Saturday, July 05, 2008

Labour Can't find a candidate for Glasgow

In two and half weeks there will be a by-election in Glasgow East, one of the safest Labour seats in the county. If Labour loses, and the SNP are hotly tipped, then it will be a calamity for the government, a clear message that no Labour MPs seat is safe. So, you would have thought that they would have put their best brains and organisation into the campaign? Well, the scary thought is they may have, but whoever is in charge they haven't yet managed to organise a candidate selection, which most people think is a pretty important starting point for an election campaign.

Apparently Glasgow East is in dire straights, with around 50% unemployment, chronic drug use and third world levels of life expectancy. It is a testament to Labour's complete failure to look after their core support and the sapping effect of welfare dependency locking people in to poverty. The left-wing press has already started talking about how much cash it would take to improve the lives of the people there, with the implication that taxes should rise as a consequence. This is nonsense; giving people cash is actually the problem because it removes the incentives for able people to work and to better themselves. If you want to know why so many people in Glasgow East don't work then the answer is simple, because they don't have to. In the US a combination of social action coupled with withdrawing welfare if people don't try to help themselves has done wonders. In Glasgow Labour pays to keep people poor and deprived.

Maybe when the poor stop voting for them Labour will finally get it. Never mind that Gordon Brown may go down in flames if Labour lose. Maybe a system that promotes welfare deprivation will burn too.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Basildon cash is a loan

In April 2007, after a long and tortuous process, Basildon Council established an Arms Length Management Organisation to run the Council's housing stock, St. Georges Community Housing Ltd. The key reason for this was that by establishing an ALMO and obtaining a '2 star' report from the audit commission we were in line for £142 million of government funding in order to raise our Council houses to what is called 'Decent Homes' standard. Basildon's housing operation had already been rated as 2 star so this seemed a reasonable course of action. Now, the Audit Commission have just reported back on St. Georges and they marked them at 1 star, though the report gave inadequate reason for a supposedly precipitous drop in standards and the tenants themselves report a high degree of satisfaction with St. Georges. In any case, the ALMO can be re-inspected within six months, so that is not an insurmountable obstacle. What has now happened is that we have been told that the cash from the government would not be a grant, rather a loan where the government would make some or all of the interest payments. This is news to us, that is the elected Councillors of all parties, and I am sure that the tenants did not know when they voted for the ALMO. Apparently, it was not entirely unknown within the Council organisation, but I have failed to find any report that was ever presented to me that states this rather important fact. However, I have spent some time off with illness and it is possible that this happened while I was unwell, except that none of my colleagues can find any such report either.

Now, a loan of this type to a Council is not the same as personal or corporate debt, but it would add to the already large debt that Basildon has associated with its housing stock and it might leave the Council vulnerable to changes in government funding arrangements for, well, ever.

This is not a good state of affairs to say the least. I sense some late evenings poring over financial projections in my immediate future.