The McWelfare State

Best covered in blog-form by Jim Jay, who is detailed as ever, but I must bring to your attention also this fabulously OTT editorial from The News Line:

Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Brown in partnership with McDonalds is going to bring in forced labour
TRUE to form, Brown the bankers’ prime minister, opened his speech on apprentices yesterday by hailing the employers saying: ‘I am delighted to join you today to celebrate the achievements of employers up and down the country . . .’

He went on to slap down the TUC for calling for apprentices to be paid £110 a week, roughly the minimum wage for youth.

He said: ‘I do not believe that we should price apprentices out of the market with unaffordable wage levels. Apprentices have a lower minimum wage because they are still in training. The TUC must recognise that we must not move the apprenticeship away from what it is – potentially the best vocational training for work and a career, raising the young person’s prospects of earning a higher wage just as it boosts the employer’s productivity’.

That’s it. Your millions of apprentices will be working away at raising McDonalds productivity etc. for either a pittance or for nothing!

Brown continued: ‘So it is time for a wake up call for young people, employees and employers.

He then revealed his ‘facts’. These were that ‘The latest studies suggest that of today’s 6 million unskilled workers in Britain we will soon need only half a million – over 5 million fewer. And that whilst we currently have 9 million highly qualified workers in Britain, the challenge of the next ten years is that we will need 14 million – 5 million more.’ The ‘we’ he is talking about are the employers.

He added threateningly: ‘We know what is needed to unlock the talents of every person in our country . . .’

This turns out to be a bribe for the bosses and force for the workers. ‘The government is offering a credit of at least £3,000 to help cover the costs of an apprentice. . . ,’ while the unemployed are to have ‘a skills check’ which is ‘to include compulsion for the unemployed and many inactive men and women not just to seek work but to acquire skills.’

There are to be ‘new incentives for training but in return more compulsion to take up those opportunities. So if the unemployed don’t train when given the opportunity it will affect their benefit entitlement.’

And: ‘We want lone parents on benefit to be training in preparation for going back to work when their child goes to school.

‘And there will be a new regime for Incapacity Benefit claimants which, for the first time, will mean work for those who can, education or training for those with no skills, and treatment for those who need medical help.’

And for ‘our young people’ there is to be a plan ‘to designate employers who can award qualifications’ to give every worker in Britain ‘the chance of a skill. These work-based qualifications independently validated are good for the country as well as the individual and could lead to thousands more workers qualified for the future.’

Brown and McDonalds are going to be marching arm in arm towards that ‘highly skilled’ fast food heaven.

Purnell, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, was then introduced to put more of the boot into the working class.

He haughtily declared ‘Incapacity Benefit is a test case. We do not think of people as incapable. We think of them as being perfectly capable, with the right support. That’s why IB will go, replaced by the Employment and Support Allowance, with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do rather than cannot do.’

He added: ‘We need to rewrite the terms of the welfare contract. This will offer the disabled an opportunity to look or train for work and if they do not then they will face sanctions.’

The Labour government is bringing in a whole series of the most desperate measures at a time when British capitalism is in a desperate crisis. They plan to terminate the Welfare State and to turn Britain into a cheap labour paradise for the bosses.

In the days ahead, the working class will have no alternative but to deal with Brown and the ruling class through a socialist revolution.

Birds of a feather: unelected Brown lunches with military dictator Musharraf

Yes, today two illegitimate leaders met at Number 10…

Relying on a dictator
(Monday 28 January 2008)
NO-ONE can take seriously Gordon Brown’s po-faced assertion that he told Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf that credible elections are “essential” in that country.

“Or what?” the self-styled president might well have responded if he wanted to test the Prime Minister’s resolve.

He must have known, as do the rest of us, that Mr Brown’s only riposte would have been “Oh, or nothing.”

The general, whether in uniform or mufti, has made himself indispensable to Washington in its efforts to impose its military superiority in central Asia.

Mr Brown himself refers to General Musharraf as a “key ally in combating terrorism and extremism,” which means that, free elections or not, his position in Pakistan will not be questioned by the imperialist allies.

The general appreciates this, which is why he plays along with the democracy chat, while knowing that he will do nothing to further weaken his already shaky position.

While he may tell Mr Brown that “all electoral processes are in place to ensure transparent, credible polling,” he will allow no such election to take place because, in any free expression of the Pakistani people’s will, this quisling mountebank would be sent packing.

His backing is concentrated at the highest level of the armed forces and he depends on aid from the US and Britain to keep the top brass on side.

There is opposition within the forces to his leadership, both from a democratic standpoint and also from a position sympathetic to the Islamist forces that have the run of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

In fact, it was Gen Musharraf who encouraged the latter tendency, authorising the ISI military intelligence arm to organise, finance, arm and train the youth in certain madrassas, setting in train a process that culminated in the Taliban being formed and sent into Afghanistan to overthrow the government of warlords previously known as the mojahedin.

He was encouraged at the time to do so, since Western security agencies were open to encouraging Islamist forces against left and democratic currents.

But this position changed with the emergence of al-Qaida, which was seen by Washington, wrongly, as a worldwide organised conspiracy to destroy Western society.

Gen Musharraf was told to drop his alliance with the Islamists and sign up for the phoney US global war on terror. Failure to do so would result in a massive US military attack on Pakistan.

He changed sides and has, ever since, been portrayed as, objectively, democratic, even though his dictatorial grip on Pakistan and its people has tightened.

He has ordered political parties to close, banned normal democratic activity and even sacked the head of the judiciary to prevent him ruling that the general’s appointment as president was unconstitutional.

And there is still the unexplained murder of Benazir Bhutto in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, followed shortly by the hosing down of the streets to wash away evidence.

This scuppered the US plan to use Ms Bhutto as the respectable international face for Gen Musharraf’s regime, but her demands for a higher price almost certainly sealed her fate.

Doing deals with a ruthless, power-obsessed general is not the way forward for Pakistan. Indeed, the precursor to democracy has to be his removal.

Derek Conway proves the Tories can still do corruption

Read this and recall: George Galloway was suspended from parliament for questioning the motives of those pro-war MPs who were investigating his campaign against the sanctions regime in Iraq.

Derek Conway defrauded the taxpayer of £13,000. Why aren’t the police involved?

A Tory MP is facing a possible suspension from the House of Commons after he was rebuked for using his staffing allowance to pay his son – a student at Newcastle University – for research work.

Derek Conway, a former Conservative whip, paid his son an “excessive” salary and it was not clear what work was carried out, according to the Commons’ standards and privileges committee.

“There appears to be no evidence, independent or otherwise, of any aspect of Frederick Conway’s work for his father”, the committee said in a report.

The committee said the MP should be ordered to repay up to £13,000, make a personal apology to the house and be suspended from the Commons for 10 days. The issue is likely to be voted on by MPs within the next fortnight.

Mr Conway, who has represented Old Bexley & Sidcup since 2001, said he fully accepted the criticisms and apologised for his “administrative shortcomings”.

But he said the parliamentary commissioner for standards had ”accepted there was a need for the tasks I had set my son, that he was qualified to undertake them and he did indeed do so”.

The report comes at a potentially sensitive time, with MPs having backed a 1.9 per cent pay increase while winning an increase in their staff expenses to cover 3.5 employees a year instead of three.

Reprimands by the committee are rare and taken seriously within parliament. The last time it issued a similar rebuke was when it recommended the suspension of George Galloway, the Respect MP, last summer.

Frederick Conway was 19 when he first started work as a part-time research assistant for his father in September 2004. His contract employed him for 17 hours a week on £10,000 a year, subsequently increased to £11,773. He also received four one-off sums on his father’s recommendation.

The report said that the salary was probably higher than justified by his qualifications and experience – and by the nature of the work he was required to do.

The the youngster had been “all but invisible during the period of his employment. “He had little or no contact with his father’s office, either in the House or in the constituency. No record exists of the work he is supposed to have carried out, or the hours kept.”

The only evidence of such work was provided by the Conway family, it said.

The report concluded that the case was a “serious breach of the rules”. It recommended that Mr Conway should repay £6,000 in salary and £3,963 in respect of the bonuses, rising to £7,161 if it was impossible to reclaim the tax and National Insurance on this.

Will there be an ad campaign targetting tax cheats?

Cost of benefit fraud = £800m a year.

And:

Tax avoidance by the super-rich costs the British taxpayer £13bn a year – enough money to increase old-age pensions by 20 per cent.

Tax dodging is the problem

The first ever forensic study of Revenue figures to establish the true scale of tax avoidance by some of the wealthiest people in Britain will pile pressure on the government to prevent the tax burden falling disproportionately on ordinary working people.

The study, commissioned by the TUC and to be published later this week, estimates the Treasury annually misses out on £3.8bn through the controversial non-domicile tax laws, which allow those with overseas connections to escape tax on their income. So called ‘income shifting’ by millionaires, which includes placing wealth in the name of a spouse or setting up a limited company to shield income, costs the UK £3.2bn. Tax planning and other loopholes account for the remaining £6bn.

TUC leader Brendan Barber said: ‘For years there has hardly been any debate about whether the tax system is fair. But a wise government would recognise the shift in public mood when they see police officers marching against a decision that a modest pay rise was unaffordable when it looks like tax has become optional for a small group of the super-rich.’

Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: ‘The government has created new loopholes for the super-rich to avoid paying tax. Even last week, by setting capital gains tax at 18 per cent when the top rate of income tax is 40 per cent, they’ve allowed potential for clever accountants to turn income into capital.

Bliar gets another “job”

Oh yes, another one

He will advise the Swiss insurer Zurich on “developments and trends in the international political environment”, including climate change.

The appointment comes less than three weeks after Mr Blair took on a similar role with investment bank JP Morgan worth a reported £500,000 a year.

Mr Blair said he wanted to ensure business “can play its part” in preserving the environment.

Bliar hasn’t been reading the Indie lately, then:

Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world’s biggest companies, despite world leaders’ hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week.

Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report’s publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.