Wednesday, 14 September 2011

38 Degrees ignores Commonwealth pensioners' campaign

I have described 38 Degrees as “unaccountable activists”. It does not take too much time looking around their website to find the evidence.

If you click here you go to their suggestions system. At first sight (as of tonight) the “Save Our Badgers!” campaign is the most popular campaign idea with 1,286 votes. But, on closer inspection this is merely a “hot idea” randomly thrown up by the system.

Again looking closely there is a “top” tab. Click on that.

The picture changes. The most popular idea is now “fairness, justice and equality for all British state pensioners” with 7,535 votes. Apparently 3,003 people have voted on this proposal (members get up to ten votes so can vote more than once for a particular proposal). Looking more closely the proposal says:

All people contribute towards the National Insurance scheme under exactly the same rules. All people qualify for their state pension under exactly the same rules, based on years of NI contributions. When it comes time to pay the state pension different rules are applied depending on where you happen to live.

If you live in the UK and in 40 overseas countries, your state pension is uprated for inflation each year. If you live in mainly Commonwealth countries your state pension is frozen at the rate at which it is first paid, or as at the date of migration. This means that over time the real purchasing power of the state pension in Commonwealth countries declines over the years, so that after, say, 25 years, it may be about a quarter of the current pension level.

To rectify this problem it would cost less than 1% of the total state pension bill. Apparently there is an unwritten cross political party agreement not to fix this problem. Pensioners who have chosen to go overseas to be with their children and grand children in retirement in Commonwealth countries are penalised for doing so, or disouraged from seeing their children and grand children again.

Overseas pensioners have been fighting this discrimination, based on country of residence, for over 25 years. They could really do with a hand from people living in the UK to help them, to lobby on their behalf and to try to over turn this unfair, injust and inequal practice, which is based on historical accident and which even government ministers have admitted, has no logic to it.

There are 3,200 comments attached to this proposal. If you start to read through them you will find that this has been the most popular proposal on the 38 Degrees site for six months but somehow the unaccountable activists are just not interested.

It is a great campaign. A clear injustice. It has already achieved real resonance but somehow the young activists at 38 Degrees are just not interested. Is it not sexy enough for them? No fluffy bunnies to protect? What is going on?

What is clear is that 38 Degrees is not what it purports to be. In their FAQ section they say:

How do you decide on campaigns?

Campaigns are chosen by members. Members often take part in votes to choose which campaigns to make our highest priorities. 38 Degrees members can also suggest campaigns on the 38 Degrees website , as well as by sharing ideas on the Facebook page, blog, or by tweeting their idea to @38_degrees. Staff and volunteers in the 38 Degrees office then work together to identify the issues most important to members.

Clearly this is nonsense. They are have consistently ignored the most popular campaign idea offered to them. Nonsense. Like so much of what 38 Degrees says.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Ben Brandzel: 38 Degrees director and ... senior Democratic party organiser, veteran of three presidential campaigns

Remember that fatuous claim made by 38 Degrees:

Is 38 Degrees connected to a political party?

Definitely not. We are not connected with any political parties, and are funded by donations from members. Our independence means that we can campaign on issues that we feel passionately about and that we decide on together. We are driven by issues and outcomes, and judge all politicians by the same standards.

The truth is that they are left of centre and only support positions that are compatible with that starting point. In a BBC-ish way they think this makes them independent.

Maybe from a European perspective the American Democrats seem quite middle of the road but 38 Degrees director Ben Brandzel is clearly a Democrat and not non-aligned as many Americans are. The tweet below asks people to donate to the Democrats.

In his Huffington post biog Brandzel describes himself as “progressive”. In the UK this means a leftie and definitely not New Labour, and encompasses the Green Party (where all the real left-wingers are now), non-Orange book LibDems and the Milibandite, deficit-denying Labour party. Ken Livingstone is happy to be called a progressive which gives you some kind of calibration.

Ben Brandzel is a leading international practitioner, trainer and writer in the field of progressive online organizing. Currently the Director of Incubation and International Programs at Citizen Engagement Lab, he's served as Advocacy Director for and Director of New Media Campaigns and Fundraising for Barack Obama's Organizing for America. He's a founding board member and former Senior Campaigner at and the Chief Founding Advisor for UK's 38 His writing has appeared in the American Prospect and The Nation magazines, amongst others. Ben is an avid biker and aspiring guitarist who lives in Berkeley and Washington DC.

He also identifies himself as a senior Democrat party organiser. He is a veteran of three presidential campaigns.

Brandzel is a senior Democrat operator and a most political of creatures.

Whatever 38 Degree is or isn’t it is political and ... dishonest.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Henry Tinsley: 38 Degrees founder and ... £250K political donor

I haven’t been able to find a picture of 38 Degrees’ founding benefactor, Henry Tinsley, on the web. As a result of him using the company Betterworld as a tax efficient vehicle for his political and campaign giving I have been able to find his home address. I don’t want to publish it obviously but I figured I would use this image from Streetview of his four storey, double fronted Notting Hill mansion to illustrate this post.

Tinsley is a massive political donor. In the last five years he has given £128,250 to the Labour party as the report below from the Electoral Commission donors database shows.

£5,000 was given towards Ed Milibands’ leadership campaign. £2,250 went to Karen Buck’s marginal Westminster North constituency. £121,000 went to Labour party central funds.

Tinsley is a bit of a political cross dresser so he is also a big Liberal Democrat donor giving them £114,250. Of this £61,750 went to the Liberal Democrat party central funds. £52,500 went to individual marginal LibDem constituencies. Bizarrely Tinsley hankers for another Lib-Lab pact.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Gordon Roddick: 38 Degrees chairman and ... £80K Liberal Democrat donor

Checking the Electoral Commission database Gordon Roddick's recent record as a political donor is as follows:

Green Party £2,500 15/4/204
Green Party £30,000 10/8/2009
Liberal Democrats £60,000 31/3/2010
Liberal Democrats £20,000 26/4/2010

It seems that after flirting with the Greens he supported Nick Clegg with £80K in the run up to the last general election.

38 Degrees claims that it is "Definitely not connected to any political party". 38 Degrees doesn't do the truth.

Paul Hilder: 38 Degrees director and ... candidate for General Secretary of the Labour party

Hilder is a senior Labour party member who was a candidate for General Secretary of the party.

Hilder is a Fabian (Labour’s Jesuits). He writes papers for them and was a panel member for the Fabian Society “Democracy Den” event which challenged ideas for Labour’s last manifesto.

38 Degrees' claims that it is "Definitely not connected to any political party". This is clearly untrue.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Is 38 Degrees founder a hypocrite?

38 Degrees founder Henry Tinsley made his fortune out of Green & Blacks chocolate and now meddles in politics indirectly through 38 Degrees and blogs such as Labourlist and Left Foot Forward. He is also a direct funder of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, see here.

Tinsley put up £5,000 toward the Labourlist blog through his Betterworld vehicle which according to the Telegraph he also uses in his political giving.

Earlier this year 38 Degrees paid for ads like this to appear in national newspapers, although some turned them down, notably the Telegraph and Daily Mail. See here and here. They were pretty unpleasant and their £120 billion figure is ludicrously wrong. They imply that we could eliminate the deficit with the stroke of a pen, or at least the closure of a few loopholes. Fantasy.

Is Betterworld a tax saving wheeze? Does it mean that Tinsley gets more bang for his meddling buck? Is he a typical do as I say rather than do as I do Socialist? Perhaps he will let us know.

38 Degrees' NHS "advice" destroyed

MPs are due to debate the NHS bill today. The dishonest, left-wing pressure group 38 Degrees has being trying to orchestrate a letter writing campaign to MPs in order to change their minds. One of their tools has been some so-called legal opinion they have paid for from a barrister, see here.

Goaded beyond reason Tory MP Stephen Phillips has written this coolly lacerating response.

Thanks to Guido Fawkes blog, see here.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Susheila Juggapah: 38 Degrees volunteer and ... ex-President QMUL Socialist Students Society

One of 38 Degrees' eager young volunteers left Queen Mary's College, part of University of London, this year after studying History and Politics. Whilst she was there she was President of the Socialist Students Society.

The hilarious blurb of the QMUL Socialist Students Society reads as follows:

Socialist Students is a society for anyone who is a socialist, wants to find out more about socialist ideas or wants to campaign on issues from stopping the fees hike and cuts to education, to solidarity with movements across the world.

Socialism is a society run democratically for need not profit, not the anarchy of the speculators who triggered the financial and economic crisis. Marx was right – capitalism means economic crisis. Socialist Students provides an open and democratic forum for you to discuss how socialism relates to the world today, to hear ideas and work out what you think, and to put questions and ideas forward for others.

Save education - Stop cuts and privatisation!

The Con-Dem government are out to destroy university education, tripling fees and slashing funding to try to force universities to act like businesses or go bankrupt. Socialist Students actively campaign against the fees hike, and to unite students and staff to stop cuts in jobs or facilities. We are campaigning for education to be free, with no fees and grants to support living costs at university and college.

Students were the first to take to the streets in a mass fight against the con-dans cuts last autumn. Now we need to link up with workers in the trade unions and the wider community in fighting the con-Dem cuts. We are opposed to all cuts in jobs, services and benefits, whether they are carried out by the Con-Dem government, or by Tory Liberal or Labour councils.

Socialist students supports Youth Fight for Jobs and the Jarrow March for jobs beginning in October 2011.

If you want to campaign against fee increases, cuts, racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice, poverty and fight for a better society, Socialist Students is for you!

So Marx was right! And pigs might fly. And 38 Degrees is apolitical.

Marie Campbell: 38 Degrees paid staffer and ... Green Party candidate

38 Degrees’ paid campaigner, Marie Campbell, omits to mention in her biog that she stood in May 2010 as a Green Party Parliamentary candidate in the Glasgow South constituency. It was only last year. Strange that she has forgotten this big event in her life.

She only managed to get 961 votes or 2.4% of the turnout when she stood as a Green candidate so she has "sold out" and moved south to London and is now operating under 38 Degrees’ false flag.

It is not as if Campbell was some kind of ingenue. She was Convenor of the Scottish Young Greens and worked in Patrick Harvie MSP's Glasgow regional office.

38 Degrees' claim that it is "Definitely not connected to any political party" seems a little fanciful.

Henry Tinsley: 38 Degrees founder and ... Lib-Lab pact nostalgic

Henry Tinsley made his fortune out of Green & Blacks chocolate and now meddles in politics indirectly through 38 Degrees and blogs such as Labourlist and Left Foot Forward.  He is also a direct funder of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, see here. 

Tinsley put up £5,000 toward the Labourlist blog through his Betterworld vehicle which according to the Telegraph he also uses in his political giving.  One might ask why this saint of a man chooses to give through a company.  Could it be more tax efficient?  Pot?  Black?  Kettle? 

Some of Tinsley’s comments on the Labourlist blog make his politics pretty clear (unless there is another Henry Tinsley or someone impersonating him). 

Silly me: I voted Labour in May in the belief that they were serious about their commitment to AV...
Henry Tinsley on the Tories:
The more pertinent point is that at a time when we are threatened with a gruesome Tory government, it might be sensible for progressives to try to find common ground rather than (self) indulging in primitive tribal slanging matches. Or is that too much to ask? 

Benedict Southworth: 38 Degrees director and ... Green Party candidate

38 Degrees claims to be "not connected with any political parties". This is pretty disingenuous really. Let’s take 38 Degrees director Benedict Southworth. He stood as a Green Party candidate in the local elections for Tandridge District Council in May 2010 as a district councillor.

When Southworth shows his true colours rather than hiding behind an anonymous campaigning logo he only gets 3.4% of the vote and comes 5th. No wonder 38 Degrees uses its anonymous front.

For details see Surrey Green Party website here.

Follow the money

It is always instructive to read financial reports when you are researching organisations.  38 Degree's accounts are hilariously difficult to find on their website.  Follow these instructions:

Go to their home page:
Click the "ABOUT" tab
Click the "FAQs" menu item
Read through 871 words and click the link "here."
On the page entitled "Donations to 38 Degrees" read through 643 words and click the link "here."


Click here for 38 Degrees full audited accounts 

Regrettably the accounts fail to give any insight as to where 38 Degree's £888K of income received up to the end of September last year came from.  More digging required.