What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor


1:40 pm - April 27th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Chancellor George Osborne knows the economic growth figures out today are terrible, even if the spin says otherwise. But this isn’t just bad news for the economy and millions of people, it is also vindication for the left.

We’ve kept on saying that the best way out of the economic crisis and the fastest way to cut national debt is to push for economic growth rather than austerity. The Labour party however is having particular difficulty in getting that message across.

This is perhaps because it isn’t clear what the main planks of the opposition’s plans would be.

So, I offer a four-point plank of what I would focus on if I were shadow Chancellor, to pull Britain out of recession, promote economic growth, and deal with the deficit and national debt.

1. Pledge to protect jobs so people don’t feel fearful about the future
Job losses cost money. They lead to less tax revenue and increased welfare payments, especially when the private sector is having particular difficulty picking up the slack. Job losses also mean people spending less money, which in turn leads to more job losses as there is less money circulating around the economy. After a particularly big crash, this can turn into a vicious cycle. The feeling that more job losses are coming also lead people to spend less money.

2. Stimulate spending by putting more money in the hands of consumers
When Labour reduced the VAT to 15%, it stimulated spending. When ‘cash for bangers‘ was introduced, the Society of Motor Manufacturers claimed the car scrappage scheme “protected thousands of jobs in retail and manufacturing”. Sales of cars jumped.

The Conservatives meanwhile increased VAT, and consumers fled the high street. Stimulating spending is the key to stabilising the economy.

3. Focus on small businesses and creating jobs
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the key to creating jobs: they account for the vast majority of employment in the UK, not large corporations.

And yet Labour has said very little about making the economic environment easier for SMEs to start up and create jobs. Labour should pledge to cut regulation and taxes for SMEs, while making it much easier to start up companies and winding them down if they fail.

As Will Straw previously pointed out, Labour’s ideas on creating jobs are still haphazard and need to be bolder

4. Raise funds through innovative ways
How will some of this be funded? Taxing more isn’t always the answer. As Ireland’s example shows, deep cuts and reducing taxes can actually shrink the tax base and cause further economic problems. Hence, maintaining jobs is important, as are incentives such as cutting VAT and ‘cash for bangers’.

But there are innovative ways to raise money too. One would be a Robinhood tax on financial transactions. Another would be a Mansion Tax on property wealth. Another: closing loopholes that allow tax avoidance, which not only helps fund terrorism and organised crime, but also allows large corporations to avoid paying billions in tax.

Obviously this is a simple plan: but that is the whole point. Labour needs a simple and easily explained platform from which to criticise Osbornomics. It’s not clear it has one yet.

This is also a short-term plan. It is about what Labour would do now if it were in power, not a long term economic strategy in itself.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I worry about (2). I think it may be too broad an instrument; while cutting VAT would certainly be fairer than some other tax cuts, there are some questions to be asked, particularly

* How many marginal spending decisions would 2.1% swing?
* What proportion of extra VATable spending would be imports?

Probably best at this stage to put that money towards protecting jobs directly, rather than hope we can consumer-spend our way to growth (which, after all, is what Osborne believe too – except he thinks it’ll be funded by a return to high levels of borrowing).

2. Lisa Ansell

It’s just a slap in the face of women wanting to be taken seriously by the PM is all…

Hi Sunny- thanks for this. I would like to ask a few questions. I have had to add in ‘Labour is about more than people on welfare you know-sad fact but true'(elsewhere-like most labour puff pieces at the moment, economic justification appears to centre on ignoring quite significant proportions of the economy, and having an analysis which ignores existence or impact of social policy. Which I am sure you agree is flawed).

1. Pledge to protect jobs so people don’t feel fearful about the future
2. Stimulate spending by putting more money in the hands of consumers
3. Focus on small businesses and creating jobs

Labour can’t pledge to protect jobs, while cutting at the rate they have promised to our public services. The differences are not so huge that more jobs would be protected. So people are fearful for their future.

Or were we discussing a different type of ‘people’? Now, the gender impact of your analysis is also missing. The jobs labour would cut are also predominantly done by females. Mainly because Labour’s priorities for cutting are very much the same- and services predominantly used by women, and for women, as well as the services dominated by the traditional female professions-nursing/teaching/socialwork/carer/socialcareworker/administrator(for those pesky back room jobs) and also the jobs generally created by tendering out support services etc- the low paid, flexible part time positions at the bottom of the ladder-generally women. So Labour can’t pledge to protect jobs.

Unless of course you have suddenly shifted away from the feminism you are so proud to espouse? Now you would know this, if you looked at the current situation beyond the distorted debate you perpetuate which suits Labour’s agenda.

Now-regarding the ‘people don’t feel fearful about the future’- people are not just fearful they are struggling now. Before the full impact of cuts next year and year after becomes apparent.

I know you would like to dismiss welfare spending as something confined to those undeserving poor you occasionally wheel out, if they have a sob story that suits you- but welfare spending is quite different to that. Part of the reason we pretend it isnt, is that the debate is dominated by this male dominated ‘political’ discussion- that doesn’t really concern itself with the reality of society.

Our welfare spending plugs some problems in our economy. During the Labour years, as I know you are fully aware- their welfare spending shifted away from the ‘workless’ who they were willing to bully(we’ll get onto that later) to the middle classes. The squeezed middle- the people who don’t have the time to entertain what goes on here as even related to reality- the ones who run our public and private sector- the working families- are in receipt of welfare benefits. In London(where all the lefties live)- there is a considerable problem with the educated middle class, whose concerns you think are so seperate to those of the working class and stupid people on welfare- as they are on housing benefit and tax credits and need them, and still live in poverty. NOt just min wage employees, people on quite decent salaries. Many of the single people in lefty liberal social circles, once they have a family will be welfare dependent. So actually, the welfare cuts that you think you can pretend are not worth mentioning- have a significant effect not on their fear for the future- but their ability to get by now.

Especially when combined with high levels of debt and increasingly insecure, inflexible employment which are guaranteed whoever’s economic approach we take. And taking that money out of their pockets directly and immediately impacts on the wider economy. As we will see with next months figures.

At time when those people ARE losing their jobs- the thing that would allow them to get by is being attacked. The thing taht would allow them to er… continue to live while they get another job? Worse than that, at a time of high unemployment- the benefits that those most disadvantaged in the labour market receive are being linked to success in an employment market that isn’t geared up for them. And for those who are too ill- they are being attacked also. So if you are in a job, under stress, fearful for the future, and it all makes you il- no support there either.
So that’s quite scary.

In addition the welfare benefits that allow the rest of the country to wipe the arses and noses, so the taxpayers can go out to work- are being cut. Mainly because while we were discussing the welfare state in the ludicrous terms our political blogosphere use, we forgot to discuss that the welfare state is mainly for the jobs that allow the rest of the economy to function without to much trouble. Cleaning up the mess, looking after the kids, the elderly.

We are cutting at things people need- and funnily enough that has the same effect everywhere. Always has. It increases welfare spending, and pressure on other public service budgets. Hurrah. Had that effect under Thatcher. Had it under Labour. Will have it under the Coalition. There are a million and one reasons why, but unfortunately our politically affiliated media has to studiously ignore them to justify spouting such bollocks.

In addition, years of suppression of benefit rates, alongside wages- as well as lack of attention by Labour over their reign= means there are places where welfare dependency and public sector jobs are what masks that lack of industry- so your ommission of the effect on businesses of deliberately attacking the main source of money floating round the economy- probably another flaw- unless this is ‘for lefties in London’ article again? In fact, is ALREADY(along with the rise in fuel prices etc etc) putting many out of business.

As deprivation deepens, and it rots communities- the number of services required increases. And cost money-even under Labour.

You were aware the the majority of fixed and low income spending is more likely to be what small/medium sized businesses depend on? In addition Local Authority cuts Labour felt were appropriate as first target(in addition to destroying people’s lives) have already ensured that the government body most interlinked with small/medium sized enterprises- have faced heaviest cuts. While businesses least likely to benefit local economy- your Sercos etc are cleaning up. This would happen under Labour (Serco don’t need to factor in a change of government when planning their business.)

Now I know your feminist principles were outraged by Cameron today- but I just wonder where they are in your economic ‘analysis’?

“Job losses cost money.”

Not quite. PRIVATE sector job losses cost money – for the reasons you state.

PUBLIC sector job losses always SAVE money (it ALWAYS costs less to pay someone benefits than their salary). (And except possibly in the first year because redundancy payments complicate this.)

However, the Coalition’s policy (if not necessarily their PRACTICE) is to minimise redundancies by freezing salaries and recruitment (i.e. so called natural wastage).

In other words, the people trying to “protect jobs so people don’t feel fearful about the future” are, er, the Coalition and the people spreading fear of job losses are, oh dear, Labour.

“Stimulate spending by putting more money in the hands of consumers”

How about a tax cut for basic rate tax payers?

Oh, hang on, the Coalition did that too.

“Labour should pledge to cut regulation and taxes for SMEs”

That would mean supporting the Coalition’s Corporation Tax cut and targeted reductions in regulation, right?

“But there are innovative ways to raise money too.

“One would be a Robinhood tax on financial transactions…”

Doesn’t work

“Another would be a Mansion Tax on property wealth.”

Lib Dem policy

“Another: closing loopholes that allow tax avoidance,”

Doing that.

Can I suggest that your four-point plan actually amounts to “do what the Coalition is doing, but a bit better”.

A moderate, constructive and honest approach to economic policy, sadly the exact opposite of what Labour are actually saying at the moment, but one that would require the left to stand down all of the “they’re evil Thatcherites” attacks. Good luck with convincing them to do that!

7. Lisa Ansell

the left to stand down all of the “they’re evil Thatcherites” attacks. Good luck with convincing them to do that!

Actually would require people to say ‘yes, my being pushed out of my home, and community, my job, and being denied the things that enable me to work in an economy(that already fucks me over because I am sick, disabled, have a child, care for my elderly relative, choose to work in a profession that is essential to society….insert most occupations outside young male lefty echochamber) or even participate in the world is just fine. Really- is this the standard we expect of political debate these days?

Lala land economics justified by people who are apparently oblivious to how our actual society works, outside party tribalism?

Richard/3: PUBLIC sector job losses always SAVE money (it ALWAYS costs less to pay someone benefits than their salary). (And except possibly in the first year because redundancy payments complicate this.)

They might save direct money (though don’t forget that the government also gets plenty of that salary back in taxes – directly via Income Tax and NI, and indirectly through other taxes), but to say that the net effect on the government budget is always to save money is ridiculous. They certainly save money on that particular budget line, but it may well cost them even more in other areas.

Determining which jobs actually save money to get rid of and which jobs will end up costing the government more (in increased demand for services or in a lower tax take or both) later on is really not straightforward and something that budgeting processes are historically and currently terrible at. A simple Daily Mail or Cameron-like heuristic of “admin jobs cost money” or “non-frontline jobs cost money” or “jobs with buzzwords in the job title cost money” is probably going to be correct less often than flipping a coin.

If the local council cuts its street cleaning, and as a direct but invisible result three additional people end up in hospital with infections, the council saved money but the public sector as a whole did not.

(Or, as the ancient business cliché goes “you have to spend money to make money”)

3. Richard

“Job losses cost money.”

Not quite. PRIVATE sector job losses cost money – for the reasons you state.

PUBLIC sector job losses always SAVE money (it ALWAYS costs less to pay someone benefits than their salary). (And except possibly in the first year because redundancy payments complicate this.)

This is total nonsense I’m afraid. You’ve just highlighted how you simply don’t understand that economics is not a zero sum game.

Sack a public servant and you’ve just reduced their economic clout. This doesn’t just impact the individual but the economic system as a whole.

It’s actually more productive and financially beneficial to keep that person working in their public sector job, if they are delivering a service that people want.

10. Mr S. Pill

@3

“PUBLIC sector job losses always SAVE money (it ALWAYS costs less to pay someone benefits than their salary). ”

Hummm, now I’m no economist but am I right in thinking that if you sack a public sector worker & put them on benefits they no longer have money to buy stuff that the private sector produces & therefore the private sector suffers/sacks people as well?
I dunno. Maybe someone can explain how public sector sackings are net-beneficial economically.

11. Lisa Ansell

“PUBLIC sector job losses always SAVE money (it ALWAYS costs less to pay someone benefits than their salary). ”

Sack a public sector worker, paid by the taxpayer for doing something that is needed. They need welfare benefits. Do this in a round of cuts where entire sector is attacked to save money, and the new jobs that appear post privatisation are low paid, less secure. Welfare spending increases while they are unemployed. Increases if they lose their home. Increases if the unemployment becomes long term and has associated effects on health. And likelihood is that when and if they get a new job(with the new conditions/wages) it has to be subsidised by taxpayer- in in work benefits.

In meantime effect on public service itself is deterioration, less efficiency etc etc GO back to Thatcher welfare spending. Then Majors. Then Labours. THen now. Seriously- it isn’t difficult to google.

12. Lisa Ansell

Good way to increase deficit though. Funny thing- when we are planning our economy- we use actual evidence about the interrelationship between our public and private sector. We use evidence about effect of one on other. Only really in political debate do we pretend this isn’t the case. Treating the electorate as stupid? Or consequences of political debate which is dominated by those with no reason to actually look outside their manufactured Westminster bubble?

As Ireland’s example shows, deep cuts and reducing taxes can actually shrink the tax base and cause further economic problems.

Ireland has raised taxes substantially.

Lisa – I had to block you on twitter for spamming my account. I’d have thought that was a hint enough on how interested I am in engaging your points generally.

Richard: “Job losses cost money.”
Not quite. PRIVATE sector job losses cost money – for the reasons you state.

Err, not quite. Like I said, you have to pay benefits. Plus, the multiplier effect means its not just their job that is affected. Plus, if this happens in large numbers and the pvt sector isn’t growing strongly enough, it means long term unemployment and other social effects. all of those also cost money.

Can I suggest that your four-point plan actually amounts to “do what the Coalition is doing, but a bit better

You say that with a straight face after economic stagnation over the last six months? har har.

No doubt I’ll hear the same claptrap once the OBR downgrades growith forecasts AGAIN.

15. Lisa Ansell

I wasn’t spamming Sunny. I was pointing out the discrepancies of what you were saying, and challenging the way you were trying to marginalise people affected by the cuts who were not convenient to your preferred narrative.

I have been fairly open with providing links to discussions we haev been part of. And since then you have made snide comments, while continuing to try and marginalise those voices and concerns. As a website that claims to be about open and meaningful discussion by ‘the left’ I wonder why you would be so hesitant to discuss some of the rather startling issues going on at the moment. And the critique of your post is entirely constructive, merely adding in dimensions you appear to have missed out of your priorities as chancellor. IE Anyone outside London, women, working families, small business, the ill, the disabled etc. Surely these are issues the ‘left’ want to discuss?

16. Lisa Ansell

How were you planning on cutting the deficit and promoting growth, if social policy and its effect and cost were completely absent from your analysis?

17. Lisa Ansell

And don;t you think it is legitimate for me to question you as a media source, who has been open about using your platform to influence the narrative of the mainstream media- and emulate the right wing political blogosphere? Especially given your expertise at targetting and marketing blog?

Surely as someone on this ‘mythical’ left you keep banging on about- I am entitled to call a media outlet to account for its self interest, perpetuation of inequality, and distortion of debate? THis blog has dined out on doing that to the right wing media for a while. I would have thought it was perfectly legitimate for me to do this-especially when the stakes are so high? Cos if I can’t challenge the left wing activist blogs for doing this- what on earth are we to do? And you were so good as to mention many of the points I raised when you were supporting the Lib Dems, and before you realised Labour wouldnt be.

@ 9 BenM

“It’s actually more productive and financially beneficial to keep that person working in their public sector job, if they are delivering a service that people want.”

Well if its a service that people want then surely that same person will be able to be employed in the private sector doing exactly the same thing?

@ 14 and various people:

“Err, not quite. Like I said, you have to pay benefits. Plus, the multiplier effect means its not just their job that is affected”

Unless that person is on an extremely low wage, it will cost less to pay him benefits than it will to pay his wages. As for the multiplier effect, all the money he’s spending will have come out of general taxation. As far as money in the economy is concerned, it would probably be better to not employ the person and use the money you saved from not paying his wages to cut taxes.

20. Lisa Ansell

Well if its a service that people want then surely that same person will be able to be employed in the private sector doing exactly the same thing?

This is where an understanding of the public and private sector, what it does, and how it interrelates with society and the wider economy would come in handy. The ‘pub sector’ is not a great monolith sitting under a soundbite. It fulfils many functions which peopel don’t even want to acknowledge, and there isn’t that much profit to be gleaned from the messy services. The child protection, the drug work, the mental health work…the work that keeps our society functioning and clears up the mess, when our economic approach doesn’t meet a need.

18. Fungus

What a daft question.

I want policing, a fire service, an education service.

Should those be in the Private Sector?

22. Lisa Ansell

I want a private sector army. Judges. Definitely dealing with agriculture. ..

The purchaser/provider split in Social Work and Social Care worked out so well. Not like there is any evidence there. Well…not that would make it into political debate.

Fungus/18: There’s a difference between services that people want and services that people are willing to go to the effort of individually paying for.

I want the streets to be kept relatively clean. I’m not willing to pay 50p a week – or whatever – to some private street-cleaning company to clean the bit of street outside my house, and club together with my neighbours to get them to clean the common bit round the corner as well. No-one is going to pay for the bit of main road nearby that doesn’t actually have any houses on it. Far easier for me to pay taxes and the council can just organise it itself.

There’s also a difference between services that people want and services that people can afford at market rates – health care, education, etc.

Given that the majority of the public sector is dealing with services which are either impractical or too expensive (or both) for most people to make individual private contracts for, the idea that the private sector will just take over public sector cut jobs is bizarre.

24. Lisa Ansell

Sunny- am guessing from your silence(followed by the oh so predictable accusation of spamming, which in Sunny’s world appears to mean -asking questions I can’t answer and challenging the effect of my behaviour and validity of my argument with evidence) that you don’t want to debate.

Well, I’ll make you a deal. A website devoted to discussion that will energise the left is good thing to strive for. So I will continue to post with points that are legitimate concerns for ‘the left’- they will be readable by other people. I don’t particular view changing your view important Sunny- however= but if you are going to promote yourself as some kind of voice of ‘the left’- it may do others coming here a bit of good to see a bit of exploration of how valid that claim is.

Much in the same way you have done to right wing media outlets. Now you can call that spamming- but I would advise googling ‘discussion’ and ‘the left’.

that you don’t want to debate.

Damn you’re sharp.

but if you are going to promote yourself as some kind of voice of ‘the left’- it may do others coming here a bit of good to see a bit of exploration of how valid that claim is.

I don’t promote myself as ‘the voice of the left’ – I am someone on the left who has built a website that people read. Meanwhile you’re the “authentic voice” of the masses who everyone should listen to right? You will lead the “real voice” of the left against us pretenders right? Please feel free. Just don’t bother spamming me. I have no interest in engaging your crap whatsoever.

As far as money in the economy is concerned, it would probably be better to not employ the person and use the money you saved from not paying his wages to cut taxes.

I’d be happy to cut taxes on low earners and on consumption. This is why I pointed out that the VAT reduction was a good thing.

But how has the cutting jobs scenario to save the economy worked out so far? today’s figures show not every well.

Nice list, but you are thinking short term.

5. Build communities
We will see social unrest rising in the next few years, part of the reason is a lack of social cohesiveness. Basically, if you make people live in shitty places they will find it difficult to curb their anger. Labour failed to build decent low cost housing, but “fixed” the issue through benefits (and, IMO through EMA which was a way to ensure that young people stayed in school and had some cash). Benefits are being slashed, EMA has been removed and people are still living in shitty housing.

We need a large scale community building programme. Ed Balls suggested £6bn worth last year. If we look at it as a long term solution, include local people so that they see the housing as theirs, we can design the communities to be low crime, healthy and have the integrated services people need.

We can also do some smart thinking with Green technologies and make these communities sustainable. Such innovations would be cost effective long term.

28. Lisa Ansell

Sunny- you are beginning to make yourself look a bit silly.

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2010/02/04/sunny-hundal-next-steps-for-liberal-conspiracy-and-the-blogging-left/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/27/blogging.digitalmedia
http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2009/07/blog-bits-interview-with-sunny-hundal.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYepItXCPi8

As an editor you are very clearly setting yourself up as an influential voice of the left, trying (by your own admission) drive debate. As the editor you pick and choose which articles get read(and I have some cracking examples of how teh articles you have shelved in the past few months, have contributed to your attempt to exclude those issues from the debate had here- if you want me to share them?). You edit articles in order to influence debate- and you pursue a media career on the basis of the principles which are clearly available on Liberal Conspiracy’s own site. You have successfully marketd Liberal Conspiracy as this, and nothing I have said would appear to outside the realms of appropriate discussion if this were a place for the left to discuss ‘ideas’.

Not only that but you have been presenting yourself as the very public face of so called attempts to ‘organise’ the left- including the rather embarrassing Netroots. I can link to upteen articles. Your regular missives on what ‘the left’ should do- seem to support the assertion that you wish to be viewed as some kind of blog where grassroots discussion about ‘left’ issues takes place. I find your difficulty addressing these concerns quite interesting, given your declarations of being a feminist man. Surely it would be something you would want? Voices marginalised by demonstrable gender, class, and economic inequality- to challenge when they are treated this way? Or is that only when the Daily Mail do it? We are welcome to do this when it suits Labour, but once Labour have decided policy this is no longer a problem?

Surely given the seriousness of the current situation, I have the right to call you out on the same things you have believed you were calling out the right wing for years? Or am I expected to pretend that the media is just something beyond my little northern head, and not recognise the impact of the political blogosphere in restricting debate around the current economic and social policy agenda?

And yes, I assume I you do perceive me as sharp= hence the refusal to debate with any of the issues I have raised. Beyond tweeting that I don’t understand irony, generally attempts to belittle me, and falsely accusing me of spamming you.

29. Lisa Ansell

THe youtube clip in that last comment Sunny-= you were great. Agree with much of what you say. In fact, seem to be arguing those very points….don’t you believe them any more?

@21 Ben M

In my opinion education should be in the private sector. Law & order, defence and a few other services should remain in the public sector.

A safety net should exist for the genuinely poor & needy.

To all those that talk of the money multiplier affect of people losing jobs and having reduced incomes, why don’t we pay all the millions of unemployed and those on incapacity benefits the average wage? That will surely stimulate the economy?

31. Lisa Ansell

Fungus- Re: ‘the poor and needy’

Our social policy is slightly more complicated than that. It relates directly to our economy, and low wages and massive house prices means much of our middle class is welfare dependent. This is seen in other countries with similar problems. Our welfare spending on the poorest and those unable to work- has been suppressed for decades- and the deprivation that has ensued has led to the need of a proliferation of services to meet those needs.
Social policy evidence incredibly important for understanding our economy and how to manage our public sector spending- and this level of political debate unlikely to get us anywhere in terms of solutions- because ultimately mainstream political debate dominated by those not affected and who wish to perpetuate ignorance about social policy to hide their own failings- but without realistic debate- solutions unlikely to emerge.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 30 Fungus

“In my opinion education should be in the private sector. Law & order, defence and a few other services should remain in the public sector.

A safety net should exist for the genuinely poor & needy.”

So what of the child whose moderately wealthy parents are too stingy to send him to school (or, if school is still mandatory, send him to the cheapest and crappest school available). Tough shit, enjoy your life on the checkouts?

33. Lisa Ansell

And now slating me in public, because you can’t respond to perfectly valid, pertinent and evidenced criticism? I thought you leftys were all about challenging this sort of thing?

@32

Yes, tough shit. You cannot choose your parents and unfortunately there are many bad parents out there. Don’t you think parents should have the right to bring up their children how they choose within the bounds of the law? Some parents are better than others.

Currently many children are already being sent to crap schools.

@ 26:

“But how has the cutting jobs scenario to save the economy worked out so far?”

The cuts weren’t due to start till this month, I believe, so we haven’t really had enough time to see.

36. Lisa Ansell

”Meanwhile you’re the “authentic voice” of the masses who everyone should listen to right? ” – Comedy gold. Keep digging, and yet you don’t have any response to valid criticisms. Is this good for ‘the left’ sunny?

37. Lisa Ansell

The cuts weren’t due to start till this month, I believe, so we haven’t really had enough time to see.

The cuts started way back in 2008- to social care and local authorities. They increased in 2009, and then the front loaded cuts announced post election have been gradually kicking in for months. The rest will be rolled out over the next two years. The benefit cuts have in fact kicked in, and there have already been many job losses. The sectors which saw the earliest cuts have been omitted from mainstream political debate and are those still to face the brunt of future cuts.

You edit articles in order to influence debate- and you pursue a media career on the basis of the principles which are clearly available on Liberal Conspiracy’s own site.

I see your sharp analysis knows no bounds. Yes I edit a blog and articles and choose which one go up and which ones don’t.

I find it amusing that you and your coterie of back-slappers on twitter spend half the day fulminating about how I shouldn’t be takien seriously, and the other half working themselves into an outrage about what I’ve said.

You can try and all me out and question me or whatever you want. You can write continuously about me on your blog or your twitter account as you already do: frankly it doesn’t bother me. I’m under no compulsion to listen to you or engage with you though. If you delude yourself into thinking that’s because you’re too sharp for me – fair enough. But again, your delusions don’t bother me either.

Richard: Nice list, but you are thinking short term.

I agree, but I do say that too 🙂

I think the housing plan is important, though I would probably more likely to put it in the medium-term category than short-term.

40. Lisa Ansell

Comedy gold. Keep digging Sunny. Still no response to the many perfectly valid criticisms I have made?

Aims of Liberal Conspiracy:
Tracking right-wing bias in the news; documenting absurd reporting from the press; campaigning for better regulation

Initially focused just on defending public services against Coalition cuts, this will later expand to incorprate a range of activism taking place in the UK.

”Liberal Conspiracy is a politics magazine and discussion site. It works in the form of a blog with multiple authors and several sections. Our aim is to re-invigorate the liberal-left in Britain through:

1. Having an intelligent conversation about liberal-left ideas and values
2. Campaigning for liberal-left policies and causes
3. Helping people get organised

We can no longer depend solely on political parties, trade unions or fragmented single-issue lobby groups to drive liberal-left values. The internet offers new tools to organise ourselves. We want to strengthen democratic liberal-left organisations, local and national, so this movement can be sustained over the long term. We want to be that online hub of information and collaboration.”

These are Liberal Conspiracies aims. Nothing I have said would appear to be anything but what Liberal Conspiracy strive to encourage. Now, I know you are used to debating with people for whom jibes(jibes which do little more than illustrate the points i have clearly laid out) are a substitute for political debate-but am afraid I am looking for the intelligent debate to reinvigorate the left.

Now if you could please respond to the perfectly valid criticisms I have made(all criticisms which you have feel are perfectly valid when aimed elsewhere).

XXX: The cuts weren’t due to start till this month, I believe, so we haven’t really had enough time to see.

This doesn’t just mean local council cuts – it also includes the rise of VAT from 15% to 20% and it includes the scare-mongering about austerity that went on before. All that feeds public perception and worries about the future

42. Lisa Ansell

”scare-mongering about austerity that went on before”’- oh Sunny. Thank you for posting that. Is it scaremongering when you are commissioning it and exploiting those affected for their sob stories, but not when Labour decide that it is ok? Please do illuminate me- I’ll go back and get Liberal Conspiracy links to evidence if you like. But is your website, am sure you have ample access to what you have published.

Lisa, this is Sunnys site, and he can write whatever he fucking wants to write. If you don’t like it, then piss off and start your own site.

@37. Lisa Ansell

The cuts started way back in 2008- to social care and local authorities. They increased in 2009, and then the front loaded cuts announced post election have been gradually kicking in for months. The rest will be rolled out over the next two years. The benefit cuts have in fact kicked in, and there have already been many job losses. The sectors which saw the earliest cuts have been omitted from mainstream political debate and are those still to face the brunt of future cuts.

Indeed, and don’t forget that there are two issues at the moment with the NHS:

1) Lansley’s pointless and damaging re-organisation,
2) the McKinsey £20bn of cuts.

#2 was announced by Burnham last year, it was quite rightly lambasted as cuts by the Tories, and then these cuts were embraced by Lansley when he got his hands on the NHS.

Don’t anyone be fooled by the idea that the “efficiency savings” have anything to do with efficiencies. The McKinsey report [sic, it was just a power point presentation backed up by little evidence] said that out of every 300 staff in the NHS, 35 must be sacked including 2 doctors, 10 nurses and 10 healthcare assistants. How can such a plan not be frontline cuts? Oh, and although we have loads of evidence about which hospitals are efficient and which aren’t, the “efficiency savings” are being applied equally across ALL of them. The £20bn is simply £20bn worth of cuts, pure and simple.

Before Labour can get any credibility over the NHS they have to address this issue and say that they were wrong to accept the McKinsey report, and then attack Cameron and Lansley over the NHS cuts.

Oh and before anyone says the Tories have “protected” the NHS, Lansley is bringing in cuts ON TOP of the £20bn by breaking their own ring fence pledge and taking £1bn a year off the NHS for social care, and a further £1.6bn a year (2% top sliced off PCT budgets) to pay for Lansley’s vanity re-organisation.

45. Lisa Ansell

Precisely Richard Blogger. And if one were to actually speak to the doctors and nurses in the NHS(Liberal Conspiracy can’t now that only debate which supports Labour is allowed)- you would find that actually Lansleys plan very much has its roots in the various reforms Labour were planning. And the door was very much opened to it by Labours planning.

A case in point, the realisation that the personalisation agenda would allow spending to be devolved to the individual rather than the organisation, ensured that even before the election it would be used to open the door to divesting health services of responsibility to deliver certain services. Coalition expanded the use of Direct Payments- Labour were going to do exactly the same. I saw business plans way back in April of last year which planned for it.

Many of the organisational changes within the NHS, and the marketisation which accelerated under Labour- are incredibly important to understand in the context of the Lansley plan. While Labour did increase investment in the NHS- one has to examine how much of the PFI stuff was actually value for money, and how much contributed to many of the problems the NHS has now.

When the BMA were slamming the Langley reforms, they were clear that it was now a problem which was due to the continual marketisation and top down intervention in the NHS- not just that happened in the year the coalition have been around.

Only by looking at the development of our public services under both Labour and the Conservatives, and widening debate beyond the slinging around of tribalism will we even begin to get that debate.

46. Chaise Guevara

@ 34 Fungus

“Yes, tough shit. You cannot choose your parents and unfortunately there are many bad parents out there. Don’t you think parents should have the right to bring up their children how they choose within the bounds of the law?”

Of course (who thinks people should be allowed to break the law?). But I don’t think that you should be legally allowed to keep your kids out of education.

The weird thing is that you started by making my point – some parents are bad and the child has no say in the matter – then followed on to say the solution is to, um, ignore the problem.

“Currently many children are already being sent to crap schools.”

Well, we could invest more into them to improve them, but I reckon you’d object to those awful poor people benefiting from your money.

47. Lisa Ansell

Actually Sally- I think you will find that this is a media outlet. And while Sunny can write ‘what the fuck he likes’- he is publishing and marketing it as adhering to principles upon which he based his site. Principles that he has been very clear about. In the blurb about the site at least.

And I have EVERY right to ask if Sunny is actually adhering to the values he claims to espouse, especially when it is having a very real effect on the narrative emerging. And as Sunny has gone to great lengths to tell everyone how clever he is at marketing his blog, and why- I have every right to challenge that.

So if you don’t like it- then don’t read it. Does it offend you as much when Sunny does it to right wing media outlets?

48. Paul Newman

1 Pledging to keep Public Sector Jobs is deeply unfair when the private sector live in conditions of constant pensionless job insecurity. The Public sector remember is better paid than the private sector more likely to be a home owner far better educated on average and has enjoyed larger increases in income.
No-one who has had any contact with the Public Sector whether in education , Local Government or policing , for example believes for one second that enormous efficiencies are not possible and while this may be uncomfortable that is how the people whop pay for it live.
This argument is simply suggesting throwing money at waste in the hope some of it lands somewhere useful
2 ‘Stimulating’ spending is only a flashy pre election trick and you are now advocating tax cuts and increased spending

Problem……

3 I am happy to listen to how the regulatory burden New Labour imposed on SMEs can be removed but what regions like the North East need is less National Pay scale non jobs making it impossible for them to employ anyone

Having said all that there were shreds of reality in this post , unlike most it at least appears to recognise that wealth must be created before it can be either “unfair ” or fair”. I have always worked in the world of SMEs and I imagine the many directors that read Liberal Conspiracy avidly will be encouraged and relieved 🙂

49. ronchester

sorry to be off topic and all that..but i saw this today (yeah yeah its form the SCUM waddya expect? all the same you dont think this is BIAS a bit?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/3534292/Heres-evidence-voting-Labour-can-make-you-sick-jobless-badly-educated-poor.html

50. Lisa Ansell

Pledging to keep Public Sector Jobs is deeply unfair when the private sector

Er. It doesn;’t really work like that. Cuts to public sector result in private sector job losses. Our public sector is more closely intertwined with our private than any other in any comparitive OECD country. In addition we lose more money out of public sector to private sector than any other country-with less efficiency.

Re: your discussion about public sector reform. As someone who has been in the public sector I can say yes- there are many savings you could make. Having an inefficient welfare system designed solely to tackle a level of fraud which is less than most private sector organisations would expect(in most business plans there is an expectation of loss through non payment etc)- and has resulted in a massively complicated organisation which results in 5 times more money being lost through error than fraud. Watching behind the scenes at a jobcentre is like watching punishing the poor become a job creation scheme- as each minor infraction of benefit rules demands forms to be filled in, changes to be made, and decisions to be referred to Secretary of State- because actually we have statutory responsibilities.

In social care, marketisation and fracturing of service delivery, atop deepening deprivation has created a web of administration and inefficiency which has to be seen to be believed. Some families now have 13 or 14 services attempting to work together, to meet needs that should be met by one or two professionals- or which would probably never have emerged had it not been for the stress of poverty in the first place. Preventable poverty, whiich would have cost less than the services needed to treat it.

I am unsure how extended the policies which caused the rpoblems in the first place, will do anything to cut waste.

A debate about public service reform which analysed our public services in terms of what they do, and what they do well and badly would be great. As would a debate about cutting waste. Unfortunately we have a debate examining the morality of the poor, and assuming the public sector is not the complex and nationwide organisation that it is- but a one sentence soundbite.

A debate about the difference between want and need., and the impact on public sector budgets of cutting both might also be great. That way we could have reform that was needed, rather than slash and burn based on soundbites.

51. Lisa Ansell

And round here- it is small medium sized business who feed the contracted out responsibilities of our public sector, depend on the low and fixed income spending, feed extra services to our public sector- and are dependent on the money spent by those working in the public sector. And they aren’t doing that great.

Paul: I have always worked in the world of SMEs and I imagine the many directors that read Liberal Conspiracy avidly will be encouraged and relieved

Heh. As someone who’s tried to start up companies in the past, I’m a big SMEs advocate! I think our politicians and economy is far too geared towards appeasing big corporates.

53. Lisa Ansell

Heh. As someone who’s tried to start up companies in the past, I’m a big SMEs advocate! I think our politicians and economy is far too geared towards appeasing big corporates.-

See- when you say something with conviction, and that comes from actual knowledge or principles it is convincing. And I agree. Biggest trip ups in starting mine have been bills payable to large corporations who have me over a barrel not government paperwork.

Cutting Business Link, getting rid of RDAs who would offer SME loans and grants starting at £5k, and replacing with a regional growth fund with a min investment of £1million wasn;t helpful to small businesses. Nor was cutting the personal allowances SME can use to invest in machinery to pay for a corporation tax cut that would benefit companies who are able to choose which country to trade in. This is generally agreed to be a jobless recovery, ie one for our financial and corporate sector. And the strategy chosen by both main parties is one that sacrifices SME for that recovery. As well as attacking the parts of the economy that keep SME afloat. It is also SME’s who will feel the cost of there being less support available for their staff- as they have to subsidise what is being cut in order to keep their workforce functioning.

If your admin person is worried about losing their home, and not able to pay the bills- you either pay them extra or suffer what happens to their performance.

54. Mr S. Pill

Erm who the bloody hell is Lisa Ansell & what on earth is her problem?? Sheesh. As Sally said: if you don’t like it don’t read it. I don’t read Guido Fawkes (for example) for exactly that reason.

Sunny:

“it also includes the rise of VAT from 15% to 20%”

I thought we were discussing the effects of job cuts rather than tax rises?

“and it includes the scare-mongering about austerity that went on before.”

Which probably has had an effect; although I suspect this effect will reverse when the more apocalyptic predictions made by some on the left don’t come true.

56. AnotherTom

fantasy economics from sunny. cutting the tax take in the hope that the economy might grow. in the meantime borrow more from bondholders while also attacking the financial sector with a meaningless and impossible tax (have you actually thought through the robin hood tax?).

@9 Ben M (and others)

Your logic is that if you sack a public secotro worker they have less money to spend, which then affects the private sector. The extension of your logic is that the government should simply employ loads more people all the time, or jsut pay more for the dole as this would give people more money to spend which would then help the private sector.

This is also quite patently nonsense.

*Some* public sector workers add value, and the function they provide allows the private sector to function better. Effectively the multiplier on the tax the private sector pays to have this function is greater than 1. Clearly though this isn’t always the case. Some public sector jobs aren’t worth the tax we pay for them.

The multiplier effect is not always positive, as many on this board and the left in general assmue.

The fallacy comes when people assume that money somehow disappears from the system if a public sector worker is moved to the dole. It doesn’t. That money is either kept by the private sector (through less taxation) and is also spent or can be used by government to pay down debt (or have a smaller deficit). Remember – interest payments are almost wholly unproductive spending.

@ Sunny (article)

1. See above. Public sector jobs DON’T always have a positive multiplier effect, and even if some do, private sector jobs or even less debt servicing can outweigh the benefits.

4. Robin Hood tax and mansion taxes? Oh please….the Robin Hood tax would immediately get passed on to end users – consumers and corporates. Banks wouldn’t pay a cent more. Mansion taxes would do more harm than good on so many levels – to pensioners, to the mortgage market and to the housing market in general. Besides – we already have a mansion tax in the 4% stamp duty rate.

58. AnotherTom

Trying to be constructive …

The British left response to economic uncertainty has been to fetishise on growth statistics but there has been limited investigation into what such growth means. (I struggle to take unresearched attacks on the financial sector particularly seriously.)

Maybe it would be interesting to focus on the type of growth being sought rather than political point-scoring (hello Duncan Weldon, Sunny) by manipulating and cherry-picking misunderstood statistics.

59. AnotherTom

Oh, just for accuracy’s sake …

“This doesn’t just mean local council cuts – it also includes the rise of VAT from 15% to 20% and it includes the scare-mongering about austerity that went on before.”

The rise was from 17.5%. The rate rose from 15% to 17.5% the previous year (by Darling). There was little conclusive proof that the VAT cut had any effect, other than to add costs to small businesses.

And on “scaremongering”. I think the vast majority of the scaremongering from the government has concerned the UK state’s debt load. This is because they believe the state can’t keep borrowing more and more and expect bondholders to lend to them. I know the financially illiterate assume this is meaningless, but it’s quite different to the kind of scaremongering about “austerity” (pur-leese, that phrase is an insult to our parents’ generation) and “cuts” (which are actually increases in spending), from the media and Labour.

Look, I know that media success in this country comes from spouting cr*p until people around you believe in you (hello Boris Johnson), but don’t try to make truth claims based on it.

60. Lisa Ansell

It is scaremongering when it is demonstrating what is ALREADY happening?

61. AnotherTom
62. ronchester

when i saw that SUN site about how voting labour would make you ill..i thought it was a joke .like the harry enfield L is for Labour L is for Lice..has this battle sunk to that level now…


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  2. Liam Shields

    RT @libcon: What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  3. Steve Hynd

    RT @libcon: What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  4. sunny hundal

    What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  5. Edward Bearryman

    RT @sunny_hundal: What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  6. Justin McKeating

    RT @sunny_hundal: What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk < no joined up writing or toilet skills?

  7. Mark

    http://bit.ly/fSaGar Agree bar Robin Hood tax. Was initially pro, but it simply requires too much international cooperation to be viable.

  8. Lisa Ansell

    What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WE8X2nw via @libcon Haha!

  9. Andy Bean

    What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/bpFOmbM via @libcon

  10. Phil Grisley

    RT @sunny_hundal: What I would focus on if I were the Shadow Chancellor http://bit.ly/fns9rk

  11. Lisa Ansell

    Sunny Hundal deigns to respond.http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/#comments

  12. Lisa Ansell

    Here is a recap of how I have spent the afternoon procrastinating.http://tiny.cc/tl3r4

  13. Dan

    referring to comments he made to lisa ansell here btw. knowingly ignorant of good arguments against his articles. http://tinyurl.com/684nxyx

  14. Hiren Desai

    @benullmann if youre genuinely interested to know why i hate sunny hundal, look at the comments of this post http://tinyurl.com/684nxyx

  15. Naomi Colvin

    RT @lisaansell: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/#comments THis is why Sunn …

  16. Bradley Manning UK

    RT @lisaansell: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/#comments THis is why Sunn …

  17. Bored London Gurl

    RT @lisaansell: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/#comments THis is why Sunn …

  18. sunny hundal

    @samseaford here you go: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/

  19. SSP Campsie

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/04/27/what-i-would-focus-on-if-i-were-the-shadow-chancellor/

  20. Ma

    http://t.co/fXNpUT2q The thread that got me banned from @libcon





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