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I write in response to Coun. George Askew’s claims that Labour did Nothing (Leader Times 28th October). The first question is: what planet does he live on, never mind what ward he lives in? He says the UK was spending £170 billion more than it was receiving in tax, that it was a cheap shot to question the tax avoidance of non-doms who bankroll the Conservatives, and that it has been left up to George Osborne to sort out the financial mess left by Labour.

However, at best he appears to be misinformed and at worst blatantly ignorant of the facts. Labour spent less as a proportion of GDP than either of the governments of Thatcher or Major. When Labour came to power in 1997 national debt stood at 42% of GDP. By 2002 it was below 30%. Granted, it slowly increased to 36% between 2002 and 2008 (still lower than Thatcher or Major) as a result of the urgent need to rebuild our public services which had suffered from two decades of underinvestment. The increase, coupled with the windfall tax on utilities in 1997 to compensate for the cheap Tory sell off of public assets, allowed Labour to build new schools, reduce class sizes, build new hospitals, reduce waiting lists, reduce poverty levels amongst vulnerable groups such as children and pensioners and provide public servants with a living wage, along with many others as a result of the National Minimum Wage.

It wasn’t until the global banking sector crisis that the debt to GDP ratio hit 52% by the time Labour left office in 2010 - but this was still lower than those of Japan, the US, France and Germany.

So what response? George Osborne came to the dispatch box in 2010 and declared “Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy”. Despite his claims of economic woe he chose to cut corporation tax while imposing unprecedented cuts on welfare and other public spending, resulting in a return to Thatcherite levels of unemployment at 2.57 million and rising inflation which currently stands at 5.6%.

So in light of these inconvenient truths perhaps Mr Askew would like to revise his simplistic view, because if these are the results of the Tories doing something then I prefer Labour’s “nothing”.

Yours faithfully
Mark Porter


Last week the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee did a 180 degree turn in agreeing to spend £75billion of tax-payer’s money, called quantitative easing or QE2.
Could it be that this vast sum of money is being used to keep the Tory government backer’s, from the financial sector, afloat when the Euro zone finally allows Greece (and others!) to default on its unpayable debt’s? This will result in banks everywhere nursing huge losses on their loans to Greece.
QE2 is not going to help the two and a half million unemployed nor the growing number of young people who cannot find a job. George Osborne sits back and waits for the stagnant business sector to grow when household spending is being cut to the bone. Increased inflation is going to hit anyone on a fixed income for years to come.
Incidentally, £75billion is about twice Britain’s annual defence budget, or the same as the entire market value of BP.
It would be good to know what our Tory Member of Parliament’s views are on the issue and its likely effect on Pendle.


"The Lords should be affronted by the slipshod way our health system is being blown apart before they can even debate it".

Can we count on Lord Greaves to defend Pendle's NHS by voting to support proper scrutiny of the Health Bill this week, and not just to toe his Party line again?

Polly Toynbee's article on Saturday must surely have given him pause for thought.

And after all, he did call for proper debate in his motion to Pendle Council in April,


The Eurozone crisis is increasingly in the news.

Many commentators are making comment upon it. Most (with the glowing exception of Ed Balls) are simply parroting the Coalition line on the matter.

Most therefore are saying that austerity cuts are fine, and let's have more austerity cuts for those overspending non-taxpaying Greeks. A few are saying let them go bust (and implicitly let the Greek people become semi-destitute).

What few are saying, as I said with the honourable exception of Ed Balls, is that austerity cuts are not working and this is the source of the problem

Let’s take Greece. Greek governmental debt is not a great problem at 89% of Gross Domestic Product (think of a mortgage). The Greek deficit, which is growing governmental debt, is.

The Greek austerity cuts (in wages, pensions, services, economy) are the problem. They have increased the deficit since their introduction (and we are now on round 3) because they lead to unemployment, depressed living standard, lack of domestic demand, loss of tax base and therefore growth in deficit.

And the austerity cuts don’t deal with the huge tax avoidance in Greece (as in other countries) by their very rich and denial of contribution to public purse and deficit resolution.

Nor with the massive private debt of private companies (which typically are 4 to 5 times governmental debt).

Then the financial markets, and remember how short term and mad they are (in 2002 they said the California sub-prime mortgage debt was of triple A rating) say Greek debt is unsustainable (it’s growing but is not unsustainable) and raise interest rates on government borrowings.

It’s the same elsewhere. Spain, Italy, Portugal etc. The UK as well, as we well know. Austerity cuts are not working (and also why should ordinary people pay for the excesses of the bankers and world traders and their debt crisis).

Hence the crisis - a combination of austerity cuts not working and financial markets with short term goals (and addicted to high level of returns and presently no loaning desire).

What we need in the euro zone (and the UK etc) is:

  1. A stabilisation package to stop collapse (we will be hurt by collapse as well).
  2. Some flexibility in the euro zone (it is true countries’ economies work at different speeds and have different national problems, so no flexibility is a problem, but what flexibility means is also a problem)
  3. A pan Europe approach to curtailing tax avoidance by the very rich and recovering for the public purse.
  4. Some kind of financial market control (the Rubin or Robin Hood tax to prevent excessive trading) to avoid financial markets short termism and panic. Also some strategy to deal with the massive private debt and debt ratios which are in part driving the financial markets fears.

These are a few first comments. To be a bit trite (but true) we need a people's Europe (and UK) not an austerity cut Europe.


For the Attention of Jo Turton
Executive Director Environment Directorate
Lancashire County Council
Waste Management Group
PO Box 78

19 July 2011

Dear Jo Turton


Pendle Labour Party wish to register a strong objection to the proposal to close the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Colne.  We are opposed to the closure proposals because:-

  1. Pendle tax payers should not have to suffer a further and unnecessary cut to their  services when there is plenty of money in reserves at County Hall gathering very  little interest.
  2. The County Council cannot hope to meet its 2011/12 priority target of reducing the   amount of waste sent to landfill to  nil by making recycling more difficult.
  3. 64% of the households in Pendle are closest to Colne HWRC and only 17% are closest   to the Burnley one. This means that the vast majority of Colne and Nelson residents  will have to travel further to reach a Centre if Colne is closed. The extra   financial cost in fuel will discourage people from recycling and has to be added to  the increased environmental cost.
  4. The proposed closure will lead to an increase in fly-tipping, the costs of which   will have to be carried by Pendle Council and not the County Council, creating a   further unfair burden.
  5. The jobs of well trained, helpful local staff will be put at risk. Pendle Labour   opposes any such redundancies caused by this poorly conceived proposal.
  6. The County Council should be negotiating with SITA to protect the future use of the  Centre, instead of acting as if it is going to cease to be available.

Pendle Labour Party is gathering a petition against the closures and this will be sent in prior to the end of the public consultation period in early September.

We are encouraging all Pendle residents to register their opposition to the closures and pages of the petition are available for people to complete on request from our offices.

Yours truly

David Foat
Pendle CLP Secretary


I see that police station closures are on the cards. Time for East Lancashire’s MPs for the moment to put to one side their charity runs, restaurant competitions and “Save the Pub” campaigns and stand up and be counted.

The last time there was a serious threat to local police stations was back in 1995-6, under the Major Government.

I believed then, and still do, that a police station is a place of refuge.  It is more than bricks and mortar.

Towns feel safer when there is a police station, open for business.

It really is as simple as that.


Read the original article on Gordon's Blog


A flustered Francis Maude today couldn't justify the Tory position that public sector pensions are "unaffordable". In an interview on BBC's Today Program with PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Maude was cornered on the "unaffordable" claim. He quickly U-turned on "unaffordable" with "untenable" - another undefined term to hide behind - he offered no explanation as to why the pensions are now "untenable". There's an interesting commentary on this debate by George Eaton over at New Statesman - if you look at the Hutton Report then, "The government's plan to ask employees to work longer and pay more is a political choice, not an economic necessity". As the Public Accounts Committee observed: "Officials appeared to define affordability on the basis of public perception rather than judgement on the cost in relation to either GDP or total public spending." In other words, the public have been misled and ministers are determined to keep misleading them.

At a rally in central London Sally Hunt, president of The University and College Union, had this to say about Nick Clegg's, "public sector pensions are gold-plated" comment: "The average pension of a female college lecturer is just £6,000 a year.  This is a government that has already presided over an increase in the income of the richest 1,000 people by 18%. How dare they call us gold-plated?"


The coalition’s economic policy to reduce the government debt as quickly as possible by reducing spending and so have to borrow less is a smokescreen for the real issue, the crippling Financial Services debt.

Analysis carried out by Price Waterhouse Coopers based on the Office for National Statistics' 2010 Blue Book elegantly challenges the myth.

The figures look like this:


Debt in cash (£ trillion)

Debt as % of GDP
















Non-financial companies





Financial sector





Total UK Debt






The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Britain is effectively the country’s income.

So what conclusions can be drawn from these figures. Firstly that, overall, the country is borrowing five and a half times the amount it earns. Equivalent to a mortgage of £190,000 when your total household income is £35,000pa. Definitely a bit on the high side but not impossible.

Meanwhile the government’s share of that debt is 12%, that is its share of the ‘mortgage’ is approx £23,000. Household debt is 20% of the total.

While the Financial Sector has run up 45% of the debt, equivalent to £86,000 of our theoretical mortgage.

No wonder the banks are ‘too big to fail’ and so can carry on blatantly handing out huge bonuses and salaries. They have us by the short and curlys. The removal of more and more restrictions on the financial sector’s activities, starting with Margaret Thatcher’s “Big Bang”, has left Britain dangerously exposed. This coalition government is focussing on ordinary people and their jobs and services while ignoring the elephant in the room, the fact that the financial sector is out of control.





There's an interesting piece by renowned journalist John Pilger backing-up what Tim Ellis said in an earlier post about Britian being debt almost to the tune of tax avoided by the super-rich and large corporations.  Pilger goes on to attribute, via his review of "Disciplined Minds" by Jeff Schmidt (Rowman & Littlefield), some if not all of the blame for our lack of curiosity and acceptance of non-establishemnt views on a broken education and training system - "Children are naturally curious, but along the way to becoming a professional they learn that curiosity is a series of tasks assigned by others. On entering training, students are optimistic and idealistic. On leaving, they are "pressured and troubled" because they realise that "the primary goal for many is getting compensated sufficiently for sidelining their original goals".  Reminds me of Gatto's views of the dumbing-down of the US education system.


If the cupboard is so bare that Slasher needs to burn the state to the ground, how come there's £260M++ for a little adventure in Libya?  Go figure!

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