Pizza production in The Meadows

Pizzas – one million, two hundred thousand of them are manufactured every week in two factories in the Queens Drive industrial estate.
Around 1,150 are employed at The Pizza Factory, although the owner – 2 Sisters – uses over 300 workers employed through agencies.

NOJR20160817B-002_B pizzafactorygt1708922 The Pizza Factory 15288401-large
Photos from the Nottingham Post who have published 2 news articles on the loss of perhaps as many as 325 jobs, following Tesco’s deciding to buy their own brand pizzas from another supplier.
(Jobs losses announced.) (Business consults with Unite the Union.)
Unite have published a statement.

Crash course economics talk

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Alice Martin of New Economics Foundation, speaking at The Mechanics in Nottingham.
A very punchy 25 minutes.
Rough notes follow. I’m not a great scribe so take these notes as hints of what was said rather than absolute statements.
We’re in a period of low growth. A century old premise of ongoing growth perceived as a given and desirable, with only ecologists pointing out that the planet would have limits of what could be supported. “Trickle down” of wealth has not happened.
Three theories on what’s going wrong on growth. 1. We don’t have the right tools. Low interest rates and low wages leading to [secular] stagnation. 2. New technologies are no longer producing big steps in higher productivity. 3. Inequality: lower income groups spend more of their money, creating demand and re-using money, compared to the ultra rich who have run out of things to buy and are hoarding. Aspects of inequality – too many people unemployed or in poor quality employment; trying to prop up spending through confidence – hence measures to prop up house prices.
So can ‘we’ own the low growth period? Two ideas: 1. redistribution of time to tackle overworking (and help gender balance too); can we use new tech more; do more green and purple (health and caring) jobs; 2. land & wealth: a) 30%-50% of land in England and Wales is not registered so use it better; b) 50%-70% of price increases are cos of increases in price of land, which gov’t leglisation forcing councils to sell of land is going to make worse.
Worth noting two micro-economic trends: private renting set to overtake owner-occupiers; self-employment is set to outnumber public sector workers (cos of nature of some new markets (e.g. new internet businesses) and cos of ‘deregulation’ of construction sector).
There will be another crash; there just will.  Not as such predicting an immiment one.  But UK not in a good place cos of high levels of personal debt.

(Again, a reminder that these points were taken from my rough notes. …
So this is me.)

Many of the above arguments have been rehearsed in full council meetings.
The Government policy is about shifting power and wealth rather than focus on genuine economic growth.
The south-east has grown faster than the rest of us, yet the lastest support for councils has been directed that way and the ‘city’ has decided that the best way for the country to grow is by further investment in the ‘city’.
The talk was to get new ideas for the economy, but it’s like we need a renewed way of getting the basics of what we want from an economy conveyed.  (Economics – the allocation of resources.)
You might say what about Beveridge’s ambition for the country about being against the five great evils; but perhaps being more ‘aspirational’ – work for all, health for all, success for all (education), homes for all, neighbourhoods for all (clean, safe and environmental)  – yeah, gonna need a better wordsmith.  But a common vision that gives people an easy apprectiation that they matter and they count and know why.

Deftness and badness

For how many years have we had people praise Osborne’s “deftness” on budget day, only for the deftness to fall apart as the understanding of his proposals is obtained? Remember the ‘pasty tax’?
Saw it again this year:
– a living minimum wage of £9 an hour by 2020 – trumping Labour’s manifesto commitment of £8!!
– Reduce the need for social security by making firms pay a proper wage! Why – he’s stolen Labour’s clothes!!
– A tax on firms so that those who offer apprenticeships get the money back!
– A golden rule of stopping people being dis-incentivised from taking work.
And it turns out the pessimistic spending figures he’d presented in March were not figures he believed in, in July!  My – what a clever rascal!
Now, it is nice to hear the arguments Labour has been making over the years being embraced.
But whilst listening, there were other bits that sounded very wrong. Car licence fees paying for new roads – what as opposed to roads maintenance? Attacks on green investment schemes.
And in the immediate fall-out, one curious projection arose – that productivity will fall next year, and the year after and the year after.
PTV ids GBP9 living wage reaction a0209hStill £9 an hour – and Iain Duncan Smith going bonkers – had to be the lead.
So congratulations to those who started posting news of the broken promises by the evening, the misleading statements before the General Election, the unfairness and the cruelty.
11221772_984100078290541_4981311638858474463_nThe day after, and it became clear that a central plank was undermined – the changes for a significant group of people will work against going into work.
Other “day after revelations” –
– it dramatically favours the rich against the working poor;
(the publication that explains such impacts that usually comes out with the budget was not supplied this year – so deft);
– the living wage calculation is changed if you cut tax credits;
– significant harm to the disabled, and to the young;
– tax raising, not tax cutting;
– not that concerned about balancing the budget as early as possible.
Despite plenty of restrictions on not raising income tax, NI and VAT, Osborne showed plenty of scope for change.
The risks for Labour – constraining our actions when Osborne doesn’t; portraying Osborne as pro-austerity when he’s been prepared to keep borrowing (and leftists keep going on about austerity).
What Osborne is about is restructuring society for the very rich.
Our riposte should be that that is –
– poor for the economy – money leaves the economy too quickly;
– poor for society – we can’t meet the burdens longer living is bringing and continued impact on wider range of services councils can offer, and
– poor for the environment – over £3bn released on corporation tax matched by the burden placed on the green sector.
And there’s still more revelations to come.
For instance, how if some local government workers are on £7 an hour, and some NHS workers are on £7.72 an hour, does 4 years of 1% annual increases reach £9 an hour.
NJC SCP Local Govt assume 4 1 per cent annual pay rises til 2020 a0328h AfC SCP NHS assume 4 1 per cent annual pay rises til 2020 a0308h
It don’t. 10 pay points in local government miss and 5 in the NHS.
We await a gov’t reaction.

I warn you

If you’re going to ape Neil Kinnock,
I warn you not to read out your speech;
I warn you not to talk posh;
I warn you not to be cheap;
And I warn you to be prepared for the obvious question about Britain remaining in the EU.

Screenshot (353)c0242h I warn you speeches
Neil Kinnock’s speech on the eve of the 1983 election – the “I warn you” speech, is almost iconic.
Made more so by weeks of public campaigning that gave his voice a gravelly quality.
Capturing the imagination; making you think.
Vindicated by time.

Quite why David Cameron thought some of that would rub off, when read and delivered with a plum voice, is beyond me.
He was going to get air time anyway.
The rhythm was ruined too, because he felt he had to explain each conjecture.

And totally exposed by a question from the BBC editor who paraphrased Neil Kinnock in a different way, highlighting business concerns on threats to EU membership.
Cameron spluttered he wouldn’t have put it that way.
But business laughed.

The people of The Meadows need proper jobs

Stopped in the street by a mother with 2 sons, just into their twenties, with qualifications but no jobs.
What can be done?”
Had been in a review meeting of how Meadows Partnership Trust spends the Area 8 money it gets for helping people into work.
They’re good, taking advantage of opportunities very quickly, cover the paperwork required, do more checking on individuals’ progress than they’re contracted for and I wonder who else in the city can match them.
But they’re being asked to make progress in the face of local employers recruiting people from abroad, no doubt allowing people to be exploited by paying out lower wages.
(Shown right, a graphic by Dr Eoin Clarke, who points out how many people can end up being regarded as part of an increase in jobs when the truth is something else.)

Conservatives fail their election promise on immigration

Screenshot (266)c0398h Conservatives fail own immigration promise
A solemn election pledge – part of a contract with the people – failed, and the failure remarked upon with the weak whimper by Theresa May of the people knowing the Conservatives will do more about it in the future.

But the issue always has been exploitation of all workers by agencies using foreign workers to undercut pay, terms and conditions.
Screenshot (267)c0534h Miliband hits out at jobs advertised abroad
The Daily Mirror have found the Next clothing chain advertising jobs to Polish workers weeks ahead of advertising them in Britain.

Knitting Nottingham

IMG_5168c0263h NTU BG Knitting Nottingham banner

IMG_5169c0757h NTU BG Knitting Nottingham story part 1b
Starting with a reminder of the technology that made Nottingham so rich, a story of the impact of knitting on Nottingham, and Nottingham on the world.
(Although forgetting to mention the crucible of political and democratic activity it was to lead to.)
The latest innovation – body monitoring technology, for which NTU announced a grant of £3.3 million had been awarded.

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One piece knitted shoe uppers was a significant innovation in 2004.

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The exhibition is worth the visit. It really makes you want to look.

IMG_5182c1128h NTU BG Knitting Nottingham wall decorations

And if you are wondering what to do with all those small wool samples from the front of those knitting magazines, why not make a wall decoration?

Dennis Skinner manifesto speech

Screenshot (233)b0216h EMLP conference Dennis Skinner speakingMain message – bemusement at Labour sticking to ideas of financial discipline on government spending that no-one else bothers with – Ronald Reagen never balanced the books.
Also over missing opportunities to do what the public wants – and to take back control of all the railways.
Delivered with terrific comedy, serious points about breaking out of constraints to British politics that stop politicians from setting out to deliver for the people.
IMG_5040EMLP0336h DMU Lcer Dennis Skinner and MME B07UsgAIgAA8XtR
“Old Labour meets old New Labour”
Just kidding. It’s always about traditional values in a modern setting.
But we were talking about the problems any government faces if it sets its face against borrowing for revenue spend; in essence, it’s a kind of capital investment too – in people and in avoiding bigger bills in the future.


A full first day of East Midlands Regional Labour Party Conference.
IMG_5035b0533h DMU Lcer Vernon Coaker MP
Vernon Coaker MP summed it up; intense, passionate and determined.
IMG_5030b0305h DMU Lcer EMRLP conference panel
A day full of policy.
Iain McNicol, Labour’s General Secretary, shared one surprise – that in the 3 General Election TV debates of 2010, not one question was asked about the NHS.
Harriet Harman opened the conference with detailed concerns about the NHS, including getting appointments with GPS, and in some places, only being allowed to make an appointment for one problem at a time.
IMG_5032c0714h DMU Lcer Cheryl Pidgeon and MME
Middle day, I met Cheryl, Labour’s prospective candidate for South Derbyshire in 2015.