A gift for International Women’s Day!

March 8, 2010

It’s International Women’s Day. A flurry of activity in cyberspace, mass blog postings for the occasion. Labourlist.org had Gaby Hinsliff in as guest editor, I wrote an article.

GuidoFawkes, leading Tory blogger-not quite aware of the  Conservative Party’s  quest to attract the ‘female vote’.

Take a look at this, from the post tagged ‘totty’ to the comments, which apparently are not worth challenging.... It’s a gift for those of us who are trying to decide who to vote for. An absolute gift. If there was ever a site that more clearly demonstrated the danger of politics being an ‘all boys club’, I don’t think I have seen it.

It is probably quite unpleasant for Jo Swinson, but at least it brings into relief how the Conservative Party view women.



  1. You seem to have forgot to mention Guido’s other post mentioning feminism, nothing to do with the subjects being contributors (or ex-editors) to the ever so enlightened LabourList by any chance?

    • No. I think that that email exchange by Derek Draper was disgusting. Funny enough- the comments were on the same lines on that thread as well- they didn’t seem to object as much as I did. Neither did Guido.

      You still trolling? DId you come back to explain how giving that much money to banks, doing nothing to stimulate demand in teh economy, and cutting back public services, was Keynesian?

      • Ah, sure, why not. Am I correct in assuming we’re agreed on the concept that Keynes advocated using government money to create demand artificially in the short term(example: building hospitals, schools, etc) until the markets became ‘unstuck’?

        So, to implement modern Keynesianism it works as follows:

        1.) Loss of confidence in the banks means banks aren’t lending to businesses, or each other, and we have liquidity problems.
        2.) Government runs at a deficit to bail out the banks
        3.) Central bank expands money supply to liquify assets
        4.) Banks lend to businesses, and each other again
        5.) Businesses are able to borrow again
        6.) Businesses employ workers.
        7.) Employed workers create demand (consumers)

        The government doesn’t build many (any?), schools or hospitals any more, they’re mainly build via PFI, so in this sense it is also an indirect form of classical Keynesianism.

      • 1.) Loss of confidence in the banks means banks aren’t lending to businesses, or each other, and we have liquidity problems.
        2.) Government runs at a deficit to bail out the banks (so far so good, you summed up the rhetoric)

        3.) Central bank expands money supply to liquify assets (Bank doesn’t do this-bank protects bond deposit base to maintainstability-no condition asking them to do otherwise. Also massive bonuses and pensions.

        4.) Banks lend to businesses, and each other again (Banks don’t increase their lending, and businesses continue to fail, while banks reap benefits, and in some cases creating derivatives, which enable them to bet on failure of economies, with bankdebt our main asset as a country, – why do we agree to this? TO protect basic ‘free’ market principles) we then have to cut back public services, while some industries dry up completely.

        In meantime stock prices stabilise through cuts made by companies, through squeezing supplier prices and conditions, and laying people off-unemployment benefits for whom, are paid for by-you guessed it-the taxpayer-seems like the taxpayer paying so far…not much of the redistribution of bail outs). We measure recovery in terms of mergers and aquisitions market-and encourage further mergers, which actually bring with them massive job losses, and less liquidity in economy-which we the taxpayer subsidise-through benefits, job subsidies, tax avoidance, blah blah blah. I see a theme)

        5.) Businesses are able to borrow again (Businesses are not-and noone said they had to)

        6.) Businesses employ workers.(Unemployment rising. One of the key things that has happened in the UK labour market, is that people have been flexible, and record numbers have accepted drops in hours, pay, pay freezes-this has slowed the drop in unemployment- but even that isn’t enough.

        THe other thing that has helped to prevent this from having true effect, has been the availability of tax credits, which have bridged the gap between stagnant and falling salaries, and continuing to maintain peoples living and fuel costs- enabling them to be economically active. For those who do lose their jobs, as a consequence of the financial sectors irresponsibility- The services they expect= the services that people paid taxes for are cut back precisely at the point at which they need them.
        And the continued lack of regulation in the credit market allows the most irresponsible borrowing I have ever seen-at interest rates shylock would have been ashamed of, advertising on television to the unemployed, encouraging irresponsible borrowing to exploit their unemployment, dragging peoples main asset back into private hands.

        Incidentally -your libertarian party, want to sell off one of the biggest assets the UK has, as a boon for private shareholders to exploit and profit from-even though the one hope we have of getting out of this mess- being that we get this money back at somewhere near the value it was give at).

        7.) Employed workers create demand (consumers) Yeah- high streets across UK not really showing that to be honest. Although liquidity is being maintained by temporary measures which are ending or have ended(including some taht carry with them massive risks)- and the encouragement of people to keep spending.

        Nothing Keynesian about it. Some Keynesian rhetoric when treasury realised this what what we were doing- but there is nothing Keynesian about the bail outs.

        To be quite honest, if we had took a Keynesian strategy and used that bail out money to stimulate demand instead, I think we may have even been slightly better off.

        The market might not have been, neither might the banks- but what the hey- free market economics- adapt to the market to survive-ultimately the people are the market.

        Monopolies are supposed to be an anomoly in free market economics, and the banks have shown us that those principles are so distorted that there is nothing libertarian about the free market.

        These bail outs make no sense whichever economic perspective you are coming from.

        Free market mechanism is supposed move money around the economy, not one that sucks it off in one direction, from every angle to an ever decreasing percentage of people. The way that the money is supposed to come back, is through tax, but tax avoidance is a big business- and the same people who have our money,or benefit from the policies to ‘stimulate recovery’, do their damndest to avoid paying taxes on those benefits.

        Oh wait, there is something Keynesian about it- well whenever there is any attempt by the british people to find a way to redress this balance= we hear the finance sector shouting it at the top of their lungs, like it’s something to be ashamed of.

        THe problem appears to be, with libertarianism in an economic sense- is that we are being shown over and over again, that the people making the most from it, seem to be missing the point, which is that they are supposed to make wealth for everyone, not just themselves.

        Its one thing to over regulate, but it appears that in the system we operate in at the moment, we have been shown that given the freedom to do what they want, the finance and banking sector will rob us blind-and it would seem slightly foolhardy to me to use public money, to support a system that allows them to do so. This bail out was a trust that they would not do that – support the wealthmakers- to help everyone. Yeah-that’s working out-we should go with that to drag us out of this mess.

        Oh and in terms of lending to each other..how many banks do you see on the high street now? I’ve got an idea- lets make em bigger! That hasn’t caused problems before.

      • ”Your response to point 6, to me, is just another argument against the current tax credits system, surely it can never be right that a private company can cut someones wages/hours and the government essentially encourage it by replacing the money the private company is saving with taxpayers money. ”

        The problem with that, is that the people who have paid for these benefits, who have contributed to a society, which has said it protects people at times like this- is they are not the ones with a choice. And putting them in a position where they can’t survive, in an economy they are already supporting by being flexible in the labour market, hardly seems fair.

        I would much prefer we started by looking for what went wrong,a dn regulating to make sure the same mistakes weren’t repeated. I would have quite liked it if some conditions had been put on the money the public pot is already missing.

        A true Keynesian strategy would have protected those people, by stimulating liquidity through demand- which in turn would have protected the free market economic principles which need to be allowed to come to fruition in our vastly distorted finance sector. I think a better strategy would have been to protect people from the effects bansk irresponsibility..

        I supplement my earnings with tax credits. They allow me to parent my daughter. They ensure that I work, because if I don’t, with current fuel prices, I would literally be unable to survivethe drop in income-which is required to live on benefits. They don’t keep me at a luxury income level, I don’t have much room for manouvre, and I still have to sell stuff to get by occasionally- but they also allow me to not live in so much hardship that I am constantly struggling-which means I am able to be productive economically. The kind of stress involved in not knowing how to feed your child, is not conducive to people being productive economically. Not at all. NOt only that but it removes liquidity, and actually removes their opportunity to improve their economic future, and in turn societies- because the one thing taht grinding poverty does- is exclude you from society. If you cannot afford to be part of society=- you drift away. Poverty costs a lot of money. It is a factor in increased health costs, crime, all social outcomes. You invest in tackling poverty, you save a lot of money.

        ”At the very least if we’re going to have a big-statist government there should be punitive consequences to the private company for cutting peoples pay to the point they need state handouts to survive.”-

        THere is going to be no big statist government, in next year ‘govt’ is going to have to roll back by a massive percentage-massively reduced in size. Which is great if you are a fan of the principles which brought us here- not so great if you are outside that pool- which is pretty much most of us.

        But one of the problematic ways our ‘free market’ system has operated, is that noone has had the desire to regulate attempts to do so-results in cries that we are attacking business.

        If there was any will to regulate the market so that it did not exploit, I would say- yeah- let the market provide. The fact is- it doesn’t, and we are in a global market now- where a small shift in the global market can leave entire towns decimated- and if that kind of regulation was acceptable- to ensure that major companies were not just providing low paid. low security jobs- we wouldn’t be in this mess. We don’t have government big enough to ask global companies to do this- and I am not sure you would be a fan of a govt that inflicted this kind of regulation on industry.

        ”It’s a little bit harsh to blame the whole of the financial services industry. HBOS, RBS and Northern Rock screwed up royally, but in a truly free market where Northern Rock was allowed to fail (bearing in mine FSCS would have saved most savers), would HBOS/RBS have still effectively failed? ”

        I personally don’t think that any of their failures shoudl have been prevented. I believe services for society should be what our taxes pay for, and let the free market institutions follow the principles they flourish in. But I am aware that a principle bandied about as blithely as ‘let the market correct itself’-has real consequences, and I can understand how at the time- it appeared necessary to do so. I will even accept that I may be wrong that no money should have been given. To give it without condition was criminal.

        The idea that merging banks was a way to address this- is the most ludicrous idea I have ever heard from Brown and his mates.

        ”There was a year between events, would the others have got their act together, for instance HBOS found themselves a much bigger suitor earlier on (instead of a forced, effectively reverse take-over). Santander seem to have come through things better off, HSBC barely a scratch, and Barclays now have parts of Lehmans and none of them had to have any taxpayers money.”

        Yeah, cos we don’t want to appear to be Keynesian- unless it suits. The fact that a few giant banks, have come out of this bigger than they were, and without a scratch, while the british people pay for this- does not reassure me. The size of banks was the problem in the first place. Like I say- I don’t believe we should have intervened.

        ”The banks are an easy target and to a certain point rightly so, but people need to take individual responsibility.”

        Seriously- have you seen how they advertise? In the middle of a credit boom, when economists said ‘actually this is about to go boom’ – they were told they were being ridiculous, and were unnecessarily trying to panic the market- accused of trying to encourage runs on banks. Economists with dubious funding sources, from very dubious ‘thinktanks’ advising industry and govt, that we had somehow miraculously created some new liquidity=we could make it all grow infinitely.
        Never mind that what was being bandied about as sound economic theory, ignored every fundamental principle there was-and was about as economically credible as homeopathy.

        THis collapse is absolutely the responsibility of a small group of companies, and deregulation is at the heart of it, and piss poor nurturing of what should be, and could have been a free market economy.

        THe fact that the boom continued so long, astonishing, the fact that we are still encouraging people to take on personal debt, to spend their way out of it- astonishing. Encouraging lending to business is one thing. THe kind of encouragement to personal lending, to loan sharks and vultures, who are picking the bones of the economy-quite another. Yes there is personal responsibility, and the people who borrowed irresponsibly are now paying the price- but the deregulation, the perpetuation of a culture built on credit made a great deal of money, for lots of people- and they worked damn hard, and still are, to perpetuate it.

        Lets not forget the hyper inflated house prices, which allowed a generation to take money that had never existed out of the economy by borrowing on equity-cos its all sustainable. It never was sustainable-whichever view you took.

        When I say=the banks- I don’t just mean RBS and the ones we helped. They were irresponsible and foolhardy, and yes their failure would have been a catalyst to a massive boom- but their failure was a symptom of a wider problem. That problem hasn’t even begun to be tackled yet.

        ”You mention the need for regulation in the credit market, I know people who are earning little more than minimum wage, but decide to get a bank loan (probably at credit card interest rates these days) to go on holiday! I know people who not 5 years ago lost their job in the clothing industry because it was cheaper to offshore now buying brands have been exposed as using child labour (which surely can’t be cheaper than supermarkets)”

        The distance between supplier and demander in a global market, means that companies can switch from nation to nation, with no consequences. THe fact is, our manufacturing industry has died. We need to face it- but we do not face it by giving money we could be giving to sustainable industries, industries which could offer real growth-actually move money around the economy- and giving it to banks.

        The supermarkets issue is another issue, where monopolies are allowing the british public to be screwed over. With money as the key motivator, because the shifts in the market required to undermine their position, are vast.

        THere is a reason monopolies are an anomoly in a free market. With the increased size of the market we are talkinga bout, should have been regulation to prevent monopolies, and a redefinition of what constituted a monopoly in a global sense.

        It is about the relationship between supply and demand. It has to be meaningful, for that mechanism to work. At present the distance between supplier and demander is vast- it is no longer about product, or consumer, or suppliers, all the people the market is supposed to move money around. It is about shareholders-and dwindling numbers of companies shareholders are covering increasing shares of the market. The definition of monopoly should change when you are talking about global markets. Otherwise the market distorts. Which it has done, and is doing. Consumer sovereignty is the key principle in free market economics, consumer sovereignty is meaningless, when the number of people required for a shift in market is millions and millions of people.

        THe other thing that we fail to understand about globalisation, is that the principles which underpin a free market-mean that wealth can shift. Manufacturing shifts are allowing developing economies to grow-this is natural and normal. If we were sensible we would be assessing our own strenght, investing in something other than arms, and the financial sector, and looking for sustainable long term growth for ourselves. And in a society where manual work is no longer productive, we need to invest in people to develop skills- that means as a society, investing in health, education, and reducing the poverty which prevents people from doing this.

        We are better spending that money on encouraging industries to replace manufacturing, than shafting british workers by removing the basic standard of living so we can compete, with a dying industry.

        There is a reason that labour is cheap in those countries. Investing in places where industry leaves, is the way to encourage long term sustainable growth, that is not subsidised bye taxpayer.

        THe subsidies we offer corporations alone, to subsidise employment- are ridiculous. Seems to me, the only time Keynesian principles are acceptable, is when they protect the interests of a few people. I might not have a problem if that money was being invested for the british people to enjoy sustainable growth. There is a very marked difference between corporate interests now, and the interests of enterprise. As the rapid rate at which british businesses are folding shows us. If there had been a condition on that money to force the banks to lend with it, then I probably wouldn’t have been quite so scathing at the suggestion it was Keynesian in its approach.

        ”There is a reason why Adam Smith is on the back of a £20 note and not any other economist. We just have a badly broken model of free trade at the moment with too much bad state intervention. I read an interesting article on New Zealand’s economy today, they seem to have come up with a much better model than we’ve had since the days of Gladstone, and much better than I doubt either Brown or Cameron will ever come up with.”

        Will read the article- getting late now.

        Neither Cameron or Brown know how to deal with this. So they apply the worst principles from a mishmash of economic approaches, to appease lobbyists, donors, and occasionally voters. Some more overtly protecting corporate interests than others- but the fact is -Neither has a competent economic policy that will result in protection of the british people, or protection of industry which actually keeps money moving round the economy.

        They have not thought about which approach they are taking, and taken the time to consider why those economic principles they refer to, are what they are. We have just taken a mishmash of gestures, which have succeeded in nothing but delaying the inevitable crash, and we have used a lot of the public pot to do so. We have left ourselves completely unable to protect ourselves from this, when it does go boom again.

        When the disastrous economic policies of either party come to fruit- we are fucked. They may well have been using the Mirror guide to economics, I haven’t.

        So if you don’t mind- I don’t think the bail outs were Keynesian in any way. Nor do I think they were libertarian. I think that was a lot of taxpayers money, being poured into a market that is so clearly distorted, that it needs to adjust=to ever hope of operating as a free trade mechanism again- to protect a few people who probably don’t even pay tax here.

        I don’t reject free market principles. I think that that is the only way that industry survives= the adapt or die thing. It really works in areas where there is money to be made. BUt I also believe in fair taxation. We are a civilised society.The idea that the market will provide for people, has been shown over and over to be false, for the people at the bottom= and we know precisely how being at the bottom traps us there. Poverty costs a society a lot of money, and wastes a lot of our most valuable resources-it actually makes economic sense to try and prevent those effects universally.

        When your government are gaining political capital, by telling you you never had it so good, markets were deregulated to the point where there was no way of people being informed about what was likely to happen-even if you read the FT every day=it was chock full of articles promoting this-how do you make responsible decisions? My house was worth 4 times what I paid for it, after just 5 years living in it- I knew it wasn’t real money- it took a great deal of convincing my husband tahth it wasn’t real money, and it wasn’t ours-in the face of a media telling us that these house prices were normal. I am lucky, I don’t have debt- I dread to think how things would be for me now, if I did.

        I think to blame the people who are paying for the mess of the finance industry, for a bubble that was deliberately perpetuated by everyone who benefitted-both main political parties-by Gordon Brown especially-(and Osborne cheering on moves in this direction-indeed taking money off organisations like AEI who were fairly pro=deregulation) is a bit shitty- and while people should use this collapse as an opportunity to inform themselves-economics is a subject people feel belongs to financiers etc-so they don’t even try. I do believe that widespread ignorance about basic economic facts, is also at the heart of why this happened, and will continue to do so.

        THere needs to be a fusion between the two sides of the economic coin, indeed I think that a natural balance can be maintained with state vs individual. THere ar-e inherent dangers when that balance is tipped too far either way. I think most people accept that, no matter which side of the coin they fall.

        But the way we are going about it, is wrong no matter how you look at it. We have left ourselves without the means to take a Keynesian approach now.

        When it comes to economics, I am a pragmatist. It is beyond party politics, it is about what works, to create wealth for the people within it, and how it is used to invest in our society’s future. It is a means by which money is distributed. I am pro=what works, and critical of what doesn’t. Regardless of which economic perspective it comes from. Brown has not been subjected to anywhere near enough scrutiny for this mess.

        And clearly, you can see that from my posts, I am no fan of the Conservative party. That does not mean that I don’t respect the role that free market values must have, in a prosperous society.

        We have seen time and time again= the market does not work to support those who are part of it, but not at the top, or those who cannot be economically active- temporarily or not. Attempts to regulate it to do so, would be improbable, and the pattern of deregulation we have seen in the past three decades, mean that it is probably impossible now anyway. The effect of not having protection is not good- not in the effect on people- orin terms of the economic cost to the country. I am quite sure you don’t agree with this.

        The thing I think we fundamentally disagree on, is the role of state in providing public services. As someone who grew up in care, and who has spent her life working within public services, and living in communities where they are most necessary- I think our perspectives are bound to be different on that.

      • I AM SO SORRY. I thought I was copying and pasting from your response- and it was actually your response I was typing over I only realised when I checked the page, and your response wasn’t there- that that was what I had done. Basically, if you look at your last post- it’s my response. Blog is called ‘deeplyflawedbuttrying’.

    • Are you Jonathons mum, or Naz/Dan?

      • Yeah course you are.

  2. I think it brings in to focus how every ‘family’ has its embarrassing members – meant in every sense of the word. Sexist crap unfortunately spans across all political parties – much as you might like to dump it on one, with all the other toxic waste.

    • I agree to an extent. I think politics is still, in general a misogynistic atmosphere. I think different parties have to differing degrees, tackled this. I am as appalled by last years Labourlist.org response to International Women’s Day guest editor, as I am by the Guido Fawkes thing. But the fact is, the Conservative Party, in both their policies, and rhetoric privately, and publicly- have further to go than either Lib Dems, or Labour. On the basis of their policies alone- and in terms of their general view of women.

      Like your blog btw.

  3. No worries :o)

    I think your last paragraph summed it up pretty well. I don’t think our views on the handling of the whole thing are massively different, we’re just ideologically different on how we think things should work.

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