MPs should be content with pay packets a third of the size of those they get now, according to a socialist bidding to become Jarrow’s next representative at Westminster.
Norman Hall thinks it’s outrageous that our Parliamentarians are set to receive salaries of £75,000.
The semi-retired software engineer believes that puts them out of touch with ordinary working people.
That’s why the 59-year-old, of Gateshead, has pledged his support for proposals for MPs to receive no more than the salary of the average skilled worker.
“It would help them to directly understand the issues that affect working people.”
Mr Hall, representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) at the general election on Thursday, May 7, is also campaigning on an anti-austerity platform.
“All of the six major parties are parties of austerity.
“They are all in favour of cuts. Our stance is simple. We are saying no to austerity.”
This is the first time that Mr Hall has stood for Parliament, but he has made two bids to become a councillor in Gateshead.
Originally a member of the Labour Party, he became disillusioned with what he says was its “lack of support” for the miners during the strike of 1985 and 1985 and joined the Socialist Party, and it allied with trade unions to form TUSC in 2010.
The union coalition plans to stand in more than 120 seats across the country in May, including Washington and Sunderland North, North Tyneside and Newcastle East.
Mr Hall, a married stepfather of two, said:
“The coalition is exactly what it says on the tin.
“I’m well aware of Jarrow’s heritage stretching back to Ellen Wilkinson, and in 2011 I was involved in the Youth Fight for Jobs, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow March.
“I’m from Wallsend, and it shared with Jarrow many of the problems that stemmed from de-industrialisation.
“In terms of what support I’ll receive, that’s somewhat up in the air, but it’s clear that people are disillusioned with the mainstream parties. We are here to give the working class an alternative voice, one against austerity and against the cuts that took place under Labour and the Tories.
“It started under Alistair Darling, who made ordinary people pay for the banking crisis. The working class needs a new voice.”
TUSC opposes all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions and rejects increases in council tax, rent and service charges to “compensate for government cuts”.
The party also supports nationalisation of the banks and the financial system, is against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and all secret austerity treaties.
The other candidates standing in Jarrow on May 7 are: Stephen Hepburn (Labour), Stan Collins (Liberal Democrat), Steve Harrison (UKIP) and David Herbert (Green).
Source – Shields Gazette, 16 March 2015
If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet, I’ve been ill, just a regular virus that most people get in winter; the difference is its taken me a couple of month to get back to anywhere near normal, even for me. Due to my varying health issues, including an auto-immune disorder, regular colds and other usual ailments have a tendency to knock the proverbial stuffing out of me; and then, just as I begin to physically heal…Bang, the depression enters, demanding every ounce of attention and strength.
Depression is a strange thing it means different things to each of us who know it; for me He is like a jealous spouse, He wants me all to himself, and should I try to make contact with others – He raves, stamping, shouting, reminding me of all my faults and shortcomings until I yield, and agree I’m only complete with Him alone. This circle continues, wearing me down, until…
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Poloticians with “plumby” accents are squeezing out working class MPs from Parliament, a leading North councillor has warned.
George Dunning, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said “career politicians” with “silver tongues” are being parachuted in ahead of real people in the corridors of power.
Coun Dunning, who worked in the Teesside steel industry for more than 30 years, said he was recently interviewed by a Labour panel of councillors who struggled to understand what he was saying.
“I don’t talk with plumbs in my mouth because I was born and raised as part of a working-class Teesside family,” he said.
“The Labour panel said I tended to raise my voice during debate and this made me difficult to understand.
“Obviously these people didn’t know I spent 30 years or more working in steel and 10 of those with no hearing protection.
“What annoys a lot of us, is, although we are a diminishing breed in steel, chemical and manufacturing, we are still around and we should have adequate representation in Parliament.
“I think it’s a kick in the teeth when members of your own political party struggle to understand why you talk the way you do.
“We’re working people with working-class backgrounds.
“Let’s see more real people in Parliament and not just the increasing breed of career politicians.”
The Teesside council leader is not alone in raising the issue of accent.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who was born and raised in Ashington, accused Parliament of being hostile to working-class northerners.
He said: “We’ve got an elite in Westminster which, quite frankly, frightens me.
“They haven’t been anywhere or done anything, and when you’ve got an accent like mine, they think ‘Well, that man doesn’t know too much.”
> Mind you, you know what they say about the Ashington accent…
A woman goes into a hairdressers in Ashington and says “give me a perm.”
“Ok“, replies the hairdresser, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
His Labour colleague, Pat Glass, who represents North West Durham, last year gave her take on the culture within Westminster.
“If they spot a northern accent they start shouting about it to put you off,” she said.
Coun Dunning backed Mr Lavery’s words and credited the Northumberland MP as one of the few “real” working-class politicians in the Houses of Parliament.
“Ian Lavery’s comments hit where it hurts,” said Coun Dunning. “That being the elite class of MPs at Westminster feeling Ian’s blunt words. Then the truth always does, especially when stressing the lack of real people in Parliament.”
Source – Sunday Sun, 11 Jan 2015
British society is becoming increasingly intolerant of unemployed and disabled people, according to academics at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI).
A study by the University of Sheffield has found there is a growing sense that unemployment is caused by individuals’ personal failings, rather than by structural problems in the economy.
People tend to believe that work is plentiful, and that unemployment was therefore a lifestyle choice, rather than an imposition, and that poverty therefore results from moral deficiencies.
The research also highlighted an alarming intolerance towards disabled people, with participants questioning the legitimacy of benefits for disabled people deemed incapable of working.
It is clear that the derogatory term ‘chav’ remains in popular usage. Middle class research participants tended to identify and condemn ‘chav’ culture so as to validate and re-affirm their own superior social position. Working class respondents were more likely to identify and condemn ‘chav’ culture in order to distinguish themselves from it.
We appear to be witnessing the re-emergence of traditional distinctions between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, associated with the Victorian era.
This research identifies contemporary attitudes to the unemployed by drawing on a series of case studies conducted in Leeds, in Northern England. The evidence presented here is based on 90 interviews which were conducted with participants from a variety of different social classes and ethnic backgrounds.
The Coalition government’s welfare policies are in part a response to the kind of popular prejudices identified in the research. However, government rhetoric on welfare ‘scroungers’ is likely to reinforce these attitudes – focussing blame for poverty on individuals rather than on wider structural problems in Britain’s increasingly low-pay, low-skill economy.
There is in fact a danger that misplaced fears and prejudices relating to welfare claimants will present a threat to social cohesion, potentially legitimising policies which might exacerbate, rather than alleviate, social inequality.
Professor Gill Valentine, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield and author of the report, said:
“The evidence is mounting that the coalition government’s austerity agenda has been targeted at the poorest groups in society rather than the most affluent.
“This research shows that this is reinforcing prejudicial and intolerant attitudes towards the most disadvantaged members of society, as the government has been successful in individualising the causes of poverty and unemployment, and marginalising the socio-economic determinants of hardship.”
Source – Benefits & Work, 11 Nov 2014
> Evidently not having lost heart at their candidates piss-poor showing in the Yarm election last week, UKIP now have their sights on Hartlepool (insert monkey joke of your choice here).
General Election planners at UKIP have decided Hartlepool is their best chance in the region, with a relatively strong local branch helping pave the way for an election push.
Labour’s Iain Wright holds the seat with a majority of 5,509, down from the days of Peter Mandelson and a 14,000 strong majority. Back in 2010 UKIP took just 7% of the vote.
But, Nigel Farage said, after recent success in the South Shields by-election, where the party came second despite never standing there before, there would be a General Election rethink after this May’s Euro polls.
It was revealed last month how new academic research suggests Labour’s working class vote is at risk of moving away from an increasingly middle class Labour party, with UKIP making clear they now want to take left-wing voters across the North.
Mr Farage, who was in Gateshead last week, claimed that even an area with as many safe seats as the North was not beyond their reach.
“It’s a Labour heartland, but you know what, we’re having a go,” he said. “Let’s be honest. We are at a later stage in our development in the North East, compared to, say, the East of England.
“That’s because we didn’t quite get over the line in 2009, 15.4% in those elections. Let’s see where we are after these elections.
“We’re fighting more than 100 local election seats, and if, if, we start to win in those we suddenly have a base to build on.
“In South Shields we came second, and it showed how much Labour hate us in the North East. They hate us here, they are scared, they know they represent a different set of interests to the old Labour party.
“We will not win where Labour has a massive majority, but we can find marginals or other seats where we can make a difference.
“Hartlepool is very, very interesting. Watch Hartlepool. It is an interesting seat for us in 2015.
“We have a base there, it is our longest established branch in the North East.
“The North East is our fastest growing membership area, and if I had to pick I’d say Hartlepool was an area where we can make a substantial impact.
“We will have to look hard after the elections at what our targets will be in 2015, but Hartlepool is very interesting to us.”
Last night leading Teesside MP Tom Blenkinsop ( Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) said UKIP would struggle to convince voters in the North to back Mr Farage’s right-wing policies.
> Sadly, I’m not so sure. Many life-long Labour supporters I’ve met espouse personal views that would place them well to the right of UKIP. They only vote Labour because they always have, and their fathers before them, etc – there’s very little innovative thinking or grasp of political theory. It’s a classic case of double-think. And OAPs are often the worst – they’ve got theirs, now they want to pull the ladder up behind them.
The Labour MP said: “Nigel Farage says he’s ‘the only politician keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive’.
“He should tell that to the steel workers of Hartlepool and the rest of Teesside that numbered 25,000 in 1987, and only numbered 5,000 by 1992.
“Or maybe the mining communities of County Durham and Northumberland.
“If you want to know about UKIP, look at how Farage has employed Neil Hamilton in a senior party role, a man who took brown paper envelopes full of cash to ask questions in parliament.
“Farage supports privatising the NHS. He wants to cut maternity rights for women, and he wants to privatise chunks of our education system.
“He sounds like a Thatcherite Tory, he looks like a Thatcherite Tory and of course he tried six times previously to be a Thatcherite Tory MP.
“I’m very sure that firms like TATA, Nissan and Hitachi would be more than a little bit concerned at a follower of Farage’s getting into any position of representation in the North East.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 27 April 2014
A few weeks ago the Conservatives and their Tory Democrat accomplices abolished legal aid. This has the effect of making legal action by the poor prohibitively expensive, so that they are effectively denied justice due to the sheer cost involved. This has naturally caused indignation and protests, not least from the legal profession itself. In Bristol the lawyers went on a one-day strike against its abolition.
this attempt by the government to prevent the poor suing the rich also has a parallel in the legal restrictions and double standards the Tsarist government in pre-Revolutionary Russia used to oppress the workers in its attempt to protect and promote the country’s capitalist development. Lionel Kochan in his Russia in Revolution (London: Paladin 1970) describes this legal double standard. Workers, who left their job before their contract was due to expire, were liable to criminal prosecution. However, if they wished to sue their…
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A Labour councillor has been suspended after she joined protesters opposing council cuts.
Councillor Rosalind Copeland (Southwick) was hit with a three-month suspension by Sunderland’s Labour Group for going against the orders of party whips.
The ban means she will not be able to take part in the group’s meetings or sit with Labour members at full council meetings.
Members voted to take action against Coun Copeland at a party meeting on Monday.
It appears the row was ignited after the grandmother-of-two joined placard-carrying protestors in the city centre, ahead of an annual budget-setting meeting last month.
A group from North East People’s Assembly met to lobby councillors before the meeting, during which £35million of cuts for 2014/15 were given the green light.
Carrying placards in the shape of coffin lids to signify each public service they said will suffer because of the cuts, the group handed out leaflets.
Coun Copeland attended the lobby in Park Lane before the meeting and supported the demonstrators.
Pointing out that she was not there to criticise the council, but to defend what it is legally bound to do in the face of Government cuts, she said: “I am here to defend my council and the decision my council will have to make – the agony we are facing as councillors.
“As council members, we are having to do things we don’t want to do. The Coalition is pilfering the working class. It is not this Labour group at fault.”
Supporters have given their backing to the 65-year-old, who was elected in May 2008.
Anti-cuts protestor Gary Duncan set up the online petition and a Facebook page calling for the suspension to be lifted.
He said: “As a Sunderland resident and Labour voter who actively opposes cuts to public services, I am absolutely disgusted by this suspension.
“How can the leaders of Sunderland’s Labour Party justify punishing one of their own councillors for fighting the cuts?”
> Labour voter ? So he’s not the same Gary Duncan who, if I remember correctly, stood as a Respect candidate then ?
Though he probably is the Gary Duncan who last year got into bother with Sunderland Peoples Assembly (presumably a different entity from North East People’s Assembly)
A Labour Party insider, who did not want to be named, said: “Coun Copeland signed a letter in 2011 to say she would not talk to the press, unless it was ‘on message’.
“But if you started slinging people out of the Labour Party for opposing Tory cuts, there would be nobody left. She is a good local councillor.”
A spokesman for Labour Party North confirmed Coun Copeland had been suspended from the Labour Group for three months for going against the party whip.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “There is an internal Labour Group enquiry live at the present moment. It is against party rules to discuss the situation until we have an outcome and the process is fully concluded.”
Source – Sunderland Echo 12 April 2014
The Conservatives have said they will target working class Northern voters even as austerity measures continue.
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps hit back at claims the party had “given up on the North” and insisted tomorrow’s Budget will be good news for the region.
With a strong UKIP vote predicted in the upcoming European elections, the party is still way behind any signs of a revived North East presence.
Mr Shapps said he was confident the party could fight back in the region.
He said: “I recognise that we have a long way to go, we took over a recession from the last Government, there was no double dip recession.
“Now there are in the North East 17,000 more people in a job than there were.
> 15,000 of them are self-employed leaflet distributors….
There is just the start of the recovery. I know the North East had some big issues to deal with, the reliance on the public sector, but it is showing good signs.”
He admitted though that there was little hope in sight of an end to Government spending cuts.
“What we need to do now is not create more Government jobs but help create more private sector jobs,” he said.
“There is no short cut. If you believe you can somehow just raise taxes and spend money on jobs we know from years of experience that it just does not work.
“We have come this far, it has been difficult and painful, I totally get that. But what we do not want to do is hand the car keys back to the people who crashed this economy in the first place.”
> No chance of that, they never gave up possession of the car keys in the first place… just got someone else to take the points on their licence (something certain Lib Dems, for example, know all about).
Mr Shapps faces a difficult task turning that economic message into votes in the North East, with a 10% unemployment rate standing as the UK’s highest.
Asked if he feared losing out to UKIP in the region despite the Budget message, Mr Shapps said: “If voters want a referendum the last thing they should do is vote UKIP, because that will just hand power to Labour, and then you will never get what you want.”
Over the weekend Labour had attacked the Tories record in the North, saying it had abandoned the region.
Asked if he thought this was true, Mr Shapps said: “Absolutely not, the North has been the engine of the economy and I think we will see that again in the North, and Conservatives are going to be a part of that.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 18 March 2014
PROTESTERS who gathered outside Sunderland civic centre have said £35million budget cuts will be the final nail in the coffin for city residents.
A group from North East People’s Assembly met to lobby councillors ahead of the annual budget-setting meeting yesterday, during which the multimillion pound cuts for 2014/15 were given the green light.
Carrying placards in the shape of coffin lids to signify each public service, which they say will suffer because of the cuts, the group handed out leaflets.
Among the protesters was Sunderland University chaplain Chris Howson.
He said: “The coffins represents the killing off of council services. We wanted to make a point as the councillors went in.”
Despite huge division in political opinion, all 53 councillors who attended the meeting – just over two- thirds of the 74 current elected members – voted through the motion presented by council leader Paul Watson.
One of them, Southwick Councillor Rosalind Copeland, attended the lobby in Park Lane before the meeting, supporting the demonstrators.
Pointing out that she was not there to criticise the council, but to defend what it is legally-bound to do in the face of Government cuts, Coun Copeland said: “I am here to defend my council and the decision my council will have to make – the agony we are facing as councillors.
“As council members, we are having to do things we don’t want to do. The Coalition is pilfering the working class. It is not this Labour group at fault.”
> The revolution will not begin in Sunderland…official.
To streamline finances, the council is focusing on three approaches; recommissioning services, reprioritising spending and exploring alternative ways to deliver services.
This includes reviewing car-parking charges, pest control and burial and cremation fees as well as reducing the authority’s fleet of bin wagons and the introduction of a four-day working week for recycling staff.
At the meeting, Coun Watson said: “Two years ago I said we were experiencing the most difficult economic period in living memory. This position has not changed. Even more pressure has been put on the council, with further reductions in public sector finances.”
He added: “The council has risen to the challenge and has managed these considerable risks.”
Opposition leader Robert Oliver agreed that the budget was “realistic”, and that while the Tory group welcomed the council tax freeze for a fourth consecutive year, the Labour administration should not complain about cuts, which he claimed had arisen as a result of lost revenue.
He said: “The workforce has been reduced and services have improved so it’s a case of go figure.
> And Sunderland is the 5th worst place in the UK to find work. Go figure that. Reducing the workforce might save money, but it also means more people unemployed. More chasing a pitiful few jobs. More coming under the frankly vile regime in the Jobcentres.
“The leader of the council has given us a slightly two-faced speech. You can’t complain about cuts which could have been avoided if there had been a council tax increase.”
On top of the £35million slashed from the coming year’s budget, the authority will have to find an identical amount to cut the following year.
Coun Watson says some of the savings are being mitigated by “hundreds of milllions” worth of capital investment planned until 2018.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 March 2014
The legacy of Margaret Thatcher includes the premature death of many Britons and a continuing burden of suffering, academics have claimed.
The experts the universities of Durham, Liverpool, West of Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh denounce the policies on the well-being of the British public after they concluded their study into social inequality in the 1980s.
They accuse the governments of Thatcher of wilfully engineering an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain by distmantaling traditional industries to undermine the power of working class organizations.
> This is not difficult to believe. Nor is it difficult to believe that her current heirs, and their Lib Dem collaborators, are continuing the job of selling off everything and grinding the poor into the dirt.
Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel from Liverpool University said: “Margaret Thatcher’s legacy includes the unnecessary and unjust premature death of many British citizens, together with a substantial and continuing burden of suffering and loss of well-being”.
Dr. Scott-Samuel added that around 5,000 excess deaths — attributable to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis — were witnessed towards the end of 1980s in addition to 2,500 excess deaths per year because of unemployment caused by Thatcher’s policies. The study said that the poverty rate had witnessed a rapid rise to 12% in 1985 from 6.7% in 1975 in the UK.
So many people died because of increase in infections on wards that were a result of policy changes in healthcare like the outsourcing of hospital cleaners.
Co-author Professor Clare Bambra, from the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, said that their paper draws a very clear picture of impacts made by the politics on health inequalities.
The group also took aim at the coalition government . Prof David Hunter, of Durham Univ’s Centre For Public Policy & Health, said: “Taking its inspiration from Thatcher’s legacy, the coalition government has managed to achieve what Thatcher felt unable to, which is to open up the NHS to markets and competition. It’s task was made consideralby easier by the preceding Labour government which laid the foundations for the changes introduced in April 2013.”
> Yes, and it’s important to emphasise New Labour’s , and Tony Blair’s in particular, role in setting things up for the current government’s excesses. As much heirs of Thatcherism as the current mob.
The findings of the study have been published in the International Journal of Health Services.
Source – Durham Times 14 Feb 2014