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The funniest questions Twitter asked of British Gas boss today

by Sunny Hundal     October 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Earlier today, British Gas tweeted this

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Ruh roh. Can anyone see a train crash coming?

Thankfully, Twitter did not disappoint.

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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).

Even Mail readers think it should be sorry for Miliband piece

by Sunny Hundal     October 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

A YouGov poll today has terrible news for the Daily Mail – the public overwhelmingly side with Miliband.

On the principle of writing about and criticising Ralph Miliband’s views and his potential influence on Ed Miliband, only 26% of people think that this was acceptable.

Asked specifically about the Mail calling Ralph Miliband the “man who hated Britain” just 17% thought the Mail’s language was acceptable, 72% unacceptable.

69% of people think that the Daily Mail should apologise.

50% to 42% Mail readers think it was unacceptable for the paper to write about and criticise Ralph Miliband’s views, and by 60% to 29% they think it was unacceptable to use language like the “man who hated Britain”. 57% of the Mail’s own readers think they should apologise.

78% of people think that Ed Miliband was right to complain to the Mail, and a quarter of people say the way he has reacted to the Mail’s attack has made them view Ed Miliband more positively.

(via UK Polling Report)

Ouch!

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.

Labour moves much closer to repealing Bedroom Tax

by Sunny Hundal     September 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

On reports that 50,000 Britons are facing eviction over the Bedroom Tax, last night Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, released this statement:

These appalling figures prove once and for all that while this government stands up for a privileged few, a debt bombshell is exploding for a generation of people.

While the nation’s millionaires get a huge tax cut, thousands more now confront arrears and eviction from which they’ll never recover. This is final proof as if we needed it, that the hated tax must be dropped and dropped now.

This is the strongest sign I’ve seen so far by the Labour leadership that they’re planning to announce a repealing of the tax if they come into power, in 2015.

I suspect that Ed Balls MP has kept everyone’s hands tied back, so Labour cannot yet announce this policy until they’ve laid out a proper budget.

Maybe it will be in the Labour leader’s speech at conference.

Remember when Lib Dems opposed Free School Meals?

by Sunny Hundal     September 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

Today Nick Clegg will announce that every child at infant school in England will receive free lunches from next September.

This has already been policy at several Labour-controlled councils across London.

Amusingly, the same policy was repeatedly attacked by Lib Dems in the past.

Here are Islington Lib Dems

Islington Liberal Democrat councillors have slammed Labour’s plans for taxpayer-funded school meals in the borough as expensive and not helping those most in need.

Liberal Democrats have identified the following problems with Labour’s plans to introduce taxpayer-funded meals for primary children:
- the Labour Government won’t fund a pilot scheme as Islington doesn’t meet its criteria so local taxpayers will have to pick up the whole tab.
- it does nothing for secondary school children for whom there is much greater need.
- will lead to a dramatic drop in Government schools funding for Islington as it is based on number of people who sign-up for free school meals
- will give taxpayer-funded school meals to families who can afford to pay for them.
- will mean subsidising families living in other boroughs using local schools.

Last year, Southwark Lib Dems too called on Labour to scrap Free School Meals for primary pupils.

And there are MPs too!

It’s going to be interesting to see how Lib Dems spin this.

‘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

Study: Tory voices on BBC four times as much as Labour

by Sunny Hundal     August 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

A study by researchers at Cardiff University has found that in 2012 David Cameron outnumbered Ed Miliband by a factor of nearly four to one (53 vs 15) in reports on on immigration, the EU and religion across the BBC.

It also found that for reporting of all topics, Conservative politicians were featured more than 50% more often than Labour ones (24 vs 15) across the two time periods on the BBC News at Six.

It is usually the case that incumbents get more coverage than opposition politicians.

But the difference is remarkable. Labour leaders and ministers outnumbered Conservative shadow ministers by approximately two to one in 2007. By 2012 this has become four-to-one in favour of the Tories.

The evidence is even more stark for the BBC’s coverage of businesses versus trade unions:

In both 2007 and 2012, across all programming, business representatives received substantially more airtime on BBC network news (7.5% and 11.1% of source appearances) than they did on either ITV (5.9% and 3.8%) or Channel 4 News (2.4% and 2.2%). When we compare the representation of business with that of organised labour, the findings are even more striking.

On BBC News at Six, business representatives outnumbered trade union spokespersons by more than five to one (11 vs 2) in 2007 and by 19 to one in 2012. On the issues of immigration and the EU in 2012, out of 806 source appearances, not one was allocated to a representative of organised labour. Considering the impact of the issues on the UK workforce, and the fact that trade unions represent the largest mass democratic organisations in civil society, such invisibility raises troubling questions for a public service broadcaster committed to impartial and balanced coverage.


Today programme banking crisis interviewees 15/9/2008 to 20/10/2008.

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The range of debate was even narrower if we examine who the programme featured as interviewees in the two week period around the UK bank bailouts

More on the study at The Conversation

Guardian ed “cannot explain” why GCHQ wanted their computers destroyed

by Sunny Hundal     August 20, 2013 at 12:52 am

The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, in an extraordinary piece published tonight, wrote:

And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. ‘We can call off the black helicopters,’ joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

“Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London.”

Wait… what? Why was this not reported by the newspaper earlier? And why was this anecdote buried halfway down a piece weeks later?

But put that aside for a moment. Two key questions arise from those paragraphs above: first, why did the Guardian not report this when it happened? second, why didn’t they fight it in court?

The answer to the first question seems to be that he was stopped from reporting on the incident. When asked in the comments what he made of the officials’ reactions to what happened, Alan Rusbridger writes:

I can’t explain their actions, sorry.

On the second point, it looks like the reason the Guardian didn’t report on this, or fight it, is because they wanted to avoid the courts.

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Let’s see if all the newspapers that were crying about press freedom earlier say something about this incident now.


Update: the headline has been amended to reflect new information.

Cameron the worst PM for living standards in history

by Sunny Hundal     August 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

An analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics out today show that David Cameron has been in Downing Street for 36 months of falling real wages – more than any Prime Minister on record.

No other British PM has seen so many consecutive months of falling real wages, where the annual rise in wages is lower than the rate of inflation.

Prices have risen faster than wages in all but one month since May 2010 – in April 2013 when he cut taxes for millionaires and bank bonuses soared.

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The analysis, published by the Labour party today, shows that average earnings are £1,350 a year lower than they were at the time of the last General Election. This means workers are on average earning today the same as they made in 2001.

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Over the last three years since this Government came to office, no other G7 country has seen workers’ incomes in real terms fall by as much as the UK.

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The Labour party will focus on living standards as a response to claims that the economy is recovering, pointing out that the so-called ‘recovery’ is not helping low and middle-income families.


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