Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A "Progressive" change?

The left has a reputation. It's not a representation we believe is fair, and it's not how we would like to be perceived. Even the terms "left wing" or "the left" seem to invoke images and feelings of a militant protesting Marxist cult. At least that's what the press here in the UK will encourage you to think. This is something that is very damaging to the Labour party right now. How many interviews have we seen with the man in the street referring to Jeremy Corbyn as "some kind of communist".

Often the man interviewed would fare much better under a Corbyn led government. He would be paid more, have better public services and more opportunities in terms of education and employment. The reason people think this way is as much the fault of the left as of the right wing press. We often hear "we need to learn the lessons from the general election". This is true, but often interpreted in the wrong way. We don't need to learn to be more right wing, but learn how the Tories got their message across so well to the public.

Message discipline is a key element here. It doesn't matter which Tory MP is interviewed, they read the same lines, from the same memo and repeat, repeat, repeat. "Low welfare, high wage economy, Low welfare, high wage economy, Low welfare....". This repetition sticks in the mind and if you say it enough you actually begin to believe it. It seems even the Tory MPs believe it!

Labour needs to shake off these ghosts of the past, the "left wing" labels and rebrand with their own message of "Progressive Politics". In the USA we hear the left being described as progressive. This redefines the narrative and is a problem for the conservative right wing media, as its becoming much tougher to suggest that progressive policies are not good for the country. The word progressive is emotive. It inspires positive connotations of advancing and moving forward.

If Jeremy Corbyn came out next week and rebranded the Labour party as the party of progressive politics it could have a real impact. Every time they suggest a new policy they could debate its merits and how progressive the policy is. "Progressive, Progressive, Progressive." There's your message discipline for you.

Tell us what you think?

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Friday, 9 October 2015

Did We Miss Something?

Watching the speech from our Prime Minister, I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking he was trying to occupy more of the 'centre ground'. I mean he did mention that he wants "Everyone, no matter what background they come from, to have the same chances at a good life". Sounds promising. That is as long as you don't mind being saddled with a £50k+ debt when you come out of university. Or if you don't mind being a child growing up in poverty, thanks to his new tax credit cuts. Take a child growing up in an overcrowded house to working parents living in poverty, perhaps deciding whether the family can eat one or two meals that day. Then compare them to a child who lives in an upper middle class family, with their own space to do school work and a well balanced nutritious diet. Has taking the tax credits from the first child's family helped improve their chances in life to that of the second child or made the gap much larger?

Now lets look at another key part of his speech. Prisons. "We have the criminals attention so lets teach them, rehabilitate them and put them back to work". A very left of field sounding announcement if taken on its own. But it was followed by "We need to replace the antiquated Victorian prisons we have with modern facilities fit for purpose". Now this is the point the press seemed to brush over. Replacing old prisons with new. How are we going to do this and stick to the chancellors 'long term economic plan' of never ending austerity? I suggest the real message here is that we are seeking to privatize prisons. Yep thats right private prisons. Was this the real announcement covered in a cloak of lefty rhetoric?

The USA have a private prison system, A system where the government in many cases guarantees inmate quotas of 90% or more. How can they do this? How can you guarantee there will be enough criminals in the system at that particular time? The justice system in the states has come under fire from many accusations of corruption in recent times. Often pointed out is the terrible relationship between police officers and the Black and Hispanic population in the states. These two groups make up around 30% of the population yet 59% of the prison population. They also make up some of the most impoverished communities. It is often suggested that these two communities are unfairly targeted by police officers and harsher prison sentences are handed out.

What will our government offer private companies in the way of quotas? How will our prison population be made up? What if we cant match those quotas? Will we see an announcement of the government getting "tough on crime" in order to make up the numbers? There has always been a correlation between poverty and crime, are those new families pushed into poverty by the tax credit cuts more likely to end up in prison? Is this the new centre ground?

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Friday, 2 October 2015

Push the Button and keep us Safe!!!...........

A big debate has been surfacing around the need for Nuclear weapons. BBC's Question Time showed just how divisive the subject can be. So before we continue this article, we will start by making it clear that Lefthub is against nuclear weapons and the idea of them being a deterrent. Now lets look at some hypothetical uses of the nuclear weapons and how much of a deterrent they really are.

If Ukraine still had nuclear weapons, Russian troops would not be in their country.

This was a point raised by a member of the audience on Question Time. So lets examine this argument further. We must presume the questioner thinks that the Ukraine government could have threatened the Russian government with the use of Nuclear weapons should it invade with troops or continue an invasion. We can see where this view comes, from but there is a gaping flaw with the argument. Russia also have Nuclear weapons, and a lot more than the Ukraine. So they could simply counter by saying if you do fire nuclear missiles at us, we will wipe out your country with our nuclear missiles. This would most likely result with a stalemate of Nuclear weapon use and the invasion continues. That is unless the Ukraine would like to ensure the extinction of their citizens and fire the first missile.

Somebody, somewhere has fired nuclear missiles at us.

In this situation its too late. Thousands, millions or even all of us will be killed. Does the ability to fire a missile or two back give me comfort? Does that feel like justice to me? No. A nuclear attack on the UK would result as we said, in the loss of millions of innocent lives. Retaliating by firing back and killing millions more innocent people does not provide me with any satisfaction at all. Its most likely in fact that the people responsible for firing the first nukes would be tucked up safe and sound in a bunker somewhere, so we would only be killing more innocent people.

We pre-empt a nuclear attack and fire the first nukes. 

We gather intelligence that a nuclear attack could be imminent. The response is to striker first. Of course again this guarantees millions of lives lost. It also would all but guarantee a counter strike of nuclear attacks on the UK, even if we were wrong in the first place. Intelligence has proven to be wrong in the past countless times. Pre-empting a nuclear attack and striking first does nothing but guarantee nuclear war and destruction.

So for the sake of the argument lets imagine the UK is under threat of invasion from Russia, after all they seem to be the example the media continue to point to in order to justify the need for these weapons of mass destruction. As I sit here writing this blog, I contemplate how I would like us to face a Russian invasion. The loss of innocent life through war, be it English or Russian seems an abhorrent idea to me Personally I would rather rewrite the whole thing in Russian than be disintegrated as a result of Nuclear warfare. As ultimately that would be the choice when you bring Nuclear weapons into it. Surrender and be ruled by Russia or be Killed. Id sooner dig out my Ushanka-hat and pay my taxes to Putin than not exist at all and I imagine if the moment came most people would opt for Russian rule than death. Remember guys, "Безопасность прежде всего"

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Don't look at the polls!..........yet.

Throw them out, burn them, use them to wrap your fish 'n' chips in. If you have been reading a newspaper over the last few days, then you have do doubt come across a poll somewhere that shows you how much of a disaster Corbyn will be.

There was a poll which showed Corbyn did not receive the usual 'bounce' or 'jump' in the opinion polls. A comparison was made between previous leaders showing the following;

  • Tony Blair received an  +18% bounce
  • Gordon Brown received a +16% bounce
  • Ed Milliband received a +19% bounce
  • Jeremy Corbyn received a -3% drop!

And so this goes to "Prove" that Corbyn will be unsuccessful. Clearly there is a link between your initial bounce in the opinion polls and winning elections. The three previous leaders all received a substantial bounce and they all won their respective elections didn't they? Oh, perhaps the correlation isn't as simple as the media serve it up to us.

Another poll/study by the Newstatesman claims to show the huge and terrifying gulf between the opinions of Jeremy Corbyn supporters when compared to current Labour voters. They ask questions like "Are you very or fairly left wing" and "do you think the government should do more to help the poor and tax everyone else to do this" On first glance this could be worrying for Corbynites across the land, but here at Lefthub we say RELAX!

Do we not remember how Corbyn got to this point? Do we not remember where he came from to get to this point? Did we even really know who Corbyn was before the leadership race began?

Jeremy Corbyn is not the kind of spun, polished politician we are used to. He doesn't come up with the kind of sound bites that the press can latch on to and create a big splash. Instead what Corbyn does is present a set of very clear principles. People respect his principles first and then they begin to listen. Over time he plants many ideas and questions into peoples minds, people start to form their own opinions, own ideas, realise their own principles and slowly but surely warm to Corbyn. This is why his support are so loyal, so engaged and so energised. They want to get out there, they want to hear him speak and they want to be part of it. Jeremy Corbyn is creating a movement, much bigger than just himself, its not the popularity contest politics we are used to.

To prove this organic growth lets go back and look at the Newstatesman's piece from 22nd June. Again in this they look at Labour supporters and show in their poll that Jeremy Corbyn was backed by just 9% and he was described as a "token leftie". Over time the polls shifted and the "token leftie" became the frontrunner. He won with around 60% of the vote.

Slowly but surely, more people will hear Jeremy speak. More people will realise their own principles. More people will form their own ideas and we would not be surprised if more poeple feel drawn to Corbyn. This really is a marathon not a sprint and Jeremy Corbyns style is suited to that perfectly.

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Lets Reform Money!

Reforms. A term coined by the Tories to help implement round after round of ideological policies. So far we have reformed the welfare people of this country receive, including cutting the Tax Credits of workers, which apparently will "make work pay". We are trying to reform or "modernise" Trade Unions by making it almost impossible to hold a legal strike. We have reformed local councils by slashing an smashing their budgets. The list of these "reforms" goes on.

The most recent suggested "reform" has come from Andy Haldane the chief economist at the Bank of England.

This time adopting the same mantra as the Trade Union Bill, Haldane has suggested we could "Modernise" Money in the UK by getting rid of cash and replacing it with "Digital currency". Oh this sounds exciting, futuristic and a real step forward you may think. That is until you dig deeper and understand the motives behind this modernisation. This brainwave comes just after the Bank of England announced it may be necessary to implement a negative interest rate. This would mean that when you normally receive your interest payments on your account, instead you would be deducted the interest rate.

How will this effect you? Well if you have done what the government describes as "the right thing" and managed to save, then sit back and watch them savings decline. Remember there is no cash any more so you wont be able to rush to the bank to take that money out. If you find yourself in the position, as so many do in this country, that you come to the end of the month and reach 0 or less in your account then get spending! Your going to have to spend your money quickly as you probably can't afford for any money to be taken from your account. Again remember you can't go and withdraw it in cash as it simply does not exist any more.

The obstacles to implementing a cashless society are enormous. Just about everyone uses cash at some point in their lives. Catching a bus or a taxi, paying the window cleaner or milk man, shopping at the market or car boot sale. There are just too many examples in which people and businesses rely on cash and where replacing it would both be expensive and impractical.

All of this is designed to give the economy a boost, get people spending instead of saving and spending faster. It is a strategy that can work in the short term, but leads to long term problems if it remains. There are other ways to boost the economy after all, such as investment in infrastructure and creating jobs. So perhaps this is one "reform" we just don't need. Perhaps we can do without this sort of "modernisation". Perhaps we need to seek alternative radical solutions. Perhaps its time to talk to Richard Murphy about Corbynomics. Perhaps.

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Comments Welcome!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

You Spin Me Right Round........

So here we are. A few days into Corbyn's leadership and we have already seen the start of the attacks by the Tories. Within hours the following had been posted by the official Conservative twitter account.

Many have compared it to a play straight out of a Nazi propaganda handbook. The key part and theme of all the propaganda going out there is the phrase "Threat to National Security". This highlights the clear strategy taken by the Tories to once again spread the message of fear. Fear was the tool they employed in the general election and it has brought them great success so far. The campaign of fear can reach all aspects of society, a message that can be tailored to everyone.
  • Vote Tory or the economy will be in danger
  • Vote Tory or your Job will be at risk
  • Vote Tory or we will raise your taxes, and so on....

The message of fear being spread about Jeremy is generally being deployed through using half quotes. Look at the quotes in the image above. "He believes the death of Osama Bin Laden was a 'tragedy' " . A similar statement was made by former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown. What was actually meant, is that an execution like this, without putting someone on trial and being made to answer for their crimes is a tragedy of justice. 
"He describes terrorists as friends". Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly been an advocate of peace processes rather than wars. He has said you need to reach out and talk to people you don't like or agree with in order for long term peace. 
"He opposes nuclear defences" In fact he opposes all nuclear weapons, surely a principled approach.

More examples of spin are coming quick and fast. Misquoting, reporting rumours as facts or presenting half a statement as a full belief. One thing is for sure, these attacks are not going to stop. Fortunately, and with the help of social media, this kind of spin is being exposed for what it really is. The campaign of fear can only be overcome by a campaign of hope. Fear tends mostly to make people reluctant to act a certain way, yet hope makes people passionate and enthusiastic about causes. This was demonstrated with the Corbyn campaign and people must get behind the message of hope and spread it further.

All this spin and attacks for someone who is regarded "Unelectable". Or at least that's what they tell us...............

Follow us @lefthub    There will be plenty to discuss in the days, weeks and months to come!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Twenty's Plenty.........

This is what we are told is enough to "fulfill our moral responsibility". Twenty thousand refugees spread over just 5 years is enough for everyone to get a good nights sleep, safe in the knowledge that Mr Cameron has done his sums and this is as much as we morally need to do. Well here at LeftHub we have been looking at the sums.

The BBC reported in this article that for the year ending September 2014 that net migration to the UK was 298,000. This works out at around 816 people a day. If we take that 20,000 over 5 years means 4,000 a year then this is equivalent to 5 days worth of net migration to the UK, an increase of 1.34% a year.

David Cameron has claimed that the resettlement scheme the UK would adopt would make a priority of vulnerable children such as orphans. But it has emerged that all those within the scheme will only have the right to remain in the UK for five years. As former leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Ashdown suggested on Twitter, this could mean people aged 18 being deported from Britain, having integrated into society.

Perhaps this is the sensible approach using both our "hearts and our heads" which was a phrase uttered countless times by the Prime Minister yesterday. He said we must both tackle the refugee crisis and the source of the problem, Isis and the Assad regime, hinting at more military intervention in Syria. This would be fine if were to completely ignore the fact that our intervention in the middle east has helped promote the rise of Isis. We also supply millions upon millions worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other surrounding areas. Surely its conceivable that this could also be fueling and indirectly arming Isis. We must wonder why David Cameron seems reluctant to bring this up as a possible contributory factor. The UK has after all granted 37 export licenses for military goods for Saudi Arabia since 25 March 2015.

So is the UK doing enough? Is this the best we can do?  The mood and generosity of the British public certainly doesn't seem to be reflected by that of the government. Perhaps we can squeeze more than 5 days of extra migration to the UK out, to help those in desperate need?

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