Category Archives: Social Policy

Abolishing National Insurance would be a tremendous gamble  


Robert Henderson

George Osborne is thinking about abolishing National Insurance (NI)  as a separate tax and incorporating it into income tax.  The implications of such a move would be very  far reaching    because  the basic  NI  rules are complex  and effect far more than just NI deductions and the practical IT  difficulties it would create for both the government and employers, both public and private, are immense.

The most obvious and pressing reason why the idea should not go ahead is the fact that NI is one of the big earners for government. In the 2014/15 financial year it brought in £108 billion – see page 15.  Only  VAT  (£113.9 billion) and income tax (£163 billion) provided more tax revenue to the Treasury. To make up for the loss of the NI contributions income tax would have to be increased  massively if  income tax has to raise the £108 billion currently raised by NI  in addition to the £163 billion it currently collects.  That could only be achieved  by getting most of the extra money by  raising the basic rate (currently 20%)  massively, probably doubling  it,  because those paying the  40% and 45% income tax rate are not sufficient in number  to be able to bear the brunt of the increase. Moreover, once tax rates go beyond 50%  they become psychologically  difficult and increase the likelihood of evasion. In addition, the present government is deeply unsympathetic  to raising the higher income tax rates. The situation is further complicated by the government’s stated intention to keep on raising the personal allowance which at least in the short term is likely to reduce the income tax take.

The options  for raising some of the £108 billion by raising other taxes are limited.  VAT could be raised,  but that would be regressive because it  falls on everyone and would almost certainly suppress demand.  The next  two most productive sources of tax revenue in 2014/15 were  corporation tax  (£41.4 billion) and excise duties (£47.2 billion).  The fact that both  bring in so  small an amount in relation to what needs  to be raised means neither could  supply more than a small part of the lost  £108 billion even if their rates were raised substantially.  Moreover, raising corporation tax would go directly against Tory policy of having a low tax burden on business and increased excise duties would again be regressive.

The next  obstacle is the incompatibility of  the income tax and NI systems.    NI operates on a radically  different basis to income tax. Income tax is simple in principle, the complications which arise come not from  calculating the tax due but in deciding what is liable to income tax. There is the personal tax  allowance which exempts a certain amount of earnings  from tax and   three rates of tax (20%,40%,45%)  for three bands of earnings. The operation of NI is much more complex, involving  both employees and employers,  with a  link to benefit entitlements  and  NI rates which do the exact opposite to income tax rates, namely, the NI rate decreases as income  rises.

The NI system is too complex to give exhaustive detail here  but I shall outline  a few of the basic  NI facts to give a flavour of its complexity.  Currently NI  is not paid by anyone earning less than  £155 per week, although someone earning £112 per week  (the Lower Earnings Limit)  gets credit for benefits such as the state pension as if they were paying NI.  Those earning  £155 per week (the Primary Threshold) begin paying NI. When they reach £156 per week (the Secondary Threshold) the employer also begins paying NI.   This employer’s contribution is in addition to the employees and is a payroll tax.  When  the employee earns £815 per week (the upper earnings limit) or above they pay a reduced rate of NI.

People who are employees  pay 12% of their pay between £155 and £814 per week and 2% on their pay above £814 per week.  The employer will pay 13.8% on all earnings above £156 per week.   Benefits in kind, for example use of company car, attract  employers  but not employees’ NI at the rate of 13.8%.  This is a big saving  to an employee  enjoying substantial benefits in kind. There are separate rules for the self-employed which the government has pledged to alter during the course of this Parliament.   As can be seen the NI situation is very administratively messy.

If income tax  and NI are amalgamated a problem arises with pensioners over the state retirement age.    NI is not paid by those over retirement age, but income tax is. Hence, if NI is abolished and income tax is raised to compensate for  the ta x revenue  loss, many pensioners would be left paying far more tax unless the government exempted all or part of their income. But to do that would be incredibly messy, not least because large numbers of pensioners pay income tax.  It is also worth noting that more and more pensioners are working past retirement age.  If the income tax rise to compensate for the loss of NI revenue means a rate of income tax which makes those over the retirement age more expensive to employ, this will probably mean fewer OAPs working or having less income, either of which would create greater eligibility of benefits.

The payment of benefits generally would also create difficulty. At present NI contributions count towards  entitlement for:

Basic State Pension

Additional State Pension

New State Pension

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

Maternity Allowance

Bereavement benefits

The position with the new  state pension is complicated because , contrary to government suggestions that it would provide everyone with an enhanced pension,  this appears not to be true  with perhaps two thirds of pensioners not receiving the full pension.

Any consolidated system for tax and NI would have to either take into account the entitlement to benefits or the benefits would have to cease to have any connection with what the individual pays in  tax.  There would also be the complication of how to treat the entitlements built up prior to the abolition of NI.   The present  system of National Insurance numbers would have to be retained because they are tied in so firmly to the access to the British welfare state.

Creating an entirely new computer system  to accommodate both the new amalgamated regime  and the present stand-alone system  for income tax and NI  would be daunting at best and probably impossible. ( In this context it is  worth bearing in mind the lamentable record of British governments of all colours with massive computer systems.) It is likely  that both the old and new  Government computer programs would need to keep running.

Then there is the IT problems  and additional costs which would be faced by employers, the vast majority of which, together with  many of the self-employed,  use computerised accounting and payroll systems. All of those would have to be  updated or new systems bought, installed and staff instructed how to use them.  Many current systems would not be updated because they are either too old or the software company which created them has gone out of business. Public service employers are particularly vulnerable as they often  use bespoke systems, that is systems developed for them alone,  which are often very old in origin with many updates patched into them over the years.

Finally, there is the problem of ensuring that the additional income tax revenue is actually collected. There is also  a very real general  danger that a switch to a consolidated income tax/NI tax would not  produce the same revenue even if the Treasury calculates that  it would on paper.  The Treasury might simply get their sums horribly wrong because of the complexity of the integration they are managing.  Alternatively, smart   accountants may simply find ways of minimising any additional  income tax.  The beauty of NI from a tax collection point of view is that it allows much less  tax evading wriggle room compared with income tax.

National insurance is a far from perfect system, but it is difficult to see how it is radically unfair or its operation radically administratively inefficient. Its purpose is a sham in as much as there is no managed  fund created to pay for specific services and benefits,  and the link between NI and earned benefits is increasingly tenuous. But so what?  It is a major revenue source which regardless of the fact that it goes into the general Treasury pot is major part of the funding source of the Welfare State. Moreover, any government could decide to make  NI an hypothecated tax allocated to particular circumstances.

As for being administratively simpler, this  seems wildly improbable  when our past experience of large scale  government  IT systems is of consistent failure and  there will be undeniable extra costs for employers.

At best the abolition of NI  would be a tremendous gamble and at worst unreservedly reckless. Government  policy should never be about gambling.

The digital tyranny – The threat posed by a cashless society

Robert Henderson

We are in danger of sleepwalking into a cashless society. More and more purchases are made by electronic means , through standing orders,  direct debits, debit cards  or credit  cards.   Debit and credit  card purchases already account for over a third of UK GDP and more than three quarters of retail purchases (up from 46% in 2003), while  card and computer purchases have just overtaken UK cash sales.

The next logical step  towards  a cashless society is to have laws which allow private businesses  and any public body  which charges for  its services  to refuse cash payment.  Denmark is seemingly  taking the first tentative steps along that road.  The Danish Government has proposed legislation which if passed  will  remove the obligation to take cash from retail outlets such as petrol stations,  clothes shops  and restaurants next year.

With the combination of more and more people using  methods of payment other than cash and the willingness of technologists to  feed the trend with ever more sophisticated and comprehensive  systems of  cashless payments, there is no reason to think that this trend towards  making cash dysfunctional will stop unless governments take a hand and prevent cash from becoming  defunct by law.  This development  is alarming because the abolition of physical money would  carry  tremendous dangers in terms of  the opportunities for  state authoritarianism  and simple practicality.

The dangers  from state authoritarianism are:

  1. There would be no money which could be held which was not potentially known to the state, because with only electronic money available it would have to be stored electronically and be accessible via the Internet  if it was to be useable.

But what about using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin?  Apart from the dangers of such a means of exchange – the great volatility in value, the frauds which are occurring where Bitcoin is stolen, the lack of a lender of last resort and a restricted range of  goods and services which can be bought – Bitcoin still  needs  to be stored electronically and hence is  potentially identifiable and accessible to governments. There would also be an audit trail from an individual’s source of electronic money  to the purchase point of a virtual currency  like Bitcoin. The only exception would be if someone sold something or did paid work for someone and was paid in a virtual currency like  Bitcoin.

If Britain  went cashless and others did not the likelihood is that a black market in foreign cash such as dollars would  arise in Britain.  There would also be the possibility of exchanges made by barter or a product such as cigarettes becoming a de fact currency.

  1. A cashless system would allow the state to have all  electronic money stored in a central government controlled place.  This would leave  the  individual  at the mercy of the state which could deny electronic money to anyone within their jurisdiction by cancelling or blocking their means of payment.
  2. The state could more readily control the money supply if all bank accounts were  under the control of the state and physical cash did not exist.  The state would be able to manipulate public economic behaviour by  imposing a negative interest rate when increased spending is deemed desirable  – people save less because it costs them money – and a transaction tax every time a purchase is made  – people spend less if because it will cost them to make a purchase – if it is thought an economy is over heating.
  3. The state could remove money from your account at will.
  4. The opportunities for general surveillance of the individual both by the state and by private corporations or individuals would be greatly increased.

The problems of practicality are:

1.The idea  assumes that everyone can  afford a  computer of some sort, whether that be a mobile phone, tablet or desktop, and can afford to replace their means of getting access to the Internet  every few years at best.  The reality is that millions of people are too  poor to be able to meet such costs.  The taxpayer would have pay for access to electronic money for those too poor to buy their own.

  1. Many people cannot use the digital technology.  Huge numbers of people  are still not using  this technology. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that  11% of the UK population (approximately 6 million) has never  used the Internet.  Moreover, the ONS did not ask for frequency of use merely whether someone had used the Internet When the ONS asked whether people had used the Internet in the three months prior to the question being asked,   only 86% answered yes.  Thus 14% of the population had either not used the Internet for more than three months  or   had never used it and, importantly,  only 68% of disabled people had used the Internet in the previous 3 months. Clearly there will be large numbers of people, including  the most vulnerable in society,  who will seriously struggle to use digital technology for the foreseeable future. If cash becomes illegal many of  these people will literally not be able to live if they cannot understand the technology or have no one to operate it for them.

3.The computer systems which support a cashless society will inevitably be subject to  regular disruption, whether from hacking or simple failure because,  as we all know,  digital technology frequently goes wrong and the system downtime can be considerable.   Imagine being unable to access the only means you have of paying for something.  It would probably be necessary to have more than one electronic payment device because of this, although that would not help if the fault was not with your payment device but with that of those from whom you wished to make a purchase.

  1. Many people will have their means of accessing electronic money stolen  or lose it themselves.  They would then need to replace their equipment which allowed them to access their electronic money.  Many would not be able to afford to do so and those most likely to lose or have their electronic money access  equipment stolen  would be the old and the disabled.

A cashless society would have considerable attractions for a government. It would greatly extend the power of the state over the individual. Crime generally might  be reduced without  physical cash to oil the felonious wheels, although cybercrime would become more tempting in the absence of banks to rob and people to mug. Tax evasion would become very difficult for most people (the rich would simply move their money to other jurisdictions) .  There would also be the saving on the abolition of the need to maintain a physical money supply.  Banks  and other financial institutions would also welcome the abolition of cash as it would remove the considerable cost of physically handling cash and maintaining a branch network.

The danger is that cash will become defunct by default,  because the Government shows no interest in protecting cash and arguably is surreptitiously encouraging  its demise by making it either impossible or very difficult to access public services in any way other than through the Internet.  We could reach a point where, say, 90% of the population use electronic money  and a government simply says it is time to go cashless ignoring the fact that millions of people who cannot use electronic money will be left in the soup. Politicians need to be lobbied now to ensure that  the maintenance of cash remains a legal requirement.

But it is not just a case of ensuring that cash remains a legal requirement. Even a  widespread refusal to accept cash  by businesses and other corporate bodies which charge for their services  would be seriously socially disruptive. That idea also needs to be knocked on the head  by making it illegal to refuse cash in payment for anything.

Get writing to your MP.

The coming digital tyranny

Robert Henderson

The  digital start up entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox is of the opinion that everyone should be forced to embrace  digital technology whether they wish to or not.  She has just given the Richard Dimbleby lecture for 2015  entitled  Dot Everyone: Power, the Internet and You arguing for this and  in an interview prior to the lecture she made these comments  in reply to the interviewer Rosie Millard:

“There are ten million adults in the UK who don’t get the benefits from the internet. I have never seen a tool that is as phenomenally empowering as the internet, for so little effort. I have met from people all over the country, from Bridlington to Bournemouth, saying it has helped them get back to work, helped them get their life back on track. I believe it’s worth spending the time showing people who haven’t had the money or exposure, the benefits.”

What about people like my[Millard’s]  mum, who simply resists it? “It’s not enough to just say, ‘I don’t do the internet’,” says Lane Fox crisply. “We should give those people a gentle nudge.”

One wonders what the “gentle nudge” would consist of if people either will not or  cannot use  computers and the  internet? There are plenty of those, millions in Britain alone (Lane Fox estimates there are 10 million).  To see how unrealistic Lane Fox is let me list all the candidates for those who will not be able to use the Internet for reasons of incapacity, physical or mental, or for want of money:

  1. the reasons for physical and mental incapacity
  2. Roughly ten percent of the population of Britain (around six million) have IQs of 80 or less. That is the level at which most psychologists working in the field of psychometrics think that someone will struggle to live an independent life in an advanced industrial society such as Britain.  Most of these people  will   not be able to use computers or the Internet independently. This is particularly so in cases where they have to navigate the often poorly designed and confusing websites of government  bodies and large private companies, something which is becoming an ever growing part of  everyday life.    Many of those with IQs  of 100 or less will also struggle.  These people will be drawn from all age groups.  The idea that the young are always deeply learned in the ways of computers and the Internet is a myth.
  3. There are over 9 million people classified as disabled in Britain. Obviously not all will be incapable of using computers without assistance, but large numbers will, for example, around two million are registered blind. Although there are aids to allow the blind to use computers there are limits particularly if it is necessary to  do something like filling  in a form online.
  4. Age plays its part, both in terms of people’s experience and abilities. At the 2011 UK census there were 10.4 million people in the UK over the age of 65 (16 per cent of the UK population).  Consider these facts:

–  Anyone  over forty  will have grown up without the internet .

– Anyone over fifty will have had little or no  experience of computers as a child.

–  Anyone over  sixty will probably have spent their working lives without using computers            much or at all in their work.

These  facts mean that many of those over the age of forty will be, in varying degrees ,uncomfortable when using computers, with many having little experience of using them.  This widespread lack of familiarity and ease with computers in those over forty  also means that their  peer groups contain little expertise on which the individual can call. Those in younger age groups have a ready supply of  IT knowledge  from their peer group to call on.

  1. Many people in work still do not use computers routinely and are daunted by them.
  2. Sheer mental weariness being in a continuous learning process because  of the ceaseless alterations to  software, much of which people cannot readily  avoid such as operating systems, email systems and word processors.     I will use myself as an example. I first used computers in the late 1980s.   I began by learning DOS which was in effect a programming language which allowed functions such as copying and moving files, switching directories, erasing files, saving files and so on. A line of code had to be written for each function. I moved from that to a DOS manager which made things a little easier. Next came Windows 1993, Windows 1998, Windows XP Home and finally Windows 7. And that is just the operating systems I have had to learn.  There comes a point where the mind rebels against learning yet another new system.

The idea that training could be provided for the millions who are not computer literate is fanciful, but even if it could be provided it would fail simply because huge numbers of the  IT illiterate would not be able to come to terms with computers.

(B)  The causes of material incapacity

  1. The poor who will be unable to meet the cost of buying IT equipment, having it installed in their home, paying for the broadband rental and meeting the cost of buying IT expertise to install and repair equipment when it goes wrong .
  2. Paid for access at places such as Internet cafes can be too expensive for the poor and outside of large towns and cities such provision is often sparse.
  3. Free access to the Internet though public libraries is becoming increasingly difficult because of the number of public libraries which are closing or having their services cut. The time allowed per person for Internet access in public libraries is also very limited, often an hour in any one day.
  4. Much of the equipment in Public Libraries and Internet cafes is outdated and poorly maintained.
  5. There is little help in public libraries or Internet cafes to either aid the IT ignorant or to put right faults with the equipment.

What should be done?

To imagine that  almost everyone will be able to get online and handle the ever increasing demands by both the state and private business is clearly absurd because there are huge numbers of  people who are either utterly bewildered by digital technology or unable to afford it.

Yet that is what we are moving towards because our politicians are both enamoured with the idea of putting the administrative side of public services on line and stand idly by while more and more of private businesses, especially banks and retailers, are shifting their business online with the result that society, especially outside the larger cities and towns,  is increasingly ill served with villages being left without a single cashpoint and urban areas left with high streets  with half the shops unoccupied.

Government should act to ensure that no public service or benefit is dependent on the use of the Internet, that there should always be a human being who can be contacted and a paper form available whenever a member of the public needs to engage with a public body. Private businesses should have a legally enforceable  requirement placed on them to make provision for the public to be able to engage with  them without using the Internet.  That is not an unreasonable burden  because public service and  businesses of all sizes should be able to provide at least a phone number for the public to contact and dealing with correspondence  sent by post should not take much more time than dealing with emails. .

Banks should be forced by law to maintain sufficient cash machines to ensure that no community is left without one within reasonable reach.  The problem of derelict high streets could be tackled by placing a special tax on retailers operating online with the money being used to  reduce business rates on retail premises.  Pitched at the right level such a tax would also reduce the incentive for businesses to forgo retail premises  for online trading.

Unless something is done millions of people are going to be increasingly left high and dry without the means or capacity to live independent lives  simply because they either cannot come to terms with the demands of an ever increasingly digital tyranny or afford the means to access the Internet.

Three-parent babies – Redesigning Nature

Robert Henderson

The House of Commons has voted  382 in favour to 128 against to allow babies with genetic material from three people to be born.  Scientists will be able to replace an egg’s defective mitochondrial  DNA with healthy mitochondrial DNA from a female donor’s egg to eliminate genetically  determined diseases such as muscular dystrophy.  This is germline  gene therapy which results in the  genetic alteration being passed on to any  children and their descendants. Britain is the  first country to legalise the procedure.

If it was merely a question  that  the technique  will be used to prevent children  being born without a serious disabling disease it would be emotionally  very difficult to argue against it simply because of the tremendous suffering  which  such diseases cause for both the children themselves and their families , whose lives are often turned upside down with the burden of caring with which they  are left.  Nonetheless, there are possible  biological dangers of genetic manipulation because material is being introduced into a body which is foreign to it. They could perhaps cause cancerous tumours or result in rejection by the immune system.

The thin edge of the wedge

It is a certainty that if three-parent children are allowed it will be the thin end of the wedge which leads  to much more radical alterations of a child’s genome. If gene replacement therapy is deemed ethically acceptable for preventing certain  inherited diseases,  there could be no absolute  moral bar to any manipulation of genes, whether this is  either be through the introduction of genetic material from one or more persons other than the parents into the egg or sperm or to methods of  genetic engineering of humans  which do not require  the introduction of genetic material from a person who is not one of the parents.  Moreover, it is probable that in the not too far distant future the manipulation of  a person’s genes will be done either by direct restructuring of the person’s genetic material (perhaps through the   re-writing of the code of a faulty gene) or the introduction of genetic material not taken from a human  being  but created artificially in a laboratory.

The effect on the children born of genetic manipulation.

Even at its most basic, such as the proposed replacement of mitochondrial DNA to prevent diseases such a muscular dystrophy,  is it not likely that a  child born from the procedure will feel  a freak knowing that they are the product of three people’s DNA, and have serious doubts  about their identity?  Could they ever  have the same relationship with their parents as a child conceived naturally?  That is debatable because the recipient of the replacement DNA  to correct a genetically determined illness might well view it simply as being equivalent to a transplant of a cornea or heart, although there would be the difference that the replacement DNA would be handed down the generations if the person receiving it had children.

But what if  the genetic modification was much more radical, for example,  determining elements of personality, intellect and physical appearance ? That would be much more  likely  to cause psychological disturbance in both the child and the parents.     The child might feel they were not people in their own right but simply the toys of their parents, machines cut to a template consciously planned by another.  If a child’s  life  did not go well,  would not they be inclined to blame their parents for making the genetic choices that they did?   Sadly, if genetically altered children do  blame the parents,  then it is all too easy to imagine that children would sue their parents for making what the children deemed to be bad choices.

The effect on the parents of children born of genetic manipulation

The parents  could also have psychological issues. It is one thing having a child naturally who is born disabled, deformed or just   turns out to be a disappointment in some way, quite another to have a child who disappoints after the parents have made decisions which helped  to shape the child’s physical and mental  qualities.  The parents would run the  risk of  not only being disappointed ,but of knowing they were in part responsible for what the child was, something  which could  engender either feelings of guilt or the anger which can arise when someone knows they are responsible for something but cannot accept that reality. Again, the law could come into play with parents suing the scientists who had performed the genetic manipulation for misleading them.

The creation of a genetic divide in a society

If a society leaves genetic manipulation to the market with only those with the means to afford it receiving the manipulation, the difference  between the haves and have-nots  could become  so large that there were objectively   two  grades  of human beings in the society.   The mere fact that some were genetically engineered and some were not could and probably would  result in an elite which was biologically as well as materially and intellectually different from those who had undergone genetic manipulation, a difference which could translate into a caste system with the genetically manipulated only breeding amongst themselves .   An alternative scenario could be the genetically unaltered have-nots – who would be in the large majority – seeing the elite as other than human and slaughtering them without compunction.

State interference

Would governments be able to resist insisting that characteristics such as intelligence were enhanced by the genetic manipulation  of all members of a society whether or not the parents wanted it?  A  dictatorship  could insist on certain characteristics being enhanced in all their population. Alternatively, the could deny such  genetic manipulation to all but those with power . A third possibility would be, in Brave New World style,  to use the technology  to have people genetically altered so that there were people with different abilities and personality traits produced in different quantities.

Even a representative democracy  might find itself driven to act in such an authoritarian way if it was feared that the society could not compete with other societies which adopted government inspired genetic changes.

Genetic manipulation after conception

Genetic manipulation will not stop at point of conception.   As the technology advances we can expect to see opportunities for much genetic manipulation from the foetus to the aged human. However, this would be  Somatic gene therapy which would be introduced into non-sex cells and would not , unlike germline gene therapy, become part of the person’s genome and consequently could not be passed on to any children or their descendants.

In the case of those old enough to give their consent to somatic gene manipulation  much of the psychological problem which exists with genetic manipulation of the sperm and egg is removed because adults, unless they are mentally handicapped or living in a society where the state forces all to undergo such procedures, they will be able to make the decision for themselves as to whether they have  such a procedure.  Even if they do not like the result of their gene manipulation  they would  not be in a worse psychological situation than someone who has had a replacement organ or plastic surgery which does not give them what they anticipated.

The dangers of a rapid genetic alteration within a population

Rapidly changing the proportions of  characteristics in  a population could  damage the viability of the society. Very little is understood about the importance of the distribution of different qualities and abilities within  a society. Suppose a society opts to rapidly increase the IQ of its people.  A society of highly intelligent people might not work because homo sapiens naturally forms hierarchies and if everyone is highly intelligent this might  make the creation of a stable hierarchy impossible.  .  Or suppose personality traits such as aggression, caution and extroversion could be  manipulated. If the choice was left to parents the favouring of one of such traits might make a society too aggressive or too placid.

What can be done to guard against the worst possibilities?

As genetic manipulation of humans will undoubtedly spread rapidly throughout the world, there will  be no realistic way of preventing  individuals from availing themselves of the technology short of closing the borders and allowing no one to travel out of the country to have the manipulation done abroad with regular checks on every individual to make sure there was no illegal operations being done

If gene manipulation  is banned in one country, but foreign travel is not, banned those  who can afford it and think it worthwhile will go abroad to have the procedure . It would be  possible for a country to make genetic manipulation a  crime regardless of where the act took place.  But that would open up a can of worms. The manipulation would have already have taken place.  The altered human being, whether child or adult,  would exist.  In the case of a child,  the individual would not have broken the law because the decision to have the procedure would not have been theirs. What would the state do?  Imprison for life every adult who had broken the law? Take every genetically altered child into care?   A ban on individuals seeking  gene manipulation would be a non-starter.  If it is widely seen a desirable thing, the only thing which might stop gene manipulation  would be a high proportion of procedures resulting in serious problems such as tumours or deformities dissuading most of the public against it.

Guarding against state enforced gene manipulation is a more practical proposition, but only  in countries with some regard for constitutionality and the law in general. It would be possible for such countries to include in their constitutions absolute bars on any state imposed genetic manipulation.

The Commons Education Select Committee  and the libel of the white working-class

Robert Henderson

The Commons Select Committee (CSC) on Education has  produced a report on the underachievement of white British working-class children.  This  ostensibly  highlights the poor educational performance of white British children who are eligible for free meals (FSM)  compared to those in receipt of FSM from ethnic minority groups such as those of Indian and Chinese ancestry.  I say ostensibly because there are severe flaws in methodology.  These are:

  1. The definition of white British is far from simple. The report distinguishes between Irish,  traveller of Irish heritage,  Gypsy/Roma and Any other white background (see CSC table 2 page 13).  The Any other white background is the largest.  It is not clear from the report how the white British were defined, for example , a child of white immigrants might well consider his or herself white British.  Who would whether they were or were not British?
  2. The numbers of  some of the ethnic minority groups cited are small, for example, at the end of Key Stage 4 (the end of GCSE courses) in 2013 there were only  168 Chinese in the country who pupils who qualified for FSM. (see CSC table 2 page 13).

3. The use of FSM  as a proxy for working-class  means that  white British apples are being compared with variously coloured ethnic minority  oranges. Most importantly the use of FSM means that the British white working-class as a whole is not represented , but only the poorest  section of it. Hence, the general treatment in the media of the report, that it shows the white working-class to be falling behind ethnic minorities, is grossly misleading. The report recognises this:

…measuring working class performance in education through FSM data can be misleading. The Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) drew our attention to a mismatch between the proportion of children who were eligible for free school meals and the proportion of adults who would self-define as working class:17 in 2012/13, 15% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were known to be eligible for free school meals,18 compared with 57% of British adults who defined themselves as ‘working class’ as part of a survey by the National Centre for Social Research.The CRRE warned that projecting the educational performance of a small group of economically deprived pupils onto what could otherwise be understood to be a much larger proportion of the population had “damaging consequences” on public understanding of the issue. The logical result of equating FSM with working class was that 85% of children were being characterised as middle class or above.

The  white British group  will be overwhelmingly drawn from the most deprived part of that  group’s population, while many of the ethnic minority groups  held up as superior to the white British children , will have a large  component of people who are not drawn from the lower social reaches of their society, but are poor simply because they are either  first generation immigrants or the children of first generation immigrants and  have not established themselves in well paid work – think of all the tales the mainstream media and politicians regale the British with about immigrant graduates doing menial jobs.  These  parents  will both have more aspiration for their children and a greater  ability to assist their children with their schoolwork.

The range  of  those qualifying for FSM is extensive and there is  considerable  complexity resulting from pupils  going in and out of the qualifying criteria, viz:

(Para 12 of the report) . Of the  Children are eligible for free school meals if their parents receive any of the following payments:

Income Support

• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

• Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

• the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

• Child Tax Credit (provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and

have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)

• Working Tax Credit run-on—paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for

Working Tax Credit

• Universal Credit

13. A report for the Children’s Society noted that the criteria for FSM mean that parents working 16 or more hours per week (24 hours for couples from April 2012) lose their entitlement to FSM since they are eligible for working tax credit; as a result there are around 700,000 children living in poverty who are not entitled to receive free school meals. In addition, not all those who may be eligible for FSM register for it; a recent report for the Department for Education estimated under-registration to be 11% in 2013. This figure varies across the country: in the North East under-registration is estimated to  be 1%, compared to 18% in the East of England and 19% in the South East. 

4. Greater resources, both material  advantages and better quality staff,  are being put into schools which have a  very large ethnic  minority component  than schools which are predominantly filled with white British children.  This is occurring both as a matter of deliberate government policy and through not-for-profit corporations such as charities.

Government policies are things such as the  pupil premium . This is paid to schools for each pupil  who qualifies under these criteria:

In the 2014 to 2015 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each child registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years:

£1,300 for primary-aged pupils

£935 for secondary-aged pupils

Schools will also receive £1,900 for each looked-after pupil who:

has been looked after for 1 day or more

was adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005, or left care under:

a special guardianship order

a residence order

The amounts involved for a school can  be considerable. Suppose that a secondary school with 1,000 children  has 40% of its pupils qualifying for  FSM. That would bring an additional  £374,000 to the school in this financial year.   At present £2.5 billion is being spent on the pupil premium.

According to a Dept of Education (DoE) investigation published in 2013, Evaluation of Pupil Premium Research Report ,  a  good deal of this money is being spent on ethnic minorities and those without English as a first language     (see tables 2.1 and 2.2, pages27 and 30) . The pupil premium can be used to provide extra staff, better staff, improved equipment after school activities and so on.

Schools can allocate the Pupil Premium money  at their discretion and often make the identification of where money has gone next to impossible because they do things such as merging the Pupil Premium money with money from other budgets and joining forces with other schools in the area to provide provision (see pages 14/15 in the DoE report).  It is probable that the Pupil Premium money brought into schools by white British working-class FSM children  is being used,  at least in part,  to benefit ethnic minorities. The converse is wildly improbable.

Ethnic minorities are concentrated in particular areas and particular schools. This makes it more  likely that ethnic children will go to schools with a higher  proportion of  free school meal pupils than schools dominated by  white pupils.  That will provide significantly greater funding for an ethnic  minority majority school than for one dominated by white Britons, most of whom will not qualify for the Pupil Premium. .

Because ethnic minority families, and especially those of first generation immigrants, are substantially larger on average than those of  white Britons, the likelihood of ethnic minority children qualifying for FSM will be greater than it is for white Britons because  the larger the family the more likely a child is to qualify for FSM.   This will boost the additional money from the pupils premium going to ethnic  minority dominated schools.

An example of not-for-profit intervention is  the charity Teach First.  The select committee report (para  116) describes their work:

 The Government’s response to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s first annual report noted that Teach First will be training 1,500 graduates in 2014 to 2015 and placing them in the most challenging schools, and that as of 2014/15 Teach First will be placing teachers in every region of England.

The Teach First  website states:  “Applicants to our Leadership Development Programme are taken through a rigorous assessment process. We select only those who demonstrate leadership potential, a passion to change children’s lives and the other skills and attributes needed to become an excellent teacher and leader. These participants teach and lead in our partner primary and secondary schools in low-income communities across England and Wales for a minimum of two years, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education.”

Apart from specific programmes such as the Pupil Premium and special training for teachers to prepare them what are euphemistically called “challenging schools” which end up disproportionately  favouring ethnic minority pupils,  there is also scope within  the normal funding of state schools to favour ethnic minorities because head teachers have a good deal of discretion in how funds are spent. That applies with knobs on to Academies and Free Schools.

There is also a considerable difference in funding between the funding of areas with large ethic minority populations, especially black and Asian groups,  and areas with largely white populations,  for example,   between East Anglia and London: “ The government has announced plans to raise per-pupil funding 3.7pc in Norfolk to £4,494, 7pc in Cambridgeshire to £4,225 and 2.5pc in Suffolk to £4,347 next year following a campaign by MPs.

“But councillors have called for a long term overhaul of the funding system, which will still see each student in the county receive around half of the allocation in the City of London, which will get £8,594.55 for each pupil.”

5. The effect of political correctness. With good reason any teacher,  and  especially white teachers,   will be fearful of not seeming to be devoutly political correct.  They know they are at the mercy of other teachers , parents and pupils and know that an accusation of racism from any  source could well end their teaching career at worst and at best seriously disrupt their lives while a complaint is being investigated. In addition, many  teachers will be emotionally attached to political correctness generally and to multiculturalism in particular.

In such circumstances it is reasonable to suspect that teachers in schools with a mix of ethnic minority and white British children  will devote more time and patience to ethnic minority pupils than   to white children.  They may do this without conscious intent, with either  fear or the ideological commitment making such a choice seem the natural one.

Such preferential treatment for ethnic minority children is facilitated by the large amount of continuous assessment  involved in GCSE.  (This is supposedly being reduced but the results of the change has not yet worked through to the end of a GCSE cycle.  Teachers routinely help children to re-write work which does not come up to par, in some cases re-doing the work themselves . Teachers have also been caught helping pupils  to cheat during exams . The opportunity and the temptation to help ethnic minority children is there and the pressure of political correctness may cause opportunity to become actuality.

6. The disruptive effect on schools of a large number of pupils from different backgrounds with English as a second language, the type of schools where the headmaster boasts “We have 100 languages spoken here”.   The most likely white British children to be in such schools are those from the poorest homes which means they qualify as FSM pupils.  They will be lost in these Towers of Babel not only because often they will be in the minority,  but also because, unlike children with English as a second language or  ethnic minority English speakers  who will have a good chance of enhanced tuition, the white British FSM pupils  will not enjoy  such a privilege and may be actually ignored to a large extent because of the desire of the staff to assist ethnic minority children.

7 . The downplaying of British culture. The school curriculum in Britain and  especially in England (where the vast majority of the British live)   is shaped to reflect the politically correct worldview.  This means that ethnic minority culture and history  are frequently  pushed ahead of British culture and history.   The larger the percentage of ethnic minorities in a school, the greater will be the tendency to marginalise the white British pupils, who will almost certainly be drawn largely from those qualifying for FSM. They will be deracinated and become culturally disorientated.

To this school propaganda is added the politically correct and anti-British, anti-white  propaganda which is pumped out  ceaselessly by mainstream politicians and the media. This  will reinforce the idea that being white and British is  somehow at best  inferior to that of ethnic minority cultures and at worst something to be ashamed of, something  to be despised, something which is a  danger  to its possessor.


As far as the general public is concerned, the Select Committee report is saying the white working-class children – all of them not just those receiving FSM  – are doing less well than ethnic minority children.   The reason for this is simple, the mainstream media have reported the story in a way which would promote such a belief, both in their  headlines and the stories themselves.

A comparison between  the  white British population as a whole and the ethnic minority populations as a whole would be nearer to reality, but it would still be comparing apples and oranges for the reasons given above. The ethnic minority children would still be likely to have on average parents who would not be representative of the ancestral populations they came from, political correctness would still drive teachers to favour ethnic minority pupils,  continuous assessment would still allow teachers to illegally aid ethnic minorities, heads could still decide to divert more funds towards ethnic minorities and the promotion of ethnic minority cultures and history would still exist.

What could be done to remedy matters? Continuous assessment should stop  and end of  course synoptic exams substituted . Ethnic minority children should not have more spent on them than white British children.  School funding in different areas should be broadly similar per capita.  British culture and history should be the dominant teaching driver.  Political correctness should be removed from the curriculum generally.

As for future studies, these should be controlled in a much more subtle manner than simply using FSM  as a criterion.  Any study of all or any part of group should control for parents’ education,  income, the amount of money spent on each pupil, the teacher pupil ratio,  the quality of the teachers and the general facilities of the school.

Those suggestions would not entirely cure the problem,  but it would be good start to both getting at the truth and ending the demonization of the white working-class  which has gathered pace ever since the Labour Party decided to drop the white working-class as their client base and substitute for them the politically correct groups of gays, feminists and most potently ethnic minorities.

See also


The reckless mass medication of Britain

Robert Henderson

The reckless and even the enforced medication of the population grows apace.  State bodies are pressing for widespread or universal medication. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)  recommends the universal  use of statins by men over 50 and women over 60, ministers are considering  making compulsory  the addition of folic acid to flour  and  councils are being encouraged by Public Health England  to put fluoride in the water supply .

That is direct government action. But there are many drugs with potent side effects which are being given out wholesale without any government interference. Potentially the greatest risk comes from  antibiotics to which resistance is being built up all the time. The World Health Organisation warned this year that  overuse was potentially creating a crisis more serious than Aids . Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, claimed : “A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

Antidepressants are being prescribed in record numbers and the side effects, which often make people feel as though they are going around in a mental fog,  can make people feel the cure is worse than the disease. Moreover, they can be prescribed for people who either are not seriously depressed but suffering from a physical illness  or people whose severe depression is the consequence of a physical illness.

There is also the problem of addiction to such drugs with severe withdrawal symptoms experienced by some people, symptoms such as these suffered by a patient identified only as Henry“It was torture. I thought I was going to die, and I didn’t care. For two years, I was in severe physical pain and so weak I lay all day on the sofa. My cognition was severely affected, I was dizzy, with blurred vision, I couldn’t read a bedtime story to my son and couldn’t remember things that had happened just a few seconds previously.”

But even where there is no psychological problems or unpleasant but not immediately obvious damaging physical effects,  drugs can have dramatic consequences. For example, aspirin  is routinely prescribed to thin the blood, especially to those who have suffered heart attacks, but  recent research found that aspirin’s daily use  “ leads to 37 per cent increased risk of internal bleeding and 38 per cent increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke,”  while the  long term use of the contraceptive pill doubles the risk of glaucoma..

Probably the most controversial widely used medication in Britain  at present are statins. Side effects can be extreme.  Statins (which are used to reduce cholesterol)  have been the subject of much complaint by patients. There are studies which claim that statins have little or no side effects,  but the  catalogue of complaints against them is so huge that it is difficult to see how they could have come to such conclusions.

I have taken statins  for many since suffering   a heart attack,  I can I can vouch for the fact that they have powerfully obnoxious side effects. Luckily I did not  suffer psychotic episodes  such as those  which afflicted the unfortunate Dr Allan Woolley before his suicide,  which was attributed to the side effects of statins . However,  I  have experienced severe  disabling symptoms such as intense aching, especially in the hands, a permanent fatigue and a diminution of mental function, especially of memory and concentration (I had  to consciously concentrate on what I was doing rather than simply doing it without thinking, while my power of immediate recall, previously very good, became unreliable.

I only realised statins were responsible for such symptoms in 2007  – for years I attributed them to the  process of ageing and the after effects of the heart attack – after I read several articles by Dr James Le Fanu who both questioned the general value of  statins and described the side effects:  ” Statins are useless for 95 per cent of those taking them, while exposing all to the hazard of serious side-effects and  detailed the side effects….they seriously interfere with the functioning of the nerve cells, affecting mental function, and muscles.” (Sunday  Telegraph  17 3 2007).  He concluded that only those with a personal or family  history of heart trouble should take them.

But even that advice is debatable. Eating an apple-a-day is as effective as taking statins according to a recent piece of research, viz:

“Prescribing either an apple a day or a statin a day to everyone over 50 years old is likely to have a similar effect on population vascular mortality. Choosing apples rather than statins may avoid more than a thousand excess cases of myopathy and more than 12 000 excess diabetes diagnoses. The basic costs of apples are likely to be greater than those of statins; however, NHS prescription prices and convenience may drive people to purchase their apples from a store rather than through a pharmacy, thereby reducing direct NHS costs, or the NHS may be able to negotiate apple price freezes (although defrosted apples may not be so palatable).23”

There are also doubts about whether cholesterol levels have anything to do with heart attacks and strokes, so the concentration on bringing  down cholesterol levels may be pointless.

It might be thought with the ever increasing range of medications available that overall  life expectancy would be increasing and go on increasing . Not so.  In  recent years in the UK the trend towards greater life expectancy after the age of 65 has flat-lined for men and actually declined for women. “Life expectancy at age 65 in 2012 has been projected as 18.3 years for men and 20.6 years for women on average….In 2008 life expectancy post 65 was 19 years for men on average and 21.3 years for women on average. In 2010 it was 18.7 for men and 21.1 for women.”

This suggests that medication of the elderly is at best ineffective in extending lives on average and  may even be a  cause of the stagnation of increases in life expectancy amongst the old.

There is also a  moral question, namely,  how much medication should be given to a patient   regardless of the quality of life  they can experience?  The idea that living is desirable regardless of the nature of the life is difficult to sustain morally.  That is particularly true of the old. I have never encountered anyone over the age of 85 whose life I have known in some detail who has been averagely happy or physically comfortable.   Almost invariably by that age the body has developed some serious malady whether physical or mental.  That is not to say such elderly people generally  want to die.  Rather, it is simply that the life being led is normally miserable at worst and unfulfilling at best.  If they are loaded down with  medications, many or all of which will have obnoxious side effects,  this may extend their lives by a few  months or years,  but the patient  may well feel that there is a case for saying let nature take its course if those few extra months and years will be suffered rather than enjoyed because of the side effects of medication.

Why do patients submit to drug regimes regardless of the ill consequences? Patients generally trust their doctors and are inclined to accept advice in the vast majority of cases. But even if they do not want to carry on with a drug because of the side effects – and many commonly prescribed drugs have effects which make the enjoyment of life seriously difficult – they find it difficult to refuse a doctor’s advice. Often it is not a simple matter of refusing a single treatment, because many patients, and especially elderly ones, will have a range of ailments and  will fear that refusing to take one medication may ruin their relationship with their GP or a hospital consultant, with a consequent diminution in the quality and scope of their  future  medical care. Even if unfounded , such fears will drive patients to carry on with medication which is causing them serious discomfort.

Things could be improved if doctors were required to discuss the side effects of drugs with patients. The only warning I have ever been given voluntarily by a doctor – and I have spent a great deal of the past twenty years with chronic complaints – about side effects is drowsiness, yet most drugs which seriously interfere with the natural workings of the body will have a list of serious side effects.  For example, diuretics, a very commonly prescribed drug to increase fluid removal from the body has these side effects according to  the BUPA guidance :

Side-effects of diuretics include:

mild gastro-intestinal problems, such as feeling sick

a fall in blood pressure that is related to posture (postural hypotension), which causes you to feel faint or dizzy when you stand up

altered levels of salts in your body, such as low levels of potassium (hypokalaemia) and sodium (hyponatraemia)

Less common side-effects of diuretics include:

gout (a condition that causes pain and swelling in your joints)

impotence in men (the inability to achieve or sustain an erection during sex)

skin rashes


certain blood disorders, which can make you more likely to get infections

What can be done to reduce overmedication? First, if doctors explained the side effects to patients that in itself would probably reduce too ready prescription of medicines because the patient would be put off taking those with serious side effects simple by their recital by the doctor  and doctors would be much less likely to prescribe such drugs  unless they honestly believed a patient desperately needed them if they had to explain the side effects and overcome the resistance of patients who did not really need the medication.

Second, non-medical directions and incentives to doctors to prescribe certain medications widely, whether that be government authored or supported schemes such as folic acid in bread or drug companies peddling medicines to doctors, especially GPs, which materially benefit doctors  should be banned.



If there had been no post-1945 mass immigration into Britain …

Robert Henderson

Without mass immigration we would not have ….

1.. A rapidly rising population.

2. Ethnic minority ghettoes.

3. Race relations legislation, most notably the Race Relations Act of 1976.

4. Gross interferences with free speech such as those in the 1976  Race Relations Act  and 1986 Public Order Act arising from the British elite’s determination and need (from their point of view) to suppress dissent about immigration and its consequences.

5. Native Britons being  charged with criminal offences and,  in increasing numbers of cases,  finding themselves in  prison  for expressing their opposition to mass immigration  or  for being non-PC about immigrants and British born ethnic and racial minorities.

6. Native Britons losing their jobs simply for beings non-pc  about  immigration and ethnic and racial minorities.

7. Such a virulent political correctness,  because the central plank of the creed  – race – would have been removed or at least made insignificant. Without large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities to either act as the clients of the politically correct or to offer a threat of serious civil unrest to provide the politically correct with a reason to enact authoritarian laws banning free discussion about the effects of immigration, “antiracism” would have little traction.   Moreover, without the massive political  leverage race has provided,  political correctness in its other  areas,  most notably homosexuality and feminism,   would have been much more difficult to inject   into British society.  But   even  if  political correctness  had been  robbed of its dominant racial aspect  whilst leaving  the rest of the ideology  as potent as  it is now,    it would be a trivial thing compared to the ideology with its dominant  racial aspect intact.   Changes to the status of homosexuals and women do not fundamentally alter the nature of a society by destroying  its natural  homogeneity. Moreover, customs and laws can always be altered peacefully. A  country with  large unassimilable minorities  cannot be altered peacefully.

8. State sponsored  multiculturalism, which is now institutionalised within  British public service and the state  educational system.

9. Islamic terrorism.

10. The creeping introduction of Sharia Law through such things as the toleration of sharia courts to settle disputes between Muslims provided both parties agree. The idea that such agreement is voluntary is highly suspect because of the  pressure from within the Muslim population for Muslims to conform to Sharia law and to settle disputes within the Muslim population.  But even if it was always entirely voluntary, it would be wrong in principle to have an alien system of law accepted as a rival to the law of the land because inevitably it would undermine the idea of the rule of law and  further  isolate Muslims from the mainstream.

11. Muslims Schools which fail to conform to the national curriculum at best and at worst are vehicles for the promotion of Islamic supremacist ideas.

12.  A calamitous housing shortage.

13. Housing Associations which cater solely for ethnic and racial minority  groups.

14. A serious and growing shortage of school places, especially primary school places .

  1. Health tourism on a huge scale

16  Benefit tourism on a massive scale.

17 . Such crowded roads and public transport.

18. Such a low wage economy.

19. Such high unemployment and underemployment.

20. Such a  need for the taxpayer to subsidise those in work because of the under cutting of wages  by immigrants.

21. Areas of work effectively off limits to white Britons because either an area of work is controlled by foreigners or British born ethnic minorities, both of whom only employ those of their own nationality and/or ethnicity, or unscrupulous British employers who use foreigners and ethnic minorities because they are cheap and easier to control.–and-foreign-jobseekers-even-get-travelling-costs-8734731.html

22 As much crime (and particularly violent crime) because foreigners and British born blacks and Asians commit a disproportionately large proportion of UK crime, for example see



23.  Double standards in applying the law to the white native population and immigrants, with the white native population being  frequently treated more harshly  than blacks, Asians and white first generation immigrants.

24. Female genital mutilation.

25. “Honour” killings.

26. Forced marriages.

27. Widespread electoral fraud.


We would have ……

1. A very homogenous country,  as it used to be.

2. No fear of speaking our minds about race and  immigration.

3. No fear of speaking our minds about foreigners.

4. No fear of being proud of our country and Western culture generally.

5. No people being sent to prison for simply saying what they thought about race and ethnicity.

6. Much less political correctness.

7. Equality before the law in as far as that is humanly possible.

8. A stable population.

9. Plentiful housing, both rented and for purchase, at a price the ordinary working man or woman can afford.

10. Abundant  school places.

11. An NHS with much shorter waiting lists  and staffed overwhelmingly with native Britons. Those who claim that the NHS would collapse with foreign staff should ask themselves one question: if that is  the case,  how do areas of the UK with few racial or ethnic minority people manage to recruit native born Britons  to do the work?

12. A higher wage economy .

13. Far more native Britons in employment.

14. No areas of work effectively off limits to white Britons because either an area of work is controlled by foreigners or British born ethnic minorities, both of whom only employ those of their own nationality and/or ethnicity, or unscrupulous British employers who use foreigners and ethnic minorities because they are cheap and easier to control.

15. A much lower benefit bill for those of working age.

16. Substantially less crime.

17. An honest electoral system.

What the British people want from their politicians… and what they get

Robert Henderson

What do our politicians think of the electorate: precious little. All the major mainstream parties either ignore or cynically  misrepresent  the issues  which are most important to the British – immigration, our relationship with the EU, the English democratic deficit,  foreign adventures , the suppression of free speech and the precarious state of the economy. . These issues are  not addressed honestly because they either clash with the prevailing internationalist agenda or because to address them honestly would mean admitting how much sovereignty had been given away to the EU and through other treaties.

This antidemocratic failure to engage in honest politics is an established trait. The wilful removal from mainstream politics of vitally important issues has been developing for more than half a century. The upshot is that the British want their politics to be about something which is not currently on offer from any party with a chance of forming a government. The British public broadly seek what these days counts as rightist action when it comes to matters such as preserving nationhood, immigration, race and political correctness, but traditional leftist policies on items such as social welfare, the NHS and the economy (has anyone ever met someone in favour of free markets and free trade who has actually lost his job because of them?).

The electorate’s difficulty is not simply their inability to find a single party to fulfil all or even most of their political desires. Even on a single issue basis, the electorate frequently cannot find a party offering what they want because all the mainstream parties now carol from the same internationalist, globalist, supranational, pro-EU, pc songsheet. The electorate finds they may have any economic programme provided it is laissez faire globalism, any relationship with the EU provided it is membership, any foreign policy provided it is internationalist and continuing public services only if they increasingly include private capital and provision. The only difference between the major parties is one of nuance.

Nowhere is this political uniformity seen more obviously than in the Labour and Tory approaches to immigration. Labour has adopted a literally mad policy of “no obvious limit to immigration”. The Tories claim to be “tough” on immigration, but then agree to accept as legal immigrants more than 100,000 incomers a year from outside the EU plus any number of migrants from within the EU (350 million have the right to settle here). There is a difference, but it is simply less or more of the same. Worse, in practice there would probably be no meaningful difference to the numbers coming whoever is in power. The truth is that while we remain part of the EU and tied by international treaties on asylum and human rights, nothing meaningful can be done for purely practical reasons. But even if something could be done, for which serious party could the person who wants no further mass immigration vote? None.

A manifesto to satisfy the public

All of this set me thinking: what manifesto would appeal to most electors? I suggest this political agenda for the What the People Want Party:

We promise:

1. To always put Britain’s interests first. This will entail the adoption of an unaggressive nationalist ethic in place of the currently dominant internationalist ideology.

2. The reinstatement of British sovereignty by withdrawal from the EU and the repudiation of all treaties which circumscribe the primacy of Parliament.

3. That future treaties will only come into force when voted for by a majority in both Houses of Parliament and   accepted in a referendum . Any  treaty should be subject to repudiation following  Parliament passing a motion that repudiation should take place and that motion being ratified by a referendum.  Treaties could also be repudiated by a citizen initiated referendum (see 29).

4. A reduction in the power of the government in general and the Prime Minister in particular and an increase in the power of Parliament. This will be achieved by abolishing the Royal Prerogative, outlawing the party whip and removing the vast powers of patronage available to a government.

5. That the country will only go to war on a vote in both Houses of Parliament.

6. An end to mass immigration by any means, including asylum, work permits and family reunion.

7. An end to all officially-sponsored political correctness.

8. The promotion of British history and culture in our schools and by all publicly-funded bodies.

9. The repeal of all laws which give by intent or practice a privileged position to any group which is less than the entire population of the country, for example the Race Relations Act..

10. The repeal of all laws which attempt to interfere with the personal life and responsibility of the individual. Citizens will not be instructed what to eat, how to exercise, not to smoke or drink or be banned from pursuits such as fox-hunting which harm no one else.

11. A formal recognition that a British citizen has rights and obligations not available to the foreigner, for example, the benefits of the welfare state will be made available only to born and bred Britons.

12. Policing which is directed towards three ends: maintaining order, catching criminals and providing support and aid to the public in moments of threat or distress. The police will leave their cars and helicopters and return to the beat and there will be an assumption that the interests and safety of the public come before the interests and safety of police officers.

13. A justice system which guards the interests of the accused by protecting essential rights of the defendant such as jury trial and the right to silence, whilst preventing cases collapsing through technical procedural errors.

14. Prison sentences that are served in full, that is,  the end of remission and other forms of early release. Misbehaviour in prison will be punished by extending the sentence.

15. An absolute right to self-defence when attacked. The public will be encouraged to defend themselves and their property.

16. A general economic policy which steers a middle way between protectionism and free trade, with protection given to vital and strategically important industries such as agriculture, energy, and steel and free trade only in those things which are not necessities.

17. A repudiation of further privatisation for its own sake and a commitment to the direct public provision of all essential services such as medical treatment. We recognise that the electorate overwhelmingly want the NHS, decent state pensions, good state funded education for their children and state intervention where necessary to ensure the necessities of life. This promise is made to both reassure the public of continued future provision and to ensure that the extent of any public spending is unambiguous, something which is not the case where indirect funding channels such as PFI are used.

18. The re-nationalisation of  the railways, the energy companies, the water companies and any  exercise  of the state’s authority such as privately run prisons which have been placed in  private hands.

19. An  education system which ensures that every child leaves school with at least a firm grasp of the three Rs and a school exam system which is based solely on a final exam. This will remove the opportunity to cheat by pupils and teachers. The standards of the exams will be based on those of the 1960s which is the last time British school exams were uncontaminated by continuous assessment, multiple choice questions and science exams included practicals as a matter of course. .

20. To restore credibility to our university system. The taxpayer will fund scholarships for 20 per cent of school-leavers. These will pay for all fees and provide a grant sufficient to live on during term time. Any one not in receipt of a scholarship will have to pay the full fees and support themselves or take a degree in their spare time. The scholarships will be concentrated on the best universities. The other universities will be closed. This will ensure that the cost is no more than the current funding and the remaining universities can be adequately funded.

21. A clear distinction in our policies between the functions of the state and the functions of private business, charities and other non-governmental bodies. The state will provide necessary public services, business will be allowed to concentrate on their trade and not be asked to be an arm of government and charities will be entirely independent bodies which will no longer receive public money.

22. A commitment to putting the family first. This will include policies which recognise that the best childcare is that given by the parents and that parents must be allowed to exercise discipline over their children. These will be given force by a law making clear that parents have an absolute right to the custody of and authority over their children, unless the parents can be shown to be engaging in serious criminal acts against their children.

23. Marriage to be encouraged by generous tax breaks and enhanced  child allowances for children born in wedlock.

24. Defence forces designed solely to defend Britain and not the New World Order.

25. A Parliament for England to square the Devolution circle. The English comprise around 80 per cent of the population of the UK, yet they alone of all the historic peoples are Britain are denied the right to govern themselves. This is both unreasonable and politically unsustainable in the long-run.

26. A reduction to the English level of Treasury funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will save approximately £17 billion pa because the Celts receive overall approximately £1,600 per head per annum more than the English.

27. An end to Foreign Aid. This will save approximately £11  billion.

28. A written constitution to ensure that future governments cannot abuse their power. This will be predicated on (1) the fact that we are a free people, (2) the belief that in a free and democratic society the individual can be trusted to take responsibility for his or her actions and to behave responsibly and (3) that politicians are the servants not the masters of those who elect them. It will guarantee those things necessary to a free society, including an absolute right to free expression, jury trial for any offence carrying a sentence of more than one year, place citizens in a privileged position over foreigners and set the interests and safety of the country and its citizens above the interests and safety of any other country or people.

29. Citizen initiated referenda shall be held when ten per cent of the population have signed a petition asking for a referendum.

Those are the things which I think most of the electorate could embrace, at least in large part. There are also other issues which the public might well be brought to  support if there was proper public debate and a serious political party supporting them such as the ownership and bearing of weapons and the legalisation of drugs.

The positive thing about such an agenda is that either Labour or the Tories could comfortably support it within the context of their history.

Until Blair perverted its purpose, the Labour Party had been in practice (and often in theory – think Ernie Bevin), staunchly nationalist, not least because the unions were staunchly protective of their members’ interests and resistant to both mass immigration (because it reduced wages) and free trade (because it exported jobs and reduced wages).

For the Tories, the Thatcherite philosophy is as much an aberration as the Blairite de-socialisation of Labour. The true Tory creed in a representative democracy is that of the one nation nationalist. It cannot be repeated too often that the free market internationalist creed is the antithesis of conservatism.

The manifesto described above would not appeal in every respect to ever member of the “disenfranchised majority”. But its general political slant would be palatable to that majority and there would be sufficient within the detail to allow any individual who is currently disenchanted with politics to feel that there were a decent number of important policies for which he or she could happily vote. That is the best any voter can expect in a representative democracy. People could again believe that voting might actually change things.

One nation Labour: work, family and place – a taste of Labour’s next election propaganda

Civitas meeting at 55 Tuftn Street Westminster SW1P3QL

14 October 2013

One nation Labour: work, family and place

Speaker: John Cruddas MP

The speech was  howlingly vacuous, full of trite phrasemaking and statements of the blindingly obvious added to a rich menu of vague aspirations. Here are a few examples:

“Families come in all different shapes and sizes”.

“Some of our families trace their English roots back  generations, and for some their children are the first  born in England.“

“We will improve our schools so they can help children develop good character, and learn the values of respect, honesty, compassion, trust and integrity.”

The only surprise is that Cruddas did not tell  the audience that  he believed in motherhood and apple pie.

But empty as it was of hard policy, this speech is important because Cruddas was laying out the general propaganda strategy of the Labour Party for the coming General Election.  The strategy was noteworthy for  its unmitigated cynicism, it being a shameless attempt to cloak the true intent of Labour with words which until very recently the Party would have treated as beyond the politically correct Pale.

Cruddas’  engaged in dog-whistle politics. For Labour’s  historically  core vote, the unalloyed white working class,  he used words and phrases such as patriotism  and national renewal, but  in a way that would have met with the firm approval of  Lewis Carol’s Humpty Dumpty. They meant whatever Cruddas meant them to mean rather than what any normal person or a dictionary would take them to mean. Nation did not mean a natural nation but a bogus one centred around civic ideals. Patriotism did not mean wanting to express a sense of nation but pride in the civic ideals.  Being English did not mean being English in the cultural or historic sense,  but English as simply a coverall term for those living in England. (In passing, I could not help wryly wondering  if Cruddas was unaware of the fascist echoes in his language: One Nation; National Renewal,  the new England…. )

Cruddas had other electoral wares to peddle. To entice Tories alienated by Cameron’s NuTory social liberalism and the aspirational working-class vote,   Cruddas put forward what might politely be called the NuLabour version of that risible Tory phrase The Big Society.  This consisted of a condemnation of centralisation and a devolution of power and responsibility to the local level in general and the individual in particular. Here is a flavour of Cruddas’  general thrust:

“One Nation begins in local places. It is in our neighbourhoods that we express our cultures and identities and the new England taking shape is happening where people meet and greet one another, neighbours help one another and watch and learn from each others different lives and so build up trust and in the process make a home together. “

“They are the people who tend to think of themselves as both English and British. They care about their families and work hard for a  better life.  The ethic of work is deeply held because it is about  self-respect and self reliance.  They are responsible and look after their  neighbourhoods. But they don’t feel they get back what they deserve. “

“They are powerfully aspirational but they are struggling to make ends meet.  The better life they have worked for, and their hopes for their children are under threat due to the cost of living crisis.  Labour should be their natural home.” 

Despite the Thatcherite tone, this was The  Big Society NuLabour style. Consequently,  it also contained a good deal of political correctness, including a seeming acceptance of male employment  providing less than enough money to support a family as a permanent fixture in the British economy. Indeed, there was even an undertone of this being a good thing because  it furthers the cause of gender equality, viz:

“Millions of men no longer earn enough to follow their fathers in the role of family breadwinner. More and more women are taking on the role of breadwinner. Families thrive when there is a partnership and teamwork amongst adult relations We need a new conversation about families and their  relationships that is jointly owned by women and  men. “

“We need to value father’s family role as highly as his working role, and women’s working role as highly as her domestic one. And we need to have high expectations of fathers because otherwise we collude with those men who don’t step up to the mark.”

“We will look at where we can make greater use of a ‘whole family’ approach to public services which assumes, where it is safe and appropriate, that a child  needs a relationship with both parents.

 “That means:

– exploring changes to maternity services to engage the whole family and include fathers.

– looking at paid leave for prospective fathers to attend antenatal sessions and hospital appointments during pregnancy.

– developing services that facilitate mutual support between families.

– helping family self help initiatives in the community and letting finance follow.

Helping children take responsibility for their own actions, also means improving sex and relationship education for boys and girls with zero tolerance of violence at its core.  “

The third prong of Cruddas’ propaganda method was to speak of England not Britain:  

“It is a sentiment that is shared by a large part of the electorate today, particularly in England. Patriotic, love of family; live and let live. Committed to the virtues of responsibility and duty; fiercely democratic and individual. “

“We are a country of many roots looking for an identity. Some of our families trace their English roots back  generations, and for some their children are the first  born in England.“

“One Nation begins in local places. It is in our neighbourhoods that we express our cultures and identities and the new England taking shape is happening where people meet and greet one another, neighbours help one another and watch and learn from each others different lives and so build up trust and in the process make a home together.”

This is not Englishness at all but a substitute for the increasingly meaningless use of British, a term  which has become a semantic umbrella to obviate the need to call immigrants and their descendants English. There  is to be a new Englishness, not one born of the organic formation and shaping of a nation across a millennium and a half, as has been the genesis of England and the English,  but  a cosmopolitan multicultural politically correct mess which no English man or woman would recognise as English.

In true Labour fashion his speech was also packed with uncosted spending commitments  such as paid antenatal paternity leave, guaranteed work for the long-term unemployed, increased childcare payments, cutting and then freezing business rates for small and medium sized firms and  putting more money into vocational training. Incredibly, Cruddas claimed that  these new costly policies will be made whilst government spending reduces overall, viz:: “We will govern with less money.”

There was a strong hint to what the devolution of power  would really be about in Cruddas’  housing proposals, viz:

“Local people need local homes and we will devolve power to local authorities to negotiate with private landlords reductions in rent and use the savings to build new homes.”

The device is transparent: the responsibility is moved from national politicians and any failure rests with local politicians.  And so it will be with anything else devolved under a Labour government if one is elected in 2015.  As for the housing proposal, If there were no legal power to force private landlords to reduce rents, and there was no suggestion from Cruddas that there would be, it is  the purest pie-in-the-sky.

On the subject which most exercises the native English, immigration, all Cruddas had to offer was first this:

 “Change brings both a sense of loss as well as hope; across the country there is a powerful sense of grievance and dispossession. A loss of culture and a way of life.  We have to engage with the visceral politics it creates. “

With this as the risibly inadequate solution:

“On immigration, Ed Miliband has set out a new approach which combines tougher controls on people coming in from new EU countries with measures to help stop low skilled migration undercutting the wages of workers already here.” 

Cruddas also had the effrontery to claim The Conservatives are dividing Britain  when of course the greatest cause of division is mass immigration which increased hugely under Blair and Brow with a net inflow of more than three  million to the UK.

It would also be interesting to know how Cruddas could square his wish for Britain to be “fiercely democratic” with the  mass immigration which has been the prime policy exercising the British electorate for a long time when they have been denied any say on  it because neither of the major parties has any real intention of preventing it, not least because both major parties are committed to Britain’s membership of the EU.

There was also a feeble apology for the mess created by the Blair and Brown governments. Reflecting on the 2010 election defeat Cruddas mused “did we spend too much attention treating problems in society rather than preventing them? We moved thousands more people into work, but did we pay sufficient attention to the type of work performed and the rewards received? Were we attuned to the scale of low skilled immigration and across its impact in communities?  “ before concluding baldly “We got things wrong.”

Needless to say,  Cruddas’  conclusion that serious mistakes were made did not lead him to suggest that he , and all the other Labour MPs who served in the Blair and Brown governments who are still in the Commons should resign in  disgrace because of the mess Labour left on leaving office. An admission of fault without proportionate or indeed any penalty suffered by the wrongdoers is meaningless, a taunting of the public.

The full text of Cruddas’ speech is at

Come question time I managed to get the first question. I launched it with a decent preamble during  which I pointed out the three to four million net immigration under the last Labour government; the reckless spending with government spending deficits totalling more than £200 billion before the crash of 2008 and  the millions in full-time work who could not earn enough to support themselves and were heavily dependent  on benefits. I ended by asking the question “In view of the mess the last Labour Government left behind them in 2010 why should anyone trust the Labour Party enough to re-elect them at the next election?  Had there been time, I would have added in the perpetual warmongering of Blair, the handing to the EU of ever more power without the British public being consulted in a referendum, the disastrous neglect of the UK’s energy supplies, the vast expansion of the  racket that is PFI and the institutionalisation of political correctness within the British public sector.

Cruddas gave me a non-answer,  being reduced to saying that I had not given a nuanced  view of the last Labour government, followed by a claim that all had seemed going well until the crash of 2008, with an implied shrug of the shoulders that the crash could not have  been foreseen.  Contemptibly, he tried to hide behind the Tories by saying they had supported the economic policies of the Blair government.  The latter was of course true, but being wrong with along with your political opponents is no excuse. The reality is that the crash was about as obvious as Christmas coming at the end of December if one looked at the economic indicators.  (I publicly predicted the crash  in July 2007. By then house prices had risen so high that in the large majority of English council areas it was impossible for someone earning the average wage to buy their first house, despite the ease with which mortgages could be obtained with loans of up to 125% of the property’s value being offered.  It was clear that the housing market, which underpinned the gerrymandered NuLabour boom, would collapse and cause a severe recession).

The rest of the questions were curiously bloodless. Depressingly, no one else at the meeting seemed to be angry about what had happened to Britain under Blair and Brown.

The one thing of interest which came from these  questions was Cruddas’ definition of what constituted a sense of nation and patriotism. It was the “civic patriotism” so beloved of the left at the moment, the ludicrous idea that a nation can be formed around nothing more than a set of self-consciously arrived at values such as a belief in representative government and the rule of law.  Any sense of belonging arises organically from the natural human traits which create “tribal feeling”  not from governments telling people what to believe.

The “values” which Cruddas was speaking about were in reality  those of political correctness. This  meant  he  was purveying not one nonsense but another one on top of  it –  nonsense on stilts – because political correctness is in itself an exercise in denying reality.

After the meeting I email Cruddas this without receiving a reply:

Dear Mr Cruddas,

I was the person who asked the first question at the Civitas meeting tonight. Apart from the points I made in the preamble to my question, I would say that your  emphasis on localism and community  self-help sounded remarkably like a NuLabour version of the Tories’ Big Society. Both ideas are non-starters because you cannot create  social networks and community spirit self-consciously. It can only develop organically. For the same reason a civic citizenship cannot be created to stand in the stead of Man’s innate tribal feeling.

What the Labour Party needs is a return to a firm and clear understanding of what things should be private and what public and to defend public ownership and intervention where it is appropriate.  The long essay below ( examines that proposition in detail

At present all your party is trying to do is patch a few social and economic grazes when what is needed is major surgery.

In your answer to my question you said the picture I painted was not nuanced. To that I would reply how exactly does one nuance over 3 million net immigrants under Blair and Brown or massive debt they ran up from 2002 onwards? The detailed debt figures are

Labour ran a surplus for each of their  first four years of government:

1998       £    703 millions

1999      £11,976 millions

2000       £16,697 millions

2001       £ 8,426 millions

Total  1998 – 2001  surplus of £37,802 millions


Labour ran a deficit for  the rest of their time in government:

2002    £19,046  millions

2003    £34,004  millions

2004     £36,797  millions

2005     £41,355  millions

2006     £30,755  millions

2007     £33,718  millions

2008     £68,003  millions

Total 2002 – 2008   Deficit of £263,678  millions


2009   £152,289 millions

2010   £148,774  millions

Total  2009 -2010   Deficit of £301,063 millions


Net total debt accumulated  in the period 1998 – 2008 £225,876

Net total debt  accumulated in the period 1998-2010 £526,339 millions

Figures taken from

These figures understate the true increase in public debt because of the Enron-style accounting which kept most the PPI and PFI debt incurred under Blair and Brown off the books.

As can be seen, the present Labour claims that the financial mess is all due to the post-Lehman global crash is embarrassingly  untrue.

Yours sincerely,



Robert Henderson

Royal Mail and ideology

Robert Henderson

The starting gun for the privatisation of the Royal Mail has been fired t(

As with the banks,  the taxpayer takes the losses  and private business gets the profits. To prepare Royal Mail for privatisation the taxpayer has taken sole responsibility for the Royal Mail’s pension fund . They have done this  because its liabilities are huge and no private investor or business would take Royal Mail  on with the pension fund attached.

The pension scheme is closed to new members, which means that over time the liabilities will decline as pensioners die. However, that will take a long time and the liabilities are huge and uncertain.

The pension fund had estimated liabilities £33bn in the 2012/13 accounts (  This figure had risen by nearly £3bn in a year:  “The total pension scheme liability increased, from the date of transfer on 1 April 2012, from £30.547 billion to £33.378 billion at 31 March 2013.”

The scheme is “an unfunded defined benefit scheme providing pension and lump sum benefits on retirement and  death to members and former members of the Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP), and their dependants, in respect of their service up to 31 March 2012. The scheme is closed and has only pensioner and deferred members. As this is a closed scheme, there are no employer or employee contributions, the on-going pension payments and other payments are funded from the consolidated fund”  (Ibid)

The key words here are “unfunded” and “funded from the consolidated fund.  That means it is like the  Old Age Pension, namely, funded out of taxation.

The Pension Fund was supposedly made shipshape and Bristol fashion by the government  pumping in £2.2 billion in 2012.  However, after the first year of operation after the taxpayer bailout the “Royal Mail Group is facing an extra £300m annual bill from its pensions, one year on from a multi-billion-pound deal that was supposed to have solved its pension issues once and for all ahead of a public listing.” (

What can be expected from a privatised postal service

The experience of every other large privatisation apart from BT is of rising prices and decreased service.  Even in the case of BT the comparative success of the privatisation – the landline connections for phones and broadband are still dependent on BT’s  control of the network – would probably not have occurred if the mobile phone revolution had not taken place and  introduced genuine competition into the telecoms market.

There are a number of reasons why a privatised Royal Mail will go the same way as the likes of British Rail and the utilities.  To begin with there is the VAT exemption which is bound to vanish. As   it is a public organisation Royal Mail  does not pay VAT on most of its products: a privatised Royal Mail will almost certainly pay VAT on all of its products. The present position with VAT  is this:

“Royal Mail products that remain exempt from VAT, in addition to free products


1st and 2nd Class (stamps, online, franking, account*)

Special Delivery™ Next Day (stamps and franking)

Standard Parcels

Recorded Signed For™ (if purchased with a VAT exempt service)

Keepsafe™ (personal and business)

*1st and 2nd class account is a new product that was launched in April 2012. This is a Universal Service which does not qualify for volume related discounts. Royal Mail also offers a 1st and 2nd class service called Business Mail which is available on account. Volume related discounts are available on this service for larger postings and VAT is liable



Surface Mail

International Signed For

All HM Forces Mail (BFPO)

Inbound Mail

Redirections within UK (personal and business) “


All those exemptions will  be under threat with privatisation,  not least because  EU competition commissioner is likely to  be after them like a shot as the exemptions would be viewed as illegitimate state aid ( . There will also be challenges by private postal companies and TNT Post UK has already said they will try to get the courts to rule that “ the exemption should be removed from all Royal Mail services apart from stamps and services directly connected to the obligation it has to provide a universal service six days a week”. (  If successful that would put 20% VAT on bulk mail deliveries.  In time, it is reasonable to expect even more dramatic challenges to any VAT exemption.

Then there is the question of raising capital. The official line is this: “ To help protect the future of the universal postal service, we aim to end Royal Mail’s dependence on unpredictable funding from the taxpayer and allow them future access to private capital. We will do this by selling shares in Royal Mail. “ (

On the face of it this is a nonsense statement.  As a matter of simple fact the British government can raise money by way of borrowing far more cheaply than a private company, no matter how large, can do (

The claim becomes less odd if the real reason why capital cannot be raised by Royal Mail is the EU competition commission’s resistance to  state aid. The commission  is especially keen on stamping on state aid  in relation to EU postal services, which it desperately wants to see in private hands or at least with a mixture of private and public providers competing on the same basis, as it seeks to have a uniform postal service throughout the EU ((  It is probable that a publicly owned  Royal Mail would not be allowed to raise cheap money through the offices of the government because the assistance  would not be available to other private postal competitors and, hence,  would be judged as unfair competition by the EU competition commissioner.

But not all state aid is bad in the EU commission’s eyes.  They  were willing to collude  with the  UK government to prepare Royal Mail for privatisation by allowing what amounts to massive state aid through the removal of the deficit laden Royal Mail pension fund from Royal Mail , viz:

“The European Commission approved UK plans to relieve the Royal Mail Group (RMG) from excessive pension costs relating to its past monopoly position and to provide RMG with restructuring aid consisting of a debt reduction of GBP 1089 million (around EUR 1311 million). The Commission concluded that RMG’s revised restructuring plan would ensure a sustainable future for the group in its twofold function of providing universal postal services and of granting access to its delivery network to other providers in the UK. Moreover, the plan negotiated with the Commission included appropriate measures to minimise distortions of competition induced by the aid (IP/12/260).” (Ibid)

The sale is also ostensibly  odd in that it comes at a time when  Royal Mail is making a solid profit  (£400 million in the past year). However, the strangeness of the decision vanishes when it is realised that  the Royal Mail has been deliberately fattened up for privatisation  by the massive price increase in the cost of postage stamps in 2012 (First class stamps rising from 46p to 60p and second class from 36p to 50p.  Parcel charges have also risen substantially Incidentally, iIt is a moot point how much of the £400million profit arose from people buying huge numbers of stamps at the pre-rise prices, but nonetheless the increase in profitability is too large to be  ascribed to that one off event alone ).

The obligation to maintain the universal  postal service (UPS )  – the obligation to deliver  post anywhere in the UK at the same price six days a week –  is protected by the Postal Services Act 2011 ( and the  EU Postal Services Directives ( However, once Royal Mail has private shareholders  this could change, especially if a majority private shareholder emerges. This could easily occur  if much more than 50% of shares are sold  to the private sector . The intention of  the government is for a  majority of shares  to be in private hands  with the rest held by the government. The  percentage to be retained by the government might be very small  and this is suggested strongly because ministers  has been very coy on the matter of the size of government’s holding .  It could be as low 10% for all we know.

If a majority shareholder does emerge,  they  will inevitably argue that they cannot compete with other private operators who are not bound by the UPS. Their complaint could well be upheld either by the UK or the EU competition authorities on the grounds of practicality, that is, the impossibility of running Royal Mail as a private business when it has the  UPS obligation which its competitors do not have to honour.  If the VAT exemption is lessened or even abandoned altogether, that would  add to the argument to dilute or even remove entirely the UPS obligation. It is worth  remembering that the so-called “golden share” held by the government in Jaguar cars was limply given up by the government  not that many years after being introduced (

The UPS is under attack already from retailers who rely on posting goods to customers. They are under no obligation to use Royal Mail. This means they can charge whatever they like for postage within the UK and there are claims that some online retailers are charging multiples of the postage cost  which Royal Mail would charge for deliveries to out of the way addresses. (  This will be happening because  the contracts the retailers  have agreed with postal providers other than Royal Mail will stipulate that this must be done.  If Royal Mail had retained its monopoly of small parcel deliveries (or even had the size of parcels in its monopoly increased) this would not be able to happen with anything like the same frequency.

The privatisation of Royal Mail also threatens the Post Office network, which is now an entirely separate organisation, Post Office Ltd.  Governments have been cynically undermining the Post Office for decades with a gradual removal government services which bulked out the postal services. The threat is not immediate because “We have committed £1.34 billion of funding for the network from financial year 2011 to 2012 to financial year 2014 to 2015. This will enable the Post Office to maintain and modernise its network to help safeguard its future.” ( However,   looking ten years or so ahead it is probable that the cry will go up from politicians that the Post Office is a white state-owned elephant because there is every chance that a privatised Royal Mail will refuse to continue the contracts with the Post Office which currently exist on the grounds of cost and convenience.  

Why the privatisation is happening

Royal Mail would be perfectly viable as a public service if the old monopoly of letter post and small parcel post was maintained. It is true that email and other forms of digital messaging have reduced considerably the number of letters sent. But this drop has been offset by the considerable increase in parcel post arising from e-commerce, an increase which is likely to continue for quite some time.    Indeed, with the monopoly restored and modern sorting machinery being introduced, Royal Mail would almost certainly be able to make enough for necessary  future investment  whilst keeping postal rates moderate.   A cheap postal system would be a considerable boost to the economy generally.  The Post Office network could also be underpinned by the use of the offices as collection points for goods ordered through the Internet.

If that is so why is privatisation being driven through so ruthlessly  for transparently false reasons? The answer is ideology. The globalist, laissez faire ideology has infected to a lesser or greater degree all of Britain’s major political parties.  That  ideology dovetails with the supranational mentality engendered by the EU , commitment to  which is at the British political elite’s political core. It is doubtful if any senior British politician  not firmly committed to either laissez faire  globalism or the EU; most are committed to both. That is the simple truth.


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