If public holidays were scrapped it would add £19bn to Britain’s annual economic output, a think tank says.
Why not go the whole hog and make the us work 24 hours a day, seven days a week? That would sort out the economy pretty damned quickly!
The Centre for Economics and Business Research is completely wrong on this. Germany has more public holidays than the UK, and has an economy that appears to be recovering nicely.
The CEBR appears to want us to go back to the 19th century. Wage slaves apparently are not entitled to time off, time to relax and be with their families, or to just get away from it all for a short time. As one of the commenters wrote below the article: “Whatever happened to taking pleasure in life?”
EDIT: Simon Price has rightly pointed out the real story here is not the headline from the press release, but who is behind it.
This should be the rule with ANY survey/report presented as “news”: first, find out who’s behind it, what’s their agenda, and report THAT.
— Simon Price (@simon_price01) April 9, 2012
CEBR is a right wing think tank, run by a friend of George Osborne, the UK’s finance minister. So, no agenda here then. Why does the mainstream media not pick this kind of stuff up, rather than running with the press release alone? They are doing themselves and us a dis-service.
Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In which case, going by his speech yesterday on overhauling Britain’s roads and airports, David Cameron is mad.
I don’t usually do personal, or rude. But if the prime minister really, truly thinks he can do what his predecessors have done over the past couple of decades and not cop precisely the same woeful mess that they did, then he’s bonkers. Gaga. A few Pret sandwiches short of the full picnic.
Strip away the novelty of a prime ministerial speech devoted to, um, tarmac and what the Tory leader proposes is pretty much what we have heard over and over, from Thatcher onwards. Every British prime minister of recent memory has turned to private businesses and investors to build and run hospitals, schools and tube services. Now Cameron wants them to take over our motorways and trunk roads, too.
I can find no words, so I won’t even begin to write any.
News of the Prime Minister’s Wednesday visit emerged the night before, when Conservative Central Office announced that the PM would be making a high profile visit to a hospital in the NE to a) bolster support for his NHS reforms & b) raise the importance of the damage binge drinking is doing. It was heavily trailed by the Murdoch press (see here for example). Two of my sources, privately, tell me that the staff were not informed of the PM’s intended visit. Publicly, a governor of a Foundation Trust @RichardBlogger confirmed that this has happened before, where visits by the PM to his hospital were not even confirmed or cleared with the Board of Governors. In addition, @Adrian_Pearson, who is a chief correspondent at several North East newspapers, confirmed through a series of tweets in advance of the PM’s visit that it was all very top secret because the last time the PM had visited there were protests (I do not recall those protests being reported do you?).
I am posting without comment. The linked blog article speaks for itself. Please ensure you read it.
Let us make no mistake what we are witnessing from our Coalition Government is absolutely, unquestionably, categorically scandalous.
The ritual humiliation, brutalisation, threats and punishment of anyone who is considered ‘a burden to the state’. Anyone who is less than perfect, anyone who dares to find themselves in a position where they need the state to support them. Those people are the subject of shocking and terrifying behaviour at the hands of David Cameron’s Coalition.
Cultural observers could not fail to notice the similiarites between what is taking place here towards sick, disabled, elderly or any group perceived to be vulnerable and weak and what occurred in Hitler’s Germany.
This may not be ethnic cleansing that we are witnessing – and some are already experiencing – but it’s a type of cleansing all the same.
There are hundreds of thousands of people around our country right now who are absolutely petrified for their future. It appears so hopeless. There have already been a number of suicides from people who left behind messages to the effect that they simply could not take the hardship any more. Could not face another winter without sufficient food or heat. And in the UK in 2012. Doesn’t it make you proud?
Some of the actions that are being carried out around our great country – and it’s still great no matter what the idiots trying to make it’s not say – are an absolute living outrage and we cannot condone it in any way shape or form.
This Coalition have long since crossed the line of decency. Their attacks on those who need our help the most are vile, and transparently so, and must be stopped. Else we all live to regret it.
I apologise for linking to an article on the Daily Fail’s web site. I generally avoid anything that homophobic, racist, misogynist comic has to say. However, I sense a change of attitude emanating from that quarter—and this article (I do not know if it appears in the print edition) demands to be read and shared widely.
I’ll make no further comment. I’m getting too annoyed by it at the moment.
A Kent MP is meeting London transport bosses over fears that the city may take over the running of some of the county’s train services.
Michael Fallon, who represents Sevenoaks, is concerned that his constituents could end up with a worse and more expensive service.
Boris Johnson believes routes to Dartford and Sevenoaks will improve if they are managed from London.
But Mr Fallon says many passengers cannot hold Mr Johnson to account.
BoJo’s at it again. He can’t keep his mitts off stuff that doesn’t concern him. He’ll have to go. Please, Londoners, vote for anyone else in the May election. Anyone but Boris, please.
I have been trying to get my head round what happened in Europe this past week—particularly with regard to what our Prime Minister David Cameron has managed to achieve.
Events in Euroland are just too big for me to assimilate. I am unable to find words to express my thoughts rationally. Bombarded by news and comment from all parts of the media, I simply put up my hands in resignation and switch off.
Part of me is chuckling at headless chickens running around trying to save a failing system. Part of me slips into deep despair at the total lack of vision of our global leaders, and worries where it will all end.
One reason why I have not been blogging about this whole ongoing farce is that I promised myself I would try to be more positive in outlook. However, the lunacy going on around us will insist on encroaching into my life. As Harold Macmillan famously said, when asked what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, “Events, my dear boy, events.”
I’ll leave any acerbic comment about lightweight leaders of the 21st century Conservative Party hanging at that point. Any British political party for that matter.
The lie of the land
I am an unreconstructed and unrepentant liberal. I make no apologies for that. I sit firmly in the centre, perhaps even on the proverbial fence. Those of the “left” and “right” have managed to sidle their way into my centre ground so well that it is impossible to squeeze a fag paper between us. When the Liberal-Democrats got into bed with the Conservatives, after the 2010 general election failed to let anyone win sufficient seats to claim a mandate, I was sceptical but hopeful the coalition agreement would temper the excesses of the right. I blogged about it here. Perhaps the liberal tendencies would temper the rabid Conservatism of the Bullingdon Club elites.
I was so wrong. Nick Clegg has let me—us—down. So far, the fact there are Lib-Dem members of the Cabinet has had little effect or no effect on what can now be seen as an utterly out-of-touch and rabidly right-wing Tory government obviously bent on destroying decades of social good, yet all the while blaming it on the previous administration. Let’s just leave it that. As far as I am concerned, the “ConDem” coalition has made everything infinitely worse over the past year or so.
Keep on course
Where are we going with this? It’s a question that has vexed many liberals for some time, I suspect.
As I mentioned, I have been avoiding putting into words what I think about events in the wider world because I simply cannot find the words to explain how I feel. I began to see the European “project” being moved in a direction I was not comfortable with, a direction that would lead to individual member states effectively giving up sovereign rights to become part of a United States of Europe. I found I was not in favour of ever greater European integration. To me that was not something I wanted a part in. Yet I have literally no say. In referendums to approve treaties, a country votes “no”, only to be told to vote again and this time vote “yes”. How is that democratic?
No, Europe is heading in a direction I am not happy with. I am all for economic co-operation, borderless travel, even a single currency (at first), but not a superstate.
So, being outside Europe—as we now find ourselves thanks to inept leadership—must be a good thing, right? Well, no. Britain needs to be in Europe at a level where we can make a difference. What Cameron and his lack of statesmanship has done is to isolate the United Kingdom even more than it was before. We won’t be listened to at the European level, even where we still have a voice.
This is where understanding and words fail me once more. I admit the following is still liberal in scope, but Andrew Rawnsley, Nick Cohen and Will Hutton in today’s Observer explain it so well I urge you to read them whatever your own political views. The Observer and Guardian are about the only publications that give a liberal view of the world: the rest of our media is so polarised it makes it all but impossible to get a balanced view, as far as I can tell.
(Don’t read the comments, though. Never read comments to online opinion—that way madness lies.)
The rest of the European Union simply shrugged at his “veto” and will now proceed to try to fashion a new regime for the eurozone without a British voice in the room. The prime minister’s agenda is left in shreds. He did not get the protocol he wanted to exempt the UK from European regulation of financial services and Britain’s exclusion from the negotiations means that he is now even less likely to secure one in the future. He may get a hero’s welcome from some of the Tory Eurosceptics who are exulting in Britain’s isolation and celebrating this as the most magnificent performance since Margaret Thatcher wielded the handbag. But that is likely to prove to be very short-lived. They forget that Mrs T never made the mistake of leaving an empty chair where Britain ought to be sitting. Once their initial euphoria has worn off, Tory sceptics will discover that this outcome does not advance their ambition to repatriate powers from Brussels—it has made it even harder to achieve.
The weekend’s headlines about David Cameron isolating Britain or bravely standing up for Britain’s independence, depending on which newspaper you read, may be irrelevant in a fortnight. The best reason for treating them with suspicion is that political actors are enjoying playing their familiar roles and reciting their old lines. British Eurosceptics are thrilled that David Cameron has reignited the passions of the Thatcher era. European leaders are again boasting of their commitment to the European ideal.
When you look at what that commitment means in practice, however, you see it is more of the same. Germany, Holland and the other northern countries are still refusing to spend the money or allow the inflation that would stop southern Europe descending into depression and dragging down the over-leveraged banking system with it. Trade imbalances and an uncompetitive exchange rate still crush Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
There might have been a case for David Cameron to veto the use of the EU treaties for the eurozone bailout if Britain’s national interests had really been threatened. But they were not. Much of British finance in whose name Cameron exercised his veto—routine banking, insurance and accounting—was wholly unaffected by any treaty change. The financial services industry in Britain constitutes 7.5% of GDP and employs a million people; the City represents perhaps a third of that and, in turn, that part threatened—if it was threatened at all—some fraction of that. This is a tiny economic interest. If the coalition is serious about rebalancing the British economy, it is preposterous to place a fragment of the City at the forefront of our national priorities.
Moreover, any tax, such as the financial transaction tax about which Cameron was so exercised (and which is, in any case, a good idea if done right as recommended by the IMF), has to be agreed by all. Which means that the threat was nil. Even regulatory proposals, although proceeding by qualified majority voting, have in financial services proceeded, in reality, by unanimity.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, goes the old adage. Quite. And if it is broke, then do. Austerity needs to be given a purpose; society needs to have a clear idea of where the lost decade is taking us. It seems hard to know what the future holds. But some things are easy to predict. There will, for example, still be 24 hours in a day in the years to come, seven days in a week, 12 months in a year. So, time is a constant, something to plan around.
There are some very good ideas in this article. It’s a crying shame that they won’t even be considered in passing by most of the Westminster Village.
But the controversy goes to the heart of Europe’s problem with democracy. It’s not just fear of the risks of delay on febrile bond markets that has caused apoplexy, but the danger that Greeks might vote the wrong way. Voting is not how things are done in the EU. And whenever a state does actually consult its people – Denmark and Ireland had a go – they are made to vote again until they get it right.
But the democratic deficit has now tipped over into a democratic crisis. To protect the banks that lent to Greece and protected its elite from unwelcome tax demands, the country is being systematically stripped of its sovereignty, as EU and IMF officials swarm over its ministries drafting budgets, setting policy deadlines, “advising” on tax and pushing through state selloffs.
No wonder nationalist anger is growing. And all this to deliver a death spiral of spending cuts and tax increases that are sending Greece ever deeper into slump and debt. It makes no sense. Unless it’s understood that it’s not the Greek economy that’s being rescued, but European and US banks exposed to Greek debt. To protect the rentiers and prevent their own failures from seizing up the European credit system, Greece has undergone the deepest ever fiscal squeeze in a developed state without the possibility of any compensating monetary stimulus or devaluation – because of its euro membership.
I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I am sitting here with a smile on my face. The first card, probably a joker if the truth be told, is about to be removed from the house of cards Brussels built.
I used to be a pro-European. I was all for closer integration, economic ties and so forth. However, since the single European currency arrived, it’s become obvious that the “elites”, as Milne rightly puts it, really wanted a pure United States of Europe all along.
That was never going to work. The various referenda held on treaties, where a country’s population voted “no” only to be told to vote again but choose the right answer this time, were the first signs that all was not well.
I applaud Papandreou for suggesting his electorate should have a say in whether the solution to the Greek debt crisis should be accepted or not. Why should outside agencies have any say in how a sovereign country is run? The fact it annoyed Sarkozy and Merkel is icing on the cake.
The point here is it’s not Europe that’s in crisis, it’s the financial system itself. If a country cannot repay debts it has accrued in order to remain a functioning country at all, then why not simply write off those debts. Clear the debit sheet. Start over again. Yes, it’ll mean some heavy financial institutions, and perhaps even a couple of governments, will come crashing down—but that’s only for the best in my opinion.
The whole global financial system is broken, and blaming everything on one or two countries isn’t going to fix it.
Something has been going on between the left earphone and the right earphone of this generation that represents a profound change in attitude. I am still struggling to get my own head around it
Paul Mason hits the nail on the head. A very good article.