The Attraction of EVEL 160


George Osborne has just proved that absolutely anybody can outflank the modern Labour Party to the left. Given that Labour were pledged to at least match Tory benefit cuts, Osborne’s raising of the minimum wage for over 25s, and tempering of the excesses of non-doms and buy to let landlords, make him look like Leon Trotsky when compared with Cooper, Burnham or Kendall. But then Donald Trump looks like Leon Trotsky when compared to Cooper, Burnham or Kendall.

As I hope I just made clear, I am not saying that this was a left wing budget. The continued wage freezes on low-paid public employees and the cuts and freezes to tax credits and other benefits (of which the details are smuggled in Sir Jasper’s cloak) will hit those already in difficulty hard. And if there is one thing of which we can be absolutely certain in modern Britain it is this. The cut in corporation tax will not result in increased spend on research and development or plant and equipment. It will go straight into executive salaries, perks and bonuses and shareholder dividends.

I am particularly sad at the final ending of student maintenance grants for the poorest. I was educated on a full maintenance grant, and would not have been able to write this blog otherwise. Of this I am sure. Taken together with the major reduction in inheritance tax, the abolition of maintenance grants is extremely retrograde and will help ensure that the poor are kept in their place and gilded youth, as Osborne, Cameron and Johnson were, well and truly advantaged through life, as though that needed further reinforcement.

When I was a very young man, proper socialists (of which I was not one) used to argue about palliatives a lot. Did measures like welfare benefits which apparently helped poor people, postpone the crisis of capitalism and the inevitable revolution? Should they therefore be opposed as unhelpful? Perhaps in darkest Salford there is an SWP branch still earnestly discussing this stuff.

But funnily enough I find myself continually rehearsing in my mind the same arguments in relation to Scottish Independence. I sometimes have to kick myself not to rejoice at the open cruelty of the Tories, which I have no doubt is making Scottish Independence not only inevitable but imminent. Real vulnerable people are going to be hurt by benefit cuts. We have to devise what mitigation through social action that we can. And in England, people don’t have the prospect of a different political system to anticipate.

My answer to the last point is that Scottish Independence will kick the UK establishment so hard that it is the best prospect of shaking up Tory domination of English politics. But the main point remains. I always predicted that the Tories would be back in power after the general election, though I expected it would be in coalition again. My wanting it or not was irrelevant to the fact it was pretty obviously going to happen. But I regarded the alternative prospect of a SNP/Labour coalition as a disaster, because it was the only outcome which realistically might put back Scottish Independence.

I was guilty of not saying that too openly during the election. Furthermore, English Votes for English Laws is entirely what I want to achieve, except that as a slogan it typically ignores the Welsh, Northern Irish and Cornish. The sooner there are no Scottish MPs at all at Westminster the better.

The incredible arrogance of the Tories in enacting EVEL, a major constitutional change, through amendments to standing orders is breathtaking in its audacity.

How far could they theoretically take this? For example, could standing orders say that male MPs can’t vote on certain issues? Or MPs under 50? Or urban MPs be excluded from voting on fox-hunting? The idea that fundamental constitutional change is simply a question of regulations on voting procedure is plainly intellectually indefensible. That it is happening is startling evidence our democracy is dysfunctional.

But it is all gryst to the mill of Independence. The more appallingly the Tories behave, the sooner Independence is coming. They could not possibly be doing more to promote Independence if they tried. I don’t think more than a tiny number of Tory MPs would like to see the back of Scotland, but I do wonder whether there is sub-conscious conditioning at work, as many of them believe England will be permanently Tory.

I don’t quite buy the SNP argument against EVEL that public spending decisions in England affect spending in Scotland through the Barnett formula. Or rather while it is true, I really can’t care overmuch. It comes back to those palliatives. I would much rather the Tories were just Tories, and isolated the Scottish MPs into the second class at Westminster. It will bring Independence sooner. When the Tories rejected every single amendment to the Scotland Act against 95% of Scottish MPs, solely by the massed votes of English MPs, while at the same time proclaiming EVEL, I was thrilled by their blatant hypocrisy. It will bring Independence sooner.

You see I don’t give a fig about the Vow or the Smith Commission. I don’t care who maintains the sewers or designs the road signs. I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars. I want my country to be free.


160 thoughts on “The Attraction of EVEL

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  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,

    You said this:-

    “But then Donald Trump looks like Leon Trotsky when compared to Cooper, Burnham or Kendall.”

    And this:-

    ” I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars.”

    Well I just finished listening to a CNN interview with Donald Trump. His response and answer to the ISIS problem is that he would “…bomb the hell out of Iraq oil fields”.

    Well:-

    1. Britain is the poodle of the USA.

    2. At a time when Bush Jr. launched an illegal war, Blair played right in.

    3. Even if the issue of illegality of the Iraq war under international law did not arise relative to Blair’s conduct – there still is the legal and binding obligation to NATO.

    4. The role of a Trump in US politics is the equivalent of Sarah Palin a few years ago. As former President Carter termed Trump – ” A flash in the pan.” And so too are those politicians.

    What then is the path for the future?

  • Jives

    There are no countries left Craig.

    Just an adjunct of corporate enslavedom via the military industrial complex and their friends in social media courtesy of the NSA and GCHQ.

    Wise up.

  • glenn

    Courtenay: Trump is an absolute buffoon, but his presence in the Republican clown-car should be very much welcomed. Won’t go into it now, it would distract from the thread.

    *

    As a Welsh person living in Wales, EVEL might be all very well, but it doesn’t just concern England. If national money is directed inside the stockbroker belt all the time, it has a concern for the rest of the country.

    And let’s be frank here – Tory politics, the investor class, the ruling classes – for all the talk of a Britain they love so much, we’re only talking the south east of the country, not the “regions”, and not the immediate colonies of England. And definitely only a certain type of people even then – who generally despise one another on an individual basis.

    The astonishing arrogance and insular perspectives of our ruling classes show up at every level. The Culture minister, on R4, was asked to explain why £85/year (or thereabouts) per head of population was spent just on museums in London, when the figure was more like £3/year in “regions” such as Leeds.

    The minister’s answer? Well, Leeds is only a couple of hours away from London by train, and if they really want some culture, there is surely little inconvenience in that.

  • Neil McKenzie

    Craig,

    Call me foolish, but I have always had a deep suspicion of Establishment and kind of knew how these sociopaths have held power, but the referendum and twitter just reaffirmed that

    Anyway, I know they are far from stupid and should never be underestimated, but I find myself constantly scratching my head as to WHY they are being foolish like they are goading us into walk out, and the only thing I can think of is they are working on population reduction creating wars everywhere to try satisfy corporate greed and division.

    Personally I think they know Scotland is hugely divided on a similar level to Northern Ireland, and goading Scotland into UDI would partition Scotland, so it wouldn’t take much for them to light the fuse if they wanted. It could also hide their Austerity Sham. I wonder if they are trying to create chaos in order to create order. This establishment has stood for 1,000 years, and the establishment with protect the establishment at any cost so they retain that power. Why would Westminster go to the trouble to reaffirm that Holyrood can be dissolved at will and for what reason?

    There is no such thing as a pyrrhic win with the establishment, just a win, and I sometimes wonder if we will ever get independence as it would mean their demise. They always come out the other end smelling of Roses and can turn a loss into a dramatic win.

    I’m sure you will have a better understanding how they work, I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t see it happening

    Regards,

    N. McKenzie

  • BrianFujisan

    Neil i hear what you are saying.. but re the pyrrhic win.. watch Tommy Sheridan Tell the bbC for certain what would happen… after indyref

    i don’t miss your point though, Cheers.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekWWfUAtcMY

    well I tend to love native american Logic / wisdom –

    “The system has a majority of people complacent, apathetic, and dependent. Our people have been victimized by almost every colonial system that has treaded its way amongst our lands. It’s to the point that our own people are facilitating these same systems on our own people. The classical, typical oppressed oppressing the oppressed. It’s agonizing to the soul. It creates communal environments where social pathologies develop and thrive. It becomes the insanity of repeated patterns and cycles that feed these pathologies. It can feel hopeless, frustrating, and depressing. To the point where productivity in a direction of social liberation as a collective can feel almost impossible. People become divided and personal interests and agendas drive and influence community decision-making…..

    ” Our people are brilliant, smart, and very kind. It’s the system that has its grips on our potential. And all people who are experiencing the ridiculous insane cycles of abuse of power need to rise up and compassionately address those who reap, and benefit from this system. We need to come together to work towards an alternative based on our indigenous nationhood and soveriegnty. The world has yet to know the true presence of the indigenous.

    Some may view this as political suicide. But from my experience in working with young people and children who have actually been suicidal – a successful career in politics based on the ignorance of morals and values? Not for me… The children must know integrity.

    Colby Tootoosis
    Councillor/Head Man
    Poundmaker Cree Nation
    TreatySix

    https://indigenousevolution.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-insane-realities-of-indigenous-politics-a-prayer-for-social-transformation/

  • Daniel

    “Did measures like welfare benefits which apparently helped poor people, postpone the crisis of capitalism and the inevitable revolution? Should they therefore be opposed as unhelpful?…I find myself continually rehearsing in my mind the same arguments in relation to Scottish Independence.”

    Of course, the main purpose of welfare spending is to mould the workforce to meet the needs of capital. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 was one of the earliest measures aimed at instilling labour discipline in the new working class. The core principle of the Poor Law, the principle of less eligibility, was aimed at disciplining the working class by ensuring that the alternative to working – the Workhouse, or Poor House – was so awful that workers would accept any jobs and any conditions.

    The philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who developed the concept of “less eligibility”, according to which poor relief should always be set at below the level of income of the worst paid, argued that “only the cheapest fare should be served in the house: an ample fare might be served only if it did not ‘render the condition of the burdensome poor more desirable than that of the self-maintaining poor’” (cited in in Gerry Mooney and Michael Lavalette’s ‘Class Struggle and Social Welfare’, p.27, Routledge).

    It seems to me that fundamentally not a great deal has changed between the Poor Law ideology of the 19th century and the current governments demonization of the poor today. It does not take great political insight to see that the modern equivalent of less eligibility in Britain – and the current “stimulus to industry” – is provided by measures such as the Atos Work Capability Assessment test, the brutal sanctioning regime introduced in April 2013 for those who fail to meet every appointment, and a cap on benefits which means that those on benefits can never receive more than the national average wage, regardless of circumstances.

    The parallels between Poor Law ideology and the governments current demonization of the poor seems to me to be absolute. I heard Norman Lamont being interviewed on the BBC earlier today bemoaning the fact that prior to the budget the British taxpayers – in contrast to our European counterparts – were subsidizing poverty pay by way of tax credits which he contended had to be removed in line with our European partners. Conveniently, he failed to mention that our comparative European competitors pay higher wages and their workers are far more productive then ours.

    The phasing in of a £9 an hour living wage by 2020 is a move intended to shift the emphasis away from the necessity of the state as provider of welfare. It’s evident to me that this shift is part and parcel of the Tories longer term plans to abolish the welfare state by stealth thus bringing forth the potential (at least in theory) of the kind of capitalist crisis you referred to sooner than perhaps many people anticipate.

  • Becky Cohen

    “I am particularly sad at the final ending of student maintenance grants for the poorest. I was educated on a full maintenance grant, and would not have been able to write this blog otherwise. Of this I am sure. Taken together with the major reduction in inheritance tax, the abolition of maintenance grants is extremely retrograde and will help ensure that the poor are kept in their place and gilded youth, as Osborne, Cameron and Johnson were, well and truly advantaged through life, as though that needed further reinforcement.”

    Absolutely. It started with Kenneth Baker freezing the student grants way back in the 1980s, combined with the then Tory government changing the rules so that students weren’t allowed to claim benefits during vacation times.

    In the end, everyone will lose because talented people who happen to come from poorer backgrounds will never fulfil their true potential to improve society for all. The rich want to continue the system where it’s not what you know but who you know. They’re terrified of the idea of meritocracy – not least because it will reveal that many of those in positions of power are complete duffers.

  • Resident Dissident

    ” Given that Labour were pledged to at least match Tory benefit cuts”

    Complete hate driven rubbish.

  • Robert Crawford

    Becky Cohen.

    “Complete duffers” a good expression, well applied.

    Thank you, I am dealing with them at this moment in relation to the £55.00 stolen from me when under the surgeon’s knife to have a cancerous kidney removed.

    It is more stressful dealing with “Institutional Guff” than the operation.

  • Mary

    The gap between the 1% and the 99% grows even bigger.

    The 1% must be crowing today.

  • Ray Vison

    But Scotland can not be independent unless it is allowed to be. It can’t just break away without Westminster agreement and cooperation and that is most unlikely to happen. What are the Scots going to do, start a war of independence?

  • Mary

    Michael Meacher deconstructs the Tory gloss.

    What Osborne won’t tell you about the Budget
    9th July 2015

    Behind Osborne’s numbers lies the potential trigger for the next financial crisis, writes MICHAEL MEACHER

    THIS was supposed to be a “lower welfare, lower tax” Budget.

    The centrepiece is of course the £12 billion welfare cuts, even if a third of that is postponed until after the 2017-18 deadline (but very close to the 2020 election).

    By far the largest elements in that are the severe cuts in working tax credits and the freeze in most working-age benefits until 2018.

    What George Osborne won’t tell you is that this will hit 11 million families by 2017-18.

    /..
    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2df8-What-Osborne-wont-tell-you-about-the-Budget

    The elephant in the room seems to be the collapse of the Chinese stock market/economy. Think of the massive $debt they hold.

  • MJ

    “English Votes for English Laws is entirely what I want to achieve, except that as a slogan it typically ignores the Welsh, Northern Irish and Cornish”

    Wales and N Ireland have their own assemblies and Cornwall is in England.

  • Mary

    At least the BBC report it. Sky’s website has nothing about it. Why is that? Afraid the house of cards topples?

    China shares: Regulator takes action after slide
    8 July 2015
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33438416

    ‘China’s regulators are taking fresh steps to try to quell volatility in the country’s financial markets.

    Investors holding stakes of more than 5% are not allowed to sell shares in the next six months.

    The new rule from the country’s securities regulator is intended to relieve pressure on the stock market.

    Despite efforts to stem the losses, the dramatic sell-off in China’s main stock market continued on Wednesday, with the Shanghai Composite plunging 6.8%.

    That took share values nearly 30% below their June peak.’

  • J Galt

    Perhaps we should go back to the reason Scotland had to be incorporated in this “Union” in the first place – to remove the danger that it could be used as a secure landing point for an invasion of England.

    The “Money Power” had moved in the 1600s from the Netherlands to what was conceived to be a much more secure location for their operations, an island, except of course for Scotland – that situation had to be dealt with, and was – “Money” succeeding where force of arms had largely failed.

    Now that that danger has largely passed can Scotland (which has become a bloody nuisance) be abandoned?

    Perhaps only “a tiny number of Tory MPs” see this but they may well be the importabt ones!

  • BrianFujisan

    How many Billionaires are the in the uk now, 104 i think. as Mary hints this number may rise, as the Gap between rich and poor gathers pace, and meantime the people will look after the worst hit, more food banks.. the Elite contempt of the 99% is sickening,

    Sometimes i Worry about Chunky’s Blood Pressure –

    OMFG!!! The “The LIVING WAGE” the LIVING “FCKN” WAGE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TthhPhrQ8os

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The phasing in of a £9 an hour living wage by 2020 is a move intended to shift the emphasis away from the necessity of the state as provider of welfare. It’s evident to me that this shift is part and parcel of the Tories longer term plans to abolish the welfare state by stealth thus bringing forth the potential (at least in theory) of the kind of capitalist crisis you referred to sooner than perhaps many people anticipate.

    Yes, but also, Osborne is desperate to get private spending up to meet the marketeers’ requirement for growth. Without which funny money cannot be generated by financiers. Any actual cost of this move, if it works, will be absorbed by inflation in a very short time and can safely be kicked into the long grass thereafter. See also his freeing-up of pension schemes, which also encourages the plebs to spend as well as providing a healthy boost to tax revenues as the poor suckers cash their pile. But contrast that with the continuing 1% limit on public-sector pay, which amounts to a steady decrease in income for essential workers. The only possible justification for this is ideological. And that fits.

    I see Osborne still refuses to encourage direct investment in and rehabilitation of anyone actually making anything useful (his apprenticeship measures being unfocused, cosmetic, and once again subsidising private purses from public money), and is still dependent on a combination of City speculation and an artificially constrained housing market to provide what might laughingly be termed a national economy.

    EVEL? Good luck to it. Also SVSL, WVWL, NIVNIL. Let the four regional assemblies elect a greatly-reduced number of MP’s to a much-less expensive Westminster to debate UKVUKL, too. EVEL could be a move in the federalist direction, played imaginatively. And it has the potential to break the two-party monopoly.

  • willyrobinson

    Was hoping that someone was finally addressing the incredible and largely unjustified popularity of Evel Knievel. Maybe you can get around to at length it after Alexander Burnes…?

  • craig Post author

    Willyrobinson

    There’s a blast from the past. Remember the pretend Canyon jump attempt?

  • John Goss

    “I don’t care who maintains the sewers or designs the road signs. I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars. I want my country to be free.”

    Seconded. I would add I want the media to be free to report honestly.

  • MJ

    One English region that really could make it as an independent country is East Anglia. All that agriculture. Coastal waters rich in fish, gas and renewables. Hi tech industries and a world class university in Cambridge, which could be the capital. A popular tourist destination too. Come to think of it, it could run pilgrimages to North Norfolk so Scots could pay homage at the place where their Great Liberator was born and brought up.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    In the end, everyone will lose because talented people who happen to come from poorer backgrounds will never fulfil their true potential to improve society for all. The rich want to continue the system where it’s not what you know but who you know. They’re terrified of the idea of meritocracy – not least because it will reveal that many of those in positions of power are complete duffers.

    Let our watchword be: ‘Free Oxford PPE courses for all!’

    ….yeah. Actually, if this were a productive and sustainable economy, I doubt if the demand for graduates would be overwhelming. Especially in Media Studies, Sport Science or the various inhabitants of Humanities faculties whose chief delight is in finding and regurgitating obscure sociological and literary opinions. Apprenticeships would be the way forward, whether in bacon production or banking. Apprentices requiring university facilities would have their studies funded by their company. Economics could well be downgraded from its status as a discipline – as such it has an unenviable record of failure in the real world, and has zilch predictive power – and business studies confined to specialist business schools.

    If I got my hands on the university system, there’d be blood on the walls, and the result would be capable of useful work.

  • Brian

    Craig – good analysis and conclusion. I agree with all you say, but “The more appallingly the Tories behave, the sooner Independence is coming.” I read this rhetoric and similar on many BLOGS, but not a single one attempts to describe the nuts and bolts of how this will happen. What will the trigger be? Who will pull that trigger? We cannot take a chance on another Referendum in which we will be uncertain of the result, otherwise, Independence will be an opportunity lost for many generations.
    Someone – like you – needs to articulate the process. I would be severely disappointed if the SNP’s only tactic is making a noise at Westminster? There must surely be a strategy which they have yet to communicate to the people who voted for them.

  • John Goss

    “One English region that really could make it as an independent country is East Anglia. All that agriculture. . .”

    It is true. And self-sufficiency is the way forward when the US and Israeli governments conspire to impose sanctions wherever they do not have a complicit puppet in power. Russia, a huge country which was trading in the free-market to mutual advantage has, due to sanctions, pledged to be self-sufficient in food by 2025.

    http://russia-insider.com/en/self-sufficient-within-decade-russia-steps-anti-sanctions-measures/ri8596

    Mineral wealth is a different matter and apparently, despite sanctions, trading is still going on but with a change in trading partners. Why does Europe kowtow to the Yanks.

    http://russia-insider.com/en/business/do-russia-sanctions-still-exist/ri8615

  • haud on the noo

    Labour have been comprehensively shafted by the Tories (and by themselves) and cannot see them reassemble for a generation , if even then.

    Questions are what will middle-England do (lap it all up ?) and how will Scotland respond given the imposed impotence of the SNP to fight the cause.

    I despair.

  • Mary

    English votes for English laws plan ‘to be rewritten’

    1 hour ago
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33462204

    ‘Shadow Commons leader Ms Eagle said the Commons schedule had been “clearly subject to last-minute, sudden change” and said the “shoddy” plans had “descended into chaos”.

    She claimed Mr Grayling had been “summoned to the prime minister’s office to account for your role in creating this mess”.

    Mr Grayling said the changes were the result of having “listened to comments from MPs”.’

    Anyway it has been sent into the long grass until September.

  • MJ

    “I believe Robert the Bruce was born in Essex”

    Even better. A twin centre package. Just need to find out now that William Wallace came from Beccles. Visit Anglia – the Home of Scottish Nationalism. Sounds good.

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