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Pendle Labour Party Blog
The Overton Window PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Sunday, 17 April 2016 14:25

I have finally got around to reading ‘The Establishment’ by Owen Jones (ISBN 978-0-141-97499-6).

It is a truly remarkable read; each chapter is a chilling descent into the murky and dodgy world of The Establishment.

In the forward Jones gives the game away on how The Establishment controls the public perception regarding political change with the ‘Overton Window’. I have lifted the relevant extract and placed it below:

“As far as changing both system and behaviour are concerned, some right-wing and liberal critics have suggested that actually my solutions are pretty timid. This, I have to say, is the point. In the book, I express my deep attraction to the idea of the 'Overton Window', a concept invented by US conservatives to describe what is deemed politically possible at any given time. This 'window' is relentlessly policed. So, when Labour's Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze - a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable, policy - it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalizing the energy industry lock, stock and barrel. But policing the 'window' helps ensure that neo-liberal ideas generally favoured by the Establishment are deemed moderate and common-sense; anything that even slightly deviates is written off as beyond the pale. So, for my suggested policies - like democratic public ownership, hiking taxes on the rich, granting workers' rights, and selective capital controls - to be portrayed as rather timid by defenders of the status quo ... well, that helps to shift the Overton Window.

“Of course, my proposed 'democratic revolution' does not go as far as I would like. In time, I would like Britain - and indeed other countries - to be run in the interests of people's needs and aspirations, rather than on the basis of profit for a small elite; for society to be democratically managed by working people; for democracy to be extended as far as possible, including in the workplace and the economy. Such a society may not be built in my lifetime. But my aim is to reverse the achievements of the neo-liberal outriders: to shift the Overton Window in a different direction. Doing so will open up more radical possibilities. What is now seen as completely extreme would become fringe, and then radical, and then controversial, and then common-sense. We live in a time of Establishment triumphalism, when other ways of running society are portrayed as unthinkable. That triumphalism must be chipped away if we are to build a different sort of society.”

From my own perception perhaps the ‘Overton Window’ effect explains why comrades on one margin of the Labour Party are timid in their approach to social and economic change. But more importantly it underlines to me, why Jeremy Corbyn is the essential player, if we wish to create a new widow for the social and economic advancement of the many.


 
“This flood was not only foretold – it was publicly subsidised”, the Guardian. PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Sunday, 03 January 2016 11:20

Having played a small part in helping people in Lomeshaye and Carrhall avoiding and clearing up flood damage I was dismayed to read an article by George Monbiot on the Guardian web site. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/29/deluge-farmers-flood-grouse-moor-drain-land?CMP=share_btn_link .
I initially wondered why this was not newsworthy with the Sun, the Telegraph and the Times.  However I rapidly came to my own conclusion.
The article further heightened my concerns about the large scale housing development on Trough Laithe which will inevitably accelerate rain water run-off into Pendle Water, at the last place we need it.
It also confirmed my existing opinion on which interests are paramount with both the current government and the European Union. For my money it certainly isn’t ordinary working people!


 
Labour Leadership Candidates: Paint me a vision for the future PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 12:22

There is a good article on the Labour List web site by Jennifer Dodds, dated 20 June 2015. I don’t want to add to it other than to say, it makes good common sense regardless of if you are on the left, centre or right of the Labour Party and regardless of which candidates you may or may not support.

You can read the article here: http://labourlist.org/2015/06/labour-leadership-candidates-paint-me-a-vision-for-the-future/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LabourListLatestPosts+%28LabourList%29&utm_content=FeedBurner


 
Leadership Elections PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Sunday, 07 June 2015 22:22

I am pleased that Pendle Labour Party GC has endorsed a motion calling for change in the manner in which the initial nomination phase for the election of the leader/deputy leader is conducted.

It was generally agreed that the current threshold is too high. Each nomination must be supported by 12.5 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. For the elections which will be underway shortly, this will require the support of 35 MPs. Pendle Labour Party believe that this should be reduced to a mover and seconder for each candidate.

CLPs have no initial nominating rights and are reliant on sitting MPs taking on board the opinion of the membership within the constituency.

Where there is no sitting Labour MP, CLPs can have no influence over the initial nominations.

All constituency parties can submit supporting nominations, but only for a candidate who has cleared the threshold of the initial (parliamentary) nomination phase.

Pendle CLP believes that to visibly extend the democracy of the Labour Party, constituency parties should have the opportunity to nominate a candidate of their own choice during the initial nomination phase.


 
Article in ‘The Independent’ - Wednesday 18 February 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 16:30

As I sat down at the computer this morning to scan through various news feeds, I was gripped by an article on the web site of ‘The Independent’ newspaper’. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/peter-oborne-resignation-senior-writer-dramatically-quits-telegraph-over-hsbc-allegations-10052314.html

The strapline for the article is:

“Peter Oborne resignation: Senior writer quits Telegraph dramatically over HSBC allegations”

The article includes the following:

“A senior writer at the Daily Telegraph has dramatically quit the newspaper after accusing its owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal out of fear of losing advertising revenue.

“Peter Oborne, the paper’s chief political commentator and an award-winning author, announced his resignation in a blog on the openDemocracy website, in which he accused the Telegraph of committing a 'fraud' on readers by burying reports on the HSBC tax scandal.

“The journalist quoted a conversation with Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group, who he said freely admitted that advertising was allowed to affect editorial at the paper.”

Further down, the article leads the reader to the following paragraph:

“In the article he declared that 'democracy itself is in peril if major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue'.”

I have often wondered if the reporting in our local newspapers of the activities of incumbent MP Andrew Stephenson is influenced by the amount of advertising space that he takes with them on a regular basis. Equally I wonder if this also leads to the suppression of the coverage of the activities of other candidates for public office!

A quick trawl through back copies of Pendle’s local newspapers to count the number of articles related to Andrew Stephenson certainly could give credence to the argument that advertising is allowed to affect editorial decisions at these newspapers.

Along with submitting this piece for inclusion on the ‘Pendle Labour Party blog’, I think that it is only fair that I send a copy to Pendle’s local newspapers, for them to publish and to comment on, if they wish to do so.


 
The case for responsible capitalism? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Monday, 29 December 2014 15:42

I surprised myself reading this article by Louise Haigh on the LabourList web site http://labourlist.org/2014/12/the-case-for-responsible-capitalism/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LabourListLatestPosts+%28LabourList%29&utm_content=FeedBurner

My initial thoughts flitted around Blair’s “Third Way” approach to tempering the capitalist system. However the more I read of the article by Louise, the more compelling I found it. It is great to read that someone is rekindling the conversation around the responsible management of capital.

Great to also read the comment from Harry Barnes (who else), which puts some important meat on the bones of Louise’s article.


 
Landmark victory for pub goers and beer drinkers! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheryl Waterhouse   
Friday, 21 November 2014 01:02

On Tuesday, a decision by MPs helped defeat the Government in a crucial Parliamentary vote that will secure the future of the Great British Pub. This landmark victory saw the Government defeated by 284 votes to 259 as MPs from all parties voted to introduce a market rent only option for licensees tied to the big pub companies.

Achieving this will help spell the end of Pubco licensees being forced out of business through high rents and tied product prices. The family brewers (who generally treat their licensees fairly) will not be affected.

The defeat in the report stage of the small business and enterprise bill is a setback for the government chief whip, Michael Gove, and an extraordinary victory for the cross-party free pubs campaign, marshalled by the MP Greg Mulholland with the support of Labour.

The bitter taste left in the mouth of Pendle CAMRA members is that local Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson, despite his much publicised (and photographed) interest in local pubs and the Colne Beer Festival, voted with the government in an attempt to support the Pubcos against the best interest of Pendle's struggling licensees.


 
Tolpuddle – a cause for celebration. PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 23:39

This coming weekend (18 – 20 July) thousands of people from across the UK and beyond will be gathering in the small Dorset village of Tolpuddle, to celebrate trade unionism and to remember the sacrifice made by the six farm workers of the village.
 
In the 1830s life in villages like Tolpuddle was hard and getting worse. Farm workers could not bear yet more cuts to their pay. Some fought back by smashing the new threshing machines but this brought harsh punishments.

In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.
 
The protest campaign proved successful and the Tolpuddle Martyrs returned home in triumph. The Tolpuddle story is about how ordinary working people combined together to defend their families. The idea of solidarity as a basic human right is now an international demand.
 
The advantage of being a member of a trade union is still very strong. Trade union members are paid on average almost £4,000 a year more than non-union members according to the latest government statistics https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/313768/bis-14-p77-trade-union-membership-statistical-bulletin-2013.pdf .
 
But there's more to this than wages. Unionised workers have better working conditions, shift and overtime premia, holiday entitlement, sick pay, paternity pay, pensions, and most important of all job security.
 
This basic right of workers to act together, to fight injustice has been attacked time and time again by the Conservative Party. As we continue to face austerity under their economic policies, they are plotting once again to restrict collective action and to tip the balance even further in favour of employers.
 
I was pleased to learn that the Trade Union Group of MPs http://www.tradeuniongroup.com/
has been re-launched to push the political agenda on to the side of working people.
 
I was surprised, but also pleased to read that Guy Opperman, the Tory MP for Hexham, has praised trade unions and admitted that he “despairs” at the Conservative Party’s constant attacks on them.
 
Speaking to the conference of Tory moderniser think tank Bright Blue, Opperman said:
 
“I despair when people say unions are terrible, they are not terrible, they are the ultimate Big Society.”

 

By John Boardman
Trade Union Liaison Officer Pendle CLP


 
It is how George tells them PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Monday, 21 April 2014 19:18

According to George Osborne the austerity measures are working and things are starting to get better. This is based on the announcement that the UK inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell to 1.6%. This is the sixth consecutive month that the rate of inflation has fallen, marking the longest consecutive fall since modern records began. Wages (with bonuses) increased by 1.7%.

Depending upon your circumstances, you may be feeling better off and you may agree with George. On the other hand if you still find yourself struggling to cope with the biggest decline in living standards since Victorian times you may be wondering why this ‘recovery’ is passing you by!

The reality is that the official inflation statistics manifestly fail to reflect the real cost of living for the workers and poor. The government’s favoured measure of inflation (CPI) specifically excludes housing costs, yet working families in the UK spend 40% of their income on housing, making UK housing the third most expensive in Europe. This is a product of our acute housing crisis, with skyrocketing rent and house prices making the roof over our heads increasingly unaffordable. This means over a million working families are now reliant on Housing Benefit to pay their rent, an increase of over 50% from 2010. Such is the horrendous cost of housing that the homelessness charity Shelter has produced a report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27015809) that shows 3.8 million families are just one wage packet away from losing their home. George’s coalition government remains unable  or unwilling to tackle the housing crisis.

If we look a little further, the more favourable relationship between CPI and wage increases is not because wages have started to increase meaningfully, it is because (CPI) inflation has gone down - which is itself a sign of the continued depression in the economy, with the excess capacity in production putting a competitive downward pressure on prices.

In short: wages with bonuses (did you get one?) increased by 1.7% - wages without bonuses increased by 1.4% - CPI inflation fell to 1.6% - increases in housing costs are not included in the CPI.

I wouldn’t open that bottle of champagne just yet!


 
The Tories - pulling the local wool over our eyes! PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Sunday, 26 January 2014 21:14

Recently, Peter Kenyon, the Secretary of Burnley Labour Party had a piece published on the Pendle Today web site. It was titled: “We are witnessing the destruction of democracy” http://www.pendletoday.co.uk/news/letters/we-are-witnessing-the-destruction-of-democracy-1-6371423?WT.mc_id=Outbrain_text&obref=obinsite

In this piece, Peter argues:

“Without any real sign of protest from the public, we are witnessing the destruction, at the hands of the Tories and aided by the Lib-Dems, of the foundation of democracy in this country.” He cites how local controls of important issues such as housing and education have been wrestled away from local councils.

Undeniably, what Peter is saying is true. However, how does this stack-up against the Coalition’s Localism agenda.

For a starting point I had a look at Wikipedia the free online encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Localism_(politics)

“Localism describes a range of political philosophies which prioritize the local. Generally, localism supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity. Localism can be contrasted with regionalism and centralized government, with its opposite being found in the unitary state.”

To equip myself better to understand this apparent contradiction of the above explanation and Peter’s piece on the Pendle Today web site I searched online and found:

“A plain English guide to the Localism Act” https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5959/1896534.pdf

The introduction by the Right Honourable Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Decentralisation (I didn’t know we had one) states:

“For too long, central government has hoarded and concentrated power. Trying to improve people’s lives by imposing decisions, setting targets and demanding inspections from Whitehall simply doesn’t work. It creates bureaucracy. It leaves no room for adaptation to reflect local circumstances or innovation to deliver services more effectively and at lower cost. And it leaves people feeling ‘done to’ and imposed upon - the very opposite of the sense of participation and involvement on which a healthy democracy thrives.”

Quite clearly Peter is feeling ‘done to’ and imposed upon (me too).
Could someone explain to Peter and me, how, what we are experiencing is in complete contradiction to this ‘Localism Act’ and the butchery of local government finances under the stewardship of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and his cronies.

That reminds me, to make a note to myself, to dig out my copy of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ I think that it will make a more compelling guide to what is actually happening than the ‘Localism Act.’


 
Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – Guardian/ICM poll PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Boardman   
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:30

Poll reveals anger, not boredom, lies behind drop in political engagement.  I was not surprised by the findings of the recent Guardian/ICM poll:

“Nearly half of Britons say they are angry with politics and politicians, according to a Guardian/ICM poll analysing the disconnect between British people and their democracy.
“The research, which explores the reasons behind the precipitous drop in voter turnout – particularly among under-30s – finds that it is anger with the political class and broken promises made by high-profile figures that most rile voters, rather than boredom with Westminster.

“Asked for the single word best describing "how or what you instinctively feel" about politics and politicians in general, 47% of respondents answered "angry", against 25% who said they were chiefly "bored".”

To be honest, many politicians of the major political parties have brought this upon themselves, through the misuse of expenses, a failure to connect with the needs of the people and a failure to hold the Government to account.

For example our local MP sets great storeby his commitment to keep his expenses down, but his overseas trips make interesting reading. I am also struggling to find any occasions when he voted against the Government in support of the needs of local people. No wonder people are angry!

Whilst I understand why people do not vote, the trick they are all missing is that governments always bias their policies in favour of those groups of people who do vote, pensioners like me, for example.

If you are under 30 and want to take your anger out on MP’s, look to the ones who have supported increases in university fees, removed EMA, allowed a massive increase in youth unemployment, failed to deliver with employment programmes for young people, failed to respond to the need for affordable housing, leading to the high price of rents and the difficulties in securing a mortgage which have a disproportionate effect on younger people. You can only do this, by voting them out of office!


 
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The articles are written by individual members so do not necessarily represent the view of Pendle Labour Party.