Tag Archives: Coalition Government

The Contrarian to the Pope and British Politics

Political Compass is an attempt, based on how strongly you feel about a series of questions, to see where you are on the left/right and authoritarian/libertarian spectrum (not sure of margin of error). Here are my results from this week:


This does seem to politically put me in a rather isolated position, with Nelson Mandela almost removing me from solitary confinement:


Still that is what you get for being a social liberal antiauthoritarian, concerned about big government, using normative economics so that Rawlsian social justice is effectively delivered by social institutions. My answers make me the mirror opposite of the pope – the pope’s contrarian.

What really interested was the analysis on the British Political Parties featured on the graph below over time.


I was a member of the Liberal Democrats since 2003 – almost perfect alignment with my views. However, since then to now the outlook of the political party has been moving away as it went more for the centre ground where most of the electorate is to be found in the top right hand corner.

Since the coalition took office 2010 you could argue that the Liberal Democrats are even closer to the Conservative position. The result should therefore not be surprising that, for people like me, there was no reason to renew my membership – quite simply the party was no longer what it once was and had overtime moved away from where we once thought the same.

Some may suggest that the reality of government led to people that wanted the cosiness of opposition to leave, because the idea of compromise and consensus did not fit the rebellious mentality. The analysis of the graphs here suggests what I would argue – the Liberal Democrats no longer represents the views of people like myself who believe in social justice without an authoritative state. So last year I did not bother to renew my membership.

Have a hunch not alone. It was not the deal to power, but the ideological moving away that happened over a ten year period. As such, it is not just a matter of people coming round to the idea that coalition was a necessary thing. Rather, it was being left out in the cold so when goodwill was necessary for a deal with the Conservatives it was no longer there.

As such I am a political animal in the wilderness. However, I am determined to roar.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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Archbishop Critic on Coalition Government

It is worth reading Rowan Williams’ leader in the “NewStatesman” here – he guest edited the latest edition. News reports suggest the church being critical about the secular government. In reality he makes the observation that by lacking a madate from the General election pursuing radical reform of education and health without clear consultation is not healthy for democracy.

That hardly seems like the wall of separation between church and state being brought down by common sense. The part that may be of more interest on how people should act in society:

“For someone like myself, there is an ironic satisfaction in the way several political thinkers today are quarrying theological traditions for ways forward. True, religious perspectives on these issues have often got bogged down in varieties of paternalism. But there is another theological strand to be retrieved that is not about “the poor” as objects of kindness but about the nature of sustainable community, seeing it as one in which what circulates – like the flow of blood – is the mutual creation of capacity, building the ability of the other person or group to become, in turn, a giver of life and responsibility. Perhaps surprisingly, this is what is at the heart of St Paul’s ideas about community at its fullest; community, in his terms, as God wants to see it.”

Paul had quite a few things to say on social policy regarding the role of women, homosexuals, and the emphasis not so much on the recorded words of Jesus but faith in Christ. If only the Royal Mail had been delivering his letters so that theologians may have concentrated on what Jesus said and meant.

Williams goes on:

“A democracy that would measure up to this sort of ideal – religious in its roots but not exclusive or confessional – would be one in which the central question about any policy would be: how far does it equip a person or group to engage generously and for the long term in building the resourcefulness and well-being of any other person or group, with the state seen as a “community of communities”, to use a phrase popular among syndicalists of an earlier generation?”

Having criticised Cameron for not explaining the Big Society concept a shame he does not expand on how the concept of the state as a community of communities works. Commentators miss Williams’ praise for Iain Duncan Smith (Cabinet Minister on social matters) in seeing the need to empower the disadvantaged to affect real social change.

He criticises the left too for not having an alternative idea on society to add to the melting pots of ideas. There is only one part which could be seen as meddling in politics which the papers have missed.

For by criticising referendums as government by plebiscite, and that the government lacks a mandate from the people to govern (when in reality this comes from parliament) what he is hinting at is an early election – and the political parties had better spell out what they want to do.

That, not his views on social policy or how the coalition government has acted, is the breech in the Wall. He has used the concept of legitimacy founded on popular sovereignty to criticise the government that exists based on parliamentary democracy.

Perhaps not as eye catching for readers, but really Williams is hinting the government has no legitimacy to govern without endorsement by the public at an election. I have in earlier blog called for such a requirement after a year and a half of a coalition in the constitution. Should the Archbishop be making such undertones in a secular society?

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Coalition of Resistence

I posted in a previous blog the letter against the coalition. Now follows here an invitation from Tony Benn to join the coalition of resistance against the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government.

Re posted from here:

From Tony Benn: An invitation to join the Coalition of Resistance

Tony Benn

March 26, 2011 By admin

A letter to Trade Union General Secretaries

Dear General Secretary

This summer, under my aegis, and that of other campaigners, the Coalition of Resistance (COR) was formed to enable people across the country to make a stand against so-called inevitable cuts and privatisation.  More information can be found at www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk and, for specific items, in the small print links below.

We feel, as this year’s Congress demonstrated, that trade unions are central to this resistance.  We see our role as fighting alongside unions and linking them with community campaigns to mobilise civil society to resist the malicious dismantling of the welfare state.

We are affiliated to no political party and aim to support, encourage and link up local, national and international campaigns against reactionary and ideological ‘austerity’ measures.

See more ‘About us’ at: http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/?page_id=2.


We are in comradely discussion with campaigns with similar ‘footprints’ suchO as the People’s Charter and many, many local campaign groups.


Finally, do join our mailing list: http://eepurl.com/PHID

Yours sincerely

Tony Benn


Paul Mackney
(former General Secretary of NATFHE/UCU – for the Steering Committee)
paulmackney@btinternet.com / 07974 353 709 / PO Box 56959  London N10 9AZ

This entry was posted on March 26, 2011 at 00:47 and is filed under Rescources, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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Government U turn … again … On education

The coalition government has kept education maintenance grants (EMA) in place for 6th formers for the academic year having previously intended to withdraw completely. Also the emphasis now seems to be targeting the less well off who cannot afford the travel costs to enrol in further education, rather than a cash incentive for all that would cost more. As a Rawlsian I can approve but hope that is the aim of the policy rather than just reducing public expenditure. Education is the social primary good that a growing economy needs, and as someone that benefitted from bursaries for field trips at 6th form (Paris and Cardiff for politics and economics respectfully) hope that those that need it are not left out compared to the old system.

Below reproduced from BBC news website

Page last updated at 19:00 GMT+01:00, Monday, 28 March 2011

£180m bursary scheme replaces EMA

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

The scrapping of EMA became part of the wave of student protests during the winter.
The government has announced a £180m bursary scheme to replace the Education Maintenance Allowances which were scrapped in England last year.

The £560m EMA scheme had provided up to £30 a week to help low-income students stay on at sixth forms and colleges.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the revised system would provide a “more targeted” support system.

Labour’s Andy Burnham attacked the plans as an attempt to “put a positive gloss” on deep spending cuts.

The shadow education secretary told MPs that Mr Gove had “taken a successful policy, which improved participation, attendance and achievement in post-16 education, and turned it into a total shambles”.


But Mr Gove said that MPs had to consider “whether it is socially just to be paying 45% of students a cash incentive to stay in learning when we could be concentrating our resources on removing barriers to learning faced by the poorest”.

The UCU lecturers’ union said the reduction in overall support raised “the prospect of thousands of poorer students being priced out of studying”.

The replacement student support scheme is intended to target funding at those most in need.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants a more targeted form of support
The biggest amounts – £1,200 per year – will be given to 12,000 teenagers with the greatest needs, such as pupils in care, care leavers and the severely disabled.

After these payments, from the £180m overall funding, there will be £165m for colleges and schools to make discretionary payments to support low-income students with costs such as transport, food and books.

The Association of Colleges highlighted the importance of being able to help students with transport costs, which had been a “key barrier”.

There will also be a partial reprieve for students who are already on courses and receiving EMAs, who had previously been told that payments would continue only until September 2011.

Those who started courses in 2009-10 will now continue to receive the same payments until the end of the 2011-12 academic year.

And students who started courses last September and currently qualify for £30 per week payments will receive continuing support of £20 per week until the end of the next academic year.

Mr Gove said that the bursary scheme would “ensure that every child eligible for free school meals who chooses to stay on could be paid £800 per year – more than many receive under the current EMA arrangements”.

Under the EMA scheme, 650,000 16 to 19 year olds young people from low-income families had received grants of between £10 and £30 per week.

The allowances had been introduced by Labour in an attempt to tackle the long-standing problem of a high teenage drop-out rate from education, particularly among poorer students.

But the coalition government attacked the EMA scheme as wasteful – and announced last year that it would replace it with a smaller, discretionary fund.

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Letter against the Government

In case you were wondering why 250,000 (500,000 may be over stating it in some of the papers today) marched in protest at government cuts on Saturday – and not as Libyan TV stated against our military intervention in their country – in London below is a letter that was sent by Tony Benn and others last year. It sets out the left’s response to the coalition government’s fiscal policies.

If you wondered why Fortnum and Masons was occupied by protestors yesterday, it was because “proper tea is theft”.

Below copied from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/04/time-to-organise-resistance-now

The time to organise resistance is now.
We reject these cuts as simply malicious ideological vandalism, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. Join us in the fight.

Activism from the sofa more my style

Tony Benn and 73 others
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 August 2010 15.32 BST

It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government’s budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.

The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers’ profligacy.

The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners.

Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.

We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.

This government of millionaires says “we’re all in it together” and “there is no alternative”. But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.

An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear “deterrent” by cancelling the Trident replacement.

An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.

We commit ourselves to:

• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.

• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.

• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.

• Oppose all proposals to “solve” the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.

• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.

• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.

• Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.

We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.


Tony Benn

Caroline Lucas MP

John McDonnell MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS

Bob Crow, general secretary RMT

Jeremy Dear, general secretary NUJ

Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, NUJ

Frank Cooper, president of the National Pensioners Convention

Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention

Ken Loach

John Pilger

John Hendy QC

Mark Steel

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary NUT

Cllr Salma Yaqoob

Lee Jasper, joint co-ordinator of Black Activists Rise Against Cuts (Barac)

Zita Holbourne, joint co-ordinator of Barac campaign and PCS national executive

Ashok Kumar, VP education and welfare, LSE student union

Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper

Francis Beckett, author

David Weaver, chair, 1990 Trust

Viv Ahmun, director Equanomics UK

Paul Mackney, former general secretary NATFHE/UCU

Clare Solomon, president ULU student union

Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition (personal capacity)

Andrew Burgin, archivist

John Rees, Counterfire

Romayne Phoenix, Green party

Joseph Healy, secretary Green Left

Fred Leplat, Islington Unison

Jane Shallice

Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian

Alf Filer, Socialist Resistance

Chris Nineham

James Meadway, economist

Cherry Sewell, UCU

Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance

Peter Hallward, professor of modern European philosophy

Matteo Mandarini, Historical Materialism editorial board

John Nicholson, secretary Convention of the Left

Michael Chessum, UCL union education and campaigns officer

Mark Curtis, writer

Nick Broomfield

Sean Rillo Raczka, chair, Birkbeck College student union, and mature students’ representative, NUS national executive

Robyn Minogue, UoArts NUS officer

Prince Johnson, NUS president Institute of Education

Roy Bailey, Fuse Records

Doug Nicholls

Granville Williams

Gary Herman (CPBF national council member, in personal capacity)

Louis Hartnoll, president UoArts student union

Sarah Ruiz, former Respect councillor and community activist in Newham

Michael Gavan

Mary Pearson, National Union of Teachers, vice president Birmingham Trades Union Council

Joe Glenholmes, Unison, life member Birmingham Trades Union Council

Baljeet Ghale, NUT past president

Jane Holgate, chair of Hackney Unite and secretary of Hackney TUC

Marshajane Thompson, Labour Representation Committee NC

Richard Kuper

Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary

Trevor Phillips, campaigner

Stathis Kouvelakis, UCU, King’s College London

Carole Regan

Bernard Regan

Roger Kline

Hugh Kerr, former MEP

Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy Roehampton University

Norman Jemmison, NATFHE past president, NPC

Kitty Fitzgerald, poet and novelist

Iain Banks, author

Arthur Smith, comedian

David Landau

Anne Orwin, actor


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