family marked her out as compassionate and clever. Her work in Westminster and life outside Parliament were cruelly cut short in an act of senseless barbarity in Birstall, West Yorkshire, 16 June 2016.

MPs, activists and the wider Labour movement are grieving today while the deepest pain is borne by her husband and their two children.

See tributes to Jo Cox in LabourList [Here]

Spring 2016 Budget – Typical Tory Budget

Typical Tory Budget

On Wednesday 16 March 2016, the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered his eighth Budget. A budget that was a culmination of six years of his failures — Jeremy Corbyn let him know:
This budget failed on the deficit, failed on debt, failed on investment, failed on productivity, failed on his own welfare cap and failed to tackle inequality in the UK.

This budget has failed you – See Jeremy Corbyn reply in the Commons on Wednesday

Nearly 801,000 workers are on zero hour contracts. The Chancellor announced £3.5 billion of additional public expenditure cuts, which would further reduce stimulus to the economy. George Osborne has paid for tax cuts for the wealthy by taking money from disabled people. Another £1.4 billion of welfare spending cuts will mainly fall on people with disabilities and further erode the purchasing power of many citizens.

Wednesday was a day of humiliations for the Government. George Osborne’s budget statement clearly demonstrated that the ‘long-term economic plan’ is disintegrating. Across the hall, the Government was decisively defeated in the House of Lords in three separate votes on the Trade Union Bill. On the Political funds, the Government had its heaviest loss, with Peers voting 320 to 172 to limit the measure to new members, and allow a 12-month transition period. The Government’s proposed ban on allowing electronic balloting for votes on strike action also suffered a crushing defeat, of 320-181. The Government is insisting on forcing the bill through, so we may be looking at another Tory rebellion.

Will George Osborne, Chancellor, publish his personal tax return ?

Tory Government puts the interests of multinational corporations at top of their priorities

The Government continues to say that the ONLY alternatives are spending cuts or tax increases. They always ignore the tax dodgers who never pay their whack – and they continue to put the interests of big business first over the British working people. Possibly if everyone paid their dues, there would be no need for any austerity.

The UK economy is in trouble as we well know – otherwise why the austerity – Government debt is increasing at about 3 per cent of GDP each year. To get that under control we need the corporations who avoid paying tax to pay what they are due not reach secret agreements with HMRC behind closed doors to pay trivial amounts of tax. The tax system probably needs complete overhaul, but that will not happen until we get a Labour Government. Until then the least we can push for is that the Government stops paying lip service to dealing with multinational corporations.

It is not just the UK that is losing out, but France and other EU countries that these corporations operate in. For example Netflix paid absolutely no UK corporation tax in 2014 despite being estimated to have around 4.5m UK subscribers. However, it did pay tax in Luxembourg, but at an equivalent rate of about 5 per cent. Vodafone made £1.97bn of profits in the year to March 31, 2015 but confirmed that it paid no UK corporation tax in 2014/15. Of the top 10 companies on the London Stock Exchange, six paid no UK corporation tax in the period covered by their latest annual accounts.

The EU has for far too long, been dragging it’s feet on this issue, but Labour MEPs together with other Socialist and Democrats in the European Parliament have been backing measures to combat corporate tax dodging. Needless to say the Tory MEPs have consistently voted against any measures of this type while paying lip service to the need for them.

The European Commission announced on 28 January 2016 proposals for new laws to tackle tax avoidance and evasion in the EU, which echo the recommendations of Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds’s recent report.

The plans include making more companies report, country-by-country, where they make their profits and where they pay their taxes. Other proposals include applying sanctions to tax havens and companies using them. The new legislation will mean EU countries will need to take a common approach to preventing tax avoidance and tackling tax havens. It’s no wonder that David Cameron wants the UK to be able to ignore EU directives, but still be a member of the EU.

John McDonnell said: “The mask has finally slipped. The Tories have been saying they want to clamp down on tax avoidance to the British people, but when they think our backs are turned they are telling their MEPs to oppose any measures to make it happen. The truth is they run a ‘don’t know, don’t care’ approach to tax avoidance.”

John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, has written to George Osborne, Chancellor, to ask him for full disclosure and transparency of the Treasury’s tax deal with Google. See the letter in full [Here]. John has published his own tax return in the Sunday Mirror and has called on George Osborne to follow suit.

Why is ANY investor-state dispute mechanism needed?

On 16 September 2015 Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s Commissioner for Trade, put forward a proposal to change the current policy on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The proposal was to replace the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which is about allowing corporations to sue governments over laws which might affect their profits, with another system that would be used for all ongoing and future deals by the European Union (EU). This will be known as the Investor Court System (ICS).

TTIP is still being negotiated behind closed doors – in secret – so that the public find out as little about it as possible. Economic barriers between the EU and the United States are relatively low in any case, but the EU negotiating mandate of June 2013 for TTIP covers market access for goods and services by removing custom duties and gaining easier access to public markets and making it easier to invest. The hope is that it will produce jobs and growth. However, previous similar agreements with other areas have only showed slight benefits and real risks.

The agreement texts are being developed by 24 joint EU/US working groups who each consider a separate part of the agreement, in secret. Negotiations are held in cycles between the USA and Brussels with the first taking place from 7 to 12 July 2013 and the latest, the tenth took place from 13 to 17 July 2015. The EU is now producing reports on each negotiation, but these are little more than a very brief summary – not providing any detail at all. Worthless!

Many will find it incredible that Malmström has had to propose an alternative to ISDS at all. What is wrong with the existing courts that companies and corporations use all the time? Why set up any special system at all? There can only be one answer to that and it will certainly not support justice as we know it.

See Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons on 15 January 2015 when TTIP was debated: [Here]