Thursday, 13 May 2010

Gleichschaltung

Dave and Nick came skipping down the garden path hand in hand, heralding the dawn of a “New Politics.” The fawning press -both the BBC and Sky- spoke about the beautiful weather and the birdsong as the two men kind of half mapped out what form this new government would take.

Everyone seemed to agree – this was a wonderful thing for the country and we would all benefit from the steely hand of the Tories being stayed by the “lefty” liberals.

After the coalition was voted on by the Parliamentary Lib Dems in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Jo Swinson broke her tweeting silence and said -

• astonished that Tories agreed to fairer tax, extra early years funding for poorer children & political reform while Labour didn't … and looking forward to seeing so much of what @libdems campaigned for in this election implemented in govt

SSP Campsie (@sspcampsie) immediately tweeted to her - @joswinson astonished you lot let the tories in. Incredible. You've been had at our expense.

Her reply: 1. Lab bottled out of agreement 2. good LD policies on fairness included plus much more fairness agenda than minority Tory govt

Campsie SSP: we'll see. You've played your part, Jo,a patsy again.U got two terms.But that's it.Haven't met 1 happy Bearsden neighbour tonite

Her reply: we will see - do look at the coalition agreement when published tomorrow and compare to LD manifesto though

Campsie SSP have looked at this agreement, and all is not what it seems. This article is only SOME of the reservations we have about the agreement - there are many more, not least how our young people will be treated after they leave school, but we have to start somewhere -

Let’s start with the fairer tax, for example.

The original Lib Dem policy was for a “Tax Switch” – which meant this £10k allowance would be paid for by the ultra rich in a progressive policy which would have taken £17bn. The Lib Dems have dropped other progressive measures they had in their manifesto that would have paid for this gift to the middle class – like their mansion tax and the higher rate of pension relief – and instead this gift to the middle-high earners will be paid for through the cuts the cabinet now know of, but are not telling us about.

The claims – and unquestioning repetition by the BBC etc that this is tax relief for the poor is completely untrue. Three million poor households will not get an extra penny as they are too poor to pay income tax. That includes pensioners (the ConDem coalition are selling this as £100 to pensioners when it is £100 to the richest 40% of pensioners and nothing to the other 60%)

This £17 billion tax giveaway means that £1bn goes to the lower incomes that pay income tax- the majority – while £16bn goes to the higher income bracket. 70% of the benefit goes to the top earners in our society!

So the LibDem promises and nods to an equitable society are actually undermined by this Tory wet dream. Those near the top of the income spectrum would get on average four times as much as the poorest. (see http://short.to/2fr1j for more detailed breakdown of this regressive tax give-away, plus graph and links to stats etc).
Briefly – other measures that are ominous…

The agreement states;

“a significantly accelerated reduction in the structural deficit over the course of a Parliament, with the main burden of deficit reduction borne by reduced spending rather than increased taxes.”

This has terrible implications for Scotland. Scotland is a nation that was robbed of its manufacturing base during the Thatcher/Major years. It has not recovered that during the New Labour Parliaments – and is hugely dependent on the public sector for work. Already, Scotland is suffering more job losses than England because of this. This agreement will step up those job losses (which will have to be explained by the Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander – the Tories hadn’t the brass neck to take the post of explaining their Scottish economy wrecking policies – the patsies had to do that one).

Another interesting point about the proposed £6bn cuts this year – a sentence in the agreement says,

“Some proportion of these savings can be used to support jobs, for example through the cancelling of some backdated demands for business rates.”
What that means is that those companies who did not pay their business rates – some in the hope that there would be a Tory Government, will now no longer have to pay that. I bet a lot of those people who with-held their Poll-tax payment and who were pursued for the decades since, would love such a tax amnesty. This is barefaced tax avoidance – and it has been ok-ed by the ConDem government. A taste of tax avoidance measures for the rich to come?

It is also noteworthy that Vince Cable -a luke-warm supporter of the Tory-LibDem deal and tough on 'the City' - entered the Govt to find there had been a "misunderstanding" about his position in Cabinet. He had understood he was to be in charge of regulation of the banking and financial services sector but finds that George Gideon Osborne (who has a 2:1 Degree in history – has been able to hide what A levels/ other qualifications allow him to be in charge of our economy beyond the fact he is Son-in Law of Lord David Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford – and the fact he is heir to a billion pound fortune) will be doing all that stuff while Cable takes care of other "business."

Ominously, the Tories have been consolidating their power. They have castrated any kind of dissent in Government by roping the Liberal Democrats into an agreement that means they have to abstain rather than vote against any Tory madness. The incredible thing about this is that in the agreement, not only do they curtail dissent by ensuring the Libs don’t vote against them, but this sentence –
“legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed-term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.”

So what, you may ask? Well, at present, the Govt can be curtailed – recalled – brought down by a simple majority of 51%.

A breakdown of this has been done by http://northernheckler.wordpress.com
“That means that this parliament (not a future one – THIS one) will be able to be brought down by a vote of no confidence – but only if 55% of the MPs vote to do that. Note that this is not 55% of those who vote, but 55% of all MPs. And not just a simple majority of 51% – but 55% – OK not much difference I hear you say, and it introduces a little more stability by discouraging interminable series of confidence votes designed to sabotage the Government of the day.

But how much is 55% – Well it’s 357.5 seats – so as it needs to be more than 55% it would need to be 358 – no half seats. So that would need (typically) : All 258 Labour votes; all 57 Lib Dem Votes; & all 28 of the “other” votes – totalling 343 – so it would also need a further 15 Conservative votes. Actually not quite true – it would also need a further 5 votes – because Sinn Fein would be likely not to vote at all – not to mention anyone who was ill or otherwise engaged on the day of the vote.
So the Conservative Party, with help from the Liberal Democrat party are planning to enact binding legislation - enacted with a simple majority of those MP’s who turn up to vote – which would ensure that the Conservative Party remained in office for the next 5 years in all circumstances save that when at least 20 of their own number decided to vote against. So actually they could sell the Lib Dems down the river without a second thought – they wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

The Conservatives lets remember hold just 306 of the 650 seats – a mere 47% – which they gained with 36.1% of the popular vote, on a turn out of 65.1% – this represents just 23.5% of the total electorate.

This is the kind of immunity from accountability that is the hallmark of dictators and despots. It is a manoeuvre of which Adolf Hitler would have been proud – effectively preventing opposition to the ruling party.”

This is the reality of the New Politics and political reform. The much vaunted PR? It is kicked into the long grass. The system that the Tories are allowing a referendum on – AV – is not much better than we have – and not close to the STV system that has given Scotland stable and representative Government since the formation of the Scottish Parliament. Whether AV is accepted or not by the UK public, it means that any real electoral reform will not happen for at least a generation.

As I said, Jo, you, again, have been used as a patsy.

The word Germans have for the consolidation of the Nazi Party is gleichschaltung.

3 comments:

Phil said...

And yet in the Scottish parliament it's 66%!

This 55% is part of a deal to stop the Conservatives from calling the election when they want - it was the Liberal Democrats who wanted fixed term parliaments remember - by setting it at 55% it stops both the Conservatives or the Liberals from being able to effect an election. It doesn't stop a change in government - which probably explains the 66% of your own government.

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

...which is despicable, Phil. The reasons they (the Scots Parlia) gave at the time included the fact that the Parlia is made up of more groups etc. Though how they equate these facts is beyond me.

The 55% has either not been thought out very well - or is a cynical move by Tories to ensure regardless of a defection or two, or break up of the coalition, the Tories will remain in power until they are ready to call an election. The "Fixed Term" is only an agreement between the parties - and is not somethingthat has to be enacted in future parliaments - the 55% if enacted, is a constitutional change and would apply to Parliaments beyond this one.

Keithunder Graves said...

Sadly STV is not used to elect the Scottish Parliament, but the much inferior AMS system.

The 55% does not keep the tories in power. If the Coalition broke up a new government could still be formed without the Tories. It simply means that (as at present) a general election could not be called when it suits the prime minister. In that sense it actually goes against the interests of the Tories.