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Britons more likely to support a party committed to public ownership

by Newswire     October 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

A new poll has found that 46% of voters would be more likely to vote for a party promoting public ownership instead of outsourcing and privatisation by default.

Only 11% of voters were less likely to support such a party, suggesting that the centreground of politics has shifted away from privatisation of utilities. 43% said it wouldn’t make a difference to their vote.

63% of Labour voters, 52% of Liberal Democrat voters and 25% of Conservative voters said they would be more likely to vote for such a party. 49% of UKIP voters would also be more likely to vote for a party with this policy.

The poll was conducted by Survation for We Own It, a new campaign group calling for public ownership to be the default option for public services. The group is campaigning for a Public Service Users Bill to give service users a voice in the process of contracting out and selling off public services.

The Bill would require local and national government to look at public ownership best practice before outsourcing or privatising services. This would mean that the public would be consulted before the Royal Mail was sold off, or before railway services were contracted out, for example.

Here are the full Survation poll details (PDF).

Labour to ambush Tories on their links to energy lobbyists

by Newswire     October 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

The Labour leadership will amend the Lobbying Bill to ensure greater transparency in the Tory-led government’s relationship with the ‘big six’ energy companies.

According to a report in Monday’s Independent newspaper, DECC ministers have met with representatives of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms in the Department of Energy and Climate Change at least 128 times since May 2010.

By contrast, DECC ministers have met with the main groups representing energy consumers – including Which? and Consumer Focus – 26 times in the same period, just a fifth of the total number of meetings with Big Energy.

But David Cameron is breaking his promises to clean up the lobbying industry because, under his Government’s watered-down Bill:
· only a fraction of lobbyists would have to register and this will not include the in house lobbyists used by the big energy firms.
· there will be no code of conduct requiring lobbyists to meet minimum standards
· the revolving door between Government and the Bix Six lobbyists will continue to spin.

In a statement last night, Ed Miliband said:

We have a broken energy market that isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses. Yet rather than act this Tory-led Government is letting energy firms overcharge millions of families who are struggling to pay their ever-rising energy bills. No wonder the public thinks David Cameron stands up for the wrong people.

Unlike David Cameron, I will stand up to vested interests.

And we will bring in a universal register of all professional lobbyists, along with a code of conduct backed by sanctions. We will put families struggling with their energy bills first.

This week, when the Lobbying Bill returns to the House of Commons, Labour will seek to amend the proposals to ensure:
· all lobbyists have to register, including in-house lobbyists such as those used by the big energy companies
· the new system has a code of conduct – with real sanctions.
· proper oversight of potential conflicts of interest when appointments are made in government

Mail reporter gatecrashed Miliband memorial

by Newswire     October 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm

The Daily Mail sent one of its reporters to sneak in, uninvited, into a memorial event for Ed Miliband’s uncle, to question members of his family about Ralph Miliband.

The leader of the Labour party today sent an angry letter to Lord Rothermere to complain about the newspaper’s actions.

Dear Lord Rothermere,

Yesterday I spoke at a memorial event held at Guy’s Hospital in London for my uncle, Professor Harry Keen, a distinguished doctor who died earlier this year. It was an event in a room on the 29th floor of Guy’s Hospital which was attended only by family members, close friends and colleagues.

I was told by one of my relatives late yesterday evening that a reporter from the Mail on Sunday had found her way into the event uninvited. I also discovered that, once there, she approached members of my family seeking comments on the controversy over the Daily Mail’s description of my late father as someone who “hated Britain”.

My wider family, who are not in public life, feel understandably appalled and shocked that this can have happened.

The Editor of the Mail on Sunday has since confirmed to my office that a journalist from his newspaper did indeed attend the memorial uninvited with the intention of seeking information for publication this weekend.

Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.

There are many decent people working at those newspapers and I know that many of them will be disgusted by this latest episode. But they will also recognise that what has happened to my family has happened to many others.

I believe no purpose would be served by me complaining to the Press Complaints Commission because it is widely discredited.

Instead, I am writing to you as the owners of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday because I believe it is long overdue that you reflect on the culture of your newspapers. You should conduct your own swift investigation into who was responsible at a senior level for this latest episode and also who is responsible for the culture and practices of these newspapers which jar so badly with the values of your readers.

There are bigger issues for the people of Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for a century than intrusion into the life of my family. But the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country.

It is now your responsibility to respond.

Ed Miliband

A ten point plan to strengthen workers’ rights in the UK

by Newswire     September 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

The think-tank Institute of Employment Rights has today published a set of policy proposals to strenthen the labour movement and collective bargaining in the UK.

They point out that economic growth and resilience is strengthened by the resulting increase in demand for businesses’ services and products when income inequality is reduced.

The ten-point manifesto is aimed at Labour MPs

1) A Ministry of Labour should be established: to give working people a voice in government to counteract the voice of powerful corporate interests. One of the duties of the new department will be to promote collective bargaining;

2) ACAS should encourage sectoral collective bargaining: Legislation should be introduced to delegate from the proposed Ministry of Labour to ACAS (or a similar body) the duty to encourage the establishment of sectoral collective bargaining;

3) Employers should be encouraged to participate in collective agreements: The legislation should include measures designed to oblige all employers to participate in these arrangements, including a provision that participation is a pre-condition of the award of all public contracts;

4) Sectoral bargaining should determine pay and conditions: The legislation relating to sectoral bargaining should make provision for the determination of pay and other working conditions, provide procedures for the resolution of disputes, and deal with skills, training and productivity;

5) Sectoral bargaining agreements should be inderogable: The legislation relating to sectoral bargaining should provide for the legalisation of sectoral agreements, so that the appropriate terms of the agreements in question become inderogable terms and conditions of all workers in the sector;

6) CAC should resolve disputes about sectoral boundaries: The legislation relating to sectoral bargaining should include a power vested in the CAC to resolve disputes about sectoral boundaries, and to determine which collective agreement is applicable to which employer in case of disputes;

7) The new scheme should be implemented gradually and flexibly: The statutory scheme providing for sectoral bargaining should be implemented gradually and flexibly, the agencies responsible for its development being empowered to respond to the specific needs of each sector; in industries without the apparent infrastructure to support collective bargaining, wages councils should be instituted;

8) Trade unions should be recognised where 10% of the workforce are members: There should be an overhaul of the statutory recognition procedure so that trade unions are entitled to be recognised by an employer on demonstrating 10% membership and evidence of majority support verified by the CAC;

9) Every trade union should have the right to bargain on behalf of its members: When that threshold for recognition on behalf of a defined bargaining unit is not met there should be a statutory right of every trade union to recognition by an employer to bargain on behalf of its members;

10) Every worker should have the right to be represented by their trade union: The existing statutory right to be accompanied should be overhauled so that every worker has the right to be represented by his or her trade union on all matters relating to his or her employment.

The ten-point manifesto has already attracted the official backing of Unite, Unison, GMB, NUT, PCS, CWU, UCU, RMT and ATL.

ED Miliband: Labour will SCRAP the Bedroom Tax

by Newswire     September 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm

The leader of the Labour Party will tomorrow commit the next Labour government to repealing David Cameron’s bedroom tax, and announce he and Ed Balls have already earmarked funds to pay for it.

Speaking in Brighton at the start of the Labour Party conference, ED Miliband will say the Bedroom Tax has become a symbol of an out of touch government standing up only for the interests of a privileged few.

He will describe how two-thirds of the 660,000 people affected are disabled and the vast majority do not have the option of moving to smaller accommodation.

Although both the National Housing Federation and the National Audit Office have questioned whether the Bedroom Tax will raise all, or even any, of the £470 million claimed by the Treasury, Miliband will reiterate that One Nation Labour will not pay for promises on social security with extra borrowing.

Instead, he will say money is being earmarked to pay for the repeal of the bedroom tax by closing boardroom loophole schemes and tax scams.

· Reversing George Osborne’s £150 million tax cut for hedge funds announced in Budget 2013.

· Scrapping George Osborne’s “shares for rights” scheme which has been rejected by businesses and has opened up a tax loophole of up to £1 billion.

· Tackling tax scams in the construction industry which is costing £500million in lost revenue.

He will say in his speech:

The bedroom tax – not what the Tories call the spare room subsidy – the bedroom tax: a symbol of an out of touch, uncaring Tory government that stands up for the privileged few – but never for you.

So we will scrap that tax. And what’s more I can tell you how.

We’ll scrap the bedroom tax by abolishing the shady schemes of tax loopholes for the privileged few which the Tories keep inventing. Tax cuts for hedge funds, the billion pound black hole created with a scheme for workers to sell their rights for shares, and by tackling scams which cheat the taxpayer in construction.

That’s what a One Nation Labour government will do. That’s a party that will fight for you.

The Labour party conference starts officially on Sunday and ends up Wednesday.

Watch: UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom hits Michael Crick in the face

by Newswire     September 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm

When Channel 4 News Political Correspondent Michael Crick asked Ukip’s Godfrey Bloom why there were no black faces on his party’s conference brochure, he wasn’t bargaining on Mr Bloom’s response.

As a side point – pointing out people’s race isn’t racist, discriminating against them because of their race that is racist.

Watch: presenter mistakes paper stack for iPad

by Newswire     September 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

BBC news presenter Simon McCoy left viewers baffled today when he presented a report while carrying a stack of photocopier paper – after mistaking it for an iPad

(via @joshhalliday)

Model Jodie Marsh attacks Co-op ban on ‘lads mags’

by Newswire     September 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Following the decision by Coop to take Lads mags off their shelves entirely, the fitness model Jodie Marsh launched an impassioned defence of the controversial publications on Twitter.

Here is the multiple-tweet point she made. Do you agree?

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Jodie Marsh is biased here though, as she earns money from those magazines.

But what about the women who are impacted from those mags?

Writer Vicky Beeching pointed out earlier how Lads mags affected her

- It damaged my understanding of what it means to be a woman; the lie that we are only worth as much as the attractiveness of our bodies.

- It taught me from a tiny age that to get men’s attention, women “have” to look a certain way and that becoming physically attractive should be our all-consuming task.

- It hit me with the reality that women are sex objects within culture and this must just be accepted not challenged. Even though this deeply upset me as a little girl I already felt like I was faced with the need to accept this as the norm.

- It actually made me not want to be a woman as I felt like my ‘lot’ in life was a terrible one: that I was destined to spend my days fighting to look attractive only in order to be used as some kind of object.

Both sides have a point?

‘Labour will outlaw abusive use of zero-hour contracts’

by Newswire     September 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

Ed Miliband will tomorrow (Tuesday) declare that a One Nation Labour government will outlaw the exploitative use of zero hour contracts that make life a misery for thousands of families.

In a speech to the TUC in Bournemouth, he will return to his theme of building an economy which works for working people, saying a recovery which benefits only a few at the top is not only unfair but also unstable.

Mr Miliband will set out some of the big reforms Labour will make to create an economy which works for working people including measures to get young people back to work, improve vocational education and create more apprenticeships.

Although the flexibility of zero hours contracts can benefit both employers and employees in some circumstances, the increasing use of such contracts has left too many families insecure, and exposed others to the risk of exploitation.

Some employees are forced to be available whenever the employer requires them, even if there is no work. Others are required to work exclusively for one employer, and yet have no guarantee that they will get adequate amounts of work in return. Still more are on zero hours contracts even though in practice they work regular hours.

Mr Miliband will say that a Labour government will outlaw the exploitative use of zero hours contracts.

He will propose three specific measures:

· Banning employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work.

· Stopping zero hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business.

· Ending the misuse of zero hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period

Labour MP: Ed M needs to talk to unions with “respect”

by Newswire     September 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

The Labour party leader needs to have a respectful discussion with Trade union leaders, a key Labour MP said today.

The comment underscores the extent to which unions feel like the Labour party is marginalising them and not treating them as equals.

In comments made to the Newcastle Journal newspaper this morning, Ian Lavery MP, chair of the trade union group of Labour MPs, said:

We need the party to work with the trade unions on an understanding of respect so that we can avoid the financial meltdown which could face us as a party.

Labour needed to work with the unions not just for money, he added:

We have an election to prepare for a year from now and I’m not sure we are going to be in a good position, the trade unions provide more than just money, it is support and manpower at election times.

He said he expected other unions to consider substantially reducing their financial support to the Labour party too.


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