UK General Election - First Round to the Tories

So week one of the British General Election campaign ended, with round one to the Tories. That Cameron was able to launch his right hook over Labour’s plans to increase National Insurance, almost beggars belief. The rise would amount to on average an extra £15 per new employee for the likes of Stuart Rose of Marks & Spencer. David Cameron and his cohort or high street retailers have managed in one short week to hoist a lightweight agenda on the Westminster media caravan, desperate to see Gordon Brown bloodied.

There is no point in complaining that this pillow fight detracts from the desperate economic plight of millions of ordinary people, that it detracts from the fundamental issue; namely that successive British Governments have allowed racketeering in the financial services industry for nearly thirty years. There is no point in complaining that the wealthy and privileged have been allowed to become a cartel – safe in the knowledge that they will no longer be challenged or taxed even by a Labour Government.


There is no point in complaining unless of course Gordon Brown and his team change tack – and use the next three weeks to stand up for ordinary people against vested interests, really mean it, and offer concrete policies to protect the most vulnerable from the horrors that are about to come our way.

What we need to see is the Labour Party fighting back red in tooth and claw – if it can remember how to do so. To offer Labour voters, lapsed Labour voters and the huge number of undecided the prospect of cuts “going deeper than under Margaret Thatcher”, makes for the shortest suicide note in history.

So let’s break from the consensus, and get real. If cuts have to be made, let them fall on Trident and the vast military overspend that has us committed to unwinnable foreign wars. Let’s triangulate on David Cameron’s promise to restrict public sector salaries and put a cap on the grand larcerny being committed by tax avoiders and company chiefs who have plundered and sold off some of the country’s best assets, while stuffing their pockets. Instead of pussy footing around, Alistair Darling, needs to show that he is serious about ending the casino culture in the City, halting the asset stripping takeovers that have seen great British companies, such as Cadburys fed to the vultures. Labour should be trumpeting the European recovery plan, of which Gordon Brown was an architect. But Labour should lead the way still further. For ‘globalisation’, read greedy men in the City and Wall Street pushing billions around the World at the touch of the button. We cannot afford to bail them out again, and now they must take the strain. Let’s hear Alistair Darling spell out what constitutes a ‘bonus’. A bonus, as we all know is not an automatic right – it is discretionary, based on performance. And if globalised banking has failed us, we must look to the Left to stop the ceaseless flow of money and people to the cheapest production platforms. That means restricting the flow of cheap labour, and protecting key industries, as well as investing in the specialities that will create wealth for people in the future.

And in breaking from the consensus, let us hear it for people at work, for the trade unions. For too long they have been treated as fair-weather friends, suitable only for taking cash hand -outs from.  If Labour is to be serious about re-building our manufacturing base from its collapsed state, it has to do it with the trade unions. Instead of fighting on Tory ground, let’s see Gordon Brown travel to Redcar, to announce the re-opening of the steel plant – in the national interest.

The Prime Minister can of course take great credit in borrowing from both the public purse and John Meynard Keynes, by spending our way out of likely depression. We know what the Tories would have done – and despite George Osborne’s apparent conversion to maintaining spending for a year, what they will do.

It is not enough to mount a campaign whose express intention is to deny the Tories an overall majority by being their pale shadow. And while in Six months time, the Blair/Brown years may – extraordinary as it seems – be seen as golden years of plenty, there is of course a great deal that Labour has done, not least for the NHS, which deserves trumpeting from the roof-tops.

And in the next few weeks, let’s see more of the Labour Party that voters actually quite like, and not just in terms of the policies that show the party is on the side of the ordinary man and woman – what used to be described as the working class. We need to see and hear from new faces, more women, more original thinkers and older street fighters. It would be good to see real people take to the stage and get out on the stump. As it would be good to see far less of the likes of Peter Mandelson and his ilk – not least because they have pulled Labour in the wrong direction and helped shred millions of Labour votes and loyalties over the past decade, but because voters really don’t like them very much. Surely, there a touch of realism that Gordon Brown would understand.

Develop mindfulness to boost your creative intelligence

Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.

Image: Big Think
Big Think Edge
  • Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
  • Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Google Maps apologizes for going rogue in Japan

The navigation tool has placed a school in the sea, among other things.

Strange Maps
  • Google has apologized for the sudden instability of its maps in Japan.
  • Errors may stem from Google's long-time map data provider Zenrin – or from the cancellation of its contract.
  • Speculation on the latter option caused Zenrin shares to drop 16% last Friday.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

A new theory explains Jupiter’s perplexing origin

A new computer model solves a pair of Jovian riddles.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)
Surprising Science
  • Astronomers have wondered how a gas giant like Jupiter could sit in the middle of our solar system's planets.
  • Also unexplained has been the pair of asteroid clusters in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit.
  • Putting the two questions together revealed the answer to both.
Keep reading Show less