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There is nothing Labour about New Labour, they will be defeated but the GOP cannot crow.

Do you really want this man back in government?

It is more than likely that the British Labour Party will be defeated in the UK General Election. Some polls say that their expected share of the vote may well be their worst share of the vote since 1918, a time when Labour was still in its infancy. Although it looks as though they may just escape that ignominy.

This needs to be made clear though. A defeat for the Labour Party in the UK elections is not a defeat for the centre left or a victory for the centre right. Nor is it anything that American Conservatives can crow about (although there is no doubt that they will).

There is also no doubt that David Cameron is doing as well as he is doing because he has moved the Conservative Party away from the Social Conservatives. A Conservative Party as extreme as the current GOP could never be elected in the UK. The Cameron Conservatives, at least officially are far less authoritarian than the Brown Labour Party.

The Labour Party of Brown and Blair is not the Labour Party of old. On key areas they went much further right than the Conservatives could ever have dreamed of. Indicative of that was at the start of the Labour campaign Tony Blair appeared in ghost like form to criticise the Conservatives for becoming too liberal on crime and civil liberties.

Labour’s first betrayals were to students and single parents. In the run up to the 1997 General Election Labour said that they opposed the “Dearing Report” which investigated expanding student numbers without imposing a heavier burden on state finances. It proposed either expanding the level of student loan in relation to grants, or introducing a university top up fee. In office Labour scrapped the grant element of student finance AND introduced top up loans.

In the benefits system there were additional personal allowances for single parents to reflect the extra cost of being a single parent. Labour abolished them.

As Chancellor, Brown gave the City of London a tax haven status and as his final act in that position he doubled the rate of tax on the lowest paid.

The gap between rich and poor widened massively under Labour. The poorest under Labour have seen their actual incomes fall. The average real incomes of the poorest ten % declined by 2% in the 10 years to 2007-08.

It is sad that both the Conservatives and Labour talk of ending the “culture of dependency” by imposing penalties on the unemployed and poorest. Only the Liberal Democrats are offering financial help to get out of the poverty trap.

The actual statics are horrifying and remember these are the figures before the start of the recession. Who knows what horrors have been inflicted since then on the lowest paid. What we do know is that the UK billionaires did very nicely out of the recession. The collective wealth of the country’s 1,000 richest people rose 30% last year in the wake of the economic crisis.

The latest year for which household income data is available is 2007/08. In that year, the 60% threshold was worth: £115 per week for single adult with no dependent children; £199 per week for a couple with no dependent children; £195 per week for a single adult with two dependent children under 14; and £279 per week for a couple with two dependent children under 14. These sums of money are measured after income tax, council tax and housing costs have been deducted, where housing costs include rents, mortgage interest (but not the repayment of principal), buildings insurance and water charges. They therefore represent what the household has available to spend on everything else it needs, from food and heating to travel and entertainment.

In 2007/08, 13½ million people in the UK were living in households below the 60% low-income threshold after deducting housing costs. This is around a fifth (22%) of the population.
This 13½ million figure is an increase of 1½ million compared with three years previously, 2004/05. The increases over the last three years follow six uninterrupted years of decreases from 1998/1999 to 2004/05 and are the first increases since 1996/97.

The number of people on low incomes is still lower (just) than it was during the early 1990s but is much greater than in the early 1980s.

http://www.poverty.org.uk/01/index.shtml

Immigration has become a General Election issue in part because of the lack of social housing. The building of public sector homes had already been scaled back by the previous Conservative administration, it was cut back even further under Labour. Those cuts have fuelled distrust and anger and have as a result caused a growth in the support of the neo-nazi British National Party.

Again only one party has talked of expanding Council House building to tackle the real problems behind the lack of affordable housing. The other two parties talk of encouraging shared ownership, which fails to tackle the overpriced property market. Hyper inflation in the property market looks to be returning.

The cut in public sector housing was by design. It helped fuel the property price boom because people had to buy a house. This of course led to further poverty traps for those that simply could not afford to buy, an increase in the number of “self-declared” mortgages (aka liar loans or using the softer American language “sub prime mortgages”). The  rising “capital” was politically useful because despite wages stagnating under Labour, people felt richer. House price inflation was further fuelled by Labour as a result of a decision to take £5 billion from the front end of pension plans, which meant that Britain went from having one of the best private sector pensions industry in the World, to one of the least generous. To supplement that loss many jumped on board “buy to let” schemes which allowed people to become landlords based on projected rental incomes. Often with no deposit. This further increased the gap between the poorest and richest.

While the poor got literally poorer, the rich have done very very well under Labour. The top 1% hold a higher share of the national income than at any time since the early 1930s. Inequality in the United Kingdom is now higher than at any point since records began. After 13 years of Blair / Brown government, the UK has higher levels of inequality than after 18 years of the previous Conservative government and the chances of someone on low-income to become richer are much reduced. Social mobility after 13 years of Labour is worse than ever before.

On Civil Liberties Labour have been a disaster and they are promising more of that disaster. A planned compulsory National Identity Card is in the manifesto, billions have already been spent setting it up; they have passed legislation in the name of preventing terrorism that makes the US Patriot Act look positively Liberal.

Britain has people under permanent house arrest and these people have not been either charged or tried under any offence. Control orders as the house arrest scheme is called are nothing but a disgrace to any Nation that has signed up to international human rights treaties.

We no longer have the right to demonstrate, a demonstration must be requested, the police have powers to declare any demonstration illegal. People have been arrested outside of Parliament for eating a “political cake”.

Our extradition laws to the US are a one-sided joke. The US can extradite any British citizen without evidence.

Britain shamefully joined with the US in torture and extraordinary rendition.

Britain has 1% of the World’s population being watched by 20% of its cctv cameras.

We have a DNA database that Court after Court has ruled is being used illegally. With five million people on it, it is five times bigger than that operated by the next largest Country.  The database includes nearly 1 million children aged between 10 and 17. A child aged 7 months old was added to it. Despite its massive growth, it has become increasingly less effective at catching criminals.

The number of prisoners in the UK has risen by 41% since Labour took office and Britain now beats the US for the proportion of its prisoners in private prisons. Nowhere jails more prisoners in Europe than England and Wales.

There are 3500 extra crimes on the statute books, the principles of double jeopardy and habeas corpus have essentially been abolished.

Labour can be congratulated for increases in key areas of public spending but much of that increase went via private companies (a good number associated with Labour Ministers). That money has been tied up for years through schemes like Public Private Finance Initiatives that leave hospitals and schools paying back credit card style levels of interest on building projects, many of these projects have 30 year terms. Of the reported building projects, estimated to cost £68 billion, the Government is contracted to repay about £250 billion. This excludes PFI deals done by quangos and local authorities. It is unlikely that ANY government could uncover the real amount of Government debt.

Many of the public sector reforms created a culture of meeting targets rather than of delivering services. That target mentality has undermined education and health care massively. Pupils are rote taught a syllabus to pass ever-increasing numbers of exams and are not taught the actual subject. Hospital waiting lists may be down, considerably, there are however waiting lists to get on the waiting lists.

Unlike our American friends on the right however we do not blame “Government” for the poor operation of public services, we blame those who are IN GOVERNMENT. The British expect quality public services from those that we elect to deliver them. We would find it a very poor excuse for any politician to try to pass the buck for THEIR poor management of public services on to the existence of that public service.

Rejecting that “New Labour” history is not the rejection of an “Obama style government”. It is a late rejection of a Bush style Government, that Brown helped fund as Chancellor and then did too little and too late to correct as Prime Minister.

UK politics are pretty topsy turvy at the moment. It is possible that Brown could come third place in the popular vote on Thursday but still have the most seats. Even if he does not manage to get the most seats, he could still continue on as Prime Minister if he believes that he can get a majority in the House of Commons. It is possible that even without a formal pact, after a difficult and expensive election he may actually survive a vote of confidence in the House, simply because the two main Parties are not prepared or able to re-run the election so shortly after the last. The public would not be very forgiving of a very early vote and none of the Parties would have had time to refill their emptied bank accounts.

So Britain may not know on Friday who actually is forming the next Government. All we do know is that the far right politics offered by the American right would not even get a look in in the UK. In fact each of the three main Party Leaders are proud to call themselves “progressive”. Only one of them though is talking of taking progressive action and lowering taxes on the poorest and he is not Labour. Unfortunately, he also has no real chance of becoming Prime Minister. With that said though, Labour needs to be punished.

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