To read some of the Thatcher hating twitter and blog posts about at the moment and you’d think that Labour had spent all of the 1980’s and early 90’s winning the argument. You’d think that Margaret Thatcher was hated by everyone when she kept winning. You’d think that she was despised by people now – when polls say that is far from being the case. If we are to win again anytime soon then we must not rewrite history. We need to remember that from 1979 – 1997 we were in opposition because we kept losing. And we kept losing because more people voted for Margaret Thatcher (and John Major) than voted Labour... Peter Watts, former General Secretary of the Labour Party, writing on Margaret Thatcher.
I recommend five simple reforms (in boardroom pay).
1 Annual, binding shareholder votes on board pay. 2 Pay would be radically simplified, with a single figure used for total compensation. 3 Pay would be linked very closely to shareholder value and would go down as well as up; fixed base pay would be kept to a minimum. 4 We need simple contracts that allow CEOs to be fired for breaching performance targets without a pay-off. 5 Remuneration committees should have to explain to shareholders once a year how they are getting value for money from executives – their incentive should be to try and reduce pay to save shareholders’ money, not the other way around.
Rewards for failure must be rooted out, owners of companies empowered and boards made to represent shareholder interests. It’s radical stuff – but not to be confused with waging war on genuine success.
Women make up the majority of public sector workers. They are also the largest recipients of welfare and represent the main users of public services in this country. And yes, there is certainly a glass ceiling evident in the upper echelons of big business. But Labour supporters suggesting that Coalition cuts are aimed specifically at women is not only disingenuous, but actually offensive.
Because more than 50% of public sector workers are women - where government spending cuts occur - we are told that the Coalition is specifically targeting women. What rubbish. Everyone knows that whoever was in power, the government would be making savings in the public sector. It can hardly cut the private sector. Womens jobs will therefore be hit disproportionately as a result.
This whole narrative about how the government is being anti-women is a Labour-led theme that is deeply dishonest. Child benefit for instance should be a gender non-specific issue. The truth is that family's are suffering with the cuts forced on us by Labour's overspending, and will continue to do so until public spending once again returns to a manageable 41% of GDP in three years time. A level at which it was maintained by governments of all political persuasions throughout the 80's, 90's and naughties. Sure Start - another 'female issue' according to Labour, as if children and their fathers do not belong together - are also being cut by the Coalition we are told. This is not true. It depends on local authorities as to how they spend their money. Conservative Nottingham county council for instance, have actually increased the number of Sure Start centres in their area.
It's about time the debate over how the public spending cuts forced on us by Labour's overspending took place at an honest level.
We are using fiscal bullying to try to turn the Greeks and Italians into Germans writes Boris Johnson in today's Telegraph. The whole European enterprise is now devoted to keeping the euro alive on the utterly specious grounds that the currency is synonymous with “Europe”. We are nailing shut the exits of William Hague’s famous burning building. British taxpayers going to be shelling out ever more in bail-out dosh, much of which will ultimately go to banks and bankers’ bonuses. And all the while the southern EU members will be put on ever tougher austerity regimes that frankly don’t suit their needs. No matter how hard I diet, I won’t look like a championship athlete. The Greeks can’t become Germans, and it is brutal to force them to try.
I find it incredible that Europeans appear to shrug their shoulders without care as the Euro continues relentlessly to consign millions to the waste of mass-unemployment, trash billions of hard-earned retirement savings and remorselessly replace democratically elected leaders with EU-approved, unelected technocrats. And so far, what has been the EU's answer to the greatest financial crisis of the modern era? More EU, deeper integration, and no democracy.
None of us can believe that Merkel, Sarkosy or the EU technocracy are in any way inspired by the rise of National Socialism that so consumed Europe in the 1930's - destroying participatory democracy and ending in the deaths of millions of ordinary Europeans who did not submit to the will of a small unelected, ideologically-driven elite, who believed they knew better than the people they ruled.
Perhaps a revision (of Gordon Brown's time as Prime Minister) is in order, writes Jonathan Freedland in today's Comment is Free. He concludes with the words, Labour, whose future prospects partly depend on knowing what to say about its recent past, should do it sooner... And therein lies the point. Gordon Brown was the worst Prime Minister in British history - Freedland's piece makes that quite clear if you read between the lines. The real agenda here is not about putting right the catastrophic mistakes which we are still desperately trying to overcome, but the fact that Labour is unelectable until either the popular conscience has forgotten about Labour's disasterous economic mismanagement or the history of that dark period is re-written. With the chilling words Labour... should do it sooner, Freedland begins the process.
You would think that including a democratically legitimate basis on which the Greek bailout terms could be ratified, would be a smart move for any politician pushing through not just difficult, but unpalatable reforms that will effect ordinary Greek citizens for the next generation.
Prime Minister Papandreou's decision to put the bailout terms to a popular referendum looked not just brave, but absolutely essential, given the nature and extent of cuts now being imposed upon Greek public spending. At a stroke, the Greek people would be bound tightly into the process, giving it the ultimate legitimacy, and the weight that only democratic participation can incur. Remember, we're talking about the cradle of democracy here. Greece invented a political process that millions throughout modern history have fought and died for - as more than 4000 Syrians in the last few months add testimony to.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It now seems that Papandreou will be forced to resign for involving democracy in the political process. There is talk of a nationalist Coalition being formed after his departure in order that the question will not require a referendum - on the pretext that a Coalition will involve all major parties, so there's no need to ask the people for a democratic mandate.
It certainly looks like the EU will do almost anything to avoid democratic accountability...