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Archive for the ‘Labour's cuts’ Category

Talking of Shane Warne

with 10 comments

South Shields Labour Party throw a few leg spinners too.

This from a few of the election leaflets being distributed on behalf of Labour in South Shields:

The Tory-led Coalition government have –

  • Imposed £35m worth of cuts on South Tyneside Council with more to come
  • Odd then that the total budget requirement for this year is only £11.7m less than last year and that the net budget requirement is £0.7m higher. Also odd that they don’t disclose that Alistair Darling planned to make cuts just about of the same order as the present government if Labour had won the general election, indeed Darling declared that cuts would have to be harder and deeper than in the Thatcher years.
  • Increased VAT to 20% meaning we all have to pay higher prices for everyday things.
  • Why don’t they mention that Labour’s last Chancellor wanted to introduce two similar rises?(As disclosed by Lord Mandelson)

Your Labour Council will –

  • Improve our town centre – from Ocean Road to King Street and the Market Place.
  • Please don’t laugh, I know you have heard this MANY times before and are still waiting to see it happen! Perhaps they meant replacing a few more paving blocks.
  • Continue to bring down Council Tax by looking at better ways of delivering services – no increase in Council Tax for 2011!
  • This one spun so much it missed the wicket keeper! Seriously can you believe that statement? For a start lets break it down into two pieces, firstly the claim that Labour will continue to bring down Council Tax, the word continue suggests an ongoing process, something which has happened before, is happening now and will happen in the future. Can anyone remember when Labour last did anything except INCREASE Council Tax in South Tyneside? No……neither can I.
  • Secondly the use of the exclamation mark after – no increase in Council Tax for 2011 – suggests that Labour was in some way responsible for this first ever freeze, when we all know they could never be responsible for anything except tax rises. This is the most outrageous use of “spin” I’ve seen for years in this borough. The Council Tax freeze has been imposed on our council by the Conservative led coalition government, and  if our council manages our money well we may find that it is frozen again next year as the grant system rewards prudence.

Finally there is a statement that Labour is (amongst other things)

  • Committed to driving down Council Tax.
  • Well, it beggars belief really, can you recall all of those consultation exercises and public polls that offered you a choice of four levels of council tax rises, but never once offered a freeze or a cut? Can you really believe they are committed to driving down Council Tax in South Tyneside – I cannot!

Don’t be taken in by this spin and please remember on May 5th. that in South Tyneside Council Taxes under Labour have done nothing else except rise inexorably year after year after year. It was a Conservative led government that brought you this year’s tax freeze!

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Miliband has let down the centre ground

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Three cheers for Luke Bozier for introducing some sensible debate to the Labour Party

I’m not normally in the habit of sending readers along to Labour Lost List, but Luke Bozier’s contribution today is lucid, cogent, sensible, and above all necessary. It has sparked a healthy debate amongst the left in a way that neither of the Miliband brothers have managed recently, and I think it represents the sensible opinion of millions of silent voters across the UK.

I spent much of the weekend contemplating whether or not the Labour Party of today is the party I joined four years ago. The answer in most part is no. I felt ashamed listening to Ed Miliband’s speech at the big TUC march on Saturday, when he effectively glorified the ‘stop all cuts’ movement and compared it to such monumental moments of the 20th century as the suffragettes movement which gave women the vote, the civil rights movement in America and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

As Labour leader, Ed has a legitimate platform from which to address any issue he pleases, but elevating a movement like the TUC march to the level of the civil rights movement I find tone deaf and insulting to that and the other causes he mentioned.

We must ask ourselves, as a party, what kind of Britain we want to create, and whether or not we too are capable of being the party of the vested interest. From my perspective, and that of many others, Labour currently stands for one thing: halting the cuts to the public sector. We have in effect become the party of the public sector. As important as the public sector is, it only represents a portion of society, and is not a panacea for all of society’s ills as many in the Labour Party mistakenly believe. Cutting public spending will have an effect on some peoples’ lives but we have to take hold of our senses – nothing this government can do will take us anywhere near the levels of suffering and deprivation Britain witnessed in the 1980s.

Continue reading this article here.

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Written by curly

March 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

If Labour had won under Gordon Brown……..

with 23 comments

…….their “cuts” would begin to bite in two days time.

It is so easy to forget that during the campaign for the last general election you could hardly pass a cigarette paper between the economic and fiscal policies of the two main parties, the Conservatives were promising around £16bn worth of savings to reduce the structural deficit built by Gordon Brown’s regime, and Labour were proposing £14bn worth of cuts in their next planned budget which would have been effective from April 1st. next year. That £2bn difference is minuscule when viewed against the £1 trillion (and growing) debt that they left us.

Yet now that Gordon Brown has been consigned to the history books and Alistair Darling forgotten about, can the Labour Party in Opposition be responsible enough to stand by their manifesto pledges and talk freely about the areas which would have suffered had they swung their axe?

It appears not, in recent days both Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader have both evaded questions about Labour’s cuts whilst the party’s leader embarks upon a campaign of supporting street demonstrations and direct action, Balls in his interview with The Daily Mail on Monday made the slightly ridiculous argument that the economy had started to show signs of strong growth at the end of Labour’s stint (0.2% if I recall correctly) and that coalition policies had stunted that growth re-stoked inflation and set unemployment on an upward path. The ridiculous part of the argument is that  the fiscal measures announced in Gorge Osborne’s first budget will not come into effect until April 1st. this year, and Balls knows it full well, it is the same date that Labour’s budget would have been effective from if they had won the election. In his interview Balls gave no clues at all on where Labour would have wielded the axe as they set about “halving the deficit in four years”. Yet he and his leader were prepared to share a platform in London decrying the government for doing what Labour would necessarily have had to do.

Harriet Harman repeated the same lame argument on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show yesterday, and once more utterly failed to convince in her answers to the questions about where Labour’s cuts would hurt.

Interviewer: You talk about the cuts being wrong but you do not talk about the alternative. You also do not mention that you would also be making cuts.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We do. We say that we would halve the deficit over four years. Now what happened is  the economy was hit by a global financial crisis. We had to allow the deficit to rise to protect the economy.”

Interviewer: “I know it’s tempting to get into the history lesson.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I’m just trying to explain what we would actually do instead. There is an alternative and that’s what we’re setting forward.”

Interviewer: “So when it comes to cuts where would you cut and what would you cut?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well we think that Government is making matters worse because they’re slowing down economic growth.”

Interviewer: “You’re not answering the question and that is the problem.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I am. Because basically the cuts are making. What the Government is doing is making the situation worse. They are making unemployment rise. We are seeing growth falter and that makes it harder to cut the deficit. So my point is they are making the deficit worse.”

Interviewer: “Don’t you see the problem though with this approach because you at the last election said that you would have to make cuts. Now it is impossible…”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Halving the deficit over four years.”

Interviewer: “To get you to say where you would cut. I’ve had Ed Miliband, Ed Balls sitting in the same seat. He wouldn’t say it.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “No well we’ve said over four years. We would.”

Interviewer: “Where? Where?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We’ve said that we would consolidate backroom functions. That we would hold back on, erm, investment in capital that we’ve been doing so much over the last thirteen years of. So we’ve said it would.”

Interviewer: “Some of the people on that march. Some of those people listening to Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs under a Labour Government. Yes or no?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I think that basically we would see, er yes fewer people employed  in the public sector. We wouldn’t see the increase in public sector employment that we’d presided over. But I think to assert.”

Interviewer: “But that’s interesting so absolutely categorically some of those people who were there cheering for Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs because you would have cut their jobs had you been in Government?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I think people were actually saying that the cuts are too far and too fast and the idea that the private sector.”

Interviewer: “The answer to that question is yes isn’t it. They answer is yes. Some of the people there would have lost their jobs because you’d have had to have made cuts in Government.”

These are very weak arguments to be barking at people looking to support the Labour Party in opposition especially when viewed against the published spending plans that Balls, Miliband, and Harman had put their metaphoric signatures to when in government only twelve months ago.

Official Treasury figures from the Budget show that Labour would cut just £2 billion less than the Government in 2011-12:

‘Under the plans that this Government inherited, £14 billion of spending cuts were planned in 2011-12, compared with 2010-11. This Government’s spending cuts amount to £16 billion over the same period’ (HM Treasury, Budget 2011, p. 10)

And so we are left with the rather distasteful images of a Labour leadership lacking in honour and candour as they continue to hide the truth about their own planned cuts, whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands who were deceived into believing that things would have been so much different, the anarchists and the perpetrators of violence may well NOT be part of the trades union movement but we can almost guarantee that at every rally and protest planned over the next couple of years they’ll be there. Conveniently, Labour’s spending cuts will not!

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

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South Tyneside Budget – a guest post

with 9 comments

George ElsomSome alternative ideas to throw into the melting point from Cllr. George Elsom.

My thanks go to Cllr. George Elsom the Real Independent councillor for the Cleadon Park ward, in South Shields, of South Tyneside  who was tasked with proposing an alternative budget at last week’s meeting of the full council. George was not expecting this task so his proposals were drawn up at very short notice following the unfortunate illness suffered by veteran councillor Jimmy Capstick, the Leader of the Progressive Group.

Although there are many aspects of his thoughts that I do not completely agree with, I welcome reader’s input as to what areas our council should be addressing as they approach a period of stricter financial control, where should spending be reduced, what services (if any) could generate additional revenue, and what new ideas do YOU have that may not have been previously explored or ignored?

This is the verbatim speech  he prepared for delivery to the council:

Response from the Opposition to Budget Proposals

Well Mr Mayor, I don’t believe that there is any councillor sitting here who wished to implement this level of cuts and to make so many staff redundant.
I certainly don’t envy the ruling group the hard choices that they have had to implement in order to make the cuts of £32 million in the budget.

Whose fault is it?

Well the initial blame lies with the last Labour Government who when faced with a problem simply threw money at the problem in the hope that it would go away. If that didn’t work then they threw some more money at it. They created a record number of Quangos staffed by some of their cronies at exorbitant salaries. (Some are over £250000 – twice what the prime minister gets).
They allowed the salaries of senior officers in the public sector to spiral out of control.
The difference between the salaries of front line staff and senior officials is frankly obscene.

However the Coalition Government has gone about the cuts in public expenditure in too brutal a fashion. They should have phased in the cuts so that the in the first year they were at least manageable and councils did not have to make so many staff redundant. Instead they have front loaded them and thus they are much too draconian.

Public service cuts are too large, being implemented too soon and services will suffer.

Of course it is the Government and NOT the Council who have frozen council tax.        So the council should not try to take credit for this.

What can and what did the council do when it learnt of the size of the cuts, is the key to this budget?

Every piece, root and branch, of council expenditure should have been frozen whilst feasibility studies were carried out across the board.

Is this project necessary?

If NO then cancel it.

If YES; can we do it any cheaper? Can we do it another way? Lateral thinking.

I do not believe that this has been carried out in full and I will illustrate this with two small examples.

(i) Traffic calming measures at Lizard Lane. Were there lots of accidents at this site? NO!
Road calming measures have been carried out that are excessive in the extreme.
From 30 to 40 to 20 to 40 to 30. Signs all over the place. We have two pinch points and seven cushions/humps. The road is a mess and a less costly, easier and safer option should have been considered.

(ii) In my own ward at Cedar Grove they are doing a lovely job of blocking off the road. Necessary? They could have trialled a one way system.
Also they are using expensive block paving on the paths. Cedar Grove and the surrounding paths don’t have block paving. So why here? It needs ongoing maintenance and costs a lot of money. I suggested – which was ignored – that we should tarmac. You can get coloured tarmac and even imprint it if you wish. This would save many thousands of pounds across the borough.

There are numerous other examples of the Council simply going ahead with costly schemes without obviously re-evaluating the cost or merits of such schemes. A question of ‘it’s been agreed so let’s just do it regardless’.

The most costly contract that the council has entered into is the Sita waste contract.

£1.6 billion over 25 years.

In light of the cuts this contract should have been renegotiated for less money and over a much shorter period. Technology is rapidly changing just look at phones, tv, cars, etc. so in ten years there will be rapid changes and in 25 years they are likely to be spectacular.

I had a very good meeting with the senior officers of waste management but what I couldn’t accept was their statement that landfill was an option. It is not an option – both on economic and environmental grounds.
Open windows example
Page 34 MTFP also Page 44 shows that the net spending on waste management is over £9 million – NOT a small sum!!
In 2013/14 it is envisaged that the new waste contract will cost us an extra £2 Page 48.
Are you aware that Sita are just taking the grey bin waste?

The green and blue bin waste collections are subject to separate contracts; and if we improve our recycling levels – as we must – then we will have more waste to dispose of and Sita will have less. Our costs to Sita will not drop.

This doesn’t strike me as VALUE FOR MONEY!

I’ve mentioned salaries earlier so I would just like to digress a little and state that did you know that in the borough there are:

2 teaching staff on salaries over £100000 but there are also
126 teaching staff with salaries of between £50000 to £100000?

In comparison at the council we have 4 officers on over £100000;
and 48 officers between 50000 and £100000.

At STH    1 officer is on over £100000 and
9 officers between £50000 and £100000.

There are rent arrears of well over a million pounds.

Regeneration! Regeneration! Regeneration!

That is the number one priority for South Tyneside Council and I agree that we must create more jobs and improve the fabric of the borough for the residents who live here.

The Chief Executive was appointed, in the main, because of his experience in this field.

But I question whether we then needed an Executive Director of Regeneration at around £125000 and then a deputy for another £75000 or so.

The combined figure is around £200000 which equates to 10 staff on £20000.

We should not be paying such high salaries as there is quite a large employment pool what with the abolition of all the Quangos, etc.

Consultancy fees

In 2009/2010 these amounted to almost three and a half million pounds and in 2010/2011 to almost three million pounds.
How much is in this budget? No easy figure to read as it is not shown but is swallowed up in other budgets.

What schools have asbestos in them? A figure of £200000 is on PAGE 49 reference 18.

For the reasons mentioned and for others that I don’t have time to mention I regretfully cannot support this budget and will accordingly abstain.

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Written by curly

March 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Council Tax freeze

with 2 comments

Ed Malcolm suggests it’s a Labour proposal

After years and years of doing nothing else but raising the level of Council Tax in South Tyneside (a real burden for the few who have to pay it), Ed Malcolm suggests in the Shields Gazette that the local Labour Party now want to freeze it!!

The council is aware that residents are suffering in this difficult financial climate, so we are proposing to freeze council tax in South Tyneside, so that our residents have one less pressure on already overstretched household budgets

Absolute poppycock Ed and you know it!

It is bad enough listening to our local Labour council vilifying the Conservative Party and the Lib-Dems for “cutting” expenditure (at a time when public expenditure and borrowing is still on the way up), but to then claim some sort of credit for a tax freeze, stretches the bounds of credibility. Until the chips were down Ed and his brother Iain didn’t have a clue how to reduce spending locally, every year when they asked the electorate about council tax in some sort of spin consultation, the choice was between rise a, b, c, or d! Never any offer of a freeze or reduction, that is, until the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition forced it upon them.

The freeze has been imposed across the UK by central Government, which is offering councils a “reward” payment in compensation. South Tyneside will get £1.45m.

No apologies either for the economic mess that their party left behind nationally, neither does he mention that things would have been equally tough if Labour had returned to power in Westminster last year, no reminders about the huge spending cuts that Alistair Darling had lined up. Ed Malcolm made no conciliatory warnings before the last election that South Tyneside Council would have to cut it’s cloth with very large scissors – why?

More than likely because he regards the majority of us as pure mugs; the vast majority of council tax payers and South Tyneside Homes tenants do not pay full rent or council tax, rises hardly affect them at all, those on benefits hardly feel this particular cold blast of economic reality. No –  it is the small minority who do not receive benefits who feel the weight upon their shoulders, but the Malcolms know that come election time that small number is still likely to be in the minority when the ballot boxes are emptied.

We mugs all have terrible memories, we cannot remember more than a few weeks back, so it’s safe for Ed to start bashing the evil wicked Tories, it’s all their fault for messing things up, and the Labour Party kindly offered you a tax freeze to soften the blow.

Pass the sick bag.

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Written by curly

February 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm

On being “shafted”

with 3 comments

Dennis the Menace!

For labour MP’s to show their face and say they are working for the common people, the working class, then behind our backs shafting us, pushing us deeper in to real poverty, makes me so damn angry and then to hide behind a tissue of lies, their standard ‘It’s the Tories fault’ what a load of crap! (sic)

Well, O.K., he gets really mixed up on the difference between councillors and MPs, councils and government,  but I can understand the frustrations and sentiments that Dennis is attempting to articulate. This is the domain of the “intellectual” South Shields blogger.
It is so easy to forget that the fiscal policies of any government in this country generally take between eighteen months and two years to be felt on the ground as aggregate demand, but whatever pain we feel this year in South Shields will be blamed on the wicked evil Tories and their Lib-Dem partners, the fact that Alistair Darling promised economic cuts on a comparable scale will be conveniently forgotten as our MPs and councillors trot out the party line to an electorate largely immune to factual history. The fact that Labour dug an economic hole so deep that it will take the efforts of the next two generations to dig us out of it will also be conveniently forgotten.
Dennis makes the point that South Tyneside Council is hiking up the cost of rents to South Tyneside Homes’ tenants, unfortunately the vast majority of them are on benefit and will not feel the slightest twinge of pain because of it, it is the tiny amount of employed people who will once again shoulder the burden. Dennis also points out that councillors and MPs will not likely share the pain by reducing their expense claims, or top up their income with additional part time posts, plus ca change!
Politicians of all parties have always been guilty of this holier than thou stance, especially those who have recently lost highly paid ministerial positions. If they were making use of any skills which they had acquired in their pre-political days it might not feel so bad, but alas there are far too many who have done little else with their lives, they enriched themselves without enriching politics!

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Written by curly

February 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Selective amnesia Michael?

with 6 comments

Cllr. Michael Clare, South TynesideThis man needs taking to task!

“I do believe the coalition Government’s direction will have a significant impact on reducing job creation opportunities and sustainable employment if it continues to cut, without consideration for the social implications of such an approach.”

Cuts Michael, what cuts?

Don’t you remember that we already know that public expenditure was set to rise in the Budget announced by George Osborne?

Don’t you remember that we are actually talking about the reduction in the size of the growth in public expenditure?

Don’t you remember that Labour’s last Chancellor Alastair Darling heralded “cuts deeper and more severe than those applied in the Thatcher years” if they were returned to power?

Don’t you remember that the two major parties argued over a paltry £6bn worth of economies in the growth of public expenditure at the last election?

Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for jobs, enterprise and regeneration, said the national situation will not get any better if the coalition Government continues its “brutal” cuts.

I guess you must mean the “brutal” rate of increase in public expenditure then Michael (in case you had forgotten).

However, just in case I forget, this is just the sort of language and reversion to type that I was expecting Labour members of South Tyneside to exhibit in the event that any bad news should befall this borough, little point in blaming the current economic situation on the party that created it (your own, in case you had forgotten) when there are good Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to pile the blame upon.

Just in case you have forgotten Michael, the election was less than ten weeks ago, remember? If the coalition government was four years old then perhaps we might be able to give your comments some credence, but seeing as it isn’t and the effects of Darling’s last budget have yet to feed through into the real economy, then frankly we cannot. If perhaps you had been humble enough to admit that Labour had left us with one or two problems and perhaps even given a short apology for the economic and fiscal ineptitude of a socialist government that once again ran out of other people’s money, I might have been more impressed. Instead your selective amnesia and eagerness to run to the default position of decrying evil Tory “cuts” does you a great disservice young man!

Now, then, how many jobs did the Labour Party manage to create in South Tyneside in the last thirteen years? Well there was a call centre on the riverside………….

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