We should be relieved that the Government has got our national finances under control

The UK's capacity to grow may have been undermined by the uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Having a bit of fiscal leeway is very helpful

Read in the Independent


Owen Jones: Tory links to Russia and Saudis run deep. So where’s the media outrage? | Owen Jones

Never mind ‘Corbyn the spy’, our governing party pockets millions from regimes that back extremism – and gets away with it

The Conservative party is in the pocket of foreign powers that represent a threat to the national security of Britain. It is a grotesquely under-reported national scandal, lost amid a hysterical Tory campaign to delegitimise the Labour party with false allegations of treason. If Labour had received £820,000 from Russian-linked oligarchs and companies in the past 20 months – and indeed £3m since 2010 – the media outrage would be deafening. But this is the Tory party, so there are no cries of treachery, of being in league with a hostile foreign power, of threatening the nation’s security.

Related: Salisbury spy attack: May likely to blame Russia, Tory MP says

How is it morally acceptable for the Tories to take the Russian or Saudi shilling?

Related: Litvinenko widow warns Tories over Russian donations

Continue reading…

Ezra Furman and The Visions – A Transangelic Exodus through Liverpool

If you need to find a door inside of your head that leads to somewhere else, Ezra Furman will show it to you.  This particular door opens up to us in Liverpool.  The narrative-driven album Transangelic Exodus is passing through our outward facing city.  We’re lucky.

Read More http://www.thevpme.com/2018/02/08/ezra-furman-visions-transangelic-exodus-liverpool/
From Pocket

John Naughton: How to get Twitter back on song? #NoMoreRetweets | John Naughton

They make up a quarter of all tweets, but at long last someone has found a way to turn them off…

When Twitter first broke cover in July 2006, the initial reaction in the non-geek community was derisive incredulity. First of all, there was the ludicrous idea of a “tweet” – not to mention the metaphor of “twittering”, which, after all, is what small birds do. Besides, what could one usefully say in 140 characters? To the average retired colonel (AKA Daily Telegraph reader), Twitter summed up the bird-brained frivolity of the internet era, providing further evidence that the world was going to the dogs.

And now? It turns out that the aforementioned colonel might have been right. For one of the things you can do with a tweet is declare nuclear war. Another thing you can do with Twitter is to bypass the mainstream media, ignore the opinion polls, spread lies and fake news without let or hindrance and get yourself elected president of the United States.

Continue reading…

Owen Jones: The NHS pay deal is just another cut, and an insult to overworked staff | Owen Jones

In both public and private sector, employers are routinely not paying enough. What scares them most, though, is people realising

Take a moment to absorb the innovative ways the government has found to undermine, demoralise, and attack NHS workers.

There’s the never-ending real terms pay cut which, by last year, had left the average health worker nearly £2,000 poorer in real terms than 2010. Ambulance crew are £5,286 worse off. There’s the starving of resources, even as an ageing population imposes greater demand – this has been the longest squeeze in spending as a proportion of GDP since its foundation. There’s the determination to privatise swaths of the service by stealth, and a chaotic top-down reorganisation which has fragmented the service.

This isn’t just about the public sector, of course. Today it was revealed that 179 employers have been failing to pay the legal minimum wage

Related: NHS staff offered 6.5% pay rise over three years if they forfeit day’s holiday

Continue reading…