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On left wing propaganda

17th Jul 2013
Tax Consultant freelance
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I accept that my view may be regarded as left wing politically (though to some of the critics Genghis Khan would have seemed at best a soppy liberal), but I offer here a number of facts, says Simon Sweetman.

I do this because facts seem to be in short supply, with a recent survey showing that most people in this country have wildly inaccurate ideas about such things as the number of immigrants, who welfare payments go to, and various other obsessions of the tabloid press. Many of these false beliefs seem to be shared by those who read my blogs. It may be that the Royal Statistical Society is a communist front organisation, but I doubt it.

To pick one at random, capping housing benefit is expected to raise one-fifth of what is raised by stopping child benefit for the better off. Oh, and of new “jobs created” since 2011, half are “self-employed”, and you know what that means as well as I do: If the paper that comes through my door is evidence, there are more self-employed gardeners in this town than there are gardens.

And what you do find is that on every issue that people worry about they see the national “problem” to be far worse than the “local” one; the difference being between the local issues which they can see for themselves what is happening and the national ones where they believe what the papers and the politicians tell them.

But here are some more facts:

  • the financial crisis of 2008 was not caused by Gordon Brown. It was caused by the recklessness of banks, originally American banks
  • the Labour government’s failure here was not to regulate the banking sector sufficiently, but bear in mind that the other parties were howling at the time for further deregulation and no country (except possibly Norway) came out of this with any credit
  • Over the last 20 years all the gains from economic growth have accrued to the rich. Average earners, and more especially low earners, have not seen any increase in their real income levels at all (in the USA this process started rather earlier). This would seem to suggest that taxation needs to be directed to that part of the population rather than to the ordinary worker (and more than 90% of claims to housing benefit are made by people in work, not on benefits)

The UK economy is starting to recover (as they do in a kind of spontaneous remission) but more slowly than almost anywhere else, and the recovery is in low wage jobs, many of them part time.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
17th Jul 2013 14:34

Gordon Brown

I agree, Gordon Brown can't be blamed for the financial crisis in banking.

He can be blamed for running a public sector deficit that was too high and went on too long.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
17th Jul 2013 15:05

Its amazing how memories fade with time.

Blair and Brown get hammered for "how things were left" but I seem to recall the 10 years previous to 2007 as probably the best period I will have in my lifetime. I invested in property early on along with a nice family home, which even taking into account the drop in 2008 are still worth a lot more than I paid for them. Yes I agree the banks messed up, but what people seem to forget is where would we be if we as a country if we did not get involved in the whole boom time. Yes things are tough now but I would imagine things would be a lot worse if we had not had the 10-15 years of growth before the bubble burst. Also if a member staff worked for me for 4 years and was still blaming his predecessor for any problems happening now he would be quickly shown the door.  

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By alan159
19th Jul 2013 12:33

All built on debt

Glennzy wrote:
Blair and Brown get hammered for "how things were left" but I seem to recall the 10 years previous to 2007 as probably the best period I will have in my lifetime. I invested in property early on along with a nice family home, which even taking into account the drop in 2008 are still worth a lot more than I paid for them. Yes I agree the banks messed up, but what people seem to forget is where would we be if we as a country if we did not get involved in the whole boom time. Yes things are tough now but I would imagine things would be a lot worse if we had not had the 10-15 years of growth before the bubble burst. Also if a member staff worked for me for 4 years and was still blaming his predecessor for any problems happening now he would be quickly shown the door.
               All of this was built on debt, government and private individual debt.  I find the mess we were left in annoying because I did not take on any debt yet I am now paying for everyone else's debt!
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By JC
17th Jul 2013 16:09

No return to boom and bust ….

Bit of history – possibly FACT !

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/11/gordonbrown.economy

'.. I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery ..'
Gordon Brown's 1997 Budget Statement

Ah well ! – we all get it wrong – just a pity everyone was taken down with it

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By ShirleyM
17th Jul 2013 18:19

They are all the same!

All parties make promises they don't keep, and they just look to get votes and honesty doesn't come into it!

Show me one party that has stuck to it's promises (and been honest) and I'll show you a flying pig!

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By trevv69
17th Jul 2013 18:24

Facts
I can't help but think Simon is being factious when he writes a whole blog about factual accuracy but includes "If the paper that comes through my door is evidence, there are more self-employed gardeners in this town than there are gardens".

Another fact is that the Liberal Democrats were criticising the failures of Labour's City policy to Gordon Brown's face in the House of Commons before the crash, so Simon's assertion otherwise is another myth that needs busting.

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By Old Greying Accountant
17th Jul 2013 18:34

I trust ...

... you listed all the salient points in order, allocated them all a number, then used a random number generator to choose which topic to comment on - otherwise I doubt it was chosen at random!

Agree totally with Red Leader - not with Glennzy, running a country is akin to an oil tanker, decisions have to be taken well in advance, and the consequences last a long time.

Labour destroyed Health and Education, not by under investment, but by mis-guided investment. Had GB spent half as much twice as wisely we would be better placed for recovery. The coffers should have been full following a glut, so that in famin the government could invest in capital projects and the like to stimulate growth and creat jobs - instead like Old Mother Hubbard, the cupboard was bare.

That said, I enjoy Simon's blogs, they offer a different view and makes one think. I do agree that all the growth has benefitted the rich, but, if people see the government p*ssing away money it is not likely to make them want to pay tax, and, so what, they are the ones taking the risk - no one offers sympathy if they fail!

It doesn''t really matter though, there is no difference between the parties, they are all power hungry idiots who couldn't organise the proverbial brewery event, most going straight from education to politics. The few who are wordlywise get shouted down, or are too busy getting on with their job to seek "power".

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By ShirleyM
17th Jul 2013 18:52

Maggie had her turn at destroying the NHS first

She closed numerous hospital wards. I could never see the logic of having long waiting lists, people suffering needlessly, and people on sick for months which in turn affects the businesses that employ them, to save a few quid.

I wonder if she and her cronies had private health care?

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Replying to JG12:
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By Old Greying Accountant
17th Jul 2013 20:49

Mainly because ...

ShirleyM wrote:

She closed numerous hospital wards. I could never see the logic of having long waiting lists, people suffering needlessly, and people on sick for months which in turn affects the businesses that employ them, to save a few quid.

I wonder if she and her cronies had private health care?

.... she was in the same boat as Cameron, trying to dig us out of the mess left by the previous borrow/tax and spend labour government.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
17th Jul 2013 19:32

please Miss....Shirley said the M word!

I was a Labour supporter & voter for the best part of 30 years and we cheered in the streets, with champagne (from Sainsbury's) flowing, on Labour Day 1997.  It was Iraq that sealed my distaste at what the party had become, the irony was the it needed to "New" itself to win in 97 but it threw the best ideals of socialism out with the bath water and became a corporate marketing vehicle.

So, if these principles (the ones that accord with words such as equality, integrity, equal opportunity and the common good) were ever to re-surface in the party I might try it again.  

So Simon, I applaud your left wing views and principles but you hold them in a country where socialism is pretty much absent.

In the long run, for all the reasons stated above (especialy OGA's views that most in Westminster are only politicians (excluding Alan Johnson and some Tories.....who left politics)), I think we are seeing the demise of the system of government that, after a few hundred years, is passed its use by date.  I have no idea what will replace it but with the web and social media and "38 degrees" maybe we can mimic Greece 2 - 3 thousand years ago?

We've got about 100 years till society breaks down (at more than 38 degrees) so still time to try something new.

 

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By ShirleyM
17th Jul 2013 20:08

The first thing to go should be the Commons 'playground'

Do all countries have politicians that are more interested in point scoring and childish behaviour, rather than helping the country, or are we unique? Why can't they discuss pro's and con's like normal people?

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By ShirleyM
17th Jul 2013 21:07

They all screw up the NHS

The more important something is, the more they seem to screw it up.

Cameron is shutting loads of hospitals, and we can't all rely on the private hospitals taking on part of the NHS. They take the money and then dump us when they make mistakes (like with the PIP breast implants). They want the profits, but not the responsibility.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Jul 2013 12:01

bad but not that bad

We can all - me included - find deficiencies in the UK body politic. But occasionally we should remind ourselves that it's a damn sight worse in many other countries.

Political violence, massive £££ corruption, zero political consensus or tolerance.

I think I am being entirely rational when I say "I'm glad I'm British!"

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By Roland St Clere-Smithe
19th Jul 2013 12:26

That it might be worse elsewhere is no reason to allow many of the institutions that have failed the people they supposedly serve, continue to fail, conceal their failure and reward those most responsible with our money, to get away with expressions of regret ( crocodile tears ) and carrying on much as before. I include

-Trustees of NHS Trusts who have allowed patients in squalour unfed unwashed and uncared for whilst paying themselves huge salaries.

-Police, the biggest organised crime gang in this country- Hillsborough, Stephen Lawrence, the Guildford 4 ,  stealing the identities of dead children, racist and corrupt yet pandered to and given more powers than they need or deserve. The fact that crime has fallen is because we have fewer of these thugs on our streets.

-Network Rail  and the privatised rail companies.  Directors awarding themselves huge bonuses whilst running the most expensive and inefficient rail service in Europe.

-The BBC . Paying huge amounts of our money for people to leave. Many of those leavers went straight into well paid jobs elsewhere.

-HMR & C. Hounding small businesses whilst cutting cosy deals with their friends in big business.

Banks. They still don''t get it. They still have their hands in our wallets!

Security- The buzzword of today. The growth of the security industry in the UK abd the US is appalling. They peddle scare stories regarding crime and trerrorism so we will give them more powers and more money. The fact is however that we live in the least violent and safest time in all of recorded history. The security industry feeds off terrorism and the fear of terrorism. They are using iot as an excuse to takec away our liberties.

 

 

 Institutionaxpression

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By the.hoarse.whisperer
20th Jul 2013 07:47

Gordon Gekko - Wall Street
The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and  stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market.In the United States free markets have contributed to social break-down on a scale unknown in any other developed country. Families are weaker in America than in any other country. At the same time, social order has been propped up by a policy of mass incarceration. No other advanced industrial country, aside from post-communist Russia, uses imprisonment as a means of social control on the scale of the United States. Free markets; the desolation of families and communities and the use of the sanctions of criminal law as a last recourse against social collapse go in tandem.  Note:In the UK the top 10% own 40% of total wealth. The combined net wealth of all private households within Great Britain, is £10.3 trillion. The wealth held by the richest 10% of households combined was £4.5 trillion and represented a 43.8% share of aggregate.

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By chatman
20th Jul 2013 09:17

Thatcher was a disaster

It's true that inflation hit 27 per cent in 1975, but this was largely a consequence of the Yom Kippur War oil price shock, which saw oil prices quadruple, and not a sign that the mixed economy model had collapsed.

By 1978, the British economy was rapidly improving. Inflation was down to single figures and unemployment was falling too. Productivity was rising, including in the nationalised industries. North sea oil revenues were starting to transform the balance of payments, which showed a surplus of £109m in 1977.  And in December 1978 Britain recorded a massive trade surplus of £246m.

Thatcher was sustained only by one extraordinary piece of luck. Almost the moment she stepped over the threshold of Downing Street the economy was engulfed in an oil bonanza. During her time in office, government oil receipts amounted to 16% of GDP. But instead of using this windfall to boost investment for longer-term prosperity, it was used for tax cuts. Public investment was slashed. By the end of her time in office the military budget vastly exceeded net public investment.

During 1978, Britain's standard of living rose by 6.4 per cent to reach its highest ever level: so much for the 'Sick Man of Europe'.  "The outlook for Britain is better than at any time in the postwar years," was the verdict, not of a Labour party propagandist, but of Chase Manhattan bank's chief European economist, Geoffrey Maynard.

The so-called 'Winter of Discontent' of 1979 - which ushered in Thatcherism - is also shrouded in myth. James Callaghan never said 'Crisis, what crisis' - that was an invention of The Sun. The strikes themselves only lasted for a comparatively short period and were largely over by February 1979. 

In no other period in British history than the 70s was there such a rapid rise in living standards. The gap between rich and poor was significantly reduced. As the One Nation Tory Harold Macmillan, one of the architects of the post-war consensus, famously declared, we never had it so good.

Since 1979 we have followed a very different economic path: one of deregulation, privatisation and allowing 'market forces' to rule the roost. And we all know where that has led us. · 

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By chatman
20th Jul 2013 09:19

More Left-wing Propaganda
The majority of the "welfare" budget is spent on pensions.Benefit fraud represents only 0.7% of the welfare budget.

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Replying to rob winder:
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By Ted Numbers
24th Jul 2013 15:27

Pensions are only "welfare" if you haven't contributed

chatman wrote:

The majority of the "welfare" budget is spent on pensions.

Having paid NICs throughout my adult life I do not regard pensions as "welfare". If you've paid in, you have the right to take out. The pensions problem is the fault of whoever started us down the "unfunded" route in the first place.

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Replying to janemcd:
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By chatman
24th Jul 2013 17:18

Pensions and "Welfare"

Ted Numbers wrote:

chatman wrote:

The majority of the "welfare" budget is spent on pensions.

Having paid NICs throughout my adult life I do not regard pensions as "welfare". If you've paid in, you have the right to take out.

I absolutely agree, but when the government and their compliant media spout their propaganda about spending on benefits, they include the pensions figure in what they call "welfare" (presumably believing the more American the better) and imply that this "welfare spending" is only composed of Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance.

To be honest, I think you have the right to an old-age pension whether you have paid in or not, whether you have been a full-time parent, unemployed, disabled or whatever.

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Replying to mr. mischief:
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By Old Greying Accountant
25th Jul 2013 16:33

Except ...

To be honest, I think you have the right to an old-age pension whether you have paid in or not, whether you have been a full-time parent, unemployed, disabled or whatever.

[/quote]

... if you have be an idle [***] all your life and contributed nothiing to anyone except may be by inflicting a number of semi-feral fit for nothing offspring on the country!

With no apologies to Orwell, all without jobs are unemployed, but some are more unemployed than others!

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By chatman
20th Jul 2013 09:21

@Paul

Paul - I stopped voting Labour when Blair became leader, so I reckon I win.

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By the.hoarse.whisperer
28th Jul 2013 11:15

the thin edge of the web

So much of our lives is governed by the demographics of our birth and many of those who get the 'thin end of the wedge' simply do not have the ability to better themselves by their own efforts.

I tend not to criticise or jump to assumptions about others until l''ve 'walked a mile in their shoes ...', Yes I may appear to being a bleeding heart liberal but our life experiences are very diverse.

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