The Greek government is discovering quickly how imprisoned they are by all the accumulated debts and the Euro they inherit. Being part of the iron discipline of the Eurozone makes things worse. Argentina, Venezuela and others show that whilst having you own currency can help  with devaluation  staving off disaster for longer, you can also come badly unstuck as a country if the state spends and borrows too much even with its own currency. If you devalue too much overseas debt becomes very expensive, and imports too become much less affordable.

There are some who think it is always caring for the state to spend more. There is always more poverty to relieve, more good works the government might like to undertake, more public service to increase and improve. The problem is if you overdo it, far from being more caring, the government ends up making brutal cuts at the insistence of its creditors. I doubt Greece wanted to cut pubic sector wages and make large cash reductions in what they spend on their health service, but they were driven to that by poor financial management.

There are others who think that it is always good for an economy for the state sector to run large deficits. They argue that the private sector or the overseas sector can easily lend a surplus to the state, so isn’t it better if the state deliberately overspends so there is more spending and activity in the economy? Unfortunately this doesn’t work out either. Greece has just shown you can have a recession which loses you 25% of output whilst continuing throughout that period to run much larger deficits than more successful countries. If running up large state debts produced good growth and wealth increases, then we should expect countries like Greece, Argentina and Venezuela to be amongst the richest in the world.

I hope the UK is reminded of the lessons of prudence by the parlous Greek state. Borrow too much and you reach the point where no-one wishes to lend you any more. Borrow too much and you have to spend more and more of your income on interest charges, leaving less for what you need. Borrow too much and you end up having to cut drastically as your creditors insist.

In each case there is also all the spending which is not as advertised. Governments spend too much on themselves very often, and are commonly inefficient and badly managed. In a country like Greece tax collection is very difficult, as so many people scorn the state they live in, regarding the taxes as unfair or avoidable.

 

The latest polling shows that Blair and his acolytes have lost the argument over the direction for Labour policy.   A YouGov poll of 1,655 participants reported yesterday that by a majority of more than 2:1 they were anti-austerity, anti-war and wanted less subservience to the US, and anti-big business and over-mighty corporations.   But...
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The post Blair wrong that centre ground wins elections: not this time appeared first on Michael Meacher MP.

In late March 2003, I wrote to Tony about the Iraq War. Tony Blair believed it would reduce the threat of terrorism and destroy WMDs. The result was that Al Qaeda multiplied into worse groups and the WMDs had long gone.
 
'Our involvement in Bush’s war will increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Attacking a Muslim state without achieving a fair settlement of the Palestine–Israeli situation is an affront to Muslims, from our local mosques to the far-flung corners of the world. A pre-emptive attack of the kind we have made on Iraq will only deepen the sense of grievance among Muslims that the Western/Christian/Jewish world is out to oppress them. This will provide a propaganda victory to Osama Bin Laden and can only increase his support and the likelihood of more acts of terrorism.
 
In the Commons you repeated that it is an article of faith to you that Britain and the USA should have a common foreign policy. Fine when there is an American President such as Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Carter or Clinton: disastrous when it is a right wing fundamentalist Republican such as Bush.'
 
The vote on the Iraq war was the foulest episode of the Blair government. It was the whips who won it for Tony. The 139 Labour MPs who voted on a severe three-line whip against British involvement were not enough. There were 80 other Labour MPs who had indicated their worries by their support for amendments and Early Day Motions. They were bribed, bullied and bamboozled into voting for war, or abstaining. I wonder if Tony and the whips ever dwell on the thought that 179 British lives would not have been lost if they had told the truth and desisted from bellicose bullying.
Later Tony pontificated on the merits of ‘hard power’ and ‘soft power’ military interventions. He exulted in the merits of deploying ‘hard power’. Experience proved otherwise.
It was the ‘hard’ choice to back Bush’s war in Iraq and to invade the Helmand province. Hundreds of British soldiers and an uncounted number of Afghans have been killed and little has been gained. It was ‘hard’ of Israel to invade Lebanon. It was ‘soft’ to call for a cease-fire. According to a Labour minister that would have been a ‘meaningless gesture’. Not for the children buried alive at Qana, the thousand killed and the millions whose homes were bombed to rubble.
It was ‘soft power’ to use our brilliantly effective troops to save hundreds of thousands of lives in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Bosnia. If we had not over-committed ourselves in Iraq and Afghanistan, we could have embarked on ‘soft’ peacekeeping missions in Darfur.

        

THE humble polling booth is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

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I appreciate that this is an issue on which there are strong feelings on either side and also some very diverse opinions from senior members of the academic and scientific community.

A copy of an exchange that I had in the House of Commons recently in my capacity as Second Church Estates Commissioner can be found here.

Of course we must use science for the betterment of human kind but I think we also always need to be conscious of the potential side effects of any new scientific intervention.

My instincts are that it would be sensible to have time for further consideration and consultation on this matter before Parliament votes on it.

As it happens, I am not going to be at Westminster for the vote as I have had longstanding permission from the Whips to be away in Washington at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast of the US Congress.

Rt. Hon. Sir Tony Baldry MP

I woke this morning to an interesting question on Twitter: @gmaxski Thanks: I think that shows how important it is to have something positive to say. A good thought with which to start the day. @gmaxski Thanks: I think that shows how important it is to have something positive to say. A good thought with which to start the day. — Steve Baker MP (@SteveBakerMP) January 30, 2015 It reminded me of this video from Prager University, Why be happy? […]

The Director of Public Prosecutions is independent of politicians and her job is not to make the law but to enforce it. And that's exactly what she is doing in respect of rape. She's trying to ensure that victims of rape get justice.  Too many don't report at all - fearing they won’t be believed.  Or drop out half way through the case because they can't face re-living the ordeal.  So the fact is that many rapists get away with it.  That is not only unfair on the victim but its bad news for deterrence.  Most of the evidence is that rape is a "repeat offence" i.e. he'll do it again until he's stopped.

We're not talking about a man making a mistake here - as Sarah Vine does.   We’re talking about a criminal offence.  If I leave a window open an inch and someone breaks in, steals everything I own and ransacks my house no one would say it wasn't a crime or that the offender had "made a mistake".

Rape is the crime of sexual intercourse without consent.  If there is consent then it’s not a crime. What is at issue here is where there isn't consent and how we make sure that women are protected from rapists and that they are brought to justice.

Tackling crimes by men against women is bedevilled by the culture of men's excuses and blaming of their victims.  It was only a few years ago that we managed to change the law so that a man who killed his wife could no longer blame her for provoking him - for example by her having an affair.  The so-called "nagging and shagging defence" which saw wife-killers evade murder charges was abolished.  But in rape, victim-blaming is alive and well.  Can't we ever leave behind the blame culture which says to the victim that she brought it on herself and therefore the man is the victim because he is accused.

The DPP will carry on her work in the best interests of justice.  And more power to her elbow.  She's doing the right thing and it’s long overdue.  It’s not my job to prosecute rapists.  It’s hers.  But I for one am backing her all the way.

I was surprised given the Green Party's opposition to Fracking that Caroline Lucas did not vote against the Infrastructure Bill on Monday evening. The point about the infrastructure bill is that although there was no specific vote as to whether or not to change the laws on trespass for Geothermal Energy and Fracking, there was an opportunity to oppose the bill as a whole. The Bill did include

2Mark Reckless MP can announce that elderly residents are to get a new zebra crossing at Hollywood Lane, Wainscott. The crossing will be located at the entrance to Greenfields Close – which is sheltered housing for the elderly.

The campaign calling on Medway Council to install a crossing was started five years ago by local resident Jean Lawrence. Mrs Lawrence started the campaign due to the difficulties that local people were having leaving their homes – with several elderly residents refusing to leave their houses due to the danger the road posed to them.

Jean contacted local UKIP Councillor Peter Rodberg who began to work with Jean to push for the council to install the crossing. When they contacted Mark Reckless, and he threw his weight behind the campaign, they finally got a result.

Greenfields residents were delighted with the news, with one saying it was “fantastic” that they would finally be getting the crossing they needed. They thanked Jean, Peter and Mark for their hard work, as Mark introduced them to the Medway Council officers who would make the crossing a reality.

4Jean Lawrence said:

“I’m ecstatic – you have no idea how much a difference that a crossing makes to all of us here in Greenfield Close. It will allow us to be able to come and go like we haven’t been able to before. I’d like to thank both Mark and Peter for supporting my campaign and I’m just so pleased that Medway Council have agreed to finally install the crossing.”

Mark Reckless added:

“This is a fantastic result. It is a great feeling when you are able to help local residents get exactly what they need. It goes to show just what a difference local people can make in their community. It was a project with which I was delighted to help and I would like to congratulate Jean – all of her hard work has paid off.”

There will be a period of formal consultation in March with construction due to start in June.

The Government has today accepted two key recommendations made by the cross-party inquiry into hunger in its report, Feeding Britain.

The Conservative Party believes that if someone works hard and earns money, they should be able to spend as much as possible, as they like. The Government has no intrinsic right to it: it’s yours. This is why low taxes are so important. People spend their own money, helping the economy.

Since 2010, this Government has cut income tax for over 24 million people, with an average saving of £705, but the Conservatives want to go further after the election. We plan to take everyone who earns less than £12,500 out of income tax altogether, and raise the 40p tax threshold so that no-one earning less than £50,000 pays it. This will provide a tax cut and more disposable income for 30 million people. It will help the economy to grow.

We would do this while cutting the deficit. Over the last five years, Conservatives in Government have halved the deficit while cutting income tax, and in the next Parliament, we’ll do the same again: eliminating the deficit while reducing taxes. The Prime Minister has said that after years of sacrifice, the British people deserve a reward. People whose hard work and personal sacrifices have got this country through the difficult times should come first.

The other main parties have said that, instead, they would tax people more. This would not recognise the sacrifices that the British people have already made, and it would be an attack on aspiration. Only the Conservatives are committed to cutting taxes and building a Britain that rewards work.

Our long-term economic plan will cut tax, create growth, and allow us to cut the deficit.

http://www.oliverheald.com


Here’s my latest Ham and High column – also available here

It seems like every time we watch the news, we hear about another conflict or incident. And the awful terrorist attacks in Paris were so close to home.

The whole world felt the impact of the horror that unfolded at the Charlie Hebdo office.

But here in Haringey we have a proud history of uniting against violence, hate, and extremism.

Less than two years ago, the community response to the terrible attacks on the Somali Bravenese Centre was overwhelming. We all came together in a show of solidarity – and helped them to rebuild.

Unity is the best way to respond to the atrocities committed by terrorists, and extremism. It’s so important that we don’t allow the politics of fear and hate to creep in.

To be blunt, those seeking to create division are parties like Ukip, who would use the actions of terrorists to create fear and animosity towards certain communities.

I’m proud that my party, the Liberal Democrats, have stood up to Ukip from day one. Our beliefs and values really are the polar opposite of theirs!

But I know it’s not enough to just say these things – politicians, communities, everyone needs to take real action, and search for the right solutions.

That’s why I’m arranging even more local visits to community groups and religious groups, to discuss how they feel about the current situation; ask what they think can be done to stop further attacks, and how to prevent division in the aftermath.

There are going to be difficult moments, and tough conversations. But it’s what needs to happen for us to find an effective, long-term solution to tackling extremism.

This is the harder path. But it will ensure that the voices of all those in our community are heard – that our youth understand the value of engagement over argument.

This is a conversation that needs to be ongoing. We need to build forums and platforms that allow for a continuing discussion in our community about these difficult issues.

I want to hear as many views as possible – if you have thoughts you’d like to share, please contact me. This is a conversation we all need to be part of.

I have always been a strong supporter of wave power in Cornwall, but I am very opposed to field scale solar farms which are scarring the Cornish countryside.

With the powerful Atlantic swell off the Cornish coast we have a wave power resource that is second to none and Wave Hub is the first facility of its type in the world able to test commercial scale arrays of devices.

I have always championed wave power and worked to secure Marine Energy Park status in Hayle. There are several major wave energy developers now seeking to locate in Hayle and our strong heritage in engineering means we have the companies that can really make wave power work.

There is a place for solar panels on roofs, but field scale solar developments damage the countryside and take good farmland out of production. What has happened with all those new solar developments between Chiverton roundabout and Carland Cross is an absolute tragedy and will damage other industries like farming and tourism. As Farming Minister, I decided to abolish farm subsidies on any land occupied by solar developments and I have pressed for Cornwall Council to say no to more of these awful developments.


The decision that Tesco will be closing its Chatham Superstore is obviously a hugely disappointing one, especially for those employees concerned and their families. While this is a commercial decision taken by Tesco as part of a national restructuring of their operations, my main concern is now the support being offered to those employees in helping them find alternative work, whether within Tesco or elsewhere. I have made clear that this is my priority in my discussions with Tesco and I will continue to liaise with them in the coming months.

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Last Friday I visited Saint Mary’s Old Church in Greensand Ridge after an invitation from the Clophill Heritage Trust. They asked me to visit the Church, support the project and to publicise the need for funding through donations. The Trust has lost ...
Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year has added poignancy as it marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  It’s been extremely moving to watch media coverage of the memorial services and…

JONES WELCOMES YSGOL LLANBEDR REPRIEVE

Westminster, 27 January 2015

Clwyd West MP, David Jones, says that he is ‘delighted’ that Ysgol Llanbedr is not, after all, going to close.

David Jones MP said:

‘This was always a seriously flawed decision.

‘The school is excellent, with a growing roll. The parents, staff and governors fought an excellent campaign.

‘It will now be for the education authority to liaise with the school to agree a way forward for expansion, to enable the school to achieve its full potential.’ 

Last night, I spoke at the Friends of Molesey Library AGM about my experience of writing books and newspaper columns. A great local throng turned up, and they grilled me with questions afterwards. They were a really fun crowd. 

The Friends do a fantastic job of supporting Molesey library, and it was a real pleasure, in turn, to be able to support them a little. My thanks to Pauline Morozgalska and Steve Bax for the invitation, and to John Coope for moderating a great evening.


Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP sings the Holocaust Educational Trust's Book of Commitment

This week Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.&nbs

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Here in Morley, nestled close to the intersection of the M1 and M62 motorways, businesses come here because of our brilliant location at the cross-roads of Britain.‎ And what better way to beat the January blues than by an afternoon shopping in Morley town centre? As the local MP, I’m in regular contact with local firms. And I know how well our brilliant shops and businesses have weathered the storm of the last few years. The market is doing really well. New businesses are opening on Queen Street – including high-street names like Wetherspoons. And you can get meat, veg, flowers, gifts, clothes – pretty much anything you need - within a 3 or 4 minute walk of a free carpark.

On Thursday 15th January, Dominic Grieve accompanied the HS2 Select Committee on its visit to Denham.

 

On Thursday 15th January, Dominic Grieve accompanied the HS2 Select Committee on its visit to Denham.

Following his visit, Mr Grieve spoke during the HS2 Funding (Referendum) Bill on Friday, 23rd January. You can find full details of Mr Grieve's participation in the debate on his speeches page.

As of Monday 2nd February 2015 the CAB office at the Kingfisher Shopping Centre will close, and CAB services for Bromsgrove & Redditch will be managed from the CAB office in Bromsgrove. Interim arrangements will be put in place for Redditch citizens to access information and advice, whilst the Borough Council works closely with Citizen Advice nationally to design a new advice service.

CitA is providing a small bridging grant to Bromsgrove CAB to enable services to be delivered in Redditch on an outreach basis pending review and agreement as to new service delivery model. Details of the information and advice services to be made available in Redditch can be obtained from the Redditch Borough Council reception, Redditch library and the national Citizens Advice website in the near future.

Karen Lumley MP confirmed that she was very pleased with the new approach of bringing information and advice services closer to the local communities in Redditch, saying: "I have every confidence that the partnership between Citizens Advice and the Council will create a new delivery model that will bring greater benefits to the residents of Redditch. I gather that many of the volunteer advice workers at the Redditch CAB office have opted to be involved with the delivery of this new service, and their support is greatly appreciated."

Bill Hartnett, Leader of the Council commented: "I was extremely disappointed to hear of the closure of Redditch CAB from 2nd February and would like to thank all the staff and volunteers for their hard work and the support they have provided to the people of Redditch over many years.

It would appear that, for a variety of reasons, the Redditch CAB in its current form has become unsustainable however I was pleased to hear that interim arrangements will be put in place for Redditch people to access information and advice, pending the launch of a new service this summer.

I am keen that the Council work in partnership with Citizens Advice to ensure that new service maximises the benefits of the Councils own transformation work in order to provide much needed support to people in these continuing difficult times."

A spokesperson for the national Citizens Advice organisation said: "Thank you to the staff and volunteers for the support they have provided people in Redditch, and we are pleased that so many of the volunteers are keen to be part of the new service. Our vision is that the Citizens Advice service is seen as a key focal point for local communities – the main starting point for finding solutions to problems and a place to find out more about key local issues. We are working with Redditch Borough Council to transform the service in the town so that it remains in touch with local needs and is able to work as a solution provider with the relevant partners and stakeholders'."

The new service model will deliver advice across Bromsgrove & Redditch, and will place advice services closer to local communities. The new service is due to be launched in the summer.

How different it all seemed when the Euro was launched a decade and a half ago. It was meant to mean a new era of prosperity. A single currency would, we were told amid much fanfare, strengthen the free market and underpin the liberal order across Europe.

Not much sign of that in Greece right now.

The ultra-leftists, Syriza, have been elected to office on the back of a popular revolt against the Troika. An assortment of odd balls and extremists could now hold the balance of power.

Alex Tsipras, Greece's Prime Minister elect, will now attempt to tread a fine line. On the one hand he is committed to negotiating a new deal for Greece, based on debt reduction. On the other hand, he does not want to be so demanding that he gets Greece thrown out of the Euro.

In other words, Alex Tsipras is in a not altogether dissimilar position from our own Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Like Tsipras, Mr Cameron wants a new deal, but does not want to get thrown out of the club. In fact, he's made it pretty clear he is keen to stay in.

Like Tsipras, the Prime Minister has made a lot of pre-election noise about a new deal.

It will be interesting to see what new deal, if any, Tsipras gets.

Bizarrely, given that Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget and one of the largest economies in the world, Greece stands a better chance of getting the concessions it seeks than David Cameron.

For a start, Tsipras been consistent and clear about what he wants; debt cancellation, continued bailout support and a looser fiscal policy. David Cameron has given all manner of vague and contradictory hints. Indeed, his officials have almost given the impression to their EU counterparts that Mr Cameron is not that serious about his new deal.

One of the curious features of the European Union is the way that it exports public policy failure from one state to another. Countries that manage their finances sensibly get punished. Those that run up reckless debts get rewarded. Those economies that grow get fined by Brussels. Those that flounder receive ever large hand-outs.

The Euro system will be far more willing to make concessions to a Greek Prime Minister wanting the re-write the rules in order to prop up a dirigiste state, thereby deepening its dependence on Brussels, than it would concede anything to a UK Prime Minister seeking less Europe.

If Tspiras does not get more than paper concessions, it further undermines the credibility of those in Downing Street who want the British electorate to think they are serious about change.

Perhaps the key difference between Britain and Greece is that if Greece leaves the Euro, it will be because the Brussels elite call time on membership. If Britain quits, it will be because the people say enough.