I have been out of action on the blogging front for the last week largely because of a heavy campaigning schedule in the run up to the LRC annual conference tomorrow but also because of an extensive range of activties in my constituency. I have established in Hayes a regular local community conference based upon a local network of grass roots local community groups, residents associations, trade unions and campaigning organisations. The aim is to transform the community conference into a community council, completely inclusive, open and fully representative of the local community. This aims to empower local people to take control of the future of our area rather tahn laeve it up to bureaucracies or developers.
Anyway one of the issues that has brought me back to the blog is the depth of anger I and others feel at the contrast between the Government's behaviour over recent days towards Remploy and Northern Rock.
Earlier this week Labour MPs were presented with the Remploy Board's revised proposals for a major closure programme of a large number of its factories, which employ workers with disabilities who are either unable to work in the private sector or are being prepared for return to mainstream employment. We are told that the Government is generously willing to support Remploy for the next three years at a cost of about £160 million a year in order to make the Remploy operation cost effective. £160 million may sound alot but it does not reflect the immense benefits Remploy provides workers with disabilities and their families by ensuring that they can work with dignity and alongside colleagues live a productive working life that would otherwise be denied them and which many of us take for granted.
In addition contrast the support for Remploy with the £22 billion shelled out to support Northern Rock. Most commentators estimate that this will reach £30 billion by Christmas. It is calculated that the Government is likely to lose £2 billion over the Northern Rock debacle.
When the Northern Rock crisis happened I along with others called upon the Government to bring it into public ownership. Some, including some Labour MPs, denounced this as out of date nationalisation looking back to the 1980s. In effect this is virtually what Alistair Darling did in using such large amounts of public money to prop the organisation up. He used taxpayers' funds to cover the risk but is preventing them gaining any benefits.Interestingly even the BBC's economics adviser on Newsnight this week suggested that it would have been cheaper for the Government to have brought Northern Rock into public ownership.
The one thing you can guarantee about the Brown government is that its neo liberal ideology will always override practical common sense policy making.