Wednesday 28 May 2008

Short Termist Policy Making has caused the Fuel Crisis

The Government has trapped itself into a no win crisis over fuel and energy policy. Short term policy making over the last decade has resulted in a disastrous failure to develop alternative energy sources despite all the warnings about peak oil.

The result is a continuing and indeed increasing dependency on fossil fuels and now a panic rush to escalate the country's nuclear programme in the very week that new estimates have emerged over the spiralling costs of dealing with the country's existing nuclear waste.

The Prime Minister's announcement of the opening up of new North Sea oil fields is clearly recognised, pardon the pun,as a drop in the ocean compared with rising demand. In addition it re-opens the argument over the ownership of this oil for the SNP to exploit in the independence debate.

The sense of urgency we are now witnessing in the current public debate over fuel and energy shortages was certainly not witnessed in the recent debate in Parliament over the Government's Energy Bill. When Labour backbenchers were pressing to include in this legislation early action to introduce feed in tariffs for altenative energy produced by homes and community organisations the Government refused to co-operate and instead offered yet another consultation over the coming year, delaying the whole process by at least another year and possibly longer. In Germany and other European countries the introduction of feed in tariffs has resulted in a dramatic increase in alternative energy production.

In the meantime the oil price appears to be moving innevitably towards $200 a barrel and the Government by its inaction alienates more of our supporters facing mounting fuel and energy bills.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Agency workers deal just a staging post

The Government announced yesterday a deal between the CBI and the TUC, so that agency workers will gain near equal rights with regularly employed workers - but only after 12 weeks (3 months).

Many who camapigned for the Agency Workers Bill will feel disappointed at the 3 month condition which will lead to obvious further abuses by employers deliberately laying people off after 2 months and 29 days.

This agreement can only be seen as a staging post to the full implementation of Labour leader John Smith's famous commitment to full employment rights for all workers from day one of their employment.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Beyond the Market Economy

I wrote an article for Guardian Comment is Free yesterday on what Labour must do to avert electoral disaster.

If the Labour party is to restore any credibility and stand any chance of holding onto office quite simply people need a clear and honest explanation of how we got here and an opportunity to contribute to a sensible debate on the route out.

Part of that sensible debate will take place at this weekend's Beyond the Market Economy conference at Birkbeck College, London.

As the economy gets worse, we need not only robust alternative policies (that we're happy for Brown to borrow), but strong and creative campaigns to defend the victims of an economic downturn - the Beyond the Market Economy conference is about developing both. Come along.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

2008 May Manifesto Petition

I put out this statement today - to sign up please email with 'petition' in the title and your name and CLP or trade union.

In the light of Labour's election defeat last week, John McDonnell MP is circulating a manifesto petition to Labour Party members, trade unons and MPs to gain large scale rank and file support for a new policy programme for Labour to bring about a radical change in political direction for the Laboour Government.

John McDonnell MP said:

"After the serious rejection of New Labour at the polls last week assurances that the Government is listening are simply not going to be enough to restore any sense of belief in the Labour Party. What is needed is a radical change of political direction.

"We have to demonstrate that change by introducing a new policy programme that specifically and very concretely addresses peoples' concerns raised on the doorstep. This May manifesto petition is launched so that all our supporters can have a say in pressing for the changes we need."

We believe that Labour can win back the support of our people by adopting a new 2008 May Manifesto, which should include:

  • Nailing the 10p tax mistake by the introduction of a fair tax system removing the low paid from taxation and ensuring the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share
  • An increase in the basic state pension, immediately restoring the link with earnings, lifting people off means tested benefits and providing free care for the elderly
  • An immediate start on a large scale council house building programme and assistance for those facing repossession
  • Immediate end to programme of local Post Office closures and liberalisation of postal services
  • An end to the privatisation of our public services
  • A new pay deal for public sector workers to protect their living standards and tackle low pay
  • Abolishing tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants for all students
  • Scrapping ID cards and abandoning 42 days detention
  • Introduction of a trade union freedom bill and measures to protect temporary and agency workers
  • Rejecting the proposals to renew Trident

Friday 2 May 2008

After Labour's electoral disaster - we need action on policies.


"After the worse results in 40 years it is intellectually unsustainable for ministers to simply tell the electorate that the government is listening. Prevarication will only lead to a Tory government – what people want is decisive action to change the policies immediately.

If Ken does hang on, it will be as a result of his perceived independence from New Labour and should not be interpreted by Gordon Brown as any vote of confidence in New Labour in London."