Austerity isn’t working, and isn’t worth it – in Leeds North West or anywhere else

Leeds North West Constituency

Wednesday’s Labour Market Statistics looked good – or rather they looked a little better than the run of bad figures for the last three years. And we welcome them – any improvement is to be welcomed, since every single number is a real person, with a real life. And it is real people who have been carrying the burden of this Coalition Government’s austerity programme for too long.

Unfortunately, as we’ve stressed before, even these apparently improving figures hide very real regional variations.

In our own Constituency of Leeds North West the number of those claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance is up by 12% year on the year to July; people claiming JSA for over a year has risen by 20% in that same period. There’s been no change in the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for over 12 months, and in NW Leeds we’ve seen a shocking 113%…

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The Tories, the City – and all of us.

Leeds North West Constituency

In the next of our series on Tory party funding, we turn the spotlight on the Tories and the financial sector.

Not that that’s easy – in fact it isn’t easy to discover the real picture of Tory financial donations at all.
You may think that all party funding is open and accessible. And in one sense it is. But the publicly available figures only tell part of the story.
Donations are often made by family members, company directors will donate alongside partners at the same business, groups of wealthy people have even banded together to make political contributions. The result is that the real concentrations of donations are obscured.

Revealing the truth is time-consuming and laborious – and as a result most figures are a couple of years out of date. But academics like Stuart Wilks-Heeg of the University of Liverpool, and journalists like those in the Bureau of…

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The State, Enterprise and the Mystery of the Unemployment Figures

The claim that the Tory and Liberal Democrat Coalition is reducing or refiguring the size of the state and that this will free-up enterprise Britain is frequently trotted out by the Tory LibDem Coalition itself and by the Tory press. Half of this statement is true. Osborne, Cameron and Clegg are introducing measures that are … Continue reading The State, Enterprise and the Mystery of the Unemployment Figures

Britain is not Greece – Dispelling Myths about Debt

Leeds North West Constituency

Following the 2010 general election, Chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, his Lib Dem assistant, argued that Britain’s indebtedness was as bad as that of Greece. Our own Greg Mulholland has parroted the same line, trying, typically, to implicate the Labour party.
So British debt like Greece?
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Well it wasn’t and it isn’t and it won’t be.

As it happens, neither important international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund nor national ones like the Institute for Fiscal Studies agree with Osborne and Alexander.
These organisations do think there is a problem with debt in the UK. There obviously is. Too many people have acquired too much personal debt in the guise of mortgages and credit cards, for example.
And, of course, the previous Labour government had to bail out the corrupt and corrupting banking system at the cost of hundreds of billions of pounds.

So what can be said…

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Why Austerity Kills

Leeds North West Constituency

Why Austerity Kills is the subtitle of a new book – The Body Economic, by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, published by Allen Lane. Written from the perspective of experts in Public Health, they mount a persuasive case that recession itself is not necessarily bad for health. What matters is the political response.diphtheria

In brief, where there’s a New Deal type of response—investment in health, housing, and social security—people don’t die sooner. Where the response is austerity, the death rates (and other negative indicators) go up.

Moreover, a New Deal response leads to quicker economic recovery; austerity impedes recovery.

The book examines contrasting cases in depth: those US states which rejected New Deal policies versus those that didn’t; the Asian Tiger countries which accepted IMF austerity after their 1997 crash, as against Malaysia, which didn’t; likewise, more recently, Greece compared to Iceland and the US compared to the UK.


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One nation – new ideas. What would be in Labour’s Queen’s speech next week

Ed Miliband is today setting out six of the key economic Bills that would appear in a Labour Queen’s Speech next week: a One Nation programme with new ideas to begin turning Britain’s economy around.
Labour’s economic plans include:
• A Jobs Bill to put in place a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee. 
• A Finance Bill … Continue reading One nation – new ideas. What would be in Labour’s Queen’s speech next week

Bankers’ bonuses, Emissions Trading – and a UKIP rant: read Labour MEP Linda McAvan’s April report now

Labour MEP Linda McAvan’s April e-bulletin is out now. You can read it here. Highlights this month include - the Coalition government’s opposition to EU moves to cap bankers' bonuses - Tory MEPs actions attempting to sink the Emissions Trading scheme - More on the horsemeat scandal - Linda’s work on the Tobacco Directive, Cosmetic … Continue reading Bankers’ bonuses, Emissions Trading – and a UKIP rant: read Labour MEP Linda McAvan’s April report now

Lady Thatcher is dead and buried but Thatcherism is alive and kicking

Looking at the press, radio and television over the past week or so a visiting alien might be forgiven for thinking that political debate in the UK only concerned whether Baroness Thatcher was either the Wicked Witch of the West or the modern day Britannia. The alien would be wrong. During the days between the … Continue reading Lady Thatcher is dead and buried but Thatcherism is alive and kicking

Read Labour MEP Linda McAvan’s March E-Bulletin

Linda McAvan's March e-bulletin is out. Highlights include Linda’s comments on the Cyprus crisis and the EU cap on bankers’ bonuses ‘Eurozone leaders must find a way of saving the banks, without taking more money from the people The emergence of yet another banking crisis at a time when we are discussing structural banking reform … Continue reading Read Labour MEP Linda McAvan’s March E-Bulletin

Regional Banks – part of Labour’s plans for the North

This week Ed Miliband continued to put flesh on Labour’s plans for government – with news of the regional banks Labour is proposing. Based on experience – for example of German models – the regional banks will be very different from the casino players and bonus junkies currently dominating the banking world. They will be … Continue reading Regional Banks – part of Labour’s plans for the North