UK Uncut was always going to spoil Labour’s party, but we invited them in

by Dan Hodges

By the time you read this I will just have completed my morning’s shopping. First, I’m popping into Fortnum and Mason. Unlike the majority of public school anarchists who were trashing the place on Saturday, I can’t afford a full hamper, so I’ll probably settle for a nice jar of strawberry jam. Then I’m planning to wander down to Topman. Not too sure what I’ll pick up there, seeing as I haven’t been in a Topman since Mark Harrison’s fifteenth birthday party back in 1984. I think I bought something grey. To me grey was, and still is, the new black. I was part of the south east London greyblock.

These are, I concede, small gestures. But there are times one has to take stand. Fight the power. Face up to the man.

At the moment I’m a lone voice. But I have high hopes of blossoming into a fledgling movement. UK Half Cut. Or Half Baked. Something like that.

Meanwhile, as I await the flood of applications to my new, organic, grassroots protest group, (I hope I can get a few  grandmothers who have never protested before; the BBC love those), I must proffer an apology.

On Friday, in advance of Saturday’s demo, Rob Marchant wrote the following:

“If, like the earlier student demo, there are police clashes, heaven help us. Unbearably superficial though it might sound, in the age of image and 24-hour rolling news, it’s not an option to forget what things look like. Protesting and being prime-minister-in-waiting are not necessarily incompatible but they are, at best, tricky bedfellows”.

Although I had my own doubts of the benefits of the march, I didn’t foresee trouble. I tweeted that those predicting violence were delusional, that this wasn’t a student demo but a properly organized march by the trade unions and mainstream labour movement. No one would dare try to hijack it, and if they did, they be smartly told where to go by a couple of burly shop stewards.

Rob was right and I was wrong. Not that any blame is attached to the trade unions, or the organizers. What I and others misjudged is how it’s clearly impossible to police, never mind self-police, demonstrations of this nature when there are significant groups of idiots intent on subverting them.

Nonetheless, we must have our scapegoats. What was all set to go down as one of the great marches of all time was ruined. Defeat snatched from the jaws of, well, if not victory then solidarity, and a good spot behind the protestors of Libya and Syria on the evening news.

Scapegoat in chief appears to be fellow New Statesman blogger, Laurie Penny. My good Uncut comrade, Anthony Painter, wrote a critique of her critique of the march that got the pulses racing, and the twitterati in full cry.

I empathise. Much of what Laurie writes infuriates me, once I manage to get beyond the sheer beauty of it.

And yet, a significant part of the charge laid against Laurie was her appropriation of the memory of Martin Luther King and the civil rights marchers. Unwise to be sure. But if it was a crime, Ms Penny was not the only guilty party on Saturday.

She also found herself castigated for focussing on the “breakaway” march, rather than the official TUC rally. But, again, Laurie Penny has always centred her journalism on the unofficial youth wing of the  protest movement. Yes, she writes from their perspective. But she’s never pretended to do otherwise. And they have a right to a hearing.

The final adverse criticism is her tendency to overly romanticise UK Uncut, seen by many as the focal point, if not the perpetrators, of much of Saturday’s trouble. Once more, there may be some weight to the charge. But is Laurie Penny really the only person to have eulogised over these swashbucklers of direct action?

“These brilliant protests on tax-dodging can unite us all” – Polly Toynbee (just prior to her being dragged out of one of the shops they were targeting).

“Protest works. Just look at the proof” – Johann Hari.

Of course they’re just hacks. No politician, certainly no Labour politician would be so daft as to sign up with these juvenile agitators. Well, except for Tom Blenkinsop, Ronnie Campbell, Martin Caton, Katy Clark, Michael Connarty, Jeremy Corbyn, David Crausby, Jim Dobbin, Jim Hood, Kelvin Hopkins, Gerald Kaufman, John McDonnell, Alan Meale, Linda Riordan, Virendra Sharma and Marsha Singh, who all signed the EDM praising,

UK Uncut for the role it has played in drawing attention by peaceful demonstrations to tax evasion and avoidance and to the need for firm action to secure tax justice”.

But that’s not the fault of Brendan Barber, or the TUC. They organised a brilliantly disciplined, massively attended, well stewarded event that would have been a model of labour movement mobilization if it hadn’t been for that pesky Laurie Penny and those kids at UK Uncut. Except that some guy called Bredan Barber signed a letter to the Guardian back in December arguing,

“instrumentalism is such a narrow view of what it means to be human and to be educated. That is why campaigns like UK Uncut, which links corporate tax avoidance to the rebalancing of our depleted public finances, are critical both morally and practically”.

For good measure Len McCluskey, Tony Woodley and Dave Prentis signed it as well.

Let’s drop the cant. Sooner or later, organisations like UK Uncut were always going to piss on Labour’s bonfire. But let’s also not forget it was us who first invited them to the jamboree and handed them a beer.

Ever since the student protests, the labour movement has been running around like headless chickens trying to work out how to deal with this particular offshoot of the “new politics” of direct action and street protest. We haven’t come up with an answer, and the result was splashed across middle England’s TV screens and  Sunday papers.

You, me, the unions, the PLP, the party leadership: all of us. We’re the ones to blame. We didn’t use our brains or our heads or our voices enough to say, “No thanks, we’re a political movement that aspires to govern. Go and play with your toys somewhere else”.

Now the question is, what are we going to do next? Are we going to learn our lesson? Politely, but firmly, going to show the kids the door? Or are we going to go for a repeat? Have a few more rounds until we, or the kids, or the police get ourselves a real honest to goodness martyr.

Last year, I wrote that the left could have protest or power, but not both. On Saturday we had neither. We handed the former to the child soldiers of the protest movement and saw the latter slide even further away as the day progressed.

The fact is that UK Uncut and the anarchists and the blackbloc achieved their objectives over the weekend. “Whose streets? Our streets” they chanted. Too right.

They  out-organised the cream of the labour movement. The failure wasn’t theirs. It was ours.

Dan Hodges is contributing editor of Labour Uncut.


Tags: , , , ,


47 Responses to “UK Uncut was always going to spoil Labour’s party, but we invited them in”

  1. John Hill says:

    Well if that represents the cream of Labour’s organisational abilities no wonder the country has been driven, by them, into this deep dark hole. Yet again the Tories have to rescue the country and get the opprobrium for it.

    Doing good, as usual ends up with bad results

  2. Haro Yousofian says:

    The only reason the peaceful demonstrators on Saturday were arrested and charged was because their tactics work. These are young people that show to the rest of the country that they care and want to make sure everyone pay their correct tax amount. This is something that every one in the country agrees with. The big businesses that come to some agreement about reduction of their tax liability are wrong and I believe the protests are approved by the majority and that is why on Saturday it was a wonderful opportunity for the vested interest to persuade police to arrest all the young people involved.
    Let this be a lesson for the protesters: it is not enough to protest but you should be able to play politics too.

  3. The right-wing press is desperately trying to use Saturday’s events to divide our movement. This monumentally arrogant piece plays straight into their hands.

  4. Right Tighty says:

    How about some basic maths before you Lefties throw another tantrum?

    Tom Winnifrith – 26/3/11:

    “Right now the UK owes c£867 billion. Actually it owes more if you include all its off-balance sheet debts. Despite all the talk of cuts the deficit has actually increased by c£150 billion over the past year. Yes. That is correct. The Coalition is spending even more than Labour did and right now the deficit increases by c£3billion a week. That is c£50 for every person in the UK.

    George Osborne expects tax receipts to increase steadily thanks to inflation and new taxes. I am pretty sure that he is correct on the former but on the latter I am, not so sure as in an era of international mobility those who pay the lion’s share of tax can move if they want and the net movement of big earners (PLCs/high earners/entrepreneurs facing CGT bills) is not into Britain it is out and it is accelerating.

    Meanwhile Osborne is not actually cutting Government spending in nominal terms but merely reducing the rate of increase. So much for savage cuts. His hope is that by 2015 the UK Government will be running at break even. But that will still leave it owing at least £1.2 trillion. How do the marchers expect that to be repaid? Are the marchers aware that for every £1 of tax taken in 2015 somewhere between 10p and 15p will go on interest on that debt? I think the number will be higher and that the 2015 target will not be met.

    Quite simply the marchers are living in fantasy land. If one adopts their alternative proposals (maintain planned increases in public spending & increase taxes on the evil rich who are already paying the 4th highest marginal taxes on this planet) then tax receipts will fall and the UK debts will just carry on growing and in due course the UK will go bust. What exactly do not the pig ignorant folks on that march understand about that?

    Some of the comments made by marchers and their leaders are just so idiotic they need repeating. “Save the NHS”. Well NHS spending is not being cut by this Government. More’s the pity. The world’s 3rd largest employer is obviously very inefficient at purchasing services and grossly overmanned at a managerial level while offering taxpayer funded services which it cannot afford (hair removal therapy for transsexuals springs to mind). The Government should be cutting NHS spend and is failing in NOT doing so.

    “Making students pay fees is both unfair and damages UK competitiveness as our workforce will be under-qualified”. Well a) why the hell should an 18 year old with a job subsidize an 18 year old student who will earn more in the long run. B) A huge number of courses at new Universities are useless and pointless degrees which prepare those who do not drop out (40% at some places) and complete for absolutely nothing and c) what will damage the UK’s competiveness is going broke which is what will happen if spending is not cut.

    “Front line services are being targeted for cuts in an ideological war.” Libraries and lollipop ladies and RAF jets are being axed. It is true. But equally the chancellor of Gloucester University (see above for new unis) earns £500,000 a year. The leader of Suffolk CC costs her taxpayers via salary/management consultants/photo shoots/gagging orders on staff who try to whistle blow, etc enough to save all the lollipop ladies in Suffolk. MPs are giving themselves big new allowances. Hampshire County Council employs more people than the Royal Navy. Britain gives foreign aid to China and India which can both afford nuclear missile programmes, the EU has increased the UK’s contribution massively, the UK taxpayer has paid to bail out Greece & Eire and Portugal’s begging bowl is being readied.

    This Government is frankly not cutting enough and where it is cutting it is in the wrong place. This is not ideology it is cowardice and stupidity.

    Those folk on the march need a reality check. Your country is going broke. Bankrupt. Down the pan. If anything you should be protesting that your feeble Government is cutting badly and not cutting enough. But I think you really are just too stupid to understand that.”

  5. Alex says:

    @Haro Yousofian

    The tax avoidance these children have been protesting about has been going on for years – funny how they all kept quiet when Labour were in power and didn’t bother kicking up a stink until the Tories were back in.

    A cynic might suggest that all the issues that protesters claim to be protesting about are nothing more than a smokescreen because no one wants to admit the real reason they’re taking to the streets – the fact that the public didn’t give Labour a fourth term.

  6. leftie says:

    to the above poster: the deficit is not the same as the debt. the deficit has not increased by 150bn over the last year, that’s the debt. the debt is the total amount, the deficit is the rate of increase of the debt.

    “increase in nominal terms” is meaningless. inflation means that the pound will be worth less in 2015 than it is now. so in nominal terms it can increase while in real terms it is definitely decreasing.

    i think osborne is hoping economic growth will help tax receipts, not just inflation and new taxes.

    it’s this lack of understanding at a very basic level that makes it so difficult to discuss the deficit with people on the right.

  7. Marcus Aurelius says:

    We have seen the mailed fist of socialism at the student fees riot and now at the uncut riot.

    It’s worth remembering that while the chattering classes applauded, the ordinary tax paying British people recoiled in horror from the violence and disorder of the French Reign of Terror and the Bolshevik Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

    It’s hard to be elected by promising to confiscate peoples’ property and give it to your violent supporters, though your fellow Socialists Hitler and Mussolini managed it. Of coursethey had the benefit of AV / proportional representation opaque election methods rather than plain old discredited First Past The Post.

  8. Dan Hodges says:

    Latte Labour,

    So it’s the press, (and me), dividing the movement, rather than the people smashing things up, attacking coppers, and generally making a nuisance of the themselves?

  9. Paul says:

    @Haro, their tactic is flawed, their occupation of Boots, Top Shop & now Fortnum’s is ill judged, it has been proven that these companies pay their taxes and that UK Uncut are campaigning for these companies to pay taxes in this country for services rendered in other countries…

    The violence cannot be attributed to UK Uncut, but they do not condemn it, the MSM love to report on violence and as you know any publicity is good publicity, all they have to do is stand there saying it was nothing to do with us guv.

    Are the MSM really going to report in depth on a bunch of hooray henrys playing doctors and nurses in boots? I think not, violence gets MSM Minutes and UK Uncut need this as much as Black Bloc need UK Uncut to give them the hubbub to do their deeds.

  10. David Talbot says:

    Dan

    “Last year, I wrote that the left could have protest or power, but not both.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately it is a fault inherent in much of the labour movement that they actively prefer opposition to power. It is just that bit easier to march, protest and debate the finer points of ideology than to govern for these puritans.

    At some point soon, Ed Miliband who, and here I shall profoundly disagree with you here Dan, I support wholeheartedly, will have to make a decisive decision whether to use the cuts movement as an electoral strategy – and tie it to the Labour party – or disown it. Making speeches in Hyde Park is fine, although a tad daft, in 2011 but surely not in 2014/15 in the heat of an election battle.

    These Revolutionaries of Surrey will always want to smash up and occupy nice hamper shops – and indeed you can hear the very foundations of capitalism floundering – but they are not and should not be affiliated with the Labour party.

  11. Dan Hodges says:

    David,

    If Ed were to start taking some of the decisive decisions you recommend I’d be supporting him wholeheartedly as well.

  12. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    I think you are getting into semantics here:

    “to the above poster: the deficit is not the same as the debt. the deficit has not increased by 150bn over the last year, that’s the debt. the debt is the total amount, the deficit is the rate of increase of the debt.”

    The PSND in 2009/10 is c.£784bn and in 2013/14 it will be c.£1.3trn.

    I work in the financial markets and in my experience the Right is more switched on to the dangers of Gilts blowing out and Sterling sinking further. The general thrust of Winnifirth’s post is bang on, one can quibble at the margins, the main point is this country is up the swanee and it’s about time the Left apologised for Brown’s epic spending spree in the Treasury and what needs to be done to avert a monetary crisis so we don’t become a PIG.

    Instead we get “hate the rich” rhetoric, riots and no cogent alternative. It’s time to grow up and stop the tantrums!

  13. leftie says:

    pro-tip: the “D” in PSND stands for debt, not deficit.

    i also work in the financial markets and i seem to remember gilt yields falling before the election last year, even when opinion polls were calling a hung parliament. so the markets weren’t scared by the possibility of brown continuing on. we’re supposed to believe that they would have suddenly spooked if the tories didn’t get in, but this is pure conjecture.

    there’s some serious double-think going on with right-wing commentators here. on the one hand you’re saying that osborne’s cuts aren’t deep enough, and in fact they’re hardly different from what darling would have done. yet in the next breath you say that if darling’s plan had been implemented we’d be paying interest rates like greece, whereas with osborne our gilt yields are near record lows. which is it?

  14. George Anderton says:

    If Polly Toynbee is so het up about company tax dodging how come she still works for the Guardian?

  15. Thanks to Dan Hodges for writing this piece.

    I won’t hide the fact that I didn’t vote Labour at the 2010 GE (my first time being able to vote, 21 years old). Neither will I hide the fact that my political and economic views are strongly libertarian (not right wing though – the Conservatives are not my political poster boys).

    However, this is the most honest appraisal of the events of that protest that I have read from a ‘Labour’, or at least “Labour-sympathetic”, source.

    Whilst it isn’t my desire to see Labour return to power, or the trade unions increase their influence, I will accept it if it is the outcome of our democratic process. We cannot simply abandon the system when we don’t like the result (that is why I will be voting against AV, but if you want to discuss that particular issue, please email me and I will gladly talk about it – stu.the.cullen@gmail.com).

    Where does your side go from here? There are a few possibilities, some of which I think are in your best interests to make priority.
    It’s no secret that there is a ‘hard’-left element among UK Uncut. Labelling them “anarchists” is a misnomer, because anarchists oppose all forms of government. Anarchists would be protesting for “no taxes” not against corporate tax avoidance. As an aside, I recommend everyone do some research into the history of Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion in the UK.

    In regards to the hard-left make-up of UKUncut, what is notable is that they are almost uniformally people in their late teens to (at the extreme end) late twenties. There is a very strong generational dichotomy in the protests of Saturday.
    This is where Labour’s opportunity lies. Younger people, very generally, tend to be more left-wing (or more accurately in the UK, anti-Tory). If you make a joke about spitting on Margaret Thatcher and waiting to dance on her grave, you’ll get very different reactions in a room of baby-boomers and a room of people around my age. Leaving personal politics aside, Labour needs to take the opportunity to capitalise on this feeling, and make a political home for this generation of young people.

    There is a risk that these young people, feeling ignored and shunned by the political process (as they evidently do given their method of protest), will degenerate into a state of political apathy by the time the next general election comes around.

    Surely in a democratic system, that is in no-one’s interest.
    If the cost of higher voter turnout and overall involvement of the politics of this country was Labour domination in 2015, I would rather live in a more socialist, Labour-led country than a Conservative or (don’t laugh here) UKIP one.

    The importance of this issue extends far beyond the scope of personal politics, and Labour is in a unique position to get, at least for a section of the population, more young people involved in politics in a meaningful, long lasting way.

    Shunning and decrying them in the long-term will not appease their anxiety and anger over the institutions they have grown up with.

  16. Weygand says:

    @ Leftie

    Notwithstanding your lofty lefty tones, it remains that;

    1) Re deficit. Despite the cuts, the UK will continue to spend more money than it receives in tax – and is scheduled to do so through the whole of this parliament and beyond.
    2) Re debt. The amount the UK borrows each year to fund the difference is added to the national debt and this will therefore also continue to rise through this parliament and beyond
    3) The amount of interest paid on the national debt will therefore continue to increase – not only adding even more to the national debt but taking even more of the taxes which might otherwise have been spent on schools and hospitals etc.
    4) The continued overspend and added interest means that taking no action means the situation would get even worse; not that it would be maintained at its present level.
    Despite the posturing of so many on the Left, the questions are (as Alistair Darling admitted) at what speed to cut public spending and where to do it. Pretending otherwise makes leaders of unions and political parties appear to be either stupid or opportunistic and ,worse still, leaves them excluded from the real debate.

  17. Mr Keith Majors says:

    The peaceful part of the march was a bit of a flop too. You got less people attending the march, (from a membership list of several million), than voted for the BNP at the last election.

    If that is the mainstream majority view, then so is the BNP! People realise that the deficit is not just huge, it is insanely astronomical.

    Let’s add perspective. In 1992, the Conservative government lost all economic credibility on one day when the pound was dropped out of the ERM on a day which became known as “Black Wednesday”.

    Rightly, the media, the heads of business, the city and the country as a whole stopped giving the conservatives the benefit of the doubt on the economy from that day forward.

    The amount of money the government had to spend to prop up a falling pound was considered massive and this hurt the Government and saw then lose three elections on the trot, largely because of that one moment.

    Black Wednesday was a massive calamity, a huge cock-up and a kick in the balls for the tories.

    What has that got to do with the deficit? Labour’s incompetent handling of the entire UK banking and finance sector from 1997 onwards ensured that serious financial crimes, committed by international banks, went un-investigated and unpunished.

    This allowed banks to gamble more and more over the 2000’s on ever more speculative investments. Serious and fraudulent levels of crimes were committed all over the world’s financial system. Keeping pace with the mortgage backed securities frauds required that the same mortgages had to be “sliced and diced” and sold over and over again. It created a debt bubble so huge and obviously unsustainable that when it popped, it would cause an economic tsunami with ripples hitting all over the world.

    Labour did NOTHING to protect us from that. Indeed they did the opposite in pursuing a level of regulation utterly unsuitable for the risks being taken. Saying that the conservatives would have done the same does not cut it! The labour Government were supposed to be running OUR economy. They failed.

    The scale of that failure to protect this nation from the obviously inevitable crash that was heading our way lead directly to a cost to government which inflated the deficit to astronomical proportions.

    Considering that the conservatives rightly lost all credibility over their failure on Black Wednesday with the associated costs to the taxpayer, it is fitting to compare the two calamities.

    The deficit is a cost to the taxpayer which is the equivalent size of a “Black Wednesday” happening every single week!

    Think about that when you consider the credibility of the last labour government and the credibility of the current labour party in denial of their mess!

  18. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    “you’re saying that osborne’s cuts aren’t deep enough, and in fact they’re hardly different from what darling would have done. yet in the next breath you say that if darling’s plan had been implemented we’d be paying interest rates like greece, whereas with osborne our gilt yields are near record lows. which is it?”

    Maybe we’ll end up like Greece regardless of the Osborne or Darling plan, I think that is an anxiety for anyone who understands financial markets. Winnifrith in his diatribe is no Osbourne fan.

    As to the PSND, of course D = debt. The yearly deficit adds to the PSND which has a very nasty trend rate of growth.

    Bottom line: The Treasury and Bank of England let rip in the UK a massive property bubble, the Government thought it was super rich on the bubble money and spent like crazy, when the bubble burst the merry-go-round stopped and the money was shown to be a debt fuelled illusion. To prop up the Government and Consumer the BoE started printing money and slashed interest rates to 0.5%, this is because our elite lost control of the monetary system. If you are going to be angry be angry with the government elite who are using the bankers as a human shield to hide their terrible mistakes.

    Right foot forward:

    ~Public sector spending cuts: to each and every department including Health, excluding Science & Technology I would increase spending on this.
    ~Targeted tax rises: increase income tax.
    ~Targeted tax cuts: capital formation.
    ~Tax incentives: for small businesses.
    ~Seriously slash red tape: for business.
    ~Balanced budget law: decreed by Parliament.

    Then let the entrepreneurs get on with creating businesses.

    ——

    When will the Left wake up to this fiscal disaster and work with the Coalition to remodulate our economy onto a self sustaining basis, rather than spew decisive rhetoric and riot in London?

    Come on Lefties!!!

    This is a national emergency!!

  19. David Cameron says:

    Congratulations on this monumentally arrogant piece of writing, simultaneously belittling and washing your hands of the youth. Is it any wonder that they do not wish to take part in labour, or vote labour? I hardly think so with such a sneering and condescending attitude that you have displayed. Rather than march in solidarity with the youth or attempt to placate them, you ask them to “Go and play with your toys somewhere else”.

    I spit on the memory of Labour, Lib-dem, and Tory, as do thousands of youths all across the country. And mate, we’re not all public school, and we’re definitely not ib-dem or labour anymore.

    also, watch this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2011/mar/28/fortnum-mason-protesters-uk-uncut-video?CMP=twt_gu

  20. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    Typo:

    …rather than spew “divisive” rhetoric and riot in London?

  21. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    “you’re saying that osborne’s cuts aren’t deep enough, and in fact they’re hardly different from what darling would have done. yet in the next breath you say that if darling’s plan had been implemented we’d be paying interest rates like greece, whereas with osborne our gilt yields are near record lows. which is it?”

    I’m confused! I never mentioned Greece and Mr Darling in my posts.

  22. Rob says:

    Leftie and Right-Tighty.

    Leftie is right, but I’m afraid that in my experience it’s those on the left (and the public) who tend to confuse debt and deficit. For instance, Mcluskey was on the news last week saying ‘of course we must pay down the deficit, but ….’. Well, you can’t pay down a deficit, you can only pay down a debt. Unless you eliminate the deficit altogether, you’re not paying anything down just making your debt worse.

    Seriously, if the public actually understood this, does anyone seriously think Labour would be campaigning on a platform of halving the deficit. Saying to the public, ‘we will keep overspending, but we just won’t be overspending so badly’, ‘the coalition are cutting the overspend too fast’, ‘the coalition aren’t increasing the national debt enough’. Of course not. Ed Balls knows the difference, but he knows he can get away with ‘halving the deficit’ because he knows nine-tenths of the population interprets this as ‘halving the debt’, not ‘increasing the debt’.

    The Conservatives don’t really challenge this, because George Osborne knows that eliminating the structural deficit sounds good, but just stabilising the national debt doesn’t.

    If any businessman turned up for a meeting with his bank manager or his financiers and couldn’t tell the difference between his overspend and his total debt, the administrators would be in post by lunchtime.

  23. Robert Eve says:

    I think Right Tighty gets my vote.

    Why are the Left so consistently hopeless?

  24. Dan Hodges says:

    David Cameron

    “we’re definitely not ib-dem or labour anymore”.

    Don’t take this personally, but you won’t be missed.

  25. william says:

    Another 18 years in opposition.Which public school will produce the heir to Blair, Cameron,Osborne, Hurd..?

  26. paul barker says:

    Thank you for a well thought-out & honest article.

    Can I ask you to look at another uncomfortable issue – Labours Debts, about £27Million in total or about £150 for each Member. With Labour Membership at its highest for 3 years & Interest Rates at a historic low there will never be a better time to deal with the debt but the official line is to ignore it.
    Can I ask you to break the silence ?

  27. Simon says:

    Robert Eve

    The left are consistently hopeless because they think that everyone has the same socialist view. Socialism only works when everybody involved has the same view. They don’t realise that some people just want to be left alone, to spend their hard-earned hard-taxed money on what they want. Not redistributed through the system to people who don’t deserve it.

    The left has become the champion of the welfare classes. That is because these people are seen as victims through the eyes of socialist. Where as any sensible normal person knows they in the most part are lazy, lead swinging parasites. That is why deficits occur, debt increases etc. Question? I read the other day the total welfare bill for 2010 was 192 Billion Pounds? is this correct?

  28. Joe Cox says:

    Tom, with respect you seem to be a little bit naive about how the forces in society work. We need groups like Ukuncut to push Labour politicians into doing the right thing.

    Your prescription that Labour should be a self insulated elite that ignores street protest is one of the reasons why 5 million voters left the Labour Party.

  29. leftie says:

    righty: you did mention greece, what do you think the “G” in “PIGS” stands for 😛

    you didn’t actually mention darling, i’ll say i was referring to you plural there and so meant “the right in general”. my point is either the cuts are massive and labour were heading for economic destruction by cutting less, or the cuts are tiny so we’d have been fine with labour’s plan since there’s not much difference. it can’t be both. you’ve taken a third way by saying we’re going to turn into greece even with osborne’s plan but literally nobody else thinks this so y’know, whatever…

  30. Joe Cox says:

    Comment above was meant to address Dan Hodges, author of the piece (apologies to any Toms!)

  31. Theodor Marco says:

    I’m not really sure which planet Dan Hodges is on. The protest on Saturday had nothing to do with the Labour party. If anything – and I say this as a party member – the devastation being inflicted on our country is thanks to the Labour Party. Who first set up privatised state schools (aka ‘academies’)? Who first privatised the NHS (aka ‘foundation hospitals’)? And who spent billions on a pointless war whilst allowing the financial system to continue thriving in corruption and tax avoidance? The Labour party paved the way for these changes. To suddenly act as if they are the saviours against them is dubious at best, utter deceit at its worst.

    Hodges is right that “UK Uncut were always going to piss on Labour’s bonfire”. It’s a bonfire that the Tories are licking in adoration, a fire that is destroying this country, a fire started by Labour and upheld by the Tories. Someone has to put it out.

  32. Matty says:

    This is a very ill-informed article that smears all of us who went on the march.

    “I tweeted that those predicting violence were delusional, that this wasn’t a student demo but a properly organized march by the trade unions and mainstream labour movement. No one would dare try to hijack it, and if they did, they be smartly told where to go by a couple of burly shop stewards.”

    The trouble with this is that the anarchist/UK Uncut protest started off in Oxford St, over a mile away from any point on the official point. I think it’s a bit much to expect that stewards from the TUC should help to police bits of central London where the march doesn’t go.

    Even the violence on Saturday wasn’t actually to do with UK Uncut. They held sit-ins which were peaceful. Fortnum and Mason’s wasn’t wrecked. The violence was that of so-called anarchists. Even the likes of Jackie Ashley wrote “The Labour leader is no more responsible for the “black bloc” than David Cameron is for the BNP. It is absurd to argue that the democratically elected leader of the main opposition party should shy away from a huge public event because a few violent troublemakers might turn up on the fringes of it.” Ed was right to attend the protest. A good article that spells out why is here http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/28/why-ed-miliband-was-right-to-attend-saturdays-tuc-march/

  33. Scotty says:

    Labours problem is that they have only one answer to running the country in good times or bad – and that is to spend – Brown promised the end of boom and bust and spent like money grew on trees, instead of as the consequence of the hard working man and womans graft, and what do they recommend when in opposition ? – keep spending, that will sort it all out ! The public sector grew and grew yet not one public sector worker produces anything that directly contributes towards GDP. The public sector should be there to maintain our infrastructure not promote street football advisors etc and must do so efficiently – empty our bins, clean our streets maintain our roads teach our kids and run the NHS – but efficiently not in the way they have done under labours rule – 3rd world education standards, bloated and inefficient NHS, overpaid public sector bosses, the BBC !!!
    UK uncut are promoting a lie and that is that cuts are not necessary, yet even balls and milliband accept that cuts are needed, albeit through gritted teeth.

  34. Jeremy Robert Poynton says:

    Laurie Penney is really very dim. She insists that the student demo was in fact an “uprising”. Poor little leftie. Maybe somone should dump her on the Benghazi to Tripoli road, so she can realise what a dipstick she is.

    Isn’t she another Champagne Socialist as well, with a nice inheritance.

    Kids eh? When will they grow up 🙂

  35. Dan Hodges says:

    Joe Cox,

    “Your prescription that Labour should be a self insulated elite that ignores street protest is one of the reasons why 5 million voters left the Labour Party”.

    5 million people left the Labour Party because Tony Blair and Gordon Brown didn’t trash Top Shop or storm into Fortnum and Mason.

    Remind me again, who’s part of a self-insulating elite?

  36. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    As you say I didn’t mention Darling and him in the context of Greece. I did use the G in PIG. I was confused by your merger of these two points.

    Who knows how it’s going to turn out. Probably best to prepare for the worst. Osborne doesn’t seem ambitious enough, no cuts at the NHS were spending has gone from £40bn in 1997 to £120bn in 2010, the Tories are too scared to touch it because Labour would be all over them.

    For the Labour movement to get behind the march was absurd because they would have instigated similar cuts if they’d won the election. Why did Ed compare it to great historic movements? The Loony Left are on their third riot and “tory scum” attack. Do you see the Tories villify Labour in such a way? The Left are venting hate and trying to bring division and class war in the UK. It’s all pretty depressing to watch….

    As we become an Undeveloping Nation we need love & peace, not hate & war.

  37. Right Tighty says:

    Leftie,

    Just to be pedantic: I said maybe not we’re:

    “Maybe we’ll end up like Greece regardless of the Osborne or Darling plan, I think that is an anxiety for anyone who understands financial markets.”

    “you’ve taken a third way by saying we’re going to turn into greece even with osborne’s plan but literally nobody else thinks this so y’know, whatever…”

    Tony is your man for a third way!!

    Allister Heath covers this point well:

    Cutting spending through the ages

    28th March 2011

    ALLISTER HEATH

    BEWARE, dear reader: this is a trick question. Which Chancellor of the Exchequer cut spending the most in a single year? Was it George Osborne in his Budget last week, which if this weekend’s protesters are to be believed is pushing through the most “reckless” reductions imaginable? Or was it the great Tory chancellor Nigel Lawson at the height of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the 1980s, the Tories’ Ken Clarke in the 1990s or even the 1970s socialist stalwart Dennis Healey?

    Courtesy of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has released all of the data, adjusted for inflation, we can finally calculate the answers. Lawson cut by 2.6 per cent in 1988-89, at the height of his very own inflationary bubble; but the reductions were painless as they were caused by a slump in unemployment benefits. He cut in more difficult circumstances by 1.4 per cent in 1985-86. Spending grew slightly in the following two years – but expenditure over the four-year period fell by 3.1 per cent. Spending only returned to the levels of 1984-85 in 1990-91 – and remained lower as a share of GDP.

    Remarkably, Labour’s Healey was the joint second biggest one-year cutter: he slashed total public spending by 2.2 per cent in real terms in 1977-78, after a bankrupt UK was forced to take orders from the IMF. This was almost exactly the same as the 2.2 per cent chopped by Clarke in 1996-97 –though Gordon Brown stuck to his Tory predecessor’s spending plans and went on to cut another 0.5 per cent or so in 1997-98, taking the total two-year reduction to 2.7 per cent.

    And what of Osborne? He will be cutting by just 0.6 per cent in 2011-12 (barely any more than Brown managed, and less in cash terms than Healey), followed by 1.1 per cent in 2012-13, 1.3 per cent in 2013-14 and 0.8 per cent in 2014-15. Overall, spending will be reduced by 3.7 per cent. The reason these figures are lower than the ones usually cited is that they take all spending into account – not just a few selected departments. So Osborne’s one year-cuts are modest compared with those of his predecessors – but his reductions are spread over four years and go slightly further than any Chancellor has achieved in the past 40 years. It might have been better politically as well as economically for Osborne to spread the cuts over just two years, and not to backload them in the way he has done.

    The worrying reality is that Osborne’s austerity package is the minimum required to stabilise the public finances. The most likely Plan B would be more tax hikes and more cuts. There is simply no way that global investors would accept huge increases in spending, Keynesian-style, in the current climate – and any boost to demand from a slight reduction in cuts (as advocated by the more realistic Labour opponents of the Chancellor) would probably be cancelled out by higher rates. The OBR calculates that every percentage point rise in gilt rates would cost the taxpayer another £5bn in 2015-16. Debt interest spending in the first ten months of the year was up 48 per cent.

    Revenues are also uncertain. The OBR is predicting a 10 per cent fall in the cash value of City bonuses in 2010-11, compared with a previous assumption of 5 per cent growth. This will cut tax receipts by £1bn a year, as the war on the City backfires. One thing is certain: smashing up a few bank branches and shops will resolve nothing.

  38. Dog Chew says:

    How far will the Loony Left go?

    Mark Wallace – 29/3/11:

    How close are we to seeing an anti-cuts terrorist group?

    It’s pretty clear now that Saturday’s riots – like most riots – were counterproductive for the anti-cuts movement. That’s good news; had the public somehow been moved to support violence and vandalism there would be something very wrong indeed.

    It does raise a serious concern, though. How will the hard core of anti-cutters and so-called anarchists (who actually want a bigger state, which is far from anarchism as you can get) react as their failure becomes clear?

    The psychology of these agitators is complex but worrying. They have a persecution complex, they fetishise violence and crime and they are utterly convinced that everyone agrees with them, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    In their world, any Government that doesn’t do what they want must be a Gaddafi-style dictatorship, and any indication that the public don’t back them is a sign of an oppressive bourgeois establishment who are just as bad as the totalitarian Government. They seem increasingly divorced from the real world and antipathetic to wider society.

    Add into that the hefty leavening of sociopaths who gravitate toward extremism and wanton destruction and you have a potent mix.

    I fear that this core – not, I should emphasise, the wider halo movement around them – could easily tip over the edge from public order crime to much more sinister activities.

    They have already started widening their list of targets whom they judge legitimate – just look at the absurd attack on charity-owned Fortnum & Mason.

    Only a few years ago, SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) were following scientists and investors far down the business chain to their homes and attacking and intimidating them and their families. Plenty of people in the anti-cuts hard core will be students of that terror campaign – and even the small core of the anti-cuts mob have more people and resources than SHAC.

    Back in the 1960s and 70s, on the Continent a mass leftwing movement spawned groups with a very similar psychology and rhetoric to the rioters we see in Britain today. Their response to failure after failure was to become more and more extreme – shedding those who thought they were going to far, and following their “war against society” philosophy to its logical conclusion: terrorism.

    It’s not inevitable – it may not happen in this case, or if it does it could be stopped – but we don’t seem too far at all from spawning a Baader Meinhof Gang or a Red Brigades for the 21st Century.

    That’s a scary prospect, and everyone, from the police and the Government to the Unions, UKuncut and the vast majority of peaceful, democratic anti-cutters, must work together to nip any tendency like that in the bud.

    A good start would be for the Left to denounce the violence we saw on Saturday – something UKuncut signally failed to do on Newsnight last night.

  39. Dan says:

    This sort of toss makes me ashamed to be a labour party member. Class traitors, all of you.

  40. dave bones says:

    The Labour “Movement” has been running round like a headless chicken ever since Tony Blair got elected leader no? I thought it was what the Labour “movement” was for?

  41. David Cameron says:

    Dan Hodges, with such an aggressive and classist attitude, it should come as no surprise that the youth are rejecting you and the shit that you stand for. You treat us all as nothing when we are literally your future, from school kid to adult and beyond. We will all be workers. We vote for nobody because you all are to blame for this rubbish.

    I only hope that more people see the true arrogance of your political elite. It comes as no surprise to me that Black Bloc tactics have risen massively in the past few protests (from a few dozen to nearly a thousand) since even the so-called party of the people refuse to listen to them and treat them as literal children.

  42. Major Plonquer says:

    Anarchists supporting the tax system? Good grief! Next we’ll have pacifists supporting the CIA in Tibet.

    But the biggest hypocrits were the young ladies who protested against the (non-existant) cuts by carrying placards that read ‘2 DEEP 2 FAST’. I’ll bet they don’t say that at home.

  43. Loved the pre demo performance by the Ed Miller Band

    I Pwedict a Wiot!

    I’m sure if Emily Pankhurst, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Martin Luther King were here today, they’d all be smashing up Fortnum and Masons in support of Labour’s version of the cuts

  44. Henrik says:

    And the best of luck to the Black Bloc and other direct action types – there will come a point when they make the successful transition from “irrelevant irritant” to “irrelevant problem”, when they will find that a Big Boys’ Game has Big Boys’ Rules. So far, it’s pretty much low-level vandalism and some minor, unimportant disorder, not a problem, easily dealt with, essentially by ignoring it.

    Sooner or later these imbeciles will hurt someone or, God forbid, kill someone and at that point they can expect their lives to get considerably more interesting and exciting, only not in a good way.

  45. dave bones says:

    Dog chew- why are you fantasizing about terrorism? Oh well if it gets you off.

    I think UKUncut are going to win out on this one if they keep it fluffy and being allied to your movement wouldn’t do them any good anyway.

    Watch Max Keiser here. None of the other pundits he is up against even refute what he is saying. Is the Labour movement behind any of this? No. UKUncut are.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/insidestory/2011/03/201132912932665337.html

  46. Simon says:

    Pity that the ‘peaceful’ marchers also managed to trash London, leaving their litter everywhere. Still, I suppose that it is typical of labour to leave their rubbish for other to clear up.

  47. Maureen Ramsay says:

    I was shocked when Diane Abbott referred to “Labour Uncut” when she first spoke of the March on Question Time and nobody picked her up. I am a member of the Labour Party and want nothing to do with “UK Uncut”

Leave a Reply