The UK is becoming another Edwardian Britain, as depicted in Robert Tressell’s The_Ragged-Trousered_Philanthropists. Unfortunately, Labour are just as much to blame, as they never overturned Conservative policies concerning council housing, during their 13 years in Government. In fact, Labour controlled councils, like Manchester City Council, were happy to rid themselves of council housing. They demolished hundreds, just so, ‘homes-to-buy’ could be built, resulting in many being put up for private rent. We have over 5,000 empty dwellings in Manchester, with a long waiting list for social housing.
I agree with you Jayne, that people should vote and something I have been urging people to do for some time. Not voting only leaves the inmates in charge of the asylum and nothing will be changed. And I urge them to vote anything but Conservative or Labour. Though here in Manchester, with our 100% Labour council, which willingly imposes the Conservatives policies. I urge people to vote anything but Labour. As for a democratically elected Government, in reality, with the First Past the Post electoral system, we have never had a truly democratic Government.
The We Own It campaign are not happy with Labour’s lack of support for public services. It was a Labour Government which started privatising the National Health Service (NHS), through PFIs (Private Finance Initiatives)
We’re asking the Labour party (along with all the other parties) to do just one thing: commit to a Public Services Users Bill in their election manifesto. (1) This would be a small but important step towards public services for people not profit.
Yesterdays news was full of the latest findings from Institute for Fiscal Studies demonstrating the ConDems Changes to the Tax and Benefits system has cost households £1,127 a year on average, and even the Mail concedes this means “poor families have lost the most as a percentage of their income“; and yet despite this, the Government still maintained “UK income inequality is now lower than when this Government came into office“.
I doubt anyone will be remotely surprised at the Coalition disputing the data, this is another example of how this unelected Government has persistently and systematically Lied to the people.
There been countless claims on social and even occasionally in main stream media about the number of people dying as a result of Welfare Reform, and those of us involved in any of the campaigns to raise awareness, need no persuading this is an absolute truth. The situation where respected organisations produce…
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Manchester City Council is one of those councils which have not looked at the individual circumstances before applying the bed-room tax. The 100% Labour controlled council, has always been swift to carry out Conservative Government’s wishes, whilst blaming the Government. If it had carried out its duties correctly, it would not put hundreds of tenants through the trauma.
Both main political parties, Labour and Conservative have only one mandate, to enrich the already rich. Both parties have shown their incompetence in office, their failures to address climate change, tax avoidance and evasion, and of course the continuing failure of our banks. It is time, those who do not vote, got out their and vote for any other (preferably the Green Party), to rid us of these fools. Your vote (which people died for) is totally useless, if you do not use it. This coming General Election, get out there, encourage family, friends and neighbours to vote, anything but Labour and Conservative. Labour = Conservative = A continual cycle of failure.
Once again, Manchester City Council, is continuing with its failed policies, of socially cleansing areas of long term tenants, to build energy inefficient homes for the young, upperwardly mobile professionals. They have learnt nothing from their failures of the past, blaming their failures on everything but themselves. Without accepting there is a problem, taking ownwership of that problem, the problem will never be resolved. Manchester, is locked in an ever decreasing spiral towards total breakdown, like Detroit in the USA, where residents are having their water cut-off: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit
Manchester City has signed a new housing deal with Manchester City! Yes, that’s what we said, where “Manchester City” of course means Manchester City Council and strangely enough (in Manc. English) “Manchester City” also means Manchester City Football Club.
Even stranger, that football club is owned by an investment company the
Abu Dhabi United Group, the personal fiefdom of one Mansoor bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minster of the United Arab Emirates, the federation of small absolute monarchies on the Arabian Peninsular, with innovative social policies such as the use of torture, capital punishment, high levels of labour exploitation, and 14-year prison terms for homosexuality. It is also the country with the world’s highest per capita ecological footprint, although reported to be…
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The AGM (annual general meeting) was held at Manchester Town Hall, in the Great Hall. Tea or coffee was laid on, and there were some hand-outs available at the sign-in desk, including the Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF), Annual Report 2014. The attendees were predominately, affluent white middle-class, as usual. The AGM was late staring, being close to 17:00 hrs.
The Chair was Victoria Gill, a science reporter for the BBC. She mentioned she came from Wigan, and that somehow connected her to Manchester? She also stated she was in Manchester shopping when the 1996 bomb went off (an incident, I do not believe was properly investigated and there are many unanswered questions about it?)! Then went on to say how Manchester had improved since the bomb. Something you hear mostly from non-Mancunians, and not from Mancunians, who have not seen any real improvements, but did want the Arndale, to go completely. She firstly introduced Richard Leese, leader of the totally Labour controlled, Manchester City Council. Who stated there was an urgency, of the need to act? So why has he not acted in a determined way to tackle climate change? Joked that it had taken 5 years for the first MACF, AGM (brushing off his abject failure as a joke, is quite childish) and then went on to claim Manchester’s climate literacy programme was the first in the World (I believe Cornwall had one before Manchester). He admitted not enough had been done but the Council will be renewing the City Strategy.
The Key note address was from Tony Juniper, who emphasised that climate change was not a distant peril, it is happening right now. Talked about some weather related incidents in the UK, including the dry spell in 2011. When Thames Water were on the verge on declaring a water emergency, with regards to London’s water supply. That we need to limit Global warming to 2OC, so we needed to be making the cuts to CO2 emissions now. There was a need to peak emissions by 2020, but they had actually risen 50% since 1992. Mentioned the Palaeocene Era, where emissions were at 415 ppm and sea levels were 40 metres higher than they are now. This is the future we are looking at, with most Cities in the UK being under water. That our carbon budget for the 21st has nearly been used up already. That the World Bank, a renowned environmentally aware group, publishing the HEAT report. And Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund) on the negative economic impacts of climate change. And yet the UK Government down playing renewables, whilst pushing for and subsidising unconventional fossil fuels, for short-term economic growth (will it even bring any economic benefits?).
He then went on to say that Cities had a role to play. And some had shown real leadership, like London with their congestion charge and policies on local government buildings. Spoke about Oslo’s initiative to reduce their street light energy use by 70%. San Francisco’s zero emissions vehicles and increased cycling, with similar schemes operating in Boston, despite State and Federal legislations. Bristol with their organic waste recycling. Some cities which have improved their green infrastructures (unlike Manchester, which has decimated some of its green infrastructure), have seen a 5OC reduction within the cities (reduced the heat island effect). That green infrastructure improved house prices, reduced crime (some of the issues Manchester campaigners (Friends of Birley Fields and Alexandra Park) have used in support of the campaigns against the council actions) and sustainable drainage. Mentioned many other Cities but no mention of Manchester. Pointing out that Cities were doing it and proving it works, that other people would follow their example, “Leading by Example”. If we cannot get it done at city level, it will not happen at all. He stated, ‘Manchester should show leadership, he was sure it can’.
Gavin Elliot, chair of MACF, was up next to speak. He stated MACF 2010, stated what was needed but was absent of actions. Admitted, he was an architect but was also an environmentalist. That MACF needed an annual report, but lacked funds, especially to employ full-time staff. Mentioned the difficulty of collecting data (something I have experience, when asking the Council for figures for their electricity, gas, water and fuel bills), from the different agencies. That only 1,000 people were classed as carbon literate, it should be more. No data on adaptation, 221,000 households, little take up of green deals. Lack of facilities for cyclists, but gave a figure of 1,500 cycling into the City? Green:Blue infrastructure may not affect carbon emissions, but there are mental health benefits.
Manchester will not meet the 41% CO2 emissions reduction, blamed it on part on Central Government? There was a need to scale-up activity, (I would ask, what activity?). The new MACF Steering Group was making some headway, compared to the previously. The need to develop a SMART (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Timely.) MACF plan for 2015 – 2020.
Question and Answer session.
I missed the introduction of the panel (a name plate in front of each panellist would have been a help) and maybe the first question, which I believe was on biodiversity.
An admission air quality was impacted on by transport, which had a detrimental effect on health. Car use and the use of air quality indicators.
Mark Burton –‘How can we change our economy to reduce CO2 emissions, de-coupling CO2 emissions difficult – we need employment and prosperity.
Tony Juniper, mentioned Tim Jackson and ‘Prosperity without Growth’. (A must read for Manchester City Councillors and officials). Someone mentioned, getting beyond those in the room.
Coleman stated, ‘we are in the early stages’???
A member of the audience, mentioned that work should be closer to where people live, reduce the need to travel.
Kate Chappell, replied that the council was reviewing policy with regards to district centres (I suggest she tries living in Wythenshawe, for example, where the district centre is the forum, miles away for most).
A member of Calder Energy Future – ‘should we work together, how can we achieve anything’? To which Sadler, a council official, boasted, Manchester was a City of Firsts. (Yes, in poverty, deprivation and early mortality rates).
A Rusholme resident, stated how they were planting trees, how we had some good councillors (this was a Q&A session, not a Council jamboree?).
Tony Juniper, ‘we need a reconnection with nature, there was a need to restore natural green spaces in Cities’. (Manchester City Council have destroyed green spaces in the City, Piccadilly Gardens, Sackville Street Gardens, Birley Fields, Platt Fields, Heaton Park and especially Alexandra Park).
A councillor from Charleston mentioned heat pumps and that it was a new technology (It is not a new technology, but I believe the use of heat pumps using air source, inappropriate for the UK. Ground-source heat pumps using deeply laid pipework more appropriate). And was quick to point out, that Gavin was wrong and that, Northward Homes had 1,036 homes fitted with solar panels. To which Gavin apologised (was not the publication the councillor referred to, using data supplied by the council?), and said there were examples from other cities and countries. That MACF was a growing network.
Kate Moss, from the Community Energy Group asked how they were planning to work with these other groups and why are they not in the plan?
Cycling – funding for cycling?
Vicky (Sustrains) mentioned, they had not got the community engagement right. There is a bad attitude towards cyclists by motorists (I would say, towards pedestrians, as well), which needs to change.
At the end, wine and juice was laid on, which I gave a miss. I did want to speak to the person from Calder Energy Future, to tell him if he wanted any practical advice. He might be better off talking to Woking Council, Nottingham City Council or Bristol City Council. But he had made a bee-line to Richard Leese, so I left him to it.
I felt we had some straight talking from Tony Juniper and some real honesty from Gavin Elliot. I felt that the Council, once again, were trying ‘big themselves up’, and towards the end, it started become more a council love-in. This is despite the fact, the council has failed dismally to live up to their boasts. Despite Richard Leese boasts, the only economic growth in Manchester, are drugs and prostitution. As long as the council leadership, Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein, fail to admit there is a problem, take ownership of the problem, the problem will not be resolved. In other words, if they continue with their failed policies and blame everyone else, for their failures, things in Manchester will only get worse. When will the other councillors not realise, they are Sheep being led to their slaughter by a Judas Goat? When will any of them, show true leadership?
The report itself, needs further study, as it appears to be economical with the truth. I am not sure the emissions attributed to Transport, also include emissions from aviation, which will be considerable. Someone showed it too (she is not a green), scoffed at the 50%+ given for the area of Manchester covered in green infrastructure. She also mentioned that they must have wasted a fortune in printing out the report and the other literature available at the event.
The list of changes to benefits and public services listed below, staying at home and not voting, is not an option.
Someone posted this article from the Morning Star, a paper I rarely read has it is normally full of left-wing rhetoric and ‘pie-in-the-sky’ thinking. But this article does lay out the backward approach by the UK Government, Labour and Conservative. The former Labour Government attack the Stern Review, even having some of it changed to support Blair’s nuclear ambitions. At the end of the article, the author shows how a progressive and economically sound country has dealt with the energy situation:
The great energy stitch-up
What a grubby little energy market we have constructed in Britain.
As Alistair Buchanan, the head of Ofgem, warns of looming gas and electricity price rises, it is worth a brief look at the politics behind what is going on. It boils down to energy companies “gaming” the energy market and government incompetence hanging the public out to dry. Plus ca change.
I began to warn about the great energy stitch-up shortly after Ofgem produced its electricity capacity assessment in October last year.
At that point Ofgem was concerned that Britain’s “capacity margins” – the safety net surplus of electricity supply over peak demand needs – would fall in 2015-16 to somewhere around 5 per cent. At the moment, the margin is closer to 15 per cent.
News reports at the time trumpeted fears of “the lights going out” in 2015. This was mainly Horlicks, and wasn’t what Ofgem was saying. All it meant was that, on current policy assumptions, Britain’s electricity safety margin could drop to the same levels that other parts of Europe currently work on.
However, if Britain installs more renewables the margin improves. If we insulated the homes of the fuel poor it would do the same. Ditto if we built new interconnectors or energy storage systems. But the most intriguing Ofgem reference was to gas supplies.
“Some of the most difficult issues to form a firm view on are whether new gas-fired generation will be built over the next four years [and] whether new gas stations (CCGTs) that have been taken out of operation (‘mothballed’) will return…”
Ofgem isn’t allowed to speculate about reasons, but as soon as you lifted the lid on this you could see what was going on. Energy companies were starting to “game” the market. Existing gas plants, and permissions to build new ones, were being put on hold.
You might not convince the public about this, but the argument given by power companies was that British energy prices were too low to keep gas stations running.
My view was that we were being set up for an artificial crisis, and that this would come much earlier than 2015. That is where we are today.
Britain has some 11GW of older, mainly coal, power stations that will be closing by 2016, because they will not meet new European emissions standards.
Companies not intending to clean up their power stations were all given coal quotas for production up to that date.
This was where energy companies saw the space for an enormous scam. Use up your coal quotas as fast as you can, mothball gas plants, and you have a ready-made energy crisis that the government has to throw money at.
To make the scam all the easier, the government decided to bring its own confusion to the party.
The Energy Bill currently going through Parliament must be the worst energy Bill I have seen in the last 20 years.
It is a shambles from start to finish, Britain’s equivalent of the Maginot Line – a hulking great monster of a Bill that will do nothing for Britain’s energy security, will cost the public a (not so) small fortune, and will be completely unsuited for the energy future the world is already moving into.
The Energy Bill will be completely rewritten long before it is implemented. But in the midst of its policy confusion, energy companies spotted the scope for some lucrative profiteering.
The Bill includes a “capacity mechanism” that will pay energy companies to have back-up plant to supply electricity when demand threatens to outstrip supply.
Energy companies want these payments to be as handsome as possible. Mothballing gas plants helped to remind ministers that generous subsidies will be needed to avoid an energy/political crisis they might wish to avoid.
The government will dutifully oblige and the public will (grumpily) pay up. But it will do nothing to break the extortion racket that is Britain’s current energy market.
Worse still, it will push the number of British households living in fuel poverty up towards the nine million mark long before 2020.
Those who argue that this is a loveless coalition government may draw comfort from the mutuality in their pursuit of follies.
“Climate deniers” in the Treasury continue to throw money at fossil fuels, while “financial reality deniers” in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) do the same with nuclear.
For two parties devoted to market liberalism, this Bill could be the biggest act of corporate socialism in my lifetime – redistribution from the many to the futile.
Ofgem’s warnings are not to be scoffed at. DECC has often looked incapable of negotiating an unconditional surrender, and its discussions with the nuclear industry are not going well.
It looks as though new nuclear will need a price guarantee of twice (three times?) today’s wholesale price of electricity, for 40 years.
Ministers do not even bother to ask why their preferred source of energy requires subsidies of so much, for so long. Even less do they question the spiralling cost trajectory that new nuclear is on.
For the public, the cost will be paid in bills, other choices – and lives.
For less than the cost of a single new nuclear power station, Britain could take seven million households out of fuel poverty.
For less than the cost of the bribes that we will pay for reopening mothballed gas power stations we could have a renewable energy programme that would deliver sustainability, and a decentralised system of generation, and distribution that would turn a cartel into an energy democracy.
As it stands, hundreds of thousands of the fuel poor will die in this decade, waiting for energy that will not arrive until the next.
Millions more will face rising fuel bills for energy set to become less and less affordable, while better choices slide off the table.
This is not a programme, it’s a road crash. The only sources of energy with genuinely falling cost curves are all being sidelined.
The only technologies able to democratise the energy sector are being squeezed out of the market. And the delusions of the past are all set to blight the future.
In the face of the Ofgem warnings, fossil fuel addicts are already clamouring to keep the old, polluting power stations running. Sod the planet, just prop up the past. It’s the price, we will be told, for keeping the economy going.
In addressing Britain’s great energy stitch-up, I’ve tried to hold off on comparisons with choices being made in Germany. But let me finish on this note. The biggest indictment, the most cruel comparison, is to look at what the Germans have been doing.
The Germans understand the future in a way that we don’t. Smart technologies will drive their future energy systems far more than power stations.
Markets will sell non-consumption (energy saving) more enthusiastically than new energy consumption. And lower carbon emissions will be seen as the engine of economic prosperity, not its enemy.
Just look at what this has meant for Germany over the last decade.
- Over 400,000 jobs have been created in their renewable energy sector in the last five years.
- The German renewables market will be worth €2,200 billion by 2020.
- German solar prices have already fallen so much that they are equal to the price of purchasing power from the electricity grid.
- The avoided cost of fossil fuel imports will be worth €22 billion by 2020.
- Renewable energy investment increases German GDP by over €20 billion per year
- German national debt will be €180 billion lower, in 2030, than it would be without their climate protection measures, and
- The German economy will create a surplus of €0.34 for every reduced tonne of CO2 it delivers.
If there is a difference between patching up the planet and stitching up the public, this is it. Britain may not get the message, but we will certainly pick up the bill.
- Alan Simpson was Labour MP for Nottingham South from 1992 to 2010.
Manchester City Council continue to show, that they are overwhelmingly not acting in the residents best interests, once again ignoring it’s electorate. It has almost total control of the council and acts as a dictatorship. This is to ensure that Bernstein and Leese build their ivory towers, ensuring the City of Manchester, is all fur-coat and no knickers: Mersey Valley warden service facing the axe.
Two must-read articles about Alexandra Park, where the chainsaws are moving in… (See our previous editorial on the subject here).
From the Hulme Green Party, “Alex Park protesters take to trees to stop “Felling Vandalism”
Manchester Green Party Chair Deyika Nzeribe commented “The campaign group has done everything right. They got over 2000 signatures asking for the plans to be reconsidered, they got local experts to show how the councils plans to be altered to preserve trees and they have been in dialogue with both the Council and funders the Lottery every step of the way. They have been completely ignored.
To draw a parallel, last week Manchester City Council made a great show of how unfair the cuts to local budgets were and how the government were ignoring them. The council are acting in exactly the same way as the government to this local issue.”
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The continuing sad story of the Britain returning to the ‘Dark Days’ of the Industrial Revolution, where workers found their wages continually cut. Plunging even working families into dire poverty, welcome to 21st Century Britain and the end of a National Health Service. What is also sad, despite Miliband’s rhetoric, is that Labour will not vote against the Benefits Bill. Ed Miliband to wage war on George Osborne’s welfare.
‘Senior Labour figures stopped short of confirming that Labour would vote against the cuts in the Commons in January. But it is understood that unless fundamental changes are made to the coming welfare uprating bill, Miliband will be prepared to give the order.
One senior Labour figure said there were still tensions inside the party, with a caucus of “new Labour” figures believing it will be politically suicidal to leave the party open to charges that it sides with “scroungers” and is in denial over the need to cut the benefits bill’.
Another journalist summed up the situation as Osborne’s war on the poor and the vile stupidity of his workers-vs-shirkers narrative. Unfortunately as the Guardian hints at, there are millionaire members in the Labour Party who believe in this same rhetoric. That is why people need to realise they have to vote, to rid us of these two obscene political parties.
I’ve spent the last few days looking through the oral testimony given to the Commons Health Select Committee on 13 November, as well as through the lengthy written testimony given to the committee ahead of the hearing by various organisations, on ‘public expenditure’ – basically the state of NHS finances and the progress toward achieving the ‘Nicholson Challenge’ of £20 billion in savings over the period from 2011-2015.
I was initially drawn to this evidentiary session because, among the witnesses, was Tony Spotswood – the CEO of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Trust. Spotswood, as revealed in an email exchange I was able to publish for the first time recently, discussed a ‘coup’ plan to bring down the ‘NHS Employers’ organisation (NHSE) with Chris Bown, CEO of the neighbouring Poole NHS Trust.
NHSE is responsible for national negotiations with unions on the pay and conditions of the UK’s 1.7 million…
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