Friday, April 1, 2011

Layer 457 . . . No Mandate, Supporting the Protests, Waltz With Bashir, and Woody Guthrie

I like this comment from CiF:


Why do the protesters deserve support? Firstly because the Conservatives have no mandate for their policies, secondly because they were elected by the votes of only 25% of the electorate, and thirdly because of the 20 big, fat lies they have been peddling for the last 18 months:

Lie 1: Three days before the election, David Cameron: "Any cabinet minister … who comes to me and says 'Here are my plans' and they involve frontline reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again".

Lie 2: A month before the election, David Cameron: "Our plans involve cutting wasteful spending … our plans don't involve an increase in VAT."

Lie 3: The coalition agreement: "We will stop top-down reorganisations of the NHS."

Lie 4: The coalition agreement: “We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms."

Lie 5: Two months before the election, from David Cameron: "I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means test it. I don't think that's a good idea."

Lie 6: Michael Gove, just before the election: "Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping EMA. I have never said this. We won't."

Lie7: Liam Fox: "a bigger army for a safer Britain", but it now loses 7,000 soldiers.

Lie 8: In October 2009 George Osborne said: “..........retail banks should stop paying out significant cash bonuses.” A year later, he opposed an updated EU Capital Requirement Directive intended to limit them.

Lie 9: David Cameron: "Yes, we back Sure Start. It's a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this." Yet the government’s Early Intervention Grant means a reduction of £1.4 billion in the amount given to early intervention programmes. As a result, 250 will shut and the rest will suffer cuts in the services they offer.

Lies 10-16: No cuts in tax credits for families with an income of less than £50,000; prison for anyone carrying a knife; no cuts to the navy; keeping the child trust fund for the poorest third of families; no hospital closures; 3000 more midwives; a two-year council tax freeze.

Lie 17: “We cannot afford our bloated public sector workforce.” Yet ONS figures show that average annual public sector employment as a proportion of the UK workforce was 21% in 2010. When Thatcher resigned in 1992, 23% of the work force was employed in the public sector. Compare this with other European countries: France 25%, Holland 22%, Denmark 30%, Sweden 28%, Norway 40%, Finland 27%. 

Lie 18: Although Osborne has called the PFI model “failed and discredited”, the private sector is due to spend some £16.2bn under PFI deals signed between 2010 and 2012 according to the OBR – and last June the Treasury approved several new PFI projects. 

Lie 19: David Cameron, June 5th 2010: "You have to address the massive welfare bills.....” Yet average welfare spending as a % of GDP was 10.4% in the years 1979-1997 compared to 6.4% in the years 1997-2010. In 1997 welfare spending as a % of GDP, 1997 was 7.8%. In 2010 it was 7.1% (

Lie 20: George Osborne, 20th October, 2010: "Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink, when we confront the bills from a decade of debt.” Yet national debt was lower as a proportion of GDP at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 (36%) than in 1997, the last year of John Major’s government. (42%), and in 2010 the UK’s national debt as a proportion of GDP (52%) was the second lowest of the G7 countries (

But it is not surprising that the Tories did not make their intentions clear before the election since, had they done so, the 2010 Conservative Party Manifesto would have replaced Michael Foot’s 1983 document as “the longest suicide note in history”.

Ignore the sneers. This march is a real alarm-clock moment
by Polly Toynbee
There is an alternative to the brutal cuts agenda, and thousands of people from all walks of life will demonstrate that in London

Brother J is very sniffy about bloggers and CiF commenters, and of course there are 10 crap comments (and I dare say 10 crap blogs) to every worthwhile one, but I still say it's better for us all to try at least to make some kind of contribution to ongoing debates and arguments than just keep schtum because we can't be bothered or because we think our own little voice isn't important. After all, nobody is forced to read what we have to say.   


Channel 4 this week screened the TV premier of "Waltz With Bashir".

Oxzen wrote about it in 2008, in Layer 38: Licence To Kill

Do soldiers have a license to kill?

“Waltz With Bashir” is “a daring new animated documentary that follows Israeli director Ari Folman as he tries to piece together memories of the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps“.

It’s in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Folman was on the radio this morning explaining how he intends to do everything he can to persuade his sons never to take part in any violence whatsoever, regardless of any demands that the State or the Army may make of them. He wants his work to persuade everyone that violence can never be a solution to conflict.

“Folman was a soldier in the Israeli army when it invaded Lebanon earlier that year. It allowed Christian militiamen into the refugee camps and stood by as they went on a killing spree shortly after the assassination of their leader, Bashir Gemayel.”

Well there’s still hope for the Middle East, and for the world, when artists like Folman are able to release powerful films that highlight State and military atrocities, and make the case for shunning violent solutions to problems in all circumstances.

Oh Well . . .

At least we seem to be making progress when the United Nations is able to pass an unopposed resolution to try to prevent Gadhaffi slaughtering those sections of his population who have rebelled against his dictatorship, just as it was progress when the Egyptian army resolved NOT to take any aggressive action against the brave people who came out and demanded that Mubarak should resign.


Thinking about our own domestic demonstrations, George Monbiot this week wrote this illuminating column on the UK's civil liberties legislation -

Free to protest? I can still be arrested if my placard reads: 'Nick Clegg, oh dear'
Even Tony Blair's most illiberal measures have survived Clegg's promise to repeal all the laws that inhibit our freedom


Woody Sez

Thanks to Brother P's recent recommendation I managed to catch a wonderful show at the Arts Theatre last night, just ahead of the end of its run this weekend. A fabulous evening  - enjoying  4 talented multi-instrumentalists/vocalists playing and singing the great songs of the sublime Woody Guthrie.

Plenty of seats still available for both remaining evenings, and also the Saturday matinee.

"It stirringly captures the rebellious spirit of Guthrie's times, and of our own, too."

Layer 377 . . . Protests, Political Activism, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan

Take a look at Dylan's amazing poem - "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie":

More on Woody:


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