sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2015

What does Jeremy Corbyn think?

What does Jeremy Corbyn think?

A brief summary of the beliefs and policy proposals of the newly elected Labour leader

On the economy

Corbyn is opposed to austerity and plans to bring down the deficit by growing the economy and taxing the wealthy instead.
He intends to introduce a “people’s quantitative easing”, which would allow the Bank of England to print money to invest in large-scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects, partly through a national investment bank.
Corbyn says he will fund this by reducing the “tax gap” and ending corporate tax reliefs.

On tax

Corbyn says there is £20bn in tax debt uncollected by HMRC every year and another £20bn in tax avoidance and a further £80bn in tax evasion that needs to be addressed.

On education

Corbyn has proposed a National Education Service, which he says would be “every bit as vital and as free at the point of use as our NHS”. The service would begin with universal childcare, give more power to local authorities, rethink the role of free schools and academies, introduce a minimum wage for apprentices and put more money into adult learning.
Corbyn has said he will also look at abolishing the charitable status of private schools but admitted it would be “very difficult to do”.
He wants to scrap tuition fees and restore student maintenance grants. This will be funded by increasing national insurance on those earning more than £50,000 a year and increasing corporation tax by 2.5%, or by slowing the pace of deficit reduction.
He has apologised to students who have had to pay fees because of Labour.
I want to apologise on behalf of the Labour party to the last generation of students for the imposition of fees, top-up fees and the replacement of grants with loans by previous Labour governments. I opposed those changes at the time – as did many others – and now we have an opportunity to change course.

On housing

Corbyn would introduce rent controls in expensive places like central London so that families on welfare are not pushed out of the area, which he says is an example of “social cleansing”. He will also suspend council right-to-buy schemes in such areas and will lift borrowing restrictions on councils so that they can build more than half of the 250,000 new homes he says are needed each year.
Corbyn has proposed the idea of linking private rents to local average earnings and introducing a right to buy for private tenants of large-scale landlords, a scheme that would be funded by withdrawing some of the £14bn of tax allowances given to buy-to-let landlords.

On immigration

Corbyn has consistently argued that immigration is not a drain on the economy and has campaigned on behalf of asylum seekers, most recently over the need to rescue Mediterranean refugees. He has said the debate on immigration has been “poisoned” and that migration is a global phenomenon that has been going on for hundreds of years.

On welfare

Corbyn was one of the 48 Labour rebels who defied the party whip and voted against the government’s welfare reform bill. He said:
We are one of the richest countries in the world and there is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to live in poverty.
Corbyn intends to withdraw from Nato and opposes the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.
He is in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament and has called for a “radically different international policy” based on “political and not military solutions”.
He has indicated that he would block any attempt by David Cameron to launch airstrikes in Syria, stating that bombing the country will “kill many people” and may not defeat Isis. Cutting off the supply of money and arms to Isis from “some of our supposed allies in the region” would be more effective, he added.

On public ownership

Corbyn plans to renationalise the energy companies to bring energy prices back down. He said privatisation of the sector has created a “false market” which allows for a great deal of money to be made by gas and electricity companies at the expense of everyone else.
Corbyn also plans to renationalise the railways, which he says will allow the public to “get the benefit” of the current investment in infrastructure. He said:
I believe in public ownership, but I have never favoured the remote nationalised model of the postwar era. Like a majority of the population and a majority of even Tory voters, I want the railways back in public ownership. But public control should mean just that: so we should have passengers, rail workers and government too, cooperatively running the railways ... in our interests and not for private profit.

On Europe

Corbyn has indicated that he is likely to support the campaign to stay in the European Union, but has refused to rule out campaigning for a no vote because:
Cameron quite clearly follows an agenda which is about trading away workers’ rights ... environment protection ... much of what is in the social chapter.
He maintains that Britain should play a crucial role in Europe by making demands on issues such as workers’ rights, the environment, tax and wage protection “rather than saying blanketly we’re going to support whatever Cameron comes out with whenever he finally decides to hold this referendum”.
When pressed, Corbyn has said his preferred position is to stay in a reformed EU. But he has also cited the union’s treatment of Greece as a justification for potential exit. He said:
Look at it another way: if we allow unaccountable forces to destroy an economy like Greece, when all that bailout money isn’t going to the Greek people, it’s going to carious banks all across Europe, then I think we need to think very, very carefully about what role [the EU] are playing and what role we are playing in that.

On healthcare

Corbyn has promised a “fully funded NHS, integrated with social care, with an end to privatisation in health”. His website states that the “principle of universal healthcare which is free at the point of use is something that we all deserve and should be absolutely protected.”
Corbyn has also pledged to tackle the “mental health crisis” and improve mental health coverage in the country. He will grow rather than cut mental health budgets and ensure mental health education is taught in schools.

On the monarchy

Though Corbyn is a republican, he has said abolishing the monarchy is “not the fight I’m going to fight” due to huge public support for the royal family.

On the arts

Corbyn has said he will create a cabinet committee for the arts and creative industries to bring ministers from across the departments together, making policy more effective.

On gender equality

Corbyn has pledged to do more to address discrimination in the workplace, at home and on the streets. He has called for an end to the cuts to public services and welfare that drive women and families into poverty, including the cuts to women’s refuges and services for domestic violence.
He also wants all companies to publish details of their equal pay arrangements, intends his cabinet to be made up of 50% women and wants to “work towards” 50% of all Labour MPs being women.
Corbyn has floated the idea of reintroducing women-only carriages on trains to cut sexual assault cases. He says this is not his preferred choice but he will consult women on the proposal after being contacted by women lobbyists.

On foreign policy

Corbyn was opposed to the Iraq war and has suggested that Tony Blair should stand trial as a war criminal over it.
Corbyn has hinted that Britain should seek greater diplomatic relations with Russia. He previously described the Kremlin’s state propaganda channel Russia Today as “more objective on Libya than most” and believes that the Ukraine crisis was caused by the west and Nato.
Russia has gone way beyond its legal powers to use bases in the Crimea. Sending unidentified forces into another country is clearly a violation of that country’s sovereignty [...] Still, the hypocrisy of the west remains unbelievable,” he said. “Nato has sought to expand since the end of the cold war. It has increased its military capability and expenditure. It operates way beyond its original 1948 area and its attempt to encircle Russia is one of the big threats of our time.
Corbyn has also said he supports Israel’s right to exist but opposes what he describes as the country’s “occupation policies”. He has reportedly attended an event in the past hosted by a Holocaust denier and has been criticised for describing Hamas and Hezbollah as friends, which he says was a throwaway word he used to create an amicable atmosphere during discussions. “You don’t make peace unless you talk to everybody,” he said.

"Mama Merkel has consigned the ‘ugly German’ to history"

Yes, Munich will be for ever linked with the bierkeller where Hitler made his first rabble-rousing speeches. But now it will be remembered too as the place where in 2015 uniformed police greeted a trainload of exhausted Syrian children with soft toys. In future, the sight of a vast German crowd will recall not just Nuremberg, but those signs held up by football fans declaring: 'Refugees welcome.'

Mama Merkel has consigned the ‘ugly German’ to history

The nation is dramatically changing its reputation, but idealistic rhetoric can also mask self-interested motives

German football fans hold 'refugees welcome' banners
‘In future, the sight of a vast German crowd will recall not just Nuremberg but those signs held up by football fans declaring: Refugees welcome.’ Photograph: Daniel Bockwoldt/AP
The nation is dramatically changing its reputation, but idealistic rhetoric can also mask self-interested motives

There was a time, in living memory, when refugees clamoured to board trains to get out of Germany. Today they yearn to board trains going in. “We want to go to Germany because we will get our rights, we are welcome there,” one refugee told the Guardian’s John Domokos, as he walked alongside a group making the journey on foot through Hungary, en route to what they saw as the ultimate place of sanctuary: the promised Deutschland.
The Syrian refugees massed at Budapest station chanted the word “Germany” over and over. Others speak of the German chancellor as Mama Merkel. One refugee has named her baby Angela Merkel Ade.

If history can offer a more dramatic turnaround in the perception, and perhaps reality, of a nation, then it’s hard to think of it. Seventy years agoGermany was a byword for tyranny and murderous violence: the land of racial supremacism and unending cruelty. That association lingered and has never quite gone away. Hitler, the Nazis and the apparatus of the Holocaust remain lodged in the global folk memory.
But soon there will be a new set of memories. Yes, Munich will be for ever linked with the bierkeller where Hitler made his first rabble-rousing speeches. But now it will be remembered too as the place where in 2015 uniformed police greeted a trainload of exhausted Syrian children with soft toys. In future, the sight of a vast German crowd will recall not just Nuremberg, but those signs held up by football fans declaring: “Refugees welcome.”
This has been no overnight transformation. Germans have spent decades reckoning with their past in a way few nations can match. Nevertheless the embrace Germany is currently offering to the dispossessed of Syria – while so much of Europe closes its doors or quibbles over tiny numbers – has altered perceptions anew. People are speaking of Germany the way they used to talk of Scandinavia, as a kind of right-on oasis defined by its progressive, pacific instincts. One rightwing academic this week slammed the country as “a hippy state being led by its emotions”. That’s quite a change from the caricature of old, the land of Teutonic conformity and rigid, rules-obsessed bureaucracy. So what explains the shift?

Part of the answer is very recent. Not two months ago Merkel came face to face with a Palestinian girl about to be deported from Germany. The chancellor showed sympathy and tried to give the girl a hug, but remained adamant: Germany simply could not take in all those who wanted to come. “We just can’t manage it,” she said.
Then, only a few days ago, Merkel sent the exact opposite message to those fleeing from Syria. She suspended the rules, ushering in an expected 800,000 refugees this year alone. (David Cameron has committed Britain to take 20,000 by 2020, the same number Munich received last weekend.) We are a strong country, she said, and can handle it.
What happened between those two events is telling. It was a picture that changed the calculus, but it was not the photograph of the drowned Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi. Rather, it was footage from the town of Heidenau, near Dresden, where racist thugs attacked a refugee camp, hurling abuse and worse at new arrivals. TV news showed the refugees’ tents in flames.
According to Christoph Schwennicke, editor of Cicero, a political monthly: “As soon as they saw those pictures, the German people said, ‘That’s not us. Let’s show the world we’re not like them.’” In the images from Heidenau, the echoes of the Nazi past were just too strong. Germans are taught in school the two-word mantra “never again”, says Schwennicke. “That is in our genes.”
And Merkel is no different. Observers say she is ultra-sensitive to anything that hints at Germany’s darkest history, castigating political allies – even, on one occasion,Benedict, the German-born pope – for any failure to stand firm on, for example, anti-Jewish hatred. So when her country appeared once again to be turning on a community of outsiders, she felt she had to act.
Others suspect it’s events of the past five years, rather than five weeks, that have been pivotal. Throughout the euro crisis Germany was cast in parts of the continent as the hard-faced villain, imposing searing austerity on the benighted people of Greece. Not much of that had penetrated German public consciousness until the crisis reached its peak this summer, says Hans Kundnani of the German Marshall Fund. Suddenly Germans saw Merkel depicted on Greek placards as Hitler, cracking down on the poor Greeks. Confronting that image of the “ugly German” was, says Kundnani, a shock. He reckons Germany’s current embrace of Syrian refugees is partly an effort to replace that austere image with a kinder, gentler one. They don’t like to be seen as the continent’s bully, for reasons of history that are obvious.
Still, it’s not all about the shadow cast by the Third Reich. Germany has pragmatic motives for taking in refugees in vast numbers. The country has a serious demographic problem: it has the world’s lowest birthrate, failing to produce the workforce that might provide for an ageing society. By one estimate, Germany would need to bring in 533,000 immigrants a year just to hold steady. In this light, it makes self-interested sense that Germany would only too gladly welcome Syrian engineers, doctors and graduates – all with proven energy and resilience – who are bound to infuse the country with new vigour.
But that argument is rarely made out loud in Germany. Kundnani says Germans prefer to hear policy couched in the universalist language of high ideals rather than selfish national interest. So the euro is exalted as the latest stage in a project to guarantee peace on a continent ravaged by war, rather than a mechanism to keep German exports cheap and competitive. The Baltic states may look at Berlin’s low defence spending and think the country is not doing its bit for European security, but Germany prefers to think it keeps the lid on its military because these days it is a placid neighbour.
Perhaps the sceptics are right. Perhaps Germany’s motives are not always as pure as it likes to think, even when, as now, it is providing a haven for those who need it most. But if that’s true, if Germans can only speak of their national interest in whispers lest they wake the beast of nationalism, then that too is admirable. It suggests a country that is not in denial of its past, but fully conscious of it – and determined to do all it can never to repeat it.